Week 11 – Smörgåsbord

It’s Week 11 of the 2023 Clever Girl Organizing Challenge! OUR FINAL WEEK!! You’re almost at the end, with one more meaningful focus before we pat ourselves on the back! 

This week, we’re setting our sights on some single-focused categories, ones that may be in different spots of your home that we have or have not been to, but we haven’t gone deep. It’s basically the week where you can say “I’m going to get this ONE THING DONE before we wrap up this week!” You’ll see a list of ideas below, but of course, as always, choose to spend this week with a category or space you know will make a difference in your life and you’ll be proud that you accomplished! Think of it as a “Challenger’s Choice!” week!

Don’t forget the guidelines I’d love for you to keep in mind before you start your work:

1) Have the tools you need before you get started — trash bags, recycling, donate box, and “goes somewhere else” box (so you can set things aside and keep going, not be tempted to return things to a different space while you’re working). This week could also use a SHRED box or bag. 

2) Keep taking those BEFORE and AFTER photos, either for your own ability to see your progress, to to share your accomplishments and encourage others in the Facebook Group. 

PS – don’t forget to review the Products and Solutions pages for some inspiration!


This week, we’re talking about some categories that have their own size and space and can be broad and deep, but we haven’t specifically talked about yet. They can be the kinds of categories we add to over time without editing or using up what we already had. They can be the kinds of spaces that are easy to overlook and ignore because they’re not in the way, or we don’t use them year round. Ultimately, take a look around YOUR house and see what candidate YOU have for a space or category that could use some attention!!

What are some example categories that fit here: 

  • Kids Toys/Games – this is the one week where the kid’s toys, games, dolls, puzzles, books, playrooms, etc gets full focus if this is on your list. If you haven’t already tackled them as part of another week, now’s your chance!
  • Holiday Decor – really explore your bins of each holiday and do some weeding for the items you don’t love, use, or are in disrepair.
  • Gift Wrap – wraps, bags, tissue paper, bows, tags — what is gift giving like in your life at this point? Does your supply match your usage? (For instance — got a lot of wedding and baby wrap, but that’s just not the phase of life your friends and family are in like they used to be?) Or are you *really* a bag person, but you’ve had some rolls forever, unused? Do you have some bags you’ve had a long time that you keep NOT selecting when you’re giving a gift?
  • Greeting cards/stationery (unsent) – thank you notes, personal stationery, blank cards, specific event cards… If you’re running a small stash in your house, think about what you keep NOT choosing each time that event comes up. Think about how much writing you’re ACTUALLY doing, not just aspiring to do.
  • Gifts and ReGifting – if you have a stash of items you’re keeping around to use as gifts or regifts, it’s time to edit for any of those things you just keep not choosing when gifting opportunity comes up. It may be time to question whether this stash says something about how you want to be seen, compared to the action your taking with it.
  • Pet accessories and supplies – Keep adding toys and tools, but not letting go of the old ones? Time for an edit!
  • The car – inside and the trunk – garbage, clothes, sporting goods, paperwork, returns and donations… you know there’s a lot in there that needs a “next step” process
  • The cords and chargers – wherever you’re keeping them! Time for a real review on “what does this go to?” and “do we still need this?”
  • Recipes – if you didn’t do this during kitchen week, now is a great time to create the order and system you’ve been promising yourself!
  • Random storage closet you haven’t touched yet
  • And anything else you KNOW is ready for your attention!!!

Can’t wait to hear what you’re choosing!


1) Clean out and Edit several categories or spaces (for instance – the spare room, the cabinets you store this stuff in, the garage, the basement, the office, etc.) – Prioritize the spaces that feel the most overwhelming and the ones you *know* deserve a real edit. Do one category at a time. Make sure you have the space to work AND the space to set aside things that aren’t going back in the same space (time for a relo?) or aren’t staying with you at all. Start one shelf at a time, one drawer at a time. Pace yourself!

2) Wipe Down or wash out surfaces as necessary – May not be such a heavy lift this week, but if you’re working in a garage, basement, attic, etc., you may be facing dust and damaged items.

3) Consider the Organization of Keepers – Where things go doesn’t have to be where things have been! Are there different ways to set up your system that better serve who you are today?

4) Create Exits for what’s going – This week might have everything – trash, donations, give to someone in particular, research selling… Whatever your #exit strategy is make it happen and get it out.


Can’t quite take on this week’s full assignment? You might not have the time, energy, or need. That’s okay! Try to set up at least two 30-minute sessions where you can focus on a critical area in this space or category. Set a timer, stay focused, and see what you can accomplish in less time than it would take to watch a sitcom! 


  • Completely review TWO storage SPACES where you’re keeping hobby or leisure activity equipment and materials
  • Completely review on TWO CATEGORIES of hobby or leisure activity equipment and materials


If you’re a Returning Challenger, or if your a First timer looking to go deeper: If you’re ready for a deeper exploration, think about a few different areas maybe you haven’t explored before: 


  • You Returning Challengers can finish strong here… go back to your aspirations from the beginning of this year’s Challenge. What did you hope to accomplish? Did you have a #scaryspace that just didn’t get the momentum you envisioned?
  • Start your plan for what comes next — what would you like to complete this spring, after The Challenge is over, and how can you use our group to help support you and cheer you on?


At the core of so much of what we have been doing this past 11 weeks is dealing with what we have, but are we asking the question: “How did it get here in the first place?” I want to walk through a few sources that we might all need to be more mindful of if curbing down the constant incoming flow of items is a critical part of helping to control the future clutter and stay organized. It’s important to us to tap into the “why” these sources might be so problematic for us, and not just the “what”.   

BUYING – Our own shopping habits are likely the first and foremost source of items we’re discovering are making it to our discard piles right now. From food to clothes to “the cutest little pumpkin decoration I just found at Home Goods“, what comes in our home from need-based, impulse-buy, retail-therapy shopping is most of what comes our way. eCommerce ease (with growing ease-of-return options), scarcity-fear from a pandemic, concerns about supply chain issues are drivers of this, but for many people, it can also just be the dopamine hit that comes from finding the cute thing, scoring a bargain, or filling a hole created by something else in our lives. (PS – despite not paying for the items, I put “Buy Nothing” and “Everything is Free” group acquisition in this category… you don’t have to pay for things to have a problem with acquisition that isn’t in check with your reality.)

FREEBIES – These are the irresistible swag items that come our way – party favors, free samples, conference booty, the logo pens, the scratch pad that came in the envelope with the charitable donation request, the branded gimmick that came with the thing we actually paid for (like the magnet to visually remind you to make future purchases from said vendor). “It was free” is its most compelling quality; had it been something you had to pay for, 95% of it never would have come home with you. When does this stuff become a problem?

  • this is a source of stuff that typically ends up being considered clutter
  • now it becomes OUR responsibility to dispose of it in a way we feel good about, and it’s often not recyclable

This is actually something that’s decreased a bit with covid — fewer in person parties with party favors, fewer trade shows and conferences — some of the giveaways have decreased. But be on the look out for when all those places are THRILLED to be back in person with you and give you the FREE STUFF you don’t need.

PASS-ALONGS FROM WELL MEANING OTHERS – I’m not talking here about normal gifts from people, birthday, holidays, etc. I’m talking about hand-me-downs, castoffs, and other items that come our way from people who give with a “Here! I thought you could use this!” giving… well-intended, but, do you actually want it? I hear stories of these ALL the time:

  • “I couldn’t say no. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings” 
  • “I know it meant a lot to them to try to give us something they thought we’d appreciate as much as they did”
  • “Well, I actually did want one of these, and even though it’s old/broken/not the one I’d pick out for myself, I’m sure I can make it work.”
  • “I know that the only way that this person is going to get rid of things is if they know they are going to a good home, so I say yes because I know it supports their hard work!”
  • “She’s so generous to keep thinking of my children and passing along her kids’ outgrown clothes, but they’re just not my child’s taste anymore, and I end up just donating them.”
  • “It was so nice of them and it’s not something I want anymore, but now I feel guilty letting it go”

Not all pass-alongs from other people are bad or unwelcome. Some are amazing treasures when we receive them, and I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about all the stuff that ends up feeling like clutter, unwanted, a burden to repair, held onto because of guilt or some other negative feeling besides absolute joy AND gratitude (as opposed to guilt and gratitude, where gratitude is the sticky part).

Addressing these items is not only about battling the guilt and the concern about an appearance of lack of gratitude about the things you’ve already said yes to, but about finding new strategies to say NO before it comes into your home.

INHERITED/GIFTS – I’m not go to go into detail on this one since I talk about these categories a LOT but I’d be remiss in not listing this as an acquisition source. We don’t always have a say in whether or not they come our way, but if we think there is a problematic pipeline in the mix, it can be a scary scenario to try to face when trying to slow the pipeline. 

The spirit of this week’s “Why is This So Hard” is mindfulness — what are we doing, directly or indirectly, that is driving our acquisition in a way that doesn’t serve us or proves later to be more of a negative than we imagined at the time we said “yes”.

    Remember: You’re here because you made a choice to bring your head, heart, and body all in the same direction: to let go of things and have smoother systems in your home. If it was easy, you’d be done by now.

    This week might feel a little loosey-goosey because I’m not telling you exactly what to do. My hope in having a Challenger’s Choice week this far into the Challenge means that you’ve already focused on the obvious things and are ready for those other categories that you KNOW deserve some love, too. Can’t wait to hear what you’re choosing to focus on!

    End strong! Make the time, be honest with yourself about the role these types of items play in your life, and focus on what you’re creating for your future by letting go of items that aren’t serving you!

    I‘ll be sending out a FINAL “Final Thoughts” email next week after The Challenge is done. You’re almost there!

    Happy Organizing!

    Kathy (aka Clever Girl)

    TUESDAY, MAR 19th – 7:30pm Eastern


    Week 1 – Jan 8: Kitchen: Food – Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
    Week 2 – Jan 15: Kitchen/Dining: What we use to prep, cook, serve, eat, store & clean! 
    Week 3 – Jan 22: Bath and Bed: Medicines, Toiletries, Cosmetics, Personal Items, etc. 
    Week 4 – Jan 29: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
    Week 5 – Feb 5: Clothes, shoes, accessories
    Week 6 – Feb 12: Home Office/Papers 
    Week 7 – Feb 19: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
    Week 8 – Feb 26: Living / Family Room spaces
    Week 9 – Mar 4: Memorabilia
    Week 10 – Mar 11: Hobbies / Arts and Crafts / Sporting Goods 
    Week 11 – Mar 18: Kid stuff / Holiday Decor / Pet stuff / Other Clutter Traps!