Ten steps to jump start your de-cluttering


For thirty years I’ve been helping people clean out their closets, tackle stacks of paper in their offices and purge their garages. The thing I hear over and over again is, “It’s so overwhelming. I don’t know where to start.”

So, take heart. Help is on the way. The crispness of fall is in the air and undertaking some of that clutter is a sure-fire way to lift your spirits. Remember, this is just a beginning. Don’t feel like you have to take on the world. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Martha Stewart will never know.

#1 Start small. Program yourself for success by undertaking a mini-task. What about tackling the junk drawer in the kitchen that has everything in it from a flashlight to the partly open bottle of Elmer’s glue that leaked all over the TV channel guide? The main thing is: choose something manageable.

#2 Allow 20 minutes and get it done! Keep yourself on task by setting the oven timer and only continue overtime if you can finish the job in another 10 minutes. You may even finish early and feel better still.

#3 Whatever mini-task you choose, get it out in the open. Empty the contents on a surface so you can see it all at once.

#4 Now, move the waste basket right by you and start tossing everything you didn’t know was in there in the first place. If you haven’t used it in the last month or two, you probably don’t need it. Be ruthless. You may be surprised to discover that you’re beginning to enjoy this.

#5 Go through item by item and ask yourself, “Is this where this should be?” If yes, put it aside to put back. If no, “Where does this particular thing belong? Where would I look for it if I needed it?” Decide and start a pile to go there.

#6 Work through the items until you’ve got two piles: one to put back and one of things that go elsewhere. Grab a large plastic trash bag.

#7 Pick up the things you want to move somewhere else. You may need to make several stops along the way. Put the items away where they belong. That’s the whole point.
#8 Now, on your way back to your original decluttering site, imagine yourself on a scavenger hunt. Put everything in the garbage bag that you find that’s a trashy treasure. You’ll know it when you see it. Toss those old newspapers, that one gardening glove, the empty styrofoam coffee cup, the junk mail. All that flotsam and jetsam will never be missed.

#9 Back at square one, neatly arrange the items you’ve chosen to keep in the space where you can see them at a quick glance. Would a small box or leftover container help organize the loose things? If it won’t all fit, ask yourself if there is anything else you could toss and do it.

#10 Marvel at the neatness and order you’ve created. This will be a source of satisfaction to you whenever you open this drawer or come into this space again. And you did it in 20 minutes or less.

The jumbled clutter in our lives drags us down and saps our energy. Happily, order creates clarity and energizes us.

Breton Frazier, the DeClutter Diva, lives in St. Augustine and works organizing individuals and businesses. This fall she has spoken on de-cluttering to First United Methodist’s Every Woman’s Fair and the Women’s Council of Realtors. Frazier writes a regular de-cluttering column for High Country Home magazine. Visit: www.DeClutterDiva.vpweb.com or email organizing questions to: thedeclutterdiva@gmail.com

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