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Decluttering expert offers advice on how to stay organized

January is National Get Organized Month and Tracy McCubbin, decluttering expert and author, says that small changes can lead to big results that stick.

AUSTIN, Texas — After the holidays, people may want to get reorganized and start the new year off on a clean note. But despite people's best intentions, most may be overwhelmed by their clutter and don’t know what to do with it. 

January is known as National Get Organized Month and Tracy McCubbin, a decluttering expert and author, says that small changes are vital to making big results that stick. 

One of the things that McCubbin tells people that want to be a "Weekend Warrior," or someone who gets all of their chores and tasks done over the weekend, is that you have to make it a regular practice. If you can make decluttering a regular weekly or biweekly practice, you're going to stay ahead of it. 

"A great thing I tell people is if it takes you more than 20 minutes to tidy up a room and get it back to the way you're looking, the way you like it to look, that means the clutter has gotten the upper hand," she said. "So that's a great way to know if you're like, 'It's taking me an hour to do this,' I'm like, 'Maybe you need to look at your clutter.'"

In McCubbin's new book, "Make Space for Happiness: How to Stop Attracting Clutter and Start Magnetizing the Life You Want," she introduces readers to the seven "clutter magnets," which are mind traps that convince us that happiness is just another new blouse or two-for-one sale away.

"I imagine there's a little piece of us that we think is missing. So maybe our self-confidence isn't as strong as it normally is, or we don't feel connected to our friends or feeling kind of lonely, and we think that the shopping is going to give all of that. So if I buy enough moisturizer and serums and all of this, I'm going to feel great about myself. Or if I go and chat with somebody working in a store, I'm going to feel connected. What I'm saying is, let's look for building that part of ourselves up without the shopping," McCubbin said.

The decluttering expert also offered advice for the next time you're shopping for an item and you say to yourself that you "need" it.

"When you're buying, I want you to stop saying 'I need.' 'I need a blue new blouse' or 'I need a new pair of shoes.' Chances are, you don't. You just want it. So if you swap those words and say, 'I want a new blow dryer,' it takes the power away from from the purchase," McCubbin said.

For those who find themselves over-shopping, the simple change of swapping out "I need" for "I want" can quickly change your behavior when it comes to making purchases. 

"I'm a big fan of keeping as much out of the landfill as possible. So, donating. If it's hard for you to let go sometimes, if you're giving it to someone you know or a smaller nonprofit that really needs it, it makes it easier because then you feel like you're really making a difference," McCubbin said.

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