Are you embarrassed when you walk into your home or office?
Do you frequently run out of space?
Is your desk piled high with UPO's (unidentified piled objects)?
Are you frustrated by the amount of time you spend looking for things?
If so, you're not alone! Research shows the average person spends 150 hours per year looking for misplaced information, while eight out of ten people have at least one area of their home or office they would prefer that no one ever sees!

The word "clutter" comes from the same root word as "clot". Webster's Dictionary defines it as "to run in disorder, to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness."

Clutter affects our society at every level - our personal lives, our families, our work, our businesses, and the world in general. It seems easy enough to eliminate - just throw it away. If that were true, more people would do it. So what's the problem?

Frequently clutter is an emotional issue. Ironically, many of us have clutter because we were forced to give up something we considered valuable earlier in our lives, and now we can't even get rid of the junk in our lives.

People who lived through The Great Depression, for example, cling to every minute object in the extreme fear that someday they might need it. A 25-year-old man, describing his home in which no friends or family had been for months, wept as he recalled the death of his mother when he was four. A woman who shared her bedroom with four sisters at the age of eight now hangs on with desperation to everything that comes into her space at the age of 80. A gentleman shared that the dates of his clutter began the year he retired. Slums are filled with junk.

The poorer we are - in body or spirit - the more we hang on: "It might be useful someday." The irony is that the more we hang on to what is not useful, the less room there is in our lives for those things which encourage us to be productive!

After spending 40+ years in the homes and offices of America, I have concluded that there are five components to a clutter- controlled environment:

1. Vision
It is impossible to even define our own clutter if we do not hold a clear picture of who we are, or what we are about. A photographer had on-going dreams about living in a tall, white tower with glass windows, while her real home was buried in clutter accumulated over 30+ years. When we focused on her love of the arts and what was aesthetically beautiful, letting go of the unsightly clutter became less painful, and even freeing.

2. Attitude
A book agent discussing the idea of a book on the subject of clutter commented, "Some of us are just slobs." Only if you want to be. Creating a pleasing and productive environment requires a process. If you honor the process, you will succeed.

3. Time
"How long is this going to take and how much is it going to cost?" is the first question asked by potential clients. My answer: "It doesn't really matter, but the longer you wait, the longer it's going to take and the more it's going to cost."

4. Tools
Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, my father taught me "Half of any job is having the right tool." The amount of effort required to control the clutter in your environment is directly related to the tools you use. One woman eliminated her struggle with scraps of paper on which she had scribbled phone numbers and appointments when she discovered that the only thing that mattered to her about her calendar was that it was beautiful.

5. Preservation
People often say, "Oh I can get organized. I just can't maintain it." Clients have taught me that if they can't maintain the environment we create with relative ease, we have to return to one or more of the first four steps.

Your ability to enjoy your life, or to accomplish any task or goal, is directly related to your ability to create and sustain a productive environment in which you can live and work.

Want to learn more about creating systems to help your business thrive? I would love to hear from you! You can comment directly on this post or even reach out to us for a more personalized solution. Either way, let's connect -->

An intentional change in either can affect the other. Our newest offering at Productive Environment Institute™ could help you with this process. For complete details, check out our Home Office for the Business of Life™ 4 Week LIVE Bootcamp, with a new class beginning next month.

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