Conquer Clutter: One Week to Organization

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At my age (43 and counting), I’ve finally realized I can tackle any task if I break it down into bite-sized pieces. “Divide and Conquer” is my new mantra this year.  For example, I’ve divided my workout into body parts. Today is “Arm” day, tomorrow, “Chest and Back’ and so on.  Breaking down seemingly big chores into smaller tasks makes me smile.

Looking for ideas, I read a fantastic post on Ziploc®’s  180 Fresh Feats.  “Conquer Clutter – One Week to Organization” Not one hour, not one day… one week. This I can do!

Day #1 – Live in Your Living Room

That amazing space in your home that has to be everything to everybody – a place to rest, relax, do homework, nap, entertain guests, mobile workspace, eating and drinking. Whew! It’s no wonder my clients stress about the living room and its function and design.  We spend so much time and money to make it lovely, yet the piles make it ugly.  Utilize your lovely accessories by making sure their function remains. Put magazines on a tray so they can easily be moved out of the way.  Pick up the best looking tray table you can find to hold drinks and laptops close while you free up ottoman and coffee table space.

Day #2 – Dump the Dump Drawer

We all have that one drawer that is the catchall for all things small.  I dread rummaging through that little drawer, knowing I risk injury looking like a dog trying to find his bone in the backyard.  Literally dumping out that drawer feels amazing. Throw away what you don’t need, and neatly store goodies in Ziploc® snack bags for easy location. Say goodbye to lost treasures, loose change, and dark corners hiding your “bones.”

Day #3 – Get Your Utensils Under Control

I am lucky I have big utensil drawers. Unfortunately, the bigger the drawer, the bigger the mess. (It’s like having a big purse; just a bigger space to fill up with stuff.) Searching for the apple corer, measuring spoons and that one special pizza cutter quickly turned our drawer into a jumbled mess.  A large, plastic, washable utensil organizer and a few Ziploc® sandwich and quart-sized bags and my drawer looks amazing. Simply group like items, bag rarely used items, sort the small stuff and your drawers will be manageable, no matter the size, in no time.

Day #4 – Bring Serenity to the Bedroom

I am one of those people who like to “zone out” at night, so the television in the bedroom is a good thing for my husband and me. We check out, watch something funny or educational, cuddle and call it a night.  What we don’t enjoy is clutter stacked next to the bed or electronics that carry my work. Using design psychology, it’s important that you don’t bring work into the bedroom.  Keep your nightstand clear of those things that cause stress. A relaxing book, room scents, fragranced pillow sprays, and candles set a better tone for zoning out. Remove the items that make your mind spin and add back in the things that pause the day.

Day #5 – Make Space at the Work Place

If you look at your desk and can’t immediately identify what needs to be done, a space to do it in or the items you need to get it done – you won’t do it! We like ease, stress-free and effortless tasks.  Even if our work is stressful, we must be able to start the task, or we simply won’t attempt yet alone complete the task.  Be sure your favorite work space is conducive to work. Make room for your laptop or notebook and make sure you don’t have too much piled on top of your desk or you will feel overwhelmed.  Allow your immediate workspace to be free of all the other tasks you need to complete; this will help you focus.  If you must keep it all on one surface, a stackable file system works well.

File away what has been done and needs to be kept. And of course, the designer in me advises you make sure it all looks nice, matches your décor and makes you smile.

Day #6 – Manage Your Mementos

So many of us have boxes of keepsakes, mementos and souvenirs. Closets and corners stuffed full of those things we couldn’t possibly throw away. I had the pleasure of starring on a hit TV show called “Clean Sweep,” where we worked through the cluttered rooms of our victims (er, um, I mean clients), helping them “Toss, Keep or Sell” their most precious articles. The show’s mantra was, “If you haven’t seen, worn it, wanted it or needed it in one year… get rid of it!” If you decide to get rid of an item but you’re struggling with the goodbye, make a short video on your smart phone or camera explaining where it came from, why you have it and why you’ve kept it so long. The keepsake will make a fun future movie night and take up way less space.

Day #7 – Buy Some Baskets, Boxes and Bowls

Just like the aforementioned junk drawer we all have a dumping place in our home; it’s the place where everyone in the household dumps their keys, phones, headphones and mail.  Again, as a designer, I strongly advise you get a receptacle, basket, box or bowl to contain the keys, cords and mail in one pretty place.  Make sure it matches your décor and makes you smile.  The better it looks, the more likely you are to keep it and use it.

Not sure what needs to be cleaned? Are you confused as to what looks cluttered in your home?

Reality Exercise:  If I said to you, “I have invited over eight people you’ve never met before…they’ll  be here in one hour!” What would you do first? What surfaces do you clean off first? What items get hidden away? A-ha! Those are the spots and places that need your attention. One day at a time, and it’s OK, you have all week!

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