“06880” — my blog — has a clean, uncluttered look. I’m proud of that, and work hard to maintain it.
My office is another story entirely.
It’s cluttered. It’s messy, disorganized, and filled with stuff I think I need, but really don’t.
In other words, it’s like nearly every other home office in America.
Every home office that has not yet been professionally cleared, de-cluttered and reclaimed by Amy van Arsdale, that is.
Amy is a Westporter. In 2008 she, her husband and 4 kids lived near Old Mill Beach. In preparation for renting their house for the summer, she moved everyone’s personal items to the attic.
When she returned in late August, she retrieved only what her family needed, loved and used.
It was a lot less than what she’d moved upstairs.
The next 2 summers, Amy did the same thing. Each time, there was less to bring back downstairs.
And each time, she got more and more efficient.
After Amy put her new skills to use helping downsize her mother, and move her aunts into assisted living facilities, she realized she was on to something. Not only could she de-clutter people’s homes — she could do the same for their minds.
The result was Cleared Spaces: a lifestyle service helping people live better, with far less.
Plus — unlike Marie — she doesn’t leave, then come back weeks later to see the results. Amy is there with her clients, every step of the way.
In fact, she does all the dirty work for you.
I know first hand. The other day, Amy came over to de-clutter my office.
Well, part of it. Even a miracle worker like she could not do everything in one afternoon.
Amy began with a closet. It’s where I’d stuffed everything — old newspaper articles, scrapbooks, report cards from Burr Farms Elementary School, tax returns dating back to the Reagan administration — in the belief that it was important and useful.
That closet was where I needed to move all the crap from my desk and the rest of my office. But first it had to be reclaimed.
“Eighty percent of what I do is purge,” Amy says. “People have too much stuff, and it’s not sorted well.”
So Amy spends a lot of time helping clients figure out what should go, and what must stay. “People pay me to stand over them, and do what they can’t do,” she says. “It’s not brain surgery,”
Her mantra is simple, but key: “If you don’t need it, love it or use it — get rid of it.”
The space Amy creates is not only in the home. It’s in the mind too. She is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher. When she de-clutters, she doesn’t dwell on that part of her life — though she does start with “take a deep breath. People are nervous that I’ll get rid of everything.”
But Amy firmly believes “you really don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy.” Clearing out physical space is centering and relaxing.
It sure is. As we worked together — she handing me boxes; me realizing I didn’t really need to keep all the correspondence about every book I’ve written, but that I loved every photo I found; she sorting everything I was tossing into bins marked “recycle,” “incinerate” and “donate” (to Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity and other organizations) — I felt awe.
Amy was right. I felt better. Lighter. Freer. I was ready — eager! — to attack the piles of who-knows-what cluttering my desk and chairs, filling up my floor (physically) and my head (mentally).
Amy is a pro. She’s non-judgmental. She’s confidential. And — this may be most remarkable of all — she hauls most of the stuff away, fitting whatever she can into her SUV for distribution to Goodwill or the dump.
She even brings bins. This woman is the real deal.
Amy’s services go beyond de-cluttering. She does estate dissolutions, and helps senior citizens downsize. (“Your kids don’t want it!” is another favorite mantra.)
She’s available too for “virtual organization”: telephone consultations, or video chats via Skype and FaceTime.
I’m glad we got together in real time though. Amy was fast, efficient — and fun.
I’m enjoying my un-cluttered closet. I’m ready for the next round.
And I don’t miss all those old Christmas cards, my notebooks from college, or that VHS cassette telling me how to use my Kaypro computer at all.
(For more information on Amy van Arsdale’s Cleared Spaces, click here.)