Clean the Clutter from Your Life

Posted on Apr 1, 2013

Feel that hint of Spring in the air? The fresh air of a new season may put a spring in your step, until you remember that cluttered attic, basement, garage, etc. Spring cleaning is a time honored tradition which coincides with the yearning for a fresh, uncluttered start to the new season.

For many, clutter and disorganization causes stress and anxiety. The average person spends one year of their life looking for lost items. Clutter weighs you down in many ways both physically and emotionally. It can also cause division in relationships.

Here are some frequently asked questions that may be helpful:

Where do I begin?

Karen Larsen
Center Point Staging & Home Organization
(908) 295-5118

I recommend starting with the closets. They are smaller and less intimidating than an entire room and whatever space is emptied can be used to store items that you will uncover in other rooms that will need a “home”. Once the closets are empty, take a moment to assess the efficiency of the space. Are you getting the most of your storage space? If not, how can it be improved? Home Depot offers workshops on closet configuration that might give you some ideas.

Next, move on to a room. Some recommend using a top-down approach, starting in the attic or, if that’s too scary, the top floor. I recommend starting in the high traffic rooms such as the kitchen, living room or laundry room. You should see a marked improvement with a short investment of time, which will lower the stress level and keep you encouraged.

Another good technique is to divide and conquer. If a room is too overwhelming, split the area into sections and focus on one at a time. Do not even look at the other 3 corners of the room, just focus on corner number one. When that is finished, move on the corner number two. Warning! No re-cluttering. Keep corner one uncluttered as you move on to other areas.

How do I decide what to keep?

I recommend asking three simple questions:

  1. Do I use it?
  2. Do I need it?
  3. Do I love it?

Anything that does not meet these requirements goes out.

How do I find the time?

I recommend setting an appointment with yourself. Write it on the calendar and respect it. Treat it with the same importance that you would treat a doctor’s appointment.

How do I organize what I am keeping?

Categorizing helps to organize the items you plan to keep. Make groupings of thinks as you uncover them (ie: photo/scrapbook, craft items, tools). I once had a client who was involved in community theater, so we had one pile for props and one for costumes. At the end we had two labeled bins for each.

Many people begin organizing by running out and buying a stack of storage bins. I recommend doing the purging and sorting first and then purchase bins based on the size of the pile going into it. Too often I have worked with client who bought the storage elements before calling me. They end up with a few small items rolling around in large bins. Unfortunately, some feel it is like a permission slip to fill up the bins by acquiring more stuff.

What do I do with the stuff I am tossing?

There are usually three categories of items to be disposed of, junk, good stuff and other people’s stuff.

  • Junk – these are items that are no good to anyone. You can look online to find junk companies that, for a price, will haul your junk away. One local company I have worked with is College Hunks Hauling Junk, based in Hillsborough. Also, check your local municipality for recycling options. (See resources at the end of this article.)
  • Good Stuff – these are items that are still in good working order and have some life left in them. You just don’t use/need/love them anymore. There are several good thrift stores in the area as well as organizations that have yard sales and take donated items. Most organizations will give you a receipt for tax purposes.
  • Other people’s stuff. Before calling to have things hauled away, check with your parents, siblings or in-laws who gave the baby furniture, etc to you. Chances are your sister-in-law does not want the changing table she lent you 15 years ago, so you can have that hauled away too. Next, invite your children for dinner and present them with the box(es) of stuff they left in your attic/basement when they left for college. If they don’t want their items you can add them to your donations or junk removal.

How long do I keep financial and household records?

There are several answers to this question and it boils down to what you are comfortable with. This website gives some guidelines.

What do I do now that my home is fully organized?

Once your items are properly labeled and stored in your reconfigured storage space, you can sit back, enjoy your blooming garden, reveling in your reduced stress and begin planning your first summer BBQ.

Resource List


* For clothing, many local fire houses have a shed to collect used clothing.

Trash Removal: