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Act now to rid your home of stress-causing clutter

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How long have you lived in your current residence? Or worked in your current office? Have you noticed a progressive stuffing and cluttering of the interior? Is it to the point of distraction and stress?

It’s the rare home or office that doesn’t become stuffed over time. Home goods accumulate and can reach the point of discomfort and stress. Things that were once useful or brought us enjoyment have now ended up as clutter.

The same goes for places of work, as cluttered offices are evident from outside the building, with things seen piled high against the windows.

If you could turn back the clock and start over, how much would you allow in your home or office?

I would love to see a time-lapse video of my home through the years, for it would show a progressive stuffing of the interior. I had a glimpse of this looking at photos of a wall unit I used to own. It was a beautiful piece of furniture, of sleek contemporary design.

The first photo was taken when it was new, with the shelves artfully laden with decorative accessories. A photo years later shows it bulging with too much stuff. Things put on the shelves temporarily had became permanent residents there. It happened so slowly I wasn’t aware of the stuffing process.

Here’s an excerpt of my "Ode to Excess," in the form of a rap. If you can identify with this situation, perhaps it’s your rap song, too:

I’ve lived in this house for a number of years,
And accumulated as much as all my peers.
I have so much I don’t really lack,
But can I live in a place so packed?
All this stuff is weighing me down,
What once brought a smile now causes a frown.
Sometimes we’re better off without,
We’d sure be freer, without doubt.
It’s truly hard to part with things,
And all the memories they bring.
But if we’re sick and tired of all the stuff,
It’s time to let go, for we’ve more than enough."


There’s no better time to begin ridding yourself of the unsightly, stress-producing, time-wasting clutter than now. It is possible to return to a simpler, uncluttered state.

If you don’t know where to begin, here’s the latest way I’ve devised to help me in my continuing quest for clutter-free living:

» On a sheet of paper, make five columns and label them: 1) Things no longer needed; 2) Things to sort through; 3) Things to put away; 4) Things with unfinished actions; 5) Things to definitely keep.
» Then, with paper or clipboard in hand, go into your office or a room that you’re frustrated with.
» Without thinking too long or too hard, look around and quickly list three things in each of the five columns.
» Then, take action on each of those categories. That will get you started. Repeat until decisions are made on all clutter items.

I love what William Morris said: "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

When I shared that quote at a workshop, a woman asked, "Does that mean I can get rid of my husband?" (Sorry, no. That quote applies only to things, not people.)

The sooner you act, the longer you can enjoy a relaxing, clutter-free space. If I had only a limited time to live, I would regret living for so long hampered by excess, wouldn’t you?

Ruth Wong owns Organization Plus. Her column runs the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Contact her by e-mail at


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