strappy summer shoes

Pandemic Countdown Week 7: All The Shoes

This week's challenge is to try on all your shoes and see what still fits. The pandemic has done a number on our tolerance for shoes that pinch or blister. If no one can see what you've got on your…

anonymous person with binoculars looking through stacked books

Three Games to Help You Declutter Books

read this post on Medium When - not if - you declutter your books, taking charge of the process will make it easier. Kindle readers can skip this post - although I see you, digital clutter - but for most…

What’s Your Clutter Story?

If you grew up in a messy home, you know how awkward things could get. Maybe you were even uncomfortable bringing friends home from school. Our parents did the best they could, but they couldn’t teach us what they didn’t…

crop kid drawing in coloring book

Pandemic Countdown Week 6: Coloring Books

Pandemics are stressful (this statement brought to you by the Ministry of the Obvious) and so we've all been trying to find some way to deal with the ongoing make-it-end stress. Perhaps you've dusted off your yoga mat or you've…

dog with snow on its nose looking up

Decluttering Motivation

Decluttering is like walking the dog no matter what the weather's like or how you feel. To understand where I'm going with this, you should know that Daisy is two years old and has a lot of sheep herding energy.…

several scissors

Pandemic Countdown Week 5: Scissors

How Many Scissors Do You Have and Where Are They? Were you raised in a full house where anything you could possibly want was somewhere if only that elusive spot could be located? We must have had at least twelve…

jigsaw puzzle

Pandemic Countdown Week 4: Puzzles

Have you been puzzling up a storm during covid? This pandemic has shown us that the world can be divided into people who love doing puzzles – they enjoy the relaxing challenge, the delight of a puzzle in progress, the…

pile of cloth masks

Pandemic Countdown Week 3: Masks

Remember when the Pandemic started and everybody started making masks? It was a wonderful creative way to do something in the middle of chaos, wasn't it? I fondly remember the mask I got from our library - pretty fabric, super…

stack of fashion magazines on floor

Pandemic Countdown Week 2: Decluttering Magazines

In these covidest of times, have you put your stack(s) of magazines to good use? Made the collages? Created the vision boards? Read all the articles you've been meaning to? No? You're not alone. The magazines have languished since well…

‘I always ask, What hurts most?’

Filled Up and Overflowing - what to do when life events, chronic disorganization, or hoarding go overboard, is a compassionate, practical read that I wish had been available when I was starting out as an organizer. I'm thrilled we have…

pile of assorted title book lot selective focus photographt

Pandemic Countdown Week 1: Decluttering Books

Covid is going to end - while we wait, here are 30 decluttering challenges to give you the freedom to come out from behind your screens and have people over again. If you get to the end of all 30…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Q & As

Last week's paperwork challenge gave me the opportunity to hear what troubles you most about paperwork - here are my answers to the top three most popular questions I've received. Shouldn't I Be Scanning All This Paperwork? Only if you…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 9

You made it! I'm so grateful for your time and energy during this paperwork challenge. As promised, I'm wrapping this challenge up with a list of five file folder categories that'll make organizing your paperwork in 2021 and beyond so…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 8

So good to see you! I'm posting these daily so you have the sequence of steps but please know that I'm not expecting, or even encouraging you to take just one day for each step. Take it steady, go at…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 7

Thanks for coming back, I'm excited to show you how to move your paperwork from broad categories (see posts 1 - 6) into the next level of organization without having you break out into a sweat! To review, you've taken…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 6

Keep sorting papers, twenty minutes at a time, until you have all the papers distributed into bankers boxes. Could take a while or it could take twenty minutes, depending on how much paperwork you're sorting. This could be the end…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 5

Alright, you're ready - let's start sorting! Set your timer for 20 minutes and let's do this. Take a handful of papers and look at the first one. What is it? Without spending ten minutes reading it through and worrying…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 4

Nearly there! Today's step is to gather a large recycling can and a large garbage can, empty them both and then set them in the room with the piles of paper, the flat surface to work on and the assembled,…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 3

Today's the day to open the bankers box pack and assemble a few of them. If you've done this before, it'll take you less than 30 seconds per box but if you've never put together a bankers box before, you…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 2

Welcome back! I hope Day 1 wasn't too arduous and you were able to gather all your piles of paper together and find a flat surface to sort them on. Day 2's step is to head for Walmart, Target or…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 1

Even if you usually run a pretty tight ship, paperwork probably makes you groan. Sorting through it seems so daunting, so time consuming, so incredibly boring. To celebrate the end of 2020, I've got you covered with a New Year's…

assorted color rolls

Holiday Clutter Challenge: gift wrap

The challenge this Holiday week is to consider releasing any and all gift wrap supplies you don't end up using this week. It's not that they aren't perfectly good, but if they didn't make the cut this time, why will…

shalow focus photography of mailed letters

Holiday Clutter Challenge: Donation Requests That Never Stop Coming

Every day we skip to the mailbox and then slowly trudge back with our bills, flyers and catalogs again. Too boring to go through, we set it down "for now". If there was a way to completely stop it, we…

white pillows on a bed

Holiday Clutter Challenge part 3

This week, the clutter challenge heads for the spare room. If you don't have a designated guest room, it's the room where someone would stay if they came for a visit. Keeping the game's rules in mind - find one…

cans of pureed pumpkin

Holiday Clutter Challenge part 2

How did you get on with last week's Send it away Saturday challenge? I enjoyed seeing your pictures and hearing about your Holiday discards! This week, the challenge gets a little more specific but it's still within the general umbrella…

tinsel on a christmas tree

Holiday Clutter Challenge

Mid-November through Mid-January is tough and expensive. It's cold, often overcast and there are all those Holidays. There's desire and pressure to buy gifts for anyone you can think of whether or not they want or need what you get…

potato peeler

How To Decide

One of the most difficult things about decluttering is making decisions about your possessions. What stays and what goes? Here's how I'd help you learn how to decide if we were working together and we realized you had five potato…

condiments crowded into a fridge door shelf

Ask The Organizer: A Bad Smell In The Fridge

Dear Joyful Surroundings, There's an odor in my fridge. I've got a new box of baking soda in there but it doesn't seem to be working.  Thanks for listening, M, Colorado Dear M, We have huge fridges these days, nothing…

armchair with blanket and two teddy bears

Organizing Your Bedroom

Remember when you were a kid and your room (or the bit of the bedroom you staked out as your territory) was the only place you had to keep everything? The bed, which doubled as your couch, was squashed in…

young boy carefully holding a corn snake

Ignoring Clutter

My son likes snakes and I don't.  He would happily fill his room with cages full of carefully selected specimens and  meet all their serpentine needs. I'd happily never see one again. Our compromise is that he has a couple…

Joyful Surroundings logo colorful plumeria flowers with healthy green leaves

How To Declutter When You Don’t Feel Like It

Some days you’re just not feeling it. You're still sick of not being able to find anything, you still really want to have your grandkids stay over, you still want to get the car in the garage and have friends…

stack of boxes waiting to be sorted

Organizing Case Study: Jason’s Story

“Want to give me the tour?” I asked as Jason stood in front of me, awkwardly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. I’d seen photographs of his house already and we’d talked about his organizing goals but…

old potatoes with shoots coming out of them

Mindful Decluttering

When it comes to decluttering, the focus is usually on how things look. Look at that bedroom! I can't see the bed! I don't see how all those clothes can possibly fit in the closet. But we have five senses…

long haired dog with fur flying backwards as he races along a dirt path

How To Be On Time

Do you continually find yourself running late despite your best intentions? Here's how to make that a thing of the past. Side effects include improved friendships, feelings of being trustworthy and a decrease in overall stress. Your appointment with Polly…

Joyful Surroundings logo colorful plumeria flowers with healthy green leaves

Troubleshooting the Twenty Minutes

Twenty minutes decluttering a day is the slow and steady way to lasting change but sometimes it feels like you're spinning your wheels. When you start to wonder if it's worth it, check in with yourself and see if you're…

white long sleeved blouse and gauze red and yellow skirt laid out on a chair

Catalog Your Clothes

Coming up with the perfect outfit is too much brain work first thing in the morning. You keep meaning to set out your clothes the night before but by the time evening comes, all you really want to do is…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

What Can You Declutter Today?

If you're a minimalist, the sort who happily gets down to one roll of t-paper before heading for the store, you've probably started buying a little more lately. If you're more of a packrat, you've most likely struggled to find…

organized living room with built in bookshelves, comfortable armchairs and flowers on a coffee table

Staying at Home Driving You Crazy?

This stay at home order has been hell on wheels for anyone who's been putting off getting organized. Tempers are frayed as the day starts off with a mad dash to sweep the dining room table clean before the online…

pile of sweatshirts (white, bottle green, yellow and gray colors) on a beige carpet

Step By Step Guide to Decluttering

You know how to get started with your decluttering project. You've eaten, you've used the bathroom, you have water with you and you've set your timer for twenty minutes. You've picked a category of things to work on and you have…

crowded garage full of old wooden chairs, moving boxes and a moving dolly

How to Start Decluttering

Have you started your daily twenty minutes decluttering but been frustrated by how little difference it seems to make? You set the timer, head off to the attic and twenty minutes later you've managed to let go of one balding…

individual toilet rolls crammed into a bathroom cabinet jostling for space with over the counter medications

Now what?

You've got the sixteen backup packages of toilet paper from Costco. Disaster is averted (for a while). But where are you going to put those enormous packages? If your basement is ready and waiting, with a clear path to the…

stack of sweaters (oatmeal, pea green and red and white colors) on a closet shelf

Make 2020 Useful: Clothes Challenge

Last week: food There's something exciting about a new decade, a chance to really do things differently. Instead of treading that well worn path to the gym, how about making 2020 into the year you use things up? It doesn't…

rows of canned soup on a pantry shelf

Decluttering Food

Do mealtimes routinely find you standing in front of your full pantry feeling like there's nothing to eat again? Let's Play the Eat It Up Challenge Looking at what's in your cupboards, write down a menu for tomorrow's meals. Sounds…

Joyful Surroundings logo colorful plumeria flowers with healthy green leaves

Honest Labeling

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the clutter, consider easing into the organizing mindset by grabbing a sharpie and some blank labels. Take a look in the boxes and start making honest labels. “Wedding china I’ve never used but feel guilty…

jeans crammed on top of an overflowing laundry basket

Fix the Laundry Blues

On good days, there are overflowing hampers stuffed with dirty clothes and teetering piles of folded clean laundry on every counter, waiting to be put away. On bad days it feels like there's a perpetual carpet of clothes on the…

an organized desk with a sprig of lavender, an espresso cup and a wire basket organizing some books

When to Hire a Professional Organizer

New Year, New You If your New Year's resolutions once again include getting organized, professional help can let you finally cross it off the list. Which of these common stumbling blocks have stopped you in the past? Stumbling Block #1:…

young boy on the beach surrounded by seagulls

Coping With Anxiety When You Contemplate Decluttering

Hands down the most popular, most read, most shared Joyful Surroundings blog post. If you missed it, here's where I break down how to get started. Many of us would like to get organized and know the first step is…

rolled up socks of all colors in a wire drawer

Sorting Things Out

It's time honored organizing wisdom: put like with like. All the socks in one drawer, all the t-shirts in another. It makes it easy to find things and to put them away. The trouble is, your creative right-brained mind doesn't…

two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Body Doubling

Do you get overwhelmed when you try to declutter and organize yourself, yet find yourself effortlessly sorting, purging and categorizing when someone helps you? It's frustrating, isn't it? Why can't you just do it yourself? Take advantage of a Body…

storage box decorated with colorful red and yellow flowers, on a blue and white patterned duvet cover

What’s a Sentiment Box?

It's a container, ideally light enough that you could hold it on your lap while you look through the contents. The contents are very special because we don't have twenty-five sentiment boxes, we just have one. The box is intensely…

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