What is your definition of clear and simple? It means different things to different people. Over the years I’ve heard these words described as many different things such as:


1)   Not having much STUFF

2)   A task that is easy to accomplish

3)  A plain, uncomplicated life


Even these easy definitions leave a lot open to interpretation. For instance, how much stuff is too much stuff? 


A few years ago, I worked with a business man in his office to help set up a records management system.  It took quite a bit of work to wade through all of the other things and areas in the offices, but when we were finished, he and his assistant were pleased with the outcome.  Gaining control in his office improved operations throughout the entire company. 


As happens many times, what is going on at the office is mirrored at home. So, I was not surprised when he asked me to work with his family as well.  When I arrived at the home, I saw that the family did have a similar situation as the one we had handled at his office.  There was just WAY too much stuff.  Not only was there no where to put anything because all of the storage places in the house were full, but there was so much stuff that needed to be put away that you couldn’t safely walk through a room. 


In addition to these issues, they had more stuff that was not yet unpacked from containers with shipping dates that were months old. There was simply too much stuff in this home and they all knew they needed help.

Think about WHY people do this kind of thing. There are many reasons, yes, but most of the time it’s because they are seeking fulfillment from the wrong source – material possessions – instead of looking at the situation as a whole and making a decision to change a habit, expectation or thought pattern.  Think about WHY people do this kind of thing; there are many reasons, yes, but most of the time it’s because they are seeking fulfillment from the wrong source – material possessions, instead of looking at the situation as a whole and making a decision to change a habit or expectation or thought pattern. 

They think that if they just have THAT thing – whatever THAT thing is, their lives will be SO much better.  They think, hey – it looks great in the magazine ad, or in the TV infomercial or on the web site, and they can pay just a little more and get RUSH delivery and begin using it NOW.  And since it’s so “cheap” let’s get 2 – that will be twice as good! 

If they only knew that there is no thing that will fill their lives it will be a giant leap toward solving a problem.  There is only one way to happiness and contentment in life, and that way is not through going shopping.   

Here are a few tips to help us get rid of stuff so you can focus on life:


1)     If you already have one, don’t buy another one – yes, even if you can’t find the one you already have!  Instead, clean the area of the “lost” item and find the one you have.  While you are cleaning, you will not be able to go out and buy more! 


2)     And yes, cleaning while you search is key – get out the dust cloths, the cleaning supplies and the vacuum and do the job well. It will give you a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of well being and you will be able to find the things you are looking for with ease. Stress in your life will decrease because you will know that your space is in order.  In another blog, we will discuss stress from disorganization and how it affects our health!


3)   Use it or lose it! Someone else can always benefit from things you really don’t want or use.  Donate! You will be amazed at how many different types of items can be donated to worthwhile charities: cars, clothes, mattresses, toys – almost anything. 


To keep things simple, make a record of the items and donate them to your favorite charity.  If you don’t know how much value to place on the item when donating, go to http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/itsdeductible/ and itemize your donations on that site.  There is a series of printable forms to fill in that will give you correct amounts to place on your donations.  You will be surprised at how much money you can save by filling in the form. 


A reader suggested having a party and giving your very nice, but unwanted, things away to your friends.  Number the items at the table and let them draw a number to see which item they get.  They can even trade with someone else if they like. This will be fun for everyone. There are many variations on this idea, so find the one you like and lose it!


4)   Recycle – especially paper.  It’s amazing how much space we take up in our homes storing old paper of all kinds.  Do you really need the whole newspaper if the only article you want to keep is on the second page of the C section? Allow yourself one magazine subscription per year and discontinue that one if you don’t read it every month. Be honest with yourself about this habit or lack of time.


Buy a file cabinet for the important papers you really do need to keep and set up a correct filing system.  If you use a system that is easy for everyone and keep the index in the front of the drawer, you will be able to find the items quickly and it will be easy to teach your family members to file using the system that you have set up.  DO get everyone in the family involved!


5)     DO NOT procrastinate.  Do it NOW.  Remember – no one procrastinates their way to an uncluttered life! 


Remember the executive I spoke about at the beginning?  He, his assistant and his family are still working with the system we began for them. The key was that he led the way at the beginning and is still leading by example. Their system continues to work well because they have gained freedom from clutter and have given up the bad habit of procrastinating.  As they all learned, if they do the mildly unpleasant thing like filing now they can relax at the end of the work week and enjoy their weekend, which is a pleasant thought for us all. 

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