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Keep holidays bright with a little less clutter

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YOU GO TO sleep on Christmas Eve, not dreaming of a white Christmas – but of an organized life. In your dream you wake to find that Santa and his elves have completely organized your home and office!

Wake up and smell the eggnog. In real life, you can’t get organized without getting involved in the process, and there simply is no magic-wand approach.

First, eliminate excuses. Yes, there are reasons, but laboring over the reasons won’t get you anywhere. In fact, dwelling on your misfortunes will add to your frustration and can contribute to depression. So go ahead and name the reasons you think you are disorganized, and then throw them out with the dried-up Christmas tree. Better to recognize limitations and set your mind to overcoming, or at least minimizing, your obstacles.

Second, there are no hopeless organizing cases. It’s true that some folks are naturally organized, and may be called left-brain dominant. However, dominant right-brain thinkers can generate highly creative organizing solutions. And the good news is, whatever your dominant brain type, you have the capacity to develop your less developed side; everyone can improve their organizational IQ.

Third, your brain is your first container. Sure, containerizing with bins and baskets is a sound organizing principle that will help. But the problem is buying containers before there’s been any brain change. It’s easier to shop for containers than to deal with the causes of disorganization. But if you want a different result, you must take different actions. The action starts in the mind when you get honest about your stuff.

Serious help
Sometimes, it means getting psychotherapy, in tandem with organizing help from an objective party. A woman suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder told me that she finally decided that she “had enough.” This was a brain change where she chose to believe that she had everything she needed. It’s never easy, but we humans are capable of change.

Fourth, you have control over your environment. You may live with others who hinder your progress, making your sleigh ride to organization slow and bumpy. You may have a landlord that places restrictions on what you may do to the property. But overall, your home or office is your place. The choices you’ve made are manifest all around you. How you’ve decided to spend your time has produced your present environment. Isn’t it time to take the reindeer by the horns, get your life back and start living the quality of life that you desire?

For many, Christmas means more stress. More mail to deal with, more crowds at the stores. They feel burdened by their own expectations and trapped in red and green clutter. The addition of the tree creates a domino effect, leaving no room in the house untouched. To feel in better control, focus on one area of holiday clutter at a time. For example:

Inventory gift wrapping supplies
Discard supplies that are tattered or not to your taste. Use a long box that will accommodate paper, bags, ribbon and tags. Don’t buy more than you can store in the box. Use gift bags whenever possible, as they make gift wrapping a snap and can be reused.

Use up your greeting cards
Trust me, folks don’t remember if you sent the same card last year, and if they do, so what? If you don’t want the cards, offer them to a church bazaar, thrift shop, etc.

Spruce up your address book
Update your current book, start over with a new one, or use an electronic system. This task will benefit you all year long, not just at the holidays when you may be sending cards. For more info on getting your addresses together, review my Who ya gonna call article.

Ladies at the gym were lamenting about the quantity of holiday decorations they have, but don’t use. Take note of what you haven’t used this year, and ask family or friends if they want them. Don’t be afraid to put things back in circulation that others may enjoy.

Can control
Check out your pantry and take note of canned goods that have sat unused. Donate cans and other unopened sundries to a food bank or drop them in bins found at banks and grocery stores.

Dare to be gift-free
I am not suggesting bah-humbug for kids and people truly in need. But some families are relieved, and feel more purposeful, by donating to a nonprofit in lieu of gifts. With less shopping, you’ll have time to sit by the fire with your beverage of choice, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with your loved ones. Here’s wishing you a wonderful, organized life this holiday season.