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So, here it is, the first big reveal, the result of my coaching with Julie Morgenstern, author of SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck.

Remember my theme, “root to flower”? I kept it in mind as I sorted through box after bag after dusty basket. I’d set an aggressive 8-hour goal to Separate the Treasures and Heave (steps 1 and 2 of the SHED process), and Julie helped me break it down into sessions of a couple of hours at a time, based on each activity.

Remember my desk before I organized?

I began by eliminating the stuff that was 100% obsolete, to which I had no emotional attachment: the chest of drawers I’d started painting, the magazines and magazine holders, the decorative items that no longer suited my style. That took about 3 hours, which included dropping things off at friends’ houses and Goodwill. I was amazed at how fast that first session went.

The second was slower — piles of paper, most of which turned out to be old mail, but had to be gone through piece by piece. I spent about 4 hours on that. (I bought a shredder to facilitate this step, and it now helps me organize my mail, daily. Instead of piling things on my desk, I immediately shred the junk mail and sort the rest into to-do piles, which I then deal with each weekend.) The last two hours I spent shopping for and creating a simple storage system for my stuff.

And like magic, in 8 hours, 20 years’ worth of stuff was gone, leaving behind only the treasures, the things that make me feel excited and energized. When I mentioned to Julie in our second coaching that it seemed fast, she said that’s typical. Identifying your theme beforehand, and setting up ways to immediately get rid of your things after they’re separated, means you can fly through Separating and Heaving.

Find out how I organized my home office

Wow! Is that even the same room?

She warned me about the panic that would set in once I let stuff go. It’s normal, after clearing your space, to want to grab all your stuff back to you for safety.

I didn’t expect to panic — after all, I was so *ready* to release. But two days later, I started to feel wobbly and frightened.

My writing nook in my newly organized home office

This is my cozy writing nook, complete with a new chair.

As the days passed and I found my feet, I also found a new, utterly surprising desire had surfaced: I wanted to buy a house.

Until two weeks before I started organizing, I was content to rent. I didn’t want the responsibility or the cost of a house. And I sure didn’t want to spend time house hunting!

But I uncovered something important as I started Embracing My Identity (step 3) and figuring out who I was without my stuff. Those books, boxes, clothes and other unused *things* had, for the 20 years of my gypsy marriage, been my roots. And without them, I wanted real roots: not boxes but bricks.

That week, I started house hunting and last Sunday, I put an offer on a house. The sellers accepted and I move in on June 15! I’m utterly thrilled with my little ranch on half an acre. It suits my modern-meets-traditional style and gives me room to more fully embrace my identity and move through Step 4: Drive Yourself Forward, connecting to myself in new and creative ways.

Talk about a lot of fast changes. But the good news? I don’t have to move all those boxes!

The crafting table in my fresh, organized home office

Now that the piles are gone, you can see the screened porch!

Check back next week for what happened when I sorted through 20 years of books, the things I’d identified as having the highest level of emotional attachment. How many of *those* will I be moving? Here’s a sneak peek of my newly cleaned-up bookshelves.

After I reorged my home office, I decorated with a vintage lunchbox.

Some of the treasures I kept from my book clearing: my lunchbox and a few of my favorite childhood books


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10 Responses

  1. Lili@HGTV says:

    Kelley that is wonderful and *impressive*! Very nice work. So excited to follow your progress and see what becomes of your stuff in your new place.

  2. M Stair says:

    You must really have the bug to own if you're willing to give up that lovely place. Will it be available to rent?

  3. Heather says:

    Wow, congratulations on being a new house owner. I can hardly wait to see your new home. Your office is amazing.
    I bought Julie's ebook and am slowly working through it. I am moving from Beijing after living here for eight years to a new job in Guatemala and the amount of stuff to go through is mind boggling and overwhelming. That doesn't even take into the consideration the 10x10x10 storage unit I have back in Canada full of things that I pay for every month. Thought I was coming to China for two years and would go back to my old life but no that doesn't appear to be going to happen. At least I can work through all of the things here in my Beijing home. Again, thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Miss Dynamite says:

    The best way to sort through your stuff is to move countries, and have to pay for it yourself. I moved from Australia – USA and when you are paying $500 per cubic metre, you suddenly find it a whole lot easier to throw stuff out.

    Every time I would hesitate, I would ask "Is this worth $500?" and most of the time it wasn't. It was hard letting go of some sentimental stuff (particularly book collections) but when you start to add it all up, it's costing several thousand dollars to haul and restore, and that makes it easier to ditch.

    It doesn't stop papers from piling up in my study, but it does mean that my overall possessions are down, and aren't owning me.

    I must say though, thanks to Amazon, I've replenished the book collection, so when I move back to Australia (or a Manhattan shoebox), the pain will return if my apartment doesn't have floor to ceiling bookshelves!

  5. @4gens1roof says:

    Look forward to seeing the end result :) What a great view!!

  6. Charles Irion says:

    Looking good. It has to feel great to get that done!

  7. Bob T Harrison says:

    Setting up your home office doesn't mean that it shouldn't look like a real office anymore. Get help from services like <a href="http://www.storage-perth.net.au” target=”_blank”>www.storage-perth.net.au to ease the distribution of your things. Having that office look at home would drive you to still have that employee attitude.

  8. Blast Tech says:

    The best blog is all which I love within this lives. You must create funny patches. Blasts. We discovered the best techs when they are forced to say that they must be smart.

  9. Guillotines says:

    Hey! That's my office! :)

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