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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« What Are Today's Interesting Finds? - v15 | How to Use Spring as Fantastic Clutter Antidote »

How to Remove Clutter From Your "Happy Place"

One of the things I love about working with my organizing clients is joining them on the journey as they transform their spaces, habits, and thoughts about clutter, organizing and life. I’m most often called to help when they are feeling stuck, overwhelmed, at a crossroad, or in the midst of a life transition. The common thread is that they deeply desire change. They might be unclear about how to get there or the steps needed for change to occur, but they want a shift. They want something different.

Clients often begin with a certain level of clutter overwhelm paired with a desire to make their environment feel positive and supportive. Clients tell me that clutter overload paralyzes their decision making abilities. When they see clutter, they shut down. One client explained that the clutter, especially surface clutter, becomes one giant pile of undistinguishable items that feel impossible to sort, edit or organize. The cluttered areas negate the peaceful, “happy place” feeling she’d like.

To help her transform the bedroom to that “happy place,” we focused on one surface at a time. We broke down the undistinguishable pile on the dresser top, removed all the items, and sorted them onto the bed into smaller categories, grouping like with like. Grouped piles make it easier to visually see and decide for example about those ten mascaras, five bottles of lotion or fifty hair ties. In addition to reducing decision fatigue and overwhelm, organizing the big pile into small groups allowed us to pair up missing items, determine how much was enough, remove things that belonged elsewhere, and let go of possessions that had served their purpose, but were no longer useful or appreciated.

We reviewed each category and item, one at a time. Each decision resulted in routing objects to one of these categories: discard, donate, recycle, give to a specific person, move elsewhere, or keep in the bedroom. Once the dresser surface was cleared, edited and organized, we addressed a few other surfaces. The edited piles were then moved to their destinations.

By the time we finished, the clutter was gone, her “happy place” was restored, and we were ready to tackle the next room.

How do you handle the cluttered areas in your life? I’d love to know your thoughts. I invite you to join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (10)

I think it is so important to have some peaceful, "happy" space to which you can retreat. My Grandfather used to come home after a day of being a high school principal in a small town. He would get a drink, sit in his chair and say, "Ahhh... sanctuary." Clutter so easily derails this setting we long for. I feel one of the greatest services we bring to clients is the willingness to just start digging in. Once we begin, the progress provides motivation to keep going. The whole process is so freeing, it just feels terrific!

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- What a beautiful image you offered of your grandfather and his "happy space" and personal "sanctuary" rituals. Clutter can derail us and just stop us all together. it's wonderful to be part of that letting go process and watch the positive outcomes that occur.

May 15, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I totally agree. I found that my clients as well as myself get distracted by surface clutter. It's important that we tap into the disturbance so we can recognize that it affects us. And hopefully be able to realize the disturbance before it affects our health.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I'm pretty organized, so my clutter is usually not out in the open, but in drawers, closets, etc. For that reason, it doesn't usually bother me - until it does. Even so, I love the feeling I get when I finally get around to dealing with it! Makes me wonder why I ever let it get that way in the first place...

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

I agree. I call the 'happy place' the place of refuge. My hope for my clients is that their home becomes their place of refuge from the outside fast paced world. I help them start in the place that 'hurts' the most. Where is the clutter the worst? And we go from there. I use a process similar to the one you described.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Sabrina- That surface clutter can definitely be a distraction... a looming pile of unmade decisions. We an easily start to ignore it instead of facing it. But when we're willing to dive in, the results can be spectacular.

@Janet- Clutter shows up in all kinds of places. While some of my clients' clutter is visible (as in surface clutter,) often it's hidden in drawers, closets, calendars or minds. The call to me comes when they reach the point of "bother," as you mentioned. You pose a great question as to why things "get that way in the first place." Perhaps it's different for each of us...could be no time devoted to getting things back to square one, no systems or homes for new things that come in, difficulty with decision-making...and probably a million other reasons.

@Diane- Lovely word choice ..."place of refuge." We all need that restful, place where we can just be, relax and feel good. Interesting when working with your clients, you like to start in the place that "hurts" most. I get that but don't always begin there. Sometimes we start in the easiest spot with the fastest transformational return. It just depends.

May 15, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I have a similar approach with my clients and always stress like with like. I've even done this for estate clients, a sort of pre-sort before they arrive.

When starting work with a new client, I ask them "what is bothering you the most?" and then suggest we start there.

I always enjoy your posts, Linda.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAlys Milner

@Alys- Like with like is a useful approach...especially when helping to make sense of the scope of choices. Love your starter, thought-provoking question.

Thanks so much for your kind words.

May 15, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love the idea of the feeling that your newly decluttered space will have. It's the best benefit for a client to feel and see the way a space will be. I advocate working in one small space at a time as well. This way you can see your success!

May 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- Going small is a great way to reduce overwhelm and get past feeling stuck. And once the movement starts, it's amazing to see the benefits that are quickly you said, "see your success," and feel it too!

May 17, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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