Accept your tendency toward clutter and move on

Accept your tendency toward clutter and move on

If you are a person who tends toward clutter and disorganization (like I am!), rather than fight your natural tendencies, adapt and adjust to them.

Most of my clients want to get their homes or offices completely clutter-free before they move on to the next part of their lives. Some want to pursue writing careers, others want to start their own businesses and still others just want to be able to have friends stop by without feeling guilty and ashamed by the condition of their homes.
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What I learned about decluttering from trying to grow grapes

A beautiful day at the vineyard!First, a little background: My husband and I purchased 12 acres in the Pacific Northwest in 2005. The property was largely undeveloped. Half of the land is wild and beautiful forest with cedars, alders and a variety of fir trees. The other half had been a llama ranch at some point. Some fencing remained around pasture areas and there was a small shed.

In one of our less rational moments, we thought it would be a brilliant idea to plant a vineyard in part of the open field.

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Step one to declutter your home: Stop the inflow

Is It Clutter?You don’t have to be a depression era survivor to squirrel away bits of string (no matter how short), bent nails (they can be tapped straight – more or less) and the odd pot lid (you never know when it will come in handy!). However, one of the first steps to take toward decluttering is to stop the inflow of stuff. That is a difficult assignment for most of us who tend toward clutter because we see potential use and value in nearly everything.

Here are five sources of “stuff” to avoid if you are trying to succeed with decluttering: Continue reading

Additional professional resources to help with decluttering

Is It Clutter?Yesterday we published ‘Is it clutter? 7 points to consider when evaluating your stuff.

We have further recommendations of tools available from colleagues:

  • Hazel Thornton, founder of Organized For Life is a professional organizer in New Mexico with a background in both Engineering and Fine Arts. Her blog post titled ‘Is it Clutter?‘ helps answer additional questions such as:  What is clutter? Why can’t I part with my clutter?  What should I do with my clutter?  What if, despite my best intentions, I am still living with clutter? She has developed clutter flow charts to help individuals visualize the decision-making process. (Disclosure: The Declutter Lady is not affiliated with Organized For Life; we do not receive a commission for any purchases made on that site — we’re just pals!)
  • Meggin McIntosh hosts 365 Decluttering Days on Facebook in order to “support each other and stay energized about getting rid of 365 things in the next 365 days or less!” She posts guidelines and prompts to get you jump-started.

We’ll be adding more resources to this post as we become aware of them. In the meantime, feel free to share links to your favorite decluttering helps in the comments section!


Is it clutter? 7 points to consider when evaluating your stuff.

Evaluating clutter

Decision-making is the key to clutter control!

The most difficult part of decluttering is trying to decide if a particular item IS, in fact, clutter! Our analysis of objects tends to be vague as we think, “Someone might be able to somehow use this someday.”

Instead, get specific. When you come across an item about which you are uncertain, answer the following to determine if the thing in question is clutter:

  1. I just found [describe the item]: _______________________________________!
  2. I got this from [name the place or person] ______________________________.
  3. It makes me feel _________________________________________when I see it.
  4. I can use this:
    1. [How] ________________________________________________________.
    2. [When] _______________________________________________________.
  5. I will put it [name a place] ____________________________________________  so I can look at it [name how often]  ___________________________________.
  6. I would like [name a person or group] _________________________________ to see this because they would think it was [funny, cool, interesting, etc.] __________________________________________________________________.
  7. It probably cost ________________________ at the time it was purchased and is probably worth _______________ if I were to sell it today.

I do/do not REALLY want to keep this.

When you first use this form of evaluating clutter, it will seem slow and perhaps a bit awkward, but as you become familiar with the questions, the decision-making process will become faster and more comfortable.

What keeps you stuck with your clutter? Let us know in the comments section below!

This IS normal!

This IS normalWell, it happened again.

I had all these wonderful ‘fresh start’ visions for the new year; lots of things I want to accomplish — completing an online course, reading the business books in my collection, blogging daily, writing my articles, maintaining my declutter routines.

But then, Sunday, December 30, my throat is hurting and I’m sneezing a lot. By New Year’s Day, I’ve got a fever and stuffy nose and not functioning at capacity. January 2nd, I slept most of the day. Today, it looks like I’m on the road to recovery; still a little weary, a little sniffly, but much better, thank you.

And I’m also mad. Why does this ALWAYS happen when I get revved up to be more productive? It seems like every time I try to be and do better, something gets in the way. Continue reading

Use ‘National Book Month’ to declutter some guilt and fear

Most of us have been taught that books are our friends. We think about all the vicarious adventures we’ve had with Jo March and her sisters or Harry Potter and his wizarding world. But there is a dark side to our book collections that haunts us with fear and guilt. Continue reading

7 ways we sabotage ourselves as we try to get organized


While there may be other people who try to bring you down, you may actually sabotage your own success…

Sometimes other people try to bring us down whenever we try to make some kind of improvement in our lifestyle. However, you may actually sabotage your own success at decluttering and organizing in one or more of these 7 ways:

  1. Cluttering your life with objects that have little real value to you. Do you really like that painting a friend gave you? Is that collection of hippos your idea or someone else’s?
  2. Over commitment, filling each day with too many activities and appointments. You can never find time to declutter and organize; you have to make time!
  3. Placing yourself in the role of victim, allowing other people’s habits and preferences to overrule your own. When you don’t respect your own boundaries, no one else will either.
  4. Indecisiveness, including lack of vision, lack of purpose, and a secret desire to let others handle things for you. We all would like to be taken care of from time to time, but good relationships are those of mutual support and care.
  5. Seeking support from the wrong people. Make sure you find a partner who is caring, not just critical.
  6. Demanding that you achieve immediate results. Unless you hire a dumpster and a team to help you, you won’t get decluttered in a day!
  7. Listening to your doubts and constantly reminding yourself of your past failures. Get off your own back! Think positive and act as though your new systems were already in place.

If you find yourself creating more clutter and chaos, take some time and evaluate what is happening in your life.  Are you just in a stressful “season” right now; or do you have fears associated with being more in control of your time and space? Will decluttering cause you to focus on issues you’ve been avoiding? Take a good, objective look at your situation.

Do you have other ways of sabotaging your success? Post them in the comments section, it may help someone else!

Brenda Spandrio, The Declutter Lady