Annabolic Times-March, 2009 Clean It Up!

Spring is finally here (well, the calendar says so) and it’s time to embark upon a popular seasonal activity-spring-cleaning.  How about taking this opportunity to take one of the first steps to bringing your best self to the world?  The transformation of your home or office will literally transform your life!

As a life-coach, I help individuals determine not only what they want most, but also what they need to rid themselves of to discover who they really are.  When you look around the spaces where you live and work, who and what do you see?  Is it time to step off of the excess express and out of your life as a pro-crap-in-ator and embark upon a clutter-busting journey?

The best way to start your clutter-busting journey is to be thankful for what you have.  While you may have accumulated a great deal and you may sometimes be overwhelmed by it, now is a great time to step back and recognize how fortunate you are to have been in the position to do so.  Perhaps it’s time to spread that abundance to others who may be in need and to open the door for new things to come into your life.

Simply put, in some areas of life, less is more.  If you were to take an inventory of your life, mentally and physically, what would it look like?  Does your home or workspace look like a bomb went off?  What is the content on your calendar?  Is it littered with dreaded events and people that you’d rather not see? Are you having difficulty concentrating?  Do you feel overwhelmed every time you walk into a certain room in your house (or your house in general)?  Are you embarrassed to share your home with others?  If you answered yes to any one of the preceding questions, you may have created what I call a Metaphysical Pigpen!  Therefore, it could be time to go on a refuse cruise.

Here is a big aha moment:  if your physical environment is a mess, chances are your inner environment is too.  It’s no wonder you are feeling overwhelmed and stuck.  Why?  Because every item of clutter in your mental and physical space has an energetic cord that sucks the life right out of you!   That’s right! It takes a great deal of energy to be a trash-o-potamus.  When we live or work in a place that is disorganized or jam packed with stuff, we don’t function well.  We end up feeling depressed, exhausted and unmotivated and this ultimately ends up affecting other areas of our lives–from our productivity to our personal style.

Clutter includes the things in your life that are no longer useful to you.  These things can be tangible or intangible, worn out or brand-new, expensive or inexpensive.  Regardless, they are trash because they have lost their value, and they are robbing you of your best life.  What would it be worth to you to clear away the obstacles and begin anew?

Think about this:  when you rid yourself of negative treasure, you open yourself up to new and exciting things that are happening now.  You are making the space for much better things.  If you find that you are having a difficult time getting rid of something, ask yourself this question:  Am I willing to let this item take up the space for what I really want (more abundance, more business, a new relationship)?  I’ll put it to you this way, would you eat fish that you prepared 3 years ago or would you prefer a fresh plate?  I thought so.

Give yourself permission to take the time to spend on this journey.  You may be very surprised at what you find!

For the record, two additional types of clutter, which I will address in a later newsletter, include:

  • Emotional Clutter which represents anger, guilt, jealousy, resentments, and undesirable activities.
  • Techno-Clutter represents everything from unread and unanswered emails to outdated equipment that we think that we need to keep.

Guidelines for your Creating Your Ideal Surroundings

Just what is physical clutter?

  • Clothes you no longer wear
  • Papers decorating your desk and files
  • Unfinished projects
  • Unused items distributed throughout your house
  • CD’s you no longer listen to and DVD’s you no longer watch
  • Books and Magazines that are covered with dust

Here are some guidelines for when you are going on a crap-busting journey in your land of physical clutter:

Step 1

  • EngageEngage in Garbage Bag Boogie (this term is compliments of my friend Beatrice)– Anything in the area that is clearly trash should be removed from the area first.  Get out that garbage bag and fill it up!

Step 2

  • ExamineWhat is this space supposed to be used for?
    How well does this space fit into my idea of a soul-nourishing environment?
    What does this space say about me?
    How does it make me feel?

Step 3

  • EvaluateWhat needs to change in this space?
    What needs to be taken out of this space?
    What needs to be put into this space?
    How do I keep this space organized?

Step 4

  • Eliminate-Get rid of anything you don’t love or need.
    Set aside 4 boxes or piles labeled as follows:Give away to loved ones
    Give away to strangers
    Sell-Keep in mind the old adage-one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Cash for trash?
  • Employ the following questions test when evaluating your rubbish o’rama:Do you really love it?
    Have you used it in the past year?
    Do you need it now?
    Can you imagine yourself or your loved ones loving it or needing it in the foreseeable future?
    You guessed it, if there are no yes answers, give it away or toss it!


  • Does it feel good to keep it?  Why on earth do we keep things that hold difficult memories for us?  If something reminds you of a difficult or negative experience or of a time when you felt bad it needs to go; regardless of its value.  Let go of those old regrets and mistakes.  What we surround ourselves with, even though it’s stashed way up in the attic, can be a drainer.
  • If it doesn’t fit anymore, physically, or psychologically, let it go.
  • If you hesitate in a decision, get rid of it!  Give the item a better life than the one it has sitting on your floor, shelf, or in the attic.
  • If the item makes you feel out of sorts, it’s clutter.
  • It you find yourself defending an object because of how much it cost you, it’s clutter.  Every time you look at it is a reminder that you spent money on something you don’t use.  Give it to someone who will use it and know that you have done a great service.
  • Toss or give-away gifts that you do not like.  Yes, you read this correctly.
  • Keep the things that make you feel alive, not those that make you live in the past.  Eliminate anything that makes you feel like the past is more special than right now (that gives you the feeling that life will never be as good as it once was).  Enjoy the gift of the present!
  • Toss anything that is broken, that can’t be fixed, or that you won’t take to be fixed.
  • Walk through your house.  When you find yourself feeling weighed down in a particular spot, stop.  Your rubbish alarm has gone off.  Investigate and toss!
  • Put nothing in storage (the exception to this is certain types of business or tax records).  Storage is alimony for clutter and is a big waste of your money.
  • If you are in a great relationship or want to be, it is high time to get rid of old relationship reminders.   They keep you stuck in the past.   Note:  you can make this a fun exercise, especially if pictures are involved.  Just get out your magic marker and scissors.
  • Don’t think that organizing your crap means that you have de-cluttered.  You still have things that you don’t need or use.  The fancy box or file cabinet you put it in does not change that.



Your bedroom should be a sanctuary.  Toss anything that agitates or distracts you and NOTHING should be hiding under your bed!


  • Ask yourself the following questions:How would you describe your style?
    What changes or updates would you like to make?
    What “you” would you like to present to the world?
  • What clothing items, handbags, or shoes should go?If it doesn’t fit, it needs to go!  Keep only what I call the “incentive” pieces.  Incentive pieces are those that you are currently working to fit into as an incentive to losing unwanted weight (that’s right, body clutter).  Get rid of those “too big” clothes the second they are too big.  They only provide you a safety net to fall into in the case that you gain weight, which is definitely focusing on what you don’t want.
    If you haven’t worn something in 2 years, it needs to go (unless it’s your wedding dress).
    Mismatched socks, unless you have a sock mountain where you can look for partners, need to go.  Note:  they can be turned into fantastic dusting rags.
  • What jewelry needs to go?Missing relationship jewelry-If you have a piece of jewelry that reminds of a relationship-gone-wrong, take the money and run!  Pay off a debt or buy something new!  The cash will feel a lot better than the focus on a relationship gone awry.
    Missing earrings-if you don’t find the other one in your clutter-busting session, it’s unlikely you will find it.  It must go!
    If it’s broken and it can’t be returned or repaired, it must go!


  • Do you use it?  If not, give it away or toss it!
  • How old is it?  If it is expired, toss it!
  • Get rid of the Petri-dish!  Some make-up and other products can develop bacteria once exposed to air.
  • How about those samples from the cosmetic counters?  If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s unlikely that you are going to.  There is probably a better sample out there.  Make a plan to use it or just plain toss it.


Your desk should also be treated as a sanctuary.  This means no desk clutter.  It should contain only the necessities (which include, but are not limited to):

  • Calendar or Datebook
  • Computer (we will cover techno-clutter in the next newsletter)
  • Pad of Paper
  • Soul-enhancing pictures, objects¾only keep the things that you love!
  • Whatever you are working on

Just because it’s hidden in a drawer doesn’t mean that it isn’t sucking your energy or taking up the space needed for something more valuable. It’s time to go through your shelves, desk, and file drawers.

  • Remove absolutely everything that is unnecessary and things you just don’t enjoy anymore:Old files that you haven’t looked at in a year and don’t need for purposes of recordkeeping
    Projects that you’ve lost interest in
    Tchotchkes, photos and any other desk décor

Now it’s time to review the books, other educational materials, and magazines in your space.  Why would you want to keep books and magazines that you only refer to once, or worse, have never even opened?  Could it be time for someone else to enjoy them?

  • If you have never opened the CD program or read the book and it is not related to your livelihood, either make a plan to complete it, or get rid of it by selling it or giving it away by a certain date.
  • Maybe it’s time to have a party!  If you find going through piles of paperwork, old files, and magazines boring, it may be time to enlist someone to help you.  It should be someone who is relentless about ridding the rubbish.  Pile picking with a friend can make this task fun.


Don’t get too carried away with your shredder.   Below are examples of paperwork that must stay:

  • Bank Statements (business or tax purposes)
  • Bills (one year, unless needed for tax purposes)
  • Brokerage Statements (three years, unless needed for tax purposes)
  • Credit Card Records (seven years)
  • Pay Stubs (one year; shred once you receive your W-2)
  • Tax Returns and Support Documentation (seven years)

Once you’ve done all of this, take some time to take the boxes of things that you have decided to get rid of to the appropriate places (loved ones, donation or trash).  I mean deliver those things pronto. Don’t give yourself time to change your mind and go dumpster diving.

When my daughter was in college and cleaning our house for extra money, she left behind a note one day that said, KEEP IT CLEAN!  Now it’s your turn. You’ve done all of this work to get your places in order and one of the first thoughts that may run through your mind is that it is only a matter of time before it gets that way again.  I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to!  Here are some things that you can do to stop a future festival of trash parading through your home and office:

  • When you buy a new one, get rid of an old one.
  • Keep a shredder by your front door for junk mail.
  • Get a post office box.  You can then go through and chuck the junk mail at the post office.  It will be gone before it ever reaches your house.
  • Schedule a timeslot every week to dedicate to throw out or handle anything that is hanging around your home or office.  Handle paper only once!
  • Hold a swap party every 6 months.  You can set a time to get together with friends to exchange everything from clothes to household items that you no longer use.  Anything that is left over gets donated!
  • Wait for a party that has a white-elephant gift requirement.  Be generous!  Bring all of your white elephants and really liven up the party.

When you have finished your clutter-busting journey, take some time to celebrate!  Love the new open space and the wonderful things that it will bring you.

As for me, have you ever heard the expression that we often teach what we need to learn.  I’ve had to do this and I know it works.  That said, there are a couple of drawers waiting for me.


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