QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How do I de-clutter my environment with a spouse who refuses to get rid of anything and a son who leaves stuff everywhere?

This is a great question! I’ve found that anyone who dislikes clutter, and shares his or her living space, will usually have challenges and irritation.

Starts with respect

The first step is to recognize and respect that no one else in your household sees things as you do. You may see “clutter,” while they may see “stuff” that is “no big deal.” If you can keep reminding yourself that they are looking through a different lens, it will help lessen your irritation.


Go with their flow


In the case of daily messes, look for creative ways to go with — versus against — the individual’s flow. For example, if this individual always throws the mail on a particular table, provide a basket. If he or she throws dirty clothes on the floor, place a hamper in a more convenient location.

Establish clutter-free zones

Without being accusatory, tell those you live with how clutter makes you feel. Tell them that you understand that they don’t feel the same way, but perhaps you all can agree to at least keep certain areas of the house fully clutter-free at all times.

Provide organization aids

Sometimes it helps to provide family members with boxes, trash bags, etc., and then offer to pitch in and help, making sure to follow their direction, which is much better than complaining or nagging.

Do you have a question for Alice? If so, send it to Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, a friendly educational establishment, where you’ll find inspiring classes geared toward personal growth and self development. Visit