Compassionate and Green Clutter Control: Where to Start?

Gari Julius Weilbacher, for the Shuttle

Many of us anticipate the new year with a sense of excitement combined with purposeful preparedness. Images of nesting at home mingle with the scent of hot cider and a good book as we hope to make this the best year ever. 

This year, use that tingle of anticipation in your home to create an environment that allows your work and your passion to flow. In the true spirit of interconnection, the world needs you activated and thinking clearly. As a clutter coach, I know you can’t get out there and make it a better place if you have to snake through your stuff or can’t find your keys to get out the door. 

I get that it’s hard to part with things that you once held dear, inherited or are in front of you right now for some reason. I understand that feelings of being overwhelmed sometimes combine with guilt or even shame. 

But I also believe it when you say you want your life to flow and you want to clear your space and your head. 

My philosophy is based on respect for you and the objects you valued or thought you needed. I want you to feel success each time you do this work, so start by breaking things down into manageable steps. Aim for sustainability so you can keep going until your environment allows you to flow with ease.

Honor the objects that were once meaningful to you by keeping as much as possible out of the landfill by donating or recycling them. Most of the stuff you want to get rid of still has life to it, and we do no good when we simply toss it. Clients have told me that this green aspect of clutter coaching has made it easier for them to part with their things. (You can find a list of places that will accept donations on my website.)

Set up a workspace with four bags: one for the thrift shop, one for recycling, one for trash and one for shredding. Consider these five queries to get yourself started:

1. Which area is most urgent to clear?

Urgent can mean many things. Perhaps you need to find a missing check in a pile of papers. Maybe you need to do some writing now and want a clear surface, or you have guests coming. This category brings natural energy to the task and things get cleared quickly. 

2. Which area would be the easiest to start work on?

You know the answer to this one — you know that you can find a home for the things in that pile over there. This category is more methodical because you have already brought the concept of ease to the task and you can envision the outcome.

3. Which area is bringing you down the most?

I am sorry about this one. Some people want to start out this way even though they immediately encounter tough emotions that get in the way. Perhaps you may have too many things belonging to a loved one who has passed on and you feel guilty getting rid of them. Or it may bring up feelings of inadequacy because it’s just so hard. Feel these emotions; you will come out the other side. A loved one’s objects will be valued when you donate to a thrift shop or to an organization that helps people set up new homes. You honor your beloved’s treasures more when you release the things you do not want.

4. What is calling to you for no logical reason?

Roll with it! Do it! Don’t think too hard!

5. Where is the light shining, even in the smallest way?

This is not a test — you are allowed to take the “easy” way out. If you see a little light, literally and figuratively, start there! 

These work sessions usually max out at two hours before emotional and physical fatigue sets in. Because we only want a successful – and sustainable – outcome, end sooner if you need to. You’re creating a new way of being, a new environment that lets you flow and contribute your best self to the world; I want this for the long haul and I bet you do too. 

Weavers Way member Gari Julius Weilbacher is a consultant and life coach. She inherited her father's elephant collection, so she knows about elephants in the room. Her website is