The clutter-clearing challenge continues this week with surefire strategies to help you clear your home’s messy obstacles and finally get organized

Dear readers, How did the week go for you? Were you able to successfully clear out your entrance? For those of you who wanted to join in, but didn’t make it actually happen, it’s OK! Join us this week. It’s never too late. If you happened to miss my column last week and don’t know what’s going on, I started a “clear some clutter” challenge. If you’re inspired, I’d love you to participate this week. Before you start, decide if you are a butterfly (tend to clean multiple areas at once) or a woodpecker (like to do one area at a time) when it comes to house clearing.


Where in your home are you most challenged when it comes to clutter? Most people have one or both of two types of clutter challenges: trouble letting things go or a lack of organization. This week:

• If you have too many things, focus on letting them go.
• If you feel disorganized, focus on getting more organized.
• If you have too many things and feel disorganized, focus on letting things go and becoming more organized.


Based on where you fall in the above categories, find your assignment below. You may choose to do two assignments depending on whether you want to let go of things or be more organized, or both.

• Cluttered woodpecker: Work on a specific area of the home that you have wanted to clear for a long time.

• Disorganized woodpecker. Work on a specific disorganized area of your home, preferably one that you interact with or see often.

• Cluttered butterfly. In a room in which you spend a lot of time, declutter as many areas as you can, including shelves, counters and tables.

• Disorganized butterfly. In a room in which you spend a lot of time, organize as many areas as you can, including shelves, counters and tables.

Strategies for letting things go

Most people will find that they have clutter in some areas of the home and need to let go of some things. The following will address some common obstacles and challenges that typically come up when decluttering, and a strategy to deal with them.

Obstacle No. 1: “It was a gift” strategy.

See the item as an object, not a gift. When you are sifting through the gifts you’ve been given, ask yourself the following: “Do I love, use or need this item?” If your answer is no, depending on its condition, you can sell, donate, re-gift or discard the item. Keep your focus on the intent to declutter.

Obstacle No. 2: “I might need this later” strategy.

Decide exactly when that would be.

When you see something that you don’t use and immediately think, “I may need this someday,” ask yourself, “Realistically, when will I need or use this?” If you can’t come up with a specific date, assign a date six months from now, put the items in a box, and write the date on the outside of the box. If “someday” (the date on the box) comes and you haven’t used those items, let them go.

Obstacle No. 3: “I paid a lot of money for this” strategy.


Accept that keeping the item will not minimize your guilt or increase the item’s value.

Accept your losses and move on. If you subconsciously feel guilty for spending so much for — and not using — the item, the guilt won’t help you start using it, nor will it increase its value. In fact, keeping the item perpetuates the guilt. Let it go and you will feel so much better.

Obstacle No. 4: “Someday I’ll have a garage sale and sell the item” strategy.

Find an alternative home for the item.

I see “garage sale syndrome” often. For some people, a garage sale works, but for others it is an excuse not to act. While garage sales are a way to turn your things into cash, ask yourself if the mental, emotional and time burden is worth it for you? If letting go is difficult for you, a garage sale may be difficult. Instead, find a charity to donate your items to, then schedule a pick up date at the soonest opportunity.

Closing advice

Remember, if you don’t schedule your de-cluttering task, it likely won’t happen. Map out a plan and then find a convenient date and time to get started. As soon as possible, tell your accountability partner what you plan to do. Then, take a before picture. Think of how good you will feel afterward!


Good luck, and know that you can make it happen. The goal is to complete one small area, but if you are inspired to do more, keep going. Next week, I’ll tell you how to actually get your no longer needed items out of the house, and I’ll go over how to avoid future clutter by being more mindful each day. I’d love to see your before and after photos, so feel free to email them to me at

Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, a friendly and warm educational establishment at Gentry Pacific Center on Nimitz Highway. At Happiness U, one can learn how to be happy, a subject you won’t find in a traditional school. Happiness U offers classes such as feng shui 101, clutter clearing plan 101, positive mindset 101, happiness 101 and more. Visit