What’s Your Clutter Clearing Style?

Imagine this. You have decided to move to a new home, one that is considerably smaller than the one you now live in. How would you approach that task?

I have moved house and home many times. Each time, in anticipation of an impending move, even before I’d found a new home, I would immediately begin clutter clearing, doing something every day to lighten my load on moving day. I would slowly make my way through the house, trashing or donating everything that would not fit with the life I wanted to have in my new home. I describe myself as a plodder, someone who when faced with a task does a little bit of work every day until the task is done. I appreciate a deadline, but don’t need a deadline to take action.

As you know, not everyone is a plodder. I was recently working with a client who was planning a move. She had a large home and would be downsizing. Instead of beginning to clear clutter, she was out looking at houses. The work she wanted us to do together focused on digging out her backlog of paper that had been accumulating for months, but I was chomping at the bit to help her begin clearing out those things that would not be going with her to her new home. I sensed no such urgency from her. If anything, she seemed reluctant to start clearing out her house to prepare for the move. When she talked about looking at houses I asked, “ Do you want to find the home you’ll buy so you’ll have a deadline to motivate you to start clearing out this house and packing to move? Are you needing that deadline to get you moving?” She said, “ Yes, I guess I do.” My client is what I call a “burster”, someone who works in bursts of activity, mostly motivated by firm deadlines, especially when tasks that need to be done are difficult, overwhelming or boring.

I first became aware that there were differences in the way people approach getting tasks done when I was in high school. In my diligent, plodding manner I’d always finish my assignments well in advance of their due dates. I had several friends, however, who would coast along enjoying life while I worked, and then work frantically the day before an assignment was due. I plodded. They worked in last minute bursts! I have one such friend who says, “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done!”

I have since learned that the explanation behind plodder and burster behavior is differences in brain wiring. Some people are wired such that they need the pressure of a deadline to activate their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with executive functions like organizing and getting things done. Others, like me, can activate the prefrontal cortex without the pressure of a deadline. In fact, my brain works less efficiently if rushing to finish a task at the last minute.

What are you, a burster or a plodder? Which ever type you are, it’s probably due to your wiring, and therefore a way of being that is difficult and possibly impossible to change. Being conscious of the way you work is helpful. Plodders can become more tolerant and less judgmental of bursters who seem to thrive on stress, understanding that there is more going on than just an addiction to excitement, and that there is more than one way to get things done. Bursters, knowing that they need deadlines to create the motivation to take action, can create deadlines for themselves to make sure that important tasks get done.

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in your life. If you’re ready to finally clear the clutter from your life and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

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