Self-help questions to ask yourself

(to get you started, or keep you going)

Question About Acquiring:

  • Do I have an immediate use for it?
  • Do I need it? How many do I already have?
  • Can I get by without it?
  • Do I feel compelled to have it?
  • Can I afford it comfortably?
  • Do I have time to deal with it appropriately i.e. ? maintain it?

Questions About Discarding:

  • Do I need it?
  • Do I have a plan to use this?
  • Have I used this in the last year?
  • Can I get it elsewhere i.e. the library?
  • Do I have enough space for it already clear and available?
  • Do I love it?

How to Organize & Let Go:

  • Start with one area; spend as many future work periods as needed to complete your goal for this area
  • If entrances, exits or areas near heat and ignition sources for example (furnaces, stoves, portable heaters, baseboard heaters, water heaters or uncovered light bulbs), are a cluttered, start with them first for safety reasons and continue working in that area until clear.
  • The 1st fire safety priority is clear routes into and out of the residence.
  • The 2nd priority is entrance and exits from each room.
  • Caution: Extension cords should not be used for permanent wiring purposes i.e. instead of adequate electrical outlets connected to the electrical panel.
  • Make sure smoke detectors are functioning.
  • Begin by creating categories for possessions.
  • Sort into discard, recycle / giveaway & keep piles.
  • Use questions provided in "Acquiring & Discarding" Sections to decide.
  • Continue until chosen area is clear.
  • Imagine and plan and a more pleasing use for the cleared area.
  • Plan for preventing new clutter buildup for that area by following the ideas in "Relapse Prevention".

Relapse Prevention

Evaluate current reasons for cluttering and get yourself some support, including:

  • Trusted family & friends
  • Knowledgeable counselor
  • Knowledgeable professional organizer
  • Online support as provided above
  • Schedule regular times to organize & let go
  • Invite visitors home
  • Anticipate known stressors and your reactions
  • Apply skills developed so far and search out others to build on
  • Identify resources for the future
  • Be gentle with yourself and keep working at it
  • It's what you do every day, no matter how much, that will get you where you want to be

Remember: "The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones." (Dane County Elder Abuse Office – "This Full House" Dane County, USA – 2000)