Trapped indoors in the cold weather, I try to freshen up and lighten up at home. This usually results in a spurt of clutter clearing and paper clutter clearing. This also triggers some emotional clutter clearing and even weight loss efforts on my part. Here are some ideas to apply to your spring clutter clearing thinking. When you change your thoughts, you can change your life!

Walk around your home with fresh eyes or take pictures of rooms, wait a few days, and then study the pictures.  Don’t be afraid to move things. If you want to try to live without a decoration but you aren’t sure you are ready, put it in a laundry area or holding area out of the room you are de-cluttering. Give your eyes a chance to try it for a few hours or days before you have disposed of the item. This is called being gentler with yourself as you clear clutter—sort of like “try before you buy.”

Change up decorations and weed out decorations you no longer like—including those tucked into closets and cupboards that you know you won’t go back to using again. Let the openness help you to feel lighter and to feel the potential in making different decorating choices and even different life choices. Just switching out candles and table runners and creating more closet space will help!

Enjoy the openness and potential residing in more open spaces. Notice that closets, cupboards, and drawers “feel” better when they aren’t overcrowded too. Work in small areas at a time—as little as a shelf or a drawer at a time. Work when you have the energy and find yourself in the mood to lighten up! Work when you feel restless. Try it during a television commercial or when you feel hungry and like you might head to the refrigerator. De-cluttering can be a great distraction from snacking!

Look through your wardrobe. Discard what you haven’t worn in a year or more. Discard what you don’t like. Discard what is no longer in style. Above all, discard what doesn’t fit you. Be kind to yourself. If you never wear those ratty socks or underwear or those ugly tops, get them out of the drawers and closets! Later, you can reward yourself with new items. Nobody needs to find guilt in a bedroom closet while getting dressed in the morning! There may not be a lot left, but you will have a closet and dresser full of “friends” rather than “enemies.”

How many “maybes” do you start to find when you de-clutter? Does it slow you down or discourage you? Remember, clutter is like an onion, and you choose how far back you want to peel the onion each time you deal with it. You may peel several layers at once or one layer at a time. Sometimes I dig deep when I de-clutter. Other times, I make a second pass through a few hours or days later. Yes, this means I sometimes have gone through my wardrobe, closet or file cabinet twice. I am always surprised by what I do find on that second pass.

Another approach to “maybes” is to remove them from the shelf, closet, cupboard, or drawer and put them in a “maybe” box. If you don’t miss them and somehow survive without them for a few months, then it is time to send them on their way. “Maybe” boxes can become donation or recycle boxes, depending on their contents.

Weed out the refrigerator and kitchen cupboards. Do this in the early morning when you are fresh, alert, and not hungry. I can toss stuff in the morning that I would find myself eating in front of the television in the evening if it were still there to eat. Weed out unhealthful foods when your willpower is at its strongest. Compromise choice: Throw the unhealthy food in the freezer. After it is frozen, you may find it easier to toss and you won’t be able to eat it on impulse! Make a shopping list of healthier choices to purchase as you work.

Thin out paper clutter to de-clutter the surfaces of your home and delve into your filing system to weed out too. I am guilty of shoving things that I receive by mail into their appropriate files and then forgetting all that stuff until the file drawers are burgeoning. For fun, measure the heights of your to-shred paper pile and your to-recycle paper pile. I got over 15” of paper clutter out of my file drawers last week, and I haven’t finished!

Duplicates, duplicates, duplicates. How many of a given “thing” do you need extras “just in case?” Evaluate your leftover containers, extra plastic and paper bags, cardboard boxes, gift-wrapping supplies, catalogs, paper supplies like folders and mailers, and even pencils and pens. Ask yourself if you really need all the extras? Just because there is room to cram them into the drawer, doesn’t make it a good idea. Think about what items you may be over-saving. Catch your thought processes and you can change your habits. Happy clutter clearing!

Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life, a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips readers may pick and choose from to fit their personal style. She is also a breast cancer and melanoma survivor who wrote Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We’ll get you through this. Free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at