Suppose you wake up tomorrow with a kindly presence whispering gently in your ear. “You are such a great person, we have decided to give you your heart’s desire of the most ideal setting in which to live and work.” You float halfawake with welcome visions of a sun-drenched easy chair, a penthouse office, a water view, an inviting golf course just outside, cloud-soft carpets, luxurious furniture, relaxing aromas, fragrant flowers, harmonious sounds, peace, calm, and order everywhere around you, and just the right amount of stimulation to keep your juices flowing.

Then you open your eyes—and reality strikes! First, you see the exercise machine draped in yesterday’s gym clothes, then the closet door you hate to open for fear of being smothered by the crushing mass of things stuffed inside, then the stack of newspapers left from last weekend, then the smudge on the wall from some mysterious source, then the carpet that could use vacuuming, and finally the torn-out travel article you read last night, as you imagined a dream vacation away from all this.

“Oh well,” you say to yourself, “I’ll clean up tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’d better brush my teeth and get going. This is a very busy day. The clutter can’t be that important.”

And maybe you are seriously wrong. Maybe the clutter is enormously important.

Think back to those waking moments when you imagined the ideal setting for your life and work. Think of how you would feel, act, and respond in such a setting. Would that setting help you feel focused, vigorous, strong, talented, generous, energetic, calm, relaxed, powerful, productive, or peaceful?

Then remember how you felt when reality hit. You may have felt overwhelmed, drained, depleted, depressed, or at least discouraged.

Now picture going into your day without the clutter. Which setting inclines you toward your most satisfying results and your most nourishing relationships? How much difference could the right setting make to your ability to focus, to respond fully to all the opportunities of your day, to develop fresh solutions for the challenges you face, to return home and be a more loving partner and parent, to link with your neighbors to create a stronger sense of community?

Very few people are truly impervious to their setting. Most of us just pretend we are. We make promises to ourselves to take care of the clutter later. In the meantime, we walk around as incomplete, diminished versions of the fully resourceful, fully generous people we could be.

But our family and our world need our best. Setting matters. Freedom from clutter is not just a selfish pursuit of our own comfort or convenience. It is not just a luxury that makes our setting “nicer” or “cleaner” or “safer.” That freedom also unlocks us from distraction and distress, so we can connect and contribute more abundantly to our family, our community, our world. As one client said, “Save the planet, starting in my attic!”


You just read a part of a chapter from the new 20th-Anniversary publication of my book, Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever, which my friend/colleague Maggie Bedrosian and I wrote together.

Get your own copy today at Love It or Lose It:

Then consider joining us for our 4 Week Home Office for the Business of Life Bootcamp to begin taking control of your clutter with us! -

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at