The High Level Pass and the Deep Dig


"Anyone who has ever cleaned out a closet
and taken stuff to Goodwill knows how liberating it is.
You feel lighter, your mind feels clearer."

Cecile Andrews
author and sustainability proponent

One of the most common questions I hear about clutter is, "but where do I start?"

The real answer is: anywhere.

It really doesn't matter where you start; what matters more is that you start.

But I also know it can be helpful to have a little bit more guidance than that. :)

So I'm going to share two of my very favorite clearing-clutter techniques with you: the High Level Pass and the Deep Dig.

Each of these techniques is designed to get you into action quickly, without making a mess, without ripping apart your entire house, and without leaving you exhausted.


The High Level Pass:

For the High Level Pass, you go through the area you want to clear out (like your clothes closet, your garage, or your kitchen) like you're skimming leaves off the top of a pool.

You reach for the items that you already know you're ready to get rid of: the dress that never did fit well, the dusty bread maker at the very top of the cupboard that you haven't used in the last 10 years, or the broken flower pot.

These are items that are within sight, within reach, and you know they are there.

No huge decision-making, no digging around...just taking the items that you're ready to get rid of.

So you go through the space, collecting all of these items quickly, without worrying about all the other things that you think you need to go through. You just skim the surface, grabbing the easy stuff as you go.

And then here's the kicker: at the end of your High Level Pass, you take all that stuff you collected and you get rid of it, right then and there. You take it to Goodwill, you bring it to a consignment shop, or you trash it.

Getting rid of the stuff immediately is KEY to the High Level Pass. Your goal is to clear some clutter quickly and make space in your life (not just move it around to a new place where it will sit for 6 months until you get ready to make a decision on what to do with it).

Because, as I always say, you haven't actually cleared the clutter until it is gone from your life completely. Otherwise, you're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The Deep Dig:

The Deep Dig is the exact opposite of the High Level Pass. With the Deep Dig, you choose one very small area like one drawer, one shelf, or one small section of a shelf and you go through each item in that area one by one.

The key here is choosing a very small area, one that you will easily have enough energy, time, and motivation to complete.

And one at a time, you simply decide if each item is a keeper or if it's an item you're ready to let go.

The items you're keeping go right back in the drawer, just as you found them (now is not the time to organize unless it's clearly obvious how to organize that area), and the items you're getting rid of go in a box or bag designated for your favorite charity or wherever you're taking them. 

No mess.

No taking everything out of the closet to overwhelm you.

No huge project.

Then when you're done with that one drawer, if you have more energy and time, do the next drawer.

And again, when you have finished with your one section (or two or three), then get rid of the stuff you're getting rid of that same day, same as the High Level Pass.

Happy clutter clearing!