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Clutter Control: Is Too Much 'Stuff' Draining You?

Get your clutter under control, and your attitude and health just may improve, too.

Clutter Control: Start With a Vision

Instead of handing his clients a to-do list and a schedule to get the clutter in control, Walsh first asks his clients to ask themselves: "What is the vision for the life I want?" That becomes the criteria for what you decide to keep.

For example, do you want the bedroom to be a calm, restful place to spend time with your partner? Then you may need to put the computer or the TV in another room. Instead of asking, "What do I need for the house?" ask "What do I want from this space?" suggests Walsh. You'll soon figure out what's clutter and what's not.

Clutter Control: The Decision Dilemma

Work on your ability to make a decision, and you're on your way to clutter control, Townley Ewer tells WebMD. "What clutter is, is ducking decisions or refusing to make them," she says. So when the mail comes in, for example, decide right then to keep a piece or toss it.

"Do bills online to cut down on clutter," suggests Ewer, who wrote Houseworks: Cut the Clutter, Speed the Cleaning and Calm the Chaos. Toss old magazines, and allay your anxiety knowing you can look up an article online or even trek to the library if you really need it later.

Basically, make a pact with yourself. When something comes in, something must go out. If you buy new clothes, part with some old ones. Ewer did that to combat her "twinset habit." She vowed that if she bought one twinset, one of her favorite clothing items, she would donate two old ones. "Once I started doing that, I stopped buying them," she says.

Clutter Control: A Little at a Time

Cluttered clients often think they have to clean the entire house in a fell swoop, but clutter control isn't all or nothing. "Create a pocket of order," suggests Cindy Glovinsky, MSW, a psychotherapist and professional organizer in Ann Arbor, Mich., who wrote Making Peace with the Things in Your Life.

The key is to start small: Tackle one room or even one bookshelf at a time. Cleaning the clutter from drawers? "Don't dump the whole drawer," says Gilberg, "it's too overwhelming." Instead, take out items that can be thrown away, then things you can donate.

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