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Your de-cluttering project

Michelle LaBrosse
May 20, 2013

They have shows on it. Thousands of professionals are hired every year for the sole purpose to get rid of it. Most people hate it, but find a hard time getting rid of it. What am I talking about? Clutter!

Even though the show Hoarders exemplifies the clutter problem to the extreme, most of us, if we were being honest with ourselves, would say that we hold on to more stuff than we need. In today’s world of consumerism, it can sometimes seem counterintuitive to get rid of things. Or to not acquire things that we don’t really need. Every day we are being told too by expert marketers that “more is good” and that we need more ‘stuff’ regardless of whether it is the truth. Take a stand to clutter, in both your home and in your mind.

Project De-Clutter

Have you ever had very good intentions of tidying up, but the results that you imagined never quite materialised? That is because intentions are not a plan! Three in four projects end up failing due to poor project management. Use the project management skills you have honed in your office to tackle your cleaning tasks. Define what deliverable you’d like to achieve, and what success will look like when you achieve it. When you treat your de-clutter goals like a serious project, your changes of success significantly increase.

Engaged commitment

What people in your life also have a stake in your cleaning project? These are your project stakeholders for Project De-Clutter. This is an aspect of cleaning that is often overlooked by the person heading up the task. When you face cleaning alone, it can appear very daunting.

Don’t go at it alone. Enlist help, and when you play to your stakeholder’s strengths, you will be surprised at how willing they will be to help. Is your partner a fantastic salesperson? Have them organise a garage sale and see how much they can get rid of and how much money they can make using their awesome sales skills. Is your son super excellent at playing video games? Okay, that might not help, but perhaps you could restrict his games until he has given you all the clothes that he no longer wears anymore so you can pass them on to charity.

You get the point. Rally the troops! A part of being a good leader is in the ability to effectively delegate tasks and speak to the self-interest of those that are helping you.

Timebox to tidy

Okay we get it—you’re busy! You’re much too busy to clean out your entire garage. But, are you too buys to clean off and organise that one shelf in the garage?

The key to successfully achieving your goals is to set micro-goals, and then achieve them again and again. Give yourself an hour to tackle one small project, and don’t let any distractions deter you from your progress. Do this once a day for a month, and you will be amazed at the progress you make.

More organisation = more time

Imagine your garage is in disarray. You are running around trying to find your tennis racquets and soccer ball from the kids’ lessons, and while running around sweating in the summer heat, you trip over the debris that is accumulating in your garage and sprain you ankle. And you were supposed to go to the beach tomorrow!

When you are organised, you create more time for yourself. Time is the most valuable thing that we have, so make sure that you preserve it when it matters most. Get organised to gain hours of free time this summer to do what is important to you.

Success breeds success

When you achieve success in this year’s cleaning project, you will have set up a standard process and expectations for future years to come, and each year it will become easier to implement Project De-Clutter.

Co-authored by Kristen Medina

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Michelle LaBrosse
Michelle LaBrosse (PMP) is one of the Project Management Institute's (PMI) 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World and the founder of Cheetah Learning, a former PMI Professional Development Provider of the Year. She boasts a background in engineering and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Managers (OPM) program, as well as a prolific writer and educator, having authored Cheetah Negotiations, Cheetah Project Management, Cheetah Know How and Cheetah Exam Prep as well as numerous articles in publications worldwide.
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