BOOM! Magazine, October 2015

Page 6

Get Organized! by Barbara Hemphill, Certified Productive Environment Specialist Trainer


y mother-in-law, mother of seven children, special education teacher, and polio survivor, taught me a phrase that continues to impact my life today: “Finish in style!” I don’t recall what situation initially prompted that statement, but I think it’s great advice for everyone. Since this column is about clearing clutter and getting organized, you may wonder how “Finish in style” is relevant. Keep reading! Research shows—and I’ve confirmed it in the 37 years I’ve been in the organizing industry—that 80% of what we keep, we never use. Furthermore, the more we have, the less we use, either because we don’t remember we have it, we can’t find it, or because it’s difficult to access. So why do so many people have an ongoing struggle with getting organized and staying that way? The biggest reason: too much stuff! While many of us want to make the last years of our lives great, it’s difficult or impossible to do when we are burdened with stuff. What stops us from getting rid of the stuff so we can get organized and “finish in style?” Here’s a list of the reasons I’ve heard: • I never have enough time. • I have better things to do; organizing is boring. • It’s too difficult. • It never lasts; it’s never good enough.


Boom! magazine | October 2015

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I often overthink the situation. I didn’t create it; I have no idea what’s even there. I am easily distracted and go off on tangents I get stuck in the memories of the past. It’s too emotionally draining. I want to be responsible and respectful of the things I’ve been given. • I have to take care of other people and other things in my life first. • It’s hard to admit I have an issue. • I am afraid to let something go; I might want it back. The situation is further complicated in today’s society as we learn that our children have little or no interest in all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated in our lives. At a seminar I presented on downsizing in a retirement community, I suggested that people ask their children what specific items they would like to have. One gentleman replied, “The only thing my son wants is my wallet!” There were many knowing laughs. While you may think this is a new problem, I discovered in my research for my latest book Less Clutter More Life that it’s been around a long time. So long in fact, that in the King James Version of the Bible, in 2 Samuel 10:22b, Samuel is looking for Saul to appoint him king, but can’t find him. When he asks the Lord about it, we see this reply: “And the Lord answered, behold he hath hid himself among the stuff.”

So what DO you do with all that “stuff” that you have accumulated? Here are three ways you can get started: 1) Begin creating and maintaining a list of agencies, organizations, and even businesses that will take what you don’t need and recycle or repurpose it. For example, those towels that have been around forever would be welcome at an animal shelter. Tear off the mailing labels of the magazines you’ve read, and drop them off in the doctor’s office the next time you go. 2) Identify a permanent place—clearly labeled— in your home where you can easily put things you don’t need or want anymore. If you have more than one floor, have a place on each floor. 3) Begin looking at your belongings to determine whether they really will help you “finish in style” by asking the question: “Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” If the answer is, “not really,” then it’s clutter. Make it someone else’s blessing—and live happily ever after! B! Barbara Hemphill is the author of “Less Clutter More Life” and has helped individuals and businesses eliminate physical, digital and emotional clutter through consulting, training, and speaking for over 35 years. She is the founder of Productive Environment Institute, which offers training for individuals to become Certified Productive Environment Specialists. She can be reached at