It's all very well to want to look at the big picture of goals and projects, but what do you do when you're down in the trenches and the trenches are full of junk that's piled up while you were too busy?
First, don't beat yourself up. Everyone has things spin out of control sometimes, especially at holiday time. Major life changes, happy and sad, can pull you out of your routines of maintenance despite your best intentions. Other changes can come along which necessitate a new baseline of how much organization your home and life need for you to feel calm and on top of it all.
So, where do you start when you realize that you've got to turn this mess around and transform it into something that doesn't make you wince?
Looking at a room full of things which are out of place can be overwhelming. Don't try to tackle it all at once.
Decisions are tiring, so the trick is to make the most of every one you make. Look for the easiest possible decision and start there.
For example, that cough drop wrapper on the floor there by the sofa. That can go in the trash. There is no acceptable second use for cough drop wrappers. Mmmm, away into a trash bag with it.
But don't stop there: You've got a useful decision you can leverage, painlessly. ALL cough drop wrappers can go. In fact, since they're pretty much the same thing, all candy and food wrappers can go. Walk around for a couple minutes with that trash bag ignoring everything but dead wrappers of edible things.
Nothing else in the pile matters right now except those things that match the current game of Concentration you're playing. You don't have to play long, just start playing more often.
Decide one kind of thing on which you can take the same action and then see how many matches you can get in a few minutes strolling through the house. Here are some example rounds of the game:
– full trash and recycling containers get dumped in the big bins;
– used dishes not in the kitchen move to the kitchen;
– catalogs move to recycling;
– mail to be processed goes all together in one stack in your inbox;
– clothes that need dry cleaning or repairs go into a basket by the door;
– bills in your inbox go in one stack with your checkbook on your desk (everything that's not a bill can stay in the inbox).
Don't worry about the next round; just play this one, briefly, right now.
Tell me some rounds you've played today!