Learn How To Say “No” To Clutter


January is a good month to evaluate our lives and plan out what we want to change in the coming year.  Change is not always easy but it can help us clear the clutter from our lives. We have to learn how to say “no” to clutter and “yes” to living.

When we are young children we usually start declaring our independence by shouting the word “no” to our parents when they tell us to do something we don’t want to do.  Early on we are taught that it’s okay for parents to say “no” to us but not okay for us to say “no” to them.  We usually outgrow this feeling of unfairness and understand that they were just trying to teach us how to act and behave.

I believe that sometimes when we surround ourselves with so much stuff because we are rebelling against all those adults who said “no” to us when we were young. Even when we recognize that we have a problem it’s hard to get rid of the clutter because that little voice in our head from so long ago is saying they are right and we are wrong. We can’t let that happen so we hold onto our clutter just to prove that voice wrong even if we are miserable.

The word “no” is such a powerful word. When used in the right situation it can give us the freedom to enjoy the true beauty that comes into our lives.  If we are always smothered with clutter it will be hard to even recognize this beauty much less enjoy it.

There are all kinds of clutter that can build up in our homes and our lives.  There is the physical clutter we are all familiar with. These things can easily take over our homes if we don’t control them.

Then there are the kinds of clutter that are not so visible to us. Yet these kinds of clutter can take over our lives and smother us even more than the physical clutter.

These may include all the activities we get involved in with the hope they will enrich our lives. They also may include some of the people in our lives and the relationship we have with them.

Many of the following activities and relationships do enrich our lives. Many may have started out that way but no longer make us feel good.  Only you can decide which ones are clutter. Some will be easy to declutter once you decide you want to do it. Others won’t be so easy. Review the list below. After it I will give you some suggestions on to use this list to start decluttering your life.


  1. Organizations you volunteered for.
  2. Groups you joined such as book clubs, garden clubs, etc.
  3. Classes you signed up for such as exercise, craft, self-improvement, or a formal education class.
  4. Activities you signed you children up for that involves your participation; sports, dance, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, after school activities, etc.
  5. Any hobbies you have.


  1. Family members.
  2. Friends.
  3. Neighbors.
  4. People from your children’s school – teachers, committees, PTA, room mothers, etc.
  5. People from your church or temple.

The best way to start figuring out which activities are clutter is to take a notebook and start listing all of them you and your family are involved with. Sometimes we don’t even realize how many activities we are involved in until we see the list written down. If your list is long it’s no wonder you probably feel overwhelmed and over burdened.

Examine this list carefully and figure out which things you can start saying “no” to. If you can’t say “no” to anything just yet don’t worry. Keep this list available and review often. Eventually you’ll recognize which things can go and how to declutter them.  I’ll talk more about this in future blog posts.

Regarding relationships you’ll want to make a list of all the people you know by the categories above. Again, once you write these down you will recognize some relationships that are clutter in your life. Of course it’s a lot harder to declutter people but there may be a few that aren’t as hard as you think. I’ll talk about some ideas that have worked for me and others in future blog posts.  Right now just review the list and start recognizing those people that cause you stress or bring negativity into your life.

We can go through life on auto-pilot or we can take charge and sit in the driver’s seat.  We can learn to say “yes” to those activities and relationships that make us smile and feel good about our lives. We can also learn to say “no” to those activities and relationships that smother us under a pile of clutter.

Start the year off by taking charge and write down all the activities and people in your life. This will give you a check list from which you can decide what and who can be scratched off of the list. This is just the starting place. Give yourself time to make the decisions.

To a lighter load along the way.


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