The blog

10 Tips to Turn Your Clutter Into Someone Else’s Blessing

IMG_1872

1. Start with your own stuff and don’t tell anyone what you are doing. Be a LeadHer by example.
2. If you don’t feel you can do it alone, invite a friend to join you. As my mother always said, “More hands make lighter work.” Offer to do the same for her. You may even have a child who is naturally organized, and would love the opportunity.
3. Decide whether it would easier for you to do a little at a time – or set aside a larger block of time for sorting. Either works!
4. Identify places that would appreciate having what you don’t need. Our county has a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence.
5. Before you begin, get a trash bag, for those things no one needs, and paper and marking pens.
6. For every hour of organizing, allow ten minutes for “clean-up.” Set a timer as a reminder!
7. Go through the area you have identified and ask, “Does this ______ help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” If your answer is “Not really,” you have an opportunity for a blessing.
8. If you’re still not sure whether to keep something, ask “What’s the worst possible thing that would happen if I got rid of this, and I was wrong?” If you can live with your answer, let it go. If you’re still not sure, don’t stop – just go on to something else, and keep asking.
9. If you find something that belongs somewhere else, don’t go there – just put it in a pile to take when you are finished. Make a sign to indicate destination.
10. Before you go to your next activity, make a date with yourself to tackle the next cluttered area. Once you have gone through all the areas in your home, you can sustain your success by making it an annual event.

Drawing by Myers Taylor

Sometimes clutter comes in small boxes…

IMG_1029This week I was planning a luncheon for my husband’s cousin’s 86th birthday. All of the attendees are women who enjoy food, and especially trying something new — not a thrill for my husband whose philosophy is “Why mess with a good thing?” I thought of all the recipes in my recipe box that I hadn’t tried for years — decades in some cases, so I decided this was a good opportunity to take a look at what I was saving. As I began browsing through the recipe box, I realized that the majority of the recipes I would never make again. A few I could toss easily, but others were more difficult — not because I would use them, but because of the memories…

I frequently tell my clients that I teach what I have learned, or in many cases, am still learning. I realized the recipe box was another great place to apply the principles of Less Clutter More Life. I didn’t actually do the math, but I’m sure it was a great illustration of “80% of what we keep we never use.” I decided to do what I recommend: start by doing what is easy. The first ones to go were the those made with Jello — a popular ingredient of recipes when I was growing up on the farm, but not something I would do today. Then there were the ones I would never make now because I can buy them from the store 10 minutes away, probably for less than it would cost me to make them. (Quite different from the farm where the nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away and not open 24 hours!)

The box is less than half full now. I’m sure there are many that I’ll never use, but I’m not ready to let go yet. I think of my own advice: “You can keep everything you want if you’re willing to pay the price: time, space, money and energy.” And for now, I am. I’m sure that at some point in the future, I’ll be ready to let go of more. In the meantime, I found the recipe for “Summer Corn Casserole” made with fresh kernals of corn, radishes, and scallions. Everyone loved it.

Your Clutter is Another’s Blessing

IMAG0074Research shows that 80% of what we have, we never use. Look in your clothes closet, the kitchen cupboards, the linen closet, the garage, the children’s playroom, the attic…Here are 10 tips to help you turn your clutter into a blessing for someone else:

  1. Start with your own stuff and don’t tell anyone what you are doing. Lead by example.
  2. If you don’t feel you can do it alone, invite a friend to join you. Offer to do the same for her. As my mother always said, “More hands make lighter work.” You may even have a child who is naturally organized, and would love the opportunity.
  3. Decide whether it would easier for you to do a little at a time – or set aside a larger block of time for sorting. Either works!
  4. Identify places that would appreciate having what you don’t need. Our county has a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence.  Check out www.thestuffstop.com.
  5. Before you begin, get a trash bag, for those things no one needs, and paper and marking pens.
  6. For every hour of organizing, allow ten minutes for “clean-up.” Set a timer as a reminder!
  7. Go through the area you have identified and ask, “Does this ______ help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” If your answer is “Not really,” you have an opportunity for a blessing.
  8. If you’re still not sure whether to keep something, ask “What’s the worst possible thing that would happen if I got rid of this, and I was wrong?” If you can live with your answer, let it go. If you’re still not sure, don’t stop – just go on to something else, and keep asking.
  9. If you find something that belongs somewhere else, don’t go there – just put it in a pile to take when you are finished. Make a sign to indicate destination.
  10. Before you go to your next activity, make a date with yourself to tackle the next cluttered area. Once you have gone through all the areas in your home, you can sustain your success by making it an annual event.

Today’s mail is tomorrow’s pile!

I just spoke with a woman who attended a Less Clutter More Life presentation I gave and expressed an interest in learning more about how to create a  “Finding System™” as opposed to a “filing system”  for her home.  When we talked today she said, “I think I’m going to put this off until the end of next year.  We are building a home.  I’m so busy, and there’s really no point in figuring out something for this house when we are moving.”

Last week I spoke with a couple who are planning to open a new medical office in another year.  Both of them admitted to having lots of paper clutter, but said, “Let’s just wait until we move, and then we’ll figure out what we need.”

So here’s my challenge to anyone who is frustrated with too much paper, or an inability to find what they need:IMG_2674  The best time to solve that problem is NOW!  If you will give us four hours of focused time, we will help you implement a Finding SYSTEM (Saving You Space Time Energy Money!) which will STOP the filing problem in your life forever.  As you have time, you can go through old papers to decide what you want to incorporate into the new system.  If you never go back, it won’t matter, because eventually they will become old enough you don’t have to go through them — or you can let you kids, or the next owner of the business, through them away!

What Message Are You Communicating?

IMG_1955Recently I was talking with a woman who made the difficult decision to leave her corporate job after 20+ years to begin a consulting business of her own.  She was considering joining our training program to become a Certified Productive Environment Specialist (www.BecomeaSpecialist.com). As I was explaining how our program works, I mentioned that my personal passion is “helping leaders create Productive Environments — intentional settings in which everyone can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives.”  I mentioned that in my experience many leaders (especially entrepreneurs!) have messy offices.  As a result they communicate to their employees that organization is not important, and even worse, fail to empower those employees to implement the very systems that would increase profit, productivity, and peace of mind.  She replied, “You’re absolutely right.  My boss’s office was always a mess, and I often wondered how he could run a business if he couldn’t even organize his own desk!”

That’s the bad news.  The good news!  After 30+ years, I have scores of testimonials from clients who have discovered that if they are willing to invest eight hours of focused attention with one of our consultants to implement The 8-Hour Miracle™, not only can they be a role model for organization, but they can empower their employees to do the same.

What message is your office sending to your employees, your team, your family, the world?  Does your office reflect the quality of products and services you provide?
If not, click on this link to schedule a 30-minute phone consultation to see how we can help:  www.vcita.com/v/barbarahemphill

 

 

Dreams Come True!

The power of writing down your dreams is demonstrated by the blog I found that I wrote in 2014 about my desire to write a book about the timeless principles that have evolved in my  35+ years in  the organizing/productivity industry.  Less Clutter More Life is the result of that dream.

Here’s the link: Decide to DecideScreen Shot 2015-05-12 at 7.36.33 AM

Craving Connection

IMG_5226Our church is embarking on a capital campaign to build an addition to our facilities.  The consultant we hired to help us shared a survey concluding that one out of three people have no one in whom they can confide.  She then made an interesting statement:  “People used to go to church to find God.  Today they go to church to find community.”

On a recent flight from Raleigh to Tampa. I couldn’t help overhearing a conversation between my two seat mates: one, a stay-at-home mom for nearly 20 years, and the other, a seasoned male executive. She asked him a question about where he was going. What followed was a nearly two-hour conversation.  She said only a few words.

He shared in great detail stories about his business and financial successes, sprinkled with references to the numerous physical possessions and world travels he had provided for his family.  He also shared his sadness about several family members who were in various states of dysfunction. I couldn’t help wondering if he had ever shared those stories with anyone else, or if all those possessions resulted in physical — and perhaps emotional — clutter that prevented a true connection with the people he loved.

 

Emotional Clutter Revealed

image2I’ve always said that I teach what I need to learn. From K-8 grades, I went to a one room school where I was bullied. Whenever it was recess and we were playing games, I was the last one to be “chosen.” When I graduated from college with honors, my diploma wasn’t signed because I hadn’t finished my physical education requirements.

Recently I started working privately with a physical therapist. Today I went to class with other patients. In the past I have been afraid to go to any class that involved physical activity because I was afraid that I would be the worst student. To my amazement, I wasn’t!

My emotional clutter has been thinking that I would look stupid if I tried to exercise with other people. The Bible says that the sin that God most hates is pride, and I realized that my pride has prevented me from moving forward. The truth is that I might look uncoordinated, but so what? I’m tired of being stuck in my own emotional clutter. What is yours?

Appreciating God’s sense of humor…

It was nearly midnight as I was getting ready for bed in Kansas City, when I realized that I had left my make-up kit hanging on my bathroom door back at home!  I needed to be at my client for a Productive Environment Party at 7:30 am!  Thankful for a 24-hour Walmart, and praying that I could “guess” which make-up colors would work for me — especially since we were videotaping, I made my choice and headed to the store restroom to make the best of a bad situation. One of the things I’ve learned about public speaking is that transparency endears audiences to a speaker, so my story about the “organizing consultant forgetting her make-up” seemed perfect.  After my presentation, employees when back to their offices and storage areas to “clear the clutter.”  Mid-morning, a woman approached me with a small kit of make-up brushes.  Smiling, she said, “I’m not sure what we were planning to do with these here! They must be for you!”  IMG_5636