There's no reason to be surrounded by things that don't work, say professional organizers.
And while January is a big time to reset and recharge, anytime can be good time to get your house -- and your life -- back in order.
So, where to begin? We went to Jocelyn Kenner of See Your Way Clear, a Scarsdale-based professional organizer and White Plains-based Andrea Gary, known as the "Queen of Kerfuffle," for tips.
- Set small goals: Tackling everything all at once can make you crazy -- and possibly make you avoid the organizing process altogether. Both women advise setting achievable goals. That means tackling junk drawers first -- one at a time -- or another do-able space such as a cabinet, before going headfirst into a closet or garage.
- Time yourself: Kenner is big on setting a timer. Start with 15 minutes, she advises. "It not only provides a limit to how long you will organize but also makes it feel like a game. When the timer goes off you can stop or set it for more time." Generally, she said, once you get started and see how good things look and feel, it inspires you to keep going.
- Purge and edit: Buy storage containers so you have a clear spot for everything and know where it's all going. Gary is big into setting up piles: A pile to keep, a pile to donate and a pile for garbage/recycle.
- Label storage containers: This creates an organized system, says Gary.
- Don't use a storage rental space unless you really need it: These can be helpful in certain situations, says Jenner, but it’s best when the rental is a temporary solution and not used as an extension of your home. "Really try to limit yourself to the storage available in your home," she stresses. "Paying for off-site storage is a slippery slope; out of sight means out of mind and it can add up to a considerable amount of money."
- Create a system: And start training your husband/kids/housekeeper/nanny, etc. to follow it. Once you have everything neatly in its place, you don't want to lose your momentum. "Don't let things accumulate," advises Gary. That means paying attention to the little things like putting your coat away at night, throwing out junk mail the minute you get it (or having a place to throw it), reminding your kids to put toys away in proper containers, and so on.
- Hire a professional organizer: An average sized closet requires three to five hours of time to organize; a basement or garage can take five to 15 hours, depending on the size and the amount of accumulated clutter -- and all of this can be overwhelming -- not to mention, emotional. Hiring a professional means getting a blend of support, help and motivation. Check out the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and/or the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD).
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