Previously, I wrote about using a “parking lot” to remove competing thoughts that otherwise detract from critical daily goals.
What happens when we forget to use a digital or analog parking lot? Every competing thought has the potential to take us off track for minutes or hours at a time.
Take last week, for example.
Earning the ICD’s ADHD Specialist Certificate was one of my 2023 goals. I was rereading ADHD course notes and happily plugging right along until I read a sentence that was particularly “sticky.”
If I do my “future self” a favor by using my dry-erase pad as a parking lot, I stay on track more easily. Then “Future Judith” at the end of the day will feel satisfied with "Past Judith’s" progress. I have been using this "past" vs. "future" self tactic for many years to help initiate tasks that are about as enjoyable as watching paint dry.
Typically, my pad is within arm’s reach to park competing thoughts. Sometimes those competing thoughts revolve around other tasks I need to do. Quite often, though, the competing idea starts with an innocuous “I wonder. . . “
I forgot to ensure my pad was nearby on this particular day. Then I read the “sticky” suggestion regarding RSS feeds. I bet you can guess what happened next.
“Oh yeah, I tried to set up RSS feeds a few years ago to stay on top of relevant organizing news.”
“I wonder what happened with that?”
“Oh yeah: I tried setting it up, but it wasn’t working, so I cut my losses and moved on.”
“I still think they could help me keep up with the news. I wonder if I just had the wrong idea as to what RSS entails.“
Before I knew it, I had scratched the curiosity itch and felt immediate satisfaction in finally understanding RSS feeds. That is until I looked at the time. A half hour had passed, and I was no closer to finishing the critical task, and it was getting late. The satisfaction immediately morphed into guilt; had "Past Judith" remembered to use my parking lot, I would have quickly parked that curiosity where it belonged, off to the side, so I could continue focusing on my goal.
Luckily it was only a half hour, but a half hour here or an hour there is how a day starts with lighthearted hope and ends with a resounding thud.
The parking lot is no panacea for all distraction woes, but it gives us a fighting chance to feel satisfied with our efforts by the end of the day.
So how about it? There is nothing to lose; how about giving the parking lot a shot? If you want a refresher on how it works, click here. The more you use it, the more you will remember to use it. The more focused you can be on those tasks, the more likely you will feel good about working towards those important goals by the end of the day.
Decluttering is sometimes mentally taxing, physically exhausting, and sneeze-inducing. So, why bother going through all that effort? Why not just resign oneself to the clutter and resulting complexities it creates?
Decluttering can be incredibly uplifting, even transformative. This is especially true if clutter is negatively impacting life in a significant way. Clients have teared up as they explained precisely how instrumental the change has been in their lives. I say this not to brag but to demonstrate how much positive transformation the effort can bring into your life.
Exactly what type of transformations have clients experienced? Here is a small sample of huge wins that clients commonly gain:
You, too, can experience this sense of relief, relaxation, and joy! Due to previous organizing attempts, some individuals need more self-confidence when they get started. I ask them to suspend their disbelief, and I hold the confidence for both of us until they start seeing results and gain it for themselves. With enough practice, you too will begin to gain confidence. You might need to suspend disbelief as you get started. You might even need external support from a therapist, support groups like Clutterers Anonymous or Buried in Treasures, or a professional organizer. Still, you can do it, and it is incredibly worth the effort!
The Self-Storage Industry is Booming
I read a fascinating Wall Street Journal story about small-time investors who purchase poorly managed self-storage companies and sell them a few years later for huge profits. One individual was so successful that he started a second business showing others how it works. He now charges nearly $1,000 for a ninety-minute consultation. There are now so many investors that it is now challenging to find distressed properties. It seems that Storage Wars is more than an entertaining A&E show.
The most impressive person in the story is Robert Moser, who was a real-estate agent by the time he entered college. With his parents’ financial help, he started purchasing properties. Eventually, he focused entirely on storage companies. His company, Prime Group Holding, now has five billion dollars in assets, according to their website.
A billion dollars is hard to fathom until I recall the various storage facilities I have visited to help clients empty units and recoup monthly fees.
Time Getting Away from Us
Storage units serve as a helpful stopgap for those in particular situations. They could be a practical temporary solution for someone who has to quickly clear out a family member's home to put it on the market. They can review family heirlooms later when they have more time. Storage units can also come in handy during a home remodel or when a child attends out-of-state college and comes home for summers.
Often, though, individuals intend to empty a unit within a few months but unintentionally hold them for years. It is easy to forget about the monthly fee or to resign oneself to inevitable price increases rather than deal with the sometimes overwhelming review process.
Despite what might feel like a daunting effort, it is a hugely worthwhile endeavor. Imagine all the things you could do with that money if you emptied the unit this year instead of holding on to it for additional months or years. You could go on vacation, pick up a new hobby, take a course, or even increase property value by attending to deferred maintenance on a home. Let your imagination run wild. The more you can imagine and experience the feeling these possibilities would create, the more emotionally attached you become to the goal. Emotional attachment to a goal makes it easier to work toward it, especially for those with ADHD.
Strategizing How to Get Started
Sometimes starting can feel like the biggest hurdle. Here are a few ways to gain momentum:
Preparing for Decluttering Sessions
Once you decide to start, refresh yourself on the facility’s procedures. For instance, you will most likely need to haul out trash and recycling, as many facilities do not provide dumpsters to customers.
Even if the facility is climate-controlled, dressing in layers will be helpful. If the unit is exposed to outside temperatures, dress appropriately for the weather. A warm day outside can be downright sweltering in a non-climate-controlled unit.
How to Decide What to Keep
Once you start digging in, you can use these questions to determine which items deserve to stick around:
These are just a slice of the questions I use with clients, but these will get you off to a good start. Additionally, the more decisions you make, the stronger your decision-making muscle will become. A stronger muscle translates into a speedier and easier process.
Lastly, muster a healthy dose of confidence; you can do this! Imagine the relief when you close the storage unit. What a reason to celebrate!
Author: Judith Dold
Musings from yours truly about all things organizing.