Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ June 2012

Stand Up to Your Clutter

By Fiona Morrissey

Clutter has many faces.  It’s not always something obvious like a box of antique bank statements, a six-foot stack of yellow newspapers, or a bucket with holes.  It can be a warm winter coat, a great book, a sparkling crystal vase.  Each may seem harmless in itself, but if your house is crammed with excess clothing, reading matter, and bric-a-brac, then it’s clutter and you need to take action.

Many people are intimidated by what they own.  For instance, they often allow the most ridiculous piece of junk to bully them into keeping it:  “How dare you say I’m only a jar of rusty nails. You might need me one fine day so don’t even think of throwing me out!”

Before and after view of a cluttered closet.  Use it or lose it!

Possessions make good servants but bad masters.  If you let your clutter boss you around, you will always have a home that you’re ashamed of and keep apologizing for.  The trick is to stand up to what you own.  If you suspect a certain item of being clutter, interrogate it!

The next step is to dispense with all those rogue articles which fared badly under interrogation.  Anything cracked, chipped, soiled, ripped, unsightly obsolete, or unloved goes straight in the garbage.  Special pick-up will handle larger items.  Call:  240.777.7770 or 311.

For usable clutter, load up the car, drive to your nearest thrift shop, and be done with it.  In this area, there are three major thrift shops:

For awkward and/or environmentally harmful items such as fridges, car tires, construction debris, paint cans, electronics, and batteries, visit or see the recycling page on my website:

If you prefer to have your stuff picked up, call one of the organizations below.  They will also accept large pieces of furniture, like sofas, provided they are clean and in good condition:

It is important to be aware that clutter is sly and unscrupulous.  You want your home up and running, your clutter does not.  And why should it?  It’s having a blast!  Hogging space, hoarding dust, embarrassing you in front of your friends, encouraging sloppiness and procrastination, creating eyesores at every opportunity — your clutter is having way too much fun to go down without a fight.  In particular, watch out for things that don’t seem like clutter.  Remember the warm winter coat, the great book, the sparkling crystal vase — they will do their utmost to slow you down.  “WHAT?!  Give us away for nothing?  Oh, get a grip!  The least you can do is get money for us.  Aren’t we worth it?”

That is why I do not recommend consignment stores for those with major clutter issues.  Consignment stores are picky.  There is no guarantee they will take anything.  Even what they do take may not sell.  Yard sales don’t work either.  Haggling with your neighbors to get the best price for your junk wastes time and energy.  Chances are you’ll only sell a small fraction.  Then you’ll have to bag it all up again and bring it to the thrift where it should have gone in the first place.  The same goes for ebay or craigslist — big timewasters.

But once you are no longer at the mercy of what you own, life gets better.  One of my clients put it this way:  “When I stopped listening to my junk, I got my house back.  Now I can invite people over with having a panic attack.  Best of all, my grown children have stopped nagging me to declutter.  It’s all done and I feel great!”

[Fiona Morrissey has been a professional organizer for over 10 years.  Her good-humored, no-nonsense approach to clutter control has helped many people reclaim the homes.  Articles about Fiona have appeared in The Gazette and The Beacon.  Fiona Morrissey lives on Edgewood Avenue with her husband Brian; she is vice president of the civic association.  For more information (contact details redacted).]   ■

   © 2012 NFCCA  [Source:]