The Joy of Decluttering: A Professional Organizer’s Practical Guide


Countless families have hired me to guide them as they prepared for varying life transitions: welcoming a new baby, families upsizing and downsizing, as well as those who have lost a loved one and are looking for support with sorting and clearing the estate.

Never has clutter been more prevalent to my clients than in these past 20 months. Before I dive into some practical strategies for handling clutter, let’s go over what clutter is and how it affects us.

What is clutter? Cambridge Dictionary defines clutter as “a lot of objects in a state of being untidy.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines clutter as “a crowded or confused mass or collection.”

Do you resonate with these definitions of clutter?

Clutter is everywhere. If we can get it under control, we can create a lot of harmony in our lives.

Did you know? One of the fastest growing industries in North America is the offsite storage facility industry. People tend to use only about 20% of the things they own. Knowing this, I welcome you to consider what can become available for you in your life should you rid yourself of 80% of the items in your home!

■ How much time would you get back?
■ How much money would you save?
■ How much space would you have?
■ What freedom(s) can become available to you?

My client base has mainly been young families and established professionals. I’ve observed many common effects of clutter, and you may find that some of these resonate with you as well.

■ Stress – lots on their plate. Clutter doesn’t allow them to decompress/relax.
■ Overwhelm – too much stuff, don’t know where to start. Seems impossible.
■ Anxiety – spinning in a world of indecision, worry, and fear. The tendency to need to control their environment. Striving for
perfection paralyzes them into inactivity.
■ Depression – sense of doom, sadness, can’t see light at the end of the tunnel.
■ Shame/social isolation – feeling alone, embarrassed.
■ Can’t concentrate – too many visual distractions.
■ Financial – buying duplicate items they can’t find. Miss paying bills due to being chronically disorganized.
■ Time – looking for misplaced items, unfocused, unproductive.

Everything is made of energy! When our homes are filled with clutter, what we are faced with is stagnant energy. Stagnant energy can feel like a wet blanket. Clearing clutter allows good energy to flow, which can positively impact our mood, health, and well-being!

There are some easy ways to shift the stagnant energy into feel-good energy after you’ve decluttered.

■ Open the windows and let fresh air flow in
■ Vacuum and wipe up the dust
■ Add a vase of fresh flowers to brighten up your home
■ Add live plants to breathe oxygen into the room
■ Light a candle
■ Smudge with a bundle of sage or palo santo

Decluttering and organizing is not about creating a magazine-perfect home or office. It’s about creating a clutter-free space that supports our happiness and health.

3 Practical Tips That Bring the JOY into Decluttering

Schedule it in – Whether you schedule it with your local Professional Organizer or with yourself, if you don’t put it into your calendar, you won’t commit to it.

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to’” — Lao Tzu

Go zone by zone – Avoid looking at the whole house or whole room as one big project.

This is where people overwhelm themselves. There are a lot of emotions tied to our things, so the thought of decluttering a whole house can feel completely overwhelming. There is always something else that seems more interesting and manageable to do.
Make a list to keep yourself focused.

Some zones to consider:

■ Junk drawer
■ Closets
■ Entryway or mudroom
■ Garage
■ Fridge and freezer
■ Books
■ Children’s school and artwork
■ Digital clutter – email, desktop, files, apps
■ Paperwork – filing system

Some of these areas are bigger than others, so I suggest that you begin small. The junk drawer is one of my favourite places to start. It’s also the zone that holds the fewest sentimental items so decision- making is easier. As you work through the zones, you’ll hone your decision-making skills and it will become easier. I promise you!

Look at it as a journey and be patient with yourself.

“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.” — Mozart

ESPO – this is your complete practical guide. Once you’ve picked the zone you’re going to work on, these are the fail-proof steps you can follow.

■ Excavate – take it all out. Excavate the contents of the
zone you are tackling.
■ Sort like items together (this is where you’ll find out if you have duplicates of something).
■ Purge what no longer brings you joy, what’s no longer essential.
■ Organize according to: frequency of use, relationship to your workflow, type, colour, shape (there’s no right or wrong).

You can tackle all of this on your own (yes, it’s possible) or you can enlist a Professional Organizer to work with you!

You take the influences in, and you use what’s around you to replicate them, but by adding your own authenticity.

Here’s how a Professional Organizer (PO) can help:

■ Support you through the de-cluttering process, which can
often be an emotional one. A PO can help you to discern what truly serves you without compromising your quality of life.
■ Create an organized space that meets your needs
■ Teach you how to maintain the systems
■ Connect you with a network of experts such as movers, junk removal companies, charities, paper shredding companies, etc.

It’s not always easy to make the call to ask for help. It certainly isn’t easy to allow a stranger into your home and open up your cupboards and drawers to them. I always recommend that people meet with at least two to three Organizers to find the one they feel most comfortable with. Decluttering and organizing is a very intimate process, and you MUST feel comfortable with your Organizer.

How to work with Quincilia Siah and the SOS My Space team

■ Virtual clutter coaching through Zoom sessions
■ In-person sessions for anyone living in the Greater
Vancouver Area. 

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of RGF Integrated Wealth Management, which makes no representations as to their completeness or accuracy.

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