Tips for a Clean Sweep

In Putting Up the Red Velvet Rope on Your Space, I proposed some questions to ask yourself when deciding what objects stay in your space and which go. Here are some tips on approaching the process of de-cluttering.  The questions are part of the process. Use questions that are most helpful to you. Incidentally, according to Martha Beck, there are four reasons for clutter in our lives: having too much stuff, having the wrong stuff, having the right stuff but no place for it, and having the right stuff but not having it in its place.

  • Start at the place of least satisfaction. In my coach training, we learned to start sessions with clients by asking them to talk about the area of least satisfaction in their lives (another way to ask the same thing is, "What's crappy?"). So what is the area of least satisfaction in your home? What's crappiest about your living space?
  • Instead of taking objects one by one (think of taking books one by one off of a shelf or articles of clothing from a closet or loose items from the floor) and deciding whether or not to keep each one, take everything from your target area (shelf, a closet, drawer, etc.) or loose items from around the house and put it all in one place. Then put up your mental red velvet rope and pull out of the pile only what crosses it. By handpicking items that cross your red velvet rope instead of pulling items that don't, you're less likely to hang on to clutter. Touch what you love. Donate, recycle, sell, release anything that you do not.
  • Divide the keepers into categories and put away one category at a time ("shirts," "everything that goes in the kitchen," "art supplies,” “things from the 1980’s”).
  • Another idea is to pull items from your pile only as you need them. So perhaps you throw everything from a hall closet into a box. Put that box back in the closet or in your garage and pull items as needed. Designate a time limit (one month, six months). After that time, everything left in the box goes.

This process applies to your schedule as well. Put all of your activities or to-do items on a list. Which ones cross your red velvet rope? Which ones are part of your best life? For the items you keep in your schedule, how can you "batch" them by doing similar items in the same chunk of time?

Uncomfortable feelings may come up when you're deciding what and what not to keep. In the next newsletter, I'll help you make sense of those feelings and examine reasons for keeping clutter in your life.