Overwhelmed? Just Take One Bite!

How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time!

That old expression carries a lot of wisdom in just a few words. Feeling that sense of overwhelm that can happen when you look at any area of your life that needs organizing. Whether it’s your home, your office, your calendar, or your to-do list, when just thinking about tackling it makes you break out into a cold sweat, it’s time to remember “small is better.”

When you look around your home, or your office (these days those two places may be one and the same,) do you see a sea of clutter? Piles of paper and stuff? If you’re struggling with how and where to start, think small. Narrow the scope of your vision. The piles didn’t appear overnight, and they won’t disappear overnight. You wouldn’t try to lose 30 lbs. in a week, and you shouldn’t expect to get rid of years of clutter in a weekend.

To get started, choose a SHORT period of time to dedicate to organizing – usually an hour works well. Schedule a COMMITTED time on your calendar and make an appointment with yourself to do it then. If it’s not scheduled for a definite time, you won’t keep that appointment. View that time as if you had made a commitment to someone else. You wouldn’t easily blow off an appointment you had scheduled with another person. Treat yourself and your time with the same respect.

Then, choose just one SPECIFIC, SMALL area at a time to tackle. Stick with that area until you’ve made a decision about every item, paper, or document in that space as to whether you need to keep it or let it go. Then, for all of the items you’ve decided to keep, decide where each of them should have a permanent home. You may need to set up temporary sorting areas (folding tables are great,) and use plain old cardboard boxes or whatever containers you have on hand until you find out how much you’re keeping and where it’s going to live.

If you’re looking for a small place to start, try some of these suggestions for specific rooms/areas in your space:

  • Office – start with just the paperwork and stuff on the top of your desk. Or just ONE PILE of paperwork on your desktop.
  • Filing cabinet – start with one file.
  • Computer files – start with one file. If your desktop screen is full of documents, start with just one half of your screen.
  • Bedroom closet – start with one section of one rod. Or if you can’t get into the closet because of the clothes on the floor, just tackle the clothes on the floor.
  • Dresser – one drawer.
  • Kitchen – start with one drawer or one cabinet.

SHORT. COMMITTED. SPECIFIC. SMALL. These are the keys to tackling any organizing project in your home or office. String together enough bites, and the whole elephant is gone!

Lisa Griffith

About The Author

Lisa Griffith is a speaker and consultant who provides services, both on-site and virtually, to help busy professionals organize their offices, systems and calendars. In addition to business and home office organizing, productivity and time management coaching, she provides workshops & seminars for business and community groups.