How to: The addictive charms of de-cluttering

How to: The addictive charms of de-cluttering

For generations, spring cleaning has been a ritual. Time to fling open the windows, get rid of that stuffy winter air, and clean your home from top to bottom.


Well, it may be a little early to fling open any windows and the thought of cleaning your home in its entirety can be a little overwhelming. But why not start with your office?


If, like most independent travel advisors, you work from home and not from an agency, your home office is where you spend a lot of time. But there are no rules to follow, unlike at a storefront travel agency where policy may dictate that your desk is cleaned up before you leave, and that for privacy reasons client files can’t be left lying around.


Yet decluttering can be deeply satisfying and rewarding (“Oh that’s where that is!”). I promise, it’ll be worth it. When you’re finished, you’ll work more efficiently, be less distracted, and feel less guilt about having all that stuff.




First, you have to carve out some time during which you promise yourself you will not check emails or answer the phone. Also, try to imagine you are moving house – the ‘keep it, trash it or donate it’ philosophy.


As you look at each item, think if you really need it and why. And be sure to have three big bags: for recycling, for giving away /donating, and for actual trash.


Have a look at your desktop. Is everything within reach something you use every day? If not, consider storing it. A wonderful way to declutter is to use a tray to collect all the miscellaneous stuff you need on your deck – the hand lotion, the phone charger, the box of tissues. It will instantly look more organized.


Next, the dreaded drawers – even the one you’re afraid to open. Don’t just pick through them: empty them completely onto your desk and go through item by item. In our business we get a lot of little freebies – pens, magnets, etc. which can take up a lot of valuable drawer space. As you look at each item, consider: have you used it in the past year? If you didn’t own it, would you buy it or take it now?


Do you need 12 highlighters? Chances are if you had only one, you’d know where it was all the time. What about all those pens? Do they all even work? Do you need every one of those business cards you’ve collected over the years? Go through them and electronically save the contacts you wish to keep.


Next, tackle your shelves. Chances are you’re not referring to that 1998 guidebook to Rome or the notebook from a FAM 10 years ago. Be brutal about any brochures that are over a year old. If there are items you are on the fence about, put them in a box and mark it ‘DISCARD FEB. 2023.’ If you don’t take anything out before then, discard it with a clear conscience.


Getting rid of stuff doesn’t mean this isn’t a good time to acquire a few useful items such as a shredder, a label maker (nothing looks more efficient than a printed label!), perhaps even a pegboard.


I guarantee you’ll find decluttering liberating. You’ll feel you’ve accomplished so much, I bet it will extend to other areas of your home (perhaps the hall closet or junk drawer in your kitchen).


Happy spring cleaning!

Get travel news right to your inbox!