I’m a professional organizer and often, people come to me in a panic because their clutter has gotten out of hand. They’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.
There is no one-size-fits-all plan, because everyone’s needs and preferences are different.
So I listen to where they are and where they want to be. What’s more important though, is that they listen to themselves. Although I can lighten their load and develop solutions, what helps most is when they slow down long enough to hear their inner truth, their instinct – and follow their intuition.
When distractions (a.k.a. clutter!) are minimal, they’re more able to hear this inner guide because it’s not being drowned out by objects, piles, other people, unhealthy habits or food, negative thinking patterns, emotional trauma, etc.
We are constantly releasing clutter on so many levels, so that we can be the best version of ourselves and live the life we deeply desire. It’s a part of being human. And what works for one person may not for another. Even I, a professional organizer, have days of worry and scattered thinking.
In fact, one weekend morning, just a few short years ago, I had a blank slate of a day ahead of me, with no structured time or commitments. And a million and one things to do! Everything came rushing into my mind and I began to panic.
Where to start? Personal errands, work related tasks, dreams of making music, time with friends and family. Had I eaten? Exercised? Drank water or tea? Coffee? Probably. My breathing felt short, shallow. All I could do was sit myself down for a minute, at my special little sacred altar corner, close my eyes, and breathe.
I began to meditate! Something still sort of new to me. I knew I didn’t have to do it perfectly or completely clear my mind. Just needed to get out of doing mode for a bit and simply into being mode. It felt like a matter of life or death. Breathing in, and out, all the way, my panic began to disintegrate and clarity was on the horizon.
A visual, with a vivid message came in and has always remained.
It begins with me.
I’m like a seed. Am I hydrated? Nourished? Rested? Body scan. Where am I holding tension? Where can I send some extra love and oxygen? Am I stuffing any emotions? What needs to be released? Okay, I feel pretty clear now.
Next, my surroundings.
I’m like a tree, with fields of grass around me. Is my environment supportive and nurturing? Neglected? What needs attention? If I can’t perfect it all now, can I at least tune in and tackle one zone or category, and trust that bite-sized chunks and consistent commitment are enough? Yes.
Then, my branches
Connecting with the outside world – people, projects, errands, work, music, family. Am I able to show up, feeling whole and complete? Coming from a good place, having taken care of me? Yes. I think of the times I’ve shown up not feeling rested or like my home is not in order and I end up feeling burned out, even resentful at times.
This is what they mean by balance! Slowing down the inner chatter and outer whirlwind, getting present and clear with what’s important and what can wait. Noticing what has become clutter, so we can release it and come into clarity.
It’s my job to help people find their balance, moving out of chaos and into order, or flow. Often we do this on a surface level, with objects. That’s what today’s professional organizers are mostly known and hired for. For optimal efficiency, this typically involves 3 steps:
We sort and categorize items first so they can have an accurate sense of their inventory. Then we purge (a.k.a. release!) and ideally, only keep the cream of the crop, what we love or use, what brings us joy. Only then do we really get down to organizing or system-izing the keeps, ensuring there’s a home for everything with optimal storage and access. Then, we address habits that will support maintenance.
For some, being present and focused throughout this process is a real challenge.
They may show up to a session not having taken care of themselves (the seed!) but think they’re ready to focus on their space (the tree!) I sometimes ask that they take a deep breath with me and check in with themselves.
Often too, emotions are attached to objects.
And those deserve attention and releasing as well. Listening to their inner guide when making decisions about what to keep or not, ideally from a place of love and abundance, rather than fear or lack of mentality, is the ultimate solution for sustainable, balanced, natural living.
I’ve been organizing for nearly 20 years and believe people are starting to desire a more holistic, sustainable approach to clutter and organization, for themselves and the world. I feel called to help pioneer this beautiful shift, which is why I’m in the midst of producing an international, free online summit called “Sacred Living: Decluttering Mind, Body, Space” to help connect these dots and inspire people to do this work. I’ve interviewed 20 beautiful experts, addressing ways we can release what no longer serves us, in order to make room for what does.
Sign up and journey with us! We launch April 27th (today!) and will have a private, closed Facebook group so we can all chat and support one another through the process. www.sacredlivingsummit.com See you there!
~Ashley Moon Stanfield of Creatively Neat, Professional Organizing