Got clutter?

As with any change in habits, people need to take small steps that will eventually add up.

"Whittle clutter down gradually, start with one drawer or one closet so you can see your progress right away," said Ritchie. "If you take on too much, you'll get overwhelmed and just abandon the project."

Ritchie has worked with clients ranging from empty nesters downsizing, to people wanting to turn bedrooms into a usable office, to people with a home office that has morphed into a storage room.

"I worked with an older woman who kept magazines and newspapers from 10 years ago, and she just would not part with them," said Ritchie. "The first six times I went there, we didn't make a dent. I had to reason with her to get through to her she could let go and not lose anything special."

Closets are one area that make Ritchie dive right in.

"Here's the rule: every time you buy a new item of clothing, you need to toss one out," said Ritchie. "If you haven't worn it in two years, you're not going to pull it out now, and it's probably not a classic item."

Ritchie also recommends you toss out all your fix-it projects now covered in dust.

"Anything that's broken that you haven't fixed immediately, you're just not going to fix," said Ritchie. "Don't keep a puzzle with two pieces missing. It just doesn't make sense."

Once those books, pots and pans, baby furniture and stone-washed jeans are sorted and ready to go, keep in mind one person's trash is another's treasure.

"You can sell almost anything on eBay," said Ritchie.

Erika Hickey of Ballston Spa called Ritchie to enlist her clutter-clearing services at her previous home where she ran a children's daycare.

With children of her own, Hickey said she had accumulated a large assortment of toys.

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