2013. Life. Everyone is busy. Working long hours, spending time with family and friends on the weekends. You may ask yourself over and over, "when will I ever have the time to get organized?" How many New Year's resolutions have you made over the years that included some form of getting organized?
Being organized is a state of mind, it is a journey, and requires almost as much discipline as living a healthy lifestyle. Don't fret! There is hope!
Did you know that it does not make you a bad person because you have some clutter here and there in your space? You are not alone. Most of our fellow neighbors, co-workers and relatives are drowning in clutter, and do not know what to do to change it. It is possible to create a clean and clutter free environment in your home or your office!
Here is the rough part. Getting your home or office in order means committing to the task of throwing stuff out! Yes, as in into the garbage or recycle bin or donate it, and keeping your load light.
Most of us tend to save too many mementos, magazines, newpapers, and other useless items. How do you know when it's time to part with some of the more useful clutter like bills, clothes and medicines? Here are some tips for every room in the house, to get you on your way to an organized and clutter-free you!
Coming Out of the Closet: Do you have a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear? "Most of us wear 20% of our clothes about 80% of the time," says Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. To decide if an item is worth keeping, ask yourself these questions: Is it still in style? Does it fit? Have I worn this in the last year? If you answered no to any of these questions, it's time to donate it to the garbage or to charity. Remember, if it's still in good condition, you can donate it to Dress For Success or to the Salvation Army and get a tax receipt! If your closets are really bulging, you can create more space with the one-in two-out rule: If you want to buy a pair of new pants, find two pairs of pants in your closet you can get rid of. Another tip for small closets is to rotate clothes seasonally, keeping out-of-season clothing in storage bins out of site. If clothing needs repair or cleaning, make sure its worth the cost. If not, throw it out! This also goes for pantry closets, and storage closets. Make sure every item is useful. Also, consult your favorite clutter reduction or organizing professional to make sure your closet system supports you and your lifestyle! I would love to look inside of Carson Kressley's closet!
A View from the Bedroom: A chronic stiff back or sniffles in the morning may mean it's time to replace your bedding. Pillows should be replaced at least every two years. Dust mites that live in them cause allergies and the interior materials start to break down giving your head and neck less support. Mattresses should be replaced every 8 to 10 years, more frequently if you are doing more than just sleeping in your bed! Wash your mattress pad every other time you change your sheets. Place freshly washed sheets on your bed at least once a week! To create more storage space, you only need to have 2 sets of sheets for each bed in your home. A comfortable, healthy bed is the best place to be!
Kid's Room: How many parents would rather just close the door, then to have to think about what is going on in the kid's room? For small children, make sure you have enough real estate in the room before you purchase any large toys or games. Storage usually is at a premium in a kid's room. Only hold onto clothes that fit them now, and clothes for the coming season. Donate items as they no longer become useful. Kids outgrown toys and clothes very quickly. There are lots of resale shops for gently used children's items. For teens, have you updated the room to reflect the current needs of the child? Holding onto things that the kid is not interested in will only create resistance when it comes time to maintain for cleanliness and tidiness. Involve your teen in letting them design their space, and then let them earn the money to create the change. It is easier to keep their room clean when they feel a sense of pride and ownership.
Someone's in the Kitchen with JP: Freezing food can really cut down on your shopping and cooking time, but it does not make food last forever. Uncooked meats and chicken can be stored in the freezer as long as 6 months, fish up to 3 months. Fresh fruits and veggies can last as long as 12 months. Mark each item with the date you froze it, and clean out expired items from freezer and cabinets regularly. To keep drawers and cabinets neat, organize like items together for easy access. Throw out all gadgets, appliances or accessories that you haven't used, or pass them along to a friend or relative. Also, eliminate anything that is broken, or was handed down to you that you are not using. The person who gave it to you wants you to be happy, and would love to see you enjoying your new ergonomic kitchen!
Bathroom Dilemna: It's easy to forget that items in your bathroom can spoil. Prescription and over the counter medications and vitamins are always marked with expiration dates. Take inventory every six months, replacing anything that's expired. Cosmetics are rarely marked with freshness dates, but most blushes and powders have a 2 to 3 year shelf life, while cream and liquid makeup only about one year. Eye makeups should be tossed every 6 months, mascara every 3 months. Again, group like things together for easy access and quicker primping in the morning! Is your linen closet bulging with towels? You need 2 or 3 towels per person in your household. I recommend using the best towels you can afford. I get mine on sale at Marshalls, TJ Max or Macy's. If you buy white or beige, they can be bleached, and always look fresh. Colored towels show their age and wear more quickly than their pure white cousins. As you replace towels, keep the old one and cut it up into smaller pieces and use as rags in the kitchen or garage! Reuse, recycle!
The Office: Keeping proper financial documents is important, but don't hold onto everything because you think you'll need it! Once you get your end of year statement, it's OK to get rid of bank statements, pay stubs and such. Household bills and credit card statements can be tossed after one or 2 years. There are some papers you should hold onto for the long haul, 7 years for tax documents, and receipts for large purchases like furniture and appliances should be placed in a file for insurance or replacement purposes or proof of value. Records from home buying and selling and renovations should be kept indefinitely. My friends Andy and Michelle recently purchased their first home, and the owner handed them an envelope with receipts and owners manuals for every appliance and electronic item in the house. Now that's organized!
Purging your home in one fell swoop can be nerve-wracking, especially for those with pack-rat tendencies. Set small goals like keeping kitchen and bathroom counters clutter free and organized for one month, and move on to the next project. Clean bathrooms and do laundry before things pile up. It is no fun to spend all day Saturday cleaning up! It's important to keep purging on a daily or weekly basis. You will find your head is clearer when your environment is clean, neat and organized! It makes you feel empowered and more in control.
Please feel free to share your favorite tips here as well! Happy Organizing!