Staying Focused to Beat Clutter

  • By birdie@getorganizedcolumbus.com
  • 14 Jun, 2016
Messy room
As organizers, we work with clients who are overwhelmed with belongings for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there are challenges with space or challenges with time, there might be illness or family circumstances that require shifted attention, some may simply have acquired more than is desired. To tackle our overgrown piles, we have to dedicate several […]
As organizers, we work with clients who are overwhelmed with belongings for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there are challenges with space or challenges with time, there might be illness or family circumstances that require shifted attention, some may simply have acquired more than is desired. To tackle our overgrown piles, we have to dedicate several blocks of hours to sort, remove, repurpose etc. But for some, such an exercise is impossible. It is not for a lack of effort or desire. Decluttering often gets to the heart of the problem for those who have challenges with focused attention.
The act of sorting and decluttering requires the repetitive and focused actions of reviewing and categorizing items for long periods of time. In addition, there needs to be a plan and follow-through for the things which remain. For those who struggle with focus, the ability to perform unilateral repetitive tasks and to remain undistracted through completion is especially challenging. For clients with attention deficit conditions for example, usually after 25 minutes or so of sorting, clients will tell me they are feeling overwhelmed and are having difficulty remembering the sorting categories we established. Some will exhibit frustration and a lack of desire to continue, others may get sidetracked and spontaneously start doing a different task, others will complain of boredom.
This is because the ADD/ADHD mind is an active mind, capable of multitasking and moving along many activities in quick succession. The slow, observant pace of sorting is understimulating for minds seeking constant activity. The most important way to help friends or family members with focus challenges complete a sorting exercise is to allow them to talk through items being sorted. Telling stories or recalling memories associated with the items helps keep fast-paced minds engaged and active. As professionals, we use the stories being relayed to determine where items belong or whether items are important enough to save. We provide the sorting direction, and our clients provide the context.
Once the process of sorting is achieved, you will want to follow-through with finding homes for kept items. This type of follow-through is difficult for most clients–not just those with focus challenges. Logical placement and easy access is key in determining proper homes. Labelling and coding practices will be important reminders for those who struggle to remember placement. And I like to create a placement key as a written reminder of where we left things. As professionals, we hope to help you stay mindful and undistracted so you can achieve your goals and get your time back.
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