Tips on De-cluttering Offered by the ‘Declutter Coach’

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Is your home or office filled with clutter? Do you not remember what your floor or countertops look like? Do you constantly stress over finding lost items?

DeClutter coach Deborah Cabral has a few easy tips and a list of steps toward a more organized and healthy lifestyle.

Cabral began her Organization Motivation business only a few years ago as Oswego County’s resident “DeClutter Coach.” While working for years in corporate America, she developed her knack for organizing.

“During the last several years before I started my business I did a lot of training, development, productivity and efficiency, [and learned] how to work smarter and not harder. So I am kind of hard-wired for that thinking. I’ve organized for friends and family my whole life,” she said.

Cabral’s first tip to anyone looking to get organized is to just get started. That is the most difficult yet the most beneficial step, she said. She tells people they need to get the ball rolling because procrastination is clutter’s best friend and one’s biggest obstacle.

“I think there’s so many benefits, and the benefits far outweigh the work,” Cabral said. “But people need to see that first. All they feel is overwhelmed and don’t know where to start so they just don’t start at all.”

After getting started Cabral has a few tips on de-cluttering and maintaining an organized lifestyle:

• Set a timer. De-clutter for at least 15 minutes every day. No excuses. Small changes over time yield big results.

• De-clutter the areas that are causing you the most stress. Take before and after photos of your progress. There is nothing more motivating than a photo.

• Every time you bring something new into your home, something has to go. Your home should be your sanctuary—a place to relax and escape the demands of the outside world. It’s nearly impossible to relax in a cluttered home.

• Donate, consign or sell items you decide to give away during your de-cluttering so you feel better about getting rid of things.

• Keep only those things you absolutely love or need. Your value is not in your possessions. If you write down what is truly important in your life, most likely your “stuff” is not even on the list.

Societal issue

Cabral said the problem of becoming cluttered in the first place originates from society. People are always looking to buy the next best thing, but no one ever gets rid of the old.

“You’re always taught to live within your financial means,” Cabral said. “I always tell people that you need to live within your spatial means.” Meaning if your space is becoming too cluttered and dysfunctional, it’s time to move some things out, she added.

Prioritize your belongings and get rid of the items that you are not using and know you will not use in the future, she said. Consigning items rather than throwing them away can make you feel better about getting rid of them, and earn you some extra cash, Cabral said.

In her experiences, Cabral said the easiest thing for people to let go of is paper. “I can get people to let go of paper very easily when I teach them what they should retain for legal or tax purposes,” she said.

The most difficult are possessions that correspond with memories, she said.

Cabral’s way of dealing with this issue is to take a photo of the person with the item. That way the person can keep the photo and look at it whenever they’d like, and can get rid of something taking up space unnecessarily.

“It’s not the stuff that’s the memory, it’s the person that was in your life. Those memories are not going to go away just because you get rid of the stuff,” she said. “I tell people I want you to write down the top-five most important things in your life. I have not found one client yet who has named something material. Nobody ever says it’s that Hummel collection sitting up in the attic wrapped in plastic. What’s important to us is not the stuff, but that’s what we hang onto.”

Cabral has a website with comments from clients and other tips for decluttering. It’s