Making Decisions or Making Space

making decisions

Decisions about stuff are always deeper than the stuff itself. Click To Tweet

This is a quote from an article in the Seattle Times that clearly explains the struggle that everyone comes up against when organizing and decluttering. Even me!

We decided to clean out our basement storage room right after Christmas. Well, I decided to clean the storage room – The rest of my family, not so much. That’s OK, I know how hard it is to make decisions about objects that you hold on to for a long time and I was willing to make it my project. Just like everyone I work with, I found myself hesitating to make decisions on odd items that shouldn’t mean anything to me, but they did.

I got through the task by reminding myself of the goal for the day.

  • Sort things into boxes of like items so every box can be labeled.
  • Purge what is not important and eliminate enough so that nothing is left on the floor.
  • Be able to walk through the space and easily get to everything.

One day after the project and I don’t regret anything that was taken to the curb or donated to Salvation Army. I feel so good when I look at that newly organized storage room!


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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Diane N Quintana on September 6, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Janet, congratulations! Tasks like that are (as you point out) difficult for everyone – including those of us who organize professionally. I love that you continued to remind yourself of the goal when the going became difficult. It’s helpful to keep the goal in mind. I ask clients to post the goal on large vibrant paper so that they are easily reminded of their vision for the space.

    • Janet Schiesl on September 7, 2021 at 6:40 am

      Yes, I always ask clients what their goal for the day is and then keep reminding them. It’s so easy to get caught up in the weeds.

  2. Hazel Thornton on September 6, 2021 at 10:17 am

    This reminds me of a Peter Walsh quote: “Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor. It’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.”

    • Janet Schiesl on September 7, 2021 at 6:42 am

      Nice quote. Peter is correct. The decluttering work starts with setting a goal for how you want to use the space for your life.

  3. Linda Samuels on September 6, 2021 at 10:54 am

    Congratulations on clearing out your storage room and for making the difficult decisions! It’s fascinating how attached we become to our things and the meaning behind them. They represent good memories (and bad,) other stages in our lives, past jobs or accomplishments, or reminders of loved ones that are no longer with us. It can be hard to let go. But there’s the other side too. The stored stuff (and not seeing the light of day) takes up space and mental energy. It isn’t serving a purpose. The memories we can still hold dear. OR, we recognize that we’re living now, not in the past. Kudos again for letting go and doing so with positivity and no regret! Bravo!

    • Janet Schiesl on September 7, 2021 at 6:43 am

      Linda, is that where you got the idea for your book name? The Other Side of Organizing.

  4. Julie Bestry on September 6, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    Most people don’t think about how we professional organizers face the same challenges as everyone else with regard to letting go of the “stuff” without losing sight of the good things that stuff represents to us. Your goals for the day are excellent, and we can all remind ourselves that those kinds of goals keep us moving forward!

    • Janet Schiesl on September 7, 2021 at 6:45 am

      Thanks Julie. When working with clients, their goals are so important, to them and me. How would I know when “we are done” if I didn’t know what their goal is.

  5. Katherine Macey on September 8, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Sorting like with like is a great way to take inventory of what you actually have. When someone realizes they have twelve spatulas, it can be easier to let go of eight of them. Thanks Janet!

    • Janet Schiesl on September 9, 2021 at 8:20 am

      Yes. I agree. Sorting is the first step to the decluttering process. It makes it much easier to make decisions on what to let go of when you can see all you have.

  6. Phaedra Studt on September 8, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Decluttering and organizing also involve exercises in mindset. The thought of getting rid of items can bring up feelings of regret, anxiousness for the future, and guilt. That’s why we organizers joke that we are part therapist as we help our clients work through these feelings.

    • Janet Schiesl on September 9, 2021 at 8:22 am

      It is emotionally hard for some people. I agree that we are there to honor and support our clients in the process.

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