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A Simple Path to Little Victories

The following post is from Joshua of Becoming Minimalist:

source: mil8

Every May, Burlington, Vermont (where I live) holds the Keybank Vermont City Marathon. I look up to marathon runners because I admire their self-discipline. Yet, when I talk to runners about their accomplishment and the daunting task that it must have been to run 26.2 miles, they usually tell me the same thing: you don’t run 26.2 miles your first time out. On your first day of training, you run 1 mile. On your second day, you run 2…

In other words, you start with a small, manageable distance. And then build your way up to 26.2 miles.

For many, the idea of decluttering and organizing their home seems daunting… especially if you are just beginning. First of all, know that you have found the right place. Organizing Your Way is not a website that caters only to those who already have everything figured out and their homes are in perfect order. But it is a website for regular people… just like you… who are just trying to figure out how to make their home run as smooth as possible.

You have come to the right place. And hopefully, just hopefully, you’ll find that gaining “organizational victories” in your home is not quite as daunting you may think. It may be helpful to consider the process like training for a marathon. You don’t declutter your whole house the first day… you start with a small, manageable job and build your way up.

Victory Leads to Victory

On a related note, I have a good friend who is trying to get out of debt. He was given some interesting advice by his debt counselor. His counselor didn’t tell him to pay off the highest percentage loans right away; instead he was told to pay off the smallest debts first. At first, I thought that was a bit odd until my friend told me the rationale: paying off the smallest debts results in a victory – one less monthly payment. Even though it wasn’t the biggest burden, it is still one less burden – one victory. And victory breeds more victory.

With this picture in mind, you begin your marathon. You can jump right in. You can start small, gain some quick victories, and let organizational victory breed victory!

Organization Encourages Organization

As you start small (one room, one closet, or one drawer), you’ll find that those victories (no matter how small) will motivate you to gain more victories and tackle larger jobs. When a surface is left clean, one piece of clutter seems out of place and calls you to put it away. The first time I simplified and organized my office, I couldn’t stand the idea of leaving clutter on my desk overnight – it seemed out of place. Similarly, after simplifying our bedroom, I could no longer leave a shirt lying on the floor. We chose small projects and used the motivation to carry us forward.

We specifically chose not to start with the biggest burdens (basement, kitchen, toy room). We decided to start simple and gain quick victories. And even though the victories were small, every time I opened the bathroom cabinet or looked at the fridge, I was reminded that this was not some daunting task that was completely out of reach. Instead, it was something that was completely within our reach… as long as we kept taking the small steps to get there.

What small steps could you take today to get closer to your organizational goals?

Joshua Becker inspires and encourages others to live with less on his blog, Becoming Minimalist. He has also authored two e-books, Simplify and Inside-Out Simplicity. But more importantly, he loves his wife and two small children.