From Chaos to Order

We are in the home stretch of this year, looking to complete the goals we set. Clearing the clutter from our space will support us in the last quarter stretch, taking us from chaos to order.Below are 7 simple steps my friend Dr. Dorothy Bonvillain and I came up with based on Gail Blanke’s book, Throw Out Fifty Things[1], to guide you as you move from room to room. You can use these same steps in your home, office, car, and any other space in which you spend time.

  1. Label each of your 5 boxes or bags:
    1. Donate
    2. Trash
    3. Sell
    4. Move to another room
    5. Unsure (only one box)
  2. Remember the rules of engagement:
    1. If you makes you feel bad, toss it
    2. If it adds nothing positive, toss it
    3. If you have to think about it too hard, toss it
    4. No room for fear, toss it
  3. Set a timer to one hour before you plan to stop, and stick to it!
  4. As you go through each space, put items in the appropriate container:
    • Donate. Many items that you donate may be a tax write-off.  Be sure to list everything you are donating and get a receipt from the charitable organization.  Be sure to check with your tax advisor on specifics.
    • Trash. Throw away those items that cannot be donated or sold.  Come on, you know those items when you see them – the single sock cannot be sold at the Salvation Army and no one is going to buy it for a rag!
    • Sell. These items may be sold in a variety of ways, depending on their value.  Yard sales, consignment shops, Ebay, and Craig’s List are some of the most popular ways to sell perfectly good items to someone else.
    • Move to another room. Don’t stop your momentum to take items to their appropriate room.  Put them in this container and use the last hour you committed to this process to relocate those items.
    • Unsure.  Only ONE box per room for this one!  These are items that you are truly torn about what to do.  The rules are very specific for this one:
      • One box per room.
      • Label the box with a date six months from now.
      • On that date, go through this same process and see what you can donate, trash, or sell.
  5. Use gallon zip storage and sandwich bags to hold and organize small items such as jewelry, makeup, screws, rubber bands, paper clips, etc.
  6. As you go through your spaces, “To Do” items are going to come up for you.  Write these items down so you can act on them after your timer is done.  Don’t let anything distract your momentum.
  7. Make the process and event, a celebration.  Turn on some music that energizes you, and celebrate the transition from the old to the new, un-cluttered space.

Congratulations on clearing your space and keeping your eye on the prize!With love,MariaDr. Maria Church, CPC, is a leadership coach, speaker, and author of Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance and her upcoming book, A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Leadership, Love, and Life. Maria holds a doctorate of management in organizational leadership, teaches at several universities, and is CEO of Dr. Maria Church International LLC, a leadership coaching, development, and training firm. For more information, visit

[1] Blanke, G. (2009). Throw out fifty things: Clear the clutter, find your life. New York, NY: Grand Central Life & Style.