A new year and the coming of spring often inspire clearing out but for many people, this is a struggle, in part because decision-making is so difficult and exhausting. The brain demands more energy than any other organ and uses 20% of the body’s total energy supply. Anxiety over making a wrong decision increases stress. However, there are systems that can make decision-making easier and less tiring and stressful.

Whenever two or more related decisions must be made in close succession, looking for the common elements may show ways to use one decision to facilitate the other. I call this approach Wholesale Decision-making and it is especially useful for making decisions about clear out and organizing. Making decisions individually is like selling a product one at a time – requires a lot of marketing and is time consuming. However, when products are sold wholesale, fewer customers must be convinced to buy the product so it is easier (in some regards) than retail sales. The same is true for decisions about belongings – making these decisions in a batch is a whole lot easier than making them one at a time.

Finding the common thread that applies to similar decisions makes all of them easier. To find the common principles that apply to related decisions, consider how they are similar. Journalist’s questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) can help spot the common elements:

Let’s look at some typical items that cause decision-making struggles and see how the criteria above can help.

Paper causes problems for many, in part because we all have so much of it, insufficient systems for managing it, and difficulty deciding which papers are important vs. which not. Papers are best sorted and organized using How criteria:

Clothes are best sorted and organized using What criteria, such as size, condition, use or function:

The simplest guideline for what to discard is use, but there are some exceptions. Some things hopefully have low use, such as emergency equipment or supplies, but you should keep them (perhaps switch old emergency food or water for fresh supplies) in some protected spot that you would be able to reach in a disaster (under a sturdy table is good and might serve as shelter for you as well).

Great Candidates for Wholesale Discards:

* Things that have potential – Potential isn't reality. Even if an item has potential, clutter or hoarding issues mean that there is likely too much stuff to use the potential. Keeping many objects with potential worsens time management problems and adds to clutter and pressure.

* Unfinished projects – Anything that has been around for more than six months without being finished likely never will be. Unfinished projects may be damaged from long storage, become obsolete, no longer fit, no longer be needed, or the parts may be missing. You need a break from the pressure and expectations of getting all that done.

* Dated material – Throw out old credit card offers, ads, and sales flyers. Shred anything with your name on it (or at least cut up in little pieces the sections with your name on them if you don't have a shredder). Get off these mailing lists by telling companies to stop sending them. Take expired credit cards with laser chips to the bank for destruction.

* Anything broken – Keeping things that demand extra amounts of time and energy make de-cluttering and staying clutter-free hard.

For people with numerous interests: there are only 24 hours a day, about one-third of which are spent sleeping, and another third or more on necessary life activities. Restricting your interests to a smaller group of those that matter most will enable living a clutter-free, less pressured life.



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© Gloria Valoris, 2015

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