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What Do Clutter and Pornography Have in Common?
Barbara Hemphill - Productivity Consultant, Work Life Balance Barbara Hemphill - Productivity Consultant, Work Life Balance
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Raleigh, NC
Wednesday, June 7, 2023


I never thought I would write a blog that included the word "pornography," but it may well be the most important one I have ever written. 

Craig Groeschel, the founder of Life Church, creator of the You Version Bible app, explained that pornography addiction results from an emotional wound. That emotional wound often results in shame. In over four decades in the organizing industry, I have observed the same is true for clutter. 

I spoke with a woman who filled out a scorecard on our website, and I asked, "Do you want help?"  She replied, "I don't know if I can be helped." Sadly, while I don't recall whether anyone has ever used those exact words, it is an emotion we frequently uncover as we talk with people who are struggling with clutter. 

While autographing my first book, Taming the Paper Tiger, at a New York City bookstore, I commented, "When I work with someone who has difficulty letting go of things, I ask questions. I always find that at some time in their life, they have experienced a severe emotional loss."  

When my presentation was over, a young man came up to me and said, "My apartment is so piled with papers I have had no one in it for months. Every night I go home intending to get them organized. Before long, I feel paralyzed." Then he stopped and added, "My mother died when I was six. Are you telling me I have to get over the grief of losing my mother before I can get rid of the paper?" 

"I can't answer that," I replied. "I'm not a mental health professional, but what I can tell you from my experience is that if you find someone you trust (probably not a family member!) to help you decide what you need or want to keep, you will solve your paper problem."  

Progress starts with the truth. As Craig Groeschel put it, "You are only as strong as you are honest." Often people who struggle with clutter are unwilling to admit that they feel trapped, and worse, they feel shame. The shame deepens when they tell a family member they are considering getting help and are told, "Oh, you don't need to do that. Just get rid of the stuff. It's not that difficult." 

Studies show that clutter problems lead to a significant decrease in satisfaction with life among older adults. This problem has become more severe as children and grandchildren show little interest in the furniture, belongings, books, photographs, and memorabilia collected for them. Left unresolved, the growing clutter makes life for the adult unpleasant and leaves a legacy of pain for the children instead of the joy they intended. 

Ironically, despite the promise of the paperless world, the most challenging clutter issue is frequently paper, compounded with digital documents, and photographs. 

A common stumbling block in getting rid of clutter is fear — fear of forgetting, being irresponsible, offending someone, or wanting it back. You can keep everything you want if you pay the price: time, space, money, and energy, but if you don't know you have it, or you can't find it, it is of no value! Does that paper help you accomplish your work or enjoy your life — or does it have the opposite effect? 

Clutter sufferers often procrastinate because of the perceived size of the project. Often it is much less complex than imagined, and the longer you wait, the bigger it will be, and the more it will cost in lost opportunities. 

Years ago, I was working with a client in his garage cleaning out boxes of files, laughing about something we found. At one point, he stopped, looked at me, and said, "I never believed I could laugh while I was cleaning papers out of my garage." Years later, after his memorial service, his children thanked me for empowering their father to leave them an organized filing system and a garage free of boxes full of paper.

If you struggle with paper and digital clutter, let's talk! Go to www.ProductiveEnviromentScore.com and fill out the scorecard. It only takes a few minutes, and you'll get our free Office Transformation Blueprint, and the opportunity for a complimentary phone call to address your specific situation. We'd love to help! 

About Barbara Hemphill:

Barbara Hemphill is a renowned Productivity Expert, specializing in work-life balance and helping individuals create productive environments in their homes and offices, along with her team of Certified Productive Environment Specialists™. With over 40 years of experience, she has dedicated her career to assisting clients in transforming their lives by decluttering and organizing their workspaces. Hemphill's practical solutions and expert guidance have earned her a reputation as a leading authority in her field. Visit www.ProductiveEnvironment.com to learn more.

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Name: Barbara Hemphill
Dateline: Raleigh, NC United States
Direct Phone: 919-349-9247
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