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5 Steps to Quit Quitting

Posted by Sue on Oct 23, 2013  

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” ~ Vince Lombardi

Eleanor has lived on Maple Street for 27 years. Of those 27 years, 24 of them have seen sincere attempts to clean out her attic. Back in ’88 she moved the entire contents of her old attic plus the inherited furniture, trunks of old photos and boxes of linen tablecloths from her mother and grandmother into the attic on Maple Street.

Each spring she sets out to “finally organize this junk!” She puts a date on the calendar, makes sure she’s got enough boxes and garbage bags on hand and then digs in with hope and gusto. After several hours of combing through dusty boxes and crumbling paper, she decides to take a break and get back to it, “a little later in the summer,” which, predictably, doesn’t happen.

Where did the hope and gusto go? Why, after 24 sincere attempts, is Eleanor’s attic still a disaster zone?

Gigantic projects like Eleanor’s are overwhelming, tedious and unrelenting. How do you keep the hope and gusto alive when the road stretches out before you, seemingly without an end or even a signpost in sight?

Here are 5 strategies to keep you going when the going gets tough:

1)   Break it down: Take any overwhelmingly huge project and split it up into bite-sized pieces. Either divide the space into sections or deal with one category of stuff at a time.

2)   Set a timer: Determine your organizing-stamina (how long you can work without going bonkers) – no longer than 3 hours – and set a timer. Spend the last 15 minutes picking up, putting away and dealing with the garbage, give-aways and recycling.

3)   Celebrate the baby steps: Don’t wait until you’re completely finished to acknowledge your efforts. Give yourself small rewards along the way.

4)   Delegate: Many hands make light work; and as the head honcho, you get to decide who does what. If you’re in charge of sorting and organizing, maybe your spouse can cart out the garbage and deal with the recycling.

5)   Set up accountability: When you’ve told your plan and intentions to someone (besides the face in the mirror), it’s harder to change your mind and escape for a latte.

Any one of these 5 strategies will help you keep hope and gusto alive, even when the project feels like untangling a ball of coagulated spaghetti noodles. Combine all 5 and you’ll be soaring with the eagles!

If you have any comments or stories to share, please use the space below. I’d love to hear from you!

1 Comment »

Claire Gilman:

I am an RSVP volunteer and frequently help people to organize their space. When I went to a new client’s home, she showed me the areas she needed help with, which were two large storage rooms, stacked with boxes from floor to ceiling. As she was showing me some of the contents of the boxes, I could tell that she was starting to feel overwhelmed and I got the impression that she was about to tell me that she wasn’t ready, so I said, “Let’s just work with one box and if you don’t want to continue, that’s fine.” She seemed relieved at that so we tackled the box. She was so pleased with our results that we went on to the next box and the next.

When I got there the following week, she said that she was so energized by our work that she tackled cleaning and organizing the cabinet under the kitchen sink!

At one point she mentioned that she was going to have a yard sale in the fall, so we concentrated on the boxes she knew contained items she no longer wanted. That gave us inspiration for the next few weeks because there was an end goal we were working toward. We made a pretty good dent in freeing up some space, and her yard sale was a big success.

We have a long way to go, but we’re both determined to keep chipping away at the contents of those storerooms, one box at a time!

October 28th, 2013 | 9:29 pm
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