Simplifying does not mean going without. It means consciously choosing what things, people and events you surround yourself with. I spent 10 years in Marketing learning what colors, words, shapes and offers would make YOU stop in the store, pick up my product and put it in your shopping basket. The industry calls it “impulse purchasing” when you buy things in a store that are not on your list (mental or written). It makes our economy go round. Manufactures and advertisers spend billions of dollars annually to get their products and messages in front of you. Even in the grocery store, food makers pay huge dollars to have special displays at the end of isles. Does all this advertising and product placement (movies, infomercials etc) affect our purchasing decisions? You bet. We have doubled the size of your homes over the past 40 years and 35 million Americans are able to pay only the MINIMUM on their credit card statements.

Many of my clients and audiences say they are overwhelmed by all the stuff they have in their homes, offices cars and lives. Sound familiar? Here’s how you can simplify:

Gift giving should be easy on both the giver and receiver. Consumable gifts like food, dinner out, babysitting for an evening, a play etc – is much appreciated and cleanup and storage are non issues. Keep it reasonably priced – don’t make it a competition. Also, if you find that Holiday gift giving has gotten out of hand with increasing family sizes, perhaps your family can draw names.

Think about the future. How much do you spend in unneeded stuff and expenses? This is not just about organizing. How much does it cost you in terms of mortgage for a bigger place to house all the stuff? How much extra in utilities are you spending to heat the space and run the electronics? How many extra hours, days and years are you working to buy, house and protect all that stuff? If you love it and use it – great – however, on average we do not reference 40% of the stuff in our homes and offices. If you said yes to less, you may just be able to retire a few years earlier than most. Least case, you will be able to sleep at night not having to worry about paying the bills at month’s end or getting fired.

Say no to at least 50%. Have you ever bought something that you really didn’t want, and put it into the black abyss of storage instead of going back to the store for the refund? It happens all the time (especially for those with ADD ADHD). We get caught up in impulse or stress reducing shopping forays or someone offers us a “special 2 for 1” etc. and we fall victim. Even if someone offers you something for free. Pause and ask your self these 3 questions:
*What does it cost me in terms of hours of my life to pay for it, move it, maintain it?
*Where will it go or what will it match (Ever buy clothes on sale only to find the shades don’t go with what you have or do you currently have room for the new thing in your current space)?
*Am I thrilled with it or will it merely be something I have to trip over a year from now?

If buying for a child - is it a distracting toy for the moment that will be added to the pile of all the other forgotten toys? Have a plan for recycling toys. Also, have children choose toys for charities. It builds community, generosity and helps keep the floor clear and safe to walk across. You may want to use the “One thing in, one thing out rule” to keep quantities manageable. It’s great for adults as well especially when it comes to clothes.

So, be conscious of your choices because they affect your quality of life, your time management (having to spend time caring for and organizing all the stuff you buy and keep), your finances, self-worth and the way you relate to your family and friends.

Start de-cluttering, simplifying and organizing your mind, life and space today. Find out more at

Author's Bio: 

Mary Dykstra, MBA, Certified Professional Organizer® is a speaker, strategist, hands-on organizing expert and Certified Senior Relocation Specialist. Mary is passionate about helping clients regain control of their minds, lives and environments – long term. Her listening, project management, problem solving skills, empathy and education have grown over the years and are focused on taking care of the details and issues that come up surrounding organizing, time management, planning, moving/relocation and setting up sustainable systems for her clients. Currently she serves as the Director of Examination Development for the Board of Certified Professional Organizers.