Perhaps nothing makes you as aware of your environments as a major impending storm.  As I go through my day making preparations for Hurricane Irene, I find myself thinking about what would happen if my home and/or many of my possessions were destroyed.  What of my material things are so important?  My photos.  My laptop and iPhone, of course.  But truthfully, most things can be replaced.  I’m ruminating on why I have so much “stuff” to begin with.

There’s nothing like being focused on priorities to make the idea of a major de-cluttering and scaling back very appealing.

I had a friend who recently became an empty nester remark the other day that her goal is to get her life down to where most everything she owns fits into two suitcases.  To her, that meant complete freedom to go anywhere and do anything.

While I’m not about to do something quite that radical, I think the time has come to throw out 2/3s of my closet, 1/2 of my paper files and most of the assorted memorabilia, knick knacks and do-dads (that’s a technical term).

Stay safe, dry…and decluttered.

9-5-11  Follow up note:  We lost power for five days.  As a result, I wound up throwing out 3/4 of my refrigerated and frozen food.  I took that opportunity to completely clean these inside and out, and restocked them with only nonprocessed, whole foods.  That felt so good, I’ve been decluttering my pantry and reorganizing my kitchen.  It’s amazing the amount of energy and pleasure that gives!

One of the most effective ways of improving your physical environments is to declutter.  You know how you feel after you clean off the top of your desk, or clean out a closet?  It’s an energy rush, aside from that feeling of accomplishment.  It can actually make you feel more creative and motivated.

Organizer Elvie Look offers 10 Steps to Getting Organized.  Here’s a preview: “3. The floor: is not storage space. Do you have clothes lying around? Go through now picking them up and putting them away in their respective rooms, closets or into the laundry hamper. While you’re at it, throw a load of laundry in. If you have clothes that need folding, do that and get them put away.”

Now go and post that sign in the kids’ rooms, the bathroom, and on your husband’s review mirror. “The floor is not storage space.”

10 Baby Steps To Getting And Staying Organized from Elvie’s Essentials 

As babies in the womb, we live in a perfect environment.  Food on demand.  Climate control.  All our needs are instantaneously met. Once we come into this world, we begin an almost immediate search for perfect environments.  In the beginning, those environments are created for us.  Our rooms, what stories we are read, what and when we are fed, who we go on playdates with, what we learn in school.  Eventually we begin to design our own environments, choosing items for our rooms, picking our own books, selecting our own friends, choosing a major in college.  As our world continues to change, we adapt to the new environments.  We have only to observe the aged who have not kept up with technology to see how the failure to adapt constrains us.

Along the way, we create environments that support us in the lives we live, and those environments become familiar and comfortable.  Those environments….our relationships to people, possessions, surroundings, ideas and more can either hold us in place, or support us to grow.

Consciously or unconsciously, we design our environments to reflect how we think and feel.  All of these are part of our personal environments which we create to support us in the life we are living.  Many people have discussed environments as a way of choosing how you plan to live, including Julia Cameron and Thomas Leonard.  Our environments include:

  1. Your surroundings (or Physical Environment):  This includes your home, your car, your office, and nature.
  2. Your Relationships:  Family and Friends, Colleagues and Superiors, Clients and Customers
  3. Your Network: Acquaintances, larger circle of work relationships, people within organizations you belong to
  4. Your Environment of Ideas (or Memetic Environment):
  5. Your Spiritual Environment:
  6. Your Financial Environment
  7. Your Body and Health Environment:
  8. Your (inner) Self Environment:
  9. Your Career Environment
  10. Your Creativity Environment
  11. Your Leisure Environment
  12. Your Environment of Possessions
  13. Your Resource Environment

When you want to make a change in your life, you need to change at least some of our environments to support and nourish that change.Well designed (inner and outer) environments can naturally increase happiness, performance, and effectiveness and more, in effect, pulling us forward into the change we want to create.  Changing environments can support the vision and goals you have and changes you want to make.

The first step is to become aware of all your environments, determine which are and which are not working for you, and then design them to support the you that you want to become.

And that’s what the Personal Environments Project is about.