Like many kids, my son Eric has crooked teeth. About a year ago we started along the orthodontics route and he got a Herbst appliance. In case you're not an orthodontist, a Herbst appliance is designed to do some preliminary moving and adjusting before "real braces". Unlike a retainer it is permanent which means it gets cemented in.

The big day arrived and it was time to remove the appliance. For the first time in over a year Eric had nothing but teeth in his mouth. As Eric and I were driving home from the orthodontist's office I asked him how his mouth felt. He said that it felt great. He went onto say that he was surprised it felt so good because he was so used to the appliance he had really forgotten it was there. The Herbst not only didn't bother him but he didn't even notice it in his mouth anymore. So if it wasn't bothering him why should it feel so good without it? Why should he suddenly feel so free?

Eric's Herbst appliance was clutter. It may not seem like clutter but it was. Clutter is the stuff that gets in your way. Clutter takes your time, your space, your energy. Eric had to learn to eat, talk, brush his teeth and yawn with his clutter in his way.. He had gotten so used to it that he didn't notice the clutter until it was gone.

You may be so used to the way things are around you that you don't realize how much energy you are really expending on clutter. You may think that because you don't acknowledge or pay attention to something it's not costing you anything but it is. In fact, every minute of every day you work hard to ignore the clutter and put tremendous effort behind finding ways to work around it. Clutter causes you to make choices that you otherwise may not have made. Clutter causes things to get backed up and then the pressure increases even more. Ultimately, what really gets backed up is your life.

When the clutter around you is gone you are free to choose what you want to do and what you want to say no to. In fact, this is the part that thrills me the most when I work with my clients. It's when the realization strikes that it's really not about getting organized but it's about what happens when you stop putting up with the clutter. You uncover yourself and discover what you really want out of life.

One of my clients recently told me that he went through a stack of old ideas and notes he had laying around. The notes he found were valid but felt stale to him. He had never acted on any of them. However, he found one idea that had been buried for over a year. It wasn't old or stale; in fact it really excited him. He consciously decided to let go of all of the other ideas. He went to work on this one idea immediately. By getting rid of the clutter he was free to focus his time and attention on one project and created a brand new program for his business.
Another client of mine told me that as she de-cluttered her craft closet. She discarded old projects, project ideas and supplies. She got rid of things that were still "good" but didn't fit within her life anymore. What she experienced wasn't loss but a sense of openness and new possibilities.

Here's my challenge to you:

1. Look around your space, your office, your home, even your car...shut off your internal filters. What clutter do you see around you that you've been ignoring?

2. Think about the clutter around you. What is the clutter keeping you from doing? What "work-arounds" have you created for yourself?

3. Pick one or two areas of clutter that you've been actively ignoring. Think about what small steps you can take to reduce the clutter and experience relief and take the small steps.

Eric doesn't have a choice. Eric is going to get his real braces in just a couple of weeks. He will have to learn new ways to brush his teeth, talk and eat corn on the cob. Yes, he'll get used to them and before he knows it he won't even feel them anymore, but I can promise you this, after his braces have done their work and the clutter in his mouth is gone he'll reveal an even more incredible smile!

Author's Bio: 

Carrie Greene is an internationally known coach, speaker & an expert declutterer.

Carrie began her career at financial institutions including the New York Stock Exchange. Carrie was frustrated because she never got to know the people she was helping so in 2003 Carrie decided to refocus her life. She parlayed her strong organizational skills into a career as a professional organizer.

Carrie realized that people she helped most with were those stuck in a cycle of hopelessness and clutter was just another thing that they had no control over. It was to help this type of client that Carrie began coaching.

Through coaching, and Carrie’s groundbreaking programs and workshops Carrie has been able to work with thousands of people worldwide to find practical solutions to their struggles with everyday life.

For free resources, including Carrie's 4-part ecourse to help you escape your piles, visit