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Where do you start?

Millsap, TX

I have been Lurking a bit. And I look around here and have no clue where to start..Looking for some Motivation..

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Are you talking decluttering or something else? If the problem is strictly motivational (versus being overly emotionally attached to stuff) then the best way I've found to get things done is every day set the timer for some small chunk of time (5, 10, 15 minutes) and pick an area and do what you can until the timer goes off. You can even do multiple small time chunks at different points in the day if you're up for it. When you sit there looking at things and thinking of your goal in terms of getting the whole house straightened up, that's such a huge job that it's very hard to motivate yourself to do it, but now if your goal is cleaning for 5 minutes, that's a much easier goal to achieve so it's much easier to motivate yourself to do it.

If your problem is emotional attachment/inability to throw things away, then the thing I usually suggest to people is rent a storage space and put all the stuff there that you can't bear to throw away. That way you still have it if you ever want it, but the fact that you are now paying to hold onto your stuff that you can't bear to get rid of can help break that emotional attachment to it and make it easier to get rid of it in a few months when you realize that you have other things you'd rather do with that money.

Millsap, TX

No emotional ties here..LOL Funny you say the timer thing.. That is how I get the dishes done.. I can do those dishes in less that 5 min's.. LOL When it comes to the office I just get overwhelmed..poor organizational skills..(Can't spell either).. I want it to be better .. BUT I usually find something else to do...outside... I am open to any suggestions.. I know I need to do better and it would cut the stress factor of coming in here..

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

An elephant is eaten one bite at a time.

That runs through my head as I work on various insurmountable messes in my office.

Some day I will be done with all of this and can move on to all of the pictures I have sitting around in boxes. That will be fun...

Montgomery, TX(Zone 9a)

It didn't get that way in one day so it stands to reason one day won't clean it up. I'm starting with the motto," If I haven't used it in a year throw it out." There I said it.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

1 of my problems is many times, as soon as I discard sosmething...I find that i need it. Or with the "haven't used it in a year rule"...well, I haven't known where it was, but would have used or worn it if I knew where it was.
When rented, I'd move to a bigger house about every 5 years. I own now and after 13 years, I can hardly walk thru my house. It is very depressing and I would be terribly embarrassed if anyone came to visit.
Also, I am disabled with back neck and knee problems and just the bending and lifting things to decllutter causes such arthritis pain that often I just go to bed. ...eother from the physical pain or the emotional pain.
BUT, I really don't want o live like this anymore. I'm 57 and figure to have at least another 20 years or so............O me,how and where to begin....

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

Here is how I begin-
I wait until I can't stand it anymore, there are too many weeds, or the office is soooo cluttered, and or (actually the best) there is clutter everywhere and I am about to pull my hair out! I pick a day on which around 11 AM I pour a rum and coke and start cleaning the kitchen (the daily stuff). I go to the bathroom and clean that. By then, I need a refill. I go outside (yes, a smoker here) have a smoke and enjoy a few sips knowing I got a few things done. While out there, I casually pick a few things up and put them away. I head back in and that is usually when the bug gets me......By around 4 I am still pumped (and a little tipsy) and am looking for more to do. DH makes dinner, I eat, and after a good soak in the tub because my back is bad too, I am out like a light for the night!

The only problem with this approach though, I can never seem to find anything I organized during the spree. LOL! So, I try and keep it to cleaning only and make stacks if it's paper to be organized later! ;o)

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I never thought about the rum & coke approach...may have to try that one myself!

Millsap, TX

I am a "Frosty Beverage" drinker.. ;O).. Maybe I should give that a go...LOL
I know I do better if I make a list.. The reward is being able to scratch something off reguardless how small of a task..
I NEED a list!! and I will scratch something off by the end of the day!!
HMMMM???? does icing down the "Frost Beverages" count???...hahahaha
Thanks Ya'll !!

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

LOL! I was afraid I would be banned from this forum with my approach! Glad I am not the only one who likes the idea!
I am horrid with lists! I lose the dang thing before I can even cross it off! Hopeless without the adult beverage getting me started!

Millsap, TX

Nice to know I am in Great Company!!! LOL

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm a "one brick at a time" person. I had things bothering me in 2000. I decided to lay a brick sidewalk around the side of the house. I started on New Years day and finished in June. My thought was one or two or a few bricks a day. Amazing how delighted I was to see the end results and my mind could work over my problems while I was on my knees. They worked out too. I use the same theory on clutter. I vow to discard at least one thing a day. A bag for donations, junk mail and catalogues. At least one item a day. It will show results eventually and for now, it is instant gratification. Good luck!

Millsap, TX

I can discard one thing a day!! HMMMM!

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

My 1st suggestion would be the alcohol bottle. At least for me. and besides that never helps anyone and is a poison to the human liver

Millsap, TX

Food For Thought!!!!
Thanks!!! I would love

Broaddus, TX(Zone 8b)

Zone 8b Lake Sam Rayburn, deep East, TX

"A cluttered house means a cluttered mind". I'm working daily on my cluttered mind. In the meantime, I tackle what is "bugging me the most".

"Anything is a cinch, inch by inch".
Terry, can we have a "spell check?"

Keep at it folks; you can do it.

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

HI Sudie,
It took me a while before I discovered that there was a spell check right there on my desktop (I think it's called)....anyway, it you look in the upper right hand corner just above the white page that the typing is on, there should be "tools"...
Right click on "tools"- that should bring up a list of options with "ie spell" (this is the next to the last on my list)...
Left click on "ie spell"........... if you have this feature, this is the only one that I know of and know how to use. It does miss some things and , of course does not recognize others, so click onto ignore or add accordingly, then when done, I often must return to finish with my own editing. I have found this to be better than nothing, however. If anyone out there has a better way, please enlighten both of us...............
Happy gardening and , as always - Wing waves to ya,
BirdieBlue / AKA Sheri ^_^

Culpeper, VA

The flylady approach is great for folks who tend to have a bit of ADD (like me :) Approach some clutter, set timer for 15 mins, and stay focused on task. It is amazing how much can get done in just 15 mins. It has helped me. I don't follow everything she talks about but the 15 mins deal is great.


Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Yeah, I like to visit the FlyLady site and pick up hints and motivations.

Schenectady, NY

A dear friend who is highly productive in spite of battling MS said to me once, "Life is a piecemeal project." I wrote that down and hung it on my fridge to battle my perfectionism and impatience with process vs. product.

McGregor, IA(Zone 4b)

"A cluttered house is a cluttered mind" aaarrrgggghhhh! I hate that kind of thinking! I have a dear aunt that had the cleanest and tidiest house of anyone I have ever known. But cleaning was her hobby. Not messy things like painting, gardening, broken china mosaics, etc. etc.
So what's wrong with a cluttered mind? I like to have a lot of things to think about.

Crozet, VA

AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!! I am not sure if any one else on here has the problem of merrily typing along and then ending up losing the whole message. That is more than annoying. Maybe it is the Universe's way of saying that I am babbling and should come right to the point. hahaha Oh well, will try again.

As I was typing in the lost message, I went back over this page and read some of the old posts. They are full of some very sage advice. If only we were better at practicing what we preach. That is speaking for myself only, of course.

Anyway, I came upon the idea of putting in to practice something that I learned at a Motivational Seminar that I attended many years back. The instructor pointed out how powerful the written word is and also how important images or visions are too. One of the main points that the leader wanted to get across was that in order to succeed in obtaining whatever our goal was, just how important it was to be able to clearly define the aim. Our aim, or mine at least is to get to a point where my home is still cozy and inviting, but uncluttered at the same time. In order for me to obtain this, I have to reach a point where I am finally willing to give up some things that are now standing in my way of achieving this goal.

The point of the seminar was to help us first clearly define our goal and then to take the needed steps to obtain it. In order to clearly define it, it helps to write it out and keep it in a place where we will see if often in order to reinforce our desire. One of the exercises that we did at the training was to take old magazines and cut out pictures of the object of our desire. In my case here it would possibly be pictures of shiny and clean, uncluttered floors with nice pieces of furniture sitting around and minimal knick knacky sorts of things. We were to take these pictures and paste them to a piece of paper or a board and to also have this displayed in a place that we would see it often in order to remind us of our goal.

Until this morning, I never thought of incorporating this exercise in to my de-cluttering wish. I am going to start today and first find an index card and write out my goal and later today after chores are caught up, I plan to start looking through magazines and cutting out pictures of my dream home. I will then keep both the written message and also the collage of dream pictures on my desk where I will see them several times a day.

I am excited that I thought of trying this. Maybe some you will find it helpful also. If anyone else does decide to do this, I would love to hear back how things are working for you.

Thank you Joey and Caitlin for re-activating this thread. Looking forward to hearing from folks who might give this a try. I hope that all reading here will have a great weekend. Take care.


McGregor, IA(Zone 4b)

I think you made a really good point. We each need to define our goals.

Schenectady, NY

Ruby, you're right- the written word IS very powerful. Sometimes I make "want" lists- just material things I would like, and then I put the list away. Often, sometimes even years later, I'll come upon one of those lists and am always amazed at how much on the list has manifested itself in my life! I've done the same with "to do" lists. Every time I make a to do list, I get overwhelmed. It always seems like so much to do and of course it all seems "urgent" at the time. Now, I'll make the list, tuck it away in a drawer and forget about it. A week later I can look at it and be surprised at how much I've accomplished (again, the power of the written word). And often, the things that seemed so urgent at the time I was writing the list somehow take care of themselves or I've gained perspective by then and realize they were no big deal.

McGregor, IA(Zone 4b)

I think my immediate goal is to get everything UP off the floor so I can clean all of the floors.....This is a well-named thread - "Where do I start"? I get overwhelmed with it all and end up doing nothing. Kitchen if first - easiest to pick up, but dirtyest. Living on a farm makes cleaning much more of a constant challenge.
If you don't hear from me in awhile, maybe you could send in the national guard?
I have a great idea. I have wished that I had a portable out building where I could temporarily store unsorted clutter as I clean each room, then sort thru it and put it where it belongs or send it on its way...Well, I have used all of the spare rooms in our house for this job up until now, until there are no more spare rooms, so that idea has definate drawbacks...but here is the NEW idea:
A "cluttermobile" that you can rent for various periods of time, and when your rental period is over, someone drives away with anything still left in it and it is donated to Goodwill.
As you can tell, I would much rather sit and talk about cleaning than clean. Ah well, keep on keepin' on everyone!

Schenectady, NY

Haha! I love the cluttermobile idea! Not very practical, but THIS lady is. I just found her site a couple of days ago through a mention in one of the forums here. Very simple, very inspiring stuff and it's working- at least on me. Yesterday I filled the trunk and half the backseat of my Honda Civic with clutter and took it ALL to the City Mission. Can you believe it? And of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not sure what I'm gonna take on today... maybe the linen shelf in the laundry room. I LOVE her babysteps concept.

Caitlin, I don't live on a farm- just 1.25 acres here, but we're rural and there's just never enough water, so I always feel behind on laundry, even when I'm being "good" and trying to keep up. Do you have a mudroom? None here, so everything gets tracked in- dog paw prints, grass clippings, "helicopters" from the maples, even an occasional slug- ew!

McGregor, IA(Zone 4b)

HaHaHa! yes, we have a mudroom and it is the kitchen/entry way! Lots of mud in the mudroom...
I have begged for a mudroom addition, but DH doesn't care to spend on "cosmetic improvements". I understand, as dairy farming is a challenging industry and he has done terrific just to survive for the last 35 years.

This message was edited Jun 16, 2009 8:21 AM

Crozet, VA

Hello readers. My goodness, what a busy couple of months I have had. I see that I haven't been on this thread since June 13. I am almost ashamed to admit that I as I re-read what I had written on the thirteenth of June, I see that I never did what I said I was going to do as far as defining my goal and having images of it where I would be reminded. (Hangs head in shame.) NOT.....but, I do see why I haven't made much progress with the two rooms that needed the most attention.

Joey and Caitlin, I appreciate both of your input. I hope that you two are still interested in sharing here. Joey, I love your testimony of how you have taken the time to write things down and then put the message away only to find later and see that you have indeed made some progress with your goals and also gained some of the material items that you had hoped for. Gosh, I guess I feel like admitting my shortcomings this morning.....I just realized that I have had this clutter problem for at least five years, the length of time we have lived in this particular house. If the truth be known, I actually developed the problem long before this when I lived for seven years in another house.

I began accumulating a lot of "extras" when I had something particularly traumatic happen in my life. After giving some thought to why this may have started I realize that what I was maybe doing subconsiously was trying to fill a void from a particularly painful loss, with things. I am here to attest that it didn't work.

I believe the problem began when my husband, my 8 year old son and I moved to a town about a thirty minute commute from where we had lived previously. My ex, my son's father didn't like the move and immediately began causing legal problems for me. We moved in June and the very first week I was there I received a suit in the mail for a change of physical custody of my son. I won't go in to how I spent the following few months because they are really painful to recall and would be book length to explain. Anyway....after spending many thousands of dollars on a poor example of a lawyer, and being a nervous wreck round the clock, I finally decided that I didn't have any more fight in me and I consented to let my little one go and live with his dad.

This left me feeling utterly devastated. I spent almost a two year period in a deep depression which left me feeling zombie like. I cried buckets and buckets it seemed. Thank God that when my son turned fifteen he decided that he wanted to come and live at my place again. He is now nineteen and he just recently moved in to his own apartment and everyone is doing well. Good ending to the story...but it left me with a bad habit which has created several areas of clutter for me to contend with.

As I stated, I believe that I was using amassing things to try and fill the void that was left when my son moved. When I finally was able to get myself up off the couch and tiptoe outside in to the world, I found an auction house within a mile of my new home and the auction house held two auctions a week. That definitely spelled T R O U B L E for me. The thing about auctions is that a person can take a very little bit of money and sometimes come home with a car load.

For several years afterward the highlight of my life would be attending the auctions and very often buying lots of things that no one else in the place wanted. I would often get a box of goodies in which one of the items would be actually used and the remains of the box began being stored in the two extra bedrooms that we had. Several times during the years that I was actively attending the auctions I actually sent some things back to be auctioned off. There would come a point every so often when I could no longer stand the clutter, so I would get myself psyched and get rid of all the extras. This proved to always be short lived, because I kept up the buying and cluttering.

So, sorry about the length of this. I am hoping it will serve being freeing to me and allowing me to move on to the step of finally getting rid of the things that are weighing heavily upon me. To add to the many items amassed from auction sales, my husband and I have both been inheritors of items of the closing of two estates, his parents and mine. My parents both died during the last twelve years and his parents closed out their home and moved in to a retirement facility.

So, if you can imagine, there are many, many objects inside of our current home, which is half the size of our previous one and also a medium size storage shed over filled. And here I sit, twelve years later feeling pressure about the condition of my house and the shed. One of our spare bedrooms has served as a catch all since we moved in five years ago. I have watched TV shows about de-cluttering, read books on the topic and talked myself blue and there has still not been a complete release for me.

I would love, love, love for the next little while on the calendar to be the time that I am actually involved in finally ridding myself of things that I will never use. I am not going to put too much time or energy worrying about starting the process until I get back from vacation on September 6. After that I am going to devote as long as it takes to go through all of my things and donate or give away. I am hoping to find some support in some of these clutter threads.

Sorry about the length of this post, but I needed to get it written down in one place so that I may refer to it later when I find myself getting discouraged about all that I have to do. Before getting up from here I plan to at least write my goal down on paper and put it where I can see it.

Thanks to anyone who read this far. Take care and have a good and productive week.


McGregor, IA(Zone 4b)

Ruby, we are on the same wave length! Where to start is my question. I guess "anywhere" is as good an answer as any! Our youngest son moved his bed to grad school this summer, so I have one empty space to begin my decluttering and organizing. I once read this advice: Have 4 boxes, one labeled "throw away", another for "put away", "give away", and another for "decide later".
Good luck, brave fellow traveler!

Crozet, VA

Hi Caitlin - Yep, I didn't share before, but I have actually made progress on getting a guest room set up in Tucker's old bedroom. The only thing that needs done in that room is to begin dusting and recording how many elephants I have in my collection and putting them away in the cabinet that we moved from living room in to there.

Oh yeah, go through the several boxes that I kind of just pushed in the closet in order to shampoo carpet in there. Not too much to do thankfully. I will start there after returning from our trip. I hope that you will share your progress on your new room too as you get things done.

Joey, I forgot to respond to your note on Flylady. Yes, those boxes will make the process a whole lot easier. I will do that when I get started too. Thanks for sharing and I am glad to hear it is working so well for you.

Take care all.


Montgomery, TX(Zone 9a)

You will get er done!

northeastern, AZ

Ruby, you've made me think - why am I such a clutter keeper? Can I really blame all of it on thritiness? I'll give it some thought over the next several days.

I still have some things I'm keeping in my closets. My only child gave me his high school letter jacket. I can't wear it - it's huge, he doesn't want it, why am I keeping it? It's one of those mornings that the tears are so close to spilling over about nothing. (oops, not close, they just spilled out.) It hard to get rid of his things on some days. It has been in a closet since he graduated in 2001.

Maybe being able to get rid of things is a gift. I have a talent for "keeping" junk! I told my mom this morning that my son doesn't want any of my KRAP. She just laughs. But it's true. It doesn't hurt my feelings as bad as it used to. Guilt is a terrible reason to keep stuff, too.

Get started anywhere - yes, that's good advice! But don't give up when you get bogged down in tears, guilt, regret, and other emotional baggage! Get back in and keep plugging away. Don't let a bad day ruin the project. Keep on keeping on.

Crozet, VA

Thanks Gava and Trouble - Awwww Gava, even though tears are beneficial in many ways and we most often feel a bit of relief after shedding a few, it is sometimes upsetting to be at a point where they are necessary. I hope that you will begin to feel better really soon. I hope that doing my examining of my life on here wasn't responsible for you feeling bummed out.

I just know that the trauma I experienced with my little guy leaving my home to live with his dad is when my clutter problems began and I need to, or at least want to, somehow get free from the hold all of these extra things have on me. I am kind of waiting for some big revelation to smack me between the eyes so I can go in to the "clean sweep" mode and be brutal about it. The idea just popped in to my mind that maybe I need to begin visualizing the over stuffed closets and piled high shed as being de-cluttered and organized. Oh my gosh.....seems delightful. I can see it in my mind's eye. That is what I want!!!

As for your son's letter jacket, I believe that I would have to hold on to it. Maybe someday his children will want it. I plan to keep things that are special to me such as this. Not sure of anyone's ages here but I am sure that some of my hoarding is due to being raised by depression era parents, who tended to hold on to everything because there may be a use for it one of these days. I totally hate waste and wouldn't think of trashing some things that I see people put in their trash. I am a real believer in using second hand items if they are in good and working condition.

Whenever I give clean sweeping some thought, I try to decide where I want to sell or donate. Just this week I have decided that I will begin calling some consignment shops in the area and finding out about consigning details. Maybe I can make a dollar or two with some of my things.

I need to also give some thought to where I will donate the things that aren't of consignment quality. I know of several worthy causes that I wouldn't mind donating to. Getting things together and transporting them is something else all together. Ideally, I could find a group who would come here and get it instead of me, who has walking balance problems trying to lug things around.

Alright, I am just rambling on now. Gonna scoot along and get some chores done. I hope that everyone is having a good weekend and Gava I hope that you are doing better today. Take care all.


McGregor, IA(Zone 4b)

I too wish that someone would come around to pick up my "give aways". At one time Goodwill did this.
Keep on keepin' on, everyone!

northeastern, AZ

Ruby, thanks for your "ramblings" - they really do help. Thanks for the sympathy and advice - today is a better day. Maybe that is part of what my mom means when she says, "Tomorrow is another day."

The sheltered workshop in our area will come with a truck and take big loads. Maybe you have such a place in your area. Maybe the youth in your church are going to have a yardsale and would come get your stuff then take everything that does not sell to the goodwill. I'd help you haul if I lived closer to you.

I cleaned out my closet again yesterday and got rid of all the shirts and pants that were too small. It's so much fun to try on clothes when I shrink, but horrible to try them on when I grow.

I thought about what it would be like to live in a trailer (small camp trailer) Would I need or want all this stuff? So I'm going to go back into the closet and make some more trips to the thrift store. It's easier for me to keep the junk pared down in some areas than others. I resist kitchen stuff easily. It looked like I'd have to buy a piece of fabric to finish the quilt top - but found a piece in my stash that will be perfect. I have bought only two pieces of fabric since we moved here 2 years ago. And I have had plenty to make all the quilts I wanted. Scarey, isn't it?

Work hard - so you can enjoy immensely.

Schenectady, NY

Late to respond, but Ruby, that situation with your son was ROUGH. I went through something very similar a few years ago and had the long, hard depression as well. But as Flylady says, "You are not behind... jump in where you are!"

northeastern, AZ

Thanks, joey, I like that saying about not being behind.

Eagle Point, OR(Zone 8a)

Wonderful saying by the Flylady. I have a lot of difficulty feeling that I am so far behind that I shouldn't start anything. I will apply that positive thought to my decluttering process tomrrow. Tonight I will likely fall asleep chanting "Jump in where you are" :- )

Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7a)

start where you are.
where is that?
Look down. See your feet? There you are!
Begin......set a timer for 20 min and sort, discard, clean...whatever needs to be done -Just from that starting point!.
No leaving that room to take something to another. Have a box for "other rooms"! When the timer goes off, relax.
I was amazed at what I got accomplished in just 20 minutes!
How about some success stories here !!

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