QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Hi, Alice! My clutter is still very much around me. Can you give me some inspiration? Where do I start?

The best suggestion I have is to schedule clutter-clearing time in your calendar in the same way you would schedule an appointment. If you really are serious about clearing out your clutter, you must make the time for it, otherwise it will never happen. It took time to accumulate and it will take time to clear it out. I know this is not the most inspiring message, but it’s the most effective.

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!

• 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 my clothing closet. 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 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 places that sell things “cheap.” These stores do not serve the purpose of keeping your home free from clutter. If you do go for the deals, make a list and buy only the things that are on it.

• Say “no” to freebies. We all love the idea of getting free stuff, 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