I wanted to kick off a new feature that I will be running on a regular basis – it’s called “Life Changers.” It is exactly what it sounds like. We have all had a moment in our life (many of them actually) when something happens – an idea, thought, or event – and we are never the same. Often the experiences come to us when we least expect them. My goal is to share other’s “life changer” stories with you, and share them in such a way that you too can change your life, starting today.
Today I will be sharing a life changing moment of my own. I remember being a rather disorganized kid growing up. It was actually many years before I came to value the benefits of having a sense of order and structure to what I do. One year, I remember my parents buying me a book titled “What to do When Your Mom or Dad says…Clean Your Room!” . I think I was all of 10 years old at the time. This book was possibly one of the first impactful idea books that I read. It was full of fun art work and included step-by-step instructions on how to clean my room. Everything from how to fold clothes, to the actual workflow process for cleaning the entire room. All written for a 10 year old. I hated the topic, but I loved the book.
From this book, I learned a technique that I still use today, in both my cleaning and in my professional approach to work. This book actually taught the concept of “single Handling” as it applies to room cleaning.
Here is the process:
1. Clean off your bed
2. Make your bed – this means: folding the sheets, and laying the blanket out on top
3. Put EVERYTHING from around your room on the bed. Clear off all the shelves, empty the drawers; literally EVERYTHING goes on your bed. You now have a massive trash heap, made from all your junk.
4. Clean the now empty room. Since everything is on the bed, you can dust, sweep, vacuum, and wipe down all the spaces and furniture.
5. Now walk over to your bed and pick up ONE object.
6. Here is the important part: Don’t set this object down, until it is in the place it belongs. No matter what.
7. Now just repeat step #6 with everything else on your bed.
8. The once your bed is empty, make the sure the top blanket is clean – then you are all set!
There are a couple things that really stuck with me about this book:
1. Use pictures
Every page in this book was filled with illustrations, step-by-step and easy to follow. It really helped communicate the message to my stressed out and disorganized 10 year old brain – almost 2 decades before Ehow.com and Yahoo Answers.
2. Create a system that forces you to succeed
…or at least makes failure super uncomfortable. The trick about putting everything on your bed is that you cannot sleep until the bed is cleaned off! Now you could always shove things around, but even as a 10 year old, I was not too keen about sleeping on an uncomfortable mound of hard toys. This gave extra motivation to finish!
The main lesson for me though, was not setting down the object until it ended up where it belonged. I use this idea still when I am working on – well, anything. If you have a stack of books to read, school work to complete, or bills to file: pick up the first one and don’t set it down until you are really finished with it. This allows you to focus on one thing at a time. It also allows a sense of completion when you know the task is actually completed.
How my life changing experience can change your life:
1. CHANGE YOUR DAY
Write down three ideas or projects that you keep talking about doing, but never seem to have the time for. List the most important one first, then “Put it on your bed.” By this I mean, keep it “in your face” all the time, and don’t work on anything else until it is complete.
2. CHANGE YOUR WEEK
Keep things contained – big ideas, projects, and messy rooms can all feel overwhelming. By keeping the “mess” in one spot, you can metaphorically “dust the shelves” and “vacuum the carpets.” When you work with a blank canvas, ideas and possibilities can really flow.
3. CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Think about an area of your life that is feeling disorganized – how can you collect all your thoughts into one place? Then once you have collected these thoughts, start dealing with one at a time, concentrating on only what is in front of you.