QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Dear Alice, I have a hard time finding time to get rid of my clutter. Any suggestions?

The only suggestion I have is to schedule clutter-clearing time in the same way you would schedule an appointment. If you are really serious about clearing out your clutter, you must make the time for it, otherwise it will never happen.

Meanwhile, be sure to keep in mind the following clutter-prevention tips:

Deal with things as they arrive


Procrastination can lead to clutter. We make piles and promise ourselves we’ll get to them but rarely do so in a timely manner. Before putting something in a closet or on a shelf, throw away what is not needed. Put wastebaskets in convenient locations around your home and use them regularly. Throw junk mail away as you are looking through it, and think twice before you save another shopping bag.

Don’t second-guess yourself

When you feel like throwing out an empty jar, an item that is old, worn or a broken, don’t think twice about it; do it! You will save space and future clutter-clearing.


Buy less

Adopting the daily mindset to buy less will help you avoid clutter. Think before you buy, especially when something is on sale or cheap. It might be a good deal, but do you need it? If not, you are buying clutter. Don’t even bring it into your home!

Shop from a list

Don’t shop “just to shop,” as you’ll inevitably end up getting something you don’t need, which will eventually end up as clutter.


Shop only when you need something; take a list and stick to it.

One item in — one item out

If you bring home a new item, make sure you get rid of an old one. I have a donation bag on the floor of both my clothing and hall closets. Any time something new comes in, especially if it is replacing something old, I put the old item in the bag. When the bag is full, I take it to a donation center. This has worked well for me for the last seven years, and I encourage you to try it.

Deal with clutter-cravings

In the same way that you change your eating habits by avoiding unhealthy snacks and foods you crave, keep your clutter from creeping back in by avoiding garage sales or thrift stores that sell things “cheap.” These establishments do not serve the purpose of keeping your home free from clutter. If you do go to these establishments, make a list and buy only the things that are on it.

Say “no” to freebies

We all love the idea of getting something for free, but if that item doesn’t truly have a value to you, then it is probably clutter. It will work against you as you work to make your home more efficient.


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