You’re probably aware if you have too much stuff in your house or office. At the worst end of the scale you might only be able to move around via a little path through the mound of furniture, papers, stuff to be filed, office equipment, piles of ‘useful’ magazines, printers waiting to be mended, things that haven’t been put in their place, or don’t even have a place to which they belong. For most people it’s not quite as bad as the ‘little path’ scenario, but still, when you can’t see clear, clean surfaces around you, particularly in your office, then it’s a sign that there is room for improvement.
But why is it a good idea to have clear space? It’s a bit like the inside of your mind – the more calmness and space there is inside, the easier it is to think with clarity, and then the easier it is to make decisions, or to feel your way forward. You know when your mind is cluttered because you lurch from one thing to another, with no breathing space in between; you find it impossible to make even tiny decisions, and this all leads to emotional and even physical exhaustion, and all too often an attitude of not caring. Which, if you have staff, will spill over onto them. Not to mention how it affects your clients!
The same happens with your physical environment. Lack of clear, clean physical space is likely to affect your business because you just won’t be able to think as cleanly and clearly as you need to. Take a look around you right now – can you see clear, clean surfaces? Do you feel like you have space in which to think? If not, consider seriously whether or not it is time for letting go of some of your stuff.
Often having too much stuff is simply a product of your life and business growing and changing. As your needs, and those of your business, change, so does the stuff required to support those needs. Acknowledging this can of course be difficult, and so you might hear yourself muttering the following:
• I might need it one day
• I don’t want to seem ungrateful
• It was so expensive
• It’s really good, and you never know when it might come in handy
• It brings back such lovely memories
• I don’t want to hurt so and so’s feelings
These are often fear based statements – you’re afraid you might castigate yourself if you got rid of something and then regretted it; or you’re afraid what others will think of you, or that you’ll forget the lovely memories. I probably don’t need to tell you that decisions based on fear are not usually very helpful ones!
None of these are a problem though unless you have too much stuff. But if you are nearing the ‘little path’ scenario, or even just feel like you need some clarity and space, a different set of statements is required. Try asking yourself the following questions in relation to each item of your stuff:
1. Does it give me joy when I look at it?
2. Do I love it?
3. Do I use it? (How long ago did I use it?)
4. Do I have the storage to keep it somewhere that will not create clutter?
5. Am I willing to give up something else in order to make room for it?
6. Can I imagine myself or anyone else in my family ever loving it or using it in the foreseeable future?
For questions 1 – 4, if you have even a hesitation of ‘no’ as your answer, then take the opportunity to be brutally honest with yourself, and admit the truth of why you want to keep it. Then choose again. It’s OK to keep things if they don’t create that cluttered space. And it’s OK to let them go too.
With question 5 and 6, I also challenge you to really tell the truth to yourself – remind yourself that the space that is created will leave a vacuum. A vacuum always gets filled up, so something else, perhaps more appropriate, will come along to fill that space eventually. Until you need to let go again…