The start of a new year is the perfect time to give your home and office a clutter makeover, purging it of excess papers, files, knick-knacks and other “stuff” that not only takes up space in your physical environment, but also in your mind.

Once you learn how to de-clutter your home, you will enjoy its benefits immediately. You’ll have more time and energy to do what you really love to do. An organized and clutter-free home gives you much more control over all aspects of your life.


First, realize that de-cluttering is an ongoing process, not something that happens overnight. You can make some serious progress — even in an hour, if you know where to start.

  • Get your “supplies” ready. You’ll need file folders, labels and markers, a paper shredder, a recycling bin, a trash bin and a bin to put items you plan to donate or sell.
  • Pick a location to start. De-cluttering should happen in stages. At the outset, adjust your vision from the big picture of clutter to one small, solvable cluttered area. Clear one counter, de-clutter one shelf or bring order to a single drawer.
  • Safety and health concerns. Anyone who lives in excessive clutter faces common problems of tripping and/or falling over piles and boxes; overlooking bills and missing medications that are hidden in the clutter; and suffering from the environmental effects of mold, mildew and dust. Address these safety and health concerns immediately.
  • Slow and steady progress. Resist the temptation to go all-out against clutter. It’s much better to spend a few hours on one project or space. You’ll then feel motivated to do more, rather than burn out by the process.
  • Good enough is enough. You will ultimately be disappointed if perfection is your goal. The goal is to set up a space that works well for your needs. That is success.
  • Ask for help. You don’t have to do all the cleaning, sorting and organizing by yourself. When you decide to de-clutter, make sure you have some helping hands.


New Year’s is traditionally a time when we get our homes and lives in order to start fresh. It’s a time to clear out the clutter and start the year (even the Lunar New Year, Feb. 19, is fine) with a clean and organized home. Imagine the relief and pure joy you will feel when you know that everything in your life is in its place. De-cluttering can really change your life.

Valerie Takahashi is director of business development for Ho‘okele Care at Home.


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