Breast cancer survivor and clutter clearing author learns to walk her talk

Clutter clearing cancer coping author and motivational speaker We can learn to live our priorities fully (and not just surviving or getting by on a day to day basis) by clearing out the distractions and focusing on what is important to each of us, our families, and our lives. Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools: We'll get you through this by Barbara Tako, two-time cancer survivor and published author and motivational speaker on the topic of clutter clearing. For updates on this new book, click here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Simplify your household paperwork filing system

Paper clutter. It is the most frequently mentioned clutter in America! Whatever happened to going paperless? Instead, we all have our own printer-scanner-fax combos! We have super-sized our home offices. In fact, many of us now have a "home office" whether or not we have a home-based business. That is something to think about. While you are thinking, consider decluttering and simplifying the household paperwork filing system.

When my filing cabinets and paper storage boxes became full, I knew it was time to make another effort to unclutter the household paperwork filing system. As I hunkered on the floor, weeded out, reorganized, and making new files, I learned a lot about household files:

1. Some files can and do age out over time. Clutter happens because Life happens. Life moves along, but the paper file created by the life event (a purchase, death, job change, hobby...) lingers, and lingers, and lingers.

2. Files that get too thick can be split. One way to split them is to look at dates and separate them chronologically (2002-2007, 2008-). Another way is to give each subcategory its own file (A vacation folder might become: Vacations Abroad, Vacations USA, Vacations Local).

3. Several thin files on a related topic can sometimes be consolidated. I think I found a craft folder and a hobby folder that both held similar things, as well as  a long-term plans folder and a retirement folder. Keep an eye out for redundancies that may creep into your filing system.

4. Finally, keep an eye out for files that can go to long-term storage in a file box. Not everything in the family file cabinet needs to be referred to regularly or even stored there. Tip: If you pull out files you aren't using very often, you can leave empty folders in the cabinet with a sheet in each that refers you to the location of the file box, or you can keep a file index listing of all your folders and indicate which ones are in the file box as opposed to the file cabinet.

If you can shred and recycle instead of purchasing another file box, that is great, but don't be hard on yourself if your choice is to get another file box. The trick is to keep your household filing cabinet from getting too crowded to be functional for you. Life happens and as long as it does, it will continue to generate paperwork.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TLN Now with Jerry and Shirley: 30-minute clutter clearing television interview

 You can view last night's 30-minute clutter clearing TV interview with Shirley and Jerry on TLN Now online on your computer at 7:00 p.m. CT. tonight (Wednesday, 4/21) at

Friday, April 16, 2010

Don't have time to declutter? Why to declutter today

Don't have time to declutter? We live busy, stressful, modern lives. Why bother with clutter clearing? Here are some important reasons to consider getting rid of the clutter today. Besides, not taking the time to unclutter may be costing you more than you think.

Clutter wastes valuable time. Literally. According to the American Demographics Society, Americans, as a whole, spend 9 million hours per day looking for lost or misplaced items. Do you have time to spare?

Clutter costs you money. When you can't find something, you go out and buy it. Why spend time and money to purchase something you already own. If you don't believe me, check out the duplicates in your spice rack, clothing closet, and bathroom drawers just for starters.

Clutter is the current American epidemic. There are television shows, magazine articles, and numerous books and experts out there. Still, we struggle. If technology helps us go "paperless," many of us still go through a lot of printer ink!  Not to mention, our closets, drawers, and cupboards are still crammed full.

In addition to saving valuable time and money, a little clutter clearing offers many other benefits. Consider that it may actually take less time and energy to deal with clutter than to suffer from it. People consistently over-estimate the time it will take to make those piles go away--the piles that nag at them, wear them down, and prevent their homes from being the relaxing, restoring spaces they can be.

If the piles were gone, you could enjoy more control over your life. You would know where the things you own are, and you would only keep things that are beautiful or useful to you today. You would have greater peace of mind--you would have less, literally, to store, maintain, keep track of, and worry about. You would enjoy order and calmness. There wouldn't be frantic last-minute hunts for things. Finally, you would have more time and energy for your priorities, and a home environment that nurtures and supports you instead of dragging you down. Still can't take time to declutter? Think again!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning: 12 Tips for Mental Clutter Clearing

Mental clutter. We all have it. Our busy modern life creates it. Stress, worries, and too much going on in our relationships, careers, calendars, and home life can create mental clutter. Mental clutter can weigh us down as much, if not more, than our physical clutter. Here are twelve tips for mental clutter clearing.

1. Perspective. Consciously make an effort to keep a perspective when you are worrying about something. Think about all the things that won't change if the event happens. And, consider a thought  my then 99-year-old grandfather shared: "Most of the bad things that we worry about happening don't happen. We expend a lot of time and energy worrying about things that don't happen."

2. See past the date or event you are stressing about. The world and your life doesn't end on that date. There will still be family members, good stuff, and haircuts after that date. Hold that thought when you are worried about something upcoming.

3. Embrace the issue. If something is nibbling away at the edges of your mind and causing stress, bring it front and center for a while (maybe 10 to 30 minutes) and totally focus on it. Sometimes a frontal assualt on a nagging issue helps to take away its power. You could contemplate it or write about it.

4. Separate the feelings from the reality. The feeling may be awful, but it is just a feeling. You are in the driver's seat and control how you act or don't act on that feeling. Reality and the feeling you have about it are not the same. Feelings just are. Feelings come and go.

5. Write it down. When you are feeling overwhelmed and things you need to take care of are falling in and out of your head, it is helpful to put them on paper. Write them on an ongoing prioritized to-do list. This way your mind can let them go because you know they are on the list.

6. Do what you can to deal it. Whatever "it" is, get a head start. Tackle some aspect of it to get unstuck on something that you have been dreading or something that has been nagging at you.You can beat it to the punch by being proactive.

7. Do something else. Get something done on anything except what is causing the mental clutter. Sometimes a distraction will let your subconscious take over and work on the mental clutter while you get a break because you are engaged in something else.

8. Diet.  Don't overlook this. Watch watch what you eat. A sugar rush can throw your body off and make things seem worse than they are. Be sure to stay hydrated. Try not not to miss meals or to overindulge. Keeping your food intake on an even keel will help.

9. Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reducer that has immediate mental benefits. It takes a while to experience  physical benefits like weight loss or muscle toning, but the reduction in stress can be almost immediate. Don't forget to check with your doctor first!

10. Meditation. It doesn't have to be complicated. Meditation can be as simple as slowing down and counting your breaths for a short period, or taking a few deep, slow, deliberate breaths.

11. Tell a friend. Call or e-mail a friend to discuss your mental clutter. You can get a lot of emotional support and a fresh perspective this way. Friends help each other.

12. Tell a therapist or your doctor. They are experts. If there are lingering, recurring, or stressful issues, consider professional help. Doctors and mental health experts can be more objective than friends and have a very large toolbox of ideas for you to try.

Consider printing out this list and keeping it in a drawer, inside a cupboard door, or with your journal if you keep one. The list above isn't comprehensive. Different items above will help for different occasions and times of your life. Consider them to be tools in your toolbox. Keep an eye open to continue to expand the tools in your toolbox to clear the mental clutter. Add to this list when you find something that works for you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Are you ready to reclaim your happy home from the clutter that has taken over?

Here is a discussion with Marti and Erin of GoodEnough Moms that you can
listen to at their website:

There are simple ideas we can all do to prevent clutter from taking over our homes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Don't trade clutter for clutter: spring cleaning emotional clutter

One afternoon several years ago I was sitting in the sun out on the deck with my cordless phone, a roll of tape, a chopstick, and my daughter's blaze orange hooded sweatshirt. I was trying to rethread the cord back into the hood. This process just about exceeded my small sewing skills. So this is what I "do all day." It felt trivial, but I knew it would matter to my eleven-year old when she came home from school in an hour. 

I was a little bit surprised that I was being kind to myself by allowing myself to perform this task outside in the spring sunshine. Why can't we be kinder to ourselves more often? Go sit outside. How hard is that?

Maybe I felt I had earned a reward. Earlier that day, I looked at houses  with a realtor. It was a discouraging depressing process. I couldn't help noticing other peoples' clutter. Everyone seemed to have a lot of it. I was discouraged when I learned how little I could get for my money. Trade offs. Trade offs. Trade offs. Cheap millwork, dark paint jobs, abused sheetrock, and ugly wallpaper... 

Was it time to move? Would trading one box with a view for another box with a different view be an improvement? Pay the realtors and the closers and the movers. Pay more. Get less? What was the point?

I think I felt a need for change. I think that is part of human nature. Would we move? Right then, I didn't know. Would a different house be a better house? 

I thought when I came home that I would feel better when I saw our house. All I saw, sadly, were the well-known flaws in our existing house and an eleven-week -old puppy that had been left in her crate all morning. More parental guilt. That was another reason I was outside working on the sweatshirt--for the dog's sake, so she could be outside. So much for taking care of myself.

Do you ever have days where nothing seems quite right? Maybe you don't like the clothes you put on this morning. Maybe you changed clothes and still don't feel quite right. Nothing satisfies. Spring is in the air. Spring is the season of change. Will change, just for the sake of changing, fix anything? If you are having one of those days, here are my suggestions:
  • Go sit outside.
  • Contemplate the pros and cons of the change.
  • Above all: Don't change anything when you are having a bad day.

    Change for change's sake isn't change for your sake. You deserve better. What do you do when you feel like this?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Interview with Joshua Mackey on Midwest Lifestyles - Hot Country 106.5FM

I was happy to do this radio interview with Joshua Mackey on Midwest Lifestytle - Hot Country 106.5 FM today. Joshua asked some great questions. Please click on the link below to listen:

 It was a great chance to talk about my book "Clutter Clearing Choices" and share some clutter clearing tips.