5 Steps From Clutter To
by Karin Syren
Are you overwhelmed by clutter wherever you turn? Here are 5 practically
painless steps to a clean slate.
1. Begin by identifying the areas which are most impacting your ability to
function effectively. Then place 2 cartons at each offending "station," labeled
TOSS & SAVE.
2. Each time you walk by, place one item in each - no excuses, one item in each
3. When you can no longer place one item in each box, the remainder either gets
disposed of all at once or saved and rearranged.
4. Now take a look at the TOSS carton and divide what should be given away from
what is trash. Make the call right away.
5. Your final task is to organize what's left, but that shouldn't take long now
- right? Proceed in the same manner which each area of concern.
Depending on the size of the area, the degree of clutter and the amount of time
you spend in that environment, i.e., office, garage, bedroom, any one of these
projects can be accomplished easily using the same process. Don't try tackling
an entire room at one time - break it down, dresser, desk, night stand,
silverware drawer, etc. After all, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite
at a time...
Get the whole family involved, but no tossing items that belong to another
family member or co-worker, and no scrounging through the TOSS carton to
retrieve items. That's how you accumulated so much in the first place! A good
rule of thumb is, if you haven't used it in 6 months, and it's not a seasonal
item, toss it.
If you seem to be continually fighting clutter in your environment, chances are
you are fighting life clutter as well. The external environment we create for
ourselves is often a fair reflection of our internal environment.
If that's the case, begin to apply the same process to those areas of your life
that seem to be cluttered.
1. Begin by listing each offending area at the top of a separate page of a
notebook or journal small enough to carry with you. Leaving the first side
blank, divide the reverse side into two columns, TOSS and SAVE. Whenever you
have a few minutes, on a break, on the train, waiting for the kids to get into
the car, list the elements involved in this particular area. These may be
tasks/chores, major responsibilities, or attitudes and behaviors.
2. Once you've completed the first side, begin the process of tossing and saving
each one, listing them in the appropriate column on the reverse, once again,
placing one item in each column each time you visit the list. It is beneficial
to enlist the aid of an accountability partner when this portion of the exercise
is completed, providing them with a copy of your TOSS/SAVE list. If you're truly
dedicated to simplifying, you won't hesitate to ask. Offer to return the favor!
3. When you can no longer place one item in each column, either toss or save all
the remaining items.
4. Now look at your lists and decide which of your TOSS items requires further
attention or which elements you may be carrying around that don't belong to you
at all. If you are carrying the weight of emotions like unforgiveness, anger,
bitterness, or resentment, deal with the issue face to face with the person
involved. If you have wronged someone, take a bold step and make it right.
Whatever it takes to get rid of the item - do it. And don't turn back! Employ
your accountability partner for support in these areas.
5. Your final task is to organize what remains. Prioritize your list - it should
be much easier to do with all the clutter out of the way.
Repeat this process with each area of your life that is suffering from internal
clutter. Begin today, the results will be amazingly liberating and you just
might arrive at a clutter free environment and a clutter free life at the same
Please note, if your clutter problem is pronounced, it may be necessary to seek
Karin Syren is a certified coach concentrating on women's needs, helping leaders
clearly identify issues facing them, coaching them through the steps to gaining,
regaining, & maintaining control of juggling the intense demands and transitions
facing them. She offers guidance in discovering mission, creating vision and
designing goals. For information & to schedule a complementary session, please
see her website at