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by Andy Howie

I spent much of my summer engaged in a far from favourite activity, but I’m really glad I did, and now I have created more space in which to think – literally.

How good are you at decluttering? It’s not my strongest point but I decided it had to be done and so I cleared out my office, gave it a lick of paint and a fresh carpet, bought some new furniture, and now I am sitting in comfort in a room which feels twice the size it once did. It was a big job to empty out 15 years of work and collected books, but I knew I had to do it now or face another 12 months of feeling inhibited by the objects around me.

The only way I could approach the task was by resolving that I would just empty my office, rather than sorting things and throwing away; that would have felt like too much to do at the start of this process. But now the room is ready I have to decide what to bring back in, and the biggest challenge for me is letting go of some old friends: my books.

I have decided that I want to begin to write more than read. I intend to try to bring more creativity and innovation into my work by setting aside time for freshness and new ideas. I know I will get inspiration to write through reading, so some books I will keep because they will help me to be creative, but many of my books I will not read again and so they have just become ornaments. Which is which? That is the question I will have to answer as I pick each one up and decide its fate.

My natural inclination is to read rather than write, so it will require some determination to focus on putting pen to paper. Perhaps I should just start and see what happens. Maybe I’ll try a writers’ retreat at some point. The space that lies before me feels full of possibilities.

It’s interesting how decluttering my physical environment has had a parallel impact on my thoughts, feelings and ideas about work. Before my office was inhibiting and claustrophobic, but now, sitting in my spacious office, I feel much more mentally, spiritually and creatively free.

As I was travelling home on a train recently I came to a clear realisation of how crucial solitude is to me. When I let go of constricting connectedness and busyness I can find the spaciousness of solitude. I believe I will find that spaciousness of solitude when I am writing in my decluttered office, and I’m really looking forward to it, excited about the possibilities.

Have you ever created more space by decluttering? What impact has it had on you mentally, emotionally and spiritually? I’d love to hear your thoughts.