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Cure for Clutter: Clear out Your Closets, Clear out Your Mind

Physician's Money Digest, June30 2003, Volume 10, Issue 12

Lighten Up! Free Yourself

from Clutter

It is definitely a snowball effect. Life ishectic, clutter begins to pile up, stressensues, which makes life more hectic,causing more clutter to pile up, causingthe stress to grow. And that is 1 thingthat a doctor doesn't need any moreof—stress. Healing the sick and savinglives is stressful enough without thetrappings of a disorganized home oroffice. In fact, according to MichellePassoff, a decluttering consultant andauthor of , the connection betweenstress and clutter is very real. Curing theone, she says, can usually help tosoothe the other.


Money Digest

In a recent interview with , Passoff answered thefollowing questions that can help guidethe cluttered doctor to a more peacefuland organized existence.

Have you ever worked with doctorsbefore, and if so, what has been yourexperience with them?

I have found that doctors are incrediblybusy people and that the entirefocus of their day, from the time theywake up to the time they go to sleep, ison other people. They take care of peoplesometimes to the point of neglectingthemselves. In my opinion, the peoplewho take care of themselves firstare the people who are able to be freeto really put their intentions elsewhere.

Doctors, as busy as they are, seecleaning clutter as last on their list ofthings to do; it's the least important.And I'd like to teach them how integralit is to having all of the most importantaspects of their lives work.

What steps should a doctor take tomake sure that everything they own iswell organized?

Ninety percent is an attitude adjustment,no kidding. They have to changetheir attitude from "I don't have timefor this; it's not important," to, "It's afundamental responsibility; it canimprove my life."

Because doctors are so busy, theyneed to schedule time to declutter andstick to it. It's really not rocket science.Put a time to declutter in your date book,just as you do any other appointment,and keep it, with as much reverence.

Are there strategies for tackling specificclutter?

In terms of papers that pile up andadd to clutter, it's important to set up afiling system that is very clearly labeledand sorted. There are 3 main categories—personal papers, professionalpapers, and financial papers. The personalcategory would include hobbies, liketravel or sports. The professional sectionwould include anything on your area ofexpertise: research, information abouthospitals, etc. Your financial papersshould be categorized and labeled sothat things could be seen at a glance. Amartian should be able to understand it.Time invested in doing this will pay off inyour health, well-being, and in yourresponsibility to others.

What is the connection betweenclutter and a person's emotional state?

Clutter is a signal that you'restressed. It's like a neon sign, and it tellsyou exactly where you're stressed. Forexample, if your closet is bulging,you're stressed in your clothing area. Ifyour files are overwhelming, thenyou're stressed where the paper'sbulging. Ultimately people should tryto conquer clutter before it overwhelmsthem.

Michelle Passoff, author of

Lighten Up! Free Yourself

from Clutter (HarperPerennial;

1998), delivers workshops,

seminars, and consultations

on decluttering in the United

States, England, and Australia. She is also

a partner in Asset Organization and

Estate Resolution Services, a company

that facilitates estate planning and dissolution.

She can be contacted in New York

at 212-222-2488 or mpassoff@msn.com.