The First Step To Decluttering Your Life by @MonicaRicci

Photo Credit: ali edwards via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: ali edwards via Compfight cc

by Monica Ricci | Featured Contributor 

In addition to my full time productivity and speaking business I, along with my husband and another friend, produce a fun video wine review and education blog. Each summer I spend a month in northern California researching small production wineries, meeting with winemakers, shooting video and yes, tasting wines to determine which ones we’d like to review in the coming year.

A few weeks ago I came back to Atlanta from my annual California jaunt and I realized our house needs attention. Suddenly the upstairs bookcase was overflowing, the laundry room was a little cluttered, and the garage looked dangerously close to messy. It would be easy to blame this new clutter on my sweet husband. After all, a month as a bachelor is bound to take a toll on a married man’s home.

But it wasn’t his fault. The truth is my house looked about the same as it did when I left; the only difference was how I saw it. My eyeballs, having been on the west coast for several weeks, suddenly saw all the little pockets of clutter that I had stopped noticing before I left. Hmmm is that even possible?

Our brains have a mechanism called the Reticular Activating System, which takes note of anything new in our environment to determine whether it’s a danger. After the brain has determined the change or new thing isn’t dangerous, we magically stop noticing it. It actually fades into the landscape of our vision because our brain has decided it’s no longer worth noticing.

A-ha! That explains why all the little piles of clutter in your house suddenly become visible a week before you host a big holiday dinner! Your awareness shifts and you see your home the same way your guests will. (Thank goodness!)

So how do you heighten your awareness without leaving for a month or agreeing to host a big event?

Take a photo. I always have my organizing team take “before” photos of our clients’ spaces before they begin organizing. Flattening a space into two dimensions helps you see it differently.

Another way to reboot your awareness is to choose a small area of your home (or office) and count the things you see. Every single item. We tend to see groups of items as a single thing, and counting each item focuses your attention on the individual members of the group, rather than on the group as a whole.

My colleague Judith Kolberg, who specializes in working with chronically disorganized people, recommends a similar tactic. She asks her clients to look their space through a cardboard toilet paper tube. Interesting huh? Observing very small, isolated sections of your space shifts your perspective.

However you choose to do it, increasing your awareness of your home and office spaces is the first step to decluttering your space and making powerful, positive changes in your life.


Monica Ricci – Productivity Pro and Speaker – Atlanta GA

Monica Ricci - Productivity Pro and Speaker I believe life and business should be as enjoyable and meaningful as possible and since 1998 I’ve been helping people create simple, joyful, powerful lives! I do this through productivity training, speaking, writing, creating content for blogs, social media and print publications. I love showing people how to get the most out of life by making it simpler and more meaningful using the principles of organizing and productivity, coupled with self-mastery and a dash of technology!

I write my own blog and I create content for other companies’ blogs and Internet channels too. I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with the media over the years. I hosted my own radio show, Organization Nation and you might catch me on re-runs of HGTV’s popular show, Mission: Organization, which was a lot of fun!

Teaching is one of my favorite things, so I offer results-oriented workshops that motivate participants to implement new strategies for effectiveness and productivity in life and work. As a keynote speaker, I share insights, perspectives and heartfelt stories that inspire audiences, challenging them to clarify their own priorities so they can live life in a way that makes a difference.

I speak at meetings, conferences, corporate events and I represent products on radio & television. My speaking and writing topics include time management, overcoming procrastination, organization, paper flow, life balance and productivity.

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2 Replies to “The First Step To Decluttering Your Life by @MonicaRicci”

  1. Sylvia

    LOVE the science of the Reticular Activating System behind the accumulation of clutter! So very interesting!

    1. Monica Ricci[ Post Author ]

      Sylvia, the brain is a fascinating thing isn’t it? Thanks for your comment!

      ~ Monica

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