“I actually write a to-do list with two columns, and at the top of the left-hand list is my name, and at the top of the right-hand list is the word God or Universe, depending on whatever people call that great big thing. And so for inspiration, I consciously let go of the stuff I know I can’t handle, and I write it on the right-hand list, and then I write whatever I know I can handle on my list, and I find that to be inspiring because it’s acknowledging that I can only handle so much, and it gets a lot off my plate.”
Toni Reece: Thank you so much, Jennifer, for agreeing to be part of the Project today, and before we begin, can you please introduce yourself?
Jennifer Hofmann: My name is Jennifer Hofmann, and my business is Inspired Home Office.
Toni: Thank you, and when you think of the word inspiration, Jennifer, who do you inspire, and how does that happen?
Jennifer: I inspire, well probably, first of all myself, but the people that I come into contact with regularly are people who are in the creative professions. A lot of them are artists. There are people in the helping professions, coaches, all kinds of creative people who are swimming in clutter. And so the thing that I help inspire them to do is to begin the process – and it is a process – but begin the process of moving that clutter out of their lives so that they have room for the stuff they really love, the stuff they really want to do.
So many of my clients – I really believe that most everybody on the planet was born with a gift to share, but most of my clients have a gift but are unable to share it because they’re really feeling burdened by the stuff in their space, and a lot of times it’s visually distracting. So by removing that and helping them get really clear about what they want in their life, so they can get around to actually doing it.
Toni: Wow. And how do you think that by working with people in this way — which sounds like a really cool thing to do — by having clutter getting in the way of my creativity or my thought process, how does it work then when you help them to explore their potential? What happens between how you inspire them and then also getting to that potential?
Jennifer: That’s a good question, and you’ll have to tell me if I’m answering this right on target here, but what comes up for me is that so many times part of becoming an inspiring person or leading an inspiring life is that you have to learn how to say no to certain things, that you have to begin … you begin the process of setting boundaries for what you’ll allow and what you won’t allow in your relationships, in your life, in your career.
But when we start with clutter, or stuff, you know, whatever you want to call it, piles … when you start dealing with individual items that are physical and you can hold them in your hand, you can look at one thing and say “You know, no, I actually don’t want this in my life,” and recycle it or shred it, or whatever.
The physical act of picking something up and making a decision gives people practice for beginning to say no or yes to the other things in their life that are not tangible, like starting a business or starting a family, or creating a new piece of artwork.
And so I find that basically what people do is they practice this skill of deciding yes or no with their physical stuff, and what happens over time is that they learn to apply that to other areas in their life. And in the meantime, their space gets clear so that when they actually go in to work in their home office or whatever space they’re clearing, they actually like spending time in there.
It feels inspiring, which is why I called my business Inspired Home Office, because I want that space to be rejuvenating, not just a place to work.
Toni: How do you go through the process with someone on what’s appropriate for them to let go of or not let go of?
Jennifer: Yes. There are … my fundamental philosophy is there are no right ways to organize, and there is no right or wrong way to trust your intuition. But I encourage people to tap into … instead of trying to follow an arbitrary rule about clutter or organizing, one of the most important things a person can do is listen to their own heart. “Will this item, whatever it is that’s in my hand, will it serve me? Does it support me? Does it align with where I’m going in my life?” And listening to that intuition is extremely illuminating if we learn how to trust it.
Toni: If I’m not sure of where I’m going in my life, is that part of the journey that you will take me on as well?
Jennifer: Yeah. Very often that question comes up. It’s like “Well, I don’t know where I’m going with my life,” and what’s really important is to honor that that is true. That’s something I hear frequently with people, and so very often it’s: Does this represent who you are today? Does this feel good when you hold it in your hand or when you look at it? And if the answer is no, and that’s just what comes up naturally, intuitively, then it’s okay to let it go, even if you’re not sure you’re going to need it in the future.
Toni: That’s fantastic. So Jennifer, what do you need to be inspired?
Jennifer: A lot!
Jennifer: No, I think that … I just think that’s such a fantastic question, and I think that I’m probably right in the middle in my own life of answering that for myself. I find that community is really, really vital, reaching out and including people in my process, even though I’m used to doing it by myself; so including community is one of the pieces for me.
And secondly, I think the other important thing that I need in order to feel inspired is retreat, and physically removing myself from the day-to-day so that I can reflect on other things that I don’t have time to do in the day-to-day. So between community and retreat — it’s sort of opposite sides of the same coin — but both of them are nourishing.
Toni: When you are at one of those points where you think to yourself, you know “I really could use a little inspiration today,” what do you find yourself reaching for? What do you do? Do you consistently move towards certain tools or methodologies?
Jennifer: You know, one of the things I started doing for inspiration was practicing … it’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about this, but I practice letting go of certain things. I actually wrote a post about this on my blog not too long ago, but I actually write a to-do list with two columns, and at the top of the left-hand list is my name, and at the top of the right-hand list is the word God or Universe, depending on whatever people call that great big thing.
And so for inspiration, I consciously let go of the stuff I know I can’t handle, and I write it on the right-hand list, and then I write whatever I know I can handle on my list, and I find that to be inspiring because it’s acknowledging that I can only handle so much, and it gets a lot off my plate.
Toni: Absolutely. Actually, what you do with that process is you declutter.
Jennifer: My brain.
Toni: Absolutely, absolutely. That’s a great tool. Do you … have you always come to the table this way as far as being organized and knowing really when you’re not organized what happens, and how it can bog you down, or did you come to the table thinking “Ah, I need a little organization” and you went through that process and that’s now how you know it helps others?
Jennifer: The second one.
Toni: The second one.
Jennifer: Definitely. I was an inconsistent student at best. I could never find my homework — and it usually wasn’t done — my room was always messy as a kid, and growing up it was a real struggle because I spent a lot of time actually hiding the fact that I couldn’t stay on top of everything.
And so as an adult, when I became self-employed — I started a different business before this one — and I started to realize that if I was going to be successful, I needed to have certain things in place. I needed to be able to follow through, I needed to be able to follow up, I wanted to remember my clients’ details, and that was just not something I never excelled at. So I started setting up systems for myself that were completely out of the box.
I went to a lot of different trainings, but I would get halfway through the book or, you know, halfway through the system, and it would fall apart, and so I started giving myself permission to just set it up in a way that made sense to me. It was intuitive, and I started to realize that I had something that might be useful for other people as well. So, compassion is really an important part of it, both for my clients and for me, too. I need it as much.
Toni: That’s fantastic. So, that really is a double-edge sword for you, isn’t it, to do it for yourself, you know, and then motivate it for others as well. That’s fantastic. So what do you do to explore your own potential now?
Jennifer: Wow, that’s a big question. What do I do to explore my own potential? I’ve started the process of planning. I’m not normally a long-term thinker, but lately I’ve been having a lot of big thoughts and big dreams about what I’d like to do in the world and what difference I want to make.
And so my dad used to tell me, actually, that there were two kinds of people in the world – the people that wrote down their dreams, and the people that didn’t — and so I decided that it was time for me to start writing things down.
What I find is that by writing things down. And how that applies to my potential is that it keeps me accountable to myself. I have a record of something that I really want to do, and it helps me develop an action plan, so it gives me actual steps I can follow. For some people, that’s probably pretty obvious, but for me it’s pretty revolutionary because I like … like a lot of people like going by the seat of my pants. But as far as exploring my potential, it’s really starting to believe my own dreams and write them down and start making them happen.
Toni: And is that then what you also teach your clients?
Jennifer: I encourage them to, especially if they’re open to that idea. Like I said, there’s no right or wrong way to do it, but many of my clients entertain dreams of self-employment or entertain dreams of doing something really big and really different. And something that contributes something to their world or to their community, and it doesn’t happen unless they actually get clear on what it is.
So I do encourage them to draw it, to create a poster of it, to collage it, to, you know, write down a plan, whatever comes naturally for them, but to create something that inspires them so it keeps them moving toward it.
Toni: It’s really interesting, Jennifer, during these interviews … they are very short interviews as you experienced, but it’s interesting that the work that you do by helping people to move their clutter out of the way so that they can be more creative and get to their destination — whether that’s creative or the entrepreneur spirit that they’re trying to achieve — you help them by seeing what it’s preventing, you know, by having all that clutter.
And yet what inspires you, the system that you put into place to do the list of your to-do list was an awesome tool, but you’re listing, and then as far as exploring your potential, to hold yourself accountable now by creating an action plan – and to have that come from someone who said that they weren’t this way originally, this isn’t what you did – that’s pretty amazing that what you’re doing now to inspire yourself and also help you explore your potential is exactly what you’re teaching.
Jennifer: Right. Yeah. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on me.
Toni: That is really … I think that’s really cool, and I think that there’s a lot of people that are going to be listening or reading your interview, and kind of the tips and tricks that you’ve given in this interview are going to be very helpful to people, and I really appreciate that you’ve shown up today.
Jennifer: Thank you. I’m so glad I could be a part.
Toni: Good luck to you, Jennifer, and we will post how people can find out about you and read about you, and possibly and hopefully connect with you at the bottom of your interview.
Jennifer: Fantastic! Thank you so much.
Toni: Oh, you are quite welcome. Thank you, Jennifer.
For more information about Jennifer Hofmann: www.inspiredhomeoffice.com