There were books, office supplies and papers scattered across her home office space floor. There were only a few places to stand. She hated being in this room. It felt like she had to make herself be in there.
She said the business was profitable and she was in demand. Still I could tell it used up a large amount of her energy functioning in this way. It felt like she willed her business into staying afloat on a daily basis.
She talked about how it made her less available to her family. They were upset that she wasn't able to be present for them. She felt guilty.
She didn't have within her a means to figure out how to make this situation easier for her. I knew she wanted to because she hired me. But when a person is overwhelmed, they often don't have the capacity to make the clutter busting changes.
So I plopped onto the floor and opened two trash bags. I said, "Okay, let's go through these things and see what stay and see what goes." She was startled to think it was a possibility. She plopped down on the floor with me. There's something about sitting on the floor that makes it seem possible. Maybe you're right there with it and it seems more immediate. Plus it helped that I had a playful tone in my voice.
I started picking up random papers. Because I only asked her about one at a time, she was able to think clearly enough to make good decisions. When a person is overwhelmed, they often see everything and they give up. One at a time is doable.
When I found things she wanted to keep, I created similar piles, so it would be easier to figure out where they would go when it came time to make that decision.
A half hour into it she started to shut down. The overwhelment took over. Her face scrunched up and she sighed in despair.
I said, "A lot of the stuff on this floor is trash. You're seeing that most of it is unnecessary stuff. That makes it trash. But you were so used to it being here and not taking care of it, that this can be difficult. It's a normal feeling. We are extricating the trash so you'll get used to having open space with only vital things in here. It will feel normal soon. As it feels normal, it will be easier to maintain."
She said, "But I can't believe I let it get this bad."
I said, "How it happened doesn't matter. You know you don't like it when it's like this. In some ways, we are readjusting your space. We're making it better. You are taking care of yourself by taking care of your space. You get to reap the benefits."
We continued. We filled up three big trash bags with the stuff she didn't need. I threw out the trash. We took the things she kept and put them in places where they had their own homes in the space. They were now easy to find. And since there was space between them and the other things she needed, they would be easy to maintain.