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About this blog: I developed a special interest in helping seniors with their challenges and transitions when my dad had a stroke and I helped him through all the various stages of downsizing, packing, moving and finding an assisted living communi...  (More)

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De-Cluttering Is Possible: A Firsthand Account

Uploaded: May 25, 2020
Have you ever noticed that often your greatest sense of accomplishment comes from shared success?

T-O-P Move Management Co-Founder & CEO Helen Ingwersen sure did, and as such she created a collaborative experience designed to help individuals reduce their stress by reducing their stuff – together! As a Portola Valley move management professional and member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM)®, Ms. Ingwersen has been supporting families and individuals with relocation, downsizing and organization for years. As a along-standing champion for making transitions easier, she realized that many people desired to simplify their lives as a transition in and of itself - not necessarily in preparation for moving. In response to this need, she created and launched a workshop series titled ‘Declutter & De-Stress’ in late 2019.

Helen shares this story from a workshop participant: Linda D. was one attendee of the workshop series, and she has kindly offered to share her experience below in support of others who may relate to her challenges… and who would love to share in her revelations too! The Backstory: Linda joined the ‘Declutter & De-Stress’ series as someone who “wanted to focus and needed to be held accountable.” As a professional woman in her early 60’s, she was raised among 5 kids in a household that saved everything and lived her life doing the same. Linda’s own collection of items grew to include inheritances from her aunt and parents, as well as items received when helping others downsize. The Challenges Linda shared with us that the amount of stuff she had accumulated over the years had “become way too much.” The hardest part was “admitting there was a problem and then getting started in fixing it.” She and her husband had reached a point where they spent more time looking for things than actually using them. She was more than ready for a change – and discovered that the workshop series provided the methodology, support and deadlines to make it happen. By following the monthly theme of the workshop series, Linda dramatically reduced the number of possessions she had and how she managed new ones coming in. She learned “how important it was to have one place for one category” and loves organizing areas by activity. “I now have zones in my kitchen dedicated for baking, food prep and even my morning coffee; it makes so much sense that my husband knows where to put things away,” Linda reports. Other key takeaways from the sessions included limiting purchases and “letting the stores store the stuff now” and “donating something each time I am given something new.” She also found that less stuff did not mean less enthusiasm; Linda enjoys the things she has more because she can now find them and use them. She is now surrounded by things that she loves, rather than bogged down by things she no longer needs. Linda also points out that she did gain one more thing in the ‘Declutter & De-Stress’ workshop series – a passion for helping others get rid of their stuff too! As someone who has successfully pre-downsized, she enjoys helping others do the same. “If you can make life easier because you want to and not because you have to, why not?” says Linda. It’s hard to argue with that.

If you would like to experience the benefits of less stuff and less stress, T-O-P MoveManagement offers Free workshops via Zoom. Please contact Helen Ingwersen to sign up:

Helen Ingwersen

T-O-P Move Management, LLC
Making Every Transition Easier
Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

Member: National Association of Senior Move Managers
Member: National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals
President: NAPO~SFBA 2012-2013
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Posted by, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 25, 2020 at 11:59 am

Clutter is one of my biggest issues. I pay storage in two states for stuff I never see. And my apartment is a clutter cluster. I'm working on it. And your post helps. I may even get in touch with Helen. Thanks.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 25, 2020 at 1:09 pm

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

Hi Chuck - thanks for your comment. You are so right - it's really hard to do by yourself. When we first moved to PA from the Boston area I rented a large storage unit for a pretty high rent because we rented an apt that had no garage or storage space. I finally figured out it made more sense to rent a house with a garage with the money saved from not needing the storage unit. But I was still dragging around boxes of stuff we never really needed again. We are going through our garage right now during this SIP period and could sure use someone like Helen's help. I'm planning to call her myself. I know she belongs to a national org of downsizers who could possibly help you get rid of the stuff you are paying to store out of state. I'm also getting pretty good at selling stuff on eBay from my garage. Good luck.

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