I recently had the pleasure of moving. I love moving. It’s an opportunity for a new start in many areas of life. One, (and my favorite), is cleaning out the ‘STUFF’.

I am always amazed at those teeny tiny things that accumulate. This is the ‘stuff’ that collects in bowls, jars, bins, boxes, drawers, and any other desirable container you have around your home that is ripe for ‘sticking’ stuff when you can’t figure out where else it should go.
What kind of ‘stuff’ am I talking about? Things like (but not limited to): buttons, screws, samples, coupons, rocks, marbles, hooks, change, electronic pieces or adapters, pens, office supplies of all types, business cards, tiny notes to yourself, game pieces, legos or tiny toys, bread ties, wire, batteries, light bulbs, etc.

Now, this type of ‘stuff’ may not take up much room, but it’s ‘stuff’. Stuff clogs our energy, our home, our productivity, and our life.

What can you do?
1. Grab a huge flat box and put it in the center of your floor
2. Go around your home in every container and favorite stashing spot, and empty them into this box.
3. Begin creating piles for different rooms or locations in your home (games, workroom, laundry room, sewing, etc.) from the ‘stuff’ in this box.
4. Throw ‘stuff’ away as you are sorting it.
5. Label the piles with ‘sticky’ notes so you don’t have to think. You can just toss items in their designated piles.
6. Enlist family members to put ‘stuff’ where is is supposed to live as you are going through this process.
7. If in doubt, I suggest tossing it (or good-willing it if it’s useful ‘stuff’).
8. Be sure to sort everything. It is best not to keep any trinket or item that you can’t decide on.
9. It is ‘legal’ to have a keepsake bin or box for ‘stuff’ you can’t part with (like a key chain from the Grand Canyon- not that I have one or anything)
10. Make a ‘home’ for everything. A button jar, coin jar and battery drawer can all be helpful.

Last, when you get something new, or you have a tiny piece of ‘stuff’ in your hand that you think might be useful in the future- RESIST throwing it into the nearest bowl or drawer. Put it where it ‘lives’. Things enjoy having a home too.


I don’t know about you, but in a ‘paperless’ world, I sure get tons of paper! It comes in when I least expect it to: Mail, leaflets, newspapers, kids’ homework, marketing flyers, educational, promotional.

The problem with paper is that you can accumulate a lot of it and become overwhelmed quite quickly. If there is something important that you need, it’s hard to find amidst the ‘junk’.

What can you do?

1. Recycle mail BEFORE it enters your home
2. Recycle flyers in your driveway and on your door/door handle immediately
3. Do not politely take a flyer or tri-fold from someone. If you don’t want it, do not take it. It costs them money, and costs you sanity.
4. Recycle newspapers and magazines immediately after reading them. If there is something you want, want to remember, or want to refer to, tear out that page only and put in a ‘active’ pile or box.
5. Keep only things that are VERY important regarding kids’ homework and art. Have a ‘keepsake’ box, or hang it. You can’t keep everything.
6. When you meet someone, enter their information immediately into your phone, or have a business card folder in your car. That way cards and flyers aren’t floating around.
7. Get on ‘do not mail’ lists. There are plenty of them. All you need to do is google them. In addition, get OFF of mailing lists for catalogs. Many times you just call or shoot off an email.
8. Do not subscribe to magazines unless you have time to read them.
9. Have an active ‘pile’ or box and weekly make an effort to go through it before it gets out of hand.

I guarantee, your life with be a lot less cluttered by taking some very simple steps.


As I’ve said before, clutter comes in many forms.

Financial, or ‘debt-clutter’ is another form of ‘stuff’ in our lives, that is not healthy.

In this day and age, it seems impossible to talk to anyone who isn’t struggling with their finances. Some states are worse than others. I still have many friends in California who are struggling to make it, while still not paying their mortgage.

What can be done when we are so far in debt and the future seems hopeless?

1. Quit buying STUFF!
2. Do not surf the internet for STUFF
3. Only go grocery shopping with a LIST (Don’t eat out)
4. Stop all Magazine/Catalog Subscriptions (These only make us ‘want’ stuff)
5. Pay for necessities with MONEY- or CASH. Many studies have shown when we use checks or credit cards we are removed from our debt.
5. Write down EVERYTHING you spend. That’s right. Even parking meter change. It’s amazing once it is all on paper.
6. Write down your monthly income and expenses. Know exactly how much you have coming in, and how much you have going out.
7. Change your perception of money. Come from a viewpoint of abundance, not lack. Remember, money is only energy, like our ‘stuff’. Be grateful for what you HAVE, not regret what you do not have. Dr. Michael Beckwith has a CD on this. It was really eye-opening for me, and taught me to think of money in a new light:http://www.agapelive.com/bookstore/true-abundance-practices-living-from-overflow-p-837.html

8. Be realistic. You may need to change your life-style. Rest assured, you will survive.
9. Do free things (or less expensive things) : Go to the library, take a walk or a hike, take a bus, carpool, swap clothing with a friend, cook at home, drink water from the tap. The idea is one of gratitude for all of the resources and things we do have.
10. Find resources on finances. Read a book from the library- check out budget planning on the internet.

The most important thing is that you are committed to ‘de-cluttering’ your debts. This clutter isn’t as tangible as our ‘stuff’, but the weight of it can be as stifling.

Clutter is clutter.


Clutter comes in many forms. In the U.S., and many other countries, it’s nearly impossible to escape. One must be present, aware, and live with intention in order to reduce the ‘clutter’ that surrounds us.

In the months to come, different types of clutter will be presented, with simple solutions and suggestions.

The first type of  clutter that can be controlled is that in which we actually choose to put into our bodies. Fuel. That is food and drink.

How can this be done?

1. Declutter your kitchen, including cupboards, pantries and refrigerators. Donate excess food, or toss expired items.

2.  Purchase foods in their truest form (less processed or no processing if possible)

3. Prepare meals ahead for the week. Use a crock-pot and your freezer. This helps with impulse purchases and convenience foods.

4. Solicit support or advice of an expert.  I follow Sandra Thompson at http://solutionthroughnutrition.com/


Kiana Hartman eating at True Foods Kitchen in Newport Beach

Always keep in mind everything has energy. Too much of anything turns into ‘clutter’. If our goal is to live a life in balance, this can not be accomplished if we surround ourselves with too much of anything.




In my 25 years of ‘Organizing’ I have seen an amazing phenomenon. Clutter in our lives, and often in our heads contributes (and may lead to) clutter and chaos in our environments.

With the advancement of technology, and the increasingly ease of acquiring ‘stuff’, this chaos is not going away.  I feel it is safe to say that it is on the increase.

The ‘Clutter Cycle’, as I call it, goes like this:

‘Clutter’ in our heads (obligations, commitments, fears, regrets,)


Clutter’ entering our heads (emails, facebook, linkedIn, Tweets, Texts, Phones, TV, Radio, News)


Easy access and pressure to consume ‘stuff’– (media, marketing, technology)

Leads to:

Excess ‘stuff’ in our homes, businesses and in our lives

Resulting in:

Disorganization & Chaos in our home and business environment


Stress and Anxiety in our heads


It is all so closely linked, predictable- and cyclical.

There is no easy answer- BUT- in my life, I feel I have been called to assist in changing these patterns and ways of thinking.  Today I commit to blog, speak, write, teach, train and do everything in my power to aid in relieving humanity of this epidemic.

Let us first start with BALANCE. We know it’s important, but how do we get there?

I am going to start with a visual. It may be a metaphor in my case, but regardless, I am taking the lead from my dear friend Alicia McMichael of ‘Alicia McMichael International’ at:


This Photo will remain on my desktop as a motivator.  Let the transformation begin!



3 com

There have been numerous times in my life where I have created ‘unique’ storage ideas to hide or house ‘stuff’. Barnboyfurniture.com has been amazing when it comes to humoring me with my creations.

That said, I was given this link by a friend and neighbor on facebook- (Bo Kelleher at Kaltura). I had to pass it on!

Check out:

I absolutely LOVE this idea! Each drawer is large enough to store useful things. It can replace your kitchen ‘junk drawer’, it can store all of that ‘stuff’ that goes upstairs, it is useful for flashlights or emergency equipment, AND, if looks great!

Thanks Bo for passing this along!


When we think of ‘clutter’ in our lives, we often think of the ‘stuff’. That is, the material ‘stuff’. The things we buy or collect.  Let me suggest that people in our lives can be ‘clutter’ as well.

Especially the ones who are toxic.

Toxic people are those that walk around in a cloud of black.  They carry around heaviness. You finish talking with them, and you feel exhausted. They may be negative, pessimistic, critical, and dishonest, love drama, or tell you about how much they have to do. Regardless, you know who they are.

I had the distinct honor of meeting Don Miguel Ruiz the other day.  He is the author of ‘The Four Agreements’, and a beautiful, insightful and humble man who carries great messages. He said something that was obvious, (and a bit humorous), but very difficult to grasp for some reason.

When talking to his children about what to do about toxic people, he reminds them “YOU CAN WALK AWAY”.

Wow! What a concept. It’s really that simple.  Why stick around?  Why expose yourself to that?  What’s the point?

Now, let’s take it a step further as Don did.

When you are spinning around, taking on too much (and telling everyone about it), texting and tweeting and facebooking and emailing, happily engaging is the madness around you, maybe not being authentic or honest or living the life you were meant to- then YOU ARE THAT TOXIC PERSON.

And as Don Miguel Ruiz simply put it- “You can’t walk away from you”.


For more information on Don Miguel Ruiz, please visit his website at:






My experience had lead me to believe that most of our clutter begins in our ‘head-space’.  Our outside immediate environment is simply a reflection of where we are at.

If we have taken on too many commitments, are too busy, are texting, tweeting, facebooking, emailing, calling, holding onto resentments, fears, judgments, practicing negative thoughts towards self or others- basically, if we invite a lot of chaos into our lives- then it is quite probable that our head is a cluttered mess, as well as our environment.

To begin, there are really only two basic rules we need to keep in mind.  If you remember these, AND incorporate these into your lives every MINUTE, then both your internal and your external environments will be a lot less cluttered.

1. Stay on only ONE task at a time.  Focus ONLY on that particular task.  No other thoughts need enter your mind while you are doing the task at hand. I call this “MONO-TASKING”

2. Invite only positive, healthy and loving things into your life.




Lately I have been going to the homes of new clients and doing my normal walk-through. I love this time because I get to know my clients inside and out.

Sadly, comments I have been hearing quite often are “Well, I’m not sure if this is right” or “I am not sure if this is organized correctly”.

It has caused me to take pause in my career and ask WHY someone would not know if what they had done was ‘RIGHT’ or ‘CORRECT’.  Where does this come from? How could they not know?

I believe that people in our society, especially WOMEN are being pressured to ‘De-Clutter’ and ‘Organize’.  Standards are set high. Just walk down the isle of any store at checkout,  and look at all of the magazine covers.  Rarely will you see one that does not pressure one to be Organized or De-Cluttered, once and for all!!  In addition, many stores carry organizing tools and supplies to help us. Of course at the very same time we are also being pressured to CONSUME and provide for our family constantly.

We are also being pressured to multi-task ever more than at any time in our society.  We must be super-mom, super-wife, soccer mom, (baseball mom, swim mom, basketball mom, etc.), feed our family (in the most healthy way possible), be involved in our children’s school, (PTA),  volunteer on committees, attend events, entertain, keep our house clean and running like a well oiled machine, be a taxi, PLUS, work a job outside the home, keep slim and sneak a work out it, keep a smile on our face, AND be ORGANIZED in it all! —and not just ‘ORGANIZED’- But REALLY ORGANIZED. Perfectly ORGANIZED- ‘ONCE AND FOR ALL’.

No wonder why many of my clients fee pressure!

In my personal experience, I am here to tell you, that unless you live alone, make a lot of money, and either can afford to have help, or have a lot of free time, this is not realistic.

If your life sounds like the one I described above, here are some guidelines to use in your home to decide if you are organized ‘enough’.  Yes, I am giving your permission to not be perfect.

1. Do you know where everything is? (it may not look pretty, but you know where it is?) – if so, then you are organized.

2. Does the system you established work for you, and each member of your family? (it may not look like ‘Better Homes and Gardens’, but it works)- if so, then your are organized.




Because these days, sometimes, this is the best you can do.  Today, let that be good enough.



Living in Orange County California often required different types of organizing than living, say, in Wisconsin.  Here, we have Earthquakes.

Many of my clients have me create, and maintain an ‘Earthquake Preparedness Kit’ for them.  I update it each year making certain dates on food and medication are current, and that batteries work.

If you don’t have some type of box with things in ‘just in case’, you may want to think about it.  We were in the epicenter of on a couple of weeks ago- it was only 3.9, but it got me to thinking about writing this as a blog post.

Here is the short list of things to put into your box or boxes.  I suggest a giant rubbermaid container or bin:

1. Sweatpants and Sweatshirts for everyone in the family, as well as a blanket or two

2. Any prescription medication, extra glasses, or contacts

3. Any type of over the counter medication you use: Advil, Benadryl, and Peptobismo, Cold or Flu medication

4. A complete first aid kit

5. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, and personal care items

6. Food- Canned goods (high calorie, high protein), Peanut butter (a lot), evaporated milk, High calorie protein bars,

7. Walter Filtration Tablets; Flashlights, batteries, Flares, Radio,

8. Water, Juice, Gatoraid

9. Complete emergency kits are available if you don’t want to pack your own- I’ve used:


Also remember to have an evacuation or safety plan for you and your family.

Remember to check this kit annually.






Enter your email to subscribe to future updates


Become more organized – OR experience a De-cluttered Calm Life

Become More OrganizedMissy Bystrom, professional organizer of over 25 years give you her insights and ideas on how to live a more balanced, and less cluttered and chaotic life. No workbooks, no ‘step-by-step’, just a simple common sense approach you can listen to and follow at your own pace. Listen while you are driving or at home, and get ready for a calm, balanced life!

Read More

tag cloud