A few weeks back, I contacted Kathi Miller, otherwise known as The Clutter Coach, to see if she could possibly lend some guidance. I felt I needed to seek a guru of some sort, and with a nickname like Clutter Coach, I was certain she could help. She invited me to come to a presentation she was hosting on “How to De-Clutter Your Life” and it took place this morning at the Greendale Library.
I imagined I’d be one of five ClutterHearts attending the seminar. We’d all shuffle in, disheveled and in sweatpants, find seats sporadically around a table, maybe even start to cry at one point, but I was wrong. I was welcomed into a large room full chairs that filled up fairly quickly. The people filling the chairs weren’t crazy looking either, they looked creative and cultured and I was the only one disheveled and in sweatpants.
Kathi went over an abundance of information and I found myself anxious to get home and put her advice to work. Man-o-man, do I have so much to tackle, so many habits to dissolve, I just don’t even know where to start. I want to use the motivation I obtained this morning to create this new lifestyle for myself NOW, but I can’t. I’ve got places to be. My hope is that it doesn’t wear off by the time I can get to it.
Kathi advised that we live our lives like a novel, one chapter at a time and only keep stuff that you need for your current chapter. I’m looking around, and I can’t tell where one chapter ends and a new one begins. I think maybe I’m not even participating in my own novel; I’ve set the book aside and am just trying to organize enough so I can finally enjoy reading it. That can’t be good.
She asked the class what we would do if we were told we only had six months to live. Everyone gave the same answer: travel and spend time with family and friends. She pointed out how no one said they would spend it organizing or running out for a pair of boots we don’t have yet and we all laughed. It just goes to prove that what truly makes us happy does not live within the realms of our “things”.
Here’s Kathi’s interview with Milwaukee Public Radio.
She regularly teaches classes on de-cluttering through the Greendale Recreation Department and you can also hire her to personally come out to your home or office to assist you.
I signed up for her newsletter:
and follow her tweets:
Maybe if I can’t get it together and make this happen for myself, I’ll have to get her over here. If you were a ClutterCoach, what advice would you have to offer the ClutterHearts of the world?
It is really cool that you have an inspiring place to go. Sounds like it was a great presentation!
Yes, it was Bergie. I feel much stronger now. Kathi is a great lady.
I love the chapters in a novel analogy, but my novel would have to have an appendix where I kept mementos from my kids’ and grandkids’ growing up years. My best advice for the overly cluttered (of which, I am one) is to take the cleanup process slowly. I have been doing only 30 min. of sorting and dumping each day. It’s a small chunk of time and an easy goal to reach. That way I don’t get overwhelmed by the huge task before me. Of course, along with this, I had to commit to not bringing anything new into the house that would eventually be clutter!
Good tip Laurie, thank you. In the class, Kathi went over this. She asked the class, “Who in here had their artwork they made as a child that their parents kept handed over to them yet?” Me and a couple others raised our hands. Then Kathi said, “Who in this room is jealous of those people?” Everyone laughed and no one raised their hands. I know it must be hard. A friend of mine just wrote this about cleaning her attic:
A very touching account about going through her kids’ artwork.
As I think of spring cleaning this is a good to approach what I should keep and toss out (or donate to charity).
Awesome, I also learned about this website, from the Clutter Coach.
Kathi said she had one client who had $4,000 worth of write-offs with just her clothes!
She said we always underestimate what we have, cost wise. This website is supposed to keep you informed on how much say, a pair of jeans or a tea pot is worth. There’s a template you can use to enter in your donations that pulls it all together on a nice list that you can print out and staple to your write-off form that you should receive from the charity you donate to. She also recommended taking a quick picture of the items before you box or bag them up.
By the way, the painting in the corner is cool. From your post, I’m starting to wonder if I’ve become somewhat of a clutter-heart, too. You should see my office! I can’t say no to inexpensive books. Used ones, interesting ones, all awaiting those extra free moments to read while I gather some more and also fill up on library books. And computer stuff, too. I’ve decided to give a bunch of it to goodwill, just to do it. Thanks for accelerating my moment of realization!
Thanks! My Virgin is there in the corner, waiting to be finished, waiting for my life to be clutter-less, so I can have all my free time dedicated to my life’s real purpose, which is not cleaning. I’m taking it all out! Twenty minutes each day is dedicated to the process. I hear what you’re saying about books Craig. I have to stay away from those stores and amazon.com.
I ran across some advice with books within a blog called LightBliss. The author said she has one section on her shelf dedicated to her books, if it gets too full, she gives one away. eek!
Hey, Anna, can you give the website for putting a value on the donated items? When I click on the link, it says website not found. Thanks!
I am also a book collector, by the way, and have been known to donate books to St. Vincent de Paul only to buy them back a few months later because I totally forgot they had been mine.
Oh no, I apologize. The website is:
I’m going to have to work on this link thing, but if you cut and paste it in your browser, it should work that way.
That’s too funny about the books Laurie, I’ve been known to do the same with clothes. Sometimes, I’ll see something I donated hanging there, and I actually feel sorry for it or start to miss it, like it’s an old friend.
I’m finding myself addicted to reading and re-reading your posts Anna! And I have to say I have been called a pack rat, among other things, but I think I like the term “clutter heart” because I believe I love everything I have almost! (not the lawsuit for my former employer but it’s necessary) And I notice the dresser matches the one I have but mine is taller, and it’s in no where as nice a shape! Great minds think alike, equaling great artists! My art though I have found I have a hard time to stay in one medium, I go from pencil, to color, to watercolor, to chalk or pastels ect, and then I will leave it for months at a time, and continue on a random day!
I’ve been warned I’m a fire hazard…. or on my way to being a hoarder! Yikes… I don’t think it’s that bad! I did get a shredder… And I’m thrifty, so I own less than I probably could! Keep it coming! 🙂
I do the same with my art too Casey, it’s hard to stick to just one medium. Renaissance women are we. Hope you don’t start a fire, if you do, send smoke signals for help. I’ll watch for them from Cape Cod.
Casey, you are not the only one addicted to Anna’s posts!