At this point you've gone ahead and made notes using the practice of self-observation. You've watched and recorded how you feel and what you think as you lived in your space. So, now we put those notes to use.
If you haven't taken them yet, go back and read my how-to in the blog post, "Journaling to Learn Your Organizational Habits"
But once you have them in hand, the next phase it to make them usable. Start by sitting down and simply reading through them. For some, that'll be enough. The insights gained will be so obvious that you'll know exactly what to do next. For others the information might need a little more sifting and sorting. And the best strategy for sorting is categorizing.
Anything can be considered a category. Let's look at how you feel about what's on you list. Divide the list items into "good," "bad," and "neutral" categories. Color code them or re-list them by the nature of the feeling that they spark. You can go deeper by considering "intensity" of the feelings. Pause on each item for an instant and listen to your internal feedback. Get a sense of anything - irritation, anxiety, hope, excitement. How strong is it? Then rate each item by strength of emotional spark from least intense to most.
Maybe the most upsetting spaces will indicate your starting point. Or, perhaps, creating the space you're most excited about will inspire you to keep going.
You can go deeper and deeper by further categorizing each category. Start with the biggest, most vague groupings first - like room to room. You may find that the majority of your list items come from one room. Then you can categorize the list items from that room even more.
Another way to sort could be by routine - "going to work, walking the dog, eating healthy, getting into my passions." If 70% of the things in your notes pertain to the task of getting ready for work, then that's information for you.
And of course there will be lots of crossover.
This is not a quiz, or a test of your note-taking skills. You can't do this wrong. You're simply engaging in self awareness within your space and amongst your things. There is no specific formula. It will unfold perfectly for what you need. Any interaction with your notes will give you a degree of separation you need to help break things down into smaller, more manageable bites. And you will have more awareness of yourself in relationship to your things.
So, don’t stress the details. There are no rights or wrongs. This is a beginning, a fantasizing and planning phase. There is no pressure except that which you put on yourself. Go steady but, also easy.
You're done when you feel like you're done. And no matter how deep you went, you’ll have your thoughts contained on paper. And maybe they'll be even be categorized into groups that resonate with you. Then you can use all of that information as a guide while you clear and organize your way towards getting organized.
Now stay tuned. Next time, I’ll talk about the hands-on process of getting down and dirty with your stuff in a step-by-step guide to the dreaded task of clearing of your clutter.