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« How to Benefit from Letting Go Practice Runs | What Makes It So Hard to Let Go? »
Tuesday
Apr122016

Learn One Amazing Secret That Helps You Let Go

Matthew Hoffman, artistAre you ready to learn one of the best ways to facilitate letting go?

Parameters.

Set some boundaries or guidelines around your decision-making before you start the actual process of releasing things. Setting parameters in advance will allow you to move at a faster pace, decrease stress and reduce decision-fatigue.

Here's one way you might use this concept. Let’s say you have decades worth of health-related newsletters. Some you’ve read and others you haven’t. While you know there’s a lot of interesting information in those pages, the information isn’t current. So instead of reading through every newsletter, you decide to activate a parameter. You choose that for any health newsletter that’s over five years old you'll recycle it immediately without looking through the pages. By setting this date parameter, you’ll save yourself hours of reading information that isn’t relevant. Instead you can use your decision-making energy for more important choices.

You can use the parameter concept for other areas too. Let’s say your closet is overflowing. It’s a daily challenge to get dressed. There’s no space on the racks or shelves to move things around so you can't see what’s there. You have an abundance of black pants and bulky sweaters, many of which you don't wear. So instead of organizing the entire closet, you start with only those two categories. You opt to put some guidelines in place and decide that four pairs of black pants and six bulky sweaters are “enough.” Now it’s a matter of selecting which are your favorites. With your number parameters in place, it makes letting go easier.

Now it’s your turn to choose. Which parameters will make the letting go part of your organizing journey easier? Remember that the more parameters you establish in advance, the less decision-fatigue you’ll experience, the faster you’ll reach your goals, and the less stress you’ll experience.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What has your experience been with creating letting go parameters? 

 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (21)

This idea is very wise, Linda. Setting parameters or guidelines is a really good way to speed along the process of culling a collection. I ask clients to come up with a set of rules which we post and use to aid in our decluttering of the space. My clients and I find this to be a very helpful strategy which eliminates much of the guess work.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- What a great idea to "post" the rules that you and your clients set up. I love that idea. I usually write them down so I can refer to and review with my clients when they get stuck. However, making the list REALLY visible to them is a brilliant idea. Thank you for the inspiration!

April 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Terrific and practical concepts. Having a rubric releases some of the tension from decision-making. The simple example is the expiration date... that actually tells us to get rid of it. Same idea can be extended to all of possessions. Decide in advance, and then all you need to do is execute. Love this post!

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- Ahhh…that wonderful "expiration date" parameter! That's a very useful and powerful one. I activated that exact one for something in my refrigerator JUST this morning. But it's also very useful when organizing in bathrooms and kitchens.

April 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Parameters are a great idea, narrowing down your options when letting things go, keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by the process.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

@Jill- I love that you mention the common experience of feeling "overwhelmed" when it's letting go time. Part of that is due to the flood of emotions that can accompany the process. But it's also due to decision-fatigue. You're so right that by reducing the "options" prior to the decision-making phase, it also can reduce the feelings of overwhelm. Thank you for connecting the dots.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I agree, Linda. Setting parameters is a staple technique of my character Patience Oaktree, with many examples throughout my novels and short stories.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterValentina Sgro

@Val- That Patience is SO smart. She must get it from you!

April 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Setting parameters or finding limiting strategies helps everyone. Parameters can apply to any situation, whether it's deciding on what clothes to keep, where you are going to go on vacation or any decision you need to make. I like to encourage my clients to find their "number" - a baseline for limiting. "What number of choices feels best to you?" Once you feel comfortable with that number, it's easier to rely more regularly on setting that limit. It's surprising to my clients that this new concept feels so comfortable but reliable for them.

April 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- These are two significant points you bring up. The first one being that "parameters" can be used for all types of decisions. The other is discovering your own personal "baseline" number for the amount of choices that "feels best to you." Often having too many choices makes decision-making even harder.

It reminds me of a story from my childhood. Baskin Robbins (the ice cream company) had just opened a store in our area. My mom took a me there with a friend. We were so excited to have 31 flavors to choose from, which in those days was unique to have so many options. After a long time and much debate, my friend ended up choosing vanilla. She was overwhelmed by the options and went for something simple.

April 14, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

What great tips! I have a collection of nail polish that needs to be cleared out. My parameters are going to be if I can't open the bottle or if the color is goopy then they go. That should clear out about half of the bottles.

April 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Steele

My biggest organizing challenge is my files of printed articles, conference handouts and other reference materials. Although I've weeded down the collection more than once, the truth is that I almost never look at any of it, yet I still have that nagging sense of "someday I might need this."

I think a good compromise would be: next time I go through the files, I will write an expiry date on the front. Anything I refer to and decide to keep in the meantime can go into a new file folder, or scanned into my computer. When the expiry date arrives, the whole thing gets pitched. If I do a folder a week, it won't be a big project either.

Thanks for helping me think this through after such a long time!

April 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Jamie- What great clarity "can't open" or "goopy" you've put around editing your nail polish collection. Just this morning, when looking for something in our pantry, I used the "date" parameter to say bye-bye to a few things. Those parameters sure help make decision-making and letting go a lot easier.

@Janet- Thank you for sharing your thought process around the saved articles, conference and reference materials. Coming up with an "expiry date" for the next sort sounds like a great way of managing your parameters. I have a large collection of conference materials that I'm sure could also use some editing. I have gone back to refer to them, but infrequently. And I guess the question is, "Is it worth the real estate and mental energy these materials occupy?" The pondering continues...

April 16, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Setting parameters in our lives can help us at so many levels but I think you are so right when you apply it to letting go - it can help with decision fatigue and make the process much easier! I always encourage my clients who are having trouble making a decision to give themselves a time parameter, such as I will make a decision about this item in _______ minutes, hours, days, etc. This way they know that although they don't have to make an immediate decision, one does have to be made. Having that parameter seems to really help them rather than avoid it. Great post!

April 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLiana George

Parameters are so important for being able to establish boundaries related to our posessions. Thanks for this reminder to create rules for our stuff!

April 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

@Liana- Nice use of the time parameter with your clients. Having some guidelines in place definitely help to reduce the stress of decision-making, but still leave options on the table.

@Sarah- You're most welcome. Of course parameters can be used for things beyond the "stuff" too...as in how much white space do I want in my schedule, how many evenings out can I handle, etc... Boundaries, guidelines,or parameters...all great for sorting through a host of decision-making options.

April 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love this idea. We can create boundaries for ourselves. If I have a vertical bin attached to my filing cabinet. When the bin can't hold anymore, I then know I need to file them. I only keep shoes in my garage so if I buy a new pair of shoes, I get rid of at least one pair so they all fit in the bin. It works and is great for small homes too. Thanks for sharing.

April 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Sabrina- Ahhhh! Using the "space" parameter to set boundaries. Nice! Especially if you're visually oriented, have the visceral cue that it's time to take action can be very helpful. Thanks for adding that to the conversation.

April 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Hi Linda,

I have one parameter actually and it works so good for me. I call it "essential" and whatever is out of that, it is out my life. So questions such as "Are those newsletters necessary?" or "Do I need to have this old coat in my closet?" help so much to make decisions.

Thank you so much for this amazing article. Keep it up with the great work!

Zaria

April 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPsychic Nest

@Zaria- What a wonderful parameter! Using "essential" as your guide is a great way to clarify your decisions.

April 20, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Zaria - I really admire your ability to so easily identify what is and isn't essential!

April 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

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