How I Changed My Life…

…by clearing out the clutter

What is clutter? It can be almost anything. At work it might be junk files on your computer, old filing cabinets full of stuff you don’t really use but haven’t yet discarded, or even old office furniture that doesn’t suit your office. At home it can be a wardrobe full of too many clothes, a shed full of old tools and other junk, or just an excess of stuff, period.

If you’ve been trying to get things moving in your business and not quite succeeding, then one of the best ways to get unblocked is to start clearing some clutter.

Why does clutter keep you blocked? I don’t really know, although there can be a lot of emotional baggage that’s attached to clutter. So dealing with it and getting rid of it often cleans out some emotional stuff as well.

I won’t pretend that clearing the clutter from your life is easy – I resisted the idea for ages. Having a clean out at home or work wasn’t important to me: I just wanted to get on with things. I did feel a bit stuck (not that I would’ve admitted that to anyone, but it was true), so here’s how I started to address this issue.

Firstly, I went to see my Financial Planner, James Harvey. James took me through the George Kinder questions and observed that all my goals were about experiences, rather than material goods. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a monk – I like the nice things in life – but James was right. For me, the important stuff was about living my ideal life, none of which related to bigger houses and cars. Apparently I’m not alone in this – an increasing number of people are more interested in experiences than simply accumulating stuff or taking bog-standard holidays. It’s known as the Experience Revolution – I’ll talk about this in a future article.

My wife had started ‘decluttering’ her life well before my meeting with James, but as a result of my meeting with him, I decided to get on board with the clutter clearing concept. I started small, by setting an alarm for 25 minutes and picking one shelf in my wardrobe to clear. I sorted each item of clothing into piles to keep, give to charity, or just throw away. The satisfaction I felt at the end of that 25 minutes was pretty motivating.

Over the next few weeks I repeated this 25 minute process every so often and dealt with another area that needed a clear out. Just by taking this simple step, I felt less weighed down and more effective.

My big breakthrough came when Deb and I decided to rent out our home in London and go travelling. Our business schedule allows us to work location-independent for all but 2 weeks of every quarter (when we need to be in the UK to deliver the face-to-face work), so we decided to be intentionally homeless.

Once we committed to that exciting idea, we had no option but to begin a massive clear out. Everything had to go, and we started to sort all of our possessions into piles to go either into storage, to the charity shop, placed on Freecycle or sold. What we found amazing was how little of our existing ‘stuff’ we actually wanted to keep. We aren’t hoarders, and so we weren’t overflowing with junk, but even so, when push came to shove there wasn’t that much that we really needed or wanted.

I won’t lie to you. Getting rid of so much stuff was daunting at first. However, as we worked through the process it started to become really freeing. And now that we’re living and travelling without much ‘stuff’ at all it’s become incredibly liberating. Life is simpler and more enjoyable.

Once we’d experienced success with decluttering our personal lives, we took ourselves through the same process in our business. When the junk went, the emotional baggage attached to it also went, and the same results occurred. We now feel more organised and on top of things than ever – it was clearly just what our business needed to get back on track.


Getting Started 101

If you want to get yourself unblocked, or just want to simplify your business or home life, here’s a plan to get started:

Pick one really small area you’d like to de-clutter. Not a whole office or house – one shelf will do. A drawer. One folder on your computer. Once you’ve picked the area, set an alarm for 25 minutes, take your time and work your way through it.

Here’s a few places to look for some clutter to clear at work:

Your computer

I actually did this one last, but found it was the most rewarding of all the decluttering I did, so it might be a good one to begin with. When I sit down to work at my computer now, I’m not confronted with a screen loaded with icons and files. I feel ready to get to work, because clearing the junk allowed me to get what was left well organised.

Could you do the same?

Old files

They might be prospects who never came back, or old clients that are no longer with you, but many of your old files are just no longer necessary. Let them go.

The office (including drawers and cupboards)

Junk just seems to accumulate around the office, so make sure you and your team get in and clear it out. Get each team member to clear out their individual workspace first, then team up and move on to the shared areas.

You might find that starting small with the more obvious stuff literally clears the way for looking at other clutter clearing that might need to occur in your business; for example with clients and staff.

Could your client bank do with a clutter clear? Do you have clients that are no longer well suited to what you offer as a business? Do you have clients that you just don’t like?

What about your team? Is it time to move onwards and upwards? Are there any team members that you know don’t fit, but you’ve sort of avoided the difficult decision?

By starting with the easier stuff, you may just find the momentum and the courage to deal with some of these more challenging issues.

Starting small can really get you moving and position you for a big finish. But you’ll never get to the big issues if you don’t start clearing the clutter at the more obvious level.

Clear your clutter, simplify your business, live a better life.


FP Advance | Advise Better, Live BetterLife coach Kerri Richardson is the one who got both me and Deb clutter clearing. Here’s what she had to say about the business building benefits of clearing out your ‘stuff’:

When you dig into your clutter, you’re likely to reap far more rewards than just a cleaned-up space. By stirring this stale energy, you shake up your life in the best way possible and make room for dreams to come true that you either didn’t know existed or may have doubted ever would.

A previous clutter course student joined in the hope of cleaning out her bedroom closet, however, as she got rid of the clothes she no longer loved or wanted, she felt inspired to take time to get dressed every day and no longer live in yoga pants and sneakers. As she did, she felt empowered and held herself with much more confidence. Much to her surprise, her virtual business grew in leaps and bounds as a result of this new-found magnetic energy. She hired an assistant and began delegating her administrative tasks, affording her more freedom to spend time with her family and indulge more fully into her non-work passions.

At the end of our time together, she emailed me: “I would have never guessed that donating unwanted clothes would increase the bottom line of my business. I just wanted an organized closet. I’m blown away!”

Clutter is so much more than “stuff”. It’s a living, breathing obstacle in your life that prevents abundance in all its forms. Get clearing and your life will change, whether you believe it or not.

Here are some other resources for you:


Get things moving in your business by clearing some clutter. [click to tweet].


Take a look at this best-seller: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo.

This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing. Marie takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.

There’s some great ideas here that you can apply to your business too.

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