Tag Archives: clutter

You Can Use Moving as a Catalyst for Downsizing


Most of us have clutter lying around the house: trinkets we don’t remember how we obtained, broken or worn items we’re never going to use again, things we were gifted but never wanted, the list goes on.

Moving is a great catalyst for getting rid of things you don’t want or need. A new home is a blank slate. You can start anew with only items that benefit your life. Below are some tips for using moving as a catalyst for downsizing your possessions.

womanundermoving boxes

Decide What’s Important to You

The first step to downsizing is to analyze your viewpoint on possessions. What sort of items do you want in your life? Obviously, items you use on a daily basis will stay. These items make your life easier and contribute to your happiness and well-being. When it comes to décor and other items, think about whether you notice them often and if they make you smile. We all want a positive vibe in our living space, but too many trinkets can actually add stress to your life instead of bringing joy.

You’ll also want to think about what you want your new home to look and feel like. This means getting rid of items that are broken, damaged, or just don’t contribute to your space. As you pack, you’ll want to think about every item. Does it add functionality or positivity to your life? If not, strongly consider leaving it behind.


Purge Your Belongings

After you’ve decided your standards for keeping and getting rid of items, it’s time to start the purge. Here is a great article with tips for purging your belongings before a move. 

As the article states, you’ll want to be very intentional in your organization. Designate piles and boxes for items you’re keeping, items you’re donating, and garbage. I suggest creating these groups in piles first, then packing your “keep” pile a few days later. This will give you a second chance to analyze whether each item truly positively contributes to your life.

You should get rid of:

Items you haven’t used in over 6 months

Items you’re only keeping to make someone else happy (gifts you never wanted)

Anything that is broken (if you haven’t fixed it yet, you probably never will

Clothes you haven’t worn in 6 months (with the exception of seasonal wear)


Keep the Momentum Going

Once you’ve moved, you have a chance to keep the momentum from your purge. You can do this in several ways. The first is to resist the urge to fill your new space with clutter. Keep your home organized and only buy things that you actually need. 

The second trick is to pay attention to what items you’re using. My favorite trick for keeping the closet organized is to turn the hangers backwards when hanging all your clothes. Then, after you wear them, re-hang the item the opposite direction. In 3 months, you’ll be able to quickly see which clothes you haven’t worn. If they aren’t seasonal, there’s a strong case for donating them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get in a funk with clothing. You wear the same clothes over and over again because you like them. But then maybe a certain shirt gets really worn. You keep wearing it because you used to love it, but you no longer feel confident in it. Learn to purge clothes as soon as they don’t make you feel good. This includes shirts with un-removable stains, clothing with (un-fashionable) rips and tears, and jeans that no longer fit properly, resulting in the zipper constantly sliding down. Removing these items from your closet will result in a functional wardrobe full of clothes you truly enjoy wearing.

These are just a few ways that moving can help you be more intentional in how you view your belongings. Do you have any downsizing tips? Share in the comments!


* Contributor Jeriann Watkins blogs at dairyairhead.com. As a crafter, she knows the challenge of wanting to keep items for their potential. You can see her organization tips and downsizing successes on her blog.
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Two Sisters Get Organized, Decluttered and Moved into Seperate Bedrooms



I recently had the pleasure of helping two girls move into separate rooms.

These 2nd and 4th grade girls had spent their entire lives sharing the same room and now that they are older (and all grown up, they say!) the oldest gets to move into her own separate bedroom.


There were three stages to this project:

1. Sort through clothes

2. Sort through books

3. Sort through toys and papers


STAGE ONE – Clothes Sort

The first step taken to separate the clothes was to figure out:

#1 Whose clothes were whose

#2 See if they still fit the owner

So to start, each girl went through the closet and decided either to keep, toss, donate or handed it off to the other sister so she could proceed with the same process.

After we sorted clothes, we moved the 4th graders clothes down into her new room so I could determine what type of organizing supplies were needed to set up a system within her closet.



Following the same process, we continued into both steps of determining who owned what and eliminating the unloved or unused books from their gigantic collection.

By the time we made it to stage two, the girls were feeling a bit ancy so we decided to up the fun factor and have a book auction!


This is how it went:

I held up a book and each girl could vote for it if she wanted it.

The first hand up – got the book.

If no one raised their hand it went off to charity for some other young child to receive who normally could not afford  new book.

If there was a tie, the girls had to barter among themselves for what was fair and if they could possibly trade out later.

The funniest thing happened during this process! I was holding up what appeared to me to be a great reference book on animals. When neither of the girls raised their hand, I asked will you possibly need this for future class projects? The second grader looks at me in disbelief and says ” there is such a thing as the internets you know!”  I think I will always remember that day!

Kids are truly tuned in, tapped on and hooked automatically into the internet! Isn’t it great? Thinking about it now, I think it is such an advantage for any school report – most of the information in the world is literally at our fingertips x 100,000 or more!

After these two steps, we called it a day and set up our next appointment so we could tackle toys and finish setting up systems within each room.


STAGE THREE – Toys, toys and more toys!

On the first day we did a rough sort of toys and placed each sister’s toys put into boxes and then moved them into each closet so we could sort later.

Now it was time to sort, eliminate and organize all of the other toys throughout the house.

Dad did an amazing job gathering all random toys and setting us up to sort them in the den.

IMG_2203 IMG_2205 To keep it fair and make it more fun, the girls wanted to do another auction – this time with Barbies and all of her accessories. Dad suggested that we use a giant bin for donations and he was definitely correct! with all of the small pieces, shoes, clothes and Barbies, we filled up a giant bin for donations. The girls did a great job!

After sorting, we jumped into containerizing and decide if the toys should live in the bedroom closet or the newly designed toy closet.

IMG_2216 Oila!


In between appointments, he also purchased and installed two new shelves and a rolling cart for mom’s work out equipment so it would fit within the toy closet.



The rolling cart is such a smart idea! When mom wants to work out, she simply rolls it out of the toy closet and all her weights and belts are right there and ready to use!


All in all, this project turned out great and the girls were so much fun to work with, even when they got bored and restless!  They are great sisters who truly love and respect each other.

As an author and lover of books, I am also relieved to see that even with the ‘internets’ they are avid readers of “real” books with covers and actual paper pages inside!




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Organizing a cluttered and messy garage

Q: I need help! My garage has everything in it but my car, which can’t fit because of all of the other stuff in it. I don’t even know where to begin.

A: Don’t despair, clutter is a challenge that we all face. To begin, remove everything from your garage. I know this sounds intimidating, but this is the only way you will clearly see what you are holding onto. Start three piles outside on the lawn and separate your clutter into: throw away, donate and keep. Follow this rule: keep only what you’ve used in the past year or plan on using in the near future, i.e. within six months! If you can’t part with something because it has sentimental value, consider whether it’s the item that holds the good memories or simply the memory itself that is good. Remember that memories take up a lot less space than the items associated with them.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Are you a Professional Waster?

Are you a Professional Waster?  Do you waste minutes and even hours each week in frustration as you search for things you know that you own but can’t find when you need them?

We all have the same amount of hours in the day and when we spend a great amount of our time LOOKING for things instead of DOING things it can become a real drain on our emotions and our energy. Buying things you already own but can’t find and have to buy again is also a big drain on your finances.

As a Professional Organizer, I watch many of my clients experience guilt because they just can’t seem to get a handle on their clutter. Some are even embarrassed to have guests over in fear that they might peek into their overstuffed closets and cabinets.

Have you ever noticed how clutter creates more clutter? Piles create more piles. Things pile up, on, and around your piles to create more piles. Then your piles fall over, and there are things in front of the things you need to get to, so on and so forth and then you simply give up. I see this happen every day.

Too much clutter results in feelings of anxiety and stress. Clutter also drains your energy and can make you feel restricted in your own home.

When you can’t find things when you need them, whether it’s tools, cleaning products, or your favorite baking dish you begin to feel that the rest of your life is also out of control. This feeling spirals inward and outward from there. I know how you feel.

As a Board Certified Professional Organizer I know that creating order can be overwhelming and frustrating. I know that clutter is a big mental and physical drain. It can cause illness, depression and fatigue. I also know that it can be extremely difficult to even get started.

I understand completely how overwhelmed you must feel because I have been there in the trenches helping clients with these same challenges for over ten years.

You don’t need another book to clutter up your bookcase or more words to clutter up your brain. What you need is a weekly “here’s what you do next” action step to complete. What you need is someone to show you how to quickly get started and then keep training and motivating you week after week so you don’t get stalled along the way.

This is the reason why I created my new online get your home organized course!

Instead of simply publishing this information in some ebook or offering a quick coaching program, I’m making it available to you week after week in action-sized portions so you’ll actually get results.

Click here to learn more

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Death By Clutter: Sometimes Your Mess Can Kill You

We’re all guilty of amassing clutter in some form. Whether it’s a stack of magazines that you keep meaning to read, a smattering of clothing that you haven’t got around to hanging up, or your collection of tchotchkes that do nothing but sit and look pretty while collecting dust. For the most part, our clutter is manageable.

But what happens when these seemingly innocuous piles of stuff multiply, joining other supposedly benign piles until they form one continuous mountain of trash? If you are sharing your home with a Mount Vesuvius of things and find it impossible to part with them, you are likely a hoarder.

What is a hoarder?

A hoarder is an individual who accumulates and retains objects or animals in excess. These possessions begin to interfere with the hoarder’s ability to function in their family, employment, and social roles.

What does a hoarder’s home look like?

If any of the following statements describe your home, your hoarding problem is out of control and poses a danger to everyone who lives there.

–  Your home does not have a pathway throughout the house that is at least three feet wide.

–  You do not have safe access to all rooms in the house.

–  Your floor joists have been strained by the piles of stuff that they have been bearing.

–  You have windows or doors that are blocked off by possessions.

Why is hoarding dangerous?

Falls. Hoarders run a high risk of tripping over stray clutter or setting off an avalanche of falling items within their home.

Pathogens. Dust, dirt, insects, rodents and rodent feces, are more plentiful in the homes of hoarders–all of which can lead to respiratory illness, skin conditions, and various diseases.

Stress. Hoarders live in a constant state of chaos, which is extremely stressful. They run the risk of withdrawing, becoming anti-social, or suffering from acute depression. Relationships suffer as family members and friends find it more and more difficult to cope. Hoarding parents also run the risk of having their children removed from the home.

Collapse. The weight of stacked magazines and newspapers and other assorted hoarded items can compromise the integrity of the home, itself, leading to sagging or collapsed floors.

Fire. If fire should break out, hoarders often find themselves trapped. Due to the overwhelming amount of combustibles present, flames tend to spread quickly. That coupled with the fact that passageways and doors are often blocked, equates to disaster for anyone within the home.

Sadly, hoarding stories with tragic endings are becoming more common. In November of 2013, a fifty-five-year-old New Hampshire man succumbed to smoke inhalation when neighbors and first responders were unable to make their way into the home. The doors were blocked by clutter.

On December 5, 2013, an elderly London couple were found dead in each other’s arms after a blaze whipped through their home. A tea light candle ignited the fire, and due to the enormous volume of contents within the home, the flames spread very quickly.

In August of 2010, a Las Vegas woman was discovered buried beneath a pile of refuse in her home. The woman had been reported missing by her husband four months earlier. Police and sniffer dogs had searched the home several times prior to the discovery of her body, but due to the extreme odor within the home, they were unable to pick up her scent. Her husband came across her body when he was cleaning out a back room that he referred to as her “rabbit hole.”

Yes, clutter can sneak up on you and take over your life. If you fear that your clutter is getting out of control, you need to take action immediately. Start clearing “things” out of your life and if the job seems too big to tackle, contact a local health professional.

What tips do you have for de-clutting a home?

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger. She is a social media addict who has written a barrage of stories on social media marketing, blogging tips, and online technology degrees. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Image courtesy of photos.com

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Top 10 Things Clients Say When Getting Organized!

I love this list. It was sent to me from a fellow professional organizer in the bay area. It seems we all hear the same things! Do any of these sound familiar to you?

1. Oooooo! THAT’S where that is!

2. Is this the worst you’ve ever seen?

3. I thought I’d lost that! Now I have two. Can’t believe I bought another when it was right here the whole time.

4. *Gasp!* Where did you find that? I’ve been looking EVERYWHERE for that!

5. Why didn’t I do this earlier?

6. While going through Memorabilia: “Awwww! I had forgotten all about that [vacation, trip, hike, etc.]”

7. I can’t believe I still have this!

8. That’s not even mine!

9. Why in the world do I own this? No body wants this–not even me.

10. What in the world IS that? I don’t even know what that is!


Reproduced from and courtesy of Kiera Rain    Bay Area Professional Organizer


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Myth #12 About Clutter and Getting Organized

Myth # 12

I am a hoarder

Just because you have too much stuff does not make you a hoarder. Less than 10% of all people are hoarders. Hoarding is a diagnosable mental disease. It is most likely that you probably simply have too much stuff. If you have more than most people that you know and have a few hoarding tendencies, it is probably because the circumstances in your life have invited one or more of clutter’s best friends to visit you: death, disease, divorce or depression, it is likely that you are not an actual hoarder. If you still feel like you truly are a hoarder, get yourself checked out by a medical professional.

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Myth #8 About Clutter and Getting Organized

Myth #8

I need storage containers before I can get organized.

So many clients rush out to buy containers thinking that this will solve all of their organizing woes. Until you determine what you want to contain and how much of it there is to contain, buying containers is senseless. In fact, boxes, bags and containers are one of the leading contributors to clutter.

So follow this procedure BEFORE you buy any containers. Collect, group, eliminate and then and only then are you ready to think about containerizing!

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Myth #7 About Clutter and Getting Organized

Myth #7

Clutter is a bunch of junk that I should be able to get rid of on my own.

There are actually 2 myths in this statement.

#1 Clutter is a bunch of junk

#2 You should be able to get rid of it on your own!

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Myth #4 About Clutter and Getting Organized

Myth #4

Clutter is always a messy business!

In my world and in my book, I call clutter muck. Very often clutter is not visible.  This is also why as a professional organizing generalist, I organize space, time, data and objects. Muck is anything that makes you stuck or unable to move forward. It does not have to be messy or a pile of junk. It can be an overcrowded schedule or an old belief that no longer serves you.

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