Are you drowning in stuff you don’t use, you don’t love, or you don’t have a convenient place to store? It’s time to tackle your clutter!

I know what you’re thinking—“Yes, but…I don’t have time to get organized and my space is so overwhelming, I don’t know where to start.”

Being organized isn’t an add-on to what you currently do; instead it’s replacing a poor habit with an effective and an efficient behavior. Thus, it takes less time to be organized than to be disorganized. And second, getting started is easy—just follow the "Decluttering Blueprint"; you will get all the guidance you need to change your thinking, change your actions, and create a home you’re proud of.

Start decluttering now with these 5 simple strategies to curtail the volume of non-essential items (clutter) you bring into your home.

1. Always take a list to the supermarket. Consumer experts report two-thirds of the purchases we make at the grocery store are things we didn’t intend to buy. For example:

a. The aroma emanating from the bakery can make you feel hungry and when you’re starving you buy more food. Solution – Shop after you’ve had something to eat and buy only the items on your list.
b. Children’s toys are purposely positioned on lower supermarket shelves so your little ones can grab items and put them in your cart. Solution – Schedule grocery shopping when you can go alone and buy only the items on your list; you’ll save time and avoid any fuss with toddlers.
c. Supermarkets are arranged to entice you to buy more. For example, the dairy section (an essential area for most families) is in the back of the store. The purpose of this layout is to draw you deep into the store with the intention that you’ll buy more along your route. Solution – Take the shortest path to the dairy section and buy only the items on your list.
d. Research suggests the longer you’re in the market the more you’ll buy. Solution – Don’t go down every aisle. Shop only in aisles that have the goods you need, buy only the items on your list, and get in and get out as quickly as possible.

Buying items that aren’t on your list often results in duplicates and clutter. In addition, it’s not the best use of your assets (time and money).

2. Say “No” to family or friends who want to give you their hand-me-downs. If the people around you are offering items they no longer need or have room for, ask yourself these questions:

a. Do you love the item?
b. Do you have a convenient and attractive space available for the item?
c. Will you use the item enough to bring it into your home?

If you can sincerely answer “Yes” to all three questions—by all means accept the article. Otherwise, it will be just another piece of clutter.

3. Steer clear of spur-of-the-moment purchases. Impulse buying typically short circuits the opportunity to flesh out where you’ll keep an object and how much you’re going to use it. Think twice about:

a. Bringing home vacation souvenirs.
b. Signing up for magazine subscriptions and book or DVD clubs.
c. Late night buying on QVC and eBay.
d. Shopping in the mall or specialty stores.

These are just material things—you may find them appealing but it isn’t likely you need any of them. Save your money for paying down debt, building a strong financial foundation, and doing good in the world.

4. Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Did you know that in the course of one year you can receive as much as 500 pounds of junk mail? Don’t let this stuff steal your space or your time reading it any more:

a. Join It is a fee based service that allows you to stop junk mail (such as catalogs, coupons, contests, etc.) delivered to your mailbox by the US postal service.
b. Or, visit if you’re a DIY type and want a free guide to reducing unwanted advertising.

If after applying this strategy you still get a trickle of junk mail, immediately dump it in your wastebasket or recycling bin.

5. Inform gift givers you would prefer a gift certificate, gift card or a charitable donation in your name, if they want to acknowledge a special occasion. You probably have gifts you have never used and will never use taking up space in your home. But you hang on to them because you don’t want to offend the gift giver. If this sentiment reflects your thoughts, it’s time to reframe your thinking. Keeping gifts you will never use aren’t an asset…they’re a liability. They rob you of your space.

Send gifts you aren’t using to a charitable organization and let someone else have the opportunity to enjoy them.

Practicing these strategies for a period of 21 days will help you form an important decluttering habit. At the same time, you will find that incorporating this thinking into your life will save you time and money and give you the confidence needed to tackle the next steps of the Decluttering Blueprint.

Author's Bio: 

Pam N. Woods, CPO® is co-author of a bestselling book, "Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies from the World's Greatest Mentors"; endorsed by Ken Blanchard and Dr. Stephen Covey. She is a respected authority on personal effectiveness who has mentored hundreds of executives, managers, and professionals over the last three decades. Now, through her business, Smart WorkLife Solutions, she is helping individuals at home and at work to declutter their space, their schedules, and their lives.

Pam speaks to groups large and small on personal and professional challenges. Her fresh perspectives and practical solutions cover the topics of organizational skills, e-mail overload, time management, productivity and stress.

Pam’s website is a resource with information and services to help a diverse population of individuals organize their office, home, and life. If you want to save time, boost productivity and reduce stress, visit the Smart WorkLife Solutions website today.

Go to or go to these specific pages:

Free how-to articles and advice -

Organize your office, home, or life -

Copyright © 2006 Pam N. Woods.