Day 8: Other People’s Clutter

Claire was frustrated at her husband John and all his stuff. She had cleared her clutter and loved her new space. John’s “junk” as she called it was in her face all the time. Her closet was gorgeous and his was a mess. Even worse. His stuff was scattered around the bedroom, the bathroom and in the living room.

The garage was the worst. It was filled with boxes, tools and equipment that he didn’t use and wouldn’t invest the time to sort through. John was a hoarder. He collected stuff and didn’t throw it away. She was tired of arguing with him and putting away his stuff. While he was away on a business trip, she tidied the garage and threw some of his stuff away.

World War 3 broke out when he returned. She had thrown away stuff he had inherited from his father. Most of all, he was angry at her lack of respect. It took several months to win back his trust.


  1. Don’t argue with your partner or try and change his habits. How well do you respond when people try to change you? The more pressure you put on your partner or family members the more they will resist you.
  2. Have a series of conversations that establishes clear boundaries and what stuff is important to them. Create a set of agreements about what you can both live with.
  3. Give them their designated areas in the house/garage and DO NOT move their stuff, clean it up or throw it away without their permission. They are attached to their stuff as much as you are/were for reasons you may not be aware of.
  4. Establish common areas and clear ground rules about how common areas are to be kept clutter free.
  5. Establish ground rules about what happens if they leave their clutter, for example, a time line by when things get thrown out.
  6. Establish a timeline where you both review what’s in the common areas and discuss what can be discarded. For example every 3 months.Establish a rule that for everything that comes in something gets discarded.
  7. Be a role model of the way you want to live not a nag or advocate of a lifestyle. (Don’t forget it took you a while to get into the state of mind where you had to deal with your clutter.)
  8. Make sure to establish areas of the house over which you have control and create your own spaces where you feel good.


  1. Teach them how to live a clutter free life.
  2. Make them part of the decision-making process about what is discarded and kept (toys, books, clothes etc.)
  3. Teach them to create a place for everything and tidy up after themselves.
  4. Establish ground rules such as no dirty plates and mugs left in the bedroom;dirty clothes in the laundry basket or they will not be washed.
  5. Establish a regular schedule to go through and discard clutter, twice yearly or whatever works for your family.

To your uncluttered soulspace!