The tipping point to get rid of clutter |

The tipping point to get rid of clutter

A mother of three girls and a second-year nursing school student, Adriana is a pretty typical client. She and her husband own a comfortable home in town, are active contributing members of the community, and like most of us, have accumulated a lot of stuff. She recently asked if I could help her transform her cluttered home office into a productive sanctuary, where she could focus on her studies and rejuvenate with a little yoga.

Adriana’s office had become the dumping ground for all the stuff nobody had room for, or otherwise didn’t know what to do with. The typical assortment of household projects (sewing machines, photo albums, items waiting for repair, crafts, art, etc.) had accumulated in piles around the room and along the edge of Adriana’s desk. Her nursing school books were disorganized on a small shelf, mixed in with flashcards, notebooks, and the wide variety of household projects stashed away for a rainy day. The room was messy and cluttered. This was not an optimal environment for anything productive.

What was most noteworthy about my work with Adriana was how fast we completely transformed the space and how much fun we had doing so. Because we thought it might make things more interesting, we shot some before and after pictures along with a few short videos documenting the process. Adriana was amazed at how quickly the room transformed. I credit the rapid transformation of her space to what I call the “tipping point.” The tipping point is a willingness and urgency to purge everything that stands in the way of who you want to be and what you want to do.

Her goal was to transform the room from its current state, to as close to her ideal vision as possible — as quickly as possible. Before we moved a thing, I had her explain to me her ideal vision of the space. She stated simply, that she wanted a pristine, organized environment where she could do two things: study and practice yoga. Having that clarity on the front end enabled us to maintain (or introduce) items that supported that vision, and remove anything that did not.

Step one is simplify, or purge. First, we removed everything that was not essential to studying and doing yoga. We made piles of trash, recycling, items for thrift and gift, and items that could possibly be consigned. We also relocated several household essentials to other areas of her home for storage. Step two is clarify, or organize. So we went about organizing all the essential items for school and yoga using my four rules of organization: 1) like things together, so items are 2) easy to find, 3) easy to reach, but 4) out of the way. We implemented my formula “proximity = urgency” to help determine where to put every little thing. Step three is inspire, or design. This is where we look at the interior design of the space and bring it to life with vibrancy and style.

Most people skip the first two steps and skip right to step three because it’s the most fun. Unfortunately, that’s the best way to spin your wheels, move stuff around, and dig holes just to fill them up again. That’s how people get overwhelmed — and quit. But because we had already simplified and gotten clarity about what was essential, step three was invigorating. Adriana and I completely reconfigured her office, moving her desk, bookshelf and filing cabinet to the opposite side of the room in order to open it up for a quiet, meditative space exclusively for her yoga practice. With her files, books, notebooks, office supplies, nursing uniforms and practicum materials organized for easy storage and rapid retrieval, we went about revitalizing the aesthetic by hanging her favorite art, clearing off worktops, and creating a meditation altar with items that give her inspiration. In about three hours, Adriana’s new home office supports precisely who she wants to be and what she wants to achieve.

“Life. Simplified.” appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of Intentional Solutions, delivering hands-on organizational solutions and strategies consulting for households, businesses, students, and life transitions. Read Evan’s bestselling new book “ClutterFree Revolution,” available on Amazon. Learn more at For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 970-366-2532, email or join the Revolution at

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