One of the reasons clutter piles up is because we let it.

Sounds silly, right? But think about this: when trash cans in your home or office are full, you empty them. The trash can is a boundary for how much garbage you can collect before you have to take action.

The same principle holds true in our space or schedule but often we haven’t established any limits. So how do you Set Real Boundaries? In a home or office, you gauge the physical space and the amount of use of each type of item; then you create your parameters. For example, if an office (whether business or home) has space for a desk, four-drawer file cabinet, and four-shelf bookcase, then the number of papers you can have in the office is the number that fit into the file cabinet (about 18,000 sheets). If you need to file more papers than fit in the one file cabinet, you may need to get a smaller desk or a narrower bookcase in order to accommodate another file cabinet. However, if you have more books than will fit into the bookcase, you might eliminate the file cabinet in favor of a desk that has file drawers so you can add a second set of bookshelves. What you do depends on your needs. And these may change over time, so your office might be perfect now, but you may have to reconfigure boundaries in the future.

Photo by Steve101.

You also Set Real Boundaries in your schedule except that in this instance, one boundary has already been set: you only have 24 hours each day. You can’t add or remove hours; you can only adjust what you do (or don’t do) and the length of time allotted. Often we skimp on sleep in order to get additional tasks done. But if your body requires eight hours of sleep a night in order to be productive (that’s the boundary), then other activities will have to be changed or deleted in order to allow for the eight hours of sleep.

Get some more information and ideas for setting real boundaries on this page, or watch Janice talk about some other ways you can set real boundaries in the video below: