Tips and musings on organizing your way from chaos to calm

Posts Tagged ‘Clutter’

Got clutter? Here’s where to get rid of it!

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

The path to clutter is paved with good intentions, or so sometimes it seems.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who starts a project but struggles to bring it to completion.

In fact, my clients tell me all the time how challenging follow-through can be. In quieter voices they tell me how ashamed they are about it.

Often, it only takes a little more time, information, or energy to finish what’s been started but something holds us back.  A common practical issue I come across is that many people simply don’t know where to donate or recycle certain things, yet feel obliged to store them until they do.

So this blog post  is dedicated to sharing 2 great resources that will help you get rid of the lingering clutter and allow you to finally check those items off your To Do list.


When my son turned 2-years-old we bought him some fish (we named them “the 6 Henrys”) as a present at our local Petco.  Many trips back to Petco to ask about everything from aquarium rocks to obtaining replacement Henrys (sigh), resulted in us noticing a large bin at the front of the store for donations for animals.

The Petco Foundation accepts donations of animal food, supplies, and related items at most Petco stores.  All you have to do is bring your donations and drop them in the bin – easy breezy.  What a nice way to create more space in your house and help support animal health and safety in the process.  The Petco Foundation also has programs for accepting old cell phones, as well as cars, boats, and even planes!


Best Buy just might also be the Best Recycler.  Every single Best Buy location accepts electronic recycling.  They safely dispose of TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, cell phones, all those pesky cable wires, and more, no matter where originally purchased.  And they do most of it for free.  So liberate your kitchen counters, garages, junk drawers, bedrooms (gasp), and other rooms of that ugly electronic recycling you’ve been diligently storing for too long.  And tell your friends.  Trust me.  They’ll thank you!

Clothes and Prose

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Books and clothes.  Clothes and books.  Why are these some of the hardest things to part with?  Well, if you’re like most people, your sense of self - your identity - is wrapped up in your books and clothing.

Now, I could have said that your sense of self is wrapped up in what you read and what you wear, but those aren’t necessarily the same thing.  For lots of folks, clothing doesn’t have to be the right size, color, or trend to warrant some space in the closet.  In fact, they don’t even have to like it.  Books, too, get a free pass despite not having been read in years (or possibly ever).  We often keep these objects around, clogging up our closets, shelves, and garages, despite not using them for their intended purpose.  Books, after all, were manufactured so that the information they contain can be read and learned.  Clothing is created to be worn, not to collect dust.  Instead, we use them in an unintended way, to help us maintain a tangible connection to who we were, who we are, and who we would like to become. We literally see who we were, are, and could be by simply glancing at these items.  And though that is not why we brought most of these objects into our lives, it is way we allow them to remain.

My client, June,* is a bubbly, thirty-something stay-at-home mom of three.  June hired me to help her declutter her bedroom and transform it into a place of, “peace and passion.”  I first headed towards the closet, anxious to make the most of that space.  I immediately noticed that about half of the closet was filled with formal business attire.  June explained that she wore this clothing regularly about 8 years ago, before she had children, and when she was employed full time in a corporate setting.     They had no role in June’s life as present, weren’t June’s current size, and, in June’s words, made her look “frumpy” and “out of date.”   “So why keep them?” I pressed.  “It’s just so weird to think of not having them, I used to wear them all the time.  I know I don’t look good in them anymore.    But they are from such a special time in my life, right after college before marriage, and kids and all that.”    Bingo.  So, ironically, the clothing gets a lifelong invitation in June’s closet because it connects her to a simpler time in her life – a connection she fears she will lose without holding on to physical reminders.  We can all relate to this.  How many of you still have your prom outfits (or dates…gasp!)?

Dorothy,*a different client, had a bookshelf in her front living room  on which she tastefully displayed some rather serious looking books on history, politics, and the like. I was, therefore, a little surprised when I walked into her  bedroom and saw stacks and stacks of romance novels on, around, and under her bed.  Embarrassed, Dorothy explained, “This is what I really read.”  “Why, then,” I asked, “dedicate prime real estate on your living room bookcase to books that you don’t read?”  She responded, “Well, because I SHOULD read that stuff.  And I can’t have people see THESE” (pointing to the romance novels and the…shall we say… rather amorous artwork on the cover :) ) Dorothy’s sense of self (and her fears about how others would view her) resulted in Dorothy’s public space (the living room) having the illusion of calm, while her private space (the bedroom) revealed the chaos resulting from this lack of self-acceptance. She spent most of her time at home in her bedroom, where she felt most comfortable, and avoided the living room, which she described as “cold.”

Are you keeping things around because they are connected to who you remember being or who you fantasize about becoming? Do you keep waiting to become the sort of person that will wear these clothes and read these books?   This can result in depression and self-criticism, since inevitably there will be a gap between who you are and what the books/clothes symbolically represent.  Letting go of a symbol isn’t discarding a memory or giving up on a dream; rather, it’s about accepting who you are now, knowing you can always do something different later.  That’s freedom.

June has been able to let go of most of the clothing, donating it to a local charity she feels really good about.  We dedicated one beautiful memento box to the rest of the clothing, as well as some photos of her wearing some of her favorite outfits.  We  placed it within eyesight and easy reach in her closet, for whenever she wants to go down memory lane.  Dorothy and I relocated her romance novels, except for a few by her nightstand, to the bookcase in the living room (don’t tell the neighbors!).  The “books that make people think I’m really smart” were donated to the local library in the hopes that people will just think Dorothy is really smart anyway.  So far our plan is working :)

*All client names have been changed to protect their privacy.