Category Archives: Paper

Organized Papers are Empowering!

Papers associated with challenges can empower you when they are organized. I had thegesture-772977_640 chance to observe this first hand when I helped a very dear friend organize papers associated with her son’s very challenging disability.

We faced numerous binders, paper storage containers, and piles of papers, the kind of paper challenge that makes you want to run from the room. We went through all the binders, storage containers and paper, sorting papers into easily identifiable stacks: IEPs, psychiatric evaluations, medical evaluations, reference materials, etc. In the process we got rid of a whole box of paper! By the time we were done she could put her hands on any document she might need, and had plans for sustaining the order we created.

My friend began the sorting process feeling overwhelmed and anxious, focused almost entirely on how very difficult her journey on the painful road to obtain help via a less than cooperative school system and a medical establishment that had led her son down some rough roads. By the time we’d finished she was calmer, and saw the remaining papers not as a big burdensome reminder of her difficult situation, but rather as resources to use as she continues to advocate for her son. The process of purging and organizing those papers not only made the papers more manageable, but also helped her ground herself to face future challenges.

Disorganized papers can keep you anxious and overwhelmed. Organized papers can empower and support you!

Paper Scatter, A Sign of Dementia

I got my organizing gene from my mom. She was highly organized and ran a tight ship when I was growing up. Not only was I blessed with her organizing gene, but I also had a skilled model for getting and staying organized. She was always restoring order in our home where I lived with my parents and two brothers.

So, when I started noticing miscellaneous papers floating over the tops of three counters in her kitchen as well as her desk, I was at first curious, then alarmed. Something had changed. And, it wasn’t the quantity or type of paper that flowed into Mom’s house. When my step-father’s health declined and he eventually died, I finally felt I had permission to closely examine all those papers. Mom needed my help to manage her finances because her focus was on her husband and, I later discovered, because she really was not cognitively capable of doing so herself.

I had noticed my mother’s significant short term memory problems for some time, but I tried to explain it away as normal aging. My step-father’s health crisis made it very clear that Mom has dementia. During that difficult time she exhibited significant confusion, and it was obvious that she was unable to make decisions, cope in new environments and learn new things. The sea of papers was the most visible symptom of her cognitive decline in her home. Changes in her brain made it more and more difficult for her to make decisions about what to do with incoming mail and my step-father’s medical papers. Her way of not handling her papers was to drop them on an empty counter. Then she would look at them over and over again.

Mom’s sea of papers reminded me of what I so often find in the homes of clients who hire me to help them make peace with their papers, particularly those with ADHD. It is well known that those who have ADHD often have frontal lobe deficits. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain responsible for executive functions like short-term memory, decision-making and prioritization. I am guessing that Mom’s dementia has been affecting her frontal lobe for some time.

If you have always had difficulty managing paper, don’t leap to the conclusion that you have dementia. I share this information with you because you may know someone like my Mom who once was very competent at managing papers but who with age has become less capable of paper management. It could be an early sign of dementia. It’s easier to be helpful and loving with a person who is having difficulty with the details of life if you have some idea of a possible cause of the decline. Changes from previous levels of functioning are information you can use to determine the best way to be helpful to a beloved family member.

Paper Challenges, Paper Solutions

I’ll bet if I conducted a survey to determine where people are most challenged with getting and staying organized I’d find that paper is the biggest challenge. In my 12+ years of professional organizing experience I have spent more time helping people clear and organize paper than anything else.

Why is paper so difficult?

  1. It’s flat and every piece requires a decision, so it’s hard to quickly make progress when going through papers.
  2. It’s boring. So much of it is white with black lettering. That color combination just shuts down the brain!
  3. It keeps coming. Almost every day paper flows into the home. Every day it requires attention in some form or fashion.
  4. The systems required to process and retain papers are not taught in school. Most people are flying by the seat of their pants when they attempt to keep their papers organized.

What would make dealing with paper easier?

  1. Get rid of more paper. 80-90% of what is filed never gets touched again.
  2. Remember to keep only those papers you are likely to USE in some way. The best way to determine if you will use a particular type of paper is to pay attention to the types of paper you have had to retrieve in the past.
  3. Take deliberate action EVERY DAY to process paper that has come into the home. Go through the mail, school papers, receipts, etc. and move them along to a place where they can be acted on or stored.
  4. Make paper move along a specific path, always landing in one spot to be sorted and then deliberately moved to specific places to be acted on or stored.
  5. Keep paper in as few places as possible–preferably limiting it to the kitchen action area and home office areas.
  6. Remember, you won’t be arrested for not having papers you have pitched. If you throw away a paper and later need it, it’s likely you’ll only suffer inconvenience or embarrassment. In many cases you can retrieve the information you are seeking in another way.
  7. Remember, you will feel more in control and life will be easier if your papers are in order and accessible.

Paper Piles: Functional or Dysfunctional?

Are you a paper piler? Most of us have at least a paper pile or two. Believe it or not a pile of papers is more functional than paper scattered over any available flat surface. The energy of a paper pile is MUCH calmer and less distracting that floating papers!

But, do you manage papers by piling? In other words, you are not really a filer of papers, you prefer to pile them. If that is the case, you are what I call a “horizontal filer.” Most people who pile site “out of sight is out of mind” as a primary reason for their piling preference. Papers that are filed out of sight might as well have been tossed in the trash. They are totally off the radar!

If you’re going to pile, I have several suggestions for creating functional piles (piles that help you stay organized) instead of dysfunctional piles (anxiety-provoking chaotic collections of papers).

  • Give each pile one identity, e.g. bills to be paid, papers to file, current income taxes, current projects, insurance.
  • Avoid mixing categories within a pile. A functional pile might be called “insurance.” In it you could put papers relating to life, home, business, disability, etc. insurance. However, it would become a dysfunctional pile if you added real estate and business incorporation papers to the insurance papers.
  • Separate piles that hold papers you must take action on from piles that hold papers for reference. Keep the action piles close to where you will take action.
  • Keep piles neat with all pages going in the same direction, specifically avoiding diagonally placed papers. Despite a common myth, neat piles do not indicate an inclination to anal retention or obsessive compulsive disorder. Neat piles have a more positive energy than disheveled stacks of papers. When papers are diagonally placed they make energies spin and create an out of control, chaotic energy. Since all piles of paper can have an annoying negative energy because they usually represent work that must be done or work that hasn’t been done, why not at least make the energy of the pile as calm as possible by making it neat?

Piling can be an effective organizing process if you create functional piles. Upgrade your piles and you will upgrade your productivity!

Conquer the Paper Challenge! Process Paper Daily!

Some of you are thinking, “Duh! I already do that. Doesn’t everbody?” And others of you are going, “Ewww, I’d rather die! It’s overwhelming! It’s boring!”

For those of you who already have the good habit of corralling and processing paper daily, keep up the good work! Being conscious of the daily flow of paper and deliberately controlling its flow is the only way to win the war on paper.

A casual approach to paper is a guarantee that you’ll create your own personal paper nightmare. Paper is relentless in its flow into your space. You need to be relentless in your handling of it. Do it daily! It really only takes minutes! Minutes of agony or boredom are better than the hours and hours of excavation that will be required if you procrastinate and let paper accumulate.

Here’s what I mean by PROCESS PAPER DAILY:

Make sure paper follows a specific route, a paper path.

  • Paper should not float from room to room. When paper comes into the house, make sure it lands in one spot to be sorted into categories instead of allowing it to land in any one of a number of different locations. If you decide the kitchen counter is that spot, make sure everyone in your family knows that mail always lands on the kitchen counter.
  • After being sorted, make sure the different categories of paper are immediately moved to their next logical location. Bills, for example, would go to the bill paying area. Once the bills are paid, the paper associated with them would then be filed or pitched. So, the paper path for a bill would be: from the mailbox to the kitchen counter; from the kitchen counter to the desk of the home office where the bill is paid; from the desk to the filing cabinet. It’s important to create paper paths for every category of paper you regularly handle.
  • To simplify this process, consider having all paper move from its sorting location to a home office where the different categories can be processed and stored if necessary. That way the path would be: from the mailbox to the kitchen counter for sorting; from the kitchen counter to the home office desktop for review and action; from the the desktop to the filing cabinet or the recycle bin.
  • Making papers follow specific paths puts you in charge of paper instead of feeling at the mercy of paper. Your work is to determine the paths and to discipline yourself to make paper follow those paths every time. Just one lapse in maintaining your new paper system can cause paper to spiral out of control. Remember, digging out takes much more time and energy than maintaining paper paths! It will take over if you let it stray from a defined route.

Sort incoming papers into categories. I recommend these categories: trash; refer out to someone else; action; filing; reading; holding for later reference or action; and possibilities of things to do, buy, etc. It’s best to separate the action category into bills and other actions. That way you are less likely to lose sight of your bills.

Distribute papers by category to their appropriate locations. For example, trash goes to the recycling bin or trash can. Action papers are moved to the desk or countertop where action will take place. Filing is either filed or stored in a filing tray until you make time to file. Reading is taken to the location where you do your reading, perhaps a basket on your desk or next to the sofa.

You’ll notice I don’t recommend that you complete all the tasks associated with those papers on a daily basis. That would take more time than you have every day. I am just recommending that you control the flow of paper coming in, sort it and distribute it to the place where it will be acted upon or stored. If you do that much paper processing every day, you will find your stress goes down and your productivity goes up. You’ll be in charge of paper instead of feeling at the mercy of it!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

The Paper Challenge: Causes & Solutions

Until I started working as a professional organizer I had no idea that spaces could get like this. Sure, I’d find myself frustrated by a pile of paper from time to time, but paper never took over my space.

Is this you?

What causes this kind of chaos? Here are some possible answers.

  1. Paper comes in at a rate that is faster than the rate at which it is processed.
  2. There is no system for processing and storing the paper.
  3. Decisions about what to do with papers are postponed and papers land in undifferentiated piles.
  4. The person is not being selective about what papers to keep and what to throw away.
  5. The person is not devoting enough time to managing the paper flow.

How could this person turn this paper challenge around?

  1. Commit time to complete an initial organization (sorting, purging and filing) of the papers in the space. Then plan to make time at least once a week to process incoming papers and file papers that are worthy of being kept.
  2. Reduce the volume of paper coming in by sorting mail over the recycling bin or trash, keeping only those papers that require an action or filing. In other words, don’t let the junk mail make it into your home office!
  3. Reduce the volume of paper coming in by leaving church bulletins at church, and getting rid of papers and handouts given to you at conferences, workshops, and at meetings with financial planners and insurance agents that you know you’ll never reference BEFORE you enter your office.
  4. Reduce the volume of paper coming in by reducing magazine and journal subscriptions to just those that actually get read from cover to cover every month.
  5. Get rid of magazines and journals monthly by creating deadlines for how long they will be kept and recycling or throwing them out when they reach that deadline.
  6. Reduce the volume of paper by becoming much more selective about what to keep and what to get rid of. Keep only those papers and publications that are needed for current actions or are most likely to be referenced at a later date. The only paper worth keeping is paper you WILL use!
  7. Set up a filing system for paper storage so paper can be easily accessed when needed.
  8. On the desk, keep only papers that require an action. Those papers can be separated into actions that must occur immediately and those that can occur later. Those that must occur immediately should be most accessible.
  9. Store papers and publications that are considered “reading” in a location away from the desk top. A tray on a shelf, in a basket near a chair where you’re likely to read, or in a briefcase to read on a plane or in a doctor’s office are good locations for papers that are optional reading. Optional reading means, if they don’t get read, there will be no significant consequences other than not benefitting from the information they contain. Reading should not be mixed with papers that require an action.
  10. When you encounter paper that does not require action or filing and you are uncertain what to do with it, place it in a tray or file that is off the desk. Label that file “Possibilities.” Consider this the location for papers that you don’t know what to do with at the moment. By giving those papers their own location, they won’t stop you in your tracks and become the bud of an undifferentiated pile on your desk. The better organized you become, the easier it will be to discern what to do with those papers. In the meantime, those puzzling papers will be grouped together, available but not blocking progress. Periodically look through those papers when you add new papers. You’ll find that given a little time you’ll know what to do with them–most likely toss them!

Winning the War Against Paper

In my thirteen plus years working as a professional organizer I’ve done my share of organizing paper. I can say without a doubt I’ve done more paper organizing than any other type of organizing. Why? Because paper is one of the hardest things to organize and keep organized. When I teach seminars I tell attendees that paper is so difficult to organize because 1) it’s boring, 2) it’s flat so it’s hard to see that you’re making progress very quickly, 3) it’s never ending–it keeps coming in every day, 4) it’s usually primarily black and white which is hard on the eyes, 5) and it requires that a decision be made about every piece–really tough for people who have a hard time making decisions.

Is it any wonder that it’s quite common for people to procrastinate organizing their papers when there are so many other compelling tasks to be done that are much less annoying? Unfortunately, putting off managing paper costs you more in the long run because as the quantities of it build up, your inclination to deal with it diminishes in equal proportion. Before long you have a paper nightmare, one that causes all kinds of bad feelings like anxiety, depression, self-disgust, anger, irritation and exhaustion.

Since sorting and organizing paper is part of my everyday working experience, I’ve developed some general guidelines for handling paper that keep me sane and moving forward.

Never start with paper unless it is the only thing you have to organize.

If you start with paper, you will quit. You’ll run away! You’ll go shopping, watch TV, eat a cake or decide the lawn just has to be mowed right now. Paper will shut you down.

I learned that starting with paper is a big mistake the hard way in my first year as an organizer. I took a client’s lead and started with paper. Halfway through the session the client had an asthma attack, ran to the bathroom and threw up. After that I rarely started with paper when working with clients.

Back into paper.

In other words, don’t tackle it head on. Have a blast evaluating, sorting and purging everything else in your space first. Then when the room is feeling great and all that’s left to do is sort and clear paper, you’ll find it easier to handle the paper.

Never start with a single sheet of paper at the top of a paper pile.

It’s important that you make some visible progress quickly when organizing paper. The best way to do that is to throw away as much as you can as fast as you can. Therefore, you must look first at BIG CHUNKS of paper like magazines, newsletters and papers stapled together. You will see yourself as a success when your paper pile goes down quickly. That will help you stay motivated to keep working.

Keep only those papers that you are likely to USE.

Most people keep too much paper either because they don’t know what to keep. To feel safe they either keep everything or postpone making decisions out of a  fear they’ll make a mistake. As a result they hold on to large volumes of useless paper. Many people also don’t slow down enough to think about what papers they really need to keep. Keeping everything seems like the best insurance against not having the papers they need at a time when they need them. But, can they find them when they need them? The more paper you keep, the more work you must do to keep them organized and accessible!

My advice is to reflect back on your history and remember those times when you needed to retrieve papers. The times that come back to me most vividly were when I was buying a house or applying for a loan. Think about the kinds of papers that you needed. Those are the kinds of papers to keep, those that you are likely to use at some later date. The kinds of papers you needed in the past are the types you are likely to need in the future.

When in doubt about whether to keep a certain type of paper ask yourself, “How will I use this?” If you can’t come up with a past memory of using that type of paper or you can’t think of a way that you could use it in the future, pitch it! And, celebrate! You just made your life easier!

Make paper leave your space every day.

Eighty to 90% of paper that is filed NEVER gets used again. Becoming more discerning and committed to purging paper will lighten your load and empower you. Be sure to process mail every day–meaning, sort it, pitch the obvious junk mail, and deliberately store papers that require further action or filing in specific places where they can be easily retrieved at a later date. Taking regular action to purge paper will keep you in the power position relative to paper. Postponing working with paper is akin to telling paper to go ahead and take over. Vigilance with paper purging takes only minutes per day and will save you hours and hours of agony at a later date.

Create a Filing System and Use it!

Do you have a reliable filing system? Are you a disciplined filer? Setting up a filing system is not great fun (it’s really tedious, detailed work!), but the benefits of doing it and having important papers at your fingertips far outweigh the difficulty of the task. If you can’t make yourself set up a filing system, and the thought of filing makes you want to throw up, hire a professional organizer to get that task done! You’ll be glad you did the first time you really need to lay your hands on an important piece of paper.

I was recently reminded of the benefits of having a reliable filing system. My cell phone battery had been dying on me at the most inopportune times. What an annoyance! I postponed gong to Verizon to get the battery replaced AGAIN as long as I could. Going to the Verizon store is like entering a war zone!

When I finally bit the bullet, I was told I’d need the receipt for the battery because they didn’t keep a specific record of that transaction. Great! That’s when I started praying that I had followed my own filing system! I really have set up a filing system and do file regularly, but I swear that sometimes little birdies mess with my stuff! I just hoped I’d done what I should have done with that receipt! I had five hours driving from Bristol, VA back home to Richmond, VA to think about it.

It was nice knowing there was just one place to look for the receipt. If it wasn’t filed where it should have been, I was out of luck because I didn’t have a clue where else it could be! I’m happy to say I don’t have piles of miscellaneous papers lying around.

When I got home I went to the cell phone file inside the telephone file. And, there it was! The receipt was proof that the battery was only 6 months old. With that receipt in hand, a new battery was ordered with no hassle and no additional cost.

That incident reminded me again of why a good filing system and good filing habits can really reduce stress! It was so nice to know where to look for the receipt, to know there was just one place to look. Had I not found the receipt where it should have been, my dilemma of getting back to having a reliable phone would have been so much more of a hassle.

File and be happy!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in your life. If you’re ready to finally clear the clutter from your life and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Creating Paper Paths to Win the War Against Paper!

Speaking about paper and war in the same sentence sounds rather dramatic, but if you’ve ever been buried under piles of paper you know what I’m talking about. Keeping up with and organizing paper is the biggest organizing challenge for many people. Even very competent people can be reduced to tears of frustration and overwhelm by a pile of paper.

One way to maintain control of paper is to deliberately create specific paths for specific kinds of paper. For example, when paper comes into the house, make sure it lands in one spot to be sorted into categories instead of allowing it to land in any one of a number of different locations. If you decide the kitchen counter is that spot, make sure everyone in your family knows that mail always lands on the kitchen counter.

Then, once the paper has been sorted, make sure the different categories of paper are moved directly to their next location. Bills, for example, would go to the bill paying area. Once the bills are paid, the paper associated with them would then be filed or pitched.

So, the paper path for a bill might be: from the mailbox to the kitchen counter; from the kitchen counter to the desk of the home office where the bill is paid; from the desk to the filing cabinet.

It’s important to create paper paths for every category of paper you regularly handle. To simplify this process, consider having all paper move from its sorting location to a home office where the different categories can be processed and stored if necessary. That way the path would be: from the mailbox to the kitchen counter for sorting; from the kitchen counter to the home office desktop for review and action; from the the desktop to the filing cabinet or the recycle bin.

Making papers follow specific paths puts you in charge of paper instead of feeling at the mercy of paper. Your work is to determine the paths and to discipline yourself to make paper follow those paths every time. Just one lapse in maintaining your new paper system can cause paper to spiral out of control. Remember, digging out takes much more time and energy than maintaining paper paths!

Win the war against paper! Use paper paths!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in your life. If you’re ready to finally clear the clutter from your life and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Don’t Start with Paper!

When you start to organize any space, don’t start with paper (unless it’s the only organizing problem you have)!!!

Psychologically it’s important to make visible, tangible progress with your organizing efforts very quickly. If you don’t, you’ll quit!

Look at a flat piece of paper. How long will it take you to see results when you deal with paper piece by piece? A LONG TIME!

“It’s distracting!” you say. Yes, it is. So, scoop up the loose paper. Put it in a bag or box and put it to the side to tackle AFTER you’ve organized everything else. Once everything else is organized you’ll find that it’s much easier to face the paper.

Try it! Let me know how this tip works for you!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in your life. If you’re ready to finally clear the clutter from your life and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Conquer the Paper Challenge! Process Paper Daily!

Some of you are thinking, “Duh! I already do that. Doesn’t everbody?” And others of you are going, “Ewww, I’d rather die! It’s overwhelming! It’s boring!”

For those of you who already have the good habit of corralling paper daily, keep up the good work! Being conscious of the daily flow of paper and deliberately controlling its flow is the only way to win the war on paper.

A casual approach to paper is a guarantee that you’ll create your own personal paper nightmare. Paper is relentless in its flow into your space. You need to be relentless in your handling of it.

Do it daily! It really only takes minutes! Minutes of agony are better than hours and hours of excavation that will be required if you procrastinate and let paper accumulate.

Here’s what I mean by PROCESS PAPER DAILY:

1. Make sure paper follows a specific route. For example, papers may arrive from a mailbox or kids backpacks to all many different locations in your house. Teach family members that papers either go to their space to be dealt with (like homework or the spouses business papers) or they should end up on the kitchen counter to be sorted and deliberately distributed to places where they will be acted on, stored or referenced, like the desk, filing cabinet or home office. Paper should not float from room to room. It will take over if you let it stray from a defined route.
2. Sort incoming papers into categories. I recommend these categories: trash; refer out to someone else; action; filing; reading; holding for later reference or action; and possibilities of things to do, buy, etc.
3. Distribute papers by category to their appropriate locations. For example, trash goes to the recycling bin or trash can. Action papers are moved to the desk or countertop where action will take place. Filing is filed or stored in a filing tray until you have time to file. Reading is taken to the location where you do your reading, perhaps a basket on your desk or next to your sofa.

You’ll notice I don’t recommend that you complete all the tasks associated with those papers on a daily basis. That would take more time than you have every day. I am just recommending that you control the flow of paper coming in, sort it and distribute it to the place where it will be acted upon or stored. If you do that much daily, you will find your stress goes down and your productivity goes up.

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Create a New Paper Habit!

Have you had good intentions to process paper daily, as I recommended in an earlier news tip, but have not been able to make yourself do it? If that is the case, perhaps your old paper habits are still in place, running the show and resulting in a paper nightmare.

Just deciding to do things differently often doesn’t change behavior. Habits you aren’t even conscious of having keep old behaviors in place.

To change a habit you must:

* be conscious of what you are doing that’s causing you problems;
* decide what specific actions you will take to achieve better results;
* make a commitment to the new behavior; and
* do the new behavior for at least 21 days in a row.

Here is a hypothetical example of what you might do to change dysfunctional paper habits to more functional habits.

* When you watch what you would normally do with paper, you identify that
you dump paper on your desk every day without a second glance, creating
an overwhelming pile by the week’s end.
* You decide that instead of just dumping paper on your desk, you will spend
at least 5 minutes each day as soon as you get home sorting mail and other
papers into categories of trash/recycle, action, filing, and other, Monday
through Saturday. Sorting alone will keep paper under more control.
* You commit to spending at least 5 minutes at the end of each day sorting
paper and plan to document your progress by checking off each day on the
calendar.
* You spend 5 minutes each day for 21 days sorting paper.

Of course there is more to paper management than just sorting it, but if you focus on just one habit at a time, you’re more likely to be successful. Give it a try! Do 5 minutes of paper processing Monday through Saturday for 21 days. You’ll be amazed at the results!

Are You Ready for New Paper Habits?

“When I get stressed, I just drop stuff on my desk! And, then it gets like this!” My client and I looked at her small desk piled about six inches high with a wild assortment of paper. She was upset with herself and I was excited for her. It often takes getting to the point where you “can’t stand it any more” to be ready to make a real change in your behavior that will result in real change in your space. I love it when clients get there.

Sometimes it takes years for a client to get ready to change the behaviors that are causing their physical mess, as it did with this client. Her busyness with family and work had distracted her from focusing on what she was doing to create her own nightmare. I’d come back to help her clear paper from time to time. Each time she’d lament that we always worked on paper when she’d really rather have me help her in other areas of her house. I initially told her what it would take to move on, but she wasn’t ready to hear my suggestions and take a good look at her habits. So, I waited. I’ve learned to wait for that wonderful moment of angst that is the sign that the client can hear my recommendations and is ready to commit to changing behavior.

By the time I left that day my client had committed to stop dropping paper on her desk in a messy pile. If paper cannot be processed immediately, it will be stacked neatly on one side of her desk. She also had agreed to take five minutes a day to sort paper Monday through Saturday, the days that she gets mail, no matter how stressed she feels. What she really was agreeing to do was to get conscious about what she does with paper and to be intentional about her behavior with paper.

Are you fed up with the mess you create by not taking the paper challenge by the horns? Have you reached the “I can’t stand it any more” point when change is possible? Identify what you do to create your paper nightmare. Then change that behavior to something that works better, like taking five minutes a day to sort mail. Take charge of paper! And watch you space and your feelings about yourself change for the better!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.