• Laura Brooke - Professional Organizer & Owner

10 REAL Steps For Getting Rid of Clutter

Have you seen those online articles promising quick cleaning and organizing advice? You know, the ones that say, “30 Day De-clutter Challenge” or “21 Day Organization Challenge” and my personal favorite “21 SUPER BRILLIANT WAYS TO ORGANIZE YOUR ENTIRE KITCHEN LIKE A NINJA”. Yes, these titles are really out there on the internet. The article about the organization ninja was suggesting you go out and buy $300.00 worth of bins, organizers, baskets, and glass or plastic containers for a place to put all of your clutter. While I understand the sentiment but I have to tell you how fundamentally wrong this concept is.

Let me explain. If you struggle with clutter your main issue is essentially having "too much". Too many THINGS or more specifically too many knick-knacks, memories, clothes, shoes, art supplies or really ANYTHING taking up too much space because let's face it, our spaces are limited.

It reminds me of a situation my good friend found herself in years ago. She was completely swamped with work and was hardly ever home due to traveling for work 3 weeks out of every month. She also had just moved and had no time to settle in. She was looking to hire a professional organizer to tackle a giant master closet without productive organization. Before she decided on a certain professional she had talked to quite a few professionals. She received proposals ranging from $200 – $20,000 for her closet. One person wanted to just basically clean her closet and hang things up for her and the highest bidder apparently wanted to get her on MTV’s Cribs. Anyway, she went with an organizer that she felt more comfortable with who had a reasonable proposal in her price range. After being in the industry a while I see now that this woman was probably just starting out and maybe was more into design than actually organizing. I say that because she spent most of my friend’s closet budget on baskets and bins. My friend did donate a couple of outfits to make room and the organizer did, in fact, organize her things for her but there was an ongoing problem the organizer made for my friend. She brought in 20-30 new items for her closet in the name of “organization”. The organizer who was great at closet design set my friend up for failure. She did not identify my friends personal organizing challenges. You may not be surprised to hear that one year later her closet looked even worse than before.

It’s time to rethink organizing whether you’re disorganized in the office, at home, or you’re avoiding the giant mess in your garage. To REALLY fix your organizational challenges you need a proper diagnosis. That’s normally where I come in, but I’ll give you some tips to properly diagnose what’s causing your clutter and how to fix it.

  1. Clutter is a symptom of your problems NOT the cause.

  2. Stop blaming everything around you. Time, work, your family, or your schedule isn’t the real problem. When your life is out of control it’s because you are out of control.

  3. Stop buying things you don’t need. This is the only way to truly stop your clutter problems.

  4. Building on number 3, do not buy more items to put your items inside of. That is counterproductive and is setting yourself up for failure in your ongoing battle of the clutter.

  5. Get rid of everything you don’t use. That is the only solution to having too many things

  6. To be successful with number 5, define the term “need”. You can’t sort through your clutter without having a plan. Understanding your plan is the only way to be successful. (If you can’t define “need” for yourself, then you’re most likely going to end up being my client, call me).

  7. Set the rules and stick to them. Write them down to reference when you feel overwhelmed. If you don’t have a clear vision to meet your goals, you won’t meet them.

  8. Follow the “untouched rule”. If you haven’t touched an item in a month, or especially a year, get rid of it. If you haven’t worn that dress in a long time, get rid of it. If you haven’t used that eye-shadow palette in 4 months, you’re probably not going to. Get rid of it.

  9. Apply the new rules you’ve made for your clutter to all areas of your life. When you are in control of yourself, you will then be in control of your clutter in the future.

  10. Stay consistent. Don’t let a bad day, or week, cause a new mountain of clutter.

So in closing, there’s no such thing as a “hack” for your organization or challenges you're facing in your home. Identifying what may be causing your disorganization challenges is the only solution because clutter is a symptom of a greater problem. Contact me if you want more help with this.

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