Ditch the stress
Declutter and organize to make a fresh start this year
By Mary Beth Breckenridge, McClatchy-Tribune News January 27, 2012
Chances are good that decluttering and getting organized was on your list of New Year’s resolutions. Congratulations. At least you were organized enough to make a list. Now you need to keep that promise to yourself.
Instead of rushing out to the store in the first flush of organizing fever, spend some time getting rid of what you don’t need and figuring out how you’re going to use and store the rest. Once you know exactly what you have and what you need, you can buy or make organizing tools that support your system and fit your space.
Clutter results from indecision and indecision results from not having thought through how to handle the stuff that’s an inevitable part of our lives, says Sharon Kreighbaum, author of Is Your House Overweight? Recipes for Low-Fat Rooms. One of the keys to Kreighbaum’s approach is assigning everything a home, which should be where you use the item or where you need it — your purse and cellphone near the door, for instance, and your dishes within reach of the dishwasher.
|If you don't like an item of clothing now,|
chances are you probably won't ever,
so give it away.
Kreighbaum also recommends deciding which activities you want to happen regularly in each room, then keep in it only the items that support those activities. In a kitchen, for example, that might mean putting the everyday items in easy reach, storing seldom-used serving pieces in less accessible spots and finding other homes for backpacks, mail, paperwork and other things that tend to accumulate there.
Organized does not mean neat and tidy, says Chris Perrow of Perrow Systems in Stow, Ohio. Organization, she says, is simply being able to find what you want when you want it.
It’s OK if your receipts are jumbled in a shoebox instead of arranged neatly in folders or your rolls of gift-wrapping ribbon are kept in a plastic bin instead of being threaded onto a hanging rod and grouped by colour. As long as you can find what you need quickly and without a lot of effort, you’re organized.
Try keeping a family binder, suggests organizing guru Deniece Schofield, who’s known for making organization simple and achievable. She recommends getting a three-ring binder to keep all the papers your family needs — things like sports schedules, school calendars and committee rosters.
Use dividers to sort the papers into categories and consider investing in a box of plastic sheet protectors to hold the papers so you don’t have to drag out the paper punch every time you want to add something to the binder. A few business-card sleeves to hold the cards of contractors and service providers you use can save untold time and aggravation.
If you use a desktop file system to organize the papers you use often, choose one that holds the file folders vertically rather than horizontally. You’d be surprised how much more likely you are to put papers into their proper place if you can just drop them into the top of a folder rather than taking out the folder, opening it and putting it back.
|Recycle storage containers missing a lid or|
Photograph by: KAREN SCHIELY, MCT
Know the difference between needs and wants, says author and organizer Jennifer Lovins. Whenever you see something you’re tempted to buy, ask yourself whether you really need it. If the answer is no, think twice about how badly you really want it. No matter how organized you are, too much stuff will weigh you down and make you feel stressed, says Mandi Ehman, co-author of All in Good Time: When to Save, Stock Up, and Schedule Everything for Your Home.
Since decluttering can be overwhelming, Ehman and co-author Tara Kuczykowski recommend starting small.
“You don’t have to declutter the whole house tomorrow,” says Ehman.
“Set a timed goal of maybe 15 minutes a day and fill just one box with things to throw away or give away. Or you can set a goal of giving away three things a day. Once you start decluttering it’s an addictive kind of thing.”
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