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Chocolate, Candlelight and Clutter
By Sue Augustine

Published in Beyond Ordinary Living

“The first decade of the new millennium will be about anti-clutter.”
Cobi Ladner, Editor of Canadian House and Home Magazine


Don’t you love to be pampered? With a day at a spa only a dream for many of us, there are lots of other things we can do to significantly enhance our everyday lives. One of the best is creating a stress-free workspace by doing a clean sweep of our surroundings.

Remember being told that once we had computers, we’d have less paper? According to recent studies, the truth is that we now have ten times more. If piles of bills, statements, junk mail, newspapers, magazines, and catalogues are threatening to bury you alive, it’s time to take control of your outer space.

Outer disorder and clutter creates (or may indicate) inner turmoil and chaos. In contrast, uncluttered spaces in home and office bring a sense of peace and stimulate creativity. How much easier to be productive in a setting that is visually serene than when everywhere you look there is a reminder that things are out of control.

Often, we find ourselves procrastinating, making excuses, and focusing on other activities in an attempt to avoid the mess around us. Fortunately, organization is a skill that can be learned, beginning with understanding the origin of the problem. There are several reasons our desks and dining room tables get piled high with papers: an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, fear that once we put something away we’ll never see it again; failing to file things because there is no place to put them; and not having a plan for “managing the mess”.

Creating a blueprint for success is crucial if you want to get rid of clutter and stay organized. As you begin your own de-clutter exercise, select a block of time, whether it’s an hour, a full day, or a weekend. Remember, this is pampering yourself, and well worth the effort! Be sure to have on hand all the supplies you’ll need: a wastebasket, file folders, labels, pen and markers, stapler, paper clips; and other organizational aids that suit your personal or professional needs. Then be merciless: LEAVE NO PILE UNTURNED.

   Begin by clearing everything from your desk or tabletop into one giant pile. Although just seeing the bare desktop can be a liberating experience, now is the time to find permanent homes for all that stuff.  Pick out the larger chunks like manuals, phone directories, and catalogues for an instant sense of achievement. Next, make four smaller piles by grouping similar things together. The first pile is for “urgent” items, anything that must be done right away. Pile number two will be ongoing tasks and activities – project ideas, current assignments, future plans and goals. Pile number three will be unanswered phone messages, memos, and client correspondence. The last pile is for the wastebasket.  According to organizational studies, approximately 60% of everything currently on your desk will go in this pile.

All the things you are afraid to get rid of because “you just may need them,” can go into a “slush file” to be looked at again in two weeks. You may feel freer to let them go when you look at them again, or you may decide you really do want to keep them. The Ecclesiastes 3 paraphrase “There is a time to search and a time to give up; a time to keep and a time to throw away” may help to liberate you.

The important goal is to stay clutter free. Commit to a habit of handling each new piece of paper only once. Follow the 3D principle and either deal with it immediately, delegate it, or discard it. Remember - file, don’t pile!

The results of this process are right up there with chocolate and candlelight baths. Clutter-free outer space promotes inner peace. And you may be surprised what dreams come true once clutter is gone for good!



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