Tag Archives: decluttering

Home Office Clutter Clearing Plan

My new book, From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year: Your Room-by-Room Home Makeover, is coming out just in time for Christmas giving — to yourself and others. One helpful feature of the book is the inclusion of clutter clearing plans for each area of your home. Below is an excerpt of a clutter clearing plan from the Home Office chapter. It will give you a taste of the book, help you to push past any overwhelm, and start clearing out your home office. The ideas included in this plan are transferrable to any office setting.

Home Office Clutter Clearing Plan

Clutter in a home office is equivalent to blockages in the circuitry of your brain. Blockages in the brain can be lethal. They can also cause a state of unease that results in stress, anxiety and fear, and impairs productivity. When your home office is clear of clutter you can access the information you need for personal business and personal interests within seconds. Once you have ready access to that information, your life can roll along without incident. 

Clearing clutter from the home office can feel like you’ve gotten your brain back! Let me show you how.

  1. Take a photo of your home office before you begin work. As you look at it, take note of the “hot” spots, those areas of intense negative energy that make you want to run from the room. Resist the urge to run. Notice the negative thoughts that immediately pop up. Thoughts like, “What a mess! I don’t know where to start. This will take forever to do!” Notice those thoughts, but don’t allow them to shut down your brain. Just notice the challenge areas. Tell yourself that you can handle this challenge. It may take time, but you can do it, even if you have to do it in a number of short sessions or get some help to make it so.
  2. If paper has gone wild in the room, gather it up and put it in bags or boxes to deal with after you’ve finished organizing the rest of the room. As you gather up the papers, be sure to separate out supplies like envelopes, writing implements, sheet protectors and pads of paper. Put those aside in one area of the room. Also, be sure not to scoop up papers associated with current bills to be paid and current action items. Keep those two categories of paper separate from the rest of the paper. That way you can be sure to keep up with bills and other important actions that must be handled before the organizing is completed. The purpose of gathering up the paper is to quiet its annoying, distressing and distracting negative energy so you can think clearly as you make decisions about the rest of the contents of the room.
  3. If there are miscellaneous little items floating around the room, on the desk, filing cabinet, floor, etc., gather them all up and put them in a bag or basket. Like paper, the energy of those little things can be very distracting and probably needs silencing before moving forward. You can deal with those things at the end of the clutter clearing process, once everything bigger has been handled.
  4. Identify all the functions of the room. Home offices are often multi-purpose rooms, especially in small houses. It’s important to determine the various functions of the space before you begin clutter clearing, so you’ll know what belongs in the room and what needs to find a home elsewhere. Is it just a home office, a place to pay bills and store papers you might need to access someday? Does it house a home-based business as well as personal financial information? Is the room both home office and guest room? Does it also serve as the location of the gift-wrapping center for the home? Is it a craft room as well as a home office? So many possibilities! Know that the more functions housed in a room, the more challenging it will be to organize and keep organized.
  5. Remove everything from the space that does not fit its function. Place those items either just inside or just outside the door to be moved once you’ve worked long enough to have either a weary brain, or to have accumulated enough items to justify taking a break to distribute them to their new locations.
  6. Look at each piece of furniture and determine whether it serves at least one of the functions of the room. Remove any furniture that doesn’t serve one of the functions of the room. Home offices are complicated spaces that are a challenge to organize and keep organized. They ALWAYS have a lot going on in them. You cannot afford to have excess furniture holding precious energy that could be better used another better way in that room.
  7. Check each piece of furniture to make sure it works well and is in good condition. A good way to determine this is by noticing which furniture is being used and which is not. If something is not being used, why not? It’s common that filing cabinets and desks with broken drawers or drawers that don’t open and close easily will be avoided. Let go of furnishings that are not in good condition.
  8. Check the placement of the furniture. Is it comfortable? Is the desk situated so you will be in the power position, having a full view of the door and a solid wall behind you? Is it possible to work effectively and efficiently in the current arrangement? If not, rearrange the furniture put yourself in the power position when working at the desk. Make sure you can easily reach anything you will use on a regular basis, like computers, printers, other office equipment, filing cabinets, and supplies.
  9. When you are moving furniture around, be sure to clump supplies you encounter in one location for evaluation, organizing and containing later in the clutter clearing process.
  10. Evaluate computer equipment. Does it all work? If there are old computers, printers, modems and hard drives that are not being used, why not? Purge broken items that aren’t worth repairing, items you don’t know how to use and don’t  care about figuring out how to use. The “someday” you think will come when you’ll be able to figure out everything is not likely to come. Get real about all the electronic equipment that you own. Make decisions about what will be kept and let go of the rest. This may require taking steps to remove data from hard drives. If you are not computer savvy, the fastest way to clear hard drives is to hire someone to help you do this. Also, much outdated electronic equipment is not worth selling. Live only with electronic equipment that is alive and used!
  11. Gather all books together and evaluate the energy of each one. Books to keep are those that you haven’t read but are still interested in reading, those that you have read and know you’ll re-read, those that you are highly likely to use for reference, and any book that has changed your life. Those are high energy books. Let go of the rest.
  12. If you have binders, evaluate each one to determine if it is worth keeping. Binders from workshops and conferences are seldom used after the event and can take up valuable “real estate” in a home office. If you don’t use a binder in the first month after a workshop or conference you are unlikely to ever use it. Let it go! Binders of old financial information can be archived in banker’s boxes in the attic, again freeing up precious space. If, like me, you’ve had good intentions of using binders, but really hate the hole punching process, consider getting rid of binders in favor of another way of storing papers.
  13. Sort supplies by category: writing implements, paper, filing supplies, index cards, sheet protectors, binders, blank CDs, jewel cases, organizing supplies, etc. As you sort, put aside for donation any supplies you no longer use, that are outdated, and that you find annoying or irritating to use. Once the supplies are sorted by type, look at the quantity of each item. If you have an excessive amount of any item, consider donating a portion of it to a local charity. After you’ve made those decisions, check to see if all the supplies you plan to keep will fit in the storage area you plan to use to house them. Make it your goal to have all your supplies comfortably live in the storage space available.
  14. Evaluate all software books and CDs (content, music, software, photos, etc.), purging any that are outdated or that you no longer use.
  15. Consider all the decorative items in the space. Do they still have positive energy? Do you love them or use them? If not, let them go. Or, if you have a decorative item that you still value, but you no longer want it in the home office, put it by the door to find a home for it in another part of the house.
  16. Check out any other items that don’t fit into the major categories I’ve discussed to identify those that you still love or use. Move those that aren’t loved or used to the door with other items to be donated.
  17. Once the entire space has been evaluated and unused and unloved items purged, turn your attention toward the paper that you scooped up early in the clutter clearing process. You are likely to find that paper is easier to handle now that you’ve cleared the rest of the room.
      • DO NOT start making decisions about single pieces of paper, unless that’s all you have to deal with. If you start there, you will quit! Handling big chunks of paper first will allow you to see visible progress quickly. That is essential in order for you to stay motivated and keep going.
      • Start by pulling big chunks of paper from your paper piles first, like magazines, catalogs, newsletters, and stapled chunks of paper. Making decisions big chunks allows you to see visual progress for your efforts more quickly than starting with single sheets of paper. Visual progress is imperative to keep you motivated to continue working on paper.
      • Work your way from big chunks to single sheets, and then to small pieces of paper.
      • Keep only those papers you are highly likely to reference at some later date. Remember, 80 to 90% of paper that is filed never gets touched again.
      • Be very selective about papers you keep. If you keep them, they become work, because you’ll need to figure out how to store them so you can easily access them.

Keep in mind that the energy in your home office will be much improved once you have cleared it of clutter. You will then need to organize your paper and set up a filing system, if you don’t already have one.

After all that hard work you can turn your attention to other fun activities, like decorating the space and enhancing it with lovely art and images that bring you joy, create feelings of empowerment, and motivate you to take action.

Now that you’ve read through the steps, it’s time to apply your knowledge. Are you ready to love your home office?

From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year

I am very excited to report that I am in the final stages of preparing From Cluttered to Clear In Just One Year: Your Room-by-Room Home Makeover, my second book, for publication. I hope to have it available for sale on my website and on Amazon by December 2017.

Why is this exciting news for you? My first book, Rock Scissors Paper: Understanding How Environment Affects Your Performance on a Daily Basis, described how the condition of your environment affects your performance, the tools that can be used to create high performance environments, and a general process for clearing clutter. It was designed to set the foundation of principles, information and processes to create high performance spaces by clearing clutter and improving feng shui in spaces. From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year goes a step further by providing specific recommendations and step-by-step plans to clear clutter and create good feng shui in every area of your home.

From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year begins with a chapter designed to help you start clutter clearing. It includes information about where to start clutter clearing for the best results, where not to start clearing, the best way to start clearing, how to clear clutter, what to clear out, and how to get started and continue clearing clutter.

What distinguishes this book from other books about decluttering is that chapters address both clutter clearing and feng shui challenges in each area of the home. For example, in the Bedroom chapter you’ll find a section that addresses how to clear clutter from the tops of dressers as well as sections about how to make your bedroom peaceful by eliminating things that affect quality sleep like loose shoes and an open laundry hamper. At the end of the chapter is step-by-step plan to clutter clearing from the bedroom.

You can use From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year as your guide to systematically clear clutter and create good feng shui in your home over the period of one year. Or, you can use it as a reference manual to pull out when you are ready to tackle clutter in any area of your home.

Is this the year you are going to get your clutter clearing done and reclaim comfort and peace in your home? If so, email me to be added to a list to be notified when From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year hits the book shelves later this fall.

The Konmari Method: Not a Magic Bullet!

51mf3u-jpal-_sx348_bo1204203200_Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has been the all the rage for the last two years. I’m guessing it caught on because people were fascinated and hungering for information about how to rid themselves of clutter forever. Wouldn’t that be nice! Or, perhaps the idea that tidying up could be magical and not a dreaded boring task was appealing.

Unfortunately, the only way to rid yourself of clutter forever is to have a highly effective, committed staff that follows you everywhere cleaning up and clearing out behind you or to be dead. As we move through life, we create clutter. The only way I know to live somewhat clutter-free is to make daily clutter clearing a priority along with several larger clutter clearing sessions per year.

Not only was I initially very put off by the suggestion that it is possible to clear clutter forever, I also had a problem with Ms. Kondo’s insistence that everything should be cleared out at once. Having worked as a professional organizer who has cleared clutter for almost 20 years, I have learned that the human brain wears out after an hour or two when making decisions once after another. Going through an entire house can take weeks or even months for most people. It is an enormous task!

Clutter clearing is all about making decisions. The idea that people are capable of working hour after hour, day after day to clear clutter not only is an impossibility (unless a team of people are doing the clearing), but it is a recipe for exhaustion and failure.

I also struggled with the sorting method proposed in Ms. Kondo’s book. At one point she suggested that a person’s closet be emptied onto the floor and clothes from other parts of the house be added to the pile. Then the sorting would begin and continue until all the clothes were sorted.

First, piling all the clothes in one place is a recipe for overwhelm. Seeing all the clothes at once would shut down most of my clients’ brains, especially those with ADHD. Also, it really isn’t necessary to empty closets when clearing them out. In fact, it’s much more efficient to leave all clothes in the closet, except for any that are on the floor, and pull out only those that a person no longer wants.

Finally, it is highly unlikely that even a person who is highly focused and motivated would be able to stay engaged in the sorting process until that enormous job was done. When exhaustion sets in, the brain melts down. When the brain is done, people quit clearing clutter. That would leave a big pile of clothes in the middle of the bedroom, a pile that would be much harder to get back to than it was to work on it the first time.

With all that said, I really liked the feng shui feel of the book. The way she looked at possessions was almost referent. Plus, she linked quality of a person’s life to the condition of their environment. Feng shui teaches that what you have in your space affects what happens in your life.

I can see all my shirts at once! No MIA shirts!

I can see all my shirts at once! No MIA shirts!

My favorite part of the book, however, was the section addressing how to fold clothes for maximum visibility. Using her suggestions I have totally transformed my sock and nightgown drawer and my shirt drawer using her methods. I feel proud and happy every time I open one of those drawers. Everything is so neat, organized and visible.

No, you can’t banish clutter forever. There are no magic bullets. But, you can improve the condition of your space by clearing clutter every day.

Clear Clutter and Create an Attic You Love

I can imagine that many of your are thinking, “Love my attic. Are you kidding?” What2008 Photos 003 would it take for you to love your attic? Attics are not places that we think about loving. They are storage spaces, not areas where you hang out. But, imagine going into your attic without a sense of dread. Imagine actually looking forward to entering your attic. What would that attic look like? How would it feel?

Here are some of my ideas for having an attic that you love:

  • It has been cleared of all things that you no longer love or use and gets cleared at least once a year.
  • It is well organized so you can find things easily.
  • It has space to move around–not packed to the gills!
  • The floors have been swept or vacuumed to remove dust and grime.
  • The things you use most often are conveniently located for easy access.
  • Everything in the space is in good condition and in good working order.
  • Everything in the space has a purpose.
  • It has good lighting.
An attic you can love.

An attic you can love.

An attic like the one I’ve described would certainly not feel like the burden that most attics seem to be. It would still be a storage area, not a place to spend time, but I’ll bet you’d be less likely to procrastinate going there. Perhaps that’s as close to loving your attic as you can get.

Fall is a great time to clear clutter out of your attic! Feng shui teaches that the attic is the area that holds energies of your hopes and aspirations. Make an investment in attaining your hopes and aspirations by decluttering your attic!

Utility Room Clutter Clearing or Have Your Cleaning Products Had Babies?

It’s always interesting to see how many kinds of silver polish I find when FullSizeRenderI’m helping clients clear clutter from their utility rooms. I’m not exactly sure how it happens, but I often find duplicates of silver polish, carpet stain removal products, floor waxes, and furniture polish in particular.

I wonder if this accumulation happens because clients hear about a new, improved product and just have to try i. Or, if they just don’t remember that they already have a product. What’s also interesting is that when they discover that they have multiples of a product, they often keep all of them.

I recommend that you figure out which product works best for you, and either let go of the rest or systematically use up the extras. A good way use up a product is to put the bottle you want to use up in front of the other duplicates. It’s also always a good idea to keep smaller containers on lower shelves so they will be visible and easy to access. Even though you use many of those products only occasionally, storing them on an upper shelf guarantees that they will get lost in the bottle jungle. Make them visible and use them up! Also, make a deal with yourself that you will only buy new cleaning
products when you are sure that you need them.

Remember, things that don’t get used have a static, dead energy. Those extras are taking up prime real estate that could be better used in some other way. Get real with yourself about those that are really worth keeping! Lighten your cleanser load!

Clutter Clearing Success, Thanks to Housekeeper

Every now and then one of my former clients will write and let me know about their clutter imagesCA7LLPVQclearing success. I always ask if I can share their stories in my blog so others can benefit from what they learned. Following is a success story I received this week. I think it’s wonderful how this client found a way to get her housecleaning and clutter clearing done with a little creative thinking about her finances. I hope she inspires you to find clutter clearing solutions that work for you!

“I have found a solution that is working for me with the clutter clearing of the things I’ve collected over the years along with the addition of my mother’s things after her death in 2007.

I hired a housekeeper.  

I had become so frustrated with not being able to be a good housewife AND a productive artist/teacher, along with nursing 3 sick animals until their deaths in recent years, it was overwhelming.  So after our big dog died in October, I looked at what the medicines and vet bills had been for those pets and realized I could divert those funds into having a housekeeper once or twice a month.  Better yet, while she is doing that, I decided I can use that time, since I’m home while she is here, to go through all those things to toss, save or give away. One table or bookcase or corner at a time. 

It’s been a great way to handle the de-cluttering. Even if it takes awhile, it’s better than not (doing it) at all.  Using the advice you had given me during your visits here about (not) keeping broken things, or emotionally negative things along with various other bits of wisdom, like one hour, one drawer at a time, it’s getting done.”

PS This client stumbled on the magic of using a body double when she began using the housekeeper’s cleaning time as clutter clearing time for herself. Many people are able to do things that they normally would avoid, especially boring and/or overwhelming tasks like paying bills, cleaning up and clutter clearing, when there is another body in their space. Somehow the presence of that impartial other helps ground them to be able to manage their anxiety, boredom, or overwhelm to face what seem like insurmountable tasks when faced alone.