Julie Morgenstern, author of SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck is helping me organize my embarrassingly disorganized home office.
SHED is Julie’s process for helping people through transitions, so they can tame the chaos and make their unique contribution.
The four steps are: Separate the Treasures, Heave, Embrace Your Identity From Within and Drive Yourself Forward. In my first coaching, we focused on Separating the Treasures and Heaving.
Julie and I looked at my photos of the room. Um…super-embarrassing. I mean, look at this place!
Not only was I showing my mess to a professional organizer, I work at HGTV, the home of beautifully decorated and perfectly organized homes. I should know better, right?
Knowing better doesn’t count in clutter, evidently. Because it’s not “junk” or “piles of <bleep>,” it’s your stuff and it carries memories and emotions that tie you to people and places in your life. Suddenly, things that meant something to you in your old life no longer do, and deciding how to declutter can paralyze you — it did me, and I’ve had training from professional organizers!
Now is the perfect time for me to get rid of things — I’m in the midst of my own transition. Less than a year ago, my marriage of 18 years ended. I’m ready for the next chapter of my life but having trouble getting there because I’m anchored by the old one.
My ex-husband and I were gypsies and, in the last 10 years, I’ve had 7 addresses. As I read through other peoples’ themes, I realized I wanted the next chapter in my life to be about flowering, both creatively and in my relationships. But in order to do that, I had to set down roots. So we defined my theme as “root to flower.”
As we went through each picture, Julie asked me to tell her what was in the piles and boxes. What percentage was obsolete, and of the obsolete items, what was my level of emotional attachment?
The unexpected part of this was how personal it got and yet how comfortable I was telling things I’d never told people. It was exhilarating and freeing to come to terms with unexamined parts of myself and my marriage. One of the biggest? Before I married I never had a room like this, piled high with chaos. But from the first year of my marriage to our last, my husband and I did.
By the end of the session, Julie helped me put together a plan. We started by deciding what items were 100% obsolete that I wasn’t attached to, and then we set a date by which they’d be out of the house, and the method I’d use to purge them. You can give things away, throw them away, donate them or recycle them. I planned on a little of each. The rule is to Heave them quickly, so they don’t end up cluttering up another part of your house.
We set a tight schedule: I’d start the next night, a Wednesday, and by Saturday I’d have a clean office. On Sunday and Monday I’d shop for new baskets to organize the treasures that supported my theme: thank you cards, wrapping paper, crafting and sewing items and office essentials.
Did I make this strenuous deadline? Tune in next Friday and see!