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Senior Correspondent

Clutter has crept back in.

I have too many pens. I’d have to write everything by hand for the next ten years to use them up, and by then I’ll have 300 more pens, stragglers from conferences I attend that somehow make their way into my purse. “Just in case.”

My computer hard drive is no different: all the MP3s and PDFs I’ve saved just in case I ever need the information. But now there are hundreds, many poorly identified by file name, so I’d have to open each one to see what it is.

And despite round after round of unsubscribing from newsletters, my email box is out of control. I can’t delete fast enough. Between my online business, my offline consulting, my investments, my interests and my friends … disaster has struck.

Now my eyes scan the area around my desk. I see organizers filled with file folders, neatly labeled for all the projects and businesses I’m running. But they’re multiplying too. Some projects are finished or abandoned, and the files are actually just taking up space.

Speaking of paper, what’s that pile of papers growing on the corner of my desk? I sort my mail when it comes in: (1) into the trash; (2) to handle immediately; and (3) maybe interesting so “hold and decide.” Aha, it’s that insidious “hold and decide.”

Okay, I haven’t even left my desk area and I’ve found five major “just in case” collections of stuff.

Yet I had successfully dealt with clutter earlier, after several passes during my journey from financial disaster to financial peace of mind.


What does this mean?

Along the way, I had already digitized whatever I could: old cassettes (yes!), CDs, DVDs, photos and files of paperwork I rarely needed. Then I pared that way down. I cleared out my email box regularly. Anything digital not used for six months got trashed. (Except for tax stuff, of course.)

But I’ve been breaking my own rules.

I had fooled myself, believing that once I had dealt with my clutter issues, they’d be gone forever. But they’ve crept back. Why is that?

A long talk with myself this weekend gave me the answer.

As I created my version of “financial peace of mind,” I made some assumptions of how that would play out. Today, all the big pieces are still in place, as planned.

But, for the past six months, I have struggled with how I wanted to build the part of my online business that was to be on autopilot. I just couldn’t decide. So … that minor piece of my puzzle was not on schedule.

And my old long-term insecurities kicked back in again, without me even noticing. I had become a “what if-er” again. Because we hold on to things when we feel insecure.

See how the subconscious mind works when it comes to money? Mine was waving big red flags.

Now that I’m aware, I’ll make that part of my business a priority. I have to make some decisions there … just as it takes decision-making to keep clutter out of my life. I will:

•    Decide to give handfuls of pens to people who can use them.
•    Decide to delete all the MP3s and PDFs that don’t have direct application to what I’m doing “today.”
•    Decide to delete all the untouched emails and not subscribe to any new “just in case” temptations.
•    Decide to shred all documents not required for present projects or IRS justification.
•    Decide to limit myself to two mail-sorting categories: (1) into the trash and (2) to handle immediately.

No more indecision.

Look around you right now. Do you see any signs of clutter that could be pointing to an insecurity or two? Take the time to identify the insecurity and to figure out how to turn that insecurity around.

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