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Barbara and I were speaking the other day and she asked me, “Louise, how can I communicate to entrepreneurial leaders that they need to do the 8 hour miracle – I have an easier time getting them to pay for the training than to get them to complete it – what is the block? Can you help me figure it out?“ I am a good example. Barbara and I have known each other for 20 years and for 20 years I thought I understood her approach and that I could do it, but that I just hadn’t taken the time to do it for myself. I had resisted Barbara’s teaching over the years thinking that I understood it and could do it myself anytime that I wanted to, but that other things were simply more important right now. Each successive moment of other things being more important, continuing for years and years on end.
My epiphany came while helping Barbara to create this book, while sitting for hours with her words and my images working on the design and layout and sequence and taking the time to feel which image was needed to reach the emotional block corresponding to each pages’ words and stories. Often accomplished Entrepreneurs and Leaders, we spend so much time in our heads, focusing on solving business problems, helping and guiding others’ work and building others’ systems, that we forget to take care of ourselves. Our offices can be a mess, but our companies can run smoothly. The mess however takes a toll on our psyches…the hidden cost. It wasn’t important enough. Something else was always more important.
Finally, I agreed to experience the 8 hour miracle myself. Barbara and I did it over the phone. I had my assistant, April, here with me, and we tackled the creation of the system that would work for my home office. It isn’t the thinking about it, but the doing it, and having the help of someone to do it with you, that makes the difference. Barbara is able to work with strong-minded individuals to help them see what they didn’t see – that actually we are better together, and that how we care for ourselves and do the things that we need, supports us to do our work better.
I feel a weight lifted to know that everything I had in my papers strewn on my desk, beneath my desk, and across the piles in the house, is now on action and reference lists, and indexed so that I can find and work with anything in seconds. We aren’t done, as I still have a few boxes under the desk to process and take through the system we have established, but each day, or week, I end by completing and taking the ten minutes to put things where they need to go, to maintain the system. I feel lighter, free-er, en-abled and my spirit lifts in joy.
Take the time for you!
Your ability to accomplish any task or goal is directly related to your ability to find what you need when you need it. The next time you experience poor customer service, ask yourself “What information was needed that the customer service provider didn’t have?” This article outlines The 7 Information Management Questions EVERY business needs to answer to provide great customer service. http://www.articleweekly.com/barbara-hemphill/how-companies-thrive-in-the-digital-age/
For years when someone asked me to autograph one of my books for them or a friend, I always included the book recipient’s name in the inscription. When I started autographing Less Clutter More Life, for some reason, I recalled all the times I was with clients agonizing over what to do with a personally autographed book they no longer really wanted. In fact, for years, the only books I personally never donated were autographed!
With that realization, I stopped adding the recipient’s name, unless specifically requested to do so. If you have an autographed copy, you will see the inscription, “Blessings, Barbara Hemphill.” Now when you are done with the book, you can easily give it to someone else.
That experience encouraged me to give some thought to what other clutter I could be creating for others without meaning to, and what can I do to avoid it. Now when I give a gift, I often say, if it turns out this ____________ doesn’t work for you, please feel free to donate it to your local Goodwill, or someone you think might enjoy it.
Recently during an 8 Hour Miracle, applying the “Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” test, my client discovered several photographs of the children of her colleagues. I really don’t need them, she said, but I feel badly throwing them away. I totally understood. I suggested that she say a prayer for the children before she discarded them, but the experience has made me wonder how I could be more proactive in helping others to eliminate what I give them.
I have spoken with hundreds of people who are concerned about what their children are going to do with the things they are leaving behind for their children to deal with because they were unable to do so themselves. I have also worked with dozens of clients who were simultaneously grieving over the loss of a loved one, and agonizing over what to do with everything they left behind.
Based on my experience in over three decades, one of the most wonderful gifts you can leave your children is the message that whatever they do with your belongings is fine. After all, as the Good Book says, “This world is not my home.” Everything I have has been loaned to me by my Creator, and I’m off to an even more amazing place where I can truly accomplish my work and enjoy my life.
Research 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:
- Start with your own stuff and don’t tell anyone what you are doing. Lead by example.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Before you begin, get a trash bag, for those things no one needs, and paper and marking pens.
- For every hour of organizing, allow ten minutes for “clean-up.” Set a timer as a reminder!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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: 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!
Recently 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
This evening, together with 15 other B’Nai Mitvah students, I will be completing a two-year course of study by helping to lead the services and will be called to read from the Torah portion for this week. I wish everyone much joy, as I feel, in being able to reach this point in my life and choosing to complete that which I began and interrupted when I was 12. At the age of 12, I didn’t have the life experience to appreciate what it means to connect to our spiritual roots and the joy that is visceral in singing the ancient hebrew text. I am not religious as a person, but I am spiritual and I am so happy to now have the calm to focus and enjoy this experience.
Beginning the process of releasing clutter has helped me to see clearly what is most important in my life. I wish each of you the same discoveries.