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Got clutter?

Already broken that New Year's resolution to stop eating leftover holiday cookies and hit the gym at least four times a week?

There's an actual achievable resolution that's likely to make 2008 more manageable and pleasant, and who knows, might just spur you on to tackle those other priorities like getting in shape.

Here it is: this is the year you resolve to rid your home of clutter. It may not be as satisfying as slipping into jeans two sizes smaller, or being able to take the stairs two at a time without losing your breath, but as they say, a clean house is a happy house.

For those of us that deal with excessively hoarded items by shoving them into closets and forcing the door closed, or by purchasing stacking bins and then filling them so full, the tops don't fit and the bins won't stack, there's clutter-free hope on the horizon.

Erin Ritchie of Ballston Spa has made a business out of being a personal trainer for the organationally impaired. Three years ago, she launched Cinderella's Services, as a professional organizer and cleaner. Her first step was putting her college degree in psychology to good use, ferreting out why so many of us surround ourselves with so many earthly possessions.

There are lots of strictly cleaning services out there, so I had to find something to set myself apart, said Ritchie. "What I did was get to the root of the problem, why there is clutter, why people become so attached to things."

Ritchie found out the most people hold onto items for the sake of memories, but if you can't remember where you keep those sentimental mementos, what's the point?

"People have a hard time parting with things, but if they're buried under bags and boxes, it can't be that important," said Ritchie. "If you have that memory in your heart, it doesn't fade, and you don't need 50 pictures of one event, or a bag of baby clothes. Make a collage out of some of the photos, and a quilt or tapestry out of the clothing, then toss the rest."

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