“Can you move in with me?” is the first thing anyone asks when I tell them what I do. While I usually laugh it off, I’m also aware of the “no, really” tone people follow up with. You see, there’s no denying we have all at some time felt the liberating joy of clearing our physical and emotional clutter and we would love that to be our daily reality.

The next thing I’m asked is, “How do you do it?” So, I thought I’d share my biggest tip for how to create and maintain a clutter-free environment so you too can reap the benefits.

Let go of the clutter…

Discover what’s most important to you! Once you know this, it’s almost always clear what you need to keep in your life. The rest is clutter and you can let go of it.

My favourite definition of clutter is Julie Morgenstern’s: “…any obsolete object, space, commitment or behavior that weighs you down, distracts you or depletes your energy”. I love Julie’s focus on figuring out the theme for the life you want to lead and then discovering the relationship of the objects, habits and activities in your life to support that theme. It’s not just about decluttering stuff to make more room, it’s understanding the attachment to this stuff to determine what supports or inhibits the life you want to lead.  

I recently spent a day with Dr Randy O Frost who is also an advocate of understanding our attachment to possessions so we can make room for what’s important. Listening to his insights from his book Buried In Treasures I learned that, for the most part, we are able to change our acquiring and saving habits. While Randy’s work is focused on hoarding behaviour, I think his message is valuable for all. Again, it’s understanding why we feel attached to particular things and testing our theories on what life is like without them.

What I’ve learned

From my experience with clients and personally, I’ve learned that if an object does not support  your best possible life, it quickly loses its value to power over you. And living without it becomes much easier.

I’m so fortunate to have been invited into the lives of wonderful people around the world in all types of situations, to find out what’s important to them. 

As an aid worker with the United Nations and not-for-profit organisations, I shared both the desperation and joy of families with nothing but the hope that they and their loved ones would be safe, sheltered, healthy and fed. As a funeral arranger, I helped grieving families honour their loved ones. I learned that nobody lovingly remembers what a person owns, but how they lived their lives and treated others.

In all situations, I’ve learnt we’re mostly looking for similar things – quality time with loved ones, kindness, freedom and the ability to make clear and informed decisions.

Decluttering and having an organised space won’t magically make all this a reality. But knowing what’s most important in your life is the first step in deciding what to keep and what to release. When you start to look at what you’ve accumulated through this lens, you’ll begin to see the treasures you have and the rest will seem meaningless.

Sorting through your physical space, habits and mental clutter can set us on the path to finding all these treasures. So picture your best life possible, and stay tuned for more tips on how to make room for what’s important.