Life management insights, strategies, hints, ideas, and tips from Dr. DClutter™.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Locksmith is a word that sends shudders up my spine. Think about it. Is it ever good if you have to call one? Normally, you need one because you're in a not-so-nice situation. You know, you've gotten out of your car and "SLAM", you close the door, but the keys are still in the ignition or on the seat. Or, you've just left your home and "SLAM", the door closes and you look back to see your keys still lying on the table or hanging on the hook (neither is good for your safety as no one should be able to see your keys through your door, but that's another day's post). Oh, the feeling of dread that washes over you. You're locked out!! Here's a simple, easy, tried and true solution. Always do a "visual check" just before you close the door. What I mean is, don't assume you have your keys because you think you put them in your purse, backpack or briefcase. Unless you physically have your keys in your hand, don't assume you have your keys. Each time I leave my home or get out of my car, if my keys are not in my hand, I do a "visual check" of my bag. No sighting of the keys and I don't close the door. I've never had to call a locksmith, so I must be doing something right.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Proof of Purchase

I've discussed the need to save receipts before. Well, here's a little story that highlights the importance of keeping those pesky little buggers. Recently, my very necessary and often used digital camera decided to pitch a tantrum that would put any two-year-old to shame. All of my pictures had horizontal lines going through them or even worse, a gray panel blocking all or part of the picture. On, no, I was not a happy Life Management Specialist at all. I promptly contacted the manufacturer for repair since it was still under warranty. The first question they wanted to know was if I had "proof-of-purchase". "Certainly, I do", I was able to respond. Needless to say, within a couple of hours, my camera was on its way for repair, at no expense to me (I even managed to finagle a prepaid UPS label). Sweet!!

Dr. D. Clutter™

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Smile Factor

This is a challenge. Smile at every person you see today. Heck, go even further and just smile as you sit at your desk, or as you walk down the street, or sit in you car, stuck in traffic. Yes, people will probably wonder what's "wrong" with you and question your "sanity", but don't be bothered. Just keep on smiling!! I'm sure you'll have many interesting interactions and interesting stories to tell. Please share them.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Monday, April 27, 2009

Death of Time

I recently read the classic book, Madame Bovary and watched the movie as well. It is a wonderful story and I highly suggest you read the book and or watch the movie version. No cheating-read the book first. I won't retell the story here, but she was one of the unhappiest and most unfulfilled characters I've ever read about. In the book, the author told of her boredom by saying that even the striking of the chime on a clock served to announce and remind her of the "death of another hour". What a sad state to view time in that way. Yes, with each passing second, time that has passed will never be recaptured. It is gone forever. But if you use your time wisely and make the most of as much of it as you can, you won't be as negative as Madame Bovary was about it's passing. You will anticipate the joy that can come in the next, second, minute, hour and beyond.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Friday, April 24, 2009

Social Networks

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and others are all in some way social networks. Now, I'm not adverse to technology and progress, but I'm still a bit old fashioned and enjoy the human social network.

Picture it, D.C., 2009 (that's my homage to Estelle Getty, "Sophia" from the Golden Girls), a day with no face-to-face human interaction. You wake up to the sound of the alarm clock, stumble into the shower to the voice of someone coming from the radio. No interaction from a morning conversation. Breakfast is a piece of toast and a cup of juice. No interaction with a person in the drive-thru or the grocery store. You're working from home, so there are no co-workers' cubbies to visit or to meet at the water cooler. So you sit at your desk, turn on your computer and read and return emails. Those are your "conversations". When you call into the office, the system is automated and you don't ever need to "speak" to a live person, just push a series of buttons. For lunch, you make a sandwich and a salad and eat in front of the television. No interaction with a live person, just reactions to characters on the television. You make a run to the bank, but have no need to visit a teller; you simply use the non-human ATM. You need gas, but there's no attendant to pump it anymore, so you swipe your card, fill your tank and drive off. Not even eye contact was necessary. At the end of the day, you heat up leftovers and go online to update your "page". Finally, human contact. NOT. All you see is a small picture of friend, family or stranger, as they post their thoughts, moods and stories. Ahh, the end of a long, human-less day. Now wasn't that fun?

Dr. D. Clutter™

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Do you find you're often chasing a carrot on a stick? Do you require a great deal of external motivation or are you more intrinsically motivated. I'd have to say that I'm more of the latter. It's great to have someone inspire you to do great things and I would not be the person I am without those types of people in my life. But make sure you strive to motivate and inspire yourself as much or more than anyone else possibly can. After all, you'll reap the benefits and rewards.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

She Said, I Said

I once had a client who "ALWAYS" said she could "NEVER" get and remain organized without someone helping her. One of our typical conversations sounded like this: "Okay, since you "can't" do it alone, always have someone to help you organize", I said. "But my friends and family are often busy or just don't want to help", she said. "Well, I said jokingly, "You could always stay with me as a client, forever". "Well, maybe, but that would require a lot", she said. "What's the alternative since you said you could "NEVER" get and remain organized alone? What else can you do?" Well, you can imagine the rest of the conversation and the outcome. My client could remain organized; she just needed to know and believe that she could. She also needed to know and use the proper strategies and techniques. We still work together on maintaining her new organization, but she does most of the work and many times, she does it alone. She said she couldn't, I said she could. She worked, learned and put into action those changes that were necessary for her success.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Visualize and Actualize

This one is simplistic, yet complex, if you make it that way. When you're trying to accomplish a task, you first need to be able to see it, right? That's the visualize part. That's when you allow yourself to think about all of the possible scenarios and outcomes, pitfalls and hurdles, problems and solutions. Next, and this is often where most people make it complex, you actually have to put forth the effort to accomplish the task; that's the actualize part. Visualize the action and actualize the vision. Simply put-see it and do it.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hands Off

This is a problem that many people have told me they encounter. A family member is having difficultly managing many aspects of life and it's manifesting itself as a disorganized and cluttered space. So, the family rallies to "declutter and organize" the space. Oh, they are proud of all of the hard work and literal blood, sweat and tears from the effort; but it's short lived. Slowly, but surely, the space returns to its original state. Frustration ensues because it should be easy to "maintain". This is where I say, "Hands off". Yes, I'm saying to let the disorganization return. Egad, has she lost it again? No, I have not. Here are your choices: become the clutter police and post guard outside the offender's room to watch her every move. Or you can say, this is your issue and until you are ready to deal with it, I'll support you, but I won't stress myself about it. It's your choice. Now, here's a caveat to that scenario. If it's a child, elderly person or someone you know who "can't do it alone due to a physical or mental issue, continue to offer your help, but if it's an able bodied person and she just isn't ready to change and it does not affect your day-to-day living, again, I say, "Hands off".

Dr. D. Clutter™

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Scheduled Chef

I love to cook. I love everything about cooking, from deciding on the recipe, to preparing the shopping list, to shopping for the items and then hunkering down in the kitchen to prepare my feasts. Of course I delight in the finished product because I love to eat too!! But, here’s the thing-I don’t love to cook everyday. I am the defrost-leftover-just-add-fresh-vegetables-and-fruit-queen. I schedule a time, usually on the weekend (but sometimes during the week) and cook “up a storm”. I enjoy one-pot wonders, soups, stews and casseroles; lean meats and poultry. The deep freezer is one of my favorite inventions. By cooking so much at once, I can simply decide what I’m in the mood to eat, go to the freezer, get it and in no time, it’s time to dine. It is such a time saver. Yes, it requires an upfront investment of my time, but the return on investment is well worth it.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Do you remember the game called “Perfection”? You had a set amount of time to place geometric shapes into the proper place before the board would “pop up” sending your pieces flying everywhere and your turn would end. I was pretty good at that game; okay, I was great (much to the disdain of my brothers and anyone else who dared to challenge me). I remember the feeling of excitement, pressure and stress as if it was yesterday-what a rush!! But, I also remember feeling relieved when it was over. In the game, I didn’t mind feeling pressure and stress because I knew it would end shortly, but I sure would not want to live everyday feeling that way. If only Perfection was just a game. Unfortunately, for some, it’s not. When you set rigid constraints and unrealistic goals, you put undue stress on yourself. Striving for perfection may work in theory, but it is hard to maintain in real life. Don’t do that to yourself. Be realistic in what you can truly accomplish in a set time and learn to accept that “Perfection” is just a game.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Alone versus Lonely

I can count on one hand, with the thumb and pinky out of the equation, the number of times I’ve been lonely. I would need to use my hands and feet and those of a few family members and friends, to count the times I’ve been alone. Are you feeling lonely or alone today? Be sure to make the distinction between the two. If you’re feeling lonely, think about the reasons why. Is it that you’ve isolated yourself, or do you have trouble making friends? Is your loneliness self-imposed? If your loneliness is a symptom of a medical or psychological condition, ask for help. If it’s not, find someone to talk to or get involved in an activity that will allow you more interaction with others. If you’re alone and you like it, enjoy the moment because it may not last very long. Appreciate the solitude of the moment.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Duly Noted

If you’re the average family, you’re like multiple ships passing in the night. Due to differing schedules, you may not spend as much time together as you would like. Don’t let that hinder your communication. I am a note taker and note “poster” by nature, just ask my family. They are apt to walk into a room and find a note to remind them of something, a request or a question that needs an answer. I usually use notes when the issue is one that affects the entire family and I don’t want or need to email or call each person individually. I place it in a conspicuous place where everyone will have the chance to see it and when we all get together, we discuss it. Just be sure that you don’t use notes in a negative way or as your only mode of communication.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Monday, April 13, 2009


Have you ever used the memo/reminder function on your phone that allows you to leave a message? I would be lost without it. I use it on a regular basis. I used to share an office with a wonderful woman named Denise, who had a great sense of humor and was a joy to work with. She would often hear me talking on the phone, leaving memos or messages to myself. So, one day, Denise told me she got a chuckle out of the fact that I was, in essence, “talking to myself”. I explained that I did it to make sure I didn’t forget anything I had to do and so that I didn’t have to use my time to write messages on small pieces of paper or use valuable memory to remember it all. By the time I would get home in the evening, I would have multiple messages, mostly from me, to me. Then, when it was convenient, I’d simply retrieve the messages, write them in a binder and act on them at the appropriate time. That way, I had a central and orderly location for my notes, and I could refer to them when I needed to. I use what helps me function at my optimal best. What’s your method?

Dr. D. Clutter™

Friday, April 10, 2009

Levels of Clutter

Here’s an easy system to rate your level of clutter. Green-this is the lowest level, where you may have a few items out of place, but could reorganize in 60 minutes or less, if an old friend called to say she was “in the neighborhood” and wanted to drop by. The Yellow level is next. This is where you have more items out of place than you have in place and it would take you more than an hour, but less than 6 to reorganize. If that friend called, you’d probably ask if she could stop my the next day so that you’d have a chance to “get your house in order”. The next level is Red, and is the highest on the clutter scale. Every item in your house is out of place. You haven’t seen many of them for days or weeks and can’t remember the color of your carpet. If that friend called to say she wanted to stop by, it wouldn’t be a problem because you can’t find the phone to answer it. It would take you more than a few hours, more like a few days to reorganize your home. Be honest today and evaluate which level best describes you. If it’s Green, you have a good handle on your space, but could be more vigilant daily to make sure you don’t move to the Yellow level. Take a little time each day to put items back where they belong. If you fall into the Yellow level, you need to focus on decluttering your space so that you won’t have as many items to deal with. You still maintain some control, may feel slightly overwhelmed, but not completely. You could be in danger of moving up to the Red level if you don’t take the time to get your disorganization under control. If you’re in the Red level, you probably are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and have decided that it’s too much for you to deal with, so you don’t do anything. If this is you, I suggest and encourage you to ask for help. It’s okay. With the proper guidance and education, you can gain the skills and techniques to help you return to the Green level or better. No matter what your level of clutter, it’s important to take a realistic and honest look at your situation. You don’t have to remain in your level of clutter. Taking small steps goes a long way toward regaining control. You may even create a new level. We’ll call that the Black level for absence of clutter. How’s that for a goal? Let’s all strive to be “in the Black”. It’s a profitable place to be!!

Dr. D. Clutter™

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pro and Con List

I had a friend call me the other day. She was dating a man for a while and wanted my advice on how the relationship was progressing and whether she should continue in it. I thought it was funny that she consulted me about her relationship and not him, but I understood her motivation. As the conversation progressed, she explained that he had become distant, aloof and secretive. All red flags, if you ask me, and I told her that. To make a long story short, I suggested she do a pro and con list to evaluate the relationship. I cautioned her not to sanitize the negative aspects and to be honest with herself about the positive aspects. You can imagine how that little exercise turned out. The con side of the list was twice as long as the pro side, yet she still thought it was a viable relationship. Often times a friend may come to you knowing the answer to a problem. They may be hoping you will validate a situation or relationship, which will give them the opportunity to make a decision that is probably not the best one for them. Be very careful of getting caught in this situation. Have them do a pro/con list and then discuss the true aspects of the situation, based on the facts, not necessarily the desired outcome.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I recently reconnected with a friend from college to whom I had not spoken in over 10years. We spent time hearing about each other’s lives during that 10 year period, including all of the highs and lows, successes and successful failures. It was, as if we’d never lost communication. She still had an infectious laugh and a pleasing personality. She told me I was as “perfect” as she remembered. What?? Okay, let’s stop a moment. “Perfect” was her adjective, not mine. I do not claim perfection, ever, well, maybe in the game Perfection, but that’s it. So I quickly had to correct that false observation and perception. That’s too much pressure for any mere human to bear, yes even me-kidding. It was a sobering thought to know that she’d viewed my life as one of perfection, when I was keenly aware of my weaknesses and shortcomings and thought I’d represented myself as true to form while in college. Isn’t it amazing how someone else’s perception of you may not be a realistic and true representation of who you are? Not that we are responsible for how others view us, but it was an eye-opening moment for me. I’d always considered myself to be transparent-not holding too much back from those around me. Not that I dwell on my imperfections, because I acknowledge them, as they are as much a part of me as my strengths. How do you think other people view you and what are your thoughts about their perceptions? Do you find them to be an accurate assessment or so far off of the mark that they must be looking at someone else?

Dr. D. Clutter™

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Go Through

Do you enjoy unpleasant situations? Probably not!! Most of us tend to avoid those situations, people and things that are negative, cause us pain, distress or are difficult and unpleasant. Not to sound overly simplistic or to minimize your situation, but sometimes the most effective way out of those instances and circumstances is to go straight through them. Yes, it may be difficult and you may encounter resistance, but sometimes you really have to go through to get through. So, whatever obstacle is blocking your path today, face it head on, deal with it and hopefully you’ll gain valuable insights that will serve you in the future. More than that I hope you’ll find a successful resolution.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mail, Mail, Go Away!!

What’s your relationship with your postal carrier? Do you turn off the lights and pretend you’re not home in hopes he will just walk on by? Have you posted no trespassing signs, hoping to deter delivery of your mail? Probably not, but if you’re like a lot of people, mail is not on your list of favorites. Why do you suppose that is? For many, receiving mail has become a headache. It just seems to pile up without any end in sight. Of course that would be a true statement if your mail was an actual object with human properties and could perform the feats we’ve come to attribute to it, but alas, it is not. It’s inanimate. Mail cannot “pile up” or “creep in” or anything else. It’s our inability to deal with it effectively that’s the issue. Okay, here’s the solution. Deal with your mail as soon as it is delivered!! I know that’s a shocking revelation to some of you, but it is the best solution. Decide whether a piece of mail is to be kept (and acted upon), shredded, or filed. Take action so that you don’t have to hide in your house from your friendly mail carrier. After all, what did she ever do to you but deliver your mail? Don’t blame the messenger!!

Dr. D. Clutter™

Friday, April 3, 2009

Brand Loyalty

Both of my grandmother’s were brand loyal. Once they found something they liked, believe me, they did not budge. If it was Sanka or Maxwell House, Pepsi or Coke, that’s what they would buy. It didn’t matter if those items weren’t on sale, and the store brand was-they were loyal. It was a different time then. Those two ladies would have put many of the modern day financial gurus to shame with their ability to budget. Yes, they were brand loyal, but they made sure that despite that, they never went over budget. It still amazes me how much they did with so little, but they did it. Now, I’m a little different. Even though I’m a brand-name type of lady, I like keeping as much of my money in my bank account as possible. I value quality as well, so I won’t purchase an inferior product, but I don’t allow myself to become so brand loyal that I have to file for bankruptcy to have those things. One of my mottos is, “If it’s not on sale, I don’t need it”. I live for a sale and I love discounts and bargains. Let’s face it, in these difficult economic times, we may all have to reevaluate our spending habits. It pays to be a savvy consumer. If you manage your finances properly, you too can “splurge” on the brand names, but if not, stay in the “bargain” aisle until you can.

Dr. D. Clutter™

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Moving in the Wrong Direction

I know someone who recently moved into a new house. I was very excited for them, so I offered, as a house warming gift, free pre and post moving decluttering services. That way, they would not take the clutter from the old place to the new house. Well, how many of you would be surprised to learn that my offer was not accepted? I wasn’t. Anyway, as the move day grew closer and closer, I watched as the family packed all of their belongings into old boxes, trash bags, luggage and anything else that could hold “stuff”. There was not a label of contents to be found. No grouping of like items or even grouping by room. Nope, shoes went in with books and dishes went in with sheets-chaos. The move was disorganized, to say the least. Now the clutter and disorganization has been transported to the new house, which was a blank slate and a clutter-free zone. Not anymore. I’m sure some of you are saying, “I would have accepted the help”, but again, I’m not surprised. If you don’t think you have a problem and someone offers help to you for a problem you don’t or won’t recognize, it makes perfect sense. How successful do you think they will be in organizing the new house? I’m not saying that they won’t eventually get it done, but it could have been an easier transition with a little pre/post-move preparation. Why work harder when you don’t have to?

Dr. D. Clutter™

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!!

Do you ever wish you could have a day when you didn't have to make any decisions, big or small? Well, until that day comes (like the someday you often hear me talk about), you are going to have to make hundreds of decisions a day, many without even realizing that you're making them. Next, question. Have you ever had a day when you just can't seem to make a decision so you decide that you won't decide, so that becomes your decision? I know, confusing, isn't it? During an online seminar, many participants voiced concern over their inability to make decisions, choosing instead to allow "whatever' was "meant to be" to happen. Well, surprise, they've made a decision, if only by default. Look, making decisions or choices is a necessary part of life, whether you are an active, willing participant or a passive, reluctant one. Your ability to make the best choices that help you function at your most optimal can shape your life in the most positive way. Don't sit idly by and let indecisiveness rule your life.

Dr. D. Clutter™

About Me

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Washington, DC, United States
I am Dr. Darnita L. Payden, Executive Director/Owner of Dr. DClutter™ Life Management, a division of PreciousOnes™ LLC. I have a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and over 20 years of experience working to help clients discover their strengths and talents. Having worked as a therapist, college professor, grief specialist and trainer, I have encountered in my journey many of the issues my clients may face. I have a sincere desire to help you find clarity, organization and independence in your life and environments. I know that life can be hectic, but I desire to help my clients bring as much order, peace and enjoyment back into their lives as is possible. What separates me from the norm? I focus on the client from a holistic perspective. I realize that most people desire a functional and an organized life, but may simply need support, understanding and information about why they have the habits or tendencies that have led to disorganization. I do not perform “quick fixes” or provide “one-size-fits-all” guidance, but I strive to provide strategies to my clients that will be life changing and useful for a lifetime. Dr. DClutter™ is a name well earned!!

Dr. DClutter's™ Publications

  • Dr. DClutter's™ Wiseisms and Thruthisms™ Daily Inspirations, Observations and Humorous Musings
  • Dr. DClutter's™ One-Day-a-Week-Guide to a Year of Random Acts of Kindness (plus 20 extra days just in case)
  • Dr. DClutter's™ 21-Day Journey to a New You
  • Declutter-Four Benefits of an Organized Life
  • Clutter Makes You S.I.G.H.™
  • Simplify. Simplify. How to Declutter Your Life

Four Benefits of Organization

Four Benefits of Organization

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