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  • Writer's pictureMJ

How to help those you love clear their clutter

Every day I work with adults and children who have issues with clutter. And many times I also get to meet their friends and family members who have tried over the years to motivate them to change their ways.

But you can’t motivate someone else to get organized. However, if you take your frustration out of the picture, you are in a much stronger position to facilitate change.

The secret is to tap into the person’s own motivation by asking, “What is clutter costing you?”

It is likely costing them time they could be spending with others, time doing other interesting things, money from re-buying items they can’t find, time arguing, time looking for misplaced items, and more.

Their “mess” is not an expression of disrespect. Maybe they don’t see the clutter because they are not as visual as you, or because they’re simply focused on other things. And perhaps they are not disorganized, but just differently organized.

Perhaps you are a left-brain person, and they are a right-brain person. And in a home office setting, many people are pilers, not filers.

So, what can you do? Work on your stuff first! Show them how you can declutter and organize. Be a good example, and they will likely follow. No preaching, or teaching allowed. And never, ever declutter and organize their stuff without them.

3 solutions to try

  1. Let it go. Love them despite this issue and pick up after them. Or don’t pick up after them. Use screens, close doors, offer baskets etc.

  2. Communicate. Acknowledge you have different styles and learn to share common spaces. The person who uses the space the most gets to organize it and make the rules.

  3. Help them. Assist only when they ask for help. Let them lead. You can support their work by providing bags, boxes, markers, scissors, etc. Help label drawers or bins, call St. Vinnys for a pickup, make a run to the Clean Sweep facility, and more. Most importantly, have fun. Never judge or make fun of them. You can even point out ways they are already organized such as, “The tools in the garage are perfectly organized. How can we get the bedroom closet to be similar.”

Remember, it’s not about getting rid of their things, it’s about identifying what is important to them.

Want to work with me this summer? To get started, contact me at (608) 345-1836 or


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