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perri kersh how to eat an elephant
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perri kersh headshotPerri Kersh.
Many daily organizational tasks are small and relatively manageable. Clearing out a junk drawer, sorting your daily mail, creating a weekend to-do list … these tasks can take just minutes to complete. But then there are the biggies – clearing out an attic stuffed with 30-plus years of memories, making space so you can park your car in your garage for the first time in 10 years or cleaning out a loved one’s home as they prepare to downsize. These big tasks can very quickly overwhelm even the neatest of the Neat Freaks. But just like eating an elephant, you have to tackle it bite by bite. Here are a few of my favorite ways to break a large, overwhelming task into manageable steps, and maybe even have some fun.
Time It: Set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes. ONLY 15 minutes! And jump right in. Knowing that you won’t be at the task for hours on end will make it seem less overwhelming, and you may be amazed at how much you can do in 15 minutes. When the buzzer goes off, walk away (unless of course you’re having more fun than you anticipated … then by all means, keep at it!). You can spend another 15 minutes on the task tomorrow.
Hoop It Up: Use a hula-hoop and place it over a pile of your clutter and ONLY focus on what’s inside the hula-hoop. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by anything outside of that hoop. Just work until the hula-hoop area is clean, organized or uncluttered. Then move the hoop to a new area and repeat. Or start fresh tomorrow with another cluttered space. (Rope or painters tape can also work – use anything that helps you visually identify your space and stay focused on one area at a time.)
Build An Organizing Playlist: Find songs that you love, that get you moving and motivate you. I’m kind of partial to "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore right now … but you know what you like. Tell your family members that when that playlist is playing, you’re in your organizing mode and they’d better help or get out of your way. Then pump up the tunes and get busy. ONLY organize for the length of your playlist. Throw in funky dance moves as you see fit.
When all you see is the big picture, and the big picture ain’t so pretty, it’s hard to get inspired to organize. But by breaking it down into manageable steps, even the most daunting tasks can start to feel possible.
Perri Kersh is the neatest, and sometimes freakiest at Neat Freak Professional Organizing, LLC in Chapel Hill. She works with individuals, families, small business owners and students to help them get and stay organized. When she’s not organizing for others, she frequently shovels up after her husband and children. You can read more about Neat Freak at www.neat-freak.com or reach Perri at (919) 824-8196.