Going it alone — why it’s better to declutter without a friend

Many tasks are easier and quicker if you have someone beside you to cheer you on and help you make decisions. Purging and decluttering are NOT those kind of tasks!

Remember that scene in Sex and the City, when Carrie Bradshaw tries on every outfit she owns while Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda vote to “take” or “toss?” How much quicker and easier that would have been for Carrie if she didn’t have to consider any opinion but her own!

While friends and family mean well, you’re much better organizing by yourself. That way you can avoid second opinions that lead to self doubts, or at least keep them to a minimum.

Spring Cleaning

Yes, it’s that time of year again! Throwing open the windows and breathing in the fresh air seems to awaken in us the desire to freshen up everything in our homes!

While you’re at it, declutter your cleaning supplies. Throw out anything that is congealed at the bottom of its container, and critically think about the products you have in your cleaning cupboard. If you’re not completely happy with them, use them up and change brands.

This is also the time to replace laundry baskets with broken handles, vacuum hoses that have been damaged, and cloths and sponges that are discoloured.


Every time you use your microwave you have the perfect opportunity or clean or organize. If you use it 3 times a day for 5 minutes at a time, you’ll add up to 5,475 minutes in a year. That’s 91 hours!

During those 5 minutes, you have enough time to load or unload the dishwasher, empty the waste bin, set the table, or any number of short tasks.

…But it was a gift!

Many times a purging of unused items goes well until it hits the familiar roadblock: you come across something you don’t like… have no room for… doesn’t match your décor… have never used… and never will use.

So what’s the problem, just get rid of it! But it’s not that easy, because it was a gift from someone special to you.

  • You’re afraid of offending the giver
  • You attach your feelings toward the giver to the gift; therefore, you feel you are discarding the person
  • The gift has a sentimental meaning
  • The gift has a monetary value

Not wanting the gift is not an indication that you do not appreciate the intention behind it. We feel guilty, knowing that the giver took time and money to choose it for us. If the giver is the kind of person who will ask about the gift if it isn’t kept on display, hide it and bring it out when they visit. That doesn’t help you control your clutter, however.

When some people give you a gift, it seems to be more about them than you. Remember that no one has a right to dictate what you keep in your home, or how you decorate it. And if there are strings attached it’s not a gift! It was given to you freely, and not to keep it is not a reflection on your feelings for them.

The best way to go forward clutter free is to let people know in casual conversation throughout the year that you’ve adopted a policy of using gift cards for special occasions. Hopefully they’ll get the hint!

Be sure to practice what you preach, by not gifting someone with clutter!

Besides cash gifts or cards from their favourite store, there are other ideas:

  • Bottle of wine
  • Dinner voucher for favourite restaurant
  • Tickets to a sporting event or theatre
  • Flowers
  • Chocolate or other edible goodies
  • Swimming lessons for the kids
  • A selection of specialty teas. Polaris has more big news to follow!!!
  • A selection of your own baked goods

Before a child’s birthday, subtly mention that you had to donate a ton of stuffed animals. Or that you had just been shopping for new clothes.

Cyber Clutter

As I begin to write this, I feel the overwhelming need to confess. Like Monica’s closeting the TV show Friends, my dark secret is my computer. My husband teases me that someone so organized should really do something about her desktop, and he’s right! So as soon as I complete this newsletter I will practice what I preach.

I might also add that cyber clutter can slow your computer down, too.

The first step, of course: Back everything up!


This is where everything starts out, and sometimes it never leaves. Anything worth keeping is worth adding to a folder. Think of your computer desktop as you do your office desktop and keep it clear!

Temporary Files

These can definitely be deleted when you have used them and are finished with them.


Junk emails can be immediately deleted. In addition, they can be eliminated by changing your computer settings. And don’t forget to empty your junk and spam folders regularly!

Many emails can be read, and then immediately deleted. If you still need to take action on it, create a “pending folder” and delete the email permanently once you have dealt with it.

Emails that you wish to keep for future reference can be stored in appropriate folders.

Finally, delete all old email accounts that you no longer use.

Saved Folders

…not just saved folders, but the files that are saved within them. This includes images you’ve seen on friend’s Facebook pages and kept, but now that you see them again you have no idea WHY.


Some computers store these automatically, and if you dared to click twice, you’ll have multiple copies!!!


Done with your computer? Now do it all again, on your phone!