While I was in Cleveland I helped a friend with some clutter busting in her office. She works as a manager for a big company. She's a powerful woman who gets things done. But she shrank in fear as she sat at her desk. She guiltily showed me overstuffed drawers and swollen and chaotic files. The top of the desk with littered with papers. She had a hard time finding what she needed. She knew she had to do something about it, but didn't know how to start. The frustration was really hurting her.
I got inspired and asked her to find the biggest trash container in the building. She wheeled in a huge trash can. I took all the papers from her desk and handed her one at a time. "Do you need this for the work you do or can we let it go?" She was shocked to see that most of the papers were trash. We tossed them in the trash can. We set aside the few papers she needed and ventured into the drawers and filing cabinets.
It's amazing that our spaces can contain so many things that are useless to us. My friend found old business cards that she no longer needed, fliers the company had stopped using, her old pay stubs, and various papers that her company had no use for. She only ended up keeping the company's tax forms and receipts, some office supplies and a few basic files that were part of day to day business. We trashed the rest of the papers and filled up the huge trash can!
I asked her to look at the empty drawers and files and tell me what she felt. She said, "I want to protect this space."
I was inspired and later in the day went through and deleted a lot of my old email folders. They used to be important, but time had passed and they were now unnecessary. It felt so good to let them go!