As I was sorting closet contents with a client yesterday, she repeatedly used the two toxic words, “for now.” She’s not the only one. We all do it at times. A few minutes ago I said those words to my husband as we moved a lamp we’re replacing. “Let’s just put it here for now,” I said.
What makes these words so toxic? I believe the amount of clutter in one’s home directly correlates to the number of times a person says, or thinks, “I'll just put this here for now."
Today's Timely Tips expose the excuses, consequences and solutions to these two toxic words.
Timely Tips to Detox Your Home
Temporary Holding Place - The least harmful use of these words is when we need a temporary home for something, like the lamp we're donating or the shirt we're returning because it's the wrong size. These things cause clutter, but if you put it in your schedule to complete the action, it's temporary.
Deferred Actions - The suitcase that sits waiting to be unpacked, the clean laundry pile placed on the couch, the mail on the kitchen table and the box of Costco supplies to be put away. There are grocery bags of stuff cleaned out of the car or purse and tossed into the closet "for now." And all the stuff that gets crammed into the spare room when company’s coming. These are things that could be put away, but we defer the action “for now.”
It’s frustrating when you can’t find your favorite shirt because you forgot it’s still packed, or in a pile on the couch. It’s costly when the mail doesn’t get opened and a bill becomes overdue. It's overwhelming when all the “for now” stuff accumulates in the spare room and you don’t know where to start.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has a simple mantra, “Don’t put it down, put it away.” Putting something down can happen anywhere. That means when you go to look for it, it could be anywhere.
Putting something down gives us the false sense of completion, but as these deferred actions accumulate so does the stress. So, "don't put it down, put it away."
Deferred Decisions - The third and potentially most challenging reason for those two toxic words is that we defer decisions. We don’t have a designated spot for the new kitchen gadget, so rather than deciding where to put it, it sits out on the counter. We don’t know where to file our Health Benefits package so it joins a stack of other deferred decisions on the desk. We feel like we’re saving time by just throwing it on top, but in the end it does the opposite.
When a pattern of deferred decisions is established, it becomes increasingly difficult and time consuming to find things. Things that cannot be found at all have to be replaced, taking time and money. Not to mention the increased stress while searching for things. As painless as I try to make it, I often feel like I’m holding my clients’ feet to the fire as I press them to make decisions. Otherwise, they easily move things from one pile to another, or try slipping things into their pockets instead of deciding—is it a keep, toss, or donate? If it’s a keep, where is its home going to be? Deferring the decision feels easier at the time, but the consequences are not so pleasant.
Give up the idea that your decisions must always be perfect. They won't be. If you're stuck, ask for advice. Fear the consequences of not deciding, rather than deciding. And then - decide! You will reap the benefits of a more peaceful and productive environment!
"When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier." --Roy E. Disney