6221799231_8048e2394dIt’s amazing how much we hold onto that we don’t need or use. Most of us have boxes of stuff stored away that we haven’t opened for months or years. Thinking about all the excess “stuff” we have reminded me of a de-cluttering exercise I used to give out in my year long trainings. People where doing the training to create awesome results in their business and personal lives. They wanted to create change and we held that they needed to have some white space around them in order to do that. So we’d start them off with a simple de-cluttering exercise and we’d share the following story.

A Finnish art student decided to inventory all the objects in her 250 square meter home (about 2700 square feet) and present her findings as her final thesis. To do this she used traditional archaeological methods and discovered she owned a total of 6,126 objects. The most interesting part was her analysis of how often she used each object:

Objects never used: 1457 or 24%

Objects used less frequently than once a year: 2209 or 36%

Objects used once or twice a year: 1411 or 23%

Objects used every month: 587 or 9.5%

Objects used every week: 401 or 6.5%

Objects used every day: 61 or 1%

Almost a quarter of her belongings were never used and 59% were only used once or twice a year. That means 83% of her stuff was clutter! Of the 17% remaining only 1% was used everyday. This is a Finnish art student, I shudder to think what the stats would be for an American art student.

The point is only when you lighten the clutter do you realize the amount of stagnant energy that collects around unused things. So instead of these things being the assets that you think they are, they are actually a liability.

How does clutter make you feel? Heavy? Stuck? Frustrated?

How does a clutter free space feel? Well this is actually what motivated me to write this post. As I’ve been packing my house to move, I decided to pack all the things we don’t use regularly. I have at least 20 boxes packed and I don’t miss a thing. I am walking around my house and it feels so good, so light, so freeing. All that white space has got me buzzing with creative energy. I immediately thought of the brilliance of the de-cluttering exercise. It’s been years since I’ve done it myself but this burst of good energy is worth talking about.

The assignment that I usually give is to de-clutter one room in your house or to de-clutter your office. That means going through all your papers, boxes, everything and purge, purge, purge.

Danielle LaPorte recently wrote a post on burning her journals. I’m not a huge fan of that idea but I loved what she said about it:

“Traveling lighter helps me shine brighter.”

Try the de-clutter exercise and see if you shine a little brighter, I bet you do.

Photo: Clutter by Spykster