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Home > Author > Barbara Tako
Barbara Tako

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  Barbara Tako

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Now a melanoma and breast cancer survivor, Barbara Tako is a motivational speaker and published author to help survivors deal with the emotions of a cancer diagnosis and survivorship. She also speaks and write about clutter clearing and home organizing to help people clear clutter to free up time and energy to live their priorities.

Background Information

This is a unique seasonally organized clutter clearing and home organizing book  because we struggle with different kinds of clutter at different times of the year (spring cleaning, fall weeding out, holidays, paper clutter at tax time...) This book, offered by The Underwear Drawer Lady, provides a variety of entertaining and helpful tips for readers to pick and choose from to fit their own unique preferences and styles. There is no single "right way" to clear clutter.

The birth of the underwear drawer lady:

I have had clutter for a long time. If someone had looked in a crystal ball when I was in college and predicted that I would become a clutter clearing expert speaker/author, I probably would have laughed. My roommates back then would have laughed too--in a disbelieving sort of way.

I am not a natural organizer. I was not born “tidy.” I wasn’t really interested in “tidy” or “organized.” Sometimes I lost things. Many times it took too long to find things, and, to top it off, I liked to save things “just in case.” Do you remember the old television series “The Odd Couple?” Oscar was the slob-like messy roommate and Felix was the tidy three-piece-suit neat nick? Well, the best thing I could do was hide stuff when company came over, so people wouldn’t think I was a slob.

Then it happened: I married and discovered my mother-in-law. Yes, this is a mother-in-law story. Back in the 1960’s, my mother-in-law, who raised three boys, was nominated for Suburban Homemaker of the Year of St. Paul, Minnesota. Her home was described as “a model of neatness and comfort.” No kidding. She scared me. At the same time, I learned that because she had less clutter in her life than me, she had time for her priorities—her faith, family, friends, and life. I really admired and appreciated her, and finally I truly understood the benefits of Felix’s tidy behaviors. I wanted less clutter and more time and energy for the priorities in my life too.

Books provide many solutions. I began reading. One day, I looked in my underwear drawer with the new perspectives I had gained from all my reading. What did I see in my underwear drawer? You don’t really want to know. It was a giant mess that looked like it had been stirred together with a big spoon. What was there?

·      The Past--certain frilly items given to me over ten years ago at a bridal shower!

·      A Life Stage--maternity underwear! We are blessed with two wonderful children, and we are not so young any more.

·      Ratty tatty items--stuff your mom would tell you not to wear in case you were in an accident and found yourself at the hospital.

·      And, finally, Guilt--two children and several years later, I wasn’t the same size I used to be, and the, uh, smaller items in my drawer made me feel guilty every day.

Wow! This wasn’t rocket science, I could do this! In ten minutes, I had removed these aspects of my underwear drawer and organized the remainder. I used two cardboard shoeboxes, one for tops and one for bottoms. Magic. The Underwear Drawer Lady was born, and she went on to apply the philosophy of removing things that no longer applied to her life from each drawer of her dresser and ultimately her home!

I began to help friends and ultimately was asked to speak to groups to share my ideas. I wrote a simple living column for several years for the local hometown newspaper. That was a funny story too. They ran an advertisement looking for a cooking columnist (I am not the best cook), and I responded with a sample article for a simple living column that would help readers declutter, organize their home, and simplify their lives. I was lucky the editor decided clutter clearing to free up time and energy for life was as important as cooking.

My writing and speaking expanded. I spoke to business wellness seminars, women’s organizations, and church groups, and they spoke to me. Every time I gave a talk, I learned something from at least one person there. I wrote a book to put all these great ideas together: “Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life” (O Books, Jan., 2010).

I believe that clearing clutter is a win-win-win situation (no, that isn’t a typo). When we clear clutter, we make our homes into relaxing and restoring spaces and free up time and energy for our priorities. We also can donate these items to help our favorite charity and help the recipients of these household goods who may be experiencing tough economic times. Finally, when we donate, we are also living green—we are living responsibly and not contributing to a landfill.

In good time and in difficult times, we can make clutter clearing choices to improve our lives and the lives of the people around us. I wish each of you good luck on your journey.


Birth Place
Waterloo, IA United States

Appeared on television and radio interviews
Featured in the St. Paul Pioneer Press
Published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Featured in the St. Croix Valley Press

Additional Information

Please be sure you and your loved ones are current in your mammograms. I was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago and melanoma a few months ago. It can be emotionally devastating to hear the words "You have cancer." My newest book, Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools offers tools to help survivors and their loved ones cope with the emotional side of a cancer diagnosis.

Contact Information
Clutter Clearing Choices LLC
6825 Jocelyn Road North 
Stillwater MN 55082   United States
Contact Author: Barbara Tako
Favorite Links

Clutter Clearing Choices LLC
Clutter clearing and home organizing tips, information about Barbara's speaking and writing, and FREE monthly clutter clearing tips e-mail newsletter.

Clutter Clearing Choices
Blog about author events, and clutter clearing and home organizing articles. Sign up for FREE monthly clutter clearing tips e-mail newsletter.

Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools - We'll get you through this
Breast cancer and melanoma cancer survivor Barbara Tako shares coping tools to deal with the emotional side of a cancer diagnosis.

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