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Freeing Your Inner Clutter Monster

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Are you being stalked by clutter? Does it seem to follow you everywhere? If so, you and I are leading parallel lives. To learn the secrets of living better with less clutter, I caught up with uncluttering guru Katherine Gibson, author of Unclutter Your Life, who had these answers to offer to my most deep-rooted questions about clutter.

Ann: Why do some of us lead more cluttered lives than others?

Katherine: The most prevalent reasons are procrastination, leaving projects or tasks unfinished, impulse shopping and not setting aside a will be more creative, productive and less stressed.

Ann: What is the secret to freeing your inner clutter monster?
book cover
Katherine: Recognize that stuff is just stuff. Everything in our environment should have a purpose, or inspire us, or in our mind be beautiful. Visualize how your ideal environment would make you feel and then set about creating that environment. Our physical spaces significantly influence our emotional and mental states.

Ann: Do you have to go "cold turkey" when it comes to decluttering (e.g., getting rid of all kinds of stuff in a room all at once) or can you do it in stages?

Katherine: When we first get started, try to devote an entire day to uncluttering. Working with a "clutter buddy" or a professional organizer makes it fun and productive. After the "big purge" set aside a specific time each day to unclutter. I suggest the last 15 minutes of each workday to unclutter your workplace. And, the same for your home. This adds up to a more than an hour each week and several hours over the month.

Ann: How do you keep the clutter from coming back -- the dreaded clutter boomerang effect?

Katherine: Before we bring anything into our home or workplace ask if it really has a purpose in our life, do we already have one like it, and could we live without it.

Ann: If you got stuck in an elevator with a totally stressed out working mom and the two of you had nothing to do but to clean out her very messy briefcase and purse, how would you get started and what lessons would you try to teach her about clutter?

Katherine: When uncluttering any space, be it a briefcase or an entire room, take everything out and then make each item pass the "Do I Really Need This" test before replacing it. Put the keepers in a logical place. This process eliminates things that don't belong, aren't used, are duplicated, broken, and unnecessary.

Ann: Well, Katherine, I think I'm a hard-core clutter case, but you've given me a lot to think about -- particularly the bits about not bringing things into my house into the first place. Hmm.... No more trips to Winners for me!

| posted by Ann D @ 9:02 AM