The weeds will just come back. What's the point? It occurred to us recently that this is the very same thing we hear from prospective organizing clients and seminar participants! As people set out to get organized, they often worry that the clutter and disorder will just come back. So they wonder...what's the point?
Here's the point: Just as flowers and vegetables thrive in a garden with minimal weeds, people thrive in environments with minimal clutter. As a general rule of thumb, it's easier to perform jobs and even to relax in a space that is organized and clutter-free. So there is a point in getting organized and clearing clutter, even though we know the clutter and disorder will return again. When the clutter is gone we thrive...we are happier, more relaxed and more at peace....and this makes the effort of de-cluttering and organizing worthwhile.
It isn't a matter of if the weeds will return...it's a case of when. Trying to get organized once and hoping the clutter will stay away without any action on your part is just the same as weeding the garden once and thinking you're done for the season. The weeds will return. And once you accept that fact, then you can decide how often to weed the garden and get rid of the weeds again. Sure it's frustrating but weeds are just part of what you sign up for when you decide to have a garden- and time spent weeding is well worth it when your family can enjoy fresh herbs and vegetables and pretty flowers for months to come. Likewise, clutter is just something you sign up for when you decide to have a life.
When getting organized, it's important to accept that the clutter will return. It isn't a matter of if it will return, it's a matter of when. When you live your life, you create clutter. Priorities change, interests change, family members move out(and back in!), and new things come into your home. But just as you have a choice about how often to weed your garden, or how many weeds you'll let take root before digging in and plucking them out, we all have the same choice with clutter. You get to decide how often to put things back where they belong. You can decide to put things away as soon as you're done using them, once a day, once a week or once you're so far out of your comfort zone that you just can't take it anymore. Similarly, you get to decide how often to go through your things and let go of items that no longer fit your life or lifestyle.
It's when you think "I've weeded my garden, I'm done for the season" that you set yourself up for disappointment. It makes sense to expect to work to keep the weeds in check. It makes just as much sense to expect to devote some time on an ongoing basis to keep your clutter in check.
Getting to the root. While the news that you can't just weed once and be done for the season can be depressing, there are things you can do when gardening to delay the return of the weeds. One of the best solutions is to get the root of the weed. When you get the root, it takes longer for the weeds to come back. When conquering clutter, the same holds true. If you can get to the root of the clutter, or understand the reasons why it is there in the first place, then you can delay the return of the clutter. As you embark on your next organizing or de-cluttering project, do a little bit of detective work and try to figure out the root cause of the clutter. Do the items in your home have assigned places where they belong? Do these places make sense to you? Are they convenient? Do your organizing systems work for you and how you naturally do things? Are you habitually using your organizing systems? Do you simply need to take action on your clutter more frequently, so you spend more time in your comfort zone?
The next time you see a weed in your yard or flower bed, remember these organizing lessons from the garden. And the next time you see clutter in your home, remember that clutter is part of what you sign up for when you have a life. If you're seeing more clutter than you'd like, it simply means you need to increase your de-cluttering sessions.