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  • The Ultimate Guide To Let Go of Clutter and Organize Your Whole Life

    Our outer life reflects our inner self. How is clutter affecting your life right now? How’s your mental well being contributing to the clutter around you?

    Hundreds of thousands of us have a psyche that is out of control.

    Research from Princeton University found that clutter decreases productivity as the neural circuits in the brain have multiple stimuli competing for attention. The more ‘stuff’ on your desk (or in your home), the more difficult it is for your brain to focus on the task at hand.

    Does clutter affect your life? If so, be honest and gentle with yourself – adding shame to the problem only makes it harder.

    Disorganization and clutter cause many challenges, including:

    1. Personal health – stress and sometimes illness or injury

    2. Mental health – mood, overstimulation and hyperarousal, stress, shame, and self-defeating thoughts or behaviors

    3. Time management issues – wasted time looking for things and decreased productivity

    4. Relationships – strained relationships, including spouse or partner, housemates and children, as well as social relationships

    5. Career – decreased productivity, increased stress, lack of attention to detail, and time management issues

    6. Finances – buying multiples, buying things you don’t need, paying people to help you get and stay organized

    7. The list continues…

    Also remember that most things exist on a continuum (mild, moderate, severe). You don’t have to be on the extreme end of the spectrum to have a challenge with clutter. Nor do you have to experience clutter in every area of your life.

    Clutter may not be negatively affecting your social life, but it may still be a challenge if it affects your career, adds stress to your life, or causes strife with your family members.

    We’re going to focus on: 

    ✓ Identifying the many issues related to clutter

    ✓ Strategies to correct and manage clutter

    ✓ How to get housemates and family members on board

    ✓ Letting go of things

    ✓ Staying and correcting the course

    Clutter: What and Why?: Defining the Problem

    Clutter is subjective

    If my house is messy but clean, I may not consider it cluttered – just lived in. If you’re a minimalist and have only the necessities, you probably think my house is cluttered. 

    Should I happen to watch an episode of Hoarders, I will feel really good about my house and myself. It’s all relative. 

    For our purposes, let’s assume the definition of clutter to be specific to the challenges previously mentioned. 

    You may have a mild challenge with clutter if you experience one or two of these:

    ● It causes stress in your life.

    ● It creates strife with your housemates.

    ● It takes up more time than most people spend on their things.

    ● It results in limiting your social interactions.

    ● It costs more money than most people spend on similar things.

    ● It affects your work or productivity on tasks.

    If clutter affects three of these areas, your problem is likely moderate. More than four and the clutter problem is severe.

    So – think about your life. How serious is your problem with clutter? 

    Why is Clutter a Challenge for You?

    You may not think it matters why you have a challenge with clutter – just fix it already! But in many ways, it’s important because it helps you understand how to address it.

    For example, if you live in a small, cramped space you may not have enough storage for even the most basic things. The solution to that challenge is very different from other causes of clutter.

    Perhaps you’ve inherited a lot of things when a relative died or have been the recipient of things passed down through the family.

    Heaven forbid that you’re on every mailing list possible and buried under catalogs and newspapers. 

    Maybe you kept all your college textbooks, research papers, and supporting articles from undergrad and graduate school – just in case you need an obscure reference that didn’t make it onto the internet somehow.

    Another scenario – you’re a bargain shopper and have stocked up on everything imaginable. Or, you plan to recycle things that you’ve held onto for years.

    It’s possible that you learned to hang onto things when you were growing up. Many people who grew up during the depression or had parents who grew up then stockpile things that are on sale.

    True hoarders have a compulsion to keep things for sentimental reasons or to fill a void left by deprivation, either material or emotional. This is extreme and beyond the scope of our discussion here.

    The more significant the problem, the more likely you will need outside help to get organized. That could mean family or friends to help haul things away or a therapist to address deeper issues. 

    Sorting through the piles and choosing what to keep, what to donate, and what to toss can be a long, painful, exhausting, and overwhelming process. 

    So, think about why you have more stuff than you need. This will help you develop a plan of attack.

    Remember – everything is on a continuum. Your situation may be relatively mild compared to others, but still considered a significant problem for you.

    Start the Decluttering Process

    Taking stock of the job that lies ahead seems to be the starting point for most people. Let’s get started …

    Where is the Clutter?

    Is the clutter confined to one or two rooms?

    The garage? Basement? 

    Extra bedroom? Attic?

    Is the clutter on every surface in the house? All rooms and in stacks on  the floor?

    Every room ceiling to floor? 

    Maybe storage shed or two?

    What is the Clutter?

    For some, the problem may be a surface-level mess and for others a literal pile of stuff hiding more stuff. For hoarders, it’s even more complicated and may require professional assistance.

    Identify your challenge (it may be one or all of these):

    ● Things on surfaces need to be trashed, filed, shredded, passed on, or handled (mail)

    ● Stacks need to be trashed, filed, shredded, passed on, or handled

    ● Stockpiles of ‘stuff I may need’ or extra reserves need to be put away, given away, or trashed

    ● Family treasures need to be sorted, passed on, donated, thrown away or put away

    ● Piles of things that may be useful/recycled need to be sorted, trashed, donated, or passed along

    ● Things you haven’t needed or used in years need to be trashed, passed on, or donated

    Who Causes the Clutter?

    Is this your problem? Someone else in your home? All of you? 

    It’s important to recognize what you can and can’t control. If you live with someone who keeps everything ‘just in case’ or ‘to be recycled someday’ or ‘in case of the apocalypse’ or ‘it was on sale and we need it,’ it can be difficult to convince them to change their ways. 

    They’ll need to be willing to make the changes and work through these questions to identify why and how to change the behavior. As you likely know, it can be complicated. 

    Many couples and families spend a significant amount of time trying to clean up the clutter of others who aren’t ready, willing, or able to let it go and/or stop it. It can cause much family strife.

    If the clutterer is you, you’ll have to be committed to not only getting control of the current situation, but also ways to prevent it from happening again. This requires changes in thinking and behavior.

    Develop a Strategy: Get Prepared

    It helps to get everything you need before you actually begin the active process of decluttering. Otherwise, you may have to stop to get supplies and it can be hard to start again.

    ● Trash bags and/or boxes 

    ● Markers and labels

    ● Clear, stackable storage bins 

    ● Various sizes of zip bags

    ● Shredder

    ● Small trash can for every room

    ● Organizers for magazines and files

    ● File cabinet (if needed)

    ● Shelving units for garage, basement, attic

    ● Bookshelves or bookcases

    ● Cannisters

    ● Over-the-door hooks for towels, coats, or whatever

    ● Mail organizer

    ● Drawer and shelf organizers

    ● Caddies for shower and cleaning products

    ● If you’ll be cleaning as you go (recommended), buy all cleaning products and supplies

    ● Label or set up bags or boxes for: Donate – Trash – Recycle – Pass On – Handle

    Get anything else you need to organize what you keep – but not to keep things that you don’t need!

    Get Everyone on Board

    If your spouse, partner, or other housemate is part of the problem, you’ll need to get them to support your efforts. In fact, this likely won’t work long-term without their buy-in.

    Many people who disagree on what is and is not ‘junk’ learn the art of negotiation. They compromise on things that are important to them and let go of the small stuff.

    Some people allow their kids to have a playroom for their toys to keep them out of the other areas. Periodically, it’s a good idea to go through the toys and either trash or donate any that are broken or not being used.

    Another good rule for kids and toys or adults and tools/books/knick-knacks is to give away one thing before buying another. That helps us think more about what is important to us and prevents adding to the clutter. 


    Involve your kids in the process before the big day or weekend. Start by talking to them about why you’re decluttering. Help them understand the difference between needs and wants.

    There’s a lot of pressure for kids to have the most and the best. The sooner you help them learn to resist and change that way of thinking (even if they learned it from you), the better. Be prepared for pushback but stay on track. 

    Speaking of toys, you may want to ask your kids to choose 3 (or whatever number) toys to keep and give away or trash those that are unused or broken. Help them understand how giving to others who have less benefits both you and them.

    Kids who are used to having anything and everything all the time will resist this and try to sabotage your efforts. This is a time to be the grown up and make decisions based on what is best for everyone. 

    Is it really necessary to have toys and clothes that haven’t been used in months or years? 

    Explain your reasoning to let go of some things you’ve held onto and model positive behavior and decision-making.

    Should I Sell It?

    Many people decide to have a yard sale and keep things for the sale.

    However, keep in mind that yard sales are a lot of work for little return! Most items in a yard sale are priced at only a few dollars. It’s generally not a good return on investment of the time and energy it takes to do the sale. And, you end up with a lot of things that still need to be donated anyway.

    If you have a few bigger items that may bring a decent sum, consider selling them online or to a local used or antique goods store. It is much easier and more cost effective than a yard sale. 

    Choose a Day and Recruit Help

    Ask for help if you have widespread clutter involving several rooms or a garage, basement, or attic with tons of stuff. Plan to work all day or all weekend if needed. 

    Arrange off-site child care if possible. Kids can make the process more difficult in many ways – especially if decluttering involves their toys.

    Offer pizza and beer (or whatever is appropriate) for your friends who agree to help. 

    Be organized so that they feel good about making progress. If you’re tackling different rooms, put someone in charge of each room. 


    Prioritize. Start where you need it most. 

    For some people, that may be an office (at home or work). Others may want to start with the room in the house where you need the space most – living room, dining room, or kitchen. Or, the room where you stash everything out of sight.

    If you have multiple rooms, make a list with the priorities. You may want to have a separate sheet of paper for each room – for more lists! If you need to make a path to the room, do that by filling trash bags or boxes labeled: trash, recycle, donate, and pass on. Things that need to be kept and organized should go in one place. Setup a stack to be filed, handled, or put away. 

    Avoid putting all those things in a box and leaving them for another day. 

    How To Eat an Elephant

    On the big day, set up the main rooms with your supplies and discuss how to begin with your helpers.

    Give them specific instructions about what goes where, what stays, and what goes. If it’s mail, it may be easy enough to identify junk mail to recycle, loan or credit card offers to shred, and bills to be handled. If they don’t know what to do, they can put it in a pile to ask you about.

    Books and magazines are hard for a lot of people to let go of. Some of us have hundreds of books that have been boxed and unboxed and moved and stored for ages. 

    You may need to go through the books and magazines yourself. Just remember that most non-fiction information is available online now and most fiction can be obtained from the library or purchased as an ebook. 

    Even most magazines and newspapers are published online – so why must we keep hard copies of everything? Something to consider. 

    Friends of the Library and many used bookstores accept books for credit. Also, there are lots of family and women’s shelters that appreciate donations of newer books and magazines.

    Where to Begin

    Some people start at the top and work their way down. Others start at the bottom and work up. Let the people who are doing the work in each room decide unless there is a reason to do it a specific way.

    Starting at the bottom, meaning the floor, is a good plan for those with stacks and boxes on the floor. Once the floor space is cleared, it may be easier to sort through things.

    After the obvious clutter is removed, you may have to go through knick knacks and personal items to choose what stays and what goes. Try not to think about it too much. 

    Deciding What to Keep

    Ask yourself the following:

    ● How long has it been since I used this? More than 6-12 months (except clothes and shoes, appliances, or other items used infrequently, such as a working lawn mower that you use seasonally)?

    ● How likely am I to use it in the next 6-12 months?

    ● Is there a way to borrow or use one should I need it?

    ● Depending on what it is – can I replace it if needed for less than $xx?

    ● Is it something someone else may need more than I?

    ● Is there a reason to keep this (pass on to my daughter when she starts a family)?

    Family Treasures

    These can be complicated. In some cases, people are very specific about what goes to whom and when. If that’s the case, you may need to honor their wishes and find a way to store things, so it doesn’t take over your life and home. 

    In some cases, it might be useful to pass along things now. Particularly if they’re useful and your loved one can benefit from it. Jewelry, china, and such may be welcome at any time.

    You may also want to have a candid talk with your adult children about your belongings. Talk to them about what they want to keep and if there are things you can donate or liquidate now. 

    In some cases, things we believe to be important to pass along are things our loved ones have no need (or space) for. You may find that they would prefer (or need) the money if it is something valuable. 

    As people are living longer, many are downsizing as they age. They often find they no longer have the space to keep things once held dear. Furniture styles and home sizes have changed so much that grand old antiques may not fit in the space or preferences of your loved ones.

    Now What?

    By the end of the day or weekend, you should have bags or boxes sorted into piles. It is important to take them to the identified location immediately, lest they sit there indefinitely. Take a load or two to the trash and recycling place. Get someone to drop off the donations. 

    As for the things to handle, file, organize, or store – your work continues. If you do it within the next few days, it’s more likely to get done.

    Carve out some time each day to work on it. Use labels and file folders and clear bags and boxes to identify things. Put them where you can find them! 

    Work on one thing until you finish it. Start with the things to be handled – and handle them. Pay bills, make phone calls – do all of them at one time. When you finish handling all those things, move to the next stack and work on it until you complete it.

    Do the same for each room of the house. Work in one room to finish up what your helpers started, if needed. If you need to go through each knick-knack or books/magazines, finish it before moving to the next room.

    Find a way to celebrate as you finish each room, but avoid going out and buying something! Get a pedicure or go play golf. Have a latte at the coffee shop.

    When you finish the whole house, go out with the family and celebrate! Do something fun, such as going to a movie, zoo, aquarium, museum, or other entertainment venue.

    Staying the Course

    Unless you develop new habits, your house will look the same within a few months. It takes a concerted effort to prevent this.

    Course Correction 

    It’s easy to backslide and let things get cluttered again. The trick is to catch it before it gets overwhelming.

    People who are most successful changing behavior long-term have a limit – a line they will not cross. With weight loss, that may be a certain size or weight. For clutter control, you can decide what that looks like.

    What’s your line in the sand? How do you get back to where you need to be? What leverage do you have with roommates to be part of the solution?

    Things to Remember

    ● Productivity is negatively affected at work and at home by clutter.

    ● Clutter affects mental and physical health in many negative ways.

    ● Family and social relationships may be negatively affected by clutter. 

    ● Clutter can take a toll on your finances.

    ● You can lose up to an hour a day looking for things due to clutter.

    ● Problems with clutter are on a continuum – mild, moderate, severe.

    ● Even mild challenges with clutter can have a negative effect on your life and career.

    ● Organizing and staying organized requires everyone be willing to do their part.

    ● Sometimes compromise is necessary to manage what/who you have little control over.

    ● Ask for help! Friends, family, and professional organizers may be 

    very helpful.

    ● If the problem is extreme, mental health assistance may be required.

    Good luck to you and never be afraid to reach out!

  • Preparing Your Child to Stay Home Alone

    Staying home alone is a milestone in a child’s development that rewards their growing sense of responsibility and helps them build confidence. These are some signs a parent can look for to determine if your child is ready to take care of themselves for short time periods along with steps for getting your child and house ready.

    How Do You Know If Your Child Is Ready To Stay Home Alone?

    Know your local laws

    Kids develop at their own individual pace so legal restrictions are just part of the picture. Many experts suggest that ages 10 to 12 is a typical threshold period for starting self-care. Your local police department or Child Protective Services agency can advise you on the laws for your jurisdiction.

    Determine if your child is willing

    Ensure your child wants to stay on their own. Otherwise, the experience can backfire and create more fears and anxieties.

    Examine your child’s track record

    Look for evidence of taking responsibility and demonstrating sound judgment. Does your child get himself ready for school? Is his homework consistently done on time with minimal supervision?

    Steps To Take With Your Child

    Test it out first

    Build up to leaving a child alone for long stretches. Start out with quick visits to a neighbor or trips to a local store. Discuss any issues that arise. Praise them for managing on their own and looking after the house.

    Rehearse and practice difficult scenarios

    Train your child on how to answer the phone and door when no adult is present. Get together and role play about how to call 911 and respond to other emergencies.

    Discuss all the rules

    People of all ages are more likely to obey rules when they participate in making them and buy into the reasoning behind them. Many kids also need occasional reminders about anything that occurs infrequently.

    Schedule check-ins

    Create the feeling of supervision. Ask a neighbor to check in while you’re out. Require your child to call you when they arrive home or if they plan on going out.

    Develop a guest policy

    Ban all guests if you think that’s safest. Otherwise, you may want to specify which individuals are allowed over and limit the number at any one time.

    Plan activities

    Boredom can lead to trouble. Give your kids something to do, so, for example, they’ll play a board game instead of making prank phone calls.

    Steps To Take With Your House

    Post emergency numbers

    Stick a list of important contacts on the refrigerator door and by each phone. Include the police and fire departments, your family doctor, and your own numbers. Limit internet access. Some parents prefer to shut down internet access completely. In any case, talk with your kids about staying safe online and remaining alert to their surroundings.

    Provide safe snacks and meals

    Put the stove off-limits to younger kids. Leave them with food that’s ready to eat or can just be heated in the microwave.

    Remove hazards

    Double-check that matches and prescription drugs are out of reach. Get rid of any toxic products that you’re unlikely to use.

    Secure all windows and doors

    Check that everything is locked, including the garage. Give a spare key to a neighbor in case your child loses their own. Teach kids to go to a neighbor’s house and call the police if they see a broken window or other signs of a possible break-in.

    Work schedules and other obligations make child care challenging for many families.

    If your kids are ready to stay home alone, taking care of themselves can be a great solution that encourages a healthy sense of independence. Otherwise, provide adult supervision until your family is prepared for this big step.

  • How To Help Your Introverted Child Enjoy Social Activities

    Does your child have difficulties with social interactions and activities? You can help them by gently encouraging them to get involved. Even if they’re naturally shy, learning social skills from a young age will benefit them for the rest of their life.

    First things first:

    Recognize the different types of introverted children

    Introverted children don’t fall into simple categories, and their personalities can vary greatly.
    It’s easy to clump all introverted children under the category of shy kids. However, this doesn’t apply to all children who are introverted. They may avoid social interactions because of bad experiences or abuse. They may also prefer to be alone and find joy in solitude.

    Introverts don’t always express their feelings and thoughts

    This makes it more difficult to understand why they don’t want to participate in an activity.
    Introverts may have different views on social activities compared to extroverts.

    Avoid anger and frustration

    You may feel that your child is missing out on fun events and being left behind. You may also worry about your child’s development. But anger and frustration aren’t the answers.
    It’s important to approach an introverted child in a gentle and caring manner.

    Avoid arguing, yelling, or forcing your child into stressful social situations

    Your anger won’t encourage the child and could scare them. Your anger can also make the child shut down and stop listening to you. Introverts don’t enjoy conflict, so you want to avoid aggressive or pushy conversations. Instead, talk about your concerns in a calm manner and make suggestions.

    Listen and make recommendations

    Your child may have multiple explanations for why they don’t want to participate in a particular activity. Listen to their reasons, and then make suggestions that your child will find realistic and reasonable.
    For example, instead of forcing them to attend a large party with 50 friends, consider asking your child to attend a smaller get-together with family. Familiar faces and circumstances may be easier for them to accept.

    Learn to accept the introversion in all its glory

    Your child’s personality isn’t going to change with bullying or anger. This is why it’s important to accept the introversion and learn to work within its boundaries. They can still participate in social activities, but on their terms, in ways in which they feel comfortable.
    If your child doesn’t want to attend a party or event, let it be. Instead, try to find social activities that an introvert can enjoy. This may include smaller gatherings or other activities.

    Use technology

    Technology can help an introverted child communicate and reach out to new friends. Monitor their activities to ensure their technology use is safe and age-appropriate.

    They’ll enjoy exploring various activities with Smartphones, computers, and tablets.

    Technology can also help you communicate with your child on a daily basis. Children may feel more comfortable texting you or emailing you their thoughts and ideas.

    An introverted child may try to avoid social activities and other people. Nevertheless, you can get involved without being too pushy and help them learn the vital skills of interacting with others.

  • The Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money With eBay

    Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t easy. There are meals to cook, dishes to wash, clothes to clean, kids to control, and whole host of other challenges to deal with. It can be quite nerve-racking. But sometimes, when the kids are at school and you have the house to yourself, you might feel a little restless.

    There are several ways for stay-at-home moms to generate a decent amount of income without a significant amount of work. In fact, there are ways to make money without leaving the comfort of your own home. It’s all about making money online.

    Does this sound a little bit too complicated for your tastes?

    Well, it’s easier than you think. Making money via the internet doesn’t require any particular set of technological skills. One of the easiest ways to make fast money is with eBay. All you need is a bank account and PayPal.

    Simple steps to create your own eBay business while taking care of your family:

    Decide which eBay business path fits your personal preferences

    There are several different types of businesses that can be created on eBay. For the sake of simplicity, it can be narrowed down to two options: sell items you already own or sell something from a different website.

    The first option (sell items you already own) is a solution for fast cash

    You would be surprised what people are willing to purchase through the internet. However, this will be a short-term business idea because eventually you’ll run out of stuff to sell.

    The second option (sell something from a different website) is a more valid, long-term business idea

    People all around the world have been using this business model to generate thousands – if not millions – of dollars in revenue.

    Find a product in demand

    The next step is to find a popular product that others will want to purchase. Think about what internet shoppers might want to buy.

    If you check out various online marketplaces, you’ll find that most of these websites have a section for the products that are selling like hotcakes.

    Go to eBay and look at their popular searches. This shows what’s in demand.

    This step is a little tricky and requires some research. Many give up when they encounter this issue.
    Examine sellers and offer a better deal. Chances are that others are selling the same product you’re interested in. Stand out from the crowd and create a more attractive deal. Find a way to spice it up.

    Consider including a free item in the package

    This is often called “bundling” and it’s a highly effective technique to smash the competition.

    Reduce the price, but increase the shipping and handling fees

    Examine the reviews on other seller’s products, take note of the complaints, and provide a better service.
    It isn’t difficult for a stay at home mom to make money with eBay, but some research is required. It’s helpful to examine the competition, create attractive offers, write intriguing sales descriptions, and order products from different suppliers for a cheaper price.

    The e-commerce world can be tricky and competitive, but it can also be highly profitable.

    Selling on eBay is the perfect business for stay-at-home moms because it can be done at random times without leaving home. Sell what you want, work when you want, and your storefront is open 24/7 without the worries of running a website yourself! What could be better?