Do you know your clutter triggers? A professional organizer offers 5 tips

(Globe photo/file)

Kathy Vines, the expert behind Clever Girl Organizing , in Melrose, doesn’t sugarcoat things.

“Spending $1,000 at an organizing store doesn’t make you organized,” she says. “Throwing everything in a dumpster doesn’t make you organized.”

To truly declutter, she says, a person needs to look within.

If you’re ready to face your inner clutter, here are her top five tips:

■   Know your danger zones and triggers. “Are you a Future Clutterer (‘I might need it some day so I should keep it.’)? Or a Past Clutterer (‘This reminds me of a time or a person from my past and I can’t bear to let it go.’)?”


■   Understand that ‘later’ is a dangerous word. “ ‘I’ll do that later’ is the gateway to ‘I’ll do that never.’ ”

■   Accept that everything must have a home. “When they don’t, they end up surfing from spot to spot, pile to pile, drawer to drawer, never to be found when we need it.”

■   Never leave a room empty handed. “Always be in the mode of ‘hitting the reset button.’ If you leave a space, look around for something that needs to be returned to where it goes.”

■   Try bite-sized decluttering attacks. Set a timer for 20 minutes and eliminate other distractions to see what you might accomplish. One drawer, one pile, one box, one space.

Beth Teitell can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.