You know those jobs on your to do list that seem to hang around forever? Or when you have a room that’s supposed to be used 1 way but never seems to be used the way it’s intended? Or you have a room that you want to use but it’s hiding the clutter you stashed 5 minutes before company showed up? If you can relate to any of the above (or all 3) then this post is for you!
We’ve experienced all of the above situations. Eventually, we get to the point when enough is enough; something has to be done!
We know that many people suggest just starting somewhere when there’s a lot to be done. While this may work when you’re cleaning, it may not when you are decluttering or are trying to make a room functional again. You will make some headway but you won’t get the lasting change you want. Or you’ll be discouraged from starting because there’s too much in the way. For example, we wanted to our spare room to be a den/guest room. It technically was but if anyone wanted to stay over it was a mad dash to clear the crap and get it ready. It would be clear for awhile but, inevitably, the clutter and excess things that got in the way throughout the rest of the house would end up in this room.
Where to start
Tidying the room wasn’t the answer. In working with the Professional Organizer (money well spent: read more about it here and here) we realized the room we were trying to create wasn’t where we needed to start.
We figured out that things kept ending up in the room that didn’t belong there. The solution was to purge and organize our kitchen and then our hall closet so there was a specific place for the things that kept ending up in the den/guest room but didn’t really belong. We had no idea there was so much to purge from our kitchen until we started. This was one of our first experiences learning that the starting point wasn’t where we thought it was.
We have come across this time and again – needing a change and finding the place we actually had to start was somewhere else. In instances when we feel stuck in moving forward with a project, we ask each other “what is the linchpin?”
What is a linchpin?
Bear with us as we explain. Dictionary.com’s definitions of a linchpin are “pin inserted through the end of an axletree to keep the wheel on” or “something that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together”.
Regardless, the linchpin is the key piece that keeps something functioning a certain way. When we ask each other, “what is the linchpin?” we are really asking what is the 1 thing that is keeping us in this current state? In other words, what key piece needs to move for space to open up and change to occur?
Finding the linchpin
Once we start identifying what’s holding us up, we ultimately get to a where nothing is stopping an action – this is the starting point – the proverbial linchpin that needs to be pulled. Once that linchpin is altered, a space opens up for where everything can align so lasting change can occur.
Figuring out where to start requires you to have the end goal in mind. When you know what you’re trying to achieve you can start to work backwards to figure out how to achieve it. Keep asking what is stopping this from happening until you get to the point where nothing is stopping an action. At that point you have figured out your linchpin. You’ve also made a plan to get the job done.
The importance of finding the starting point
One way to picture this is thinking of a Rube Goldberg Machine. If you start haphazardly – in the middle or in 2 different spots – the machine won’t work. The intended outcome won’t happen because things don’t line up in the right order for the machine to execute properly. Asking “what is the linchpin?” is figuring out what the beginning piece is that will trigger the Rube Goldberg Machine to do what it’s designed to do.
For the most part, we can intuitively do this. But when something’s been hanging around on the to do list for awhile or you’re not able to create lasting change in a space, take a few minutes to figure out the linchpin that’s holding everything together. Pull it and bask in the pathway that opens up.
What project has been sitting on your to-do list for too long? Let us know in the comments!
Denise and Sean