Getting Rid of Clutter: Four Key Questions to Ask Yourself


Here’s a New Year’s Resolution you might want to make!

To make it easier on yourself in the decision making process to get rid of clutter, ask yourself these Four Key Questions:

  1. 1. When did you last use this item? If you know it’s been more than 12 months, the item may no longer be really useful. Could you borrow or rent this item if you needed it in the future? Would someone else benefit from it? Perhaps you can trade it for something you really need. I have a little pull cart with a canvas insert for holding things that I bought at the Somerville Garden Club plant sale at least 5 years ago, and it’s  been in my attic used only once since I got it. Why am I still holding on to it? I know I’ll never use it again as it wasn’t that useful for my needs. Hmm, maybe I will use it at some point. My good intentions have been; I’ll bring it back to the club’s raffle or annual plant sale, or give it away to a friend for Christmas. Now that’s a great idea – a gift for the holidays! I better practice what I preach, and do this soon! So, if you are holding on to  unused things, get rid of them!
  2.  If you let go of your clutter, how much space and money would you gain? Think of the cost of a shelf that is full of unused books – $35 to over $100? And, think about the square feet this bookshelf takes up. Perhaps you are paying more rent or mortgage payments because you need a bigger space to keep everything. Or, maybe instead of renting storage space units, use the money to invest in your future, or donate it to a good cause. Remember that rental and home insurance costs more for every square foot you live in.
  3. What is the worst possible thing that could happen if you throw, sell or give away your clutter? As I’ve gotten myself organized over the years, I haven’t regretted selling or giving away any items that met these first two questions; has it been more than a year, and how much space and money would I gain. When in doubt, throw it out!
  4. What are you doing to stop acquiring more clutter? I used to collect decorative watering cans of all shapes, colors and sizes. Friends also bought them for me as gifts. Enough already! Finally, one day, I decided to give them to Goodwill instead of displaying them on my shelves to collect dust. I kept a choice few small watering cans, and now enjoy them with relief. If you collect cat or dog memorabilia or any other things, have more than you can manage, and are sick of the care and management of these collections, make that commitment to yourself to sell or give them away. Use the money you’d spend on acquiring them on donations to animal shelters or to another charitable cause. And, most important of all, make a promise to yourself to think about real values instead of just adding more clutter to your life.

I’d love to know the impact these four questions have on you as answer them ‘one at a time’.

Another Attic to Unclutter

cluttered attic

Have you done the deed and uncluttered your attic?  Perhaps, you have more items stored in a family or friend’s attic that need to be dealt with and removed.

About 25 years ago when I was a potter, I moved from a large apartment to a much smaller one, and needed somewhere to store excess items. Cousins of mine had room in their attic and agreed to let me store my old four poster bed and mattress/box spring,  invoices, slides & photos from my former pottery business, along with some other things. My retired cousins are now un-cluttering their own household, and asked me to remove my stuff from their attic.

judy with curly hairSo, last Saturday I paid a social visit to my cousins. After visiting for a while, I climbed the narrow stairs up to their dusty attic space and began sorting through my things. How fun! I found some photos of myself from over 25 years ago (one with a curly hair perm!), a vintage school desk I used as a child in my play-school room back home, plus some memorabilia from the past.

Some of the downsizing decisions I made were easy, and some difficult. I filled four bags with papers to be recycled, one bag with trash, and brought home some very outdated documents to be shredded. I lasted about 1.5 hours up in their attic sorting and purging. Several more un-cluttering visits will have to be made before it gets too cold in their un-insulated attic.

If you have a long time cluttered attic and haven’t yet tackled it, schedule an hour or two of your time when it’s convenient. Begin by labeling some empty bags or boxes with “shred, recycle, throw & give away, donate, keep”.  Dress in comfortable old clothes, put on your work gloves and be prepared to deal with things that will bring back old memories (good & not so good). If you feel overwhelmed or stressed, ask a friend or family member who will not be judgmental about your ‘letting go and keeping’ decisions, to be there as your ‘body double’. (Someone to sit with you and keep you company while you un-clutter).

After your one or two hours of purging, decision making and bringing the full bags & boxes down from the attic to distribute as appropriate, reward yourself with a nice treat – a hot bubble bath, a walk in nature, a nap, or a do a happy dance singing ‘I did it, I started tackling my cluttered attic!”

Then schedule a few more one to two hour sessions for the near future to once again tackle your attic stuff.

Let me know when you begin this task, and how you feel as you progress with the ‘letting go’ of attic stuff.

Small Tasks – Small Projects – Get Them Done!

Clear sink

Our clean, empty sink!

Like myself, I bet you have some tasks or projects that you’d like to complete, but you tend to get busy or procrastinate so they don’t get done. For instance; I tend to get so busy with both of my businesses – gardening & organizing – that I let the dishes pile up in the sink. It’s summer, and without central air, the kitchen can get hot even with a room fan running. Not a good idea to let the dishes pile up.

Last week, I made a decision (commitment) to wash the dishes as soon as I am done either preparing the meal and/or eating the meal. I’ve been doing this for over a week now, and I am so pleased with myself that I have stuck to this commitment. Several days ago, I mentioned my commitment to my housemate, (who also manages two businesses’ and also tends to leave her dishes) and told her that I was trying it as an experiment. She decided to make the commitment too. We’ve both been washing the dishes regularly now and the sink remains clean and empty!

What little tasks or projects do you have to do that have started to add up?

Such as Clearing your:
– desktop surface
– shredding papers
– putting away your clothes
– changing a lightbulb
– doing laundry
– filling the ice tray
– taking out the trash & recycling
– taking the giveaway bag to Goodwill
– etc…….

These chores begin to weigh on us and pile up in our minds as well as in our homes, offices and even our cars. There’s always something to be replaced, fixed, changed, thrown away or given away.

Many of these projects can be completed in a short amount of time.

Make that commitment to yourself that you will tackle one small task per day for a month. Upon completing each task, you will free up a lot of that mental energy that comes with thinking (obsessing) about doing it but not doing it. Like my roommate and myself, I bet you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment!

What’s on your “have to do” list?  What will you take care of each day for the next month?

To learn more about how Judy can help you de-clutter your home or office,
email her at

Six Things to Throw Out Now!

Hazardous waste containers

Like myself, you most likely have some or a lot of items you can throw out or recycle now.

Here is a list of six of these things.

1. Empty Boxes: So many of us hold on to boxes once we take out the items inside. And, where do we put these empty boxes? In a closet, spare room, the basement, the attic, the garage where they pile up and take up space, plus become a fire hazard. After the item is opened and you’ve used it for a month, you probably won’t be returning it. Recently, I was going through my attic attacking clothing moths that had never been a problem before, and while moving stuff around, I found an empty computer box from a computer that I no longer have! I tell my clients to recycle these types of empty boxes rather than keep them. I am guilty as charged! Time for me to put it in the recycle bin.

2. Reusable Shopping Bags: The environmentally correct thing to do these days is to use reusable shopping bags. Your local supermarket, hardware store, big box store either sell them or give them away. But, how many of these bags do we really need? And, are they cluttering up your space? I have two bags full of plastic & canvas bags from various charity’s and stores that I am taking to Good Will for a client who was willing to let go of them. She kept only about ten bags that she liked the most.

3. Magazines and Newspapers: Old magazines & newspapers! I save garden magazines and catalogs thinking I will use some of their information someday. I usually don’t do this, so periodically, I sort and recycle most of them.

4. Electronic Cords and Attachments: So many of the cables from old electronics (land lines, Smart phones, ipads, computers, etc,) we purchased in the past have been stored away in our drawers, boxes, closets because we might need them someday. Take a look, and you will probably find some that you don’t even remember what they were for!

5. Outdated Electronics: Old computers, ancient cell phones, broken paper shredders, toasters, hair dryers, you name it, pile up. Your town’s DPW usually has a dumping area for this kind of electronic stuff, or a couple of recycling days a year when they do a pick up at your home. I have an old Dell printer (doesn’t have a scan feature) that has been in my attic for a long time as backup if my newer printer breaks. I am going to put it out on the street as a Freebee, and if no one takes it, I’ll bring it to the local DPW.

6. Old paint and Hazardous Waste: Once the paint in latex paint cans has dried completely, you can throw it in your trash because it is not considered hazardous waste. But, how many empty or partially full cans of paint thinner, bug spray, cleaning products, shellac, and more… pile up because you don’t know what to do with them. Your town should have a couple days a year where you can drop off hazardous waste to the DPW grounds.

Do you have things on this list that you need to get rid of, or recycle? Let me know how you are doing with your letting go.

To learn more about how Judy can help you de-clutter your home, email her at:

Crummy weather? Attack Magazine Clutter!

Too many magazines!

Too many magazines!

Ugh! It’s been raining for several days straight now. I can’t go outside to garden, or take a walk in the woods. But, I can do something useful. Like, attack all of my magazine clutter!

So, on this yucky, rainy, cold day, I plan to sort through the many gardening magazines and catalogs I’ve been holding on to. (YES, I have some clutter) In fact, I just looked under the table next to my couch, and in addition to the magazine rack in my living room that’s in plain site, I saw a magazine rack I’d forgotten was there! My goal for today is to recycle some, and give some away. And, to only keep a few of the most relevant magazines and up-to-date catalogs.

You can do the same on any bad weather day. Gather up all the magazine subscriptions you currently receive. Pull together all of those catalogs that have been laying around taking up space. Do you truly enjoy all of them? Are they a good use of your time? Or, do you let them pile up thinking you’ll read them when you have the time, but never do.

If not, call the magazine’s subscription office today to cancel any magazines you no longer want.

To cancel your catalogs:

For each current issue you receive in the mail, toss old issues.

I think you’ll feel a bit lighter when you do this. Let me know the progress you’ve made on letting go.