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March 8 is National Organize Your Home Office Day, and the third week of March is National Clutter Awareness Week.
Louella Yakel refers to herself as “The De-clutter Gal,” as she has a business that specializing in helping others de-clutter their homes, thereby their environment and their lives.
“I think I was born with the organizing gene,” she said. “I can remember as a little girl cleaning out the desk drawers for my dad. He really appreciated it.”
Moving on from her dad’s desk, she has actually been de-cluttering and organizing for family, friends and employers for more than 30 years.
In her de-cluttering experiences, she admits people will sometimes say, “Oh, don’t throw that away.”
She doesn’t throw things away, nor does she pressure them to. She supports them and helps them through the decisions of what to keep and what not to keep.
“That is common,” she said. “You might say there are two kinds of clutter – there is lazy clutter and there is sentimental clutter.
“Lazy clutter is the easy stuff, because that is surface clutter, because those are things that have accumulated over time, because those are things that you have neglected to put away.
“We don’t recycle the newspapers and they pile up, or we don’t open the junk mail and it piles up. So a lot of the lazy clutter is stuff that isn’t important and can easily be taken out of the home, and you won’t miss it,” she said.
“But the sentimental clutter takes a little more thought,” she said. “A lot of times, it’s easy to get confused with sentimental clutter, because those are things that remind you of the past or things that you think you might need in the future; it’s not really things that help you focus on the present.
“So, when you are going through it, you have to go through that whole scenario of realizing, ‘Will I really use it later?’ and ‘What would be the worst that could happen if I get rid of it and then a month or a year later down the line I think I need it, how disappointed would I be ?’”
Yakel suggests thinking a sentimental thing through, and possibly just taking a picture of it instead of keeping a whole box of stuff.
“Last year, I started thinking about doing this as a profession. I did a couple of pretty big jobs last year to see if I would really like to do this, and I did,” she said. “It was quite interesting, the process of helping someone think through whether they really needed to keep some of it or keep all of it.”
An added incentive for de-cluttering is making extra money by having a yard sale with items not needed, such as craft items, or simply donating the excess items not needed, such as household items or clothing, for others who need and can use it. Some donations can even be taken as tax-deductions while helping others.
Sorting out can also result in freeing up space in closets and cabinets. You may not really need a larger house, just freed-up space, Yakel said.
“And you pare down to the things that are really treasures. People find things they haven’t seen in years – it’s like buried treasure,” Yakel said. “I’m kind of like a coach, to keep people motivated, to work through the process, because it can be very tiring and also very emotionally tiring in thinking about the sentimental clutter and memories.”
Her services include guiding people through sorting and de-cluttering, helping to reorganize, organize and preserve family history (photographs, documents, etc.) and also to organize personal financial records, with temporarily or on an ongoing basis. The goal is to simplify the lives of her clients
Yakel is well prepared for her business in understanding and helping people. She holds a degree in sociology and a bachelor’s degree in education, and she has taken a time management class and workshops. She has experience in setting up and organizing offices.
There are also safety considerations to be considered in de-cluttering the home. “Tripping and fires are two of the biggest causes of injury and death in the home,” Yakel said. “Also, there are health issues, such as air quality, asthma, etc. Clutter is a breeding ground for bacteria. Also, it takes about 40 percent longer to clean a cluttered home, and it takes longer to find something in a cluttered home,” she said.
Yakel, a native of Brownstown, is the daughter of the late Charles and Marilyn Yakel. She lives with her mother in Brownstown.
“I’ve started this business because I love to help people sort through and take control of their stuff … and the de-clutter and organizing gene is just there,” she said.
For more information you can visit the website www.de-cluttergal.com or call 315-8020.