De-Clutter 2012 Challenge: Interview with Debbie Lillard, Professional Organizer & Book Giveaway

What a month of de-cluttering! I am seeing newly found space on the closet floor, shelves in the family look cleaner, and now I don’t have to push the hangers to the side to hang my clothes.

How did you do this month?

For being so awesome and making great strides in your de-cluttering your lives, I am going to sponsor a giveaway today…actually, Debbie Lillard, a professional organizer and author has generously offered Absolutely Organized and Absolutely Organize Your Family for the giveaway.

I know. I know. You are trying to de-clutter your house and are probably thinking, “Why would I want to enter a giveaway to get more stuff?” I hear ya. But her books will help, no, change how you de-clutter your space and organize your life big time. But before I get into her books, she has generously offered some advice for us on how to de-clutter and organize our lives more efficiently.

Interview with Debbie Lillard, Professional Organizer and Author

1. Why do we “collect” things only to “de-clutter” later?

The people I see do less “collecting” and more impulsive shopping. Sometimes that shopping is for products called organizers in an effort to get them organized. In reality a product can’t get you organized but can help maintain your system. That is if you have one. I think the abundance of stuff that we Americans have in our lives is a result of megastores, easy credit cards and an overload of advertising from many sources. So we see the ads, we decide we want something (although we don’t always need it) then those things are easy to purchase and because of credit cards we don’t even feel the pain of parting with our money! It’s instant gratification with a delayed consequence. Unfortunately sometimes that consequence is a loss of living space. So we get depressed or stressed out about that and we want to de-clutter. If our efforts are unsuccessful and shopping makes us feel better, the cycle continues. One client I work with who is a hoarder calls it retail therapy. But I contend that is not therapy if it ultimately robs us of a nice place to live and alienates us from friends and family coming over.

Be honest, how many of you used the term, “retail therapy” at least once last year? Uh, huh. So from this day forward, we should NEVER use that term nor believe that that solves any problems.

2. We have the best intentions in trying to de-clutter, especially, in the beginning of the year. What are the biggest pitfalls do you see, in trying ambitiously to de-clutter? And what advice do you have so that we can prevent them from happening? 

Biggest pitfalls I see in de-cluttering efforts are first buying bins, baskets and organizers without really knowing what you need to keep and how big a container is necessary. I also ask my clients before starting any project, “What is the function of this room?” Then everything in there should serve that function.

I recommend a process called “CPR.” It works whether you are organizing a junk drawer, a closet or an entire room.

First, Categorize everything in that space and keep the categories big, like paperwork, office supplies, toys, clothes. You can break them down into more specifics later.

Second, Purge. This does not necessarily mean throw it in the trash. I usually have a recycle pile, a donation pile and a move to another room pile when working with clients. You can even purge as you categorize but it’s helpful once you see how large each category is to pare down to what your really use, need and love.

The last step is Re-Arrange. This is when you put the pieces of the puzzle together. You decide where you want to keep each category and then what container or organizer would be helpful to keep it neat. Before you buy anything, measure the space and decide the look you want. Organizing products come in all shapes and sizes now so you can find one that matches your style.

The hardest part is then maintaining what you have done to organize. For this, you need routines! I recommend straightening daily, cleaning weekly and cleaning out seasonally. In my home I clean out my garage twice a year at the change of seasons. I also clean out clothes closets and toys about the same time of year; this keeps the clutter down and gets things back to normal.

I LOVE that – CPR! We definitely can use CPR around here, right?

3. What are three things we can do throughout the year to prevent cluttering our lives?

    1. Throw out the junk mail/sales circulars as soon as they come in. Better yet – get your name off of mailing lists by going to
    2. Always shop with a list and buy what you need whether that’s clothing, food, or items for your home.
    3. Find a charity or donation bin that is convenient to you. Put donations in the car and drop them off as you go to school, work or the supermarket. Make it easy to purge!

Thank You for your valuable advice Debbie! We might think we know what to do but in reality, we may need help from professionals like you, time to time. For more of her organizing tips, please check out her website and read her blog.

And to help you donate to charities, as per Debbie’s suggestion (#3), here are some organizations that will even pick up your donations from your home. Obviously, there are many others but here is a short list to start your off. Having them pick up your donations will save a lot of time but also your carbon print. And you are donating for a good cause too. It’s a Win-Win! – supports numerous charity organizations – supports Vietnam Veterans of America – supports Veterans of America – Salvation Army

It’s a Giveaway Time!

Back to her books…

Absolutely Organized and Absolutely Organize Your Family are wonderfully easy-to-follow books to help you manage your busy lives. Debbie shows you how to live in a clutter free home, room by room, and shares smart tactics on keeping rooms clutter-free so that there is no need to de-clutter. Debbie also has a ton of practical tips on how to manage our time and family schedule according to our lifestyle. You will love her organized (not surprised) chapters and clear break down of tasks for us to follow.

So, since you signed up to take this challenge, you are automatically entered but for extra entries, please leave a comment here – what are the biggest obstacles you are facing, while you try to de-clutter.

*Suggested retail value for both books are $25. You have to be 18 years and older and live anywhere on Earth to enter. Giveaway ends on Friday February 3rd, 2012 and TWO winners will be picked by and will be announced on Saturday February 4, 2012. I will ship the books directly to the winners.

Good Luck!


Kimberly the winner alicia the winter


Kimberly and Alicia!

I will contact you for your shipping information.

Thank you again Debbie for sponsoring the giveaway! And thank you everyone for entering. For those of you who didn’t win the book, you can buy them from your local bookstores or from Amazon (click on the titles above). They are inexpensive and they will help you organize your life painlessly!