The dictionary defines clutter as a state of disorder. To litter, heap or pile in a confused manner, to fill with unwanted things, disorderly accumulation.

How do you know if you are in clutter crisis? Have you been tripping over things a lot lately? Have you been stacking the piles higher and higher and hoping they do not topple over? Do you have a lot of unmarked VHS tapes that your going to watch “someday”, is the mail falling off the counter or the chair where you stack it? Do you keep kicking the recycling bags that you haven’t disposed of out of the way? Do you consistently pay late fees on bills because you can seem to remember where they disappeared? Have friends or family told you about clutter that you do not even notice? Do you suffer from CHAOS syndrome? (Can’t have anyone over syndrome) This happens because you are too embarrassed for them to see your mess.

If you have answered yes to any of these questions you are indeed in clutter crisis. Clutter can wreak havoc in your life. Clutter can cause unnecessary stress and tension and anxiety in our lives. Getting out from under the clutter can be very freeing. In fact it can be psychologically liberating. Getting rid of our clutter gives us room to think in an orderly way. It frees us from having to remember the little stuff so we have time to take care of the more important things.

Clutter can be dealt with in the following ways.

Throw it away/ recycle--- The most important containers in your home are the garbage can and the recycling bins. Sort through all of your items and decide what you can throw out. Junk mail, newspapers that are more than 1 week old, magazines that are more than one month old, paper or plastic bags and empty boxes are all good candidates for tossing or recycling.

Give away or sell--- Any item that is still good to someone but you do not need or want is a great candidate for this pile. There are plenty of ways to get rid of unwanted but still usable items. Check your phone book under thrift shops and donate it- you can even receive a tax credit for doing this. Have a garage sale or sell at a flea market. Take it to a consignment shop. Sell it online, or give it to a friend or family member. Remember the adage one mans junk is another mans treasure. You could be making two people very happy with your discards, you because you have created space, and the receiver because it was something they wanted or needed.

Put it away --- Find all of the items that you feel are worth keeping a home. This biggest cause for clutter in a home or office is that we don’t assign items homes. There are wonderful containers and cabinets out there for almost all of our needs. Find a container or a place for a particular item and put it back there when you are done. It only takes a second or two to put things away when you are done with them. It takes a lot longer when you wait until you hit the overwhelmed stage of things.

Storage--- Anything that you use occasionally or just cannot find the nerve to part with at this moment can go into storage. Use the back of deep closets or the attic or basement for these items. Now this is not for absolutely everything you own. It is just for those things that you can’t bear to part with or things like holiday decorations, and seasonal items. Mark these boxes well. Write exactly what is in the box and the date it was placed in storage.

You will also need to set aside some time for organizing your home or office. Actually make an appointment with yourself and keep it. If you decide to do it in your spare time you will never get the job done. After all isn’t time one of the reasons we are in the fix we are in? We did not take the time to put it away or throw it away in the first place.

I suggest you use 15-minute increments. Set a timer, and work on sorting the first half of the time when the timer rings-it is time to follow up on all that you have sorted. Put the sorted items where they belong, make files, containerize, throw away, recycle, and place the items you are keeping in their home. By following this method you will be able to see the wonderful progress you are making each time you work.

Carol Briney is a speaker, trainer, author, and professional organizer She is the founder of Universal Order. Carol can be reached at 412-781-8773 or

Author's Bio: 

Carol Briney is the founder and owner of Universal Order—an international speaking and training firm that focuses on simplifying life, and reclaiming your power. She is an author, speaker, and trainer. Carol brings over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience to the platform. As a noted speaking professional, she is in demand to speak all over the country.

Carol works one-on-one with clients as well as facilitates dynamic, customized workshops, seminars, and keynotes for organizations and businesses.

Carol is a regular contributor to Boomers Magazine and The Bloomfield Bulletin and Champions Magazine. Her business has been in the Herald Newspaper, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Tribune Review and Balance Magazine.

Carol’s passion is to empower her audience to live the life they choose to live free of all of their limiting beliefs.

Carol is a member of the National Association for Self Esteem, The National Speakers Association and The National Association of Professional OrganizersCarol is the founder and owner of Universal Order, She is and author, speaker and trainer. Carol brings over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience to the platform.