How do I get started

Little Rock, AR

Good morning everyone I'm new to Dave's garden so I'm just now finding this post..I'm beginning to see some signs of hoarding and it's scaring me to death..I've seen those shows and have wondered how ppl let it get so bad like that, well vie been out of work for almost 2 yrs and suffering from depression due to losing my job after 26yr..I have no desire to do anything, but when I'm having a good day the clutter over whelms's mostly paper, I get so stressed at the thought of dealing with it all..I know that I need to get it done, but I seems to just stop me in my tracks, or just brings me to tears..someone PLS HELP me

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Hi MLD. Welcome to Daves!

I sometimes think our environment reflects our mental/emotional state...or maybe our mental/emotional state reflects our environment--not sure which comes first, but inevitably, the two seem to go hand in hand. Taking on one issue tends to lead to taking on the other issue eventually as we seek balance. The fact that you CAN see the clutter and it DOES disturb you is a good sign--you've identified one of the problems. That's really the first step.

Clutter is one of those things that hangs over your head and robs you of mental focus and energy. When you begin to tackle it, you'll find that restoring order to your surroundings can begin the process of restoring order to your spirit...and vice versa. The key is to take on small sections at a time and work on it a little at a time. Pick a spot and dig in. Just do it. Don't think too hard about it or you'll talk it up into a monumental task and defeat yourself before you even begin. Pick a table or desk and straighten it up today. Don't beat yourself up if you don't get it all done. Acknowledge any accomplishment. The more little projects you complete, the more courage you'll have as you work up to bigger projects.

The hardest part is just beginning. Just starting defeats most of us at first. We seldom have the energy to just start in. We tend to see the big picture instead of a small table. So clearing the small table may never begin because we see an entire room or entire house that needs to be tackled. Will this one small table make a difference? In the big picture, it doesn't seem so; therefore we lose momentum before we even begin. But look at it as "one small table today," "a desk tomorrow," "the dining room table the day after that"--small steps that add up to a big difference in no time.

I like to work one room at a time. When a whole room is neat and organized, it spurs me on to the next room and the next. Some people do one project in this room, one project in another room, and another in another. Either way you prefer to work is fine. I like to see accomplishment, so getting a whole room organized really lights my fire, but that's just me; it doesn't work for everyone.

Another suggestion is to create an inspiring environment to work in. For instance, light a scented candle and play 80's classic rock if that energizes and relaxes you. I often put on Joe Cocker's Greatest Hits when I clean the house. The beat of his music energizes me and I've got the house cleaned before I know it. Sometimes, when sorting thru paperwork or paying bills, I play Celtic music to soothe my soul while sending my beloved money to new homes. LOL

Find some little ritual that gets you in the mood and lightens your soul. Anything that can make the time more comfortable will keep you on task and prevent you from constantly dreading the task. As you make progress, I think you'll find that you actually crave the decluttering process at times and feel really energized to work for hours at a time. But don't forget to take breaks too. Take breaks during the day as well as a day off here and there to rejuvenate your spirit. AND reward yourself now and then. For instance, I LOVE pedicures and one of the beauty schools here will give me a mani-pedi for $20. So, if I tidy my office, I can treat myself to the mani-pedi. If I hang my clean clothes, I can have a Baskin-Robbins ice cream. If I spend all day weeding, I can lie on the couch all evening and watch episodes of "Eureka" and munch on watermelon. LOL Rewards are important, so figure out your reward system. None of us like to work for free, so "pay" yourself for your hard work.

Check back in with us from time to time and let us know how your process is going. You'll have ups and downs and we're to here to spur you on. Each day is a new day and if you had a bad day yesterday, forget about it; you can start fresh each morning. We're here for support, and I'm sure others will have other suggestions. Good luck with your decluttering process.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

1) Get a kitchen timer & set it for 15 minutes. Pick away at the clutter for that time. That's it! Then do it again tomorrow. And the day after that. And after that.... You WILL see a difference.

2) If it's mostly paper, put it all in cardboard boxes. Label each one with the date & room it came from so that if you need to check an old utility statement, you'll know which box it probably is in. Once all that clutter is boxed up, you can pull one out whenever you have the energy & deal with the contents. So keep the boxes on the smaller side. Also easier to move that way.

Spring City, TN

Today get one medium-sized kitchen trashcan. Fill it. Bag it. Put the bag in the driver's seat of your car or truck so you HAVE TO see it in the morning. You'll move it to the passenger seat when you leave in the morning. That's fine. Put a bag in your now empty trashcan tonight. STARE at it a minute. Think about how quickly you can fill a medium-sized trashcan. Go to bed.

Tomorrow take it to the dump or put it in your big can if you have trash pick-up and think about your EMPTY medium-sized trashcan. And come home and fill it.

Doesn't matter what you put in your trashcan. So long as you BAG it and REMOVE it from your house.

Don't tackle the whole house or the whole room or the whole desk. Just tackle one medium-sized trashcan. Fill it. Bag it. REMOVE it from your house.

Oh, what a feeling! LOLOL

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Oh, I like that bag it and remove it technique! I need to do that with my office papers right now. Wonderful concept!

Crozet, VA

I am just now finding this thread but see that some great ideas have already been submitted. I know that for myself it took a lot of reading on the subject, and then talking about it here in order for me to reach a point where I was ready to tackle the mess I was living in. I am well aware of the energy drain that comes with looking at the whole big picture and feeling too overwhelmed to know where to begin. Anywhere you start, and anything you do will bring you closer to your goal of making your surroundings a more pleasant place to live.

I found great help here a couple of years ago when I was able to do a major declutter of years worth of excesses. I had all the excuses in the book for not getting started. What I found out, and had been advised might happen, is that once I got going on de-cluttering, the more I wanted to do it and it actually brought me a lot of joy to downsize some of my belongings. This was a many month long project and I stayed in touch with the folks here in order to motivate and encourage me to keep at it. I know in my soul that had I not had the input from folks here, I wouldn't have accomplished what I was able to do then.

While in the process of de-cluttering, I learned a lot about myself and my spending habits. I was a person who felt some sort of need to continue to purchase pretty things to sit around or to have on hand to give as gifts. I was able to pretty much break that habit and learn to appreciate the things I already had and there was no longer a void that needed filling that buying new things had previously served to do.

As far as depression goes, I am one that believes that along the same lines as ButterflyChaser, our surroundings are usually indicative of what is going on in our minds. I have suffered in the past with depression and the feeling that I just cannot do this or do that. I find that forcing myself to do things usually works in my favor and the actual activity of doing something and accomplishing something has this way of lifting my mood. We can often act ourselves in to the mindset that we desire. After we practice something over and over it becomes instilled in us and no longer needs to be forced to do, but is something we want to do because it has brought us some sort of reward when we have done it in the past.

If you aren't being treated for depression, I encourage you to speak with your doctor about treating it. If that is left unchecked and untreated, there is probably very little hope of working yourself out of it, or working yourself out of messy surroundings. I also encourage you to go back through some of these topics here on Clean and Clutter Free and read what others have to say about the issue in the past. You might find some things that you can identify with and possibly find some solutions to whatever may be preventing you from moving forward.

I reached a point in my life some years back that I made up my mind that I did not like living the only life I have as a depressed mess. I work very hard to maintain a sense of joy in my life and do not take kindly to folks who may try to trip me up in my desire to be as happy as I can be. If I were to bore you all to death with the many crisis that I have survived over the years, you would see that I have been able on very many occasions to take crisis types of situations and eventually have them turn around and be useful in helping others down the road who might run in to some of the same living issues that I have successfully dealt with.

I read some where years and years ago that when faced with life's let downs, we have two choices. We can become bitter, or we can become better. I decided then and there, I wanted to be better because of the issues I had faced, versus being bitter that life had dealt me a hand that was less than some others may be dealt. Some folks seem to have just been dealt more than their share of let downs. In most situations after folks successfully deal with whatever their issues, they come out as stronger and much wiser folks. I am now able to look at folks who haven't really suffered much in this life and realize that in reality they are the losers because they have never been in situations which have called for them to introspect and work hard towards taking their lemons and making lemonade, and most of the folks are not folks that I would take advice from. I will take the word of someone who has struggled in life over someone who has learned something in a book. That is probably why support groups are such a useful tool to help folks dealing with addictions and such. It takes a person who has been where we are to know how to help us.

If you are still interested in trying to take better control of your surroundings Mustlovedogs, please allow us to help. Here is hoping that things are going much better for you since the first of the month. God Bless.


Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Summerkid has a GREAT suggestion - break the sorting into manageable time segments. If you are working in the yard and come in to cool off, have a box of clutter, a 'save' box and a garbage can - go through the clutter box a bit at a time - pretty soon, you will be compulsed to get back to your sorting - I know - been there. Being depressed disjoints our thought processes and everything becomes overwhelming - get someone, whom you trust and enjoy spending time with, and ask them to come and give you a hand - most people are more than willing.

After my husband passed away, and depression descended upon me, I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of anything, even though I was selling our 5,000 sq.ft. house and moving to a 1,000 sq. ft. house. Once I allowed my friends to come in and get me motivated, they had a difficult time dragging me away from it - I was on a roll - lol ! I gave away, donated, sold and tossed everything except what I HAD to have, that being important files, my clothes, etc.

MY rule, which I found difficult to stick with at times, was - if you haven't used it in a year, OUT IT GOES - of course, tax papers, bank papers, utility bills and such, are the exception - you must keep those for TEN YEARS! When I moved, I was able to move everything in a 16' Uhaul!

You can do it! Come back here every day and tell us what you accomplished - let us help.


Before you begin each day of sorting, make sure you have taken any anti-anxiety medication your doctor has prescribed for you - this will help you remain calm - this is a stressful chore.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

MLD, how are things in your world today?

Crozet, VA

So very great to see you Kay. Haven't seen you for ages and ages. You too make some great points. It is always easier for me to listen to someone who has been there and done that versus a professional or someone who has no experience in dealing with whatever the issue at hand may be. It sounds as though you did a wonderful job in dowsizing upon your move.

We too moved from a 2,200 sq. ft. home in to one that is half that size. Upon moving in here both sets of our parents gave up housekeeping and we inherited a load of things from both of those places. Needless to say, we have lots of things that don't fit in to the smaller house. Over the six or so years we have been here I have gotten rid of things much the same as yourself......sold what I could and donated or gifted other things.

Like yourself I too experienced the do more, do more once actually getting started on the de-clutter process. I thought of the wasted time I had spend worrying over the overwhelming process but found that once getting started, I really did actually enjoy it and wanted to do more and more. Hope that you have been having a good summer. Check in more often, always good to hear from you.


Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Ruby, I am fine and happy to talk to you, too!

After I got started with my process, my whole mind-set changed. I would pick up an item, re-live the experience that caused me to have the item in the first place, then I disposed of it. There was laughter, tears, moments of silence as I remembered a particular incident associated with the item, then a peaceful feeling. The hardest part was getting rid of my husband's stuff - such a painful process.

My name is Jo aka Kayjones and I am just a few items away from being a hoarder! I THINK I am going to 'use that someday' and stick it in a corner - my corners are all full now. This is an illness that is untreatable. My son is a Psychologist and says, 'Mother, there is something lacking in your heart and you are trying to fill that void with stuff'. Yes, for one thing, I miss my husband and for another, I grew up having nothing, so now, when I can afford to buy NEW, nice stuff, I still buy second-hand - it's sad.

I have self-diagnosed OCD and it makes me mentally unhealthy at times. I MUST get started doing what I KNOW I must do - get rid of crap! Ruby, I may need you for this one, too.

Crozet, VA

Hey there Dear Kay - I will be the very first to admit to knowing that my self diagnosis is having an addictive personality. If one is good, ten is better. hahaha Anyway......once upon a time in my younger days, it was alcohol that I grew a love for until it turned on me and I had to attend twelve step meetings in order to learn to deal with my addiction and no longer have it control me. That has been many, many years ago and the drinking has been under control, don't even touch it these days......but I see the addictive personality traits every where I look. In my shopping, in my eating, in my anything I like, I want more, more, more.

In my life time of searching for happiness, fulfillment and joy, I have learned a lot about myself and how I tick. I think that one of the things that has really helped me along the way is the idea of admitting there is a problem. Without truthfully admitting to an issue, we have no hopes of dealing with and rectifying it. Upon the admission, we can then start taking the baby steps that will be needed in order to build a base upon which to stand. We didn't get in to any of these messes over night, and we won't get out of them overnight either. It is all a process. The process requires taking one step at a time to dig out.

What ever you have going on Kay, please allow me to help in any way that I can. Not sure what is happening with you currently, but if I can be of any help in any sort of way....please count me in. I know another thing about myself. I am much more willing to suffer a bit of uncomfortableness if I know that whatever the pain and suffering I may endure, will equip to me help others on down the road. I was stricken with health issues at a young age. I didn't understand it, nor did I like it. I cursed the heavens often, asking why me? I never got a real answer to why me, but I got a message of, why not me? pact with the heavens was that I would continue to endure whatever pain and suffering that I would face, but I wanted to know that it had counted for something, and the dues I had paid would some day allow a fellow sufferer's pain to be eased by my experience.

To me life wouldn't have a whole lot of meaning unless we can use our experiences to help someone else with it. That is why these twelve step programs work as well as they do. It takes another person who has done the same sorts of things to empathize and help give ideas for digging out whatever the mess a person is in.

As far as de-cluttering goes.....I know that without the support and encouragement of others here on Dave's, I would have never taken the first step to begin the process had I not met the women here who supported and encouraged me through out the several month long process.

Anyway.......let me know how I can be of help.


Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

I remember having about 40 lb of documents, old checks and other paper that I did not wanted to trow in the trash. Finnily I have found a recicling place, where they have a large truck that shreads paper and you can stand there and watch it. They only charged me 18.00 for 40 lb, saved me a few weeks or months of shreading them my self. Now if I only can do the same thing with clothes, and fabricks for prodjects. Last week I have finnaly painted my kitchen, after being half way done for 2 years. So I am getting better, but it is not easy to get started.My son says I have to many projects started, learn to finish one before you start another. I guess when I get bored, I get into something new. Everybody, hang in ther, life is to short to stress over things, and it is all thing. Etelka This is my hang in there picture.

Thumbnail by kiseta
Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Oh, I LOVE that picture - truly is an inspiration!

Crozet, VA

I love it too. Thanks for sharing the picture and the words of wisdom with us Kiseta. Old documents is what I have been involved with for a while now too. I am doing it bit by bit and my trusty home shredder is working out for me. How cool that the company you used, allowed you to stay and watch the stuff be shredded. Very cool indeed.

Hopefully after I am finished going through years and years of my parents, and even my grand parents old papers, I will have learned to not leave the same sort of mess for my children to go through. I still have a bad tendency to hang on to too much, but am getting better than I was previously, so even a little progress encourages me to keep at it.

I am making very slow progress with all the things I still need to go through and sort, but a little is better than none I suppose. As you mentioned, it is really not worth stressing too much over, because it will be there when we are ready to face it. Here is wishing all reading a very enjoyable and productive day.

Keep up the good work everyone.


Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

I throw paper stuff in my compost pile.
End of story.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

I heard if you soak your documents in bleach water, it will bleach out the ink, we are not alowed to burn in the city property, so it is easier to shred.Etelka

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

If anyone has trouble getting the de-cluttering process started, or keeping it going, RUBY is the lady to dmail - she is kind, gentle, a wonderful inspiration without preaching - give her a shout - she's been an inspiration to me for years!

Crozet, VA

Oh my gosh Kay......what lovely things you have said about me. Thank you so are the one that I admire though.

With that being said, yesterday I felt the need to write my sister in law who is at the stage that she is admitting to being a hoarder, but has some health issues and other things going on that has thus far prevented her from really addressing the issue and getting started with it. I felt as though I needed to treat her with especially soft kid gloves, due to possibly creating hard feelings between her and my husband, her brother. Thankfully she wrote back and said that every thing I stated in my email to her were things she had already said to herself. She is thus far hindered by other things in her life taking priority. One thing I did point out to her is the matter of now facing some health issues, it is imperative that she begin addressing some of the issues of home maintenance that may be unsafe for her. I have not seen the condition of her home, but I have seen a lot of the hoarding shows on TV and realize that there are folks out there living in spaces that are very detrimental to their health and well being.

I know that having lived this long and having faced many challenges of my own over the years, that usually no amount of talking will make another person change. They have to get to the point where they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and then and only then will they begin taking proper care of whatever the issue may be. I suppose what we can do as loved ones, is to make sure these folks know that we are available to help when the time comes that they are ready to take the bull by the horns and begin making necessary changes. As I am writing this, I am preaching to myself and some of the sticky issues I am encountering currently, nothing clutter related......but relationship related with my very immature 22 year old live at home son.

I can see the similarity in both of these issues......neither the sister in law nor the son have reached the point where they are pushed so very tightly in to the corner that making changes are necessary for them. It is very easy for me to see as the outsider, and I need to realize there have been many instances over the years that others have been thoroughly disgusted with some of my behaviors and have tried every thing from yelling, screaming and beating their head against the wall to being as loving as they could be towards me......but before I ever made any needed changes in my life....I had to reach a point where there was no way to go but up. As loved ones we worry if these folks will survive their lifestyles long enough to make the needed changes. That is the scary part. We could probably all tell stories of folks needing to make changes, who didn't make the changes, and there finally coming a point, where it is too late for a change due to death or disability becoming a factor.

Anyway.....Kay you are super sweet. I know that you have experienced some very painful life issues but have worked very hard to overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living a joyful and full life. I suppose what I want both my sister in law and my son two know is that I will be there for them when they decide to make their changes, and I hope their desire to change won't be too late for them.

It is hard to sit back and watch life destroying behavior of our loved ones, but some times that is all we can do. It all boils down to we cannot change other people, but we can change ourselves and that usually results in the others in our lives also having to make changes in order to deal with the new us. Hope this makes sense and sorry for getting so off topic.

You folks all have a great day and to quote Nike.......just do it. Every thing great starts with the first step.


Crozet, VA

Waving hello to all.....


Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

waving back... better late than not! LOL

I've popped in on this forum from time to time, but I'm not just lurking this time. Both my home and my time have been increasingly cluttered, and it's definitely causing stress... definitely time to "do something." As luck may have it, I picked up a book last week when I stopped in at the pharmacy... the title caught my eye, and I thought, "this sounds like exactly the book my MIL (who was visiting for the holiday) would *like* to give me, LOL," and so I brought it home.

It was remarkably better & more helpful than I'd thought it would be. I figured it was yet another book of tips on getting organized written by a pretty organized person -- nope! The author, who apparently has written several books, has founded an organization called "Messies Anonymous." The book is Winning the Clutter War, by Sandra Felton, aka "The Organizer Lady."

Now I'm telling myself I'm not really procrastinating by finishing the book first -- I'm learning some new tools before jumping back into the fray.

Crozet, VA

Hi there Sweet Jill - Welcome aboard. Gosh girl.....I have known that I have a tendency to gather and amass too many of anything that I like. At the moment I could easily get rid of three quarters of the items I own and never miss them. I give that number because this past year I have packed up basically the entire contents of our home, and stored the items while having carpeting installed throughout the home. I was okay in doing the packing up but lost steam as I started the unpacking. After a bit of unpacking, I said this is for the birds, the household is operating sufficiently without the unpacked I will wait until after the holidays to finish unpacking......

That has now been a month or two. I am finding as I mentioned before...the house really doesn't need all the things that are currently in storage. I was thinking of going through every thing piece by piece and deciding whether to keep, sell or donate. As I think about it, it all seems like an awful lot of work. I did have a friend sell a few things on ebay for me but he is no longer selling. I spent a couple of years some years back running a couple of online shops and liked doing it but do not have the time these days to get involved in doing it. A friend may possibly take the items I won't bring back inside and hold a yard sale for me next year and we split the proceeds.

If the yard sale doesn't work out, or doesn't happen, I have yet another idea. Once again.....this has been a habit of mine over the years.....donate a huge amount of no longer wanted items to some charity. I heard of a new Veterans run organization that will come to your home and pick up house hold items and sell the for their profit. That idea is sounding better and better to me at this point.

Anyway....that is what is going with me......for you Jill....I do want to say that the Clean and Clutter Free message boards here have played a major part in any successes I have had with de-cluttering. Two years ago, it took some months to do......I did a major de-clutter which served to give my small home more space. I was able to make about one thousand dollars then by selling broken and damaged silver and gold jewelry and also sending some house hold items to an auction house the next town over. This particular auction house will often put two or three people's items together in order to have enough for a sale. I don't have enough that I want to go to have a whole auction myself, but piggy backing on the other auctions has been another way for me to rid myself of things and to make a bit of sponce while doing so.

I encourage you to yes finish your book.....knowledge is power....stay in touch with the folks here and see you lighten your load a bit, slowly but surely. Making up your mind to take the first step in decluttering is probably the hardest thing. After you start, if you are like me, it will become a challenge and a game at the same time while wanting to downsize more and more. Please ask any sorts of questions you have...some one will eventually come around and see your post and respond. I know that without the support I found here a few years ago that I would have never been able to stay on top of things as well as I did.

I encourage you when you have some free time to re-read some of the older posts here. The organizing of a home is an on going battle, but so rewarding. I have visited your home and know that you take pride in it. It is lovely from my point of view. I know that you probably see things that a visitor doesn't see and want to feel more in control of your surroundings. Keeping at the down sizing process is a one day at a time deal, a little bit at a time adds up to big rewards.

Please know that I am available with any questions you might have. I and many others here are with you and want to support and encourage you as you go through the process. There are just so many rewards to taking control of our environments. When I first began the de-clutter process and was in to it a bit, I literally felt as though my surroundings had a much lighter feel about them. I can't explain it but with getting rid of clutter areas, the house seemed to shine brighter and be a much more pleasant place to be.

Yes, once again have written a book. To wrap up.....know that we will be rooting you on. You can do it!!!!!


Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Thanks, Ruby! Yes, I'm finding lots of encouragement & ideas in the older threads here. I mostly do OK with the "working areas" of the house, but I'm really running out of excuses for all the stuff that's piled up in corners, in the garage, well, pretty much everywhere that doesn't get daily traffic (and some places that do). I've been making progress, but I need to do more, and more systematically.

Your boxes remind me of what this author calls the "Mt. Vesuvius Method," for when things are really in a bad way. Similar things get piled and boxed, with no scrutinizing and no keep/donate/toss decisions except for obvious junk. Write the contents on the box, close it up, and then choose a date to also write on the box -- 2 months from now, 1 year from now, 5 years, whatever makes you comfortable. If you miss any item, you can retrieve it from its storage box. If you wish to sort through the box before the date, that's OK (I think; at least it makes sense to me, although I can't remember right now what she said). But, by the date you wrote on the box, you take the box and whatever remains inside it, WITHOUT OPENING IT, and either donate it or toss it.

I think I need to pack up some boxes like that, for all the things where I don't have an instant "keep or toss" decision. It seems like a good way to deal with "maybe" items, and it takes some of the stress away from trying to decide the fate of every item as you go.

Remember to make sure you take a tax deduction for your donations, too. Often, that ends up being more $ (and easier too) than you'd realize from selling at a garage sale.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Hi Jill! Would you please say hello to bluekat for me? I owe her 40 bucks, wonder whether she remembers that.

Ruby, I think that having to clear out for the carpet is the best thing that could have happened to you!

Like Ruby, I am having trouble imagining how Critter could be anything other than chipper & on top of everything. But for sure your life has been full & eventful the last couple of years. Do you think it would be helpful to hire someone to come help you out once a week, even temporarily, just to get over this speed bump? I found a wonderful woman named Becca on craigslist who works for 10 bucks an hour & has been an absolute life-saver for me.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I haven't seen Bluekat in a while... miss her!

It's more than just a speed bump, I'm afraid... I've always had a tendency toward clutter, and I've had plenty of excuses to not quite get to things these past few years. We're no longer in any sort of "crisis mode," so it's time to deal with it. It's hard to not just feel overwhelmed by all the things that have been left undone, but it's like eating that elephant, one bite at a time. LOL I think I spend a lot of my time sort of spinning my wheels, so I need a more orderly approach to dealing with (and reducing!) the "stuff" in the house as well as a more organized approach to time management. I want to be making progress, not just treading water. When I get part of the house to a "good enough" place, it seems to re-clutter pretty quickly, so I think I need to try to set my sights higher, going beyond "good enough for now" to "this is how it should look!" and maybe then I can do better about keeping it looking that way.

The book has already been a help, because of certain phrases that stick in my head. "If it will take less than 30 seconds, just do it." That's probably so obvious to most people, but I can procrastinate for days about the simplest things, like noticing something out on the counter than needs to be put away... but since I'm "not cleaning up" right then and busy with something else, I don't do anything about it...

I think I tend to make long lists in my head of little things that I notice that need to be attended to, when it would be far simpler to just DO the little things as I come across them. "Housekeeping is a marathon, not a sprint." A lot of "picking up" around here is done in a huge rush the morning before the cleaners come. Stress stress, and it doesn't need to be. (I have a friend who comes every other week to do the "heavy" cleaning.)

I did get the back bedroom reorganized enough to fit the twin bed back in, with enough room (just!) to pull out the trundle when we need a 2nd guest room. That's where arts & crafts & sewing stuff "lives," and I haven't done any sewing since making baby blankets (she's 3 now), partly because I've had lots of other projects but also partly because my sewing machine hasn't even been visible! Since I have lot of craft stuff that I've been trying to sort (and keep sorted) into drawers, I think I need to actually put LABELS on the drawers so I can quickly see what should go where... I realized the other day that I had to open 5 drawers in 2 different storage dressers before remembering just where I was intending to keep colored pencils now. LOL

I also tackled the pantry cupboards just before Thanksgiving -- big job, but very worthwhile. Again, though, I changed my previous "system" just enough that I think I need SIGNS on the shelves... and i'm not sure i'd have thought of that if I hadn't read the suggestion in that same book. I put labels on the kitchen cupboards when we first moved in, and that was so helpful, you'd think I'd remember a good trick like that! Sometimes the simple things are the things we just don't think of, though. That's why this forum is good -- I get ideas from what other people have done, and I don't feel like I have to re-invent the wheel. :-)

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Critter, the single best thing I've learned came from the Flylady: "You can do anything for 15 minutes!"
Set that timer & work on whatever you feel like. I've been amazed when tasks that seemed like they would take forever would clock in at, like, 7 minutes!
And 15 minutes every day adds up. I look forward to it now, weirdly.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

You're right! I did a couple of things that way this morning, but I like your idea of actually setting a timer... knowing you have an "out" when the bell goes "ding" makes you more likely to actually start in on something!

Another suggestion I put to use this afternoon... Fill a box. Take it to the car. Actually, the suggestion said to use a medium sized wastepaper basket to gather things (whether trash or donations), then take the bag out, but I've got plenty of boxes, so I'm using them to round up donated items. One box a day, or even a couple boxes a week... it'll add up! I've taken a couple of carloads to Goodwill already, but there's more that needs to go.

Actually, having "plenty of boxes" was contributing to the clutter... it's handy to have a couple of smaller and larger boxes around for things that might need to be stored or mailed or whatnot... but the box saving habit can get out of hand pretty quickly. Jim broke down a big stack of boxes for me last week & hauled them to the curb on recycling day, and I still have plenty for boxing up "stuff."

I'm trying to adjust the way I see things. I think we were in "survival mode" for so long here (some family health issues, then a baby, then my treatment for breast cancer) that I learned to just "not see" a lot of things -- a dropped piece of paper, a pile of stuff accumulating in a corner. You can only do what you can do, and if you let all the undone stuff get on your nerves, then you just add stress to all the rest of it... But, thankfully, we're no longer in that mode... I just have to shift back into a more normal gear of staying on top of little things. Clear surfaces! That's my goal.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Whoa. You have dialed it up a notch, for sure. Sounds as if you have 100% of your energy back.

Crozet, VA

Hi Gals - first off Jill, way to go on already getting some boxes of things gone. Yep, that is the way you eat an bite at a time. Since this de-cluttering and organizing bit is so near and dear to my heart, I always love to read what folks are doing and what they have found successful. I am officially waiting until after the holidays to do anything major, but gee whiz folks, I have a lot to do. Summer, you are correct on the carpeting being a blessing in terms of having to face the extent of my hoarding issues. There, I said it........I actually called it what it was instead of sugar coating it and calling it clutter. Hoarding......I don't know, I know that I come by it honestly having been raised by depression era parents who saved and re-used every thing. Just this week I have been reminded how my clutter amasses as I have run out of a few food stuffs and have found myself washing the glass bottles and plastic containers to re-use. I do often re-use the plastic containers and some times even use the bottles......the question is.....just how many of each do I need?

We too have a lot going on here currently. My mother-in-law is in the dieing process and that is stressful on us. My daughter in law's car was unusable for a few weeks and she used mine, leaving me without a way to go any where and it has just been an all around stressful time. I have cut back on how many Christmas decorations I put out this year. I always have a small tree but this year I have a mini-tree for sure. The very small tree is fiber optic and no need for decorations, so a win win situation there. I have gift shopped for some months as far as my grand children and some other children are concerned, so no mad rush on that. Most gifts for others, I ordered on line. I have one more trip to the grocery store and Dollar Tree store and then I am officially done as far as gifts are concerned.

I guess you would say that I have cut back all the way around this year and that has been my goal for some years. I tend to become stressed, then ill and usually can be found with a bad case of the bah humbugs during the holidays. I did react a bit physically the week of Thanksgiving and hope that Christmas day doesn't find me the same way. I am taking small steps to prevent it.

Anyway......even though while on the subject of clutter this morning, part of me is beating myself up due to having so much more to do, and not being further along than I am, but at the same time I am seeing evidence of a bit of growth since becoming interested in trying to have my environment be more pleasing to me. Yes, I still have loads to get rid of but not as much as two years ago.......yes, I am being a bit less demanding on myself as far as decorating and gift giving goes. Small steps for sure, but in the right direction at least.

As always, great to hear from both critter and summer. Hope you lady's are enjoying the weekend and also hope that the holidays are extra joyful for you this year. I will definitely be needing your input and support after the first of the year. Thank you in advance.


Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Beating yourself up is never a good use of time & energy. For me, the "progress" I've made the past few weeks has been as much about adjusting some inner attitudes & expectations as about actual visible progress. I'm feeling a lot less stressed, since I feel like I'm putting together some tools for dealing with the things that were making me feel overwhelmed. Stress does not equal motivation! You'd think it would, but it doesn't. When I start to get the most stressed about clutter & housekeeping chores is when I'm usually the least productive... I spend a lot of time spinning my wheels, figuring out what to tackle first, or doing little bits of everything that needs attention and then wondering where my time went.

As you enjoy your home over the holidays, Ruby, see if you can "choose" some specific items from your boxes, things you know you've stored away and can visualize, and decide where to place them in your new decor. Make a list of what will put into various areas, and try to keep the items fairly few in number. Then, when you start actually unpacking a box, you won't be trying to find "a good place" for everything in it, you'll be looking for those really special items you want to display. I'm not saying never put anything out that wasn't on your list, just work from more of a standpoint of how you'd like to decorate a particular room, not from a standpoint of finding a place for every "favorite" thing you own.

I think I'm going to have an easier time if i don't try to get rid of all my "undisplayed extras" at once. I might want to change things around once in a while, either seasonally or just because. But I'm going to get rid of things that just won't make it onto the "short lists" of what I want to have out. No matter how neat-o or pretty or amusing or useful some things are, they're just not a good "fit" if I can usually find something else I'd choose to have out instead. If I can do some sorting before storing, better yet, and I'm not going to put any box into storage without 1. labeling it and 2. knowing what's in it and 3. labeling it. LOL

That's my plan, anyway, as it's evolved from my thinking over the various ideas in the book that's been inspiring me, as well as the ideas I'm getting from you all. We'll see how it goes.

Crozet, VA

Hi There Sweet Jill - There you go....label, label and label again. Nothing like having to waste time opening ten bins when if it were labeled properly, you would only have to open one bin to find what you are looking for. John is big on telling me to label things better. There are couple of bins that I have packed away that I did an inventory on a sheet of paper to the contents of the bin and laid it on top of the items. When I opened the bin, I could look at the paper and know exactly what was in there. That was definitely helpful. When I undertake another major de-clutter I plan to do this with all the things I put in storage.

I truly identify with the letting the stress get to me and wear myself out emotionally before I am able to accomplish anything physically. I worried and stewed for years over the condition of our spare bedroom where it seemed to be a storage area for all miscelleaneous things that made their way in to the house. It bothered me terribly. I also came up with a million excuses to not get started on de-cluttering and organizing it too. When I finally ran out of excuses is when I had to throw in the towel and get started, one item at a time.

I must admit that this de-cluttering, getting rid of collectibles or cool things has been an ongoing problem ever since I sat up housekeeping many, many years ago.....almost forty years now. I can recall numerous times and the hours spent going through items that have no use for me or my household and either holding a yard sale or donating or selling some of the items. It has actually taken on a life of its own.

I just read on another clutter free thread the answer to this dilemma, but don't know if I am there yet. Sharon from Vegas started her post by saying that she has been able to stop purchasing other than what she absolutely has to have. Again, a couple of years ago I was able to do that to an extent but have allowed myself to let the shopping tendencies creep back in again...and what does that mean? I am continuing to deal with too much stuff!!! I often find myself making judgments against others who I claim to have more money than they do sense....and I guess I am too guilty of the very same thing, though I know that I don't have a lot of extra cash, I just often can't resist many of the pretties on the shelves out there who seem to be calling my name.

Anyway......the clutter and hoarding tendencies seem to be an epidemic for some years now. Sure are a lot of professionals whose jobs are to help the afflicted handle these issues. How ironic that one of America's greatest issues is the issue of having too much stuff. There are those, even people in our country, who would believe themselves to be rich if they owned one tenth of the things causing us distress....our clutter.

Anyway.......Merry Christmas to one and all. I am looking forward to getting down to the nitty gritty after the holidays and once again ridding my surroundings of no longer useful stuff. Please wish me luck.


Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Good luck, Ruby! Those Christmas season sales are an additional temptation to get things you don't really need that are not only calling your name but are such a bargain as well! I had lots of fun shopping for friends & family this year, and I tried not to stash extra gift items without knowing exactly who/when I was saving them for... I think I have birthday gifts set aside for all our nieces & nephews for the coming year, but I made a list of what's in the trunk, and I think I'm also going to put a note on my calender so I know I've shopped for that birthday already.

I'm glad we can encourage & help each other!

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

The calendar is a good idea, critter. I have a small box of cool little gifts for emergencies -- Jack is great for springing friend & family occasions on me the night before. And I will stock up on special ornaments as hostess gifts. But it's just one box, so I don't see it as clutter.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

well, my "gift trunk" had started spilling over into the closet and under the guest bed, so I needed a bit of a different approach there, also. and yes, having a few cool gifts on hand is really useful... nothing like a quick "shopping trip" to the guest bedroom closet!

Crozet, VA

Raising hand admitting to being able to shop at home myself too. I guess I really came upon the idea when we had to put my elderly mother in a nursing facility some years ago. When going through her home I found a dresser drawer full of gifts that she must have bought just to have on hand if needed. I decided that was a good idea.

I didn't make it out to any after holiday sales this year.....well, did make it out but the store was pretty much sold out by the time I got there. I did pick up a few little things that will be stocking stuffers next year for the kiddies, but all the gift wrap at the store I visited was gone. Right now the only hint of the holidays still here is a box of food stuffs I bought for several neighbors who had been especially kind to us this year. I over bought but am enjoying the flavored coffees and the cookies that are still here.

I am now officially in the time zone I sat up for myself as far as starting a major de-clutter again. Won't get any thing done today or tomorrow, but maybe later in the week I can get started. I still have gobs of bins to go through and see what will stay here and what will go. At least half the work is already done due to being packed up to just sort.

Thanks to all reading and active on this list. I always needs the input and advice from others who are facing the same sort of issues. Jill, I am especially thrilled to see you post here when you do. Here is wishing us all good success in the coming year.


the easiest way to de-clutter your home is to never leave any room without empty hands... take the items from room that in no more needed there and put it on the right place instantly... it will not pile up your work.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

That's a great tip!

I especially try never to go upstairs or down to the basement empty-handed... I have a basket at the base of the steps and by the basement door where I can put things that need to go up or down -- a definite time-saver, as long as I don't let the basket overflow!

Crozet, VA

Yes, a truly great tip. I am queen of multi-tasking. Always seem to have three things going on at once. Here is hoping that all reading are having a productive day.


Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Hi Ruby, I found this joke for ADD people, I hope you find it funny. Etelka

Thumbnail by kiseta
Newark, DE

LOL Kiseta

Thank you!!! That's me! Now I know what my problem is..........

Crozet, VA

Oh yeah, I can definitely relate to the counting the sheep and a million other thoughts enter my mind. Cute, thanks for posting kiseta. Please forgive me for being missing in action so much recently. I am hoping to use some time this weekend to catch up on Dave's threads which I haven't read for some months now. For a bit over a month I have been involved in yet another de-clutter. I found an organization who will pick up items at my home for donation and I find that so much easier than packing things up and taking elsewhere....especially when there is a lot of stuff. Last month the charity got a pretty large haul from here. They are due here again next week...I don't have as many things together this time but may have some time this weekend to look through some more storage bins and see what else can go.

I do know that I am planning to have some work done on the house again......going to have the inside painted and I want to set things back up a lot more in a minimalist style after the paint than I currently have. It is taking some time, but I am finally tiring of some of the decor I have which sometimes just seems to be dust collectors. I realize as I pack some things away that I am still holing tight to some things that at some point will probably be donated anyway. I plan to try selling some items before donating, so need to find the time and energy to do that. After trying to sell, donate it will be. Still have a lot more stuff than I have storage space. One step at a time is the name of the game....

Hope that everyone is enjoying a great weekend. Almost spring folks.......back outside soon.


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