you can do it!

If you’re new to this decluttering business, you’ll notice people talking about a donate box or a donation station. You may have wondered what the heck they mean. Now you’ll know.

The Donate Box


It’s a box or a bag or a bin. It can be made of anything you like. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or particularly big. If you have a lot of old boxes you’ve been saving but not using, here’s a cunning way to get rid of them and have something sturdy to hold your donations. Mine is an extra laundry basket that’s too big for our miniscule laundry room.


It has a fixed place – mine is right by the door to the garage so I can easily load up my car when the box is full. Every time you come across something you want to donate, you put it in your donate box. It doesn’t float around the house, you take your donations to it as you find them. If you’re sorting in a far away space and have a lot of donations, keep a box with you as you sort. When it’s full, take the box to the donate box, empty it and return to your original space.


This gets rid of all those piles of things you’re going to donate one day that have an unfortunate habit of merging into everything else over time.

It gets the stuff out of the house. When the donate box is full, it’s time to take everything to ARC or Goodwill or wherever you like to drop off.

Donating gets to be a regular manageable task instead of a daunting, let’s see if they can send a truck and park it in my driveway for hours while I load it up sort of thing.

It keeps the flow of energy moving. I’m no feng shui expert but I know that piles of donations not going anywhere feels like stale stuckness. You simply feel better getting the stuff moving – you said you were going to donate it and now you are. Good job!


It depends how much stuff you have. The most immediately easy way is to donate whenever the box is full. The long-term simplest way is to put it on your schedule. Every Tuesday, drop off at Goodwill. The hardest way is to wait until it’s overflowing and you’re sure you can find a few more things, so you just hold onto until then. My vote? Get donation drop off on your schedule, be it weekly monthly or quarterly.


You’ve got clutter all over the place, how will one little box help out? Start small. Send it away Saturday is for you! Each Saturday, we find one thing that we don’t need anymore. Just one and then you’re done. When you’ve found a cookie cutter you never use, or a Christmas turtleneck you loath, pick them up and take them to your donate box. There, you’re done. Great job!

When anyone else asks what they should do with some item they don’t want or need, tell them to put it in the donate box. Point it out, tell them that’s where it’s always going to be. They’ll catch on fast and may start putting things in there without asking you. Hooray!


It’s tempting for you or others in your space to go shopping in the donate box. Discourage this with frequent, regular drop offs. Trust your instincts, if it’s clutter, it’s clutter.

Need a helping hand dealing with your clutter? If you’re in the Boulder County/Longmont area, here’s how to work with me. If you’re further afield, here’s how to hire a professional organizer.

Take the decluttering quiz

Joyful Surroundings LLC – (720) 526-2114 –

© 2013 – 2019 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

I’ve suggested before that therapy is a more than useful adjunct for decluttering, and many of you have already read my interview with local therapist and Rapid Resolution practitioner Dr. Sonja Hellman. I asked her to speak a little more about how hypnotherapy in particular can help you get unstuck.

“Any therapist should be able to tell you what they think causes the problem you are dealing with and what they think will fix it,” she told me.

How then does Rapid Resolution Therapy think of what causes hoarding?

“You have tried to get it under control. You have tried to manage the mess. What is going on? There are two parts of your mind/brain- the smart part, that can see that the stuff you have collected is causing problems, and the primitive part, which is all about your survival. If you have more stuff than you have space for, the primitive part believes that keeping and or collecting stuff is vital for your survival. That’s why there is so much anxiety when you think about clearing it out.”

So how does Rapid Resolution Therapy help me get rid of the clutter?

“You may know what happened in your past that caused you to start collecting stuff, or it may be something you’ve done for as long as you can remember. It doesn’t matter. Together we come to understand why your subconscious mind has you collecting and keeping things. The conversation is gentle, non-judgmental or blaming, and usually leaves people feeling lighter and able to do things they couldn’t before. Once your primitive mind understands that you are safe and that you don’t need the stuff to keep you safe, it gets on board with what YOU want, and it is easier to work with your organizer to let some of the things go that had seemed so vital.”

Sonja Hellman, PhD (720) 470-1094

While I would highly recommend contacting Dr. Hellman if you feel there’s a stumbling block at the root of why you hold onto so much stuff, I’ve also come across another potential resource if one-on-one therapy isn’t an option for you right now. In amongst the online purveyors of cheesy hypnosis recordings, I’ve come across an absolute gem.

The first thing you have to do is get rid of that “Look into my eyes…you are getting sleepy” thing that comes to mind for most of us when we think of hypnosis. Or embarrassing stage performances that have people walking around like chickens and making fools of themselves. Apparently there’s a new generation of hypnotherapists who work in a much more subtle way to reach the unconscious mind, and the company I discovered, Uncommon Knowledge, has been busy. They have hundreds and hundreds of titles, and the pricing is pretty accessible. While you could spend hours browsing their titles, from ‘Nervous Cough‘ to ‘Stop Hating Exercise‘ to ‘Be More Playful‘, what struck my eye was that they have several topics which seem very relevant to what we’re doing here.

Although there’s no way these downloads could possibly be as effective as individual therapy since by nature they’re going to be generic, I’ve found that the one I tried was remarkably effective. Thanks to listening to ‘Stop nail biting‘ for a week, a 49-year-old habit I didn’t think would ever go away has simply disappeared. It helped that the voice on the download was a mellow ever-so-slightly Scottish accent, which was charming and very relaxing. And at no point was I asked to quack like a duck or sleepwalk, in fact I remained drowsily conscious throughout repeated listenings. I tried it for a week and several months later, my nails remain happily unbitten.

If you try one of these, let me know how you find it, won’t you? As ever, I am NOT an affiliate. I make NO money at all if you decide to purchase anything on their site. While I wait for your feedback, I’ll be over here eating roast vegetables and listening to ‘Beach relaxation‘, ignoring the fact that today’s blizzard toppled the tree in our back yard.

fallen tree

© 2013 – 2019 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!

Sometimes clutter is vital and that’s why you’re keeping it. It’s not important because your house papers are in those piles somewhere, although that may well be the case. It’s important because it’s serving you well, cocooning you and saving you from having to face something you don’t care to deal with.

Perhaps the endless organizing, without ever really settling on homes for things, helps fill your time. Perhaps it keeps you busy and saves you from having to do anything about the fact that you and your partner have nothing to say to each other these days. There’s no time for a job or for volunteering, for reading or for getting outside because there’s all this clutter and you’d feel too guilty doing any of those things when you should be dealing with your clutter.

Here’s the thing. If you spend 20 minutes a day dealing with the stuff in your house, and you simultaneously address the reasons stuff keeps coming into your house, this is a finite job, no matter how much clutter you have. You may be buried in stuff, but if you work through it slowly but steadily, that stuff will recede. If it keeps growing, it may be time to ask yourself what purpose it’s serving you.

Is your stuff cushioning you, keeping you busy or distracting you from something you don’t want to look at? If that’s the case, please be gentle with yourself. Give up the habit of feeling bad and castigating yourself for all your clutter. Maybe that clutter is serving you well. Maybe you’ll deal with it when the time comes, but for now, it’s helping. Let that be the case and let yourself be as kind to yourself as you would be to a dear friend. If your dear friend had a room full of unopened shopping bags, I don’t think you’d yell and scream at her to get her act together, I think you’d love her anyway. This Valentine’s Day, this whole year, can you do that for yourself too?

© 2013 – 2019 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!

You want so badly to get organized. To host book club this month. To have family celebrations at your home. To open the garage door without feeling like the whole street is judging you.

“Every time the doorbell rings or my friends want to come over, I feel that lurch in the pit of my stomach. I just dread what they’re thinking about the way my house looks.”  — Margaret B., Broomfield

But there’s stuff everywhere and you don’t know where to begin. You start to doubt yourself — you kept all this stuff for a reason, perhaps you should still hold onto it. Maybe it’s just a matter of putting it in the right containers. You start cramming things in plastic totes again, convinced that you’re doomed to live forever in confusion and chaos.


Lucy Kelly, Professional Organizer: compassionate, creative, completely nonjudgmental

I can help you create the welcoming home you’re dreaming of. I’ll break the whole process of decluttering and organizing down into manageable parts so you won’t get overwhelmed. Together, we’ll create an organized, stress-free home you’ll be proud to have anyone see.

“I especially appreciated how Lucy did not judge or make us embarrassed about anything. It was really a pleasure to organize, something I would have thought impossible before!” Sarah C., Boulder

When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easier to put things off for another day. “The cupboards are crammed so full I can’t find anything. I’ll get groceries tomorrow.” Let’s just eat out. Again. 

It’s how we try to cope when things are a mess and we don’t know where to start

I’ll help you find what you love, want and need and let the rest go.

Clutter is expensive

Clients tell me they save astonishing amounts of money now they’re not buying duplicates of things they can’t find, shopping as a distraction from the mess, or paying for storage.

If you have a storage unit (maybe you have more than one?) in Boulder County or Longmont, you’ll pay at least $250 a month to warehouse your stuff. That’s $3,000 a year. $15,000 for five years. And all you get for that price is to avoid making decisions about your stuff. I can help you figure out what can go, what you still need and where we’re going to put it all.

Call Lucy Kelly at (720) 526-2114

or email

Schedule your free 30 minute in-home consultation

Pricing: $250 per 3 hour session.  Choose three sessions for $695 and save $55.

Regular sessions will give you the structure and expert guidance you need to accomplish your goals. Three hours is just the right amount of time to see progress without getting burnt out. Watch your momentum grow as we conquer the clutter!

Joyful Surroundings LLC’s guarantee: By the time we’re done, you’ll be able to find anything you own within five minutes, including paperwork.

Shouldn’t I be able to do this myself?

None of us are going to be good at everything. If you’re ready to accept help and support in this area, that just frees up your time and energy for all those things you do really well.

This can be tough, emotional work. You want expert help to guide you through the process. You need someone who knows how to keep you on task and motivated, who can move you from chaos to order.

I know how to encourage you and keep you moving towards your goals. I’m committed to your process. I know you can do it and I’ll hold that vision for you until you can hold it for yourself.

Call Lucy Kelly at (720) 526-2114

or email

Schedule your free 30 minute in-home consultation

Member of ICD, the premier resource when you have more clutter than the average bear

Organizing columnist for the Longmont Times-Call

Decluttering and organizing services in Arvada, Boulder, Broomfield, Dacono, Erie, Firestone, Gunbarrel, Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, Marshall, Niwot, Superior & Westminster, Colorado.

Ah, January! Month of fresh starts and hopeful dreams. If this is the year you’re going to get organized, honest and for true, consider choosing 2019 as the Year of Action.

Instead of holding onto things for that yard sale you’re going to have one day,  go ahead and have a yard sale. So, your Send it away Saturday assignment is to spend some time each Saturday preparing for that. Get it on the calendar, then spend a few minutes sticking on price tags each Saturday, going through the piles to see what’s likely to sell and what should be pitched, and so on.

Instead of accumulating a pile of items you’re going to sell on eBay, make this the year you do so. Make it your goal to get one item to the mailbox each Saturday.

If those piles of presents haven’t been given, why then, give them! Every Saturday, either mail or drop off one gift.

If the stack of magazines to be read is teetering and threatening to spill all over the living room, then 2019 is your Year of Reading and Send it away Saturday means 30 minutes of reading and then recycling each Saturday until the pile has gone.

Shred the pile of papers that have been hanging out forever in the ‘shred me’ pile. If that pile’s overwhelming, and most likely it is otherwise it wouldn’t keep growing, then Send it away Saturday for you means shredding a handful of papers each Saturday. Just a few, but every Saturday.

If the stack of torn out and printed out recipes hasn’t gotten any smaller in the last few years, then your Send it away Saturday assignment is to cook one of those recipes each Saturday. Discard the ones you keep passing over to try.

If some of your clutter is unfinished projects, then tackle one of them each Saturday. Just for 20 minutes, nothing too stressful, but you’ll be amazed at what get done when you come back to a project regularly. Start putting those shelves together, replace the batteries in the remote, spend 20 minutes knitting.

And of course, there’s always a place for Send it away Saturday, the day when we find one thing to let go of. Just one and then you’re done. This year, join the crowd who email me each week when they find something to let go of. I’m cheering you on.

© 2013 – 2019 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!

From the astonishing discovery around the age of two that you are you, separate and able to say ‘NO!’, we spend our lives finding out who we are. Freed from the horrors of trying to fit in as teenagers, we blossom as we age and carve out our unique paths in life. We accumulate a set of possessions that help us define and announce who we are to ourselves and those around us.

Behold my stacks of art supplies. Together, gold paper and I will rule the world! I’m an artist. It’s who I am.

All those (out of date) medical textbooks lining my shelves? I’m a doctor. It’s who I am.

Those trophies and medals that stack the bulletin boards three awards deep? I’m an athlete. It’s who I am.

And then you decide it’s time to get organized (excellent choice!). The piles of miscellaneous things aren’t too hard to deal with, but that box of plaques and awards from the company you worked for 20 years ago is too hard to get rid of.  Why? Because if you throw that out, it feels like you’re throwing a part of yourself out. You’re being asked to destroy the proof that you’re who you’ve told yourself you are, and that’s asking a lot.

It’s also freeing. If you didn’t have this image of yourself as a person who adores fine food, then a simple grilled sandwich could really hit the spot. Do you still like to run and hike? Well, get out there and do it. Your essence is that of an athlete, you don’t need the medals to prove it.

If you’re still reluctant to pitch the evidence, consider what organizer Judith Kolberg suggests to her clients: a shrine. She worked with a retired teacher to create a small display honoring the highlights and joys of a well-loved career, and her client was freed to pitch the ancient lesson plans, and fading construction paper scraps that had accumulated over decades of teaching.

If you were going to create a little area in your home that honored an identity you’ve nurtured for years, what would you put there? And when you were done, what would you be freed up to let go of and to go do?

© 2013 – 2018 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!

Are you the kind of person who saves gifts on a shelf in the linen cupboard, so you have them handy at the Holidays? That’s wonderful! This article isn’t for you. But if you’re the kind of person who buys lots of things throughout the year because they’d make great gifts that never quite get given because you just can’t find them, please read on.

Let’s say you have a couple of children, five grandchildren and three good friends you exchange gifts with. As luck would have it, bankers boxes come in packs of ten, so head out to Walmart or Target and pick up a pack. You’ll also need a thick marker pen.

Make up the boxes and write ‘Abel’ on all four sides of the box. Repeat until Betsy, Connor, David, Egbert, Flossie, Gertrude, Hansel, India and Jasper each have their own labeled box. Line the boxes up so you can sort into them.

Now it’s time to go decluttering. Hunt under the beds, in closets, basements and drawers until you find those stashes of gifts and supplies, sorting them into the boxes as you go. Most likely you have more than enough gifts to fill the boxes, but sometimes there’s that kid who’s tough to buy for. Now you can see at a glance where the holes are, no need to buy anything more.

Do you have more gifts than box space? Maybe you have that friend who likes dragonflies and their box is overflowing with dragonfly pillows, and bracelets and baking pans. Set up one box called ‘surprise gifts’ for those unexpected gifts you find yourself needing and put the dragonfly overflow in there.

If you find something you know was meant to be a gift, but you hesitate to put it in the right box, that means you won’t give it. Did that friend move on from dragonflies? Are the grandchildren too old for the gifts you’ve been meaning to give them for years? Hooray! This is your chance to donate all those gifts this weekend and make a lot of thrift store shoppers very happy this Holiday season.

When January comes, line up the empty boxes in the basement. As you pick up gifts throughout the year, put them in the right box right then and there and next year things really will be easier.

And if the sheer clutter of gift giving is getting you down, email me for my free guide to Clutterfree Gift Giving.

Quick health update: I’m all done with chemo! Twelve sessions in the books and now I’m gathering my strength, all ready to re-open the Joyful Surroundings LLC doors in February of next year. Thank you for all your emails and support as I’ve gone through this most difficult of years, I love you all

© 2013 – 2018 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.

Joyful Surroundings LLC

Everything feels better with an organized home!