Who can’t remember the command “clean up your room?” Parents today still chastise their kids and dream of an orderly home. But who motivates the adults to clean up their act? Professional organizers, that’s who. Read on for some good advice on how to clear the clutter.
The truth is that most of us have accumulated so much “stuff” that it’s pouring out of closets, piled up on counters, and creating mountains in the garage. Does this sound familiar? There are a number of ways to get and stay motivated—and contain your inner hoarder in order to create clean, peaceful spaces. Miriam Ortiz Y Pino, owner of More Than Organized located in Albuquerque, says that clutter is really the end result of unmade decisions. “For lasting change to happen you need to change your habit – or develop a new one.”
Committing to the process is the first step. Santa Fe-based professional organizer Candis McKinzie encourages her clients to make a weekly appointment with themselves, either an entire day or a few hours of a day. “Then you have a dedicated appointment to tackle the job.” She explains that becoming organized can be a difficult process at first but gets easier as time goes on. “The end result will be a wonderful feeling of lightness and well-being. That’s a fact.”
According to McKinzie for a full-house reorganization you should do one room at a time. “Don’t try to tackle the entire home, you may get overwhelmed and get defeated.” Instead pick the worst room in the house. “So that when you finish it you will feel accomplished and know the worst part is over.”
Next McKinzie advises looking past the clutter and figuring out how to best utilize the space. For instance, can you install built-in shelving, or tuck storage boxes into, under, or behind the existing room décor? “And always consider ways to go vertical,” she adds.
Get yourself some large trash bags as you work to clear the clutter. If you have items that you haven’t worn, used, or thought about in a year, it’s time for them to go. Designate one bag for actual trash, the other for items to be donated or given away. “This is really the hard work,” says McKinzie. She says that it helps when she explains to people that the items they give away will get a new productive purpose. Also, once the items are sorted, no going back through the bags—trash goes out to the curb or dump and donations get put into the car and taken away.
Once the room is cleaned out, take inventory of what is left and figure out a storage plan. For instance, if you are working on a clothing closet, figure out how many purses, shoes, scarves, and belts you are going to store and visualize how many storage containers you will need. Write it down. Stick to your plan when you purchase or re-purpose containers and baskets for those items. Then finish the job properly.
Although this is down the list, step six could be the most important lesson of all. “Create a place for something and always put in back in its place. This will take seconds once you develop the habit and save hours,” says McKinzie. Organizer Ortiz Y Pino advises using an alert system to help develop a good organization habit. “Use an alert to remind yourself daily that it is time to reset a space you have decluttered, until it becomes a habit to return items to where you decided they will live.”
Quick Tips and Tricks
- Contain the mess with baskets and storage containers. They can be stylish or utilitarian, whatever floats your boat.
- Avoid the mail trap. Put two baskets wherever you drop your mail—one for bills, one for everything else. Then go through this stacks several times a week to purge and handle.
- For kids’ toys—choose big baskets and trunks, opt for safe lids that won’t scrunch little fingers. Use the storage process as a teaching moment for kiddos.
- Consider ways to expand and conceal. For instance, ottomans and tables with hidden storage and expandable racks are ideal.
- Not sure if an item is necessary? Track how much you use it. Put a date on a sticker and take off when you use. It you still see a sticker after a year, it’s time to let it go.
- Collect frequently used info and like school menus, emergency contacts, etc. and put them into a binder that is centrally located. And Put instruction manuals and warranties into another binder.
- Make finding sheet sets a snap – tie ribbons around sets and stack them in the linen closet.
- Compile all batteries into one space. You can purchase a battery rack organizer at the container store that holds batteries from AAAs to nine-volts and comes with a tester.
- Use a pegboard to tidy up mess in the garage—great for gardening equipment. And use wall-mounted hanging racks for large items.
Getting organized is a process and a philosophy to embrace. Experts say it gets easier with time and ultimately leads to a more calm home and more calm life. And with fall on the way, there will be plenty of cool days to tackle projects, room by room, and be super organized by the time the holidays roll around.