I have to admit it: I love the TV show “Clean House”. I love all the mayhem and foolishness. Just when you think they can’t possibly find a more cluttered, junky mess — they do. It’s just unbelievable enough to be real.
Makes me feel a bit better about what I consider my own clutter issues, to tell you the truth. But what I really love about the show is seeing the chaos and unhappiness give way to clarity.
If your clutter issues are threatening to make you a candidate for the show, here’s how to get a jump on it and begin to achieve clarity in your own life:
Survey the mayhem and foolishness: Walk around your place with a notebook and a pen. Write down specific cluttered areas — like that hall closet. Or inside the front door. The junk drawer(s) in the kitchen. Or your teenager’s room. All you’re doing is making a list — so breathe easy and write it all down.
Ask yourself why: Look at just one clutter area. Why does stuff collect inside the front door? What kind of stuff is it? Why is it there? Where’s the best possible place for the stuff? Do you need a solution — like a place to put coats, or shelving for backpacks or a basket for mail? If it’s more complicated than that — “I can’t bear to let go of my mother’s things and face the fact that she passed away eight years ago” — you may need to be gentle with yourself as old feelings (buried in all that clutter) come to the surface. But don’t let those feelings keep you from doing something with momma’s bric a brac.
Start to deal: Today is today. Holding on to stuff doesn’t bring back yesterday, honey. Yesterday’s gone. Bring forward the memories and let the stuff go. You are who you are today, and all that clutter keeps you firmly in the past — and unable to truly enjoy this moment, right here, right now. Don’t I sound just like Niecy Nash? I’m getting me a flower for my hair, y’all.
Have a yard sale: Before you say, “It’s more trouble than it’s worth” let me just point out that in uncertain economic times wouldn’t it be nice to turn your unused clutter into useful dollars? That’s all I’m saying. If the idea of a yard sale is too daunting, see if you can organize friends or neighbors to join in one humungous event — and follow it up with a party. After all that hard work, you deserve some fun!
Redecorate: The final step on Clean House is to make over a chaotic room into something pleasant, modern and…clean. Whether you go for full redecoration a la Mark Brunetz or something more modest, mark your de-cluttering accomplishment with one physical symbol of the change you’re manifesting. Get a pretty vase, or a lovely painting, or a wind chime and let that object serve to remind you of the life you’d like to live — clutter-free.
I recently undertook this process myself. I asked: “Where’s my greatest source of clutter-pain?” Answer: “My office is a disaster, full of papers and books, mayhem and foolishness.” Why did I have all that stuff on the floor, on the coffee table, on the couch? ‘Cuz I had no where to put it. Why? Because the closet in my office was full. Of what? An old filing cabinet that I didn’t use and papers dating back to 1993 (I am ashamed to admit).
Two hundred pounds of paper shredded and recycled later, the filing cabinet given away, shelves added to the closet, I am pleased to announce that my office is fabulous. It took two weeks, but it’s exactly what I need it to be — and the pain is long gone.
So, where’s your biggest source of clutter-pain? Why does it exist? What can you do about it?
You can channel your own inner Niecy Nash — put a flower in your hair, get some tough-love going, and get your Clean House on. Uh huh.