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  • An Important Lesson

    “Throwers” relish clearing out and will empty a house quickly; “keepers” want to preserve special things as well as memories, and will linger over the process. People who balance these attributes have come to the realization that the most valuable thing in a house is the life that has been lived there. Read more about how “keepers” and “throwers” work together to downsize and declutter.
  • Press for our Book

    “…a downsizing bible” Oregon Home
    "...some items have special sentimental meaning... Huffington Post
    "clearing out the clutter...a wonderful gift to your family..."USA Today
    "sharing tips for getting the job done..."PBS’s Next Avenue
    "Downsizing: What to do with all that stuff?" Forbes
    “…discussions [help] avert misunderstandings…” The New York Times
    “…creative ways…of maintaining peace while dividing the family heirlooms” BloombergBusinessweek
    “practical suggestions for sorting through a lifetime of items…” The Washington Times
    “…about memories, feelings and people…” Chicago Tribune
    “tips on preserving relations and memories while sorting clutter...” The Salt Lake Tribune
    "lessons from two who have 'been there, done that'..."Your Organizing Business
    “…a useful resource...” Senior Living Institute
    “…help is on the way…” Illinois Public Media
    …the only book mentioned in the Comprehensive Checklist for Downsizing a Home Organize and Downsize

  • On Our Bookshelf

    Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home by Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand
    Buried in Treasures by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee
    Caring for Your Family Treasures by Jane S. Long and Richard W. Long
    Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
    Organizing Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin
    Sell, Keep, or Toss? How to Downsize a Home... by Harry L. Rinker
    Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate? by Marlene S. Strum

  • Our Favorite Blogs

Opportunity or Stumbling Block?

Some people look at getting rid of clutter as an opportunity: a chance, if not to change direction, then at least to clean up their path a bit. Other people see the need to get organized as a stumbling block, something that trips them up at every turn.

Are the people who see decluttering as an opportunity too optimistic? Are their rose-colored glasses a little too rosy? After all, life’s problems will be there whether their drawers are neatly arranged or not. And are the people who focus on the stumbling blocks too pessimistic? Are they using their reluctance to declutter as an excuse to not get moving in other areas of their life?

Perhaps the task of getting rid of clutter presents a combination of both opportunity and stumbling block – just like so many other things in life. And maybe we need to find a middle ground, some realistic and doable place between unbridled optimism and self-defeating pessimism that allows us to move forward with the “stuff” in our lives.

Here are some tips I’ve gleaned from talking to others who have been through the process of decluttering.

Just start. Don’t wait for someone else. Don’t ask for permission. Be your own source of power. And don’t worry about the “right” place to start. Just start.

Set a deadline. It may help you to focus. But as you keep expanding the parameters of the job, remember to reset the goal.

Do a little, often. Don’t wait until you have a free day; use those two hours you have. Don’t wait for a two-hour block; use the twenty minutes you have each day to accomplish one small task.

Celebrate your progress. Don’t wait for what may seem like an elusive end product but find delight and satisfaction in one clean shelf, one accessible drawer, one bag of clothing donated. Take before and after pictures to remind you of how much you have accomplished.

Ask for help if you need it. Don’t despair if the job seems too daunting. Ask family and friends to help in ways small and large.

Whether you see cleaning up your clutter as an opportunity or a stumbling block, you may have tips to share that will help others. What works for you?

≈Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

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