Call Me, Maybe

{going through a client’s received cards came the revelation that her husband liked to buy her the same card}


Recently I was asked if I have ever walked out of a client’s home. The answer is yes. But not for the obvious reasons. The house wasn’t too messy. This wasn’t a hoarding situation. This was a person who wanted me to take their clutter and reorganize it. Alert: I am not the clutter whisperer.


What I am is that expert who will hold the garbage bag open for you while you throw things away. We will talk through how your mother will still love you after you donate the clown cookie jar that scares your children. We will dig down and figure out why you are still holding onto every greeting card you have ever received.


You will have resistance to me when I suggest you get rid of things. I will have you justify why you are keeping things. You will speak the words as to why you are keeping the items. You will realize on your own that you don’t need that item. All while I hold the garbage bag open for you.


I will have you focus on items that bring you joy or have value. We will not focus on keeping the items that bring you sadness. Usually these are items associated with guilt and loss. Do you have saved obituaries in the paper of people you knew or the memorial brochure from a funeral? How do these items bring you joy or have value?


Often the items that bring us sadness are in a storage unit somewhere across town or boxed up in the attic. You are paying a monthly fee to house these that you resent. Did you know that storage units were the fastest growing segment of our real estate in this country. It is time to visit those storage units and empty them out. You may need an expert to hold the garbage bag open for you while you do it. We will work through the memories and decide what you should keep and what you are ready to dispose of. We will not try to rearrange and find you more space in the storage unit.


I do not want to be known as the organizer who helps clients create well-planned hoarding. I want to leave your house with bags of items to go to good will. I want to leave you with the feeling that you lost 20 pounds in three hours just by getting rid of clutter.


When I start with a client I work with them in three hour blocks of time. In the three hours I see my clients go through three different. They typically go from resistance to understanding to full on clarity. If I can not get them past the resistance part I need to leave, they are not ready for me.


So imagine we are sitting with a client who has a banker sized box full of greeting cards that he has received over the years. Some are cards from his kids, some are cards from his wife, while more cards are from his now deceased parents. I ask my client what is his goal with this box. He replies that he wants to keep his favorites and get rid of the rest. We then spend some time discussing what the favorites should be defined as. It could be humorous ones, it could be handmade cards, it could be ones with words beyond a signature written on the inside of the card.


I then give a random number of how many cards would be realistic to keep and get the client to agree. There may be some negotiating on this number, but there usually isn’t. And we start working through the box. It is slow going. Each card is a decision to make. More cards are kept and few are discarded as this point. But then we start to gain momentum and more cards are placed in the discard pile. We have reached the understanding phase. They know that they can’t live with all of these cards. They know that they only want to keep the special ones. We get to the bottom of the box and they realize that they have many more then the agreed upon number.


We now go through the stack that they kept and this is when clarity comes. They suddenly understand what cards truly bring them joy and what cards they can now get rid of. They crave having the meaningful cards. They can reach that agreed upon number with ease. The struggle from a few hours ago is gone. There is a sense of pride and understanding that they could get through this daunting task.


So if you are ready to have an expert hold the garbage for you while we get to the bottom of why you are keeping items, call me. But if you want me to swirl your clutter remember that I am not your well-planned hoarding expert.

MS. Simplicity


Melissa is a Professional Organizer living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!