How to declutter minds, bodies and homes for 2017 without pain

Declutter your space

Maura Thomas, a speaker, trainer, founder of gives us some advice on what to toss and what to keep.

Here are 3 questions to help you declutter.  Evaluate each email, piece of paper, “thing” from the junk drawer, and ask yourself:

1. Will I Need It?

I know: you can’t predict the answer and that’s the whole point! But think about it this way: If at some point in the future, you think you might need it, but you didn’t have it, what’s the worst that would happen? When I pose this question to my clients, the response I often get is a shoulder-shrug. “Eh, I probably wouldn’t bother.” “Well, it might take me a few extra minutes.” Etc. If you feel like you’d have a rather ambivalent attitude toward not having it, you may not need to keep it. (But move on to question two.)  If the thought of not having it makes you upset , then you should probably keep it.

2. Can I Get It?

If you thought you needed it at some point in the future, but you didn’t have it, would it be easy (and cheap) to get it again? Does it exist on the web? Does the relevant service provider or organization have another copy? For example:

• If you didn’t have your insurance policy, but needed to file a claim, could your agent help you or get you another copy?
• If you throw away that business card but need those services, could you find them again online?
• If you needed a bank statement from three years ago, could your bank get it for you?
• If you needed to read the details of your benefits package with your employer, can your HR department point you in the right direction?

Anything that would require significant hassle and expense to get again should be considered a “no” to this question and you should probably keep it. But you’ll be surprised at how many things are quick, easy, and free to get again if it turns out you need them.

3. Is It Serving You?

If it’s not serving you, it’s clutter. Think about the last time you used this item? If it’s been a year or more, it should get canceled. Magazine subscriptions can be canceled. SpamDrain can help you filter unwanted emails (not just spam, but newsletters, too. I love this app.) PaperKarma and Catalog Choice can help you get unsubscribed from catalogs and postal mailings.

 Maura Thomas, a speaker, trainer, founder of, and author of Personal Productivity Secrets and the upcoming Work Without Walls: An Executive’s Guide to Attention Management, Productivity, and the Future of Work.  Maura is a TEDx speaker, and has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and online sites, such as US News and World Report, The Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal,, and Fast Company.

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