Tools to Make the Task Easier

by Jennifer Faherty

tools, wrenchesI yell at my 12-year old son for the clutter he leaves all over our house.  We can always tell he had been somewhere because of the trail of stuff he leaves behind—cleats in the living room, math homework in the mudroom, neon-colored shoelaces on the coffee table. It used to infuriate me, until one day I realized that there was one other person in our family that created even more clutter than he did…me. 

I never thought of myself as disorganized because I always know where something is. I rarely lose anything. But, I scanned the house one day and noticed every single room had clusters of items that I had left behind. Sometimes it was “neat clutter,” for example, a stack of orderly books on the floor or a basket of carefully folded laundry in the hall (for those of you who argue that clean laundry should never be considered a sign of disorganization, did I mention that it stays there for an average of four days?) More often, my piles are messier and hastily thrown together – endless receipts that need to be scanned, bank statements that need to be filed, old clothes that need to be donated or new ones that need to be returned.

While my son’s clutter tends to be the result of forgetfulness, mine is usually due to distraction, interruption and a bad case of “too much to do.”  Whatever the reason, the good news is that, as a life coach, I have picked up a few tips from my training that helped me tackle the process of de-cluttering, or at least put my life’s little messes in perspective:

  1. Batch It – Whether de-cluttering or tackling some other grandiose goal, sometimes we have a tendency to bite off more than we can chew. ‘Batching’ a project by dividing it into very small, manageable steps such as cleaning out only one drawer or making just one trip to the donation center has helped me feel less overwhelmed and more motivated to start.
  2. Better it – Try “bettering” a project so that what you normally might dread becomes something to look forward to.  If I am clearing out the garage, I put some music on or invite friends over to help.  If sorting the mail in the evening, I make my favorite cup of tea or pour myself a glass of wine to lighten the mood and keep procrastination at bay.
  3. Barter it – If you really are having trouble, Martha Beck also suggests “bartering” difficult tasks by paying someone else to do them or trading services. Don’t feel guilty about this. Your time is more efficiently spent doing something that comes more naturally and easier to you rather than dragging your feet on something someone else can do better and faster.
  4. Bag it – Does that pile really have to be moved? Or is it perfectly fine where it is?  Sometimes we need to make peace with our inner messy child and be okay with the clutter around our work or personal spaces. While I don’t recommend this as an option for your 12-year old, I’ve found that choosing to “bag” or abandon certain tasks can be incredibly freeing. Once I realize that I have a choice, I immediately find myself becoming more relaxed and energetic– and ironically, this often becomes the exact motivation I need to complete the project in the end.

Jennifer S. Faherty is a CFP®, CDFA™ and personal coach trained through the Martha Life Coach Program.  She specializes in helping women regain the confidence to relaunch their careers, become financially saavy and navigate through life’s transitions. You can contact Jennifer if you are in need of some assistance or would like more information.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness Coach. She helps clients with parenting issues, the challenges of college and young adulthood and issues related to health and habits. Email her at to learn more. She is the author of the Audible Original, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents.


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