Cleaning Your Parents’ House: Securing Paperwork, Valuables and Perishables

Posted By on September 24, 2017

My siblings found ourselves facing the task of cleaning out our parents’ house, which was our childhood home.

It’s a task that’s both daunting and emotional. The first thing we had to deal with was PVP – paperwork, valuables and perishables.

One thing you can be sure of is you will have lots of paperwork to handle after losing someone. Order extra copies of the death certificate because many companies require an original one versus a copy. First, you need to locate the will. The will determines the process and if there needs to be probate.

Processing paperwork for a loved one is definitely a marathon instead of a sprint, and it requires patience. A great deal of patience. And maybe wine and/or chocolate – depending on your preference.

Round up bills, checkbooks, credit cards, insurance cards, membership cards, car titles, property deeds, and any other financial documents you can find. Call each company to notify them, and they will let you know what follow up you may need to do. Keep detailed notes with dates you called so you can remember.

Magazine subscriptions are fairly easy to cancel, and we were able to cancel most of my mother’s using the customer service’s chat feature.

This is pretty straightforward. Secure and remove all valuables, including money, credit cards, jewelry, keys, guns, deeds, car titles, and other items. Think about those items that are more sentimental than valuable but may look valuable. It would be nice to believe that nothing will happen to your loved one’s belongings, but it’s a good idea to remove any temptations for burglars.

Most burglars are looking for small items that would be easy to carry and sell. Some burglars back trucks up and empty an house of large items. When this happened to a neighbor of mine, thieves even stole his bottled water container and new suits in his closet in addition to his electronics.

Make sure to retrieve any hidden keys as well.

First, any expired food in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry should be tossed. Food banks only accept unopened packages and canned goods. Any opened food should be used or tossed. Deep freezers should be cleaned out and defrosted.

The other perishables are prescription and over-the-counter medications. Most pharmacies don’t take old medications back on a regular basis so you usually need to do it yourself. Don’t flush medications. Expired medications should be tossed and mixed with coffee grounds and food waste.

Tackling paperwork, valuables and perishables are the first steps in what will be a long journey. Hang tough.


Practice Selective Perfectionism: Done is Perfect

Posted By on April 30, 2017

What does A+ work look like to you? An A? A-? B or even a C?

Keep breathing. I know it’s hard to think about doing anything less than supremely, super stellar work. It goes against all of your thinking, and perhaps, even the very soul of who you are.

I like practicing what I call selective perfectionism. There are some things that have to extraordinary, and there are the things that can be ordinary. It takes practice to learn when you can do that and get out of your own way. Practicing perfectionism on everything you do consumes valuable time and energy, and I’ve learned – mostly the hard way – when to get selective.

Does everything you do have to be supremely, super stellar? Let’s take folding bedsheets, particularly the challenging fitted sheet. My mom had a pristine method that I failed to take with me into adulthood. Mom still irons her pillowcases, and I recently gave away my ironing board. I have friends who are fabulous at folding fitted sheets, and I’ve even watched videos. At the end of the day, I’m always saying, “yeah, I’m good.”

As my organizing colleague Donna Smallin Kuper says, “done is perfect.” I fold the sheets the best I am willing to do and place them inside one of the pillowcases to make a self-contained kit. It becomes “grab and go” when it’s time to change the sheets.

It may be a B or even C level of work, depending on who you ask, but it’s done. I consider it an A when I fold sheets instead of just avoiding them in the laundry basket. Tiny victories, people. Tiny victories.

Take a look around your home or office and see where you can practice selective perfectionism. Start small and work your way up to that B or C. Done is perfect.


Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Learned

Posted By on October 25, 2016

You may have noticed, I’ve been a little absent over here at The Clutter Princess blog.

The past year has been a whirlwind of struggle and mayhem. It began with the loss of my father and a series of mishaps including roof leaks, tree branches falling on the house and a car wreck. To top it all off, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and am taking immune suppressants. The medication causes a great deal of fatigue, and it has forced me to rest more than I’m used to. I run out of steam a little easy, and it’s frustrating. It has also been a learning opportunity:

  • It is okay to ask people to help and to let people help me. It’s hard for me since I consider myself an independent woman, and my stubbornness comes into play. People who love you want to help, and you should let them – just like you would do for them.
  • I am grateful for my amazing tribe. My circle of friends and family are amazing, awesome and fabulous. I’m not sure what I would do without them, and I love them more than chocolate.
  • It is okay to do what I can do when I can do it. I’ve divided my to-do list into things I can do when I have energy and things I can do when I have low energy. I call it “extreme prioritizing.” I’ve had to be super realistic, and I remind myself – like I’ve told my clients many times – that baby steps are steps forward. It’s all progress.

Much like Dory in Finding Nemo, I’ve decided to keep swimming and venture back out into the world. Kelley Dowell, a new professional organizer, has joined The Clutter Princess, and she will be writing blog posts and seeing clients as well. We are also working behind the scenes to redesign the website and coming up with all sorts of fun things for you.

Stay tuned.


Got Scandalous Clutter? Consider It Handled

Posted By on September 24, 2015

vintage scene

Your phone beeps and “Be there in an hour!” appears across the screen. In that moment, you look around your apartment and only then did you realize how messy your place has gotten. Your kitchen, dining room table, living room, desk, bathroom, every room is filled with scandalous clutter.

You would like to call Olivia Pope and her team in to fix everything. But let’s face it. Olivia is too busy eating popcorn, drinking wine, and hanging out on the balcony of the White House with Fitz (spoiler alert, oops) to worry about the four month old collection of mail sitting on your kitchen table.

The good news? You can do it without a fixer.

*Cue shutter sound*

Pick 5. Pick five locations and five items in each location to throw away, put in its rightful place, or straighten up. Got cords all over the entertainment center? Group them together, and try your best to hide them. Nobody wants a distraction from watching Jake running with his shirt off.

Give yourself 10 minutes. You don’t have time for a complete purging session. Do a walk through in each room you know your guests will be in at some point. What are the first signs of clutter that pop out to you? Giving yourself a time limit in each room allows you to pick out the most noticeable clutter items quickly, get rid of them and move on to the next item of business without overthinking and getting distracted with bigger projects.

Out with the old. Getting rid of old items can drastically help remove clutter from a number of locations. Think about old announcements and invitations on your refrigerator. Don’t need them? Throw them away. Want to keep them for memory-sake? Store them in a memory box. That mail collection you have building up? Quickly go through and separate the junk mail you know you don’t need from the bills and other necessary mail without even having to open the envelope.

Clear counter space. Whether it’s your kitchen or your bathroom, a clear counter with minimal items on the surface can make a huge difference at making the entire room appear clutter free. Put items away in drawers and find a new home. If you absolutely have to keep items out and about, do your best to straighten them up and make them look presentable. Group like-items together and make neat stacks.

Tidy up. Do quick tasks to get rid of unnecessary clutter in every room. Take out the trash. Make your bed. Fluff your pillows on the couch, and fold the blankets. Empty the dishwasher, and reload it with any dirty dishes. Put away your shoes that are lying around. Hang up your clothes. Do tasks that will get things off the floor, off the bed and make your space look and feel in order.

Now light some candles, pour yourself a nice beverage and revel in the fact that scandalous clutter has been handled. And you’re the real life Olivia Pope.


How to Get Away with Order

Posted By on September 21, 2015

Colorful paper clips isolated in white

Imagine having a boss like Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder. You have to stay on your toes, get things done, and show off your mad skills.

In real life, bosses want results and how your desk looks matters. A 2011 Career Builder study revealed managers are less likely to promote someone who has a messy desk.

The goal is to make your office space look neater and more organized. When you look organized, people assume you are.

Clear the decks. Remove all papers and sticky notes that are taped to your computer, wall, desk and other surfaces.

Stay within the lines. If the stuff tacked to your bulletin board are spilling over the frame, it’s time to straighten up your papers, remove the stuff you don’t need, and make sure your papers are within the lines of the board.

Straighten the stacks. The goal would be to limit the amount of stacks living permanently on your desk, but if you still have some, straighten them up to make them look neater. I did this with one of my work clients during our initial visit (we did toss a bunch of things too), and her office mates kept complimenting her on her organized space.

Aligned colorful paperclips isolated in white

Have a to-do list and use your calendar. Use one notepad or an app to

keep your to-do list in one space. As tasks come in, add them to your list. Put deadlines and appointments on your calendar and set reminders so you can get there on time.

With these tips, you can dazzle your boss and co-workers and get a few things done.


Make Decluttering A {Delightfully-Scented} Breeze By Using Essential Oils

Posted By on April 27, 2015

From The Clutter Princess: I’ve been curious about essential oils myself, and because of that, I asked Lora who sells them to write this guest post.

Ahh that pile, that closet, that room, that house! We’ve all been there dealing with the clutter monster. But, what if I told you that clearing that space could be a much more joyful, productive, and effective experience if we call on essential oils to help us.

In this post, I am going to share with you the two most common ways to use essential oils, why purity it so important, and then share my top ten essential oils for support when decluttering and organizing.

home diffuserThe two most common ways to use essential oils is via aromatically and topically. (Please always defer to the label on the bottle you are using for directions and safety precautions.) Aromatic use can be done by simply smelling the essential oil right from the bottle, but my favorite way of inhalation is to diffuse an essential oil using a cool mist diffuser. This allows the scent of the essential oil to envelope the room or space you are working in. Topical application means applying to skin. (Again, read the bottle label for directions safety precautions.)

Purity is important when it comes to essential oils. Many essential oils found on the market today — even the ones from health food stores — can be diluted, adulterated, and may contain “fragrance” oils, which are synthetic wannabes of pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. When we are looking to use essential oils for a specific purpose, as described below, we want to ensure that they contain the true plant constituents that will provide the results and benefits we are looking for.

The essential oils recommended below come from a company called Young Living Essential Oils, which is committed to providing the highest quality essential oils in the world.

Here are my top ten recommendations to rock out your decluttering using essential oils:

Peppermint + Lemon

Peppermint essential oil has been clinically proven to improve focus and concentration. It is also an energizing scent. All of the citrus essential oils, like lemon, are uplifting and energizing. These essential oils will help keep you upbeat and positive as you tackle the clutter beast!

Lavender + Stress Away

For some, anxiety and stress can arise while decluttering. Uncomfortable feelings and conflicts may arise around letting go of things. These two essential oils can help calm us, body, mind, and spirit. Stress Away is a relaxing blend from Young Living Essential Oils that I’ve heard referred to as a “vacation in a bottle!”


This essential oil has a long history of providing spiritual support and creating sanctuary. It comes from the resin of the frankincense tree. All essential oils that are made from trees contain grounding properties. This essential oil will help you not only feel grounded and centered as you are decluttering and organizing, it will also help create sacred space.

Thieves + Purification + Tea Tree

These three essential oils help with cleansing and purification. They are all wonderful to diffuse as you are clearing out and decluttering. If cleaning is part of your decluttering process, you can even make your own completely nontoxic household cleaner with them. Recipes for homemade cleaning products can be found in abundance on Pinterest.


young living joyYes, there is actually an essential oil blend with this name! And for good reason! It is a blend from Young Living Essential Oils intended to calm and balance the nervous system. And let’s get real here, who couldn’t use some joy when decluttering?!?!


This Young Living Essential Oils blend helps with the common everyday aches and soreness. The body can take a beating when it comes to decluttering and organizing! This blend, applied topically, can soothe that physical discomfort.

I have yet to find a task that is not easier and more fun when things smell good! And decluttering is no different.

The beauty of essential oils is that they can support us in so many ways, and what you have just learned about them is truly the tip of the iceberg. The essential oils described above come in Young Living’s Everyday Oils Collection. It is aptly named because all of these essential oils can support us in myriad ways, on a daily basis.

If you’d like to learn more or get some of these essential oils for yourself, head on over to

 Lora Sasiela Headshot-EssentialOilsRockLora Sasiela, founder of, is a blogger, essential oils educator and network marketing professional. She is passionate about helping people adopt a nontoxic lifestyle. As leader of Team Sassy, she has helped women around the country to create successful home-based businesses sharing essential oils. Learn more about Lora here