How to Clear the Congestion in your Schedule or in your Space

The sneezing season is coming. In North Carolina, spring is met with a smile — and a sniffle — as thousands of pine trees shower our homes, cars, and heads with a yellow-green pollen. People begin to complain about allergies and the congestion that goes along with it.

Congestion is an interesting word. In addition to mentioning our noses, we often use the word to refer to traffic. After all, congestion means:

  1. to fill to excess;
  2. to overcrowd or overburden;
  3. or to clog.

But the idea of congestion brings to our organizing minds the idea of a stuffed room or packed schedule. While you can take medication to ease nose stuffiness, what can you do to clear a clogged calendar or an overcrowded room?

Just as your nasal passages should be clear so air can flow, your stuff should flow in and out of your space. We buy things; we recycle stuff. We donate that old shirt; we buy a new one. If there is a clog somewhere along the way, you get buildup.

Similarly, tasks and activities should flow in and out of your schedule. One project comes to an end, so we can accept a new one.

Here are the steps to finding your flow:

Diagnose the problem. A stuffy nose might be allergies or it might be a cold. You’re likely to treat each differently. So the first step is to figure out what is causing your buildup. Caution: what seems like the cause might be another symptom. For example, if your calendar is jam packed, you might say the cause is “too many commitments.” Of course. But how did it get that way? Did you say “yes” too many times? Taking on more than you can handle is the cause of a crammed calendar.

Photo by Keoni Cabral

Photo by Keoni Cabral

In your space, surely it’s easy to see too much stuff is causing congestion. But what really caused the “stuff-jam”? is there so much stuff? Maybe you’re overdue to keep the flow going by donating those piles by the doorway. Maybe you have a hard time saying “no” to things on sale, even if you don’t need them. Figuring out the root cause of the problem is key to solving it.

Consider treatment options. Once you have a better idea of what’s causing your problem, you can decide how best to move forward.

With your schedule, practice saying no so that next time someone asks for something you don’t add to the problem. Can you remove yourself from one of your current commitments?

With stuff, make an appointment with yourself to donate, sell, recycle, or toss some extra things. What haven’t you touched in years? What items are bugging you? Those are good places to start. In addition, take a look at how new items are coming into your space. Are you shopping online? Are you picking up two jumbo packs of paper towels when your pantry can only hold one?

Learn more about this common culprit of clogged space by reading more about stuff-flow on our Flexible Structure Method website. If you love to listen to audio while driving, check out Stop Letting Stuff Overwhelm You, which examines how we manage our stuff.

We hope your spring congestion clears soon! If not, feel free to give us a call for some help with flow. 919-467-7058.