Closed September 2017

Clutter Video Tip: How to Handle Emotionally Charged Clutter

Sometimes, going through your stuff can get you all amped up. And sometimes, just seeing a certain picture can make you feel like you tripped a circuit breaker in your heart. How do you maintain the bandwidth to organize emotionally charged items and remain calibrated? Watch this video for strategies to use when conducting these types of high voltage organizing sessions. Use these tips to keep current and make it through this challenging situation.

(Click here to watch on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded player. Or watch the video at


Hi. I’m Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet book and on-line program, and today we’re going to talk about the sensitive topic of emotionally charged clutter. This is the clutter that you cannot bear to go through. It may be the result of a divorce or a death in your family or even an estrangement of a close friend or family member.

So my first tip is to make sure that you allow plenty of time to get these organizing projects done. The reason is that you’re going to run into minefields of emotions as you go through this stuff. So it’s gonna take you longer to process this and go through some of these things more carefully. Then you want to make sure, because of that, that you’re not doing this alone. If you can at all possible get a friend to help you, or even a team of friends, or, of course, a professional organizer, this is going to make your progress go much more quickly, and they can help you stop from getting caught in these emotional minefields. So instead of you sinking into a chair reading old letters, going through pictures, they’re going to keep you moving, and they’re going to hand you a Kleenex when you need one, and it’s really better to have that help.

Another thing a friend can do is pre-sort a lot of items. So imagine that you’ve inherited a garage full of stuff, if you have someone pre-sort into kitchen items, jewelry, tools, office supplies, whatever is there, imagine how much easier that decision making process is going to be when you have visibility to what all is there. You’re going to make a lot more intelligent quick decisions having that done first.

So as you’re making a lot of these decisions, it’s very common that you might need to disposition these items to other members of your family or your friends. So, you can get various colors of painter’s tape or removable sticky dots – and these are just removable adhesives so that they won’t damage whatever the item is – but you can color-code what decisions have been made. So, in other words, everything red goes to this one particular sister. Everything blue goes to this uncle. Whatever it might be. So you can have those decisions labeled quickly and easily.

Another tip is to have a staging area. If you can empty one room or one area and move all those color-coded decisions into that area and get them out of the way, that’s going to help you clear your space and see what progress you’ve made.

So another tip for you, finally, is to make sure that grief and guilt don’t bully you into keeping things that you don’t really need. So if you hear yourself saying, “I should keep this,” take that as a clue that you don’t really need that item, but you’re feeling obligated emotionally to keep it. So you can either memorialize that item by taking a picture of it and donating it, or you can give that item to another member of the family who might appreciate it more or who it may be more appropriate for that person to have, but don’t fall into that trap of guilt and obligation that accompanies a lot of these emotional items.

If you cannot get a friend to help you or an organizer or anybody, and you still need help, we do offer phone consulting. So you can find that on our website, and we are happy to help you, give you some accountability, help you speed the process along with a game plan, and we are there to support you emotionally as well.

So check us out at our web site, and we’ll see you next time. May you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.

You may have been searching for how to go through items after a tragedy or divorce moving on after a death.

Click here for FREE decluttering help NOW!

Leave a Reply

ParadeRachael RayInStyleCNBCFast CompanyThe Boston GlobeWomen's DayWGNToday