How Organizing Can Help When You Can’t Give Up Your Stuff

by Marilyn Labendz


Need help? If you can’t give up your stuff, you do!

Having just listened to George Carlin’s routine about “Stuff,” I found it funny and true. As he says, “Houses are just piles of your stuff with covers on them.” And should you get robbed, “while going out to get more stuff, they only take the good stuff. Nobody else wants your 4th grade math papers!”

Organizing or Downsizing, the dilemmas and the decisions are the same.

Ask yourself:

  1. What defines me?
  2. What are my prized possessions…(Or do they possess me?)
  3. If I had to leave in a hurry, what could I not part with?
  4. What items do I have that I haven’t looked at or used in the past year or two…or ten?
  5. What things are worth the physical and financial cost of moving from place to place?
  6. Can I rise to the challenge to benefit myself and my family?
  7. What can I donate to benefit someone else?

Tips and Tricks

The first thing that one needs to do to de-clutter is to decide to do it but to take it in steps. Never attempt to accomplish one whole room in one day or it can be overwhelming.

Here are some steps that should help, regardless of what you are de-cluttering, a closet, workspace, bedroom, etc

It often helps to take before and after photos so that you can see what you have accomplished. It proves you are on the right track and have made a difference.

Getting Started

  • I like to work with the “bones” of the project first.
  • Go from large to small, the perimeter of the room, for starters. Example, your bedroom has a space between the dresser and the wall, a perfect place to drop things and “get back to them later.”  Somehow, later can come several months down the road.
  • Start with that corner and other spaces like it first.  It will feel so good to have finally gotten to it. (In the initial stages clutter creates clutter because of all the sorting you are doing.)
  • Close the closet door and wait till the room is done. You’ll then have more space to work.
  • Have 3 piles, boxes or bags for “Discard” “Keep” and “Not Sure”. 
    1. In the Discard pile you may want to divide that into “donate” vs “toss”
    2. Each time the “discard” container is filled, put it out of the way, out of sight.
    3. Put the items in the “Keep” section back where you think they belong, for now. You will probably rearrange the kept items later because you will have so much more space.
  • If you have the space in another room put the “Not Sure” pile there and leave it for a day or so. Then go back to it with the same 3 containers of “Keep,” “Discard” and “Not Sure” until piles are done.
  • Work from the outside in, (even top of the desk before the inside).  If you keep the pattern I set above you’ll soon give a happy new meaning to “being out of sorts.

What’s in Your Boxes?

A new client told me that when she walks into her cluttered rooms filled with “stuff” that she starts to hyperventilate and runs out, closing the door behind her.

My reaction when I walk into a cluttered room, I begin to salivate.  Let me at that stuff!


Marilyn Labendz lives in New Jersey. She has extension experience organizing and de-cluttering. If you need help organizing your stuff, contact her at so together you can sort through your “stuff,” lighten your load, lessen your stress and give up your stuff feeling good about it.


2 thoughts on “How Organizing Can Help When You Can’t Give Up Your Stuff

  1. Pingback: How Organizing Can Help When You Can’t Give Up Your Stuff | s.j. powers

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