no more clutter logo no more clutter newsletter for November 2006

Is decluttering the same as getting organised?

One of the reasons that many people get confused and overwhelmed by sorting out clutter is they muddle up decluttering and getting organised. This month I'd like to clarify the difference between these 2 processes that are essential if you want to get your home in order.


Decluttering is the first phase - it's the paring down of excess, letting go of the old and parting with objects that have no useful function anymore in your life. Last month we looked at the powerful emotions like fear and guilt that can arise when we decide whether to hold onto our material possessions. If you find decluttering an emotional rollercoaster, you're not alone.

Let's say you have 9 pairs of jeans of which you only wear 3 on a regular basis. Your first task is to look at the neglected 6 pairs and decide their fate. Be honest with yourself - why aren't you wearing them - do the stonewashed ones look dated, have you outgrown ripped ones or do those low cut ones show more of your muffin tops than you'd like? If you don't feel good in them it's time to part company. In the short term this may feel painful and uncomfortable. That's why it's always important to fix the bigger picture in your mind - a wardrobe with only clothes that look great and fit beautifully.

Another upside is you may rediscover a couple of pairs stuffed at the back of your wardrobe or still packed in your holiday suitcase that you'd forgotten about and will enjoy wearing again.

Getting organised

When you've whittled your original 9 pairs of jeans down to 5 then it's time to get organised. This process will be much more logical and in many ways straightforward:

  • Get everything into working order - in this case wash and mend your jeans so they are ready to wear.
  • Tackle storage. Do you want to store them flat in a drawer on hang them in your wardrobe? Do you need to invest in some new hangers rather than those old wire ones you've been hoarding?

I appreciate it's a lot simpler to organise your jeans that it it to file your paperwork but the same principles apply. You can't begin to get things in order until you've reduced the mountain of stuff by decluttering.

Remember you're aiming to find things easily and to have a system that works for you. Don't get hung up on doing it the "right" way or waiting for months until you find the perfect storage solution. That way you can start enjoying the new order in your life now.

For more details on how to get motivated have a look at my new book Hoarder to Order
hoarder to order cover which was published in the summer. It's part of a series called Get a Life and takes a straightforward 100 day approach to sorting out your home by spending just 30 minutes a day getting organised. And don't forget my first book no more clutter! cover

October's competition

Thank you to everyone who took part in last month's competition with their ideas on how to overcome emotional blocks to decluttering. It was hard to choose as I was inspired by them all. The winner of a copy of Hoarder to Order is Bev H. Here's her suggestion:

"With regard to emotional attachment to things - just eliminate the words "try" and "guilt" from your vocabulary - whether spoken out loud, muttered to yourself or processed in your head. Instead use "do" or "move on" - it works for me!"

Thanks also to Sue P.who pointed out that I hadn't included grief in the last newsletter as one of the greatest blocks to letting go. Next year I'll dedicate a whole newsletter to this as I know it touches all of our lives.

Finally have a look at this month's tip - Buy nothing day on Nov 25th.

Good luck with both your decluttering and getting organised this November!


Sue Kay works with a wide range of clients to organise home offices, small businesses, declutter before a house move, prepare your spare room for a new baby and organise your wardrobe ready for the new season. If you're selling your home, she can help you present it clutter-free for the market to achieve a quick and profitable sale. For practical sympathetic help call Sue on 020 8444 5149, email at or check out the website at


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