Do You Have Too Much Stuff? Tips from Patty Kreamer - Alaska Permanent Capital Management


Do You Have Too Much Stuff? Tips from Patty Kreamer

Patty Kreamer, Certified Professional Organizer®, was our speaker for our Empowered Women Smart Money series this past week and returns this week as our guest author. At Sunday’s event, Patty highlighted many time pitfalls that occur as habits in our everyday lives that you may not even know exist. My favorite quote, “Clutter is nothing more than an unmade decision”.  She provided great tips to spot these pitfalls and a structure to analyze if you indeed WANT to make a change and if you do, simple yet effective processes to maintain in your life to make them your new habit. As Patty says, “You don’t brush your teeth just once!” I have already begun to implement some tips and I admit, I am more focused without some of the mind clutter and distractions that were eating away at my day.

Amber Frizzell, AIF®
Client Relationship Manager

Do You Have Too Much Stuff?

Here’s a checklist to go through that will help you decide whether or not to keep or toss your stuff. Print this out and get to work!

Parts excerpted from …But I Might Need It Someday!

Do you have too much stuff? There comes a time when you have to make decisions on which items can fit into your life and which ones must go—not always easy.

As a Certified Professional Organizer®, I have the honor of working with many clients and they all have one thing in common. At least five times in every coaching or organizing session, they all say:


If this is why you keep so much stuff, it may make you feel better to know that you share this belief with many other people. However, if your goal is to be organized, the excuse “…but I might need it someday!” is going to hinder your success.

If you keep something because you believe that you MIGHT need it someday, then ask yourself: “if ‘someday’ arrives and it’s not there, what will I do?” The answer usually is “I’ll go get another one” OR “I’ll make do without it.” Many of the items that you keep you don’t even know that you have. If you do know that you have them, you likely won’t know where they are among the clutter when you need them! Why bother keeping an item for someday if, when “someday” gets here, you’ll end up having to get a new one anyway? Keeping too much stuff causes you unnecessary stress every time you look at the clutter while wishing it wasn’t there. And the real kicker is that when you go to use something that you’ve been saving, it’s probably too tattered to use and you will want a NEW one anyways.

Ask yourself the following questions in reference to your beliefs. Don’t just answer the questions; question the answers.

  1. Have I used this item in the last ______days/months/years?

Depending on what “it” is, you have to decide what time frame is reasonable.

  1. Does it still have a use to you?

For example, the box of books from college in your office that are more than 10 years old,—do you REALLY see yourself ever using them again?

  1. Is it broken or obsolete?

And you are keeping that broken set of speakers on your desk because…?

  1. Can it be fixed?

If parts are no longer available because the manufacturer is out of business, I think they are trying to tell you something…time to pitch it.

  1. Is it worth fixing?

Even if you fix that old lamp, do you really want it in your office?

  1. Can someone else benefit from it more?

If you don’t use something, think of all the people that can. It’s a win-win situation. You lose the clutter and someone else now has a small file cabinet.

  1. What would happen if I no longer had this in my life

I sometimes ask my clients, “Imagine coming to work one day to find that all the clutter is gone. How would you feel?” They usually reply with a big sigh of relief, followed by “Awesome!” If this is your response, it’s time to make some decisions and declutter your life. Get rid of the clutter one decision at a time.

  1. Would I rather have the clutter and the stress that goes with it OR the peace that comes when the clutter goes?

Take a peek at your beliefs and evaluate what you value more—your stuff or your peace of mind. As you begin to organize and declutter, these questions become easier and easier to answer. As a result, your life will become more simplified and less stressed!

Patty Kreamer is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Productivity Coach for Financial Advisors, speaker, author and Partner/Co-owner of Referral Institute of Western PA, LLC. She works directly with financial advisors to help them develop strategic practice management processes in order to become more productive and perform better. 

Patty is the author of …But I Might Need It Someday!, The Power of Simplicity, and co-author with Stephen Covey in Success SimplifiedIf you’re looking for a fun, dynamic, and effective speaker, or if you or your firm would benefit from a Productivity Coach, Patty is available. Call her at 412-352-2888 or email her directly at

©2009-2015 Patty Kreamer. Permission granted to reprint this article as long as the text and by-line are not changed. Complete text must be reprinted intact with all links made live.


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