The Kansas City Star

A must-read for clutter victims

By KATHY SIMMONS - Columnist
Date: 02/10/01 22:15

That which you cannot give away, you do not possess. It possesses you. -- Ivern Ball

Clutter can make you feel possessed. Perhaps you've made another New Year's resolution to get more organized. How's it going? Are the paper piles in your office shrinking? Are you still madly searching for that missing phone number you scribbled down? Are your to-do lists actually getting done -- or have you misplaced them, too?

Organization simply does not come naturally to some folks. I'll share a secret -- you don't have to fork out hundreds of dollars for a professional organizer. Let Go of Clutter (McGraw-Hill, 2001) will cost you a mere $16.95 -- and it just may save your sanity.

Author Harriet Schechter, an internationally acclaimed organizing expert, is no novice when it comes to conquering clutter. In 1986, she founded The Miracle Worker Organizing Service (, a San Diego-based firm specializing in time management, paper management and chaos control.

Since then, Schechter has carried on her fight against disorganization. She has helped countless individuals and companies gain control through her books and seminars.

Let Go of Clutter is more than just another "how to get organized" book. It provides insight for anyone who is weary from constant reorganizing, can't let go of things (i.e., pack rats), or is overwhelmed by an endless pyramid of piles at home or work. Schechter digs deep to address the root causes of clutter. She tackles tough issues, such as:

Why do I keep all this stuff? (Chapter 1)

Why is it so hard to change? (Chapters 1, 2)

What can I do to make myself deal with clutter? (Chapter 3)

Is there any way I can keep my desk uncluttered? (Chapter 4)

Let Go of Clutter's eight chapters are organized into three main parts:

Part One: The Past -- Understanding Your Clutter Background

Chapter 1: Why Letting Go is Hard to Do

Chapter 2: What Does Clutter Mean to You?

Part Two: The Present -- Dealing With Your Current Clutter

Chapter 3: Banishing Your "Energy Enemies"

Chapter 4: Purging Papers and Preventing Piles

Chapter 5: Conquering Stuff and Space

Chapter 6: Shedding Sentimental Clutter

Part Three: The Future -- Controlling Your Clutter Quota

Chapter 7: Choosing to Be Choosy

Chapter 8: Managing Mental Clutter

Schechter makes a complex subject manageable and fun. Her fireside chat writing style will make you laugh and get you motivated to put the kibosh on clutter.

Case in point: Reading Let Go of Clutter propelled me toward several nasty mountains of filing that had been crying for attention. I enjoyed having the sense that I could master my clutter -- now.

As Schechter explains, her mission is to "help readers choose -- confidently, consistently and without fear of regret -- what to jettison. It's about lightening your load, dropping off excess ballast so you can soar up and away."

Mission accomplished.

Kathy Simmons is assistant vice president of claims and administration at the U.S. home office of a life insurance company in Atlanta. She writes about management and career issues.

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