New year, new start. That's how it feels in January each year. One of the things this brings to mind for many of us is getting organized. While getting organized is a good idea, the thought can be overwhelming. What getting organized really means is that we have to deal with our clutter.  There are three kinds of clutter; the first two are tangible:



  • Visible clutter – This is the clutter we see day in and day out. It can be clutter
  • a kitchen counter piled with dishes, a table toppling with papers and receipts, or a bedroom with clothes and accessories becoming its own mountain.
  • Invisible clutter – These are in those spaces that are concealed. The junk drawers that hold ambiguous items, the closet full of parts and pieces and the attic- our time capsule of treasures.

The last type of clutter is intangible, but ever present: 

  • Mind clutter – It’s all the information we try to manage in our heads. The schedules, the important deadlines, and to do lists are just the tip of the mind clutter iceberg.


Barbara Hemphill, past President of the National Association of Professional Organizers [NAPO] says "Clutter is postponed decisions."  In other words, this means that in order to deal with our clutter we must make decisions.  Although this sounds logical, it can be far from simple. Making decisions about our clutter can be difficult, emotional, and exhausting. In her recent book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo says when deciding whether to keep an item, we must ask ourselves "Does this item spark joy?" That is only one of many questions one needs to ask. Here are other questions to consider when tackling the clutter.


  • When was the last time I used/needed this?
  • Does it add value to my life?
  • Is there something I need to do with this?
  • Do I have more than one of these? Do I need more than one?
  • If I let go of this, can I get another one in the future?
  • Does this belong to someone else?
  • Does this need to be kept for taxes or legal purposes?

And the best question:

  • What's the worst thing that would happen if I did not have this?

When we take the time to ask and answer these questions we can finally begin to unclutter.  Answer these questions honestly, based on what you think; not what others think you should do.

Making these decisions will begin to unclutter your life in 2016. Eliminating clutter is less about losing possessions; it’s really about gaining more freedom.  Owning clutter means you have to manage it, dust it, move it and maintain it. Those are the actions that can steal your energy, waste your money and your time. It’s a new year and a new start, let’s start 2016 by uncluttering.