Week 6 – The Living Room/Family Room/Common Areas – Clutter and Collections

It’s Week 6 of the 2022 Clever Girl Organizing Challenge! It’s our half-way point of 11 weeks, and you’ve been doing GREAT!!

We’re heading back to the common spaces in the home — whatever space makes sense to YOU to spend time in, since we all have slightly different homes and live in them differently.  

This week involves looking around at the collections and the clutter that are out in those common areas – living room, tv room, den, hallways, etc. Whether your stuff has function (even if that function is just “decor”) or they’re surfing without a home, you’ll go through this week addresses what you’re keeping and why you’re keeping it.

Collections, whether you think you’re actively growing them or you don’t, are groups of items that have come together, grouped together with purpose. Or not grouped together, but thematic around the home, spread out. Knicknacks, artwork, books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, framed photos, board games, even house plants… they can all be collections that grow over a long period of time. But they take up space and they can be clutter if there’s too much for you to find what you’re looking for.  This week, we’re going to put some of these collections on a diet 😉 

The best collections are curated to contain what you LOVE, USE, and  NEED. Curating lets you analyze what you have and why you have it, and identify the items that aren’t as important or valuable as the rest. Find those items and se them free!

ALSO, take a step back and really look at these rooms… pretend you’re visiting your home as a stranger for the first time. What do you see? How does it make you feel? How do you WANT to feel, and is that different? If you’re craving an airier, simpler feel, how is your stuff getting in the way of that? 

Don’t forget the two 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).

2) Keep up on that BEFORE and AFTER picture taking! I see people saying “Shoot! I forgot to take a before picture” and then they know they’re missing out on expressing to everyone just how tremendous their transformation was. 🙂



So, what are the categories and spaces you might consider this week to tackle? Remember, you don’t need to do ALL of this! I want to give you ideas of where your time might be best spent, based on YOUR needs in YOUR space. Think about what you have, what you know you haven’t looked at in a while or what you know causes some strain on your storage systems. Most importantly, think of who you are, your current and foreseeable lifestyle, and what items just don’t align with that any more (if they ever did)!

While, in general, I want you to tidy up/declutter these spaces and get things back to their homes if they have them (like, the dirty socks on the floor next to the arm chair? Yeah, let’s deal with those), this week is a little more intentional with the analysis and decision making about things that, well, maybe you just don’t pay attention to anymore as they surround you.

This week, we’re talking about collections of stuff that probably started with function — supplies for hobbies, interests, entertainment, education, things that bring you joy, etc. But now, they may not play that role in your life or your family’s life in the same way, and they take up space. Maybe you’ve outgrown the interest or the items themselves, but since they have dedicated space, you’ve let them stay (or haven’t given them real thought). Maybe you’ve found new interests that come with their own equipment and that space would be way more valuable these days.  Whatever your story, there is likely a collection or two or 10 that need attention.

What are some example categories that fit here: 

  • Knicknacks
  • Books
  • CDs/Cassettes/Albums
  • DVDs/VHS
  • Magazines
  • Video Games 
  • Family Games/Puzzles (not *specifically* talking about the kids playroom here)
  • Candles/Flowers/Decorative displays
  • Unique collections on display (dolls, ships, spoons, antique cameras, teacups, family heirlooms, crystal containers, sports memorabilia, etc.)
  • Framed Photos or mementoes
  • Artwork (hanging or surface/shelving – from fine art to the LEGO pirate ship and the handpainted pottery from that birthday party)
  • Electronic equipment (video, stereo, gaming, etc.)
  • Decorative Pillows and blankets
  • Accent Furniture (tables, lamps, etc.)

And I’m probably not naming the one that is in YOUR home that you know needs some pruning, if not outright eviction. 

BY THE WAY: Take a peek at some of the “collections” for future weeks and see if they actually fit better for your focus this week and you want to tackle them now: 

Week 7 – Feb 14: Kid stuff / Holiday Decor / Gift Wrap and Cards / Pet stuff 
Week 11 – Mar 14: Hobbies / Arts and Crafts / Sporting Goods and Exercise Equipment


Remember, you’re making decisions based on the value the items play to you in your current and foreseeable future and recognizing that anything else is probably clutter, and clutter is getting in your way of using your home the way you want to. This is why we’re doing this work; to cut down on the cost of clutter in our lives. 


Each week, we have 3 levels for you to engage in. Pick the one that feels like it will work with your time, energy, and needs for the week. You can always rally later in the week and do more! If you’re managing your time closely and can’t do a lot in one session, see what you can do in a 20-Minute Attack. Set a timer, stay focused, and see what you can accomplish in less time than it would take to watch a sitcom! And let us know what you path you’re on each week with the hashtag #tackleit and then the week we’re on, for example: #tackleit  #week5

All Aboard (This is the normal challenge level):

MiniChallenge (for people with limited time or energy this week)

LevelUp Challenge (for people with more time, energy, or greater need)


When we get into this space, we can start to see $$$ flash before our eyes — either how much we spent on something, or how much we think we might be able to get for something if we sell it. Both of these can be critical barriers to letting things go and have a true exit, so keep an eye out for those!

Another barrier that can show up?

“Someone else I know will want this”/”I want to keep this in the family”. If this is important to you, make sure that it isn’t a theory, but you have a plan, and it is one with mutual consent. 



What we keep and what we grow in these rooms often build up over years. YEARS. And in some cases, though we’ve stopped adding to them, the collections have built up and we’ve then preserved them, made space for them, and give them a spot of either honor or valuable real estate, even if they’re not an active part of who we are today. Why? I’m going to talk about 3 contributors here (though there are others, I’m sure!)

1) Sometimes, it is about OUR IDENTITY.

When I see people with extensive collections of books, music, movies, etc., I can tell that there has been great sport and pride in what they’ve gathered over time, that sometimes the hunt for the item is more thrilling than the item itself, or maybe they look at the complete set of what they own and think “I am proud to share with others my accomplishment of collection” here. They may say, “We listen to these CDs and Albums” or “We watch these movies”, or “I reread books sometimes”, but that is actually less important to them than “We’ve built this collection and I have a sense of accomplishment for doing so.” The collection and its success is tied to personal identity. Even if they only occasionally listen to a CD or once in a while watch a movie, and they’re not really listening to ALL the CDs or watching ALL the movies or rereading ALL the books, the collection takes up space in their life, physically and emotionally. Individual items become “friends” and beloved, as a set you’d never dream to break up. 


And that can be shattering to challenge. So unless there is some REAL reason to challenge it, like you are moving to a place that just won’t handle the size and girth of a collection, it likely stays, untouched. Identity Unchallenged. 


But what if you also do that “look around” like I suggested, and ask yourself how the space makes you FEEL or how you WANT to feel, and you find yourself coming up with an answer that gives you some cognitive dissonance? “I wish we had more room in this space” or “It always looks like it needs to be cleaned because everything collects so much dust and I hate that” or whatever it is — you start to have your values come into conflict. And this can be a scary place, and an easy one to avoid. 


So, this week, we might be dipping our toe in inviting reflection on Values in Conflict — what’s been important to you in the past and why vs what’s important to you NOW and why, and… where does that mean some difficult choices? 


2) Items were GIFTS, and I should keep them, right? 
When someone learns we enjoy a category or collect things, we become instantly easier to buy gifts for. “Oh! Kathy loves sea turtles, and I just saw this cute sea turtle and it made me think of her so I am buying it and giving it to her!” Or, “It’s Kathy’s birthday and she loves a good non-fiction book about organizing; I’ll get her that.” And then we have collections of items we haven’t selected for ourselves, and maybe never would, but, here we are. AND in comes the guilt. We’ve talked about guilt a few times and this one is no different: We can love the person without keeping the thing to prove it. Let’s keep trying that on for size as we find ourselves in that storm of emotion as we’re trying to improve our space to our own dreams, not to the dreams of others. 

3) Speak of dreams of others, the collection isn’t *mine* it’s my spouse’s/child’s/etc.
The thing about the Living Room spaces / Common areas is that it is probably shared space — for how we live, how we spend our time together, and what we keep in it and display throughout it. YOU might be toooootally over your child’s LEGO kit collection on display or your partners glory-day memorabilia on display from an athletic victory 40 years ago. How do you negotiate “COMMON” and “But that’s not what I would pick out if I had total say on this space?” 

I don’t have an answer for you; my point here is about highlighting a “Why is this so hard” touchpoint. But if this *is* you, recognize that there may be more here than just “i don’t like the look of those trophies” that is getting in your way of appreciating life in this space. Sometimes, it’s not about the stuff. Check in with yourself to see if that’s afoot here. (PS — maybe someone else in the house has an opinion about YOUR stuff too? Oops.) 


    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.








    There can be more emotion in this week’s Challenge than we’re used to. Consider it a warm up for the weeks ahead with challenging decisions around categories like kids stuff, holiday decor, hobbies, paperwork, and memorabilia. You’re ready for this! 


     Happy Organizing!










    WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9  – 12:00pm Eastern




    missed the last one? Click here.  







    Week 1 – Jan 3: Kitchen: Food – Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
    Week 2 – Jan 10: Kitchen/Dining: What we use to prep, cook, serve, eat, store, and clean after eating! 
    Week 3 – Jan 17: Bath and Bed: Medicines, Toiletries, Cosmetics, Personal Items, etc. 
    Week 4 – Jan 24: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
    Week 5 – Jan 31: Clothes, shoes, accessories
    Week 6 – Feb 7: Living / Family Room spaces
    Week 7 – Feb 14: Kid stuff / Holiday Decor / Pet stuff (Choose Your Own Adventure)
    Week 8 – Feb 21: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
    Week 9 – Feb 28: Memorabilia
    Week 10 – Mar 7: Home Office/Papers
    Week 11 – Mar 14: Hobbies / Arts and Crafts / Sporting Goods