Do one thing at a time

As long as I can remember, I’ve tried to do two or three things at a time. Watching television and writing checks. Mopping the floor then stopping to file papers.
Entering data in my Quicken accounts, but stopping to make a social telephone call. Sitting down to read a book in the middle of tidying the living room. And I love multitasking on the computer—updating my data base while I wait for a website to come up or writing an email while printing a column.
When I get overwhelmed, my daughter often says, “One thing at a time. Just do one thing at a time!”
As a result, she was overjoyed when she saw the new book I bought—“One Thing at a Time.”
The book begins this way: “Do you have one of those brains that goes naturally in twenty-seven directions at once? Do you shuffle through papers . . . but never seem to get anywhere with them?”
That’s me, all right!
The author continues, “If so, you may be great at multitasking but susceptible to getting overwhelmed in response to a mess. Instead of focusing on the vase you’re about to put back on the shelf, you glance vacantly around at the scummy goldfish bowl, the papers piled on the desk . . . everywhere and anywhere except at the object in your hands.”
The solution to all these problems is to focus on one task, says Cindy Glovinsky, the author of “One Thing at a Time: 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day.”
Glovinsky’s 100 tips are the titles of 100 short chapters. I’ve been reading the book in small snatches—picking and choosing which tips to incorporate into my life.
My favorite is #1 “One Thing at a Time.” Since I’ve owned this helpful book, I’ve actually made some progress on that goal. Sometimes making myself finish one task before getting distracted by another.
I’ve also incorporated #2 “Things Don’t Move Themselves” and #94 “Leave It Neater than You Found It.” Now, every time I leave an area in my house, I try to tidy up and move the things that won’t move themselves.
Some other suggestions Glovinsky has for living clutter-free are: Put a trash container in every room; Keep the clothes moving on; Rate your memorabilia; and Put things back, even when you’re rushed.
But most important for me is #25 “Break the Clipping Habit.” I’ve been clipping articles for as long as I can remember. Now, my clipping habit threatens to take over my life.
For most of us, decluttering is a life-long journey. A journey that is easy at first, but becomes more difficult as we age. We accumulate and accumulate. Then, when our houses are packed with treasures, we find it is time to downsize.
If it’s time for you to start downsizing, this book may help you. Or if you aren’t under a time crunch and just want to begin gradually decluttering, start with the tips in this column. And if you’re thirsty for more, read the book.
Then, if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, just remember “One Thing at a Time.”
Copyright 2010 Marie Snider

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