The art of intercepting clutter before it even starts

The thousands of choices you make each day may not each seem important in themselves. But together they all add up to create the path that you take in life.

Each decision you make has an effect

In truth, every single decision is an opportunity to choose light or dark, to choose life-affirming actions that have integrity or ones that will take you off-track.

From each mouthful of food you choose to eat to the bigger decisions in life that determine who you are, every single one counts. And if you hold this firmly in mind while clutter clearing, it will give you a very different level of motivation to get the job done.

What you decide to keep

An excellent example of this comes from a lovely woman who took my Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course and kindly gave me permission to publish some of her insights here.

‘I think about all the time I have spent over the years organizing things from place to place or from bin to bin,’ she commented, ‘when what I should have done was just released it at the time and spent more time with friends and family rather than organizing stuff.’

These are wise words indeed. With this realization firmly in mind, I encouraged her to tackle with renewed vigour the bins she had accumulated full of her children’s schoolwork from kindergarten to university.

‘My youngest son is very good at throwing out all his schoolwork at the end of the year,’ she observed. ‘I watched as he did it the last two years and knew that I could do the same with virtually all the schoolwork, birthday cards, soccer schedules and mementos of his that I have saved over the years. He wouldn’t care. So I will keep that in mind when I get to those bins.’

What you say yes to

Her husband turned out to be an even more stalwart role model when it came to sorting through and organizing the thousands of pictures she had on her computer.

‘My husband has 12 pictures of his childhood, while my children have hundreds!’ she exclaimed. ‘That is one of the reasons why I am here now, taking this course. It’s time to let go and concentrate on people rather than things.’

The important thing to remember is that when you say yes to doing something you are always saying no to doing something else. So if you are spending a lot of your time organizing memories, what are you saying no to?

Learn to say no to clutter before you even acquire it

You may like to ponder on this question of what you spend your time on as you sort through your own clutter.

Or better still, as you make your original choices about what to keep in your life and what to let go. As you become more experienced at this, you learn to spot more easily the things that will turn out to need clutter clearing in years to come.

It’s called the art of intercepting clutter before it even starts, and it’s a vital skill to have in order to own your own life rather than feeling constantly overwhelmed by all the things you have set yourself up to do.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014, updated 2020


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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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7 Responses to The art of intercepting clutter before it even starts

  1. Darien says:

    This article could not be more timely. I recently purchased a folding table and set it up in spare room as my photo “station ” so that I can sort and make small albums for grown children and family. It is certainly an exhausting, and emotional undertaking, also purchased a small table top shredder, and am putting it to use ! Just keeping the very best of the photos to pass on in gift albums. I love my clear your clutter book, read it every fall and spring for inspiration, it is time worn and written in, and I will not be clearing it ! Thank You, Darien

  2. Lei says:

    This is the most rewarding article I’ve read because it was what helped me to press the delete button on an almost decade long history of vacation photos I took with a long term ex boyfriend. I held onto the ones of just myself.

    Today I kept asking myself why am I holding onto it? And I realized it was a part of me that I wanted and needed to let go of. The longer I weighed it out the more I kept trimming. I’d look at the remaining photos paying attention to the thoughts and feelings that arose. And I kept thinking of that quote that goes something like… You have to let go of the person you were in order to become who you’re meant to be. I’m ready for a change in my life. I’m aware that I’m not present. I’ve come a long way in releasing my past but now I see I have yet a ways to go all because of photos. I love to take photos but the time spent sorting and organizing it is tedious and very time consuming.

    So thank you for this article. Oh and after I pressed the delete button within a few minutes tears came up. Grief I thought…being released. Breathe…

  3. Lisa says:

    A fascinating and useful read. Yes, I fully accept it: I am a photo hoarder. Many are now digital (I love taking photos) and there is often a feeling of weight and something burdensome about trawling through hundreds of them on the computer. My thought process is often along the lines of “I really should spend some time getting these into order. Maybe I’ll tag them, the good ones, and delete lots, and sort into folders, and…spend time on the really good ones to edit them…” Truth is, I do it for half an hour, and have barely made a dent in it. And I don’t feel good after. So why do I hoard digital photos? Yes, for very happy memories, it’s good, but otherwise, do I really need them?

    I was even worse with paper photos: carrying bags of them from house to house. I’ve manage to clear many of those.

    On a separate but related matter – what about old letters and cards? I had cards from old schoo lfriends, notes from class, etc, and I couldn’t even remember who these people were! Still feel guilty about throwing away letters from my mother (and tell myself that they are records of events, moments in time, so I may want to go back through them one day. Yeah, I’ve got a long way to go!)

  4. Ruby says:

    I’m amazed how many mom friends get tons of awesome professional photos of their kids & feel pressured to invest the funds & do the same, because they look so great! But my hubby & I recognize we barely desire to look back on old photos so it seems a waste for us.

  5. Sheila says:

    Thank you for your work and your postings on intercepting clutter and disposing of photos. I have sometimes felt in the past shame or embarrassment because I’ve never wanted to have photos of families and friends all over the place the way so many people do. That has just never seemed energizing to me– on the contrary, it felt as if it was weighing me down (not grounding in a good way). Your work is helping me to claim my authenticity without having to make anyone else ‘wrong’ for their choices.

    • Jan says:

      Finally someone who feels as I do. I only have two family pictures on display. I have my memories of the ones who have passed and if I want to see the ones still with me I go visit. I have our wedding picture and my son’s senior cut out because these are two very happy moments in our lives. When I look at them I feel joy. There are totes full of my husband’s family in our garage and no one wants them so my son will probably have to dispose of them. This is our second marriage and most of these pictures mean nothing to me.

  6. matthia says:

    This is a deep and brilliant article.
    Thank you and your client for sharing her wisdom and her husbands and
    the observational approach to order as well.
    Thank you, i will take this to heart it is deep.
    Congratulations to you and your client no doubt a mutual honor to work together.

    Matthia

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