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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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« Why Do We Hold On to Treasures, Clutter, and Stuff? | How to Benefit from Letting Go Practice Runs »

How to Recognize Clutter That's Keeping You Stuck

Do you ever feel like the clutter in your life is holding you back from living? Clutter appears in many forms along with how it keeps us stuck. It can be physical clutter like piles of papers or non-physical clutter like the negative thoughts we focus on.

In the newly released book, Embrace Conscious Simplicity written by my friend, Barbara Bougher, an organizer and coach and her colleague, Teresa Worthington, a social worker and life coach, they write about recognizing the outer and inner clutter “that distracts us from living our best life, and…about empowering our self to make conscious choices about what we want to keep and what we want to let go.”

Being in the organizing industry for over 23 years and from personal experiments, I’ve seen and experienced the transformations that happen when we give ourselves permission to let go of the clutter that’s weighing us down. I’m sure you have your own stories to share too, which I’d love to hear.

There are many hope-filled and inspiring stories shared in Barbara and Teresa’s book. They also included an extensive list of types of physical and non-physical clutter, which are useful in developing awareness about clutter that might be holding you back. As the authors express,

“Becoming aware of both the physical and non-physical clutter that we allow to take up our valuable time, energy, and space is how we begin to empower our self to transform our life.”


 Take a look at the lists. Which ones resonate with you?

 Physical Clutter Include Things…

  • that we don’t love or use
  • that are broken
  • that are unfinished
  • that are left out
  • that we keep “just in case”
  • that need a decision
  • that are too abundant for a too small space
  • that are other people’s stuff
  • that are inherited

Non-Physical Clutter Includes…

  • Emotional and mental clutter
  • Communication clutter
  • Word clutter
  • Information clutter
  • Gossip clutter
  • Drama clutter
  • E-clutter
  • Noise clutter
  • Time clutter
  • Body clutter
  • Financial clutter
  • Spiritual clutter

I’d love to hear your thoughts. In what ways is clutter holding you back? What have you experienced when you’ve let go? Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (15)

This looks like a great book, Linda! Thanks so much for reviewing it. It sounds like parts of it will resonate with everyone for who among us has not experienced these categories of clutter at one time or another during our life? It will be helpful to read stories and have suggestions for eliminating clutter of all types.

May 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- It's a wonderful book and I know you're going to enjoy reading it. I just covered the basics, but there is so much more in the book beyond the awareness step. It's a gem. The stories are inspiring. It's always interesting to see "ah-has" as they develop and how someone makes the shift from awareness to action

May 3, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

What a wonderful list! I have recently been struck by the noise and distraction clutter that has been circling all of us. With our smart phones dinging, clicking and requiring attention, it's more clutter to work through. Thanks for reminding us to break through all the sorts of clutter holding us back.

May 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- I'm so glad you like the list. I also loved this list that Barbara and Teresa compiled about outer and inner clutter. I know just what you mean about noise and distraction clutter. Smart phones are a HUGE culprit. It wasn't that long ago that we didn't have smart phones. It's definitely changed how our daily experience is. Have you noticed that when you're out anywhere in public, people are glued to their screens?

May 4, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Letting go is especially important when the object provides a negative emotion or connotation. Stuff is not alive, even if it came from a loved one. We have the power to choose what resides in our space, and shouldn't relinquish that power to guilt or fear. Looks like a great book!

May 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

Thank you for sharing a great resource Linda! Even though I'm outwardly organized, I struggle with many of the non-physical clutter issues you listed including emotional, time and noise! Being aware helps but tackling it and getting rid of it is not as easy as it looks. Maybe this book will be the resource that can help me over the hump. Wonderful post!

May 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLiana George

I'm definitely adding this book to my reading list. Being a social worker it's clear how much mental clutter we struggle with. There are so many correlations between the physical and mental 'stuff.' And I don't know who coined the phrase: Outer order contributes to inner calm, (Gretchen Rubin, maybe?), but I believe it!

May 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

Another form of mental clutter is stuff from past relationships. My ex painted a stone with our initials and the date we got together, and I kept it for a long time after we broke up, just because I thought it was a cool thing, not because I was attached to it. I also kept my engagement ring from him, again not because I was attached to it, but because I thought it had monetary value. Even when a pawn shop only offered me $25 for it, I refused to part with it until much later, when I finally donated it to a local charity. Neither of those items was taking up much space, but my reasons for keeping them were silly and it felt liberating to finally let them go.

May 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

So wonderful to hear all your amazing voices! Happy Mother's Day to all!

@Seana- You bring up such an important point...that some objects bring up negative emotions and that keeping or letting go of something can make us feel guilty or fearful. Yet as you said, we have the power of choice. I bet you'll love the book. Let me know.

@Liana- It's interesting how our clutter challenges show up in some areas and not others. I'm sure you're not alone with this. I bet the book will be a great resource for some ideas around tackling your particular clutter challenges around emotions, time, and noise. I'd love to hear more about any discoveries your make.

@Sarah- Great! I love this book and hope you will too. As a social worker, the internal clutter is something you must see all the time. I agree with you that there's a strong link between inner and outer clutter.

@Janet- I love how you highlight what it felt like to finally release some of the physical items that were contributing to mental clutter...and how liberating it felt to let go. I'm sure that you will be an inspiration to others that are struggling with similar challenges.

May 8, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great conversation!
Love the lists!
I had a de-cluttering experience last week.
Recently went through our CD collection, and filled two grocery bags with ones that are not part of our current life.
Had paid LOTS of $ for them.
Offered to 24-year-old daughter: Digital generation, no interest.
Took to used CD store, the took about 15 from the bags, and gave me $2 or $3 each.
Dilemma. What to do with remainders.
Realized this is exactly what my clients experience.
So I put on my Organizer hat and encouraged myself to let them go.
Gave them to charity. No regrets. Glad for the space.
Most powerful consequence is a powerful feeling of increased SPACE for my current interests.

May 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlison Lush

@Alison- Thank you for sharing your story and process. And...congratulations on coaching yourself through the letting go process. What a beautiful result you achieved by opening space for your current interests.

I have a similar CD project coming up. There's a website,, that I recently sold some DVDs to. They also buy CDs. They make it very easy. You enter the UPC code and they give you an instant quote. They also provide free shipping labels. And like you, I am enjoying the newly found "white space" on the shelves. We have boxes of CDs that are ready to go too. We just need to do one final sort (keep/toss) and then I can enter the UPC codes, get a quote, and ship them out. Woohoo!!!

More and more these days I'm wanting to release the extraneous. And it isn't so much to make room for more. It's just to have less, especially if there are things not being used.

May 9, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

My home page is all about "Clutter takes many forms....Clutter weighs us down.....
Everyone deserves to feel lighter....." etc. Not to mention the 16 Clutter Flow Charts I have created. So you know how much I love this post!

May 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

@Hazel- You sure know your audience and what resonates with them. So many people are challenged by their clutter. It's great how your home page helps them with that challenge. I'm in 100% agreement with you that clutter DOES weigh us down. It never ceases to amaze me how much better we feel (myself included) when we let go of the physical and non-physical clutter. You used the word "lighter." Others have described it as freeing, getting unstuck, making space for what's important. All good things.

May 10, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thanks for sharing this helpful book!

June 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterOlive Wagar

@Olive- You're welcome. I LOVE this book! If you feel like sharing more, please let us know what you find most helpful.

June 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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