Paul, Wendy and the Gas Man
Paul and Wendy had a lot of clutter and had done for decades. In fact, they hold the record for the client for having clutter the longest - 32 years.
Although their story is not typical of Clare's clients, it does represent the experiences of about 5% of her clients and members.
Clare: What made you seek help to deal with your clutter?
The gas man refused to come into our house and service our boiler or radiators.
He took one look when we opened the door and told us he couldn't come in because the clutter was a health and safety issue.
He gave us a piece of paper which said we had 60 days to make our home safe for him to come and do the service, after which our servicing contract would be cancelled.
I (Wendy) burst into tears once he'd gone. We knew it had been a bit of a problem in previous years.
We'd had to move things out the way so the gas man could get to the radiators and boiler. But to be told he wouldn't even come inside our front door was awful.
We later found out there was a note on our account that they weren't to enter if they could see any clutter in the hallway because if they could see it there, the note said it would be worse elsewhere.
Clare: What other types of help had you considered?
We were so far in denial that my husband (Paul) kept saying that he'd deal with it. He'd been saying that for years.
When we got on the internet to look at help after the gas man had gone we looked at lost of them and to be honest it was the cost of the help that made us choose Clare.
We didn't really know much about what types of help there were. We were desperate and needed help with the 60 days so we could have our boiler serviced.
We did see other people who said they'd come and help, but we needed something that was a fixed price and that, ideally, we could pay by credit card because we simply didn't have the money available right there and then.
So I hate to say it, but Clare was the only choice because she had a fixed price, took away unwanted clutter - which meant that would save us time - and we could pay using our credit card on Paypal.
Of course now we know that she's got more advantages than just those two!
Clare: So which type of help did you have?
The Private 1-2-1 Clutter College classes where we had one 3 hour home visit from Clare each week, plus a weekly call with Clare.
We were terrified that we wouldn't be able to do it all quickly enough, but Clare spoke to the gas company and agreed with them that as long as we had cleared the room that the boiler was in by the 60 day deadline we'd be able to then clear one room at a time thereafter for each 60 day period.
So with Clare coming once a week to do a session with us and take away unwanted items, plus a weekly call with Clare to make sure we did a Clutter Clearing Session on our own, we just had to concentrate on maintaining clutter free areas and working on our to-do lists. That was harder than I thought it would be!
By the end of the 60 day deadline we'd cleared and organised the hallway and kitchen so that the gas man could get in to service the boiler. We'd been able to arrange that so that Clare came for her weekly home visit when he came, just so she could reassure him that we were making real progress.
We'd also saved enough money to pay for Clare's help so far.
In the next 60 days we'd kept the hallway and kitchen clear and also cleared the front room so the radiators in there could be checked when the gas man came.
In the next 60 days - so within 6 months of starting - we'd kept the hallway, kitchen and front room clear, and also cleared the dining room so the radiators in there were serviced when the gas man came.
Over the next 6 months we worked our way around the rooms upstairs whilst keeping the downstairs all clear and maintained.
By the time we had completely cleared the clutter, it was year later and our home was transformed.
We had keep cleared areas clear. We'd had all the radiators serviced. The gas man was able to service our boiler and all our radiators in one go. And we'd even saved MORE money than it had cost us to have Clare's Private 1-2-1 help.
Clare: What surprised you most about your Clutter Clearing Journey?
How easy the decision making was once we'd got our 7 categories
How hard it was to keep it clear
What habits we had that caused the clutter in the first place
How much we were spending on impulse buys that we didn't even realise was making our clutter problem worse.
Clare: When did you start to notice the improvements in your clutter and your home?
After Clare's first weekly visit.
Although we hadn't actually worked on the clutter, doing the shopping challenge meant that the kitchen already had less clutter in it because we'd used some things in there for dinner rather than doing what we usually did of going out to buy dinner.
Clare: So what have you learnt on your journey so far?
Up to the point that you ask Clare for help it's scary.
It's scary to look for help if you don't know what help you need because it's not like you can get a recommendation by talking to other people about your clutter problem and asking them what help they got to deal with it!
It's then scary paying a lot of money for Clare's 1-2-1 Private help.
Of course you're worried it'll be wasted money, won't work etc.
Then waiting on the first day for Clare to arrive is scary because you're worrying about what she'll think, will she have a look of horror on her face like the gas man did?
If I've learnt one thing though it's that the saying is true:
you have to face the fear and do it anyway if you want to get where you need to get.
Clare: How are you rewarding yourself?
Our favourite reward it to go out to dinner.
My mum gave us a reward when we'd done the downstairs - a new hoover. We found an old hoover that didn't work in amongst the clutter!
Clare: What happened when the gas man came back?
It was the same man and he looked shocked! He actually said 'wow' and 'well done'. He was in our house for about 45 minutes to do the servicing and was gone, no problem, no health hazards. It was a great feeling.
We've still got some clutter to clear, and we're doing that through our Community membership that we get as part of the home visit package.
Clare: So what advice would you have for anyone considering having help?
Yes it's a lot of money if you want the Private 1-2-1 Clutter College option, and it's a long commitment - we had help for a year.
But it's worth every penny - and we saved more money over that year than we spent on Clare's help.
The peace of mind that you're doing something about it, that Clare will keep you on track, that you have something to work towards and can't procrastinate.
We wish we had done it sooner!