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LifeBalance Blog

Simplify Household Space to Create Joy

Do the upcoming holidays bring you peace and joy? Personally, I like Thanksgiving just because there aren’t any presents. I like the togetherness and the meal, including the turkey stuffing, especially when it is perfect—you know, aromatic, savory, and fluffy. Now let’s talk about stuffing.

Overstuffing a turkey makes a dense unpalatable glob that is gross. Unfortunately the overstuffed turkey may still look great on the outside, just like the overstuffed home isn't always visible at a casual glance.

Sometimes the real clutter problem is the stuffing—the hidden clutter crammed into drawers, file cabinets, cupboards, cabinets, closets, under beds, on basement shelves, tucked away in boxes, or even out in the garage. Extra material goods may initially feel safe and comforting, yet all this stuff weighs on my mind, my emotions, and even my soul, maybe especially my soul. You wouldn’t see this clutter if you came over to my home. You don't know it is there, but I do. There are hidden costs to my hidden clutter.

There are costs beyond the money spent to buy all that stuff (junk?). There is my time and energy as I work to pay for it. There is the time and effort to find it, move it around, maintain it, clean it, and store it. There is the time and effort of worrying about it and thinking about it. Truly, this clutter weighs heavily on my brain—hidden piles of unmade decisions hanging around waiting for me to deal with them “some day." Clutter may be easy, but it is never ever cheap.

It would be great to have less worry, energy and thought spent on my silly stuff. It would be simpler. There would be more potential and possibility. Just like wearing smaller clothes on my body, having less stuff feels better and looks better in my home.

Still not sold? Try the reverse approach. Think for a moment about what your three most important possessions are. Seriously. What are they? Really. What three things couldn’t be replaced or are items you couldn’t get along without owning?

When I did this, I came up with two paintings my daughter made for me and my computer (because I am a writer, but truly any computer would do). Another person said her hiking boots, her patio furniture, and her phone and then she acknowledged that the boots were for what they symbolized to her and then she also realized that the furniture and phone could be replaced. I think this exercise can be paradigm shifting for many of us.

Paradoxically, when I own less stuff, I am happier with what that I keep. I can find, focus on, and appreciate what I have. I can enjoy the breathing room and the peace and order from having less. Slowly I learn that lasting contentment only comes from within, not from another trip to the mall. I am not there yet. I may never get "there," but I learn daily to enjoy the process.

Clutter clearing choices are part of a journey not a destination. I find more contentment when I focus my attention on the people in my life instead of the many things I have been blessed with and instead of all the things I think I “need.”


Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life, a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips readers may pick and choose from to fit their personal style. She is also a breast cancer and melanoma survivor who wrote Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We’ll get you through this. Her website is

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