The Mechanics of a Phone Clutter Bust

"Brooks, I'm intrigued by your phone clutter busting service. How about a post describing how it works? For instance, do you have your client walk through their space and describe things for you, or do you simply talk them through some mental blocks in order to help as they work on their own later?"

That was a comment I got on one of my blog posts last week. Here's my response.

I never considered phone clutter busting as part of my business before my book came out and before I began to give talks around the country. All my business was with local clients; I'd go to their houses and help them clutter bust.

But since I've become more nationally known, there are people in places that I can't reach and they've contacted me about wanting help. I intuitively thought that I could go on the phone and see if that helped them. To my amazement, people get rid of a lot of stuff when I work with them on the phone. It goes pretty fast.

When I'm on the phone with a client, sometimes they've sent me a picture, sometimes they write really briefly about what's going on, but I just start to ask questions. I'm looking for clues. And often, they're subtle.

I'm essentially trying to find the knot; the area in their home that's the most painful for them to be in. Then I have the client go there, with trash bags. I have them pick up the first thing in the troublesome environment, and I ask them about it.

"Is this something you love? Are you using it? Is this part of your life anymore? Would you buy this today?"

I'm just looking for the tone of their response. By the tone, I can tell whether this thing is a part of their life anymore, or whether it isn't -- which is often something that they don't know themselves. In other words, sometimes the answer is "Yes, I need it, let's talk about something else..." but their tone is miserable.

If it's not part of their life, I can feel it in their breath, I can hear it in their pause. There's a weariness, a frustration that becomes obvious when they answer the question.

Clutter busting is actually easier to do on the phone, because it's all in the voice. I can hear it. There's a definite difference between joy and unhappiness. The things that are clutter cause us pain and confusion and exhaustion, and that's something I can hear.

Once I perceive it, I reflect it back to my client. I point out the distress that this thing is causing them in a matter-of-fact way, which allows them to see it as well. My job is not to say, "You've got to get rid of that, you're just wasting your life hanging onto this thing." It has to be their discovery and their decision. And I want to be really kind and encouraging and have them remain open in the process because that's how they're going to see whether something is a part of their life or isn't, and make the appropriate decision.

After that, we move onto the next thing, the next thing, and the next thing....

To arrange a phone clutter bust, call (847) 920-8046 or send an email to