Time to de-clutter, but where to start? Make it compassionate, sustainable, and green.

 Part of a cluttered New York City apartment is shown in this photo from 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)

Part of a cluttered New York City apartment is shown in this photo from 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)

Many of us anticipate autumn with a sense of excitement combined with purposeful preparedness. Images of school supplies mingle with new shoes and first day of school outfits as we hope to make this the best year ever.

This year, use that tingle of anticipation in your home to create an environment that allows your work and your passion to flow. In the true spirit of interconnection, I need you activated and thinking clearly. The world needs your talents, gifts, strengths, and smarts — and only you know what’s stopping you.

As a clutter coach, I know that you can’t get out there and make it a better place if you have to snake through piles of your stuff or you can’t find your keys to get out the door.

I get it. It’s hard to part with things that you once held dear. I understand that feeling overwhelmed by clutter sometimes combines with guilt or even shame. However, I believe you when you say that you want your life to flow and that you want to clear your space and your head. And I believe that we can do this together, right now.

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Don’t just throw it away

My philosophy is based on respect for you and the objects you once held dear or thought you needed. I want you to feel success each time you do this work, so start by breaking things down into manageable steps. Aim for sustainability so you can keep going until your environment allows you to flow with ease.

Honor the objects that were once meaningful to you by keeping as much as possible out of the landfill: Donate or recycle it. Most of the stuff you want to get rid of still has good life to it, and we do no good when we simply toss it. Clients have told me that this green aspect of clutter coaching has made it easier to part with their things.

Set up your workspace with four bags: one for the thrift shop, one for recycling, one for trash, and one for shredding.

Now, where to start? There are few options.

Which area is most urgent to clear?

Urgent can mean many things. Perhaps you need to find a missing check in a pile of papers. Maybe you need to do some writing now and want a clear surface, or you have guests coming this weekend and want them to feel comfortable. This category brings natural energy to the task and things get cleared quickly.

Which area would be the easiest to start or work on?

You know the answer to this one. You know that you can find a home for the things in that pile over there. This category is more methodical, because you have already brought the concept of ease to the task and you can envision the outcome.

Which area is bringing you down the most?

It’s hard, but some people want to begin this way, even though they immediately encounter tough emotions related to the task. You may have too many things belonging to a loved one who has died and you feel guilty getting rid of them. Or it may bring up feelings of inadequacy, because it’s just so hard. Feel these emotions; you will come out the other side. Loved ones’ objects will be valued when you donate to a thrift shop or to organizations who help people set up new homes. You honor your beloveds’ treasures more when you release the things you do not want.

What is calling to you with no logical reason?

Roll with it! Do it! Don’t think too hard!

Where is the light shining in the smallest bit to get you started?

We only want you to feel success! This is not a test. You get to take the “easy” way out. If you see a little light, literally and figuratively, then start here!

Work sessions usually max out at two hours before emotional and physical fatigue sets in. Because we only want a successful — and sustainable — outcome, end work earlier if you need to. De-cluttering your space is creating a new way of being, a new environment, and I bet you want this for the long haul.

So as autumn begins, think of this as the time for your new beginning. It’s an opportunity to clear your desk and your mind. Get ready to do your homework and create an environment that lets you flow and contribute your best self to the world. Onward!

Gari Julius Weilbacher is a communications consultant and life coach. After the death of her father, she was the recipient of his elephant collection, so she knows about elephants in the room and the power they have. Visit her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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