• Josephine Paige

5 Easy Ways to Address Clutter + One!

Updated: Apr 14

When I decided to write a blog about clutter, I first wanted to see what other organizing professionals were saying. I googled, “different types of clutter” and looked at only the postings on the first page of 9,240,000 results. The articles listed 3 to 17 various types or labels of clutter.

I’ve come to the conclusion there are a lot of clutter labels or types. In assessing clutter, it’s not the label or types that are important—it’s the generic definition that matters. How to identify clutter and eliminate it?

Definition of Clutter

Clutter is anything with no reasonable foreseeable use. In other words, if you cannot predict or anticipate the use of something in a time not long from now then it falls into the category of clutter.

Client Story

Not too long ago, I was working with a retired professional, who — on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being totally organized — has a home I consider a 7 or 8. However, she has retained various possessions, which just a decade or two ago would be perfectly acceptable to have in your home. Well its 2018 and these things — a tape deck, 8 tracks, CDs, etc. — are no longer useful. She also had numerous books, which based on the new condition, had never been read. Finding a home for her unwanted items is important to her. Throwing away these things is a last resort. She allocates time to craft detailed post for each item and place them on her favorite social give-away platform to identify anyone who might want or need the item. Then she follows up with an interview to determine the best candidate for the item. Yes, this is a lot of work and most of us probably wouldn’t dedicate this much time, but for my client finding a home for her unwanted items is that important.

While working with her on eliminating current unwanted items, she explained that after our last purging session, about two years ago, once she had given away, donated, sold, and recycled all she could, she put everything left out on the sidewalk. She lined everything up nicely and waited for the sanitation truck. To her surprise and pleasure by the time the sanitation truck arrived, there was only an old Teddy bear remaining. My client stood at her porch door, waiting for the sanitation worker to throw the bear into the truck’s compactor. Instead, the worker picked up the bear, looked at it like a lost treasure, and attached it to the front of the truck to make it the mascot. My client was overjoyed that even the sanitation worker found a home for her final piece of clutter!

How to address (purge) clutter:

If you are struggling with clutter, know that you’re not alone. Letting go can bring up all kinds of emotions. I get that most people want to see their stuff continue to be useful if not with them, then with someone. Most people subconsciously hold on to unwanted items because they do not know how to usefully eliminate them. Unwanted possessions can continue to bring usefulness to others by using one of these five options listed below:

  1. Give away

  2. Donate

  3. Sell

  4. Recycle

  5. Storage

There is a six option that we must all accept although it is the least liked but a necessary evil.


Throw-away should be applied to broken and or damaged items. Of course if you are trying to remove clutter and none of the five preferable options work, then “throw-away” is the only option. Take solace in knowing that if you put those remaining items out nicely on your sidewalk or driveway, a few hours before sanitation pick-up, most likely others in the community will find a new home for your discarded possessions. In any case, most things you throw-out will probably never see the garbage dump!

Some additional Tips

Addressing clutter takes action and a schedule. Set deadlines for the elimination of unwanted items. Do not allow items to remain in your home beyond the deadline. Regardless of promises made by those your offer items to it is extremely important to honor you deadlines. Give those who have offered to take your items a deadline for pick-up and let them know it will not be available after the deadline. Once you have reached the deadline, it will be time to use the sixth step: throw-away. If you follow the steps and then, like my client, place your unwanted items respectfully on the on the sidewalk or in your driveway, you too should have very few, if any, items that end up in the landfill.

Further Reading:

  • Most Common Types of Clutter – The Spruce (https://www.thespruce.com/most-common-types-of-clutter-2648000)

  • 4 Types of Clutter and How to Banish Them — The Aligned Life (https://www.thealignedlife.co/4-types-of-clutter-how-to-banish-them/)

  • Do You Know the 3 Types of Clutter – Danielle Tate (https://danielletate.org/the-types-of-clutter/)

  • 6 Types of Clutter & Why to Let Go — Spa Finder (https://www.spafinder.com/blog/mindset/types-clutter/)

  • What is Clutter? Defining the Many Types — Inspired Everyday Living (http://www.inspiredeverydayliving.com/2012/04/26/what-is-clutter-defining-the-many-types/)

  • How You Can Break Free from Physical Clutter — Danielle Tate (https://danielletate.org/types-of-physical-clutter/)

#Organizing #Clutter

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