Car Clutter

We went out to her car in the apartment's parking lot. She'd been telling me that she always felt anxious when she needed to drive her car somewhere. I thought it was good sign that her car was parked next to a dumpster. I said, "Let's take everything out of your car and put it on the ground." We pulled out so many things that they filled up three empty parking spaces. There were about twenty books, some of which were library books she thought were lost. There was an unassembled desk that was in about fifteen or so pieces. A folding chair. Three empty electronics boxes. Many used tissues. Some melted and now reformed candy bars, some of which were partially eaten. About fifty various papers (bills, map quest printouts, newspapers, sheets with scribbled notes, coupons, parking tickets), dirty workout clothes, an old walkman, four pair of shoes and one shoe, some magazines, CD jewel cases, caseless CDs, half drunk and full water sports bottles, and lots of change.

She looked at all the stuff and couldn't say anything. She was stunned. A car is a container just like a drawer in a kitchen, a closet, a wallet or purse, a wicker basket, a cabinet or a box. It may not seem like there are a lot of things in the space, but when you take them all out you can be surprised. All my clients are amazed at how much stuff they actually have. I think the presence of all those things dulls people so they don't realize the extent.

I got out a trash bag and I started asking her about each thing. It was easy for her to let a lot of these things go because it looked like a pile of trash. I even asked her about the used kleenex. I want people to get used to making decisions again. Repeating the question, "Do you need this or can we let it go?" with each item gets the person back into discrimination mode. I think it's an inate quality. If it's not used, it goes dormant. But it doesn't take long for it to snap back. Once it kicked in for her, she relished making the decisions. People like to feel self-reliant.

We filled up two big trash bags and put them in the dumpster. She had a great grin on her face. Then she got out her portable vacuum and cleaned the inside of her car. It's amazing how much crumbled food and dirt had collected on her cars floor. When we were done, I had her sit in her car and feel the space. She said it was like being in a new car.

This is a good weekend to do a clutter busting in your car. You might feel uninclined, or think you don't have the time. But it will make a big difference when you drive. Plus it will make your driving safer. Clutter creates a distracting effect. When your car is clutter free, you have so much more clarity when you drive.

Bring a couple trash bags with you. Start by looking under the driver's seat. Those can be cubby holes for a great many things. Then look under the passenger seat. Look under the rugs too. Next go through the glove compartment. You may be surprised at what you find. Look at the floor by the backseat and also the backseat and the flat place behind the backseat. Take out anything that is not being used at some point while driving. Clutter is sticky. You don't want anything in your car that is going to attract more clutter.

Also if you have cds in your car, either individually, or in some kind of case, ask yourself which one's you're listening to and which ones you aren't. You can also ask yourself if you would buy each one today.

Then move to your trunk. I've worked with a number of clients in their trunks. It's amazing how much stuff can fit back there. For many people, they turn out to be traveling trash cans. Again, keep anything you need, but let go of things that don't need to be there. Sometimes my clients have things in their trunks that need to be taken care of. They are errands in wait. I get them to take care of those. They really feel relieved to resolve those.

You'll like the feeling of a clutter free car. If you get a chance, get a car wash too. It's good for your car, and it's a good feeling to see your shiny car. You'll appreciate it that much more.