Decluttering with Krista Wells, The Military Spouse Coach

Wendy Poling
Frequent Contributor

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.--Eleanor Roosevelt


On this blog we talk a lot about our spouses being gone. We talk a lot about things to do while they are gone, like setting new goals, long distance communication, and lately de-cluttering and organizing our spaces.

I recently sat down with Krista Wells, Ph.D., The Military Spouse Coach™, LIVE and in person. We sat in the lobby of the Mystic Marriott just five minutes from my home. She was giving the keynote speech during a luncheon for area psychologists at their yearly conference. Over a latte, shaken iced tea and a shared bag of popcorn I asked her the following questions:


Wendy: Why focus on Decluttering?


Krista: Often, if you live in chaos, you feel disorganized as well. Clearing up your physical space allows your subconscious to prepare for internal changes as well. I can't even tell you how many times I have seen clients, "clear out the old, and invite in the new!"


It's not about buying a bunch of bins. It's about preparing for what will serve you, not buying more stuff that isn't fulfilling. Many clients need to find something more meaningful to focus on, like their work. If you get rid of what you aren't using, "declutter" your computer files and contacts, and purposefully reach out to create the network you want, you will attract the work you desire.


Decluttering can be painful, because when we throw out things we "beat ourselves up," bringing feelings such as, "I used to be thin" or "I never did make baked bread every day." But as you grieve you will be surprised that your life will burgeon with healthy, richer relationships, and even financial gains and the long-term investment in living clutter free far exceeds the temporary losses.


Wendy: Where is a good place start?


Krista: Start with three areas that have been bugging you. I have a small scrapbooking closet that is poorly lit and thus disorganized. If I tackled that closet, it would yield nice results, but I put it off. Start with a problem area like that in your home. You will be amazed at how success yields success and adds much needed momentum!


Start with all the supplies you need. Plan where you would like to donate, recycle, consign, sell, and give away items. I have a bin for Goodwill, and a bag for the consignment store and I consolidate trips. This particular consignment donates what they don't take, so it's a one-stop shop.


Make a specific action plan for each day. Start with an intention the evening before: Take 5 minutes to plan which 10-15-minute organizing project you are going to tackle. Some clients use my "Spring Clean Your Life" chart, which outlines a 10-15 minute task a day for a month, or choose your own. By planning the task the night before, your subconscious is already "working" on a solution while you sleep, so emptying out the cluttered pantry goes much quicker than you anticipate. You can always do it again the following month after seeing what you are really using and what you can toss.


Wendy: What are some unexpected results from Decluttering?


Krista: With so many military moves, if you learn to live clutter free, moves are much easier and you learn to love your environment. Decluttering yields other amazing results and its truly like a domino effect, as your clutter ceases, opportunities open up and you have more time for exercise, work, connecting with loved ones, its amazing! Some become less stressed and happier when unexpected guests stop over. One client found some old projects and again found them fulfilling.


When you let go of the clutter, you can get more clarity in career and life direction. You also have to be good about not replacing things. Be really selective about what you bring into your home. If you want (not need) something new, write it down and leave it on a list for a while; if you wait 30 days you will either attract the item into your life, lose the desire for it, or find that you can live without it.


Wendy: What are some ways to make these decluttering efforts last.


Krista: Often we spend time cleaning and a week later everything is a mess again; we haven't looked beyond the surface clutter to understand why we aren't managing our mess. There are many books with cute tips on being tidy. However, this book gets to the bottom of why we clutter our space. I give this to clients with ADD and they love it as well.

You can walk around each room and assess the problem areas that you have corrected and incorporate new habits and piggy back them with what you already do well. For example, if you always brush your teeth in the morning you can now say "I will make my bed right after I brush my teeth." Or "when I hang my keys on the hook, I will charge my cell phone." And soon you will find that your new habits just come second nature.


Wendy: Any final tips or resources?


Krista: I have a 30-day list of decluttering suggestions that is available via my mailing list. I also recommend using the Internet and looking for photos on Pinterest. I get lots of great organizing ideas from different people blogs too. If I want to clear out a closet for example I set the intention the night before, set a time that I will work on it, for example when the kids get home from school and I am on "unscheduled time" I will plan in my mind to spend 10 minutes organizing the pantry while I get their snacks. This is good because it helps me make good use of otherwise unstructured time and if you plan ahead it actually goes really quickly. I have a clipboard in the kitchen and after I organize an area if I need another supply or container or something needs to be fixed I jot it all down on this one clipboard and then can take care of it later. Walking around the home once a month with the clipboard is a great way to take care of a lot of little tasks, such as changing light bulbs, etc. that going unnoticed can be draining, but if you take care of them, feel amazing. The 10 minutes it takes to do this once a month can become a great habit that yields amazing results and you realize that a little effort goes a long way.


Have you been successful at decluttering a problem area? We want to hear about it! Leave me a comment!


Additional Resources:

Decluttering Tips from Krista's FACEBOOK

It's Hard to Make A Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys