De-clutter Life and Live More Freely

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By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy

This article was previously published in the Aquarium Newspaper and after 30 days from the print date this author has all rights reserved.

You will never know what is enough…
Unless you know what is more than enough.

–William Blake

David and I have been presenting courses on de-cluttering and self-management since the mid 1990’s after Creative Retirement Manitoba asked us to write, produce and present a seminar with the above focus. Clutter shows up in many forms, mental, emotional and physical. The teachings within Fung Shui and Ancient Native American cultures suggest that all forms of life and the elements are transient, swirling patterns of energy.

Life force (Chi) flows internally through each of us and externally throughout our surroundings. Depending on how the energy moves, these two energetic patterns can support harmony or disharmony, health or disease. Once a person begins to assess the constricting energy aspects of clutter they are often more motivated to create order inwardly and outwardly.

With a clear intent to harmonize and clarify the energy within inner/outer landscapes the space moves into higher resonances. This often leads to a reduction in stress and an overall improvement in health and well-being.

For those who are used to living within their clutter the idea of letting it go can feel daunting and overwhelming. In the courses our company presents on reducing clutter the first suggestion is to assess what the outer clutter represents.

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Hoarding often comes from patterns of conditioned thinking, fear and poverty consciousness. The most common reason for not letting things is a belief it might be needed again. Others feel comforted by their clutter. For some, there is an attachment to objects because they belonged to someone who has moved on in whatever form that may be. The reason why “things” are packed away rather than being used or enjoyed is something to consider. While working with clients the guideline we use is summarized in a quote by Jimmy Conners to use it… it or lose it.

Excess material possessions that outlive their purpose can clog living spaces. In our understanding of energy, flow, releasing and renewal, it is importance to let go of the old to make room for the new. For those who have sentimental attachments to items we suggest taking a photograph with them or them. The memories remain whether the item is there or not. That approach assists clients in releasing items. Gifting to friends and loved ones is another option as is repurposing them or giving to charities or thrift stores. For some, that approach is easier than throwing treasured items in the trash. One of the best ways to begin to let things go is to accept that holding on to rather than releasing leaves little room for the Universe to provide more. After all when there is so much “packed” energy with congested lifestyle…where is the opportunity or opening for something fresh and new to flow into it?

The intention to simplify one’s space fits into the recycle and reuse idea and just one of the many reasons I feel so passionate about thrift store shopping. Many of our clients feel better about letting their gently used items go when they know they are unconditionally giving them away to someone who may need it.

Mental/emotional clutter often shows up in a “busy-ness” syndrome. People cram their lives with so many projects, events, commitments that there is little time or energy left to keep their space in “divine order.” All time management begins with self-management and the world will not come to an end if a decision is made to create an absolute priority list and say “no.”

Simplifying one’s life requires a multi-tiered process that involves some thoughtful soul searching about who and what really matters.

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The key to getting organized is to focus. Initially the tendency might be to flit from one area to another, but completing one before moving on is far more effective. It is easier to get started on what may seem like a monumental task if the process is broken down into smaller projects.

Draw a planning sheet with two columns and mark one “Weekend” and the other “Project.” Place it in a prominent area (fridge, bulletin board or mirror.) That way your goals will be in full view. Here is a suggested six-week plan of action:

Weekend 1: Closets & Drawers
Clean and organize all closets throughout the house/apartment. Clients we work with are asked a few basic questions to assist them in reframing things. If the item does not make them happy and they are not using or wearing it…why not give it to someone who will? Having “fat/thin” wardrobes often leads to unwanted clutter, regrets and low self esteem. If clothes do not fit for ANY reason…we suggest lovingly giving it to a favorite charity with no regrets. Newer clothes can be purchased when the body size changes.

Once again thrift stores have great clothing and very reasonable prices. Same principle applies for shoes that are uncomfortable, worn or out of style. Weed out all items that have not been worn in a year or longer. Apply the same principle to outdoor gear, mitts, scarves and gloves without mates. Items that have sentimental value can be appropriately stored towards the back of the closet. Tattered sheets, table cloths and towels can be turned into “rag bags” for cleaning. Extra towels, blankets and sheets can also be given away or donated to thrift stores.

Weekend 2: Paper

Gather, organize, toss or recycle accumulated paper in the house, garage and work areas. Go through warranties and expired polices, outdated catalogs, coupons, and old bank statements unsolicited mail and either shred, burn or toss them. Throw away used grocery lists, receipts, old film and batteries and all the “stuff” that is of no real use. Decide to go through those “piles of paper” and choose what you need to keep and file them…then toss the rest. While doing that pull records and receipts for tax purposes and put them in a storage box marked “current year.” That puts you ahead of the game for filing taxes.

Weekend 3: Reading

it can be hard to consider recycling piles of magazines and beginning again. Removing all but the current issues of favorite new magazines is an option…the rest really is old news. The approach we suggest in our seminars is to take a magazine, scan the table of content and pick a maximum of three articles. Tear them out and put them in a file folder…if there really is intent to make time to read them. Otherwise pass them on. To avoid falling back into the same pattern we suggest subscribing to a clipping service or downloading articles to your PC from the Internet. If books and magazines are an absolute “need” rather than a “want” taking a speed reading course is another option.

Weekend 4: Correspondence

Check e-mails daily and responding promptly keeps efficiency levels high and reduces a cluttered mailbox. Sort through snail mail daily and recycle what outdated. Create a file for monthly bill payments. An efficient way of remembering all birthday and anniversary dates is create file folders marked with the months of the year and shop for ALL of the cards once a year.

Mark the important date of the person’s event in light pencil where the stamp will be placed and file it. At the beginning of each month review the folder and mail cards and well wishes out. This approach assures that birthdays and anniversaries will not be missed.

Weekend 5: Storage

Clutter’s last stand usually shows up in the basement, garage, attics or shed. The biggest problem comes when items are stacked items atop one another. When a box storage system is created the clutter can be eliminated. Choose boxes that are strong and the same size and shape and create shelving system. Repack items that must be stored in a new box and clearly label the contents on the side. Store them in alphabetical order on each shelf. That way it is easier to retrieve boxes from the bottom of the pile.

Items that quality for storage are holiday material, hand-me-down clothes a child can wear soon, maternity clothing and infrequently used items such as camping or seasonal sports gear. The question of memorabilia can be a challenging one. Our suggestion is one box or trunk per person. Unwanted, unused gifts should not be kept because of the thought behind it. Take a picture, or keep the thought behind and pass unwanted items on. Images and thoughts take up a lot less space.

Weekend 6: Fix-it

This weekend implements the “time management begins with self-management” idea. Gather up and everything that needs to be fixed. Make a list of all the places you need to go or repairmen that will come to you. If it can’t be repaired then throw it away. Use this weekend to do oil changes, catch up on calls and correspondence.

After you have some momentum going, keep going! Weekend 7 could be cabinets, 8, photographs, 10 making an “absolute yes” list for commitments, social engagements and community event, Weekend 10 could be a “breathing space” respite where you kick back and enjoy the sense of accomplishment and freed up energy.

Once you get clutter under control be sure to keep on top of it so it doesn’t creep back in. Developing habit patterns or order and simplified living makes it easier to making a home for everything and keeping everything in its place. With specific goals and designated time for completion it becomes easier to plan for successful outcomes in manageable increments. Anytime is the perfect time to reduce clutter. Each stage of release frees time and energy and adds to the ability to manage time and energy more efficiently. Enjoy!

For more information about our de-cluttering coaching, interactive workbooks and seminars check out the Fresh Beginnings website at with the specific page link on de-cluttering.

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