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GET ORGANIZED: How to Create a Clutter-Free Environment

14 January 2011 3 Comments


(Note: this is a big, core-skill of mine…probably one of the most important and “contributional” skills to my success so far.

Organization is a SERIOUS benefit to your energy, peace of mind and overall effectiveness, so enjoy this “old-school resurrection” and leave me a comment letting me know what you think.)

BGM: “Air” by Paul Collier

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ll cool j old school graphic

———— Let Me Ask You Something —————

Would you like to have a clear, focused and well-structured thinking process? Would you like to have the advantage of being able to constructively use your mind to your own benefit whenever you want?

Well, if you’d like to have a clear, structured and organized mental environment, what makes you think you don’t also need to have a clear, structured and organized physical environment???

brother at his desk with clutterClutter, mess and disorganization is preventing you from having a clear, focused and effective thinking process, but this is pretty self-evident, isn’t it? How much of an argument do you really need?

Here’s an excerpt from one of the books I’m currently reading, Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction & Overload, by Lucy Jo Palladino, just in case you’re not convinced:

———— Find Your Focus Zone ————

“Clutter is distracting…(because) your eyes and your brain have too many places to wander. (While) Photos, artwork and pleasing decorations provide stimulation that helps you stay in your focus zone, piles of paper and stacks of stuff are like petty thieves that rob you of your attention…

Find Your Focus Zone concentrate Lucy Jo Palladino PhDClutter is actually deferred decision making. Just think about it for a second: what’s the real reason you don’t want to deal with that file, magazine article, financial record, old letter or child’s artwork???

IT’S INDECISION, isn’t it? You don’t what to throw it away, but you don’t want to commit to keeping it either, so into a stack it goes…

It’s no problem to throw away junk mail, and it’s nothing to keep records that you’ll need for your tax returns, but what do you do about all that stuff in between?

You don’t know for sure, and because that uncertainty causes anxiety, you duck the decision by putting it off. ‘For now,’ you can put it on that shelf over there…

messy room cluttered shelf

This is true of all kinds of clutter — computer files, household items and even social obligations. One way to improve is to understand the psychological dynamics behind clutter and then outsmart them…”

~ Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD.

———— The Subconscious Root Causes ————

She then breaks down two clutter-causing subconscious tendencies we all share:

subconscious mind skeleton x ray1) Loss Aversion: The fact that we generally will risk more to avoid losing something than we will to gain something else.

When we’re not sure whether we’ll need something in the future or not, we’d rather give up living space rather than embrace the fear of throwing something away we might need later.

and 2) The Endowment Effect: Most people given an object will instantly value it more than they did before they received it and more than others value it as well.

“The contents of your house or apartment have more value to you then they do to anyone else — you chose them, you use them and they meet your individual needs. However, according to the endowment effect, you value them for reasons beyond the functions they serve: you value them for the simple fact that they’re yours.

———— Some Beginning Steps to Creating Order ————

reframe your outlook cute girlSo the main psychological counter-strategy Palladino suggests for handling these tendencies is called re-framing: using affirmations to change the perception you have about a particular action

Re-framing is a powerful technique that can be used for many different issues, but in this case let’s focus on getting organized and losing our attachment to material objects.

Try saying things to yourself like:

>> “When my desk is clear, my thinking is too.”
>> “I’m creating space – space to work, space to relax and space to breathe.”
>> “I like feeling free. I own my things, they do not own me.”
>> (for sentimental objects) “These memories are in my heart, where they matter most.”
>> (for sentimental objects) “I’m grateful I had this, and I look forward to what comes next.”

There’s also the science of Feng Shui to consider: the ancient Chinese discipline of orienting rooms and environments in order to channel and cultivate particular energies.

feng shui chinese cosmology elementsYou can literally rearrange a room – everything from the objects and furniture (and how they’re are angled towards each other and towards the windows and doors) to the color of walls, etc. – to facilitate things like peace of mind, better relationships, spiritual growth, wealth and fortune, health and wellbeing and much more. It’s really a deep subject to look into…

I studied a bit of Feng Shui back in the day to help me organize my last apartment (I used to give a lot lectures there), and one of the basic tenets I’ve learned is to ELIMINATE MESS AND CLUTTER, because it interrupts the currency and flow of chi throughout the environment.

Besides clutter, be sure to clean your living and work space regularly: wipe down your desk, dust off your books, organize your closet, clean your shower and mop your floors on a regular basis.

Once you get into the habit, it becomes a relaxing exercise in and of itself, and you’ll wonder how you ever operated without the clarity and focus you feel from being in an ordered, chi-energized space.

Also, apply these principles to your digital form of clutter as well: take the time to make it easy for yourself to find what you need on your computer and don’t let the fact that it’s non-physical distract you from the fundamental essence of what we’re building on here.

I also suggest you use the GTD (Getting Things Done) method, or some personal variation of it. You can find out more about that here.

Lastly, check out this short video with organization expert Julie Morganstern building on the concept of “Shedding.” If this doesn’t convince you to get rid of all your old junk (which we all have by the way), I don’t know what will…

Thanks for checking this out…hope it helps.


p.s: If you enjoy this blog and would like to support what I’m doing, click here (or on anything under “Bryan’s Program Library” to the right). They’re affiliate links, so I’ll get a commission if you “cop” something, and they’re also the same programs that changed my life.

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  • Inaambura Yisrael said:

    Hey Bryan, this is a really good entry, and I am working on it currently. I am a book lover, and I have a sun room where I even bought more book shelves for, that I have not put together yet (working on that procrastination too:)), but I see how this is such a need for work flow creativity! And the video on shedding…wow! True eye opener! And all of this has helped, thanks so much! Remain blessed!


  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    No doubt. Glad you enjoyed it…I’ve been thinking about making a video for this concept myself, because it’s probably my #1 skill

    What I’ve found is that you have to be a little bit of what other people would call “OCD,” and remember that if your “compulsive” about having an orderly environment, most people are “compulsive” about living in clutter and filth.

    It’s really something that separates you when you can become more minimalistic in life.

    Stay tuned for the new blog layout too.


  • Tiffany Mccraney said:

    Although i am not very superstitious, somehow i believe in the power of Feng Shui. In fact i consulted a feng shui master when we were building our home. ::*;:

    Warm regards

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