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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« Ask the Expert: Peter Walsh | 9 Clutter Management Tips »

Decisions, Clutter & Tag Sales

Homes are being combed through. Drawers, closets, bookshelves, garages, basements, and attics are being emptied. The “stuff” of life that was once treasured or collected is getting ready to exit. Have you noticed? We’re in the season of decluttering and tag sales. The spring blooms have arrived along with the volume of tag sale announcements.

My family has been preparing for such an event, which will happen this weekend. It’s been a fascinating experience to go through my “stuff” having a specific deadline and goal. What’s most interesting is that I’ve got good, fun, and useful things. Here’s the bottom line: I don’t need or want all of it.

As I evaluated each item with a more critical eye than usual, I was faced with a yes/no decision. Does it stay or go? There were the obvious keepers, the obvious giveaways, and the not-so-obvious items. Making the decision for the first two categories was simple. The third category was trickier, and required more questions like:

  • Is the space it occupies worth the real estate and emotional energy?
  • Is it still relevant in my current life?
  • When was the last time I needed, used, or wanted it?
  • Is not using “x” for the last 5 years, 10 years, 15 years an indicator that it’s time to let go?

Something else which provided me with some comic relief and helped in the letting go and clutter releasing process were various sounds and action calls I said like:


“It’s time!”


“Linda, come on. You know you don’t need that anymore.”

We’ve got temporary clutter, as the “going” items are being piled and prepared.  This purposeful clutter doesn’t bother me because I know it will exit soon. When it does, the space will open up, I’ll feel lighter, and a new, clearer chapter will begin. I can visualize how this will look and feel with less.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What helps you make decisions? What becomes possible when you let go of clutter? Come join the conversation.



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Reader Comments (16)

I like your tips Linda. I would also suggest you get together with your family and figure out something your family can do together with the proceeds. A family trip, a new TV, or a nice dinner out (if you don't end up making very much money!) Get a buy-in for the big picture as a group and I think you'll get lots of cooperation and show the power of a cohesive team!

John aka OrganizingLA

May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Trosko

Hey John- What a great idea! I like the range of options (from family trip to dinner out) you've suggested depending upon the success of the event. We are so focused right now on releasing the things that are occupying our physical and emotional real estate, that we haven't gone that next step. Thank you for joining the conversation and adding the icing on the cake.

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love John's idea too. My dad had a garage sale a few years ago as his first step towards downsizing after my mom passed away, and all of us were involved (my sister and I were also in the process of moving and happy to get rid of a few unneeded items). The proceeds were enough for all of us to go out for a nice dinner, something we'd never done before, or since.

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- I love the picture you paint of coming together as a family to help one another with the various transitions and letting go, and then celebrating together by having a nice dinner out. I like the focus on community, support, and celebration. Nice.

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels


YES! I too like John's comment - especially the, "cooperation and . . . power of a cohesive team!" I know that yard sales don't always generate a lot of income, but, there is value in having a family activity where everyone pitches in and spends time together. Good luck with your yard sale and please let us know how it goes in a follow up post.

May 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeralin Thomas

Hi Geralin- John's idea of extending the "sale" to solidify that family/group experience is resonating with all of us. You're right that the idea of everyone pitching in, having time together with a goal in mind, certainly is a wonderful way to bond. I will be writing a follow-up post, planned for a few weeks from now. Next week is the "Ask the Expert" interview with the fabulous Peter Walsh, talking about clutter. Hope you'll stop back to join us.

May 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I'm in the middle of weeding all my personal possessions because I'm moving - stuff in boxes I haven't looked at in 10-15 years. I downloaded your sign "All You Need is Less" and hung it near my triage area - it's working! I am SO through with carrying around all this stuff - and the thrift shop donation centers are my new best friends.

Thanks for all the encouragement!

May 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary

Rosemary- Bravo to you on the "weeding." Isn't it amazing how motivating a move can be for letting go? How wonderful too that you've posted your action call, "All You Need is Less." I love that! So you've figured out the things you need to lighten and let go: a move, your call to action sign, and some supportive "best friends." Keep me posted on your progress. It's sounds like an exciting time.

May 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love your post! I am really impressed not only with your decision making but your decision to yard sale (rather than donate). How powerful that your family is together embarking on this decision making process together. It is remarkable role modeling and that is can be the most powerful way to help our kids.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Hi Ellen- Thank you for your positive words. It's been a lot of fun supporting each other as we sort our "stuff" and make decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. Doing it as a group has made it easier to let go. We help each other when that deciding got tricky. Today was Day 1 of the tag sale and it's been so much fun. We listened to great music, socialized with people, hung out together, and enjoyed watching our "releases" find new homes. Can't wait until tomorrow.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

When we clean out, if we are having a hard time parting with an item, we take a picture of it. That really seems to help us let it go - to have it documented so you can still look at it from time to time makes it easier to pass it along. This is especially useful to my kids.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLesleigh

Lesleigh- Taking photos to honor the memory of our possessions is another great letting go technique. It helps us to remember without having to keep the physical item. Thank you for sharing that idea with us.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I have been organizing full-time, professionally, for 8-9 years... anytime I mention taking a photo of beloved treasures all my clients laugh at me when I suggest we take a picture of the item and get rid of it. So I have never done it.

John aka OrganizingLA

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Trosko

I know what you mean, John. Taking photos to honor and remember the object works for some and not for others. If someone is visually oriented and uses photos as "markers" in their lives, or just loves taking photos, this technique can work well. But if photos aren't significant to them or they don't identify with 2D visual images, then this particular letting go method probably isn't going to be attractive to them. The key is figuring out what will work for the individual. It sounds like you've used other strategies that work well for your clients. And that's the key!

May 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

My favorite part of this post was the action calls. I too find that being vocal about what's going on inside of your head can help you come to a decision. It's almost as if your thoughts are there to help cheer you on and get what needs to be done, done!

June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRashelle Isip

Rashelle- Bringing our thoughts outside our heads and actually speaking the words out loud can be a powerful motivator. Are there any "action calls" that work for you?"

June 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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