How to finally get (and stay) free of life’s “dust collectors”

Time For Organize, Business Concept.One year ago I began what initially felt like a herculean task to bring order to my home and office.  I was determined that every room, every closet, every shelf, every cabinet, every drawer would be cleared-out of anything and everything that did not need to be there. I was determined to free myself from clutter. All kinds.

In addition to the undertaking to create order, I also set a goal for myself to give away or donate at least one box or bag of items every week for the first six months.  It was my desire to create an incentive to be less attached to things and to create more breathing space in my environment.

Clean-up and clear-out. And it worked. At first.

Somewhere along the way it stopped working. Why? It stopped because I did.  I considered it temporary work.  It was a project with a definite beginning and a definite end.  That meant it was really just temporary behavior. I never created a commitment to a routine, only to a project.

I can’t argue that I did make great progress.  There is no question that where I am now vs. a year ago is improved. I can argue that I didn’t really change.  Because where I am vs. six months ago is not improved. That is the issue. And six months from now, I will be right back where I was a year ago unless I do change.

This is an example of why we need to look at our daily behaviors when we really want to effect permanent change.  This year I am taking a different approach.  This time my focus is on my daily schedule and putting an organization activity on my agenda every day. That allows me to activate several over the course of a week and a more significant number each month. It also keeps me cycled (and recycled) every month so that the actual work is less. The piles are less daunting, the lists are shorter.  I am not starting a project. I am creating better habits.

Imagine spending just 15 minutes a day over the next 30 days focused on clearing something out.  Then create a list of everywhere that you know requires continuous monitoring and start there. A few ideas to consider (from my list..) might be your e-mail in-box and other folders; your postal service mail baskets and personal papers/bills; your business filing and paperwork; your pantry; your refrigerator; cleaning supplies, and, yes, that infamous junk drawer that we all have.  These are not “once and done” places.  And there are other things to consider.  These are the “dust collectors” that we have to stay on top of to keep a healthy and productive environment.

Change happens with ease when our mindset is open, our motivation is compelling and the method we’ve chosen is effective for us.  I had the right mindset and a compelling motivation.  But I chose a method that worked for other people but not for me.  That’s okay because sometimes (most times in fact) it takes a few tries to find the absolute best method.  Even when we find it, we also know it’s going to change over time because we are growing and changing as a person and our daily practices need to keep pace.

This weekend begins my new approach.  It feels very different.  Not herculean at all. In fact, it feels just right!  Daily practices are the key.  I am continually reminded that to have the “me” I want tomorrow I must live that “me” today.  To have the business I want tomorrow, I must practice that business today.  To have the order I want tomorrow, I must create that order today.  Every day.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.

What one change in your living or working environment would you like to have in your future? How can you begin today to create it?  Are you ready? Let’s get started!


  1. Thank you. During the next six weeks, I have a Herculean task of my own to perform. Gathering my belongings from two spacious homes as my five year marriage comes to an end, and moving back to my 900 square foot cottage. I have a great work to do, but your suggestion to set a goal for each day will help me keep my sanity. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing very helpful information. Sometimes, to create the good behavior like you described is quite challenge because of time management. However, when reading your suggestion, I think I can control it to improve our house.

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