If you’re stressed out over all your junk piles, well, join the club: A recent UCLA study finds that American homes are packed, and women in particular experience a spike in stress hormones when faced with this household clutter.
To take back control, professional organizer Julie Morgenstern advises tackling your home by category (those endless piles of paper, kids’ toys) rather than room by room. Before you start, ask yourself: If all these items were gone tomorrow, what would I miss?
“The answers are usually a short list, from the specific (birth certificate) to the general (notes from friends),” Morgenstern says. Write your resulting no-toss list on a Post-it and use it as a guideline to what stays and what must go.