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Instead of just sitting around the house waiting for the pandemic to end, why not clean out your clutter?

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Bea Rector helps every Friday to pack grocery bags for the Woodstock Pantry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Woodstock. Her organizing skills were recognized there - and, it turns out she was once a professional de-clutterer and organizer in Arizona. These days some of us occasionally have "COVID fever" – the kind that thankfully isn't physical, but is the pent-up "cabin fever" of the pandemic. It can be a little like the "Spring Fever" that can lead to spring-cleaning. In this case, it might be called "COVID de-cluttering fever".

And offering some suggestions as to how to approach this is someone who knows a lot about organizing and de-cluttering – Woodstock resident Bea Rector. Recently, while helping to fill brown grocery bags with food for the weekly Woodstock Pantry Program at All Saints Episcopal Church, other volunteers near her noticed Rector's enthusiastic organizing skills, and learned that she used to be a professional "de-cluttering" expert!

Remembering her early days of de-cluttering involvement, Rector tells THE BEE, "About 15 years ago I was a member of Tucson Professional Organizers, and learned how much fun it is to really make a difference in a cluttered space. I used to teach organizing workshops to kids and to their moms, too. But the best times were when a team of us 'T-Pro Ladies' rescued hoarders from eviction.

"My business was called 'Busy Bea Organizing', but it pretty much fizzled out when I moved to Colorado in 2007." Coincidentally, Rector has since learned that there is a woman in Michigan with a business of the same title! Recently Rector remarked, "This COVID-19 hunkering-down has been good for going through stuff," and she is eager to share some de-cluttering tips.

Rector's de-cluttering motto is "Energy, through a system, creates order." Her liberating discovery for herself, and later for friends and family whom she helped when she no longer had a business, was "order creates spaciousness, which leads to freedom."

Many of us have heard about the "freedom" that comes from getting rid of unused "stuff". And, during the pandemic, some people have time on their hands that could be devoted to cleaning out. But, it can be very difficult to get motivated into action on that road towards "freedom". Bea likes to emphasize that resistance to de-cluttering is a normal instinct. She says, "One thing I have come to believe is that the best way to motivate someone to do something more – like house cleaning, or weeding, or organizing their stuff – Is by making it easier for them to do it."

She warns against nagging, or telling people how much freedom or sense of relief they will feel if they neaten up their space a bit. "It's easier and more fun with labeled boxes, upbeat music, and refreshments!" she says. And, she tells THE BEE that help with "muscle power" for lifting boxes comes in handy for some people.

With this kind of support, Rector testifies that those trying to de-clutter can often get a good-enough start on the job to keep on with it after the de-cluttering friend or helper leaves.

A "To Decide" box for items one is uncertain about is necessary. When working as a professional, Rector says "I had to use all my psychology smarts to keep the 'To Decide' box from filling up!"

Things that are in the "elsewhere" category might go to a trash can, consignment store, Goodwill, thrift shop bookstore, repair shop, or recycling bin or center.

One of Rector's suggestions for successful de-cluttering is for the owner of "too much stuff" to be patient with himself or herself. "Needless to say, making a significant change in a cluttered home requires many hours of time over weeks, if not months – even with a helper."

Rector has come to understand the psychology of de-cluttering. "Many of us are afraid to part with things, because we're so insecure about the future. That's quite understandable," she says. And especially during the pandemic, when so many things seem to be uncertain, you might think we would hold on to more things. However, that pent-up "pandemic restlessness" can lead to the opposite. It can get hold of us, and before we know it, we are going through files, closets, and boxes – savoring and saving a few things, but hopefully tossing and recycling a lot. So, as you sit amidst more stuff than you really want in your home, waiting out the pandemic, why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose – but all that clutter.


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