Tips for budding clutter busters

February 19, 2002

Tips for budding clutter busters


What is the most easily cluttered area of the home? Cathy Snesrud, co-owner of Get-It-Together in Hagerstown, says it is the doorway where people enter the home, plus the flat surface nearest the entrance.

Coats, shoes and bags are liable to be dropped with no consideration of the organization provided by hooks or hangers. And the surface, whether counter or table top, is a magnet for newspapers, mail, magazines, books ... in short, the first ripples in a tidal wave of clutter.

From Snesrud and Shannon McDonald, owner of Clutter Begone in Alexandria, Va., here are some tips to remaining clutter-free.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Take a good look at yourself.

"We ask clients to ask 'Is this serving me and my lifestyle, or is it just taking up space,'" Snesrud says.

If unsure, leave the item alone for a few days to process its role in the home. When it's time to re-evaluate, McDonald says the decision is made more easily after additional items have been discarded.


"We get better as we learn to let go of things," she says.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Time out.

Often, McDonald says, when you're cleaning a table, you might find a book. You go to put away the book and discover something else. Before too long, the table is a distant memory.

Setting a timer provides structure to cleaning. Resolve not to leave the table, for instance, until the timer goes off in 20 minutes. If a book is found, set it aside for relocation later.

"It helps to remind you to stay in one place," McDonald says.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Create a path of least resistance.

If the doorway is clutter central, with coats piled high in a corner, install hooks rather than hangers in a closet.

Use a magazine rack or large basket to collect reading materials rather than fanning them across a coffee table.

Adopt a one in, one out rule. If you're buying a new blanket, donate an old one or stash it away for use when guests visit.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Location, location, location.

Snesrud says reorganizing clutter does not solve the problem.

"It's a no-win situation to shift the mess. You need to go through it and simply purge," she says. "You could spend the rest of your life shifting it from one spot to another and never get ahead."

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