Let me start by saying I have read a half dozen or more full books on organizing and decluttering. Some are still cluttering my home, though I suspect they are in storage now. I also read post after post on organization and decluttering plus tips from Lifehacker and articles in magazines like Good Housekeeping and Real Simple. I watch shows like Clean Sweep and Mission: Organization. Sometimes I even put things into action, but after a few weeks (or even days), I slip back into my clutter groove.
I have a great piece of advice posted over what used to be my computer desk and is now my sewing table:
"Don't ask Where can I put this? -- ask Where can I find this?"
It sounds really stupid on the surface but I now ask myself this question almost every time I file something. When I remember to file things, it makes finding them very easy. Unfortunately, I usually have a very big stack (or worse, several stacks) of "to be filed" paperwork.
I've thought of hiring someone else to come in and just deal with stuff but even asking Hubby for help is hard -- he (or they) might throw out something that means something to me. And that's the rub because how can something buried be meaningful? Still, I watch Clean Sweep with a creepy feeling in the pit of my stomach because I know I would fight to the death over some things that "experts" would pitch in an instant.
Thinking "Do I really need this?" works for a while but it also really slows the process because at some point I get to something that spins me into an internal dialog. I am much faster when I turn off the brain and just follow some rules or a decision flowchart.
Ultimately, I face the same challenges with decluttering as I do with losing weight. I know how to do both, I just suck at the follow through. Sigh. So, if you followed the title thinking I was going to tell you all the answers I'm sorry to disappoint you. Still, give that Good Housekeeping link a shot -- it's full of good "turn your brain off" rules to follow through and get some results.