Letting Go of Clutter Made Easier

10 Sep

August 22, 2011

I just read a really great article on Oprah’s website with the focus of cleaning out a clothes closet.  It seems that Oprah talked her best friend, Gayle, into letting some top-notch professional organizers help her clean out and organize her closet.  By the way, Gayle’s closet is the size of a small bedroom, the envy of nearly every women on earth.

The organizers put Gayle through the normal discernment of her clothes using three categories; what to keep, what to toss, and they cleverly created a category called “archive” which were clothes that had a sentimental value.   (I give my clients an additional category, donate, because there so many people who need clothing due to the current economy, also because donations are a tax deduction).

There was certainly a noticeable improvement between the before and after pictures of Gayle’s closet and everyone was thrilled with the outcome.  I noticed, however, that something was missing from the article that would have been of benefit to anyone who has gone through the time and effort to organize their clothes closet.  How do you actually decide which category your clothes should fall into.

For those of you who find it difficult to let go of things, the remainder of this article will focus on the steps necessary to successfully de-clutter and organize a space, and the questions you will need to ask yourself when going through the discernment process.

Lets imagine we are de-cluttering a clothes closet.

Step 1.  .  Get 4 rather large cardboard boxes (8 if you have a walk-in closet) and with a marker, mark each one according to the list below:

  • keep
  • donate
  • toss
  • not sure

Step 2: Remove everything from the closet as quickly as you can and lay them on your bed or the floor if necessary.  (To avoid a time-wasting trap, avoid touching the items for too long because you could start reminiscing and this isn’t the time for it.)

Step 3: Quickly pick up one item at a time and ask yourself the following “WASTE” questions about each one:

When did I last wear this; Am I able to fit into it today; Is it Stained or Torn; Did I Ever wear it?

  • When did I last wear this?                                                                                                             If you can’t answer this IMMEDIATELY, or it has been at least 12 months since you wore it, it goes, END OF STORY!  Put it into the donate box if it is in good shape, toss box if it’s not.
  • Am I able to fit into it TODAY?                                                                                                      The answer is either YES or NO, not maybe, or I might be able to.  If yes, it goes into the keep box, if no, put it in the donate box.
  • Is it Stained or Torn? The answer is either YES or NO, not maybe..  If yes, put it in the toss box.
  • Did I Ever wear it?   The answer is either YES or NO.  If you honestly can’t remember, put it in the not sure box.

Follow this process for your clothes, shoes, purses, belts, hats, gloves, etc.  In no time you will have rid yourself of closet clutter.

Stay tuned for more information about how to organize your closet now that it is de-cluttered.

All Content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011


Stop Junk Mail Clutter

23 Aug
Tired of sorting through catalog and other junk mail clutter and want to help save the environment at the same time?  You can opt out of receiving unwanted hard copy mail, email, catalog and your name being sold to other advertisers here: https://www.catalogchoice.org/

Why Do You Want to Buy It?

20 Jul


People shop for a variety of reasons.  Some consider shopping a form of entertainment (moi excluded) while others shop because they need to replace a staple item (that would be moi) or they want to stay up-to-date with the latest gizmo or fashion.  We are so bombarded with advertising that sometimes people are compelled to SPEND MONEY only because their interest level was piqued by some fantastic marketing strategy designed to benefit the retailer…NOT  you. I’m sure I missed some reasons, but I think you get my point.

Have you ever justified a purchase by thinking to yourself, “… because I want it”?  Recognize the “because I want it” trap for what it is and be conscious of when that thought crosses your mind. As adults we are free to choose what to do regardless if it is good for us or not and this trap is one that is easy to fall into.

If you are truly serious about preventing clutter in your home you must watch out for the shopping clutter traps!  There is an easy solution for avoiding clutter traps while shopping and with a little practice, this solution WILL prevent you from creating clutter!! 

Solution to avoid clutter entrapment:

When you are shopping and you are holding the item you want to purchase in your hand, stop dead in your tracks, look at the item and then ask yourself, “what is the REASON I want to buy this item?”.

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT ask yourself “WHY am I buying this item” because nine out of ten times the clutter entrapment answer will be, “because I want it.” 

To prevent clutter, while you are standing in the store and have already asked yourself the “what is the reason I want to buy this item”, your answer should be one of these:

  • Mine is broken, lost, worn out or was stolen and I need a replacement because it is something I use all of the time.
  • It is a part of an inventory I am building. Such as, each payday I decided to purchase <a new pair of underwear because mine are getting old> or <a tool because for the last couple of months I have been borrowing the same tool from a friend repeatedly indicating I need one of my own>. (Be honest-can you define the value this inventory contributes to your life and well-being? If not, consider that you might be using the inventory term as an excuse.  TRAP!)
  • I accomplished a goal and have saved up for a few months to treat myself to something special for having accomplished it.  (If this is the case, be prepared to rid your home of something to make room for this new “special” something.)
  • I am bored with what I have and want something new or updated.  (This answer can be  acceptable as a treat for yourself, again, be prepared to rid your home of what it is you are bored with which is the reason for the purchase.)

Regarding the last two bullet points.  To further prevent myself from falling into shopping traps, I visualize and decided upon the exact item that I will be getting rid of before I pay for my new purchase.  When I get home with my new purchase I (have to) immediately get rid of the item I visualized.  This tactic has kept me on track to prevent re-cluttering for years.  And if I can’t visualize it, I put off my purchase decision until a later time when I can, if ever.  Not only do I prevent myself from falling into the clutter trap, I save money doing it!

If your answer is one from the list below, remind yourself of the fact that you have limited space and if you purchase it you will be creating clutter that you will have to spend your time, effort (and sometimes money) dealing with at a later date.  It WILL get into your way, one way or another.

  • It is fun to spend money.
  • I don’t have one.
  • Everybody should have one.
  • Everybody has one.
  • It’s so cool.
  • I deserve it.
  • I’ve got nothing better to do with my money.
  • My spouse spent money on frivolous things last week so it’s my turn now.

Living clutter-free is all part of getting to know your real self, being honest with yourself, and becoming committed to do something about it.

All Content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011


Retail Clutter Traps to Avoid

11 Jul

Cutting clutter clues works for any type of space that you want to de-clutter with the goal of keeping it clutter free.  I found a terrific article with before/after pictures about de-cluttering a bathroom and like the author, decided that was a good place to start and so I am going to use a bathroom as my example.  Check out the link below for the article and think back to it as we discuss keeping bathroom re-cluttering at bay.


Most people keep, at a minimum, the following items in their bathroom:

  1. towels and wash clothes
  2. soap and other body cleansing items
  3. medicines
  4. hair and beard cleansing and conditioning products
  5. makeup
  6. personal tools like razors, curling irons, hair rollers

You have these items because you need them to sustain your personal hygiene.  Once you are de-cluttered and organized you will need to think about your stuff, and purchasing stuff, in a new way. Bathroom items are simply an inventory of personal needs that are typically used in your bathroom.

Let me repeat that: bathroom items are only your INVENTORY of personal care items.  They are not collections with emotional attachments or memories.  Give them only the status they deserve.

How do you keep from re-cluttering your bathroom?

  • One solution is to just buy less stuff, right?  Not as easy as it sounds.
  • Another solution is to buy just what you need.  This is a good solution, but when was the last time you took a self-assessment of your needs?  Many people do not go through the self-assessment process, however, it is the best place to start.

Let’s use shampoo as an example.

When you run out of shampoo you shop for one to replace it.  Sounds simple until you get to the store.  It is THEN that you need to watch out for the traps and beware of your self-talk!

Trap #1: If you are like LOTS of people, while you are in the store you will see a gazillion other things that you think might need in your bathroom in the near future.  Much of the thanks can be given to the retailer because obviously they want you to buy as much as possible while you are there so they use signage and item placement to THEIR advantage.  Don’t fall for it!

Solution to trap #1:  When you walk through the door remind yourself the retailer wants as much of your money as possible. Keep your head down so you can ignore everything else you see, and walk straight to the shampoo isle. Unless you already researched an alternate shampoo that you want to purchase, grab your brand from the shelf quickly and head immediately to the check out lane.

Trap #2: You don’t have a clue what inventory you are out of in the bathroom so you ask yourself, “what if I need X?” so you grab other items “just in case”.  This is not only a re-cluttering trap, it costs you $$$$ when you fall for this trap.  Don’t fall for it!

Solution to trap #2:  Peruse your bathroom inventory BEFORE you head to the store and then make a list of the things you are out of OR will be out of within 3 days.  Keep your head down and walk straight to the isle(s) containing what you need, grab them from the shelf quickly and head immediately to the check out lane.

Practice these solutions for 30 consecutive days and it will become your new habit!

You can DO it!

Hot Tips:

  • Do an honest assessment of your bathroom needs.
  • Patronize smaller retailers that carry bathroom inventory over a big box store. (Big Box stores are BIG DANGER zones; they might save you time and gas money but the traps are multi-fold which can totally negate the time and money savings.  They can easily excite your senses to overspend.)
  • Be comfortable with extra space in your linen closet.  It does not mean that you don’t have enough…it means you have what you need and can find it quickly. (Time and money saver)
  • Listen for your self-talk and learn to say, “NO” to self-talk that tempts you to buy just because you, saw it on TV or the internet and therefore, want it.
  • If you haven’t used it within the last month, you probably don’t need it (unless they are items reserved for house guests).
  • If you have to dig to locate what you are looking for…you have too much stuff for the space you have.

If you’d like to know more about working with space limitations, see my article about Defining Spaces.  http://declutterbug51.wordpress.com/

All content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011

Cut Clutter for LIFE!

20 Jun
You are about to read the most stimulating and down-to-earth information on how to prevent re-cluttering in your life…for good!
Before we discuss preventing clutter we must first discuss what clutter actually is.  You might be amazed at what can be considered clutter.  Many people first think of cluttered cupboards, cluttered counter-tops, cluttered houses, cluttered garages, cluttered workbench or tool boxes, but there are also cluttered minds, computers, and yes, even cluttered life styles.  Who knew?
You can be assured that every person has some clutter, somewhere, which they must deal with at some point in their life. Clutter is basically anything that lingers about, either in plain site, hidden in a corner, found under something, and often is under wraps,  that is not being used for whatever reason.  Subconsciously, and maybe even consciously, clutter gets in your way when you are trying to accomplish something, find something, or use something.
Clutter to one person might not be clutter to another so let’s not be judge and jury of others definition of clutter.  Thank you!
As this blog evolves we will discuss how to prevent re-cluttering by the use of self-talk followed by actions.
Stay Tuned for articles about the prevention of clutter in specific locations…this is a work in progress so check back often.
All Content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011