For over 35 years, my passion has been helping people accomplish their work and enjoy their lives by eliminating clutter. Research shows that 80% of what we keep we never use, and the more we keep the less we use. Ironically, many people are unable to accomplish their work or enjoy their lives because of the clutter, while much of the world does not have the basic necessities of life, which in many instances, could be solved by the clutter of other people’s lives.
For the first 20 years of my business, I focused on paper and physical clutter — which I wrote about in my first book Taming the Paper Tiger in 1988. With the advance of the internet, I wrote Taming the Paper Tiger at Work which included the additional organizing challenges of digital clutter. In recent years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the true clutter which prevents people from accomplishing their work and enjoying their lives is emotional and spiritual clutter. It is my belief that God put each of us on this earth for a specific purpose. Unresolved issues cloud our ability to carry out our purpose, and become emotional clutter. Lack of clarity about our purpose can cause us to sumble through life and collect spiritual clutter.
As I sat in a therapist’s office after the collapse of my first marriage, she asked, “What do you want? You have a clean slate.” I answered, “I have no idea.” She replied, “Let’s start with what you don’t want.” Identifying what I didn’t want clarified what I did want. That realization changed my life, and impacted the way I built Productive Environment Institute, and the way we help individuals and organizations today.
Our lives are a puzzle, but unlike a puzzle that you and I might put together in which we would complete the edges first, only God has the frame for our lives. Every experience that we have is a piece in that puzzle, though we do not fully understand the depth and breadth of it during our lifetime.
One of the items on my “bucket list” was to write a book with the timeless principles that have evolved through my work beginning with “Clutter is postponed decisions®” and ending with “Together we are better.” While I like the other books I have written, I love Less Clutter More Life™ — and if I die tomorrow, I feel I have accomplished what I was put on this earth to do. (Having said that, my goal is to give a speech when I am 100, so I have no plans to stop yet!) I feel so blessed that my dear friend and colleague Louise Wannier was willing to collaborate with me to make this dream of mine a reality. I literally cried when I saw the photographs she chose to compliment my words.
Less Clutter More Life™ is not a “how to” book — it is a “why to” book. The words in it will be just as true 100 years from today as they are today. It is designed to encourage you to acknowledge your deepest feelings so you can accomplish your work and enjoy your life. Focus on the path, not a destination.
Life is a puzzle. We may not know or understand how it all fits together.
We may sometimes be fearful and uncertain.
Clutter takes on many forms and has many consequences.
For too many people, clutter has become a standard of living. Our society has grown accustomed to filling up our homes, our cars, our offices, our calendars, and even our minds with much more “stuff” then we can manage. This pursuit often begins with the mindset that the more stuff we have or do, the more happiness we will experience. Sadly, many people find themselves in a place of discovering that the “pursuit of happiness” has cluttered up their lives so much that they are unable to enjoy the life that we were created and called to live.
Clutter often results from the development of habits. However, it is important to remember that habits are subject to our choices to change. Organization is a choice you can make to develop systems and skills to help you enjoy more freedom in your life. If this change is one that you desire to make then this is the book for you. The easy-to-follow wisdom of Barbara Hemphill will help motivate you to conquer the clutter in your home or office while guiding you through the processes and principles needed to help you make choices and changes that will enable you to experience less clutter and more life!
Founder & Executive Director of LeadHer
Andrea used to be a teacher so she kept everything she might need in case she decided to teach again. Keeping things “just in case” is emotionally admitting that you are not sure you are going to succeed. After consideration, she was able to release the materials and is now secure and growing in her new profession.
Photographs from other people’s families are difficult to release, particularly if you received them from your best friend. Instead of telling yourself you are being uncaring, release them. In their place, take time to put the names and ages of your friends’ children in your contacts so when you next talk you will have them.
Files can also be fun! I love to take day trips with a friend or family member.
A file called “Adventure Possibilities” is a file where I store ideas for such a day.
A client created a “Warm Fuzzy” file — a place she put papers that brought happy memories for those inevitable days when everything seemed to be going wrong.
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