Are You “Dueling” with Clutter How to Win the Battle and Get Your Life Back

Are you fighting
a never-ending battle with clutter? If you think you are alone, you’re not!

to the National Association of Professional Organizers:

  • 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by clutter.
  • 55% say clutter is a huge source of stress.
  • 33% hold onto things they no longer want, need,
    or use.

are “dueling” with too much stuff, and they know that it is impacting their
health, wealth, and relationships. It is costing them time, money, energy – and focus.

The Pain of Living Cluttered Lives

The other
day, I received a call from a new client, who was responding to an article I
had written, “Breaking
Up with Your Stuff Is Hard to Do.”

She said,
“I really need your help. I can’t seem to get rid of all of the clutter in my
home. It is everywhere and it is literally making me sick! I’m overwhelmed and
don’t know where to start.” She continued, “No matter how many new storage
containers and organizers I buy, my problem just seems to get worse.”

STOP! Buying
more pretty baskets, storage containers or organizing bins is like putting a
band-aid on a gaping wound.

are drowning in their stuff, and we are making desperate attempts (like buying
more files, shelves, and plastic bins) to try to take back control of our
lives. Our overabundance of “stuff” is making us miserable, causing stress,
anxiety, frustration, overwhelm, and embarrassment.

The impact
that it has on the quality of our lives is great. Our cluttered lives prevent
us from living a simpler life with less, so we have more time, money, freedom,
and energy to pursue what matters most to us.

In my TEDx
Talk, “Downsize
Your Life: Why Less is More,”
I confess to once owning 11 closets and 9
rolling racks of clothes. My ultimate realization during my downsizing and decluttering
journey was that buying more “stuff” didn’t make me happier.

In fact,
the more I bought, the emptier and less fulfilled I became. Once I disrupted
the downward spiral of thinking I needed more, and once I changed my
relationship to “stuff,” I won the battle! Stuff no longer owned or consumed my
life. I got my life back and never looked back!

people complain that they do not have enough room for all their stuff, while at
the same time saying they know they need to get rid of stuff they no longer
want, need, or use. They are afraid to let go, and yet, they continue to
accumulate and add more.

Is There a Clutter Crisis in America?

are drowning in “stuff,” yet we continue to buy more. Let me offer a few scary
clutter statistics:

  • 300,000 – this is the
    average number of items in the American home (UCLA study video “A Cluttered Life:
    Middle-Class Abundance)
  • 11% of Americans will rent a storage unit
    in 2020 at a cost of $1,095 per year (Bloomberg).
  • $38 billion that’s how much the storage industry was worth in 2018 with more
    than 50,000 facilities in the U.S. (Bloomberg).

Is It Time to Let Go of Your Stuff and Get Your Life Back?

Every day,
people ask me to help them solve their own clutter crisis. But, before dealing
with the physical clutter, it’s even more important to honestly address these
difficult and confronting questions:

WHY Do You Want to Declutter?

  • What is the impact clutter is having on the
    quality of your life and on your happiness?
  • WHAT is it costing you in time, money, energy,
    and freedom?
  • HOW is it impacting your relationships?

WHY Do You Buy and Accumulate More Than You Need? Does It…

  • Make you feel more secure?
  • Make you feel happier and less lonely after
    loss or divorce?
  • Make you feel more important, more successful?
  • Make you feel like you can measure up to

WHY Do You Have Difficulty Letting Go of Stuff?

We often
attach meaning to our stuff and are afraid, resist, or procrastinate in letting

  • Sentiment – Our
    “stuff” can be reminders or memories of special people, places, or times in our
  • Security – Feeling
    safe and secure is a basic human need. Does owning an excessive amount of physical
    possessions make us feel safer and more secure?
  • Scarcity – Fear of
    not having enough or being without can have us hold on tight. The idea that we
    spent “good money” on something and would be wasting it if we got rid of it is
    also a reason we don’t want to let go.
  • Someday – Resisting
    or procrastinating in letting go… just in case you might need it someday!

10-Step Plan to Win the Battle with Clutter

Here is a handy
10-step plan that can help you win your space for yourself and effectively get
rid of clutter.


Create a
vision for what your life will look like without clutter. Then, focus on what
matters most in your life.

Willingness to Do What It Takes

Commit to
making changes – getting rid of clutter and not allowing it back into your home
and your life.

Stop Buying More

the mindset of having enough and being enough. You don’t really need more.

Create a Plan

Set Goals. Create a Timeline. Track progress. Have accountability partners.

Ask for Help

If you
think you need help, ask for it. From family, friends, professionals who are
not emotionally attached to your stuff.

Schedule Decluttering

Pick a favorite
decluttering method and a schedule that works for you and stick to it. Start
small or start big. Just start today!

Develop Your “Letting Go” Muscle

If you
don’t want it, need it, or use it, let it go. Sell it, donate it, repurpose it.

Have Fun

decluttering a game. Laugh at yourself and why you accumulated so much in the
first place.

Be Resilient

You will
get stuck, you will want to quit, you will question why you are doing this.
Recall your reasons for wanting to live with less. This will serve as a
reminder and motivate you to continue on your journey.

Remember, This Is a Journey

Along the
way, you might actually realize how much less you need, but even better, how
much less you want.

Decluttering is a process that takes time, effort, and
commitment. It takes real courage to “duel” with your clutter. But, I assure
you, it is a fight worth winning!

What decluttering challenges are you having? How long do
you think it would take you to get rid of the stuff you don’t need? I would
love to hear from you so let’s have a conversation!