Spotlight on Jessica from
“It’s Not About Your Stuff”

We’re excited to announce our new monthly column Ask the Organizer by professional organizer Jessica Duquette.

To kick-off the new column, we’re putting Jessica in the Spotlight.

But, before we begin our interview with Jessica, I’m going to back track a little here…

A few months ago I decided to take back my life. The clutter in my house was destroying me. The mess that I kept procrastinating over grew daily, stressing me out and stripping me of my self worth. “What kind of a person am I that I can’t cope with my own stuff?” I would berate myself.

Now the main “reason” my house was a mess was that I was busy! I had started this blog on top of all the demands of our business. I was over stretched and my house took the fall.

But deep down there was more going on. With each mess that I failed to deal with, my self esteem took a hit and I grew more depressed.

I would see a mess on the floor — which would not even take ten minutes to tidy — but I would step over it. I had given up on myself.

Now I absolutely hate germs. So my house was not dirty. But piles of clutter were taking over the house.

So lying in bed one night, overwhelmed but desperate for relief, I thought of an idea — Tackle It Tuesday! Every week I would conquer one project until I had control over my life again.

It has worked! My house looks so much better and I am empowered. Each week other bloggers and I celebrate our achievements and cheer one another on.

The accountability and camaraderie is powerful and knowing that there are other women out there working “alongside” me boosts my spirit and makes the project fun!

And the news spread.

Professional Organizer Jessica Duquette discovered Tackle It Tuesday and loved it!

She suggested that all you dedicated “Tacklers” might enjoy a monthly “Ask the Organizer” column where she can share her expertise.

Jessica has already been tackling alongside us on her blog, but now she will be answering your organizing questions in our new monthly column: “Ask the Organizer”. You can send in your questions and use her expertise to equip you as you tackle!

Jessica Duquette - Professional OrganizerIntroducing Jessica Duquette:

Janice: Hi Jessica, I am thrilled to have you joining our team here at “5 Minutes for Mom”.

We are honored to have you Tackling with us and so grateful for the help you will be bringing us with your monthly column.

Jessica: Hi Janice, I am thrilled as well to be answering organizing questions for your readers! I just want to warn them, though, that I tell it like I see it, so if you ask, be prepared to hear something that might shift you out of your comfort zone (that’s a good thing, in my book!)

Janice: Jessica, when did you start organizing and why are you are so passionate about it?

Jessica: As I mention in my bio on my blog , one of my earliest memories is of my mother, an amazing homemaker, on the floor alongside the housekeeper, scrubbing vigorously to make sure anyone could perform brain surgery on any surface in her house.

My father, on the other hand, was—and still is to this day—let’s just call it “organizationally challenged”, leaving a trail of socks, paperwork and keys in his wake wherever he goes.

Clearly, the influences of my parents combined with my own natural instincts have created the foundation for my life’s work, professional organizing.

The reason I am so passionate about what I do is that I have the deep honor of witnessing people’s journey to freedom. We laugh, we cry, we get mad, we let go and we get free. *sigh*, what a beautiful journey!

It’s not about your stuff, it’s about your choices and your commitment to being a responsible person in every way.

Janice: Most of us with cluttered lives don’t want to be living in a mess. In fact, we are often desperate to get out.

What do you believe is the main roadblock that is trapping people in chaos?

Jessica: I feel that for most people the roadblock is multi-dimensional, but there are two main issues at hand.

First, a deep fear of what you will discover hiding beneath the clutter—those unconfronted emotions that keep you stuck, usually a combination of rage, resentment and grief.

The second issue holding you back is feeling unsupported and overwhelmed, not knowing where to begin. We are social creatures and we need the support and guidance of others to tackle the difficult and unpleasant tasks in life, but often we are too proud to ask for help!

Janice: So what is the first step in tackling our clutter?

Jessica: I honestly believe the first step is putting a support system in place and then asking yourself the hard questions: What is my clutter saying to me? Who am I resentful toward? What am I grieving? Until you can answer these questions honestly, you can clean up the mess, but it will always—ALWAYS return. That’s because it’s not about your stuff!

(You can write the answers out, talk them over with a friend or just allow yourself to really feel the response that comes up from within.)

Janice: What is the best hint you can give us as we approach tackling one of these big catch alls in our life?

Jessica: Most people have at least one hotspot, and that is what I call the FFS, the first flat surface in their house when they walk in the door. I encourage my clients to be playful and once they have cleaned off the space, think of it as “hot lava”, you just CAN’T put anything there or it will burn up. Kids love this and delight in pointing out to you that you’ve put your stuff in HOT LAVA!

The best way to clean out anything is to get prepared with grocery bags or empty boxes, clear out the entire space, whether it’s a closet, drawer, garage or cabinet, and then make decisions about every item that goes back in the space.

Use the question “do I LOVE it?” to decide if you should keep something or not. Keep like items with like (all the towels, all the coffee-making supplies, all the coats) together, keep things nearest their point of use (the coffee cups near the coffee maker, the wooden spoons near the stove, the toothpaste in the top drawer, etc) and the things you use the most should be in the most accessible place, the least used items in the harder to reach places, such as upper or bottom shelves.

All the best and I am on your team!

Janice: Thank you so much Jessica for sharing with us and for offering to contribute to “5 Minutes for Mom” with this exciting new column Ask the Organizer.


Now it’s your turn.

Click Here and Submit a Question for Jessica

Here is your chance to get valuable professional help cleaning up your own house and free promotion for your blog. If your question is one of those that Jessica chooses to answer in her column, she’ll link to your blog (if you want).


  1. says

    Great interview! It must be fun to be a pro organizer! I get the FSS thing. I have a very small table, but it always seems to gather stuff. It’s at the top of the stairs as you come in (I live in a high ranch), and it mostly holds things that need to be brought downstairs. Can I tell you how many times I pass that table and don’t pick something up? It’s like it isn’t there. I need to put a pretty cloth over it and a big floral arrangement or something so there’s no room for anything else. I think I’m going to put the lava mindset into action so I always take down at least one or two things.

  2. says

    Great interview! I am printing it out so I can take a closer look. Your point about clutter representing not feeling supported may just have opened the door to a more organized home–for me. It is true; when I look at a cluttered filled room, I WANT to clean it up, but feel fatigued just thinking about it. My motivation is lacking–yes, even in spite of the GREAT Tuesday Tackle It posts I read each week. Quiet thoughts of desperation happen, “must I really do this project ALONE?” I spend so much of my day alone already–it just feels like another isolating event. Maybe I’ll have to find creative ways to get my family to join me! I’ve already tried bribing! My teenage son does a rapid fire pick-up…and then he’s out the door! My husband–well—he’s perfect, except…..!!!! And after all, I’ve been doing this pick-up, organize, sort, clean…..thing for 32 years now–I think I’m a little bored!

    I prefer the more exciting challenge–keeping my blog organized and up- to- date! But–I feel hope!~ After reading the printed pages of this interview….I may actually have a Tackle it Tuesday post next week! Well, maybe the NEXT week–we have a long holiday weekend, don’t we!

    Everyone, have a great holiday!


  3. says

    Oh how wonderful! I can’t wait to read this column! I love love love any anti cluttering tips (I’m actually not a keeper but DH totally is so any advice on how to get him to let go would be GREATLY appreciated!)


  4. says

    Great post! I can’t wait to read your column. I need some serious help. Your point about needing a support system really hit home. I get so overwhelmed with all the paper in my house that I don’t know what to do with it. I try to do some filing, but 5 minutes into it, I’m bored! I’m going to show my husband your post. I often tell him I need help and he says he will, but he doesn’t get around to it. (There might be just a little resentment there on my part.) I think this will be the motivation for him.

    I love the idea about the “Hot Lava”. Our island in the kitchen is always cluttered with stuff. The kids do it too. They love to play hot lava games so I bet I can get their help on this!


  5. says

    AWE*SUM*NESS, Janice! I am really looking forward to those columns! Can’t wait to see what questions the others have for Jessica. Maybe it will prompt a question or two of my own.

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