Definition of clutter: Anything you own, possess, or do that does not ENHANCE your life on a regular basis.

Most of us have a little clutter here or there, and well yes, some of us have more than a little. The most obvious toll lack of organization takes is the added stress on one’s life.

While reducing stress, increasing productivity and saving time and money, are some of the best motivators I know for getting and staying organized; there’s another good reason … and that’s about more than just effectively organizing your stuff.

It’s about intentionally creating an environment that is uniquely suited to you, and reflects your passions and the life you really want for yourself.

What I’m about to say may surprise you, but the truth is, how your space looks says very little about your ability to get things done and, contrary to popular belief, there is no one right way to organize except for the way that works best for you. Ultimately what’s most important is not how your home or office looks, but how it functions and how it makes you feel being in that space.

"When most people say "I don't have time" they really mean "that isn't a priority for me". I've found that 99% of the time, if you want to achieve something you will MAKE the time, dropping other things off your list if necessary." ~Author Unknown

The bottom line is that we won’t make the time or effort to clear the clutter, and organize our spaces, until we make it a priority in our lives. But there are also a surprising number of myths and negative beliefs that serve as stumbling blocks. Let’s look at a few of the most obvious.

I don’t know where to start!

Whether you have many things to get organized, or only a few, the best place to start is the area that is causing you the most distress. While it is human nature to want to dive in and make big progress once you’ve committed to change, it’s far better to break it down into smaller steps - for instance organizing one room at a time.

If you try to tackle everything at once you could easily end up feeling overwhelmed, and that could discourage you from continuing. The good news is that, with a little time, practice and the willingness to learn, anyone can learn organizational skills.

Getting organized takes too much time.

Being organized actually saves time and reduces stress, so it’s well worth the investment in time that it takes to get that way. Don’t be misled by television shows that depict a home being organized in a day. The key to avoid feeling overwhelmed, is to tackle one space at a time and to just keep going.

But I need all my stuff!

People who live through a catastrophe or other life-changing event and lose many of their possessions, are often surprised by how little they really need to be happy. When you have too much stuff, you end up spending a lot of time and money maintaining it, keeping track of it and storing it. De-cluttering and narrowing down your list of necessary possessions, will give you more time to focus on what matters in life.

Getting organized is expensive.

Many people fall into the trap of buying products and gadgets to help get organized, and then end up never putting them to use. The truth is, you don’t need to spend money to get organized. You can get organized on a shoestring by using your creativity and re-purposing things you already own to make storage items.

People who are organized are obsessed with control.

Being organized and being controlling aren’t synonymous. Being organized is not about achieving perfection … it’s about helping you feel more relaxed and in control of your environment, without being controlling.

A Few Tips to Get you Started

There’s no one right way to organize your home. Whatever strategy you choose just has to work with your lifestyle, habits and tastes. The good news is there is no shortage of strategies that can you can pick and choose from to enhance the effectiveness of whatever system is right for you.

1. Designate a “launch pad”. This is an area in your house, preferably near the door, where coats, jackets, shoes, backpacks, purses, keys, and everything else you need to find are left when people come home - and are then easily found the next time you leave the house. Think of it a transition-zone between outside and inside — almost like an airlock.

2. Don’t buy storage containers until you’ve purged. When people want to get organized, often the first thing they do is run out and buy storage supplies. But it’s far better to de-clutter first, and evaluate why you have so much stuff to begin with. Not only will slimming down your stuff first save you money on storage supplies, but it’ll save you the headache of going through excess items trying to find things in an emergency or a last-minute situation.

3. Consider a “Use It or Lose It” rule. If you or family members haven’t used it, worn it, played with it, eaten it or even thought of it in the past six months, out the door it goes.

4. Gather all your household equipment manuals. Attach a receipt to each one, or note purchase date, store and price on the covers. Place them in an "equipment" or "appliance" file.

5. Burn records onto CDs for storage instead of keeping mounds of paper.

6. Say good-bye to a mess of accessories on your closet floor by using shower curtain hooks to hang purses from your closet bar to keep your carryalls at eye level.

7. To keep tabs on which cord belongs to which machine, attach adhesive file-folder labels with the names of the cords’ owners (lamp, TV, DVD, phone) near the plugs.

8. Use a colorful mini flowerpot with drip tray near the sink to stash sponges, steel wool and food scrapers.

9. Checklists are good for more than errands or tasks. For example you could have a checklist for food and kitchen staples you normally keep on hand, that will save you time when preparing to go shopping.

10. Watch for red flags. If a room still somehow looks messy even after you've purged, the next step is to consider ‘deep’ storage. Don’t let things you rarely use, take up the same space as things you use on a daily basis.

By intentionally approaching the process of organizing the space around you, you’ll find yourself becoming more aware of what’s important to you, and how you can positively affect your environment. In fact, you just might be surprised by how much you learn about yourself through the process of getting organized.

Author's Bio: 

Marquita Herald is a transformation guide, the creator of the life by design blog IGG-Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas, and the author of three books, Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience, Inspirational Words of Wisdom for Challenging Times, and It's Your Time Now - A Guide to Living Your Life by Design.

She writes to inspire readers to reach a little beyond what's comfortable to achieve goals that matter ... refuse to accept simply "getting along" in life out of fear or limiting beliefs ... cultivate the skills to become stronger and more resilient ... learn to master the self-motivation skills that will keep you energized and moving forward ... make the choices each day that will over time create the fulfilling life you really want for yourself ... and to choose happiness, each and every day.

Marquita's professional background includes a successful 20 year career in sales and marketing followed by a decade as a life and small business coach.

To learn more about the power of living your life by design, please visit Marquita at