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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!

Wow, does this home office need some organizing help!

Yes, that hat-shaped thing is a beaded lampshade. On the floor.

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?

The crafting table of shame - covered in clutter

Declutter me, please!

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!


How did I get here?

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?

Unfinished project: Union Jack dresser

I started painting this Union Jack dresser Thanksgiving weekend 2010.

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!

Want more organizing tips? Check out our ready-for-spring Organizing and Storage Guide. I love these stylish storage tips you can use right now.

10 Responses

  1. SamCConway says:

    Our house is in desperate need of this! My daughter is growing out of things faster then I can sort and get rid of them, and every time we sit down and organize, something else comes up, leaving it half way done. When we don't finish the process, things always end up cluttered again and our minimal efforts were for nothing, leaving us frustrated. I am hoping we can dedicate a week or 2 to the SHED process. I think I will get the book soon so we have a coach by our sides. Thank you for sharing your story, clutter happens to the best of us!

  2. [...] My Home Office: Sorting Through the Clutter HGTV Design Happens Fri, April 20, 2012 4:00 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate Share (function(){var [...]

  3. HGTV_Kelley says:

    SamCConway, I think you'll like it! Once you do the up-front work (naming your theme, determining your emotional attachment and setting up your plan for Heaving), the actual sorting goes really quickly. If you do decide to go with it, would you upload pictures at Rate My Space so we can see what you've accomplished? http://www.roomzaar.com/rate-my-space/multigaller

  4. My home office seriously needs some organizing — my room is filled with so much stuff that I can barely walk in it! I have to just sit down and get some filing done! Thanks for the post.

  5. Jerrie Griego says:

    I love watching House Hunters on TV. But WHERE do you get these buyers? They are so picky and rude about the homes they are shown. The littlest things turn them off, the paint color, the bathroom counter, the view. "Oh this won't do, that won't do," they make me sick! I was taught that sometimes you have to "make do". Of course, I am of a different generation…I am 75 years old. AND I suppose these rude folks make a good TV show. Is that it?

  6. Lili@HGTV says:

    Kelley you are so brave to share your clutter! It's inspiring me to FINALLY do something about the two giant containers of books we've had set aside to get rid of for oh….two years? Can't wait to see if you made your deadline.

  7. Trina says:

    I need a company to come to my home office and organize it please !!!!! 480_773_4379

  8. To ensure your efforts have a lasting effect, take 10 minutes at the end of every day to tidy up and make sure everything is back in its designated space like Wire Binding Machines.

  9. Dora says:

    “What a wonderful man who has brought light to my life,my god will continues to bless him for his work of spell caster because he has help me with his spell caster work. I must confess that this man is bless with his wonderful power as a spell caster and i must thank my friend Ella who introduce me to this wonderful man the spell caster who make me find happiness in my life again,after 4 days when this wonderful man cast spell for me my life change automatically my ex boyfriend who has left me for another girl for the pass 6 months came back to me for forgiveness which i never hesitate to accept him back and now my family is very happy that we are together contact him his name is Dr. Atingo and email him via:atingospiritualtemple@live.com

  10. Flatoutblind says:

    Your story inspire me a lot to re-setup my old garage office. I want to setup it again but I am afraid of the entropy of the all garbage (my old desktops and monitors and all that stuffs!!). But now I will surely try it. Flat Out Blind

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