A Ton of Stuff
How clearing our minds, home AND desks can lead to more freedom, better performance AND increased productivity.
As a Personal coach, I spend a lot of time helping people part from their belongings. During the course of workshops, coaching calls or through articles such as this one, I explain to my clients why I feel that it is important to reduce the amount of things in our lives. I share many tips and often lend a hand in the physical process of de-cluttering. I love it. I feel a passionate calling to do my part in what I consider to be important work. I believe that the choices we make in creating our environment greatly impact our physical, mental and emotional health.
Of course, I do my very best to "walk my talk". I apply my beliefs to my everyday life and do a pretty good job at it. My house is not very cluttered and I feel that we do not have many extra things. In fact, I secretly pride myself in our ability to live lightly.
In the course of switching home last week, I hired professional movers to come to our house and give me a bid on how much it would cost to physically move our belongings. In order to do this, the man had to estimate - in pounds - how much stuff we have. He walked around from room to room, scribbling notes. Fifteen minutes later, he was ready to talk to me. His words still ring in my ears. He said: "four tons". It took me a while to understand what he meant. You see, if we, as a family of four, own 4 tons of material things, that means that I, as a member of this family... own A TON OF STUFF. Yikes. Now, I could count the cat as another member of our family and divide the four tons by five, reducing my personal score to ... less than a ton. The truth-seeking part of my mind refused to do the math. Darn. So, there I sat, humbled and somewhat amused, once again reminded of how challenging it is to keep stuff at bay.
The following days were spent sorting through our belongings, more conscious than ever about taking my own advice. I made nine trips to the local thrift store, my car filled to the rim with items that did not pass "the test" (more on this in a little bit). Each time, after leaving the thrift store and looking in the rear view mirror at my empty car, I was taken by a feeling of lightness, freedom and rejuvenation. These things did not serve us anymore and their presence into my life had become a subtle yet powerful energy drain. Parting with them allowed life force to flow freely; the feeling of lightness was almost physical. Over the next few days, I was told many times how great I looked, how healthy and vibrant. I wondered if anyone would really believe me if I told them that my beauty secret resided at the Soroptimist shop!
Today, I am filled with humility, compassion as well as an even greater understanding of both the challenge involved in de-cluttering and the depth of the reward brought on by doing so.
In the hope of helping you experience the benefits of simplifying your surroundings, I am want to share with you a "mantra" which I find to be very effective. The only difficulty involved is to remember to use it and to use it honestly. Then allow it to work its magic. Ready?
"Actively Used or Deeply Cherished"
Here is how it works: I suggest starting with a small area (maybe a drawer) which you will be able to finish in one sitting, depending on how much time and energy you have at the time. It is important to know that the process will most likely require more energy than you anticipate. I never work for more than 90 minutes at a time with my clients and I would suggest starting with 15 minutes. This is big work, one which involves more than your physical presence. Be gentle with yourself.
Now let's say you are working with the kitchen "junk" drawer (eventually you will be able to tackle the whole garage!). I want you to pick up each and every object in that drawer, one at a time. And for each object, I want you to look at it and ask yourself the question: "Is this Actively Used?" This will mean different things for different objects. The lawn mower only gets used a few times per year whereas the can opener may get used daily. They are both Actively Used. The popsicle sticks which you have kept "just in case" (three dangerous words, by the way) are not Actively Used. If you have answered, "yes" to this question, you get to keep it.
If you have answered "no", you move on to the second question: "Is this Deeply Cherished? This does NOT mean that you like it. It does not mean that you keep it because your in-laws have given it to and may wonder where it is when they come visit. It means that when you look at it, it gives you joy. The key word here is "give". The object gives to you. If the answer is "yes", you do not need to explain or justify yourself to anyone, you get to keep it.
That's it. Do not get caught up in "the story". Repeat the question with each object. Answer it truthfully. Go to the next.
Any object, which does not fall into either one of these two categories, owns you. You pay (with time, money and energy) to house and maintain this object. It does not give you anything back. It is a bad and inconsiderate roommate. Kick it out.
As fall arrives and we get ready to enter what I consider the un-official beginning of the New Year, I encourage you to lighten your surroundings. It will bring you... a ton of energy, flow and productivity!
PS: for more info on power de-cluttering your way to a higher level of performance, see my FREE intro TeleClasses September 16 and October 2.
A seven-week TeleSeries starts Oct 9.
Learn more about the author, Laura Lavigne.
Comment on this article
No one has posted a comment yet. Be the first!