Free yourself from clutter

2010-08-10 00:00

What is clutter?

The definition of clutter is “anything that no longer serves you” and there are three aspects to this definition: physical clutter, emotional clutter and physiological clutter.

What is the worst thing about clutter?

It keeps you stuck, living in the past and not free to experience an awesome day. It drains energy and zaps vitality. It literally is like lead weights holding you back.

Is clutter always bad? What about people who like clutter in their lives?

Clutter is bad, full stop. However, it can also serve as a positive intention. If, for example, someone is not ready to deal with their issues then holding on to the clutter becomes the way that they protect themselves. They bury themselves under it, literally and emotionally — usually in their body as well. So clutter is an indicator that things are not so cool at other layers. In the bigger picture of living an awesome life and not being stuck, it does not serve you. It is different if you have many possessions in your life that you adore and that fulfil you. In that case, it is not clutter. But my rule is then you have it properly stored and ordered so that you love and know where every single thing in your home or office is and do not waste time looking for it.

So, do you live the ideal clutterless life?

For me, personally, I really do walk my talk. I have travelled and moved a lot and can pack up my home in half a day. I think where I have to be the most mindful is the body clutter (physiological clutter) as I had an eating disorder as a teenager and, like most women, have issues about my body and cellulite. I astound myself with the amount of energy I have from just trying to eat really well (yes, wine goes in there too). I also practise Bikram yoga.

Are women more inclined to attract clutter than men?

This is such an interesting question. Most of my clients are women because I think they are more aware of stuff and are willing to look at it from all angles. Yet, I do think that because we are more emotional and nurturing in nature that we like to hold on to things.

what are some of the stranges things people clutter their lives with?

Movie tickets from 20 years ago, wedding cake decorations from 12 years ago, mink coats from 50 years ago, clothing not worn in 10 years, collections of anything and everything, newspapers from the past five years, magazines from the year dot, and 4 000 emails in an inbox… is there any object (perhaps sentimental like old love letters or gifts) that serves no purpose but cannot bring yourself to throw out?

No. Truly, I am willing to let go of anything and everything. I have no attachment to stuff. I like to keep some things but they do not define me at all.

I have been writing in journals since I was 13 and, at the age of 25, I decided it was becoming clutter and so did a ceremonial burning of them which I do every few years.

I have all that I need with me and all my friends know how light I live. I adore my lifestyle and my minimalist outlook.

I love what I have and am a real Taurus so have a deep appreciation for possessions, but I do not need to have a lot of them. So in my life I am quite extreme because it works for me, but I am gentle with clients and meet them where they need to be in terms of how much stuff they need to keep for their lifestyle.

My nickname is Kick– ass Kate and that is what I assist people to do — get some energy to get them moving.

What advice would you give to people who are unhappy in their current situation but feel stuck?

We get stuck in the fear and the not knowing how. I suggest that they get help — either a friend (if they are the right kind of person) or even better some professional help. Often people just need to be shown some maps to help them shift. It is why I exist as a coach to help people become unstuck.

A starting point is to take stock of life as it really is now, then create goals of where you want to be.

you start to figure the how. Often people get stuck in the ‘not knowing how’ before they have even decided where they want to be, and it stops them dead in their tracks. There is always a way to figure out how to get something when you know what you want… no matter how long it might take. You need to focus and be determined and, of course, have discipline. All the most successful people have support and coaches – it is a good thing to get support!

What do you do when you feel you are getting stuck in a rut or losing ‘control’ of your life in some way?

I do yoga, I go for walks, I get help from people I trust and respect, but mostly I sit down and go back to basics and start there, using all my own coaching tools. Every now and then you have to take a radical leap and make drastic changes. I have been through many of those as well, believe me; it all boils down to having commitment to yourself and your values and being willing to have the courageous conversations you need to have.

What is your life philosophy?

There’s a quote: ‘Live so that you enjoy each day as though it were your last, but also that you wake up each new morning glad that yesterday, it wasn’t’. It may sound macabre but it is delicious for me. It excites me as it makes me live each day to the fullest and live light so that I leave no heavy footprint. It makes me be courageous and have honest conversations all the time so I do not carry around baggage. While I may not always get it 100% right it is something that drives me to live in the now and in a positive way. I go after goals I want. The woman and home talks [see textbox] is part of my goals to be an international speaker to wow audiences with my message.

Who is Kate Emmerson?

Kate Emmerson is a UK trained Master Life Coach and has been working in the field for eight years. She’s an expert in three main areas: creating space and removing clutter from all areas of your life; building self confidence and helping people rebuild and refocus both their personal and business lives.

Emmerson lives life to the fullest, with her motto being ‘Am I ready to die today?’, she even bought herself a Harley Davidson for her 40th birthday.

Kate’s top tips to declutter your life:

•When addressing physical clutter ask yourself three questions:

Do I love it?

Do I use it?

Does it add value or energy to my life?

•Start small – I start clients off in my programme with the bedside table.

•Don’t stop until you have cleared one small area.

•The most important rule to clutter is always put something back in its proper “home”, that is where it should live because it is all about retrieval, when you want something you do not waste any energy at all looking for it.

Interested in creating space in your life so that you can move forward with clarity:

•Sign up for Emerson’s complimentary course ‘How to change one thing’ on her website:

•Catch Emerson in Durban on the 28th August for a Woman&Home/Spar reader at Hotel Izulu or on the 30th August for a women’s day workshop at Farmhouse Café in Umhlanga College (limited seating. To book contact Andrea Florens on 082 4501914 or

For more information call Kate on 082 341 3143

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