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Get rid of clutter and success will follow

>> 29 December 2010

What do the following items have in common?

  1. A loose button on your shirt that you have meant to mend for weeks.
  2. Your grandma's old china that you never use but keep anyway.
  3. An old grudge against an old friend.
  4. Unworn clothes in your wardrobe.
  5. Gifts you received but don't really like.
  6. Fear of failure in your future business
  7. The oil change your car is in desperate need of.
  8. The rented DVDs you need to return.
  9. The filing you need to do.
They are all clutter.

Clutter doesn't have to be a physical object (like the candle holder you got for your birthday that fits neither next to the television nor with the colors of your living room).

Clutter can also take the form of a thank you note that you have meant to write but didn't, a dentist's appointment you know you should make but keep 'forgetting'.

Whether it's the physical or incomplete clutter, they both drain your energy: every time you see them and they bother you, every time you think about them being unfinished.

My coach told me that you get up in the morning with 100 units of energy.

This is the energy you need to focus on your life, your intention, your passion, your happiness, the things you want to achieve.

Every time you come across some clutter, some units are taken away from you.

You are leaking energy towards either past events (the grudge your holding against your old friend), or imagined future events (fear of failing in your future business)

And these leaks keep you from focusing on what's important in the present: your goals, your intention, your future business, your healthy teeth, your car not breaking down.

How to get rid of clutter?

The above list of clutter didn't arrive on your doorstep this morning. You have been piling them up over the last months or even years (remember those old books and photos from university? when was the last time you look at them?).

And it is impossible to get rid of them all in a day. You need to proceed in small steps:

  1. Make a list: You can't fix what you can't name.
    (A4 landscape, make three columns)
    For the physical clutter, it is easiest to go around your house and write down what bothers you. Divide the list into each room of the house.
    Don't start with the basement.
    Take the least cluttered room, the bedroom for example (write down in first column):
    • Dirty socks on the floor
    • Coat hangers on the dresser
    • Clothes on the chair
    • Shirt with missing button
    • Old, ugly wallpaper
    • I hate the color and pattern of the bed sheets
    • That statue doesn't fit there
    • Kids toys under our bed
    Then move to the next room.
    Don't pick things up. Don't start clearing things away. Don't start being overwhelmed.
    Just write them down.
  2. Make another list:
    (A4 landscape, make three columns)
    For the incomplete (or unfinished) clutter, create another list. Empty your brain (first column):
    • Make dentist appointment
    • Write thank you note
    • Make service appointment for the oil change
    • Clear grudge with old friend
    Don't look for solutions, just write them down as they come up.
  3. Understand the purpose:
    These two list you have created are not TO DO Lists.
    They are there to:
    • make you aware that these items drain your energy
    • make you start repairing those energy leaks
    • give your brain a break (it's on the list, I don't have to continuously think about them)
  4. Create actions: you can't fix it if you don't know how
    • Take two items of one of the two lists (pick those that are easily doable/fixable) and circle them.
    • In the second column, write down how you can fix this problem - you can write down multiple solutions:
      • find a place for the statue
      • give to my cleaning lady (ask her first! you don't want to make your clutter hers!)
      • bring to the Salvation Army
    • In the third column, write down a completion date.
    • Do these two items this week.
  5. Don't over-unclutter:
    Next week, pick another 2 or 3 items off one of the two lists, add a solution, and do them during the week.

  6. Feel victory:
    As you start accomplishing more and more of these actions, notice the difference.

  7. Welcome success:
    As you start literally cleaning up your life and space, you are getting rid of leaks that drain your energy. This energy can now be used to create the life you intended for. You are able to focus and success will naturally follow.

  8. Future leaks:
    Although you will create new habits which prevent most energy drains, it is normal that over time, small leaks creep in. Now you have the tools to identify and fix them.
    If something is not going so well in the future, ask yourself which energy drain might be the cause of it. Maybe you didn't exercise enough, lag behind in your filing or haven't had a massage in a year. Put it on the leak list and fix it this week!


Anonymous,  10 January 2011 at 05:14  

Dear Mindful Mini,

You posted this list on my birthday. I'm reading it now (January 9), thinking, how did you know you were giving me a gift! Thank you. Patijo (I found you through your post on Christine's Blog.) Happy Birthday to you . . . whenever.

Mindful Mimi 10 January 2011 at 08:56  

Hello Patijo,
Happy belated birthday to you! My birthday is in December too and it clearly is always a month for reflection and especially getting rid of clutter (of all kind).
Glad you found me. So what is your word of the year?

Anonymous,  19 January 2011 at 06:06  

Dear Mimi,

My word for 2010 was "Beachcomb" (as a verb). I'd read a book called Beachcoming at Miramar, about a man trying to find himself. I looked to the word as a reminder to help me stay the course in finding myself. It helped. I didn't have the earth-shattering experiences that many wrote about, but I felt like I was on a path. All the best to you. Patijo

Mindful Mimi 19 January 2011 at 09:23  

Beachcomb is a nice word!
Did you ever read the book 'A year by the sea' by Joan Anderson? You should! It's really about that and quite an eye opener for me.
One doesn't have to have earth shattering experiences to move on. Sometimes it's all in the little things ;-)

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