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  • Writer's pictureMJ

Ask me anything: no energy

Reader Question: I’m hoping that maybe you can help me or give me some direction. I was diagnosed with a serious illness. I don’t have the energy to take care of things like I should. I find that I spend a lot of time and energy trying to clean a certain area only to have it messed up again. Or I pull things out to start a project, then run out of energy to finish it.

It is hard to keep things clean. I work from home, in my bedroom. Most of my energy goes towards work. I don’t have the right inner tools. I want to get my room clean so it can feel like home. I want to teach the right steps to my daughter.

I have tried doing a 15-minute clean. That works in areas like the bathroom, but in the areas where we spend lots of time, it doesn’t work there. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

My Answer: While I don't know much about your specific situation, I will try to give you some ideas that have proven helpful to clients that have limited energy or other limitations.

  1. Don't try to do everything yourself. Everyone who lives in the home needs to be part of keeping it organized. Many times, we take on too much and feel like we've failed if it doesn't work out. Communicate to everyone why they need to help. You can also enlist a friend or family member outside of the house, as long as they are fun and non-judgmental.

  2. Decluttering is the most important part of any project. The less stuff you have, the easier it will be to keep organized. Ask yourself questions such as “Do I need or love this?,” “Will I use this in the next 3 years?,” or “Is there someone else who could get more use out of this?” Expired items, things that are broken/chipped/stained etc. should be tossed.

  3. With any project big or small (from storage units to junk drawers) you can use the acronym SPACE which stands for Sort, Purge, Assign a Home, Contain, and Evaluate. Let's use the junk drawer as an example. Start by emptying the contents and sorting into items to Keep in the Drawer, items to Re-Home to another part of the house, items to Trash, items to Recycle, items to Donate, items to Give to Others, etc. Once things are sorted it's time to purge: dump the trash, take out the recycling, re-home items to where they should be etc. Contain things using a drawer organizer, small boxes, envelopes etc. to keep things from moving around in the drawer.

  4. Work a little at a time. I suggest setting a timer for 30 minutes and working in a small space. When the timer buzzes you are done, so take a break and get a snack or water. If you have enough energy to work another 30 minutes, set the timer and get started. If not, look at your calendar and make an appointment with yourself for another day. Put it on the calendar and make it as important as a doctor’s appointment would be. Taking small steps will lead to big results if you are committed to doing the work. Try to do 2 or 3 sessions (30 minutes each) per week.

  5. Take photos before and after your 30-minute sessions if you think you might need motivation to keep going. Be proud of what you accomplish and be kind to yourself. Disorganization is not a character flaw. Life happens and we all need assistance and/or new ideas once in a while.


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