Like rabbits that breed or chocolate bar wrappers that mysteriously appear from no-where (I swear I didn't eat that many!), clutter has a way of entering our homes and filling our lives seemingly without our knowing.
One way to stop all that clutter dead in its tracks is to work out exactly where it is coming from. Lots of clutter sneaks in and hangs around under the guise of unfinished, and sometimes even un-started projects and tasks.
They might be:
Craft projects half completed or materials purchased for craft projects not yet started
Tools and supplies for DIY activities or home renovations
Magazines you've held onto for later or "when you can get back to it"
Books you've acquired but not yet read
Equipment for hobbies you'd like to try, but haven't made time for
Bags of decluttered items that hang around at your front door waiting to be taken to the charity store
Mail which has been opened and popped aside until you have time to action it
Piles of paperwork not yet filed
Dishes washed but not be put away
Clothes washed but not folded or put away
Really any other item you've brought into your home or collected to 'do something with' but just haven't gotten around to it
This clutter is aspirational. You aspire to get it actioned, use it, make it or have it completed but you haven't set aside the time or committed yourself to seeing it through. This makes it incredibly hard to clear away or let go of, because you see the potential or the possibility for use, you just need to actualise it.
So why does it happen?
There are plenty of reasons why we start tasks or projects and fail to complete them. Look at the clutter around you and see if you can relate it to some of the reasons outlined below:
We get excited at the start of the project or when imagining the possibility of the items but as time moves on we lose interest or motivation to start
We start something and then get distracted by another project or task or it just stops being fun and so we put it aside for 'later' - often that later never eventuates
We procrastinate about starting or completing a project, usually due to fear of failure or our perfectionistic tendencies
We just plain lack the time, or lack the commitment to schedule the time, to begin or to complete it
We start and then realise we have insufficient tools or resources to see it through and we have to do something additional (like buy extra materials, call in help or set aside more time) to achieve completion
If you're nodding along, and feeling like this resonates, read my top 3 tips below on how you can avoid unfinished projects from causing clutter in your home:
TIP 1: MAKE TIME
Schedule the time for starting and completing projects before you purchase or as you purchase new items. Don't just wait for time to ‘appear’ because it wont. Look at your calendar and ask yourself if you have the available space for a new hobby, a magazine subscription, renovating the bathroom or to start a new craft project. If not - don't buy it until you've made the time.
If you have a bundle of half-finished projects sitting around, make an appointment for them to be completed. Put them in your diary or calendar and stick to it. Be firm with yourself. Consider setting deadlines for completion.
If it is smaller tasks and chores around the house that are causing your clutter like dirty dishes or folding to be put away, try setting a timer. Give yourself a small window to get it done and stay focused on that task and seeing it through (without being distracted) until the timer goes off. It doesn't have to be a manual timer either. You could set time by the duration of a podcast, a playlist of songs or the duration of a TV program. Just aim to have it completed by the designated end point and be committed to meeting that deadline.
TIP 2: SET LIMITS
Set a limit on how many unfinished projects you can have in your home or space at one time. These limits could be set by a number. Ie - no more than 5 unfinished DIY projects at a time. Or you could make the limit a physical space. Ie - no more craft projects than can fit in my craft box or no more sporting equipment than what can safely be stored under the stairs.
Be strict - if you want to add something to your list of projects, then complete one or discard one to make space within your limit.
TIP 3: BE ACCOUNTABLE
We can justify anything to ourselves, especially when we can see the potential in something, so it's important to get yourself an accountability partner or group to help keep you focused. This could be a friend or family member or even an online group.
Make a commitment to your partner that you will complete your project by a certain time and have them check-in with you to see how you're progressing and keep you accountable. There is something magical that happens when we tell others about our plans and deadlines - we don't want to disappoint them so it motivates us to see it through.
Taking on projects can be fun or exciting and getting chores finished around the house is just part of life so make sure you see them through to avoid them being the causes of clutter in your home.
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