The Clutter Campaign - Design Your Vision

I like a room you can dance in the middle of! Mariah Burton Nelson

One of the prime reasons that most of us have occasional or everlasting problems with clutter is that we do not have a clear picture of the ideal setting we want to create for ourselves, our family and our work. In the absence of that clear picture, specific to you, your life, your family, your dreams, goals and taste, you may be too easily influenced by conflicting external ideas.

You look at a magazine, or a television decorating program and you think, "That might work for me." You see your friend's new home office, and say to yourself, "I'll bet I could get a lot done in that kind of setting." You glimpse an infomercial while you are exercising at the gym. The program demonstrates an amazing closet or garage makeover, and you picture the extra space and freedom you'd enjoy if only you bought their product. You absorb a host of seductive, sometimes contradictory images while bemoaning the mess that seems to regenerate around you every week.

Today is a perfect time to clear away all those images coming from outside yourself, and to explore how you personally choose to live and work. Ask yourself, what is my ideal environment? What is the setting in which everything I am or wish to be, everything I do or need to do is supported by everything around me and nothing extra weighs me down? If you are starting a business, that setting includes the basic tools, in good working order, to do your work. If you are raising a family, that setting includes areas for quick and easy toy access and cleanup. If you are an aspiring Tango dancer, that setting includes a sound system and room to dance!

Options for taking the first step:

? Assess what your setting is like right now - On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 defined as "sabotages my dreams and directions" and 10 defined as, "supports and nourishes my success," what rating would you give your current environment?

? Document your current condition - Take some "Before" pictures so you'll be able to track the improvements you make.

? Define what you want your setting to be, exactly - Relax over a cup of tea and imagine the ideal setting. How would it look, feel, smell? How much space, light, air, sunshine, warmth, furniture, color would there be? What would NOT be there?

? Connect to your life purpose - If your life made a single statement within your family, your firm, your community, what would that statement be, and does your setting reflect the message you bring to the world?

? Document your desired future state - If others were willing to help you create this ideal setting, how would you show them and tell them what you are trying to achieve? How can you get the picture from inside your head into a form others can understand and help you achieve?

? Set milestones, budget, and time frames - What strategies, resources and schedules can turn your design into a reality?

One person we worked with described her experience at following this process. "I was so tired of feeling frustrated. It's like I was part of the banquet of life and living stuck in the mashed potatoes - all the stuff holding me down. Now I've define an entirely different place at life's banquet table. I'm now feeling as bright as a bowl of fresh raspberries - rich, tangy and colorful."

So what is the setting that thoroughly supports your most cherished dreams and directions? What is the first step you can take toward that setting in the next 24 hours?

© 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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