My wife says that I have a subconscious rule that I must move things from one place to another at least a hundred times before I can bring myself to give them away. Suffice it to say, if you need help in this, there are better experts than I to teach you.

-thus Brother Bradford, from his talk Unclutter Your Life.

It is not really a talk about clutter. It is a talk about systems, and means and ends, and goals.

Life can be very busy sometimes. Sometimes it just has to be born. Sometimes it is because we have let ourselves get lost in intermediate goals; sometimes it is because we have picked to many means to our ends without thinking of how the means could conflict with each other (in other words, without thinking in terms of systems); and sometimes it is because we have lost sight of our goals, meaning we have let our means become the ends. Then we have to rethink and cut some things out. Rethinking isn’t exactly the same as repentance but it is on the same continuum. When we sin, we repent. When we fail, we learn from it. When we get stuck, we rethink and regroup. They are all steps on our spiritual journey.

What Brother Bradford said about moving things around multiple times–well, that applies to me too. I do the same. So I can speak from experience when I warn you that you can make simplifying itself a distraction from your goals. Decluttering is not the goal. Your goals are the goals; decluttering is just a means to it. If you are like me, you can see all the horrible clutter you’ve accumulated and spend far too long trying to organize it instead of getting on with life. Yesterday I didn’t get my sprinkler fixed because I spent a lot of time organizing my plumbing supplies in the hopes of finding a $3 can of Purple. In less time, I could have dropped down to the hardware store and bought one.

Mistakes and dead ends are part of the path of life toward Heaven. Don’t spend more time cleaning them up than you need to to get back on the path. The road to Heaven is paved with the clutter of abortive plans and lost projects. Just keep going down the road.

Other posts from the Saturday afternoon session of the April 1992 General Conference.

Marilyn Nielson Clear away the clutter

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