When most people hear the words chaos and they automatically begin to think about clothes lying on the floor, books thrown out-of-place, the kitchen sink overflowing with dishes a desk filled with disorganized paper and the list goes on. Certainly all of these things define chaos and clutter; however, there is another way to truly define chaos and clutter that covers every aspect of our lives. Chaos is best defined as the absolute lack of order. There is nothing natural about chaos. In fact even the waves crashing on the shores have harmony even though it appears to be chaotic harmony. Another thing to note about chaos is that it exists when disorder is allowed to persist. To get an idea of this place a piece of paper where it shouldn’t be and leave it there.
Now if chaos is the absence of order, what is order? Order can be defined as: doing what should be done when it should be done. It is also when people and STUFF are where they are supposed when they are supposed to be there. Just as chaos is the lack of order, order is the absence of chaos. Remove chaos and you will achieve order. If you have problems with order then it is guaranteed that you will have problems with time, money and/or both. Therefore; your mission should you choose to accept it is to…
Achieve and Maintain Order!
The best way to take Chaos and clutter by the horn and bring it under control is by employing the SSUM (Stop Seen Unseen and Maintain) Approach to Order Management.
The SSUM Approach to Order Management
Stop – any and all activities that promote chaos and causes disorders. The main aim of this activity is to bring to an end to the insanity.
Seen – doing this activity means that you will never:
- Pile another dirty dish
- Leave another piece of clothing on the floor
- Put another piece of paper on the floor
The main aim of engaging in the Seen activity is to achieve quick gratification, free your mind of visual clutter, free yourself from the bondage of STUFF and have a clean and healthy atmosphere. The best way to achieve this is by simply giving away or throwing away everything that is Seen but out-of-order. If you are unable to give or throw away your Seen items then try this instead: put them into boxes to get rid of all visual evidence of clutter.
Don’t get bogged down by the little things, give away or throw away as much STUFF as you can. Now this is by no means an easy project so here is some advice:
- If you haven’t used it in over one year then get rid of it
- Pretend that a VIP will be walking through your house in a few moments
Once the chaos and clutter have been removed you should then dust the furniture, sweep the floors and vacuum the carpets.
Unseen in a sense follows a similar pattern to the activities of Seen. Engaging in the Unseen activity means that you will give away or throw away everything that is Unseen that is out-of-order. Engaging in the Unseen activity means that you are freeing your mind from mental clutter, achieving peace of mind and reaching to the point where everywhere is clean and healthy. So how can you achieve this? Make a list of 100 things that every member of the family must keep. Do this for your business as well.
Even if you feel that you cannot possibly live with 100 or less personal items (in all honesty you should be able to do this), this exercise will help you to determine what is truly important and what is not. Oh and yes a pair of socks counts as 1 item.
Once this is finished give away or throw away STUFF. As with Seen once complete remember that you should then dust the furniture, sweep the floors and vacuum the carpets.
Maintain is simply maintaining the order that you have achieved from the afore-mentioned 3 exercises. Imaging how discouraging it would be if you were to spend all this time kicking chaos and clutter to the curb only to have things go back to where they were or to get worse. Like money and time STUFF needs to be told where to go or it will settle in the place of least resistance. Here are some great ways to maintain order:
Use bins to triage paper so that they are in the process of being recycled, acted upon or filed.
- Mail – all new unopened mails
- To Do – This should include only things that needs to be completed
- To Read – This should include anything that should be read before it is shredded, recycled or placed in the “To Do” file
- Bills – Schedule all bill payments
- Receipts – Scan (Shoeboxed/Evernote) shred recycle
- To File – Conduct a filing exercise once per week
- Kids – put away once per week
- Stuff to Put Away – Conduct this exercise once each week as well
- That chaos exists when disorder is allowed to persist
- Use the SSUM approach to eliminate chaos and clutter
- If there is no order you are essentially putting your money and time at peril
- To do what you can when you can and when you can do what you can