6 Steps to Avoiding a “Clutter Emergency”

Spoiler Alert: I don’t save lives. I don’t save whales. I don’t even save plastic bags. (Don’t judge!) BUT… If you have a clutter emergency, I’m the woman to call.

The idea of a clutter emergency comes from one of my Nashville clients. She told me she needed me to come over ASAP but didn’t want to go so far as to call it a “clutter emergency.” I thought this was cute and it became an ongoing joke between us, but it also got me to thinking about what I do for a living and the importance of organizing.

My old business was called Yikes Organizing and my tagline was Lose the Clutter, Not Your Mind. Now that we are full-time RVing, I changed the name to better reflect our new lifestyle (Organized Kamper) but the tagline is still the same.

While this was meant to be tongue in cheek, there is more than a kernel of truth there. In fact, experts are now saying that hoarders have a psychological disorder. But that’s a blog for another day. This one is about people who have let everyday clutter get the best of them.

Like any other issue, it doesn’t start out a big deal, but, if left unchecked, can get to the point where it has a life of its own. (Think of your clutter problem as a small cavity. If you deal with it before it gets too big, it’s not that painful. But if you ignore it and act like it will just go away on its own, at some point you are going to be in for a world of hurt.)

So how do you get things back under control when a clutter emergency strikes?

First, let me back up a second.

If you live in a home, the clutter may be confined to one or two areas, perhaps a garage, a spare bedroom or your dining room table. But when you live in an RV, if you have a jacket on the sofa and several dishes in the sink, it may feel like a clutter emergency in the making. Thus, the first thing you need to do is decide what I’m calling your clutter comfort level.

There are entire books devoted to this topic and some say that in order to be creative, you need a bit of chaos. I actually agree with this to some extent, but if you live in 300 square feet, there’s less latitude. So, the first thing you need to decide is what level of chaos/disorder/clutter is acceptable.

  • Access current clutter level and if it is making you stressed. If it isn’t, you don’t need to be reading this so have a great day! If it is, then…
  • Take a realistic look at what is causing the clutter. Think over these possible reasons as you go through the rest of the steps.

a. Is it because you have too much of the same thing?
b. Is it because you don’t have good storage options for the things you have?
c. Is it because you aren’t storing what you have in the right place?
d. Or…is it because you aren’t storing things in the most efficient manner?

In most situations I dealt with as a Certified Professional Organizer, it was a combination of things but I would always ask the client or clients where they wanted to start. If the whole house was a “disaster” (their words not mine) we could either start with the area that was bothering them the most or a smaller area that I knew we could conquer in one session. If they were nervous and overwhelmed, we might start with a small area to build up their confidence.


  • Start sorting the objects in the area you are working by functionality.
  • Weed out the things you don’t need or have duplicates of and put in a donation pile.  If you have things that you want but don’t belong where you have them, take them to the new location.
  • AFTER you decide both what you are keeping and that this is the best location for them, then and only then do you get to buy cute little containers and bins.

This is NOT the first step in the process and don’t forget that many times you can re-purpose something from somewhere else in your camper. If you don’t have the correct size container, research online and order what you need. It’s better to do some research (including measurements) on the front end so you know what you get will work.

  • Repeat this process in each area that needs help. Don’t tell yourself that your goal is to get your whole RV organized in a day because that’s not very likely to happen. But you can tackle one area a day.

I have simplified the process a bit, but most people had an understanding at some level of what needed to happen. They just needed encouragement and accountability to make it happen.

I will say one thing.

One hundred percent of the people I worked with over the five-year period in Nashville said that they felt “lighter” or “less stressed” or “freer” or some such adjective after getting organized. I wondered if this feeling would hold true for RVers and the answer is a resounding yes.

In fact, it might be even more important since you don’t have those areas like the garage or extra bedroom to fall back on. Getting organized will make your life better. I guarantee it!