Peace of Mind Organizing

Make space. Find peace. Feel joy.

Articles tagged with clutter

Don't let your stuff control you

1 June 2018 | Comments [1] »

Last month I spent some time in some pretty cluttered situations with clients who had a very difficult time letting go of excess. This isn’t the norm for me; most of my clients are ready to let go by the time I work with them.

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Don't give stuff power

10 March 2018 | Comments [2] »

In my line of work, I sometimes see relationships that have damaged on account of clutter. I always urge people not to let stuff have the power to affect their lives that way.

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Using Evernote to organize my Kindle library

28 July 2017 | Comments [0] »

Because it’s so easy to download free Kindle books, thanks to Bookbub and my library, I have hundreds of books on my Kindle. Unfortunately, the user interface of on the Amazon website under “Your Content and Devices” offers only two ways to organize my vast library. One is to sort it by Title, Author, or Acquired Date. The other is to put books into collections. Neither is sufficient, in my opinion.

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Staying on top of your email inbox

19 December 2016 | Comments [0] »

I’m struck by how similar our email inboxes are to physical clutter. Many people deal with physical clutter, but I bet even those who manage to keep a tidy home have email inbox clutter.

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Confessions of an email hoarder

13 October 2016 | Comments [3] »

I openly admit that I have been an email hoarder. I abandoned my emails on my old Windows computer when I switched to the Mac in 2008. And since then I had a tendency to hang on to all emails that might possibly come in handy some day.

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Worth repeating: Need a reason to declutter? Do it for your pets

12 August 2016 | Comments [0] »

I wrote this post three years ago and I still talk about this kitty who so enjoyed his decluttered space. It came up last month, in fact. Making your animal’s life easier is another great reason to clear out a cluttered space.

Many of my clients are animal lovers. I’m an animal lover too. I even made my living as a pet writer before becoming an organizer. Perhaps I attract animal lovers.

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Study on clutter and relationships

7 June 2016 | Comments [0] »

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The curse of the large house

19 January 2016 | Comments [2] »

My husband and I own a house that’s larger than we need. It was built in 1908 as a two-family house and when we bought it, we lived in the upstairs apartment and rented out the downstairs apartment. The upstairs apartment, which has two bedrooms and is 1600 square feet, was plenty big for the two of us. But we rather hated being landlords, despite the fact we had good renters. (Truth be told, we’re born renters.)

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Worth repeating: An empty drawer is a beautiful thing

11 January 2016 | Comments [1] »

My team and I helped a client declutter and organize her entire home last week and we were able to make a huge impact—because the client parted with so much. She was so ready to let go of the excess that was weighing her down and she made amazing decisions. As we took out bag after bag of denotable items, the rooms seemed to get lighter.

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An empty drawer is a beautiful thing

26 January 2015 | Comments [3] »

My team and I helped a client declutter and organize her entire home last week and we were able to make a huge impact—because the client parted with so much. She was ready to let go of the excess that was weighing her down. As we took out bag after bag of denotable items, the rooms seemed to get lighter.

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Worth repeating: Decluttering my keys

8 July 2014 | Comments [0] »

About ten months ago, I decluttered the copious keys in our house and posted a step-by-step explanation of the process. I’m happy to report that the key bin has not attracted more clutter and we’ve found having labeled keys for our friends’ and neighbors’ homes to be really useful! Here’s that post.

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10 things you can throw away this weekend

9 May 2014 | Comments [0] »

It’s basement season for my business. I’ve been in a lot of basements recently and my teams have helped make them much more enjoyable and functional spaces. I keep seeing the same sorts of items, so I decided to a create a quick list of items that I frequently see people unnecessarily hanging onto in basements (and other parts of the house).

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Less stuff, more living: A review of Clutterfree with Kids (+ giveaway!)

21 February 2014 | Comments [13] »

Joshua Becker, the founder and editor of the popular Becoming Minimalist website, sent me a copy of his new book, Clutterfree with Kids for a review and giveaway. Here’s the review. At the end you’ll see how to enter to win an autographed copy of the book.

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Got a clutter emergency?

18 November 2013 | Comments [1] »

It can be overwhelming when you know guests are coming and your home doesn’t feel quite up to snuff. (My brother’s visit has me scurrying around taking care of small decluttering projects.)

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There's no such thing as a free book

7 October 2013 | Comments [2] »

I make no secret of the fact that I love my Kindle Paperwhite. It makes books so portable that I’m reading more than ever. (I’m keeping a running list and since I bought my Kindle in on December 31, 2012, I’ve read 25 books.)

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Need a reason to declutter? Do it for your pets

11 September 2013 | Comments [4] »

Many of my clients are animal lovers. I’m an animal lover too. I even made my living as a pet writer before becoming an organizer. Perhaps I attract animal lovers.

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Decluttering my keys

2 September 2013 | Comments [7] »

I’m a big believer in having one place where the keys are placed when coming in the door. In our house, it’s been a coated-wire basket just inside the back door, where we enter from the garage. We now automatically drop our keys right in the basket.

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Worth repeating: Standards of clutter

14 August 2013 | Comments [0] »

I wrote this blog post four years ago and it remains true. Clutter is truly in the eye of the beholder, which can become a problem when people in the same household have different standards!

Since I specialize in working with chronically disorganized people, I’ve seen a lot of clutter. I’ve worked in homes so full of stuff they were uninhabitable (literally).

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Where to start decluttering

17 June 2013 | Comments [1] »

Clutter overwhelms many people. Probably the most frequent thing I hear from clients who seek help decluttering is that they don’t know where to begin.

There are three things to look out for selecting when figuring out where to start deluttering:

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A little focused attention

31 May 2013 | Comments [1] »

Our old house has two full baths and there’s one that’s primarily my domain. I shower there and get ready for my day. My husband rarely steps foot in it.

So I have no one to blame but myself that the bathroom closet was a nightmare. For something like ten years, items went in and seldom came out.

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Less really is more

23 January 2013 | Comments [9] »

I just spent some time as a houseguest of my friend, Shannon Wilkinson, who moved into her lovely home in Portland just six months ago.

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Go through those computer manuals

22 August 2012 | Comments [0] »

One of the benefits of having a blog for six years is that you can see how often you do stuff. Back in March of 2009, I blogged about decluttering the ancient computer documentation I had in my office closet.

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"Collectibles" may not be worth keeping

15 August 2012 | Comments [2] »

Every now and then, I run across collectibles in clients’ homes. They’re usually packed away and rarely on display. And the client usually has high hopes that if she hangs on to them long enough, the items will end up selling for a good deal of money. I don’t know much about collectibles and offer no counsel when they come up.

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Clutter support group in St. Louis

22 May 2012 | Comments [0] »

I was recently contacted by Catherine, a member of a small clutter support group that meets in person on Monday evenings from 7 to 9 at Hartford Coffee, near Tower Grove Park, in the city of St. Louis. I was delighted to hear from her, since I’m occasionally asked about local clutter support groups and didn’t know of any.

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Some great writing on clutter

9 November 2011 | Comments [1] »

Janet Barclay who is a professional-organizer-turned-virtual-assistant has an Professional Organizers Blog Carnival every month. She sets a theme and invites organizers who blog to submit blog posts on the theme.

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ICD's newly revised Clutter-Hoarding Scale is out

11 July 2011 | Comments [0] »

In 2003, the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (now the Institute for Challenging Disorganization) issued the landmark Clutter Hoarding Scale, an assessment tool that identified five different levels of cluttering and hoarding. It can be used for organizers (or clients) who want to get an objective view of the state of a home. As conditions improve, it can also serve as a measuring tool.

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Unclutterer's "Keystone Demise"

22 June 2011 | Comments [0] »

I love the blog Unclutterer. Erin Doland, who writes most of the posts, is so smart and such a great writer. I love her perspective on striving to live a clutter-free life.

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(Double) standards of clutter

11 May 2011 | Comments [0] »

There’s an interesting conversation going on over at Unclutterer, one of my favorite blogs at organizing and clutter. Unclutterer editor, Erin Dolan, wrote a fascinating post about societal pressures women face to keep house.

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Just do it

9 November 2010 | Comments [0] »

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The cost of keeping stuff

10 September 2010 | Comments [6] »

I gave a talk this week called Letting Go of the Tough Stuff. One of the points I made in that talk is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Many clients don’t like to part with items they don’t use or love because those items cost a lot to buy. Or they feel the item is worth something and they can’t just give it away, but selling it feels too complicated or labor-intenstive, so it gets put off.

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When is clutter a problem?

9 April 2010 | Comments [0] »

I gave a decluttering talk the other day and of the audience members asked, “But what if I get comfort from having all my stuff around me?” I told her it’s not a problem to be surrounded by her stuff — unless it is a problem. I asked her whether being surrounded by her stuff was affecting her ability to function. She said yes. So we talked a little about what happens when the cost of keeping stuff is higher than the cost of letting go of it.

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A satisfying apology

18 January 2010 | Comments [0] »

Several years ago, a book called A Perfect Mess was published. I mentioned it on my blog right before it was published. In a nutshell, the book’s premise is that mess is good and that an obsession for order can be detrimental.

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The disruptive nature of disorder

9 November 2009 | Comments [0] »

I’ve always been open on this blog about how things can get out of control in my house. Even though I have homes for almost all of my things (which isn’t to say there aren’t storage areas that need to be weeded out…I’ll be blogging more about that in coming weeks), I have a hard time putting stuff away. And when things get busy? Forget about it.

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Declutter Happy Hour Thanksgiving special!

28 October 2009 | Comments [0] »

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I love Thanksgiving. And I’m really lucky because Thanksgiving doesn’t mean work for me. We’ve had turkey on the fourth Thursday of November every year since 1988 at the home of dear friends. My husband cooks our contribution. All I have to do is show up and eat. (And contribute to conversation.)

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Stop the stashing

23 October 2009 | Comments [0] »

If clutter is an issue in your life, the prospect of having a dinner guest or houseguest can be panic-inducing. (Flylady calls it living in CHAOS, or Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.)

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Standards of clutter

21 October 2009 | Comments [5] »

Since I specialize in working with chronically disorganized people, I’ve seen a lot of clutter. I’ve worked in homes so full of stuff they were inhabitable (literally).

But I’ve also been hired to do consultations for people for whom there was no visible clutter, at least at first glance. Yet those folks made the effort to schedule an appointment and paid me to advise them on how to deal with stuff that was bothering them. To my eye, it was small, easily addressable stuff. But to them it was a problem. (I always have to remind myself never to trivialize someone’s problem.)

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Facing down the fears lurking in the clutter

18 September 2009 | Comments [2] »

As Shannon and I discuss in Declutter Happy Hour, sometimes people don’t want to work on clutter because it’s just plain scary.

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Have a Declutter Happy Hour any time you want

11 June 2009 | Comments [2] »

At the end of March, life coach Shannon Wilkinson and I started offering a four-week telecourse called Declutter Happy Hour.

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It's amazing what you can do in a half hour (or less)

27 April 2009 | Comments [4] »

As part of the preparations for Declutter Happy Hour, the four-week teleclass I started offering with Shannon Wilkinson last month, I’ve been doing a lot of small decluttering projects around the house.

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2 April 2009 | Comments [0] »

It’s so interesting to me how in control I feel when I have (and take) the time to keep my systems going, and to maintain order. And it’s also interesting how quickly those systems can break down.

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Declutter Happy Hour starts tomorrow!

30 March 2009 | Comments [0] »

Our first “Declutter Happy Hour” session begins tomorrow, March 31, at 2 p.m. central. If you haven’t signed up yet but are intrigued, head on over to the Declutter Happy Hour website and check it out.

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The power of 15 minutes

20 March 2009 | Comments [0] »

A decade ago, Flylady told me to set my timer for 15 minutes and declutter. She told all of her followers, “You can do anything for 15 minutes.” I’ve put that into use over and over again through the years. And I blog about it a lot because it’s so true.

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Announcing Declutter Happy Hour!

18 March 2009 | Comments [0] »

Recently, I’ve been blogging quite a bit about how hard it can be to get rid of clutter, not just because it’s hard work that’s difficult to find the time to do, but because of emotional barriers to the work, or unhelpful beliefs that get in the way.

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Take the poll: Emotional barriers to decluttering

16 March 2009 | Comments [0] »

On Friday, I posted about emotional barriers to getting organized. Jim Dietzel from Rubbermaid’s blog suggested in a comment that I do a poll on the various emotional blocks folks have when it comes to decluttering.

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Emotional barriers to getting organized

13 March 2009 | Comments [5] »

Earlier this week, I wrote about unhelpful beliefs that can stop you from being able to let go of stuff. Today I want to talk about emotional barriers that can come up when you’re trying to get organized (or even just thinking about it).

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Question your beliefs

11 March 2009 | Comments [3] »

Most of the people I work with are dealing with clutter. As we work through the stuff and I help the client make decisions about whether to keep items, I’m often amazed at the different ways people feel about letting stuff go.

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Hello, computer-related clutter!

6 March 2009 | Comments [1] »

The other day I decided to sell my Palm T|X handheld on Gazelle. It’s a website that buys used electronics. (I’ll write a post after the transaction is complete to let you know how the experience is.) I’d replaced the Palm with my beloved iPod Touch, so thought I’d divest myself of it.

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Decisions and clutter

5 March 2009 | Comments [0] »

When I talk with clients or give talks, I’ll often make this statement:

Clutter is nothing but delayed decisions.

And then I’ll urge folks to make decisions, rather than delaying them.

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The weekend work/rest balance

16 February 2009 | Comments [0] »

On Friday I wrote that I was overwhelmed with tasks and clutter and that I really wanted to put my feet up this weekend, but had so much to do that I feared that wouldn’t be prudent. So I decided to create short task lists for each weekend day and relax only after I’d completed all the tasks on them.

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Feeling overwhelmed

13 February 2009 | Comments [2] »

So far this year, things have been running really smoothly. I’ve been gliding through the days, getting lots done, meeting some terrific people, making some money. Kind of idyllic, in fact.

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The tragedy of stuff

1 December 2008 | Comments [0] »

This weekend, the National Public Radio program Weekend Edition aired a thoughtful essay called The Tragedy of Stuff, The essay was written by Cathy Duchamp, whose ex-husband, Maury, died suddenly, leaving behind an apartment full of stuff. Cathy and her friends were left with the task of clearing it out.

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Keeping the clutter out of holiday gift giving

17 November 2008 | Comments [3] »

If you haven’t already purchased your holidays gifts this year, I encourage you to consider giving gifts that won’t contribute any clutter to the recipient’s home. I wrote about this in the November 2007 issue of my newsletter. My readership was smaller then, so I’m going to repost it here for those who may not have seen it. (If you like it and would like to subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, which comes out on the 15th of every month, please subscribe.)

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Oprah to the rescue

13 November 2008 | Comments [2] »

In case you missed it, yesterday’s Oprah show was the debut of Oprah’s Clean Up Your Messy House Tour. Oprah is sending organizer Peter Walsh, of whom I’m an unabashed fan, around the country with a “clutter crew” of helpers (in VW Bugs) to help people get rid of clutter. (In this first episode, they were in New York City, knocking on doors of unsuspecting people.) Designer Candice Olson of Divine Design is also on hand to help with beautiful storage and design solutions.

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A pocket of order

30 October 2008 | Comments [0] »

This week, as part of my Level III certification program through the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization, I analyzed the book Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, by Cindy Glovinsky (link at right).

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Regaining control

15 September 2008 | Comments [0] »

I wrote on Friday about how my house had become cluttered and messy over the past couple of weeks of whirlwind activity and how I had feet of lead when I thought about doing anything about it. I ended that post with “I hope to report on Monday that my life and business are back in order and that I’m feeling clutter-free and empowered!”

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The power of clutter

12 September 2008 | Comments [0] »

As I posted on Monday I had a crazy-busy week last week, leading a team of five other organizers to help a client get his house cleared out. This week, I’ve been doing follow up on that job. There’s been a certain amount of paperwork associated with it. And I had a NAPO St. Louis chapter meeting this week, which always generates paper.

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Get organized. Lose weight.

1 August 2008 | Comments [4] »

Organizer Peter Walsh received a lot of press earlier this year upon the release of his book, Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? that explored the connection between getting organized and losing weight.

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The Clutter Diet Blog: Blog of the Week

16 July 2008 | Comments [1] »

This week’s BOTW is Lorie Marrero’s The Clutter Diet Blog.

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The tyranny of the heirloom

1 July 2008 | Comments [3] »

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times last week about how difficult it is for people to part with furniture (or art or other artifacts) that had belonged to relatives. Even if the furniture did not fit in their home, physically, or clashed with their other furnishings, the people interviewed for the article still hung on to it.

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You know it's time to focus on organizing...

16 June 2008 | Comments [1] »

...when you can’t find stuff. The universe is putting me squarely in the shoes of my clients today. I’ve spend much of the day trying to find things. And so far, I’m having no luck!

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I'm a member of the Peter Walsh fan club

14 May 2008 | Comments [2] »

Peter Walsh, organizer on TLC’s show Clean Sweep, as well as Oprah’s go-to guy for hoarders, gave the keynote address at this year’s annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

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Historical clutter

28 April 2008 | Comments [1] »

When I was cleaning out my email inbox, I came across a link to a New York Times article called The Ghosts of Clinton Street. My husband had sent it to me last fall. I don’t know why I didn’t click on the link back then, but I’m glad I did last week.

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A peek inside the client's mind

18 February 2008 | Comments [0] »

When I visit the home of a client for the first time, I’m often struck by the trust that’s been placed in me. For some of my clients, I’m the first visitor they’ve welcomed into their homes in some time.

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That craving for order

4 January 2008 | Comments [0] »

Before I sat down to write in my journal on January 1, 2008, I decided to read the entry I wrote on January 1, 1998

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Clean desktop challenge results

15 November 2007 | Comments [0] »

Ten days and two posts ago (on a Monday), I wrote this: I hope and trust that on Friday I’ll post that I had a clean desk-top every day for five days running. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

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A little Internet press

6 November 2007 | Comments [2] »

I’m quoted in a couple of articles published on the Internet recently.

Today’s edition of has an article by Kathy Hawkins entitled, “How to Kick the Clutter Habit.” I’m the main source for the article.

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Clutter and stress

5 November 2007 | Comments [0] »

I just discovered something about myself. I’ve always known that, for me, clutter causes stress. And stress tends to cause clutter. Typically, my stress starts because I’m too busy. When I’m busy I have no time to put anything away. The clutter grows and grows and looking at it stresses me out. It’s a vicious cycle.

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Clutter can be such a barrier

13 September 2007 | Comments [0] »

It’s amazing to me what a barrier to productivity, to progress, to peace of mind clutter can be. I see it in my clients all the time. And I know from personal experience.

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For me, this is what it is all about

16 July 2007 | Comments [4] »

I just got back from an intense five days working with a client in another state. I know from her feedback and from what we accomplished that I really made a difference in her life. That’s what I love about this work!

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I can see clearly now

5 March 2007 | Comments [0] »

So I paid almost $30 to have my car washed inside and out. I expected to enjoy having a nice clean car. I didn’t expect to have an epiphany.

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The cobbler’s children…

25 January 2007 | Comments [3] »

I’ve been spending my days helping my clients create order, which I love doing. Meanwhile, my own house seems to be devolving into chaos. Between the rapidly piling up mail (I can’t seem to get caught up), and the laundry that’s not getting done, my home looks like it could use the help of a professional organizer.

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