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All You Need to Know About Getting Organized and Letting Go

| May 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

A Zen parable tells of a wanderer who happened upon a river. He wanted to cross it, but there was no bridge. Afraid to wade across the river on foot, he spent hours building his own raft from vines and trees, which ultimately carried him safely to the other side. 

However, once across the river, he thought to himself: This is a good raft; I might need it again if I must forge another river.

So the wanderer carried the raft with him for the rest of his life. 

Consider the moral of this story for just a moment. From the outside looking in, this decision might seem utterly ridiculous. Why would this obviously resourceful guy carry a heavy raft around when he didn’t need to? But, often times, we do this same thing in our own lives. In fact, you may be carrying around a lot of “rafts”!

It’s not uncommon for people to hang on to an item that was useful at one point but has since become irrelevant clutter, because… what if I need this later?what if it would hurt someone’s feelings if I gave this away?what if I regret my decision? There are lots of “what ifs” that can bubble to the surface when you are thinking about getting rid of your things.

In a very basic sense, this powerful Zen parable teaches all you need to know about learning how to be organized and letting go. To start your journey toward living clutter-free, your Easy Organizing Challenge is to purge five objects that no longer add value to your home, office, or life. Don’t carry these “rafts” when you don’t need to…

WARNING: It’s important not to allow yourself to get a mental block around five if it seems like a lot to you. You could toss five sticky notes, five pens that are out of ink, five pairs of holey socks, five magazines, five expired meds, five old emails. It really is that easy!

Declutter Bigger – Instead of trashing, recycling, or donating five items just this once, decide to do it once a week. You’ll be amazed at how much headway you make.

Declutter Smarter - When this strategy is applied wholeheartedly to your life, this Easy Organizing Challenge will help you declutter smarter by managing all of the six types of clutter: behavioral clutter, emotional clutter, mental clutter, physical clutter, temporal clutter, and virtual clutter. The type of clutter depends upon what exactly you decide to purge.


We’re looking for your best tips, strategies and inspiring stories on organizing for our upcoming Lessons From Organizing book. If you would like to learn more about how to contribute and get a FREE download of  “7 Days To A More Organized You” (no submission required) by Carmen Coker, click here.



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Category: Organizing Strategies, Organizing Tips

Carmen Coker

About the Author ()

Carmen Coker is a former U.S. Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Carmen is the creator of many popular organizing programs, including The Clutter Cleanse®, and her expertise has been exhibited through numerous international, national, and local media outlets, including "Real Simple" magazine. In addition, she is the founder of the International Association of Virtual Organizers, providing organizing professionals with resources to start, run, and grow their online business, and offers organizing and productivity products and services for both home and small business through

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Easy Organizing Challenge: Three Things

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