Clutter-Clearing “Container”

In the book Clearing Clutter as a Sacred Act, the author Carolyn Koehnline says, “creating order can be messy.”  That’s certainly the truth.  I’m in the stage with my decluttering that some areas look worse now than before I started the process.  But I just try to keep my eye focused on the end result I’m hoping for, and just keep plugging away.

In her book, Koehnline suggests putting together what she calls a clutter-clearing container, a place to hold all your clutter-clearing process materials and a way to make sense of the mess that comes from decluttering.  She suggests something like:

  • a 3-ring binder
  • a file box
  • a digital folder

The container is basically a place to store and access notes and writings related to decluttering.  She says to skip this step if it seems too overwhelming for you.  At first, it did sound too overwhelming, but when I found myself reaching for a small steno notebook, I realized having a place to write about the process was a good idea for me.

I don’t feel the need to decorate my journal/container like she suggests at one point.  But I can see how that could be inspiring for some people.  I’m afraid I might get lost in the details of beautifying the journal and lose sight of the process of decluttering.  I think I just need to keep it all very plain and simple.

I also decided that updating my blog and Facebook page with thoughts and observations would give me another place to keep ideas and to keep track of my progress.  When notes from my steno notebook gel into something somewhat cohesive, I’ll share them here for safekeeping.

Things that Koehnline suggests keeping in the clutter-clearing container include:

  • helpful resources
  • details about projects
  • questions for self or others
  • process writing
  • inspirational quotes
  • poems
  • song lyrics
  • scriptures
  • pieces of own writing

I personally am just keeping notes on thoughts that come to me while reading Koehnline’s book, and the pieces of writing that are inspired by her book’s writing prompts, or by the process itself of clearing clutter.

Another idea she shares in her book for including in the container is photographs of “before and after.”  I haven’t included photos in my container(s), but I can see how that could be a valuable part of the decluttering journey.  Since I’ve already completed a few areas of my house, I might take a few “after” photos.  An empty bookcase.  Empty dresser drawers.  Neatly stacked boxes with carefully sorted Christmas decorations.

When I first read about her idea of keeping a clutter-clearing container, it didn’t resonate with me.  But as I found ways of adapting the idea to the way I work and the things that inspire me, it’s become the backbone of my decluttering project.  And also allows me to share my journey with others.

What sort of container do you think you would find helpful?

Proclamation for Clutter Clearing

The book I’m reading (Clearing Clutter as a Sacred Act) had me identify a person or thing or concept to dedicate the clearing process to, and then to write a short proclamation of intention.

“I proclaim that my clutter-clearing process is an act of devotion to my Future, and to my Future Self. As I clear my clutter, I am making room/space for a deeper, more vibrant engagement with my Future, opening myself to new possibilities, and trusting, as I go, that richer treasures will come into my life.”

This weekend, I made a list of the next areas of my house that I need to focus on, and came up with 1) the Master bedroom and bathroom, 2) the spare bedroom closet, and 3) Christmas things. Since I will be taking down my tree and putting away other holiday decor, Christmas things moves to the top of the list.

I’ve found that after some difficult family things happened a few years ago, I can be triggered into great grief and sadness unexpectedly when I come across items with heavy emotional attachments. I’ve moved on to a place in my healing that I can now let go of things that bring me pain without the guilt that used to accompany parting with highly charged items.

I’ve noted that several of the ornaments on the tree this year were bringing me haunting grief when I’d see them, so I’ve decided as I take down the tree, the ornaments that bring pain will be finding their way into the donation box to find a new home. I’ve come a long way. The first couple of years, I couldn’t put up any of my ornaments and just bought a box of inexpensive plain ornaments that I used for a couple of years. Each year since, I’ve taken steps to reclaim my holiday decor. Now what’s on the tree are ornaments that bring me joy and happy memories. It took a while to get to that place.

So, I’m going to start the New Year with clearing holiday clutter. There may be some pain lurking in the process, but I know from experience, there are also steps leading to healing.

Chores. Ugh, who wants to do chores?


When I feel badly about myself and about life, I tend to let things around me fall apart. Especially housekeeping. My house hasn’t been “company-ready” in several years due to events that kept me feeling badly about myself and about life. I’ve been feeling much better lately, though. Hope, joy, sunshine. I think the clouds finally parted.

This past month, I’ve spent my free time digging my way out of my mess. It wasn’t hoarder-level mess, but it was a mess none-the-less. When I realized I wasn’t even willing to let one of my best friends into my house anymore, I knew I had to get a handle on it.

I tried pulling out my old Chore Lists, but it was just too overwhelming to only be doing a little each day. I needed to do a lot each day to dig myself out. So I spent my free time in April working on my house. Sorting, cleaning, asking if things bring me joy, and I can finally see the light.

On Friday, I pulled out a Chore List to see if I was now at the point where I could work with this particular technique that has worked well for me in the past. I did Friday’s chores. And after all the heavy duty chores I’ve been doing lately, just doing a small list of daily chores felt like nothing. But it made a big difference. It’s amazing how even just a gentle reminder to make your bed can give you a feeling of accomplishment when you actually follow through.

If you just need some help keeping up on the dailyness of housework, you might want to take a look at my Chore Lists (they’re printable and free by click here). I just print out a copy of the current week’s List, hang it on the fridge, and mark things off as I accomplish them. When my kids still lived at home, we would work on the Chore Lists as a family, and everyone could easily see what had been done, and what still needed doing.

It’s so nice to feel like I can have people over again without feeling ashamed of my house (which made me feel ashamed of myself which just contributed to the whole vicious shame cycle). I hope by keeping up on the Chore Lists, I can keep the downhill slide (housewise) from happening again. We’ll see.

I don’t keep up on it much anymore, but my homemaking blog, I’m Not Susie Homemaker, is a Nag Free Zone if you’re looking for some kind, friendly thoughts on digging out of the dailyness of chores and housework.  Like it or not, housework’s gotta be done at some point.  Take it from me, procrastination just makes it worse. Boy, oh boy, do I know that one from personal experience.

Join me? I don’t think I’m the only person who struggles with this.

~Debi

https://notsusiehomemakerblog.wordpress.com/weekly-chore-lists/