Episode 07: Conny Graf - Are you ready to deal with your de-cluttering problem?

Have you ever spent hours looking for something, wading through papers, drawers, closets that you meant to organize but then…..life got in the way.

My guest this week, Conny Graf, knows all about. Through her program “From Chaos to Peace”, she has become an expert in the field of de-cluttering and says,
“The more objects in the visual field, the harder our brain has to work to filter them out. Everything in your outer environment is a reflection of something that's inside of you”.

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In our podcast, Conny defines four categories of clutter. I definitely have things that fit all the descriptions. She also has some unique views regarding health and reducing clutter in the body.

Many people in our community have expressed the need to declutter. The fact is, it often gets in the way of our Bloom because we keep waiting to get organized to begin, and somehow it never happens.

Her motto is “Successful decluttering: a few minutes a day keeps the clutter away."


https://connygraf.com
https://www.facebook.com/fromchaostopeace/

Thanks for listening.

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Transcript:

 Sharman Nittoli: 

Welcome to the live your blown podcast where I interview people stepping out of their comfort zones to fulfill old dream seeds, or those who are planting new ones, regardless of age. And I'm always interested in the challenges and successes of these people. I also interview people who have specific interests or programs and things that could benefit us on our journey to bloom. So many of our listeners have expressed a need to de-clutter at one time or another. The fact is, it often gets in our way of our Bloom,, because we keep waiting to get organized to begin. And because we don't get organized, we never begin. Our guest today is chronograph who has a program called "From Chaos to Peace". And she says that decluttering is self love, and she helps people create supportive and clutter free environments in life and business. Welcome, Connie.

Conny Graf: 

Thank you very much for having me.

Sharman Nittoli: 

My pleasure. Maybe you could give us a little of your background, so we can understand how you came to this point and offering this program.

Conny Graf: 

Yeah, so um, it's always funny, because when I'm getting asked, how did you even start decluttering, I always have to say, I started actually, in my teenage years, I kind of realized that the environment has a big effect on me. So I was growing up in a very small room, I was lucky enough to have my own bedroom growing up, but it was tiny, like a broom closet, kind of tiny. And so I was always rearranging stuff, decluttering stuff, putting things away differently organizing stuff, to see how it, whether it would make me feel better whether things would flow better. And so that's what I did in my teen years like, and then that was not something that you could pick as a profession. So I went more the traditional route, what my parents wanted, I worked in insurance first and in finance. And when I worked in finance, I realized a lot of people in the office have such a hard time keeping an organized desk or an organized workspace. And they were all out of their mind working. So I kind of helped them create a more organized workspace. And yeah, so this is how I more like step by step slipped into it. Or if we want to say, a circle back to what I did when I was a young girl.

Sharman Nittoli: 

You felt the need you found a need from other people and felt you had a skill to offer.

Conny Graf: 

Yes, well, I believe I do have a certain skill. But I also was lucky enough to actually feel the difference an organized space makes on us, or an unorganized space makes on us.

Sharman Nittoli: 

So true. How about all the time we waste sometimes looking for something? Where, where's that paper? I gotta find that. But you know, now I do a thing that, my husband looks at this board I have up there, but I stick things up there when I don't have time to figure out where I'm going to put them. So I just stick them up there and say, I'll get to you. But at least I know, that's where I'm going to look, you know. And in a sense, that would be organized chaos, but it does eventually find its home. I was interested in this four categories of clutter. And maybe share them with us.

Conny Graf: 

Yeah, so we have to remember the clutter is not just the physical stuff that is around us. The clutter is a lot of things. But so the first thing we look at is the physical stuff, the things that you don't use, and you don't love. And usually, we have a lot of it. It's like we we seem to collect things and not use it not even loving it not even liking it and still having hanging around in our spaces. And then we come to the second category, which is then actually when everything is untidy and disorganized, it's like a chaos in your home, which stresses us out. I mean, we like I said we can feel that in our body what like we can block it and pretend like we don't feeling it, but our subconscious will feel it anyways. Then the third category is when you have too much in the space that you have. So when, it often happens when people are downsizing from bigger homes into smaller spaces, and they want to take everything with them and then it's their little or their smaller apartment or their smaller house is now filled with huge furniture that doesn't fit the space with too much stuff oftentimes because they have a hard time letting go. And then the last category is something that most people don't realize that this is clutter too and that is anything unfinished, which happens to us a lot. Anything unfinished can also mean things that you have to repair. For example in your home leaky faucets, blinds that don't work windows that don't work that's also cluttered that is pulling on our mental capacity. But also like if we are crafty, any, any unfinished craft projects, any unfinished books that were not finished reading any unfinished, whatever unfinished. And, and we all have it, I'm not saying we can't have any of it. But if it reaches a certain amount, it becomes very heavy. And then it becomes clutter.

Sharman Nittoli: 

Hey, I have a surprise for you. I, we didn't plan this, I want our listeners to know. But I write these, I write different types of songs. I'm a musician, a composer. And I sometimes I write serious songs, jazz songs, but sometimes I just write silly little songs. So I wrote this song a while ago, but I just put it on tape. So you could just hear the first verse because it's what's called a Clutter Cutter. So (song) Are closets overflowing with clothes that you don't wear? And they no longer fit, but you want to know.theyre there. And people call you daily talking trash and wasting time. You ain't feeling guilty, 'cause gossips not a crime. Meant to begin today, but somehow, it's tomorrow, You're tripping over piles of junk. high as Kilimanjaro Da clutter gotta go. Clutter gotta go. Don't act like don't see it. Dont act like you don't know. You're angry with yourself, you walk around and mutter, Da clutter gotta go. Join the Clutter Cutters. When I actually record it, I'm going to get a lot of people that will allow me to film them in their rooms of clutter, of cluttered rooms, so, because it's a common common problem, you know. And, you know, what I do in my program is I help people make schedules to get stuff like this done. We call that 'the frog', when you're talking about the unfinished things, that's your frog, right? That's your frog. And how do you tackle your frog, and is there's a, there's a skill to setting up a schedule, that's going to work for you. But of course, the first thing is, you got to want to do it. So yeah, and you also had a really interesting concept about clutter in your health, and your your self care.

Conny Graf: 

Yeah, I call decluttering self love. And for the reason I kind of touched on already a little bit, clutter does have an effect on us. It does stress us out. They have all kinds of scientific studies now that can prove that they can measure the brain waves and whatever and the physiology, and they can actually prove that a chaotic environment, a messy environment stresses us out. And then because we're stressed, we most likely don't eat what we plan to eat, or we don't eat healthy, or we don't have the mental energy to actually focus on eating healthy. When we're stressed out, we're maybe short with our with our loved ones, and then we're having issues and that creates emotional clutter, emotional struggles. So it has a huge ripple effect. And I'm not saying that if you have a decluttering environment, you're all healthy and wonderful. But that is the one thing that you actually can do for your health and to reduce the stress. We're enough stressed by other things already. Just turn on the news. And you can be stressed out.

Sharman Nittoli: 

Oh, that's right.

Conny Graf: 

Oh, yeah. So to know accent, so. For sure. And I don't turn on the news all the time. But another thing is creating an.. and it's not only always so much about throwing things out or organizing like a perfectionist. It's more about how do you feel in your home? Can you create an environment that you feel comfortable in? And that supports you in what you do like you for example, you do music? So do you, did you create? And you can answer that for yourself -you don't have to answer that out loud now. But did you create an environment that gets you to do your music easy? Or do you have to climb over all kinds of stuff before you get to your piano for example, or for people who do crafts, do you have your home set up in a way that you can do your things easy to give you the pleasure or not? Are you all stressed out you want to do something but first you have to do seven other things. Before you can do the thing you want to do, and then we're stressed out, and this is why I'm calling the cluttering as self love, because this is what you can do for yourself to feel better, less stressed, and then we're less likely to eat bad or unhealthy to have high blood pressure and all kinds of like, again, I'm not I'm not a doctor, and I'm not a scientist, but they do have lots of studies that confirm this, and then simulate ourselves if

Sharman Nittoli: 

It makes sense, total sense. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, you know, when you're talking about the space to create, yes, I have learned to do that, because I am a busy person. So if I say that I got two hours to work over here. It has to be from when I sit down, I work. It cannot be where "Oh, where's that piece of music? I know, I started that.... You know, where's that? Where's that chart? I thought I started that." It can't be that. So I have learned through the years to get organized. Because when I first met my husband, he said, Are you a writer? Yes, I am. I said I had a box of clutter. I would say like, Oh, it's in here somewhere and he would say like, you're not ready, you won't you will you're not ready. If the opportunity comes, you are not ready. So we we've been working on it, you know?

Conny Graf: 

Can I say something to this? Because again, sometimes a lot of pushback from people who are very creative, like writer or decisions or crafts, people, painters and stuff, they always say, "Oh, no, no, no, I couldn't be organized, I need it for my creativity." But when you when you you just said it, when you have to run around first and find something your creativity suffers. Just imagine how the more creative you could be if your environment supports you, if it's calm, if you can sit down and actually focus on what you want to do and get creative downloads and express yourself rather than dealing with the stuff that is in your way. You know?

Sharman Nittoli: 

Yeah. Now, it may look like clutter to somebody else, you know, but as long as you have some sense of order there that allows you to express yourself and create without spending time searching for things then that will work. So, so a person who comes to you for the first time and says, "I have a serious problem, you know, with decluttering". Where do they actually begin?

Conny Graf: 

Yeah. So I usually start with them in areas that are not emotionally charged. Like somewhere where... sometimes it sounds counterproductive to somebody because I say let's start somewhere where it doesn't matter as much. And then they feel "Oh, no, no, no, let's go here first". Because we need to train our decluttering muscle first that always say, Oh, well, you can't just go and run a marathon tomorrow because you decided you wanted to run a marathon, you know, you have to train a little bit and it's the same with decluttering we have to train our decluttering muscle a little bit you know, so we go and we start doing things small. "A few minutes a day keeps the chaos away" is one of my sayings and we go somewhere where it's not emotionally charged. So for you example, if I would help you I wouldn't go with you into your music room or into your writing room and start there because this is way too emotionally charged and you have your muscle might not be in shape yet let's say like that. So we'd go to places that are not so emotionally charged and in general just anywhere like in the morning I often like to go with people in the bedroom. You wake up in the morning what is the first thing you see? If the first thing you see is clutter, whether or not you're consciously aware of it, it has an effect on you. So let's just and just straightrn now things make it a little calmer. You also will sleep better in a calmer bedroom and then you can go to the bathroom for example or the kitchen is also good places that are not so emotionally charged. And then once we're a little bit got the ball rolling we can go to the let's say more emotional places. But in general what I noticed when people that start decluttering do wrong if you want to talk about right and wrong which I'm not liking to, but what they often do is they take on too big of a project and then in the middle of it they crash and burn and then they think they can do it or it looks worse than before. And this will always say, just start small somewhere and always feel how does it feel and Is this how I want it and if you feel exhausted after decluttering, you did too much. You actually, when you do the right, you feel lighter and better afterwards. And that's kind of like your internal gauge to to see whether whether you did it right. Yeah,

Sharman Nittoli: 

Yeah. And and closets can be very traumatic to go through because, you know, I think I have a verse in that about, you know, clothes that, you know, I can't throw this out. But you've been trying to get in it for six, seven years now. And guaranteed the day after you throw it out, you may want it back. But for me, that would be emotionally charged. That's your life. That could be your whole, your life is spanning and that that would for me be very... my music and my closets would be emotionally charged. Yeah,

Conny Graf: 

And that's where I'm saying we would have to go a little bit more focus to there. And, and it's often it's not the items itself, it's the story that is behind it. Which you can explore in a short period of 20 minutes or so this takes longer, you know, like, what do you associate with this item? Why is it hard to let go even though you're not using or not wearing it? There's so much more behind it than we think. And this is why we have a hard time letting it go.

Sharman Nittoli: 

yeah, yeah. So that's almost there's a whole science to it. It sounds like so you have a Facebook site, I believe. Is it your name? Or is it "From Chaos to Peace"?.

Conny Graf: 

So I have a Facebook page which is called From Chaos to Peace with Conny", but I also have a group. So I have kind of a community, it's a very safe community where people can share their struggles or their wins. And we sometimes do little challenges in it. Right now, this week, we do a challenge in the bathroom. Last week, we did one in the bedroom, all along the line of a few minutes a day just to get something going. And then people can post about whether they did it. If they didn't do it, what their mental clutter was why they didn't do it. It's just also on judgmental, like, nobody is gonna blame you for not doing anything, nobody's gonna judge you for not doing anything we all understand. So it's just basically.. But we also kind of try to keep each other accountable, a little bit help each other, achieving the goal that we want to want to achieve.

Sharman Nittoli: 

And I always when I help people with their scheduling, like you said, five minutes a day, by the end of the week, that's a half hour a day, you spent a half hour for the week, there's a little bit of progress. And you know, our critic is going to say, "But it's not enough". But we need to train ourselves, I think to say, "But I'm doing it. So I'm going to celebrate, I'm going to celebrate". And when you have a community like yours, you have a community celebrating with you.

Conny Graf: 

Yes. And it's more than if you do nothing. If you only do five minutes a day, I get that pushback a lot, too. Yeah, it may only be half an hour at the end of the week. But it's more than nothing more than sitting here and saying one day I do more than sitting here. Oh, I need a whole weekend to do this, which that we can we'll never come because who wants to declutter a whole weekend? No. Yeah. So you're further along. And then you have the ball rolling, and you can be proud of yourself, because you're doing/

Sharman Nittoli: 

Yeah, and so you're dipping your toe in. But I guarantee you, there will be days where that five minutes is going to stretch out a little bit. Sometimes you're just in it, you're in the rhythm, and it's happening. But if it doesn't happen, we just have to be gentle with ourselves when we're trying to change and develop a new habit. We just have to be gentle and forgiving. And, you know, that's what a community does for you.

Conny Graf: 

Yes, of course. But I want to say too, is like five minutes. Everybody has five minutes. There comes to decluttering is self love in again, if you don't have five minutes to do something that is good for you. Then we have a bigger problem. You know? And even and this is where I'm saying yes, you just do five minutes, and then you feel good about yourself. Also hold yourself accountable. And sometimes we need this inner parents, when we were younger, we had a parent telling us go and straighten up your room. Now maybe we have to be the parent to this person who right now would rather sit in front of the TV than getting up and do something for five minutes.

Sharman Nittoli: 

But I like that - the inner parent Yeah. But I you know, my mom, Old World Greek, when we started doing chores, and she would say you girls have to straighten out your drawers are a mess. She would say at once twice, we will be in the back playing, she would take our drawers and throw them out the window, the clothes out the window, and then she'd say, Well now you're going to have to straighten it up. So that is my memory of the need for decluttering a bit traumatic, but it worked.

Conny Graf: 

Dramatic and we don't have to be that dramatic reverse. I like how you said we can be kind of ourselves and compassionate. But that doesn't mean w e have to just let ourselves slip and not do anything. And this is why I'm saying everybody finds five minutes. Even if it's nine at night and you realize I haven't done anything yet. You can still do five minutes in the bathroom. Like one of the things I always do is I straighten my kitchen before I go to bed. So in the morning, I don't have to look at dirty dishes, or a mess in the kitchen. And, and I do that even if I come home at midnight, and the kitchen is still a mess. I have five minutes. We have five minutes.

Sharman Nittoli: 

We do, and plus, it's a nice way to start the day. The next day is to see uncluttered kitchen is just a nice way to start. And yeah,

Conny Graf: 

it's again self love you make sure you don't wake up to a mess.

Sharman Nittoli: 

Yeah, yeah. Well, there's a lot of good stuff here. And I know I'm gonna, I'm looking at my bookshelf right now saying," I might have to go through that, you know", but I have all your contact information down Conny. And I'm hoping that our listeners, and I know a lot of you out there have this issue to deal with and the amount that you deal with. It is totally up to you. It does not have to be a fanatic move. It can be just gentle. So I thank you so much for coming. And hey, I hope you got something out of this people. Happy blooming. Bye bye.

Conny Graf: 

Thank you so much. Bye bye.

Sharman Nittoli: 

Become a clutter cutter.

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