A couple of years ago I ran a clutterbusters pilot program, and successfully cleaned out some big clutter “hotspots” in my house, including my closet, my bathroom cabinets and drawers, my nightstand, and several kitchen drawers and cupboards.
Unfortunately, I ran out of steam before I could tackle the Really Big Hotspot: the studio.
AKA the Studio of Doom. It was just too daunting to tackle at the time.
I learned a lot from that clutterbusters pilot program experiment, though. In particular, I learned these two things:
1) For true BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals), if I want dramatic results, I tend to be most successful when I commit to short bursts, rather than long hauls.
(For better or worse, I’m a creator, not a maintainer.)
2) I get approximately 5,000 times more done when I gather a community around me to join in.
(The energy of the group fires me up and keeps me going, and it holds me accountable! When I’m on the hook to show up, and to report back what I’ve done, I actually do it.)
I also already knew that
3) All enormous projects are attainable, if they’re chunked out into small enough baby steps,
Armed with this knowledge, I didn’t need genius powers of deduction to realize that if I ever wanted to tackle the Studio of Doom, I’d have the best chance of success by:
1) Setting a time-limited goal,
2) Chunking my BHAG into digestible tasks,
3) Gathering a community around me.
So it was, with these three points in mind, that the Great ClutterBust was born!
The Great ClutterBust: Spring Cleaning on Turbo!
I declared April as my Month to ClutterBust the Studio of Doom, and I invited anyone who wanted to join me, for whatever price they wanted to pay. 31 women jumped in, and we’ve been having a big, ol’ spring-cleaning party!
At least two or three times a week we meet up virtually at pre-scheduled ClutterBust sessions, where we check in to share our goal for the session, then head off to bust clutter, then report back again at a designated time. Plus there are additional ClutterBust sessions inside our Facebook group, as well as lots of “spontaneous clutterbustion.”
It’s remarkably fun (who knew clutterbusting could be fun?), and though we still have a week left, the results have already been astounding!
Watching everyone’s clutter fly out the door has inspired the heck out of me — as expected — and knowing everyone else is watching my progress has kept me on track.
I’m not alone, either; a common refrain in our check-in calls is, “I never would have gotten this done today if it hadn’t been for this call.”
The really cool thing, though, is that the impact of clutterbusting has been so much more profound than merely clearing physical space. “I feel like I can breathe again!” people are reporting. “I feel a new sense of freedom, hope, and possibility for my life!”
Amy shared that clearing up her accumulated clutter has opened up space for her to think better about her health — her health, people! — and she’s now taking better care of body, and her whole being, thanks to the Great ClutterBust.
Kristie has experienced similarly dramatic results in unexpected areas of her life:
When I started the Great Clutterbust, I was filled with questions about whether my relationship should be busted as well. Cleaning out brought up some serious relationship questions as well. Turns out that ” taking it off the table” in the physical world helped us take things off the table relationship wise and clear the air as I cleared the house. Much sweat and two big SUV full of get rid of’s later, I feel so much cleaner inside, happier with my self, family/ relationship and home. The emotions and the clutter were blocking me worse than I suspected. It’s been a pleasure to sit together in our clean den and work on our creative projects!
Every time I throw something out, I feel like a pound of weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel connected and supported as I declutter, which has turned out to be much harder and more emotional than I realized. Knowing I’m not alone in this has been gold. The activity in the group is also a gentle reminder to keep decluttering a priority, so I don’t give up or put it off YET AGAIN. I’m getting clarity on how I want to transform my space to better support me, both in how I want to live and what I want to accomplish. I am literally clearing out the space to live my dreams.
And Allison shared the following:
For years my office/studio/guest bedroom/exercise room was also the junk room. A cluttered, inhibiting, disorganized space that accomplished none of its purposes. I had committed to cleaning and reorganizing it yet again, and not done anything, out of fear nothing would be accomplished in the long run.
This group gave me the support and impetus to jump in. Once I got going, my husband caught my enthusiasm, and it evolved from a clutter bust to a major repurposing (including some minor renovations).
Now it almost feels like we built an addition. We took two rooms that were ignored and avoided and reclaimed them as beautiful, functional spaces we are spending quality time in developing our hobbies.
These kinds of transformations make me absolutely giddy!
As for me, I had a big epiphany about why I’ve never been able to create the beautiful, inspiring workspace I’ve always longed for.
Yes, strangely enough, the room where I make art (and spend about 90% of my life at this computer!) has always been purely utilitarian, almost entirely devoid of aesthetic intention.
Considering that I’m an artist, and highly attuned to aesthetics, this is weird, no?
As I liberated surfaces and airspace, it occurred that although I have no problem creating beauty and order when others will directly benefit from (my art, music, classes, writing, etc.), I have never given myself permission to create beauty for which I am the only direct beneficiary. It’s as if there were literally no space for me to even think about what kind of space I would like to be creating in!
Perhaps more profoundly, I suddenly realized that surrounding myself in a sea of clutter has been a form of constant self-punishment.
It’s a vicious cycle: clutter triggers hopelessness and self-disgust, which triggers a self-punishing attitude, which triggers more clutter, and so on, in an endless loop.
Interrupting this cycle has finally opened a space for some self-compassion.
Clearing my clutter has liberated a new sense of permission to focus energy and attention not just on getting rid of excess, but on truly beautifying my space. For the first time ever I can actually think about how I want my space to look and feel, and I’ve been having such fun channeling creative energy into redesigning my floor plan, researching air-filtering (and non-toxic to cats!) plants to bring green inside, and brainstorming Ikea hacks for replacing my old furniture with sleek, new pieces that will not just function beautifully, but will delight me in the process.
None of this would have happened without the Great ClutterBust. I am so very grateful to each and every one of the clutterbusters in that group — your energy, ladies, fired me up to do the impossible!
Epiphanies (& Commitment Anxiety!)
As I’ve been clearing physical stuff out of my space, it’s made me think about the mental stuff that needs clearing too. Unfinished business, hanging over my head, weighting me down just as much as the pounds of stuff I’ve been piling in boxes and shlepping down the stairs, out the door, and into my car.
Unfinished business like the book I decided I wanted to write back in 2012.
Yes, I started working on it in earnest maybe (ahem) a year and a half ago, then shelved it “temporarily” while I was building out the content for Your Big, Bold, Creative Life Academy.
Given that the book is essentially the Academy in book form, it made logical sense for me to shelve it for a bit. After all, I’m not a superhuman, and working on two supremely time-consuming BHAGs at one time is crazy. Plus the Academy content would feed into the book content and ultimately help me write the book.
But shelving the book for “a bit” stretched out into almost a year, and is threatening to stretch into forever if I don’t do something about it!
So, taking a page from the Great ClutterBust, I decided to run a similar program, to help me get to “Done!” on a complete first draft of my book.
Egad — it’s making me sweat to state this publicly. I’m literally feeling a hot flush as I write this!
The same thing happened when I announced the Great ClutterBust. “Holy sh#t!” I remember thinking, “What the #*&% am I doing?! Can I pull this off? What if I fail? No! No! NOOOO! I don’t want to commiiiiiiit!!!”
Believe me, I’m thinking exactly the same things right now…
I take this as a good sign. Remember: the most important thing is to get comfortable with discomfort. I pushed through my commitment anxiety with the Great ClutterBust, and look what I’ve managed to accomplish:
Studio of Doom, before (June 2011):
Studio Closet of Doom, before (June 2011):
Corner and Shelves of Doom, before:
Taboret Corner of Doom, before:
This just utterly delights me!
Pretty cool, huh? Again, these “after” pics are really “mid-stage” pics, because a lot of this furniture is going away (after I find new homes for them — the artisan built maple computer desk, the fixer-upper vintage student desk, AND my Epson 7600 wide-format printer [not pictured here] are all for sale, in case you’re interested!) Project Studio Makeover continues, and naturally, I’ll share more pics down the road as I have them.
Announcing Finishing Blitz!
Starting on May 1, I’m running a 6-week program based on the format of the Great ClutterBust, called Finishing Blitz, and I invite you to join me! This is a great opportunity for you to get to DONE on whatever project(s) you wish. Some ideas include:
- Finish the book already (that’s me…)
- Get your online store up and running.
- Clutterbust your garage.
- Finally finish all those yarn UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in your closet.
- Pull out those canvases you were never happy with and turn them into something new!
- Overhaul your filing system.
Really, anything goes! If it’s been hanging over your head, now’s the time to get it done!
Here’s how this is going to work:
• For the six weeks starting Thursday, May 1, I will be adhering to a regular writing schedule to work on my book. These work sessions will start off as 9:00am-11:00am PT / 12:00pm-2:00pm ET, every day but Tuesdays (and certain travel days). I reserve the right to change these times, if I feel it will result in better work or quality of life. (They may, for example, move to 10:00am-12:00pm PT / 1:00pm-3:00pm ET).
• Anyone who’d like to join me for those regular work sessions will be able to log or dial into a special conference room for a brief check-in/rally. This will force me to be at the computer, ready to go, at 9:00am PT every day (and honestly, it’s hella terrifying me!)
• For those who aren’t available for morning Pacific Time time slots (or for eager beavers who just want more), I will also facilitate hooking people up in small groups according to your schedule. We’ll collect everyone’s available work times, and I’ll create a Master Calendar for everyone to consult. (I expect we’ll tweak this system as we go, fyi. I don’t have this part 100% figured out yet, but I’m sure we’ll make it work! :))
• I’ll also lead a weekly rally — a live call at 4:00pm PT / 7pm ET every Monday — to help you clarify your goals, break your project into digestible chunks, assign time to each chunk, receive support, and celebrate progress; plus an opening rally on May 1 and a closing rally on June 11, also at 4:00pm PT / 7pm ET (8 calls total).
• Rallies will all be recorded. Work session check-ins will not.
• We’ll all be able to connect, share, lend support, cheer each other on, and celebrate victories in a private Facebook group, just for Finishing Blitzers.
• YOU name the price you want to pay. To give you some perspective, Finishing Blitz is 6 weeks, with 8 live rally calls. I run 4-week programs with just three live calls, for $99, so $149 would be a steal, but you get to decide what that glorious feeling of completion is worth to you . (Or what you can afford, if it’s worth a lot more than you’ve got in your wallet.)
If you want to be generous, you might want to pay $199, or $299, or $399. If money’s tight, you might pay $49 or $79. The average payment for the Great ClutterBust was $50, so since Finishing Blitz is 50% longer than the Great ClutterBust, a commensurate average would be $75.
Everything starts next Thursday, May 1, with a work session at 9:00am PT / 11:00am ET, and an opening rally at 4:00pm PT / 7:00pm ET.
Wanna join me? Click here to jump in!
Now I’m off to get some much-needed rest…
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!