Clearing Out: The Musical

I was working with one of my voice clients yesterday via Skype. She was noticing that she wasn’t making time to sing or use her voice in her day-to-day life.

I asked her what the next few days were holding for her and she said, “Oh, my husband is out of town, so I’m finally going to dig in and clear out a big bunch of papers that have been piling up. I’m not looking forward to it, but it needs to get done.”

As our conversation continued, it occurred to me that the clearing out project could provide my client with a time and space for singing, that this project didn’t need to be an onerous one.

We got busy creating a kind of “musical” that she could sing as she pursued her clearing out project. Here are the components for creating such a thing for your next project:

Setting the Stage

Make the area in which you are working beautiful. Put a colorful cloth on the work table. Light a candle. Put flowers nearby. Make the area smell delicious with candle or some other aromatic thing.


Find a song, poem, prayer, or inspirational quote that you can speak aloud several times as you begin. My client chose a freedom song she knows well since her overall intention for her project is to free herself from the bonds of having too much stuff around.

Marking Progress

Mark each milepost along the way with something celebratory – a wahoo kind of song, a little happy dance as you move toward the recycling bin. The one we created for my client is set to the tune of the Beatles’ “Let It Go:”

 When I find myself with lots of clutter
These are the words it’s time to utter
Fire up the shredder – let it go
Let it go, let it go, let it go
Life will be much better
Let it go

Taking Breaks

Set a timer to remind you when it’s time to take a break. And make that break a gift to your hardworking body. Drink a big glass of water. Walk around the block. Do some stretches. Eat a piece of fruit. Dance to a favorite song. Any combination of the above will do – as will your own inspirations.

Grand Finale

Once the project is completed, make sure it gets celebrated in a lavish and joyful way. Sing and dance along to your favorite triumphant, happy song. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

“We Are the Champions” by Queen

“Yes” by Barbara McAfee

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Even though this particular “musical” approach pertains to clearing out paperwork, I hope it sparks some ideas for you about how to bring music, beauty, and pleasure into other mundane tasks in your life.

Beauty is always an option. We just need to remember to include it.

I’d love to hear about the “musicals” you design for yourself, your family, and/or your community.






About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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3 Responses to Clearing Out: The Musical

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Barbara, for this!

  2. Patricia Wilms says:

    Hi Barbara, I met you at Jamie Showkeir’s memorial and am a long time friend of Tom and MaryLou Pike. I love the musical clearing idea! But even more I love the coaching by Skype. Do you happen to do FaceTime? What are your fees for voice coaching? I’m interested in learning the potential of my voice.

    Tricia Wilms

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Michelle Farinella says:

    Ah! Brilliant. This will work for deep-cleaning, too. Thank you

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