The Love It Or Lose It Principle: One Simple Key to Living Clutter-Free Forever

It wasn't long ago that you spent an entire weekend "decluttering" ? and now you are expecting guests in two days, and the guestroom is full of "stuff" again!

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy, 25% of people with two-car garages didn't park any cars in them and 32% parked only one. When it came to three-car garages, only 13% parked three cars. You probably don't have to think very hard to figure out that most of them are filled with clutter instead of cars! If you're looking for a solution to "clutter comeback" that is simple and sustainable, you're not alone!

Are you expecting fifteen people coming to a family dinner this weekend, or you are in a long-term project of preparing to sell your house for retirement? Are you desperate for immediate results, or patiently recognize that you are wrestling with more complex issues? In any case, there's a bedrock principle that has helped thousands of people and may help you too. This principle can help you triumph over the clutter in your home, your workplace, or your heart: Love It or Lose It!

Think of it this way. Every item around you represents a choice you made. You either consciously selected it, or it came to you, and you accepted it. And you continue to allow it space in your life. Whether it's your toaster that works OK except when the handle falls off and you burn your hands, or the vase from Aunt Agnes that reminds you of an unhappy family situation, or the desk that isn't quite big enough for the computer and all its extensions, each item around you has an effect on how you live every day.

In his book, The Beauty of Life written in 1880, William Morris wrote: "Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." We would add, "or love." With that in mind, look at every item in your life with fresh eyes. Do you know it's useful? Is it beautiful? Do you love it? If the answer to all three questions is "No!" ? then it's time to get rid of it. In other words, LOVE IT OR LOSE IT. Undoubtedly there's someone else in the world who would love it, so send it on its way ? you'll have less clutter, you'll be helping someone else --- and you can probably take a tax deduction for your good deed!

Love what nourishes your dreams and directions, lose what drains or distracts you. This principle will help you discover new focus and freedom, new simplicity and serenity, new energy and enlightenment in your day. As you let go of anything around you that drains your energy or joy, you can again discover that it is only by choosing what to let go of, that you know more clearly what to hold on to.

One client had a closet full of expensive clothes too small for her to wear ? and no place to put the ones she was wearing. After years of feeling guilty for not losing the weight and not wearing the clothes, she decided to give them away. Now, several years later, her closet is functional again ? and she's lost the weight ? but her lifestyle has changed dramatically from the early days of the expensive clothes, and she wouldn't wear them if she had kept them!

One client even nicknamed the boost of extra energy he got when he finally cleaned out his clutter in his office which he and his spouse had been fighting about for years! He took the initials of the phrase, "Love It Or Lose It," and called his new feeling the LILI effect. So, plant a LILI in your life and let it bloom.

You'll be amazed at the results!

Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at www.ProductiveEnvironment.com

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