by Steve Adams, Home Organizer, Marin, Walnut Creek, San Francisco and Oakland
Group It Together: Take like objects and group them together to create a more powerful visual impact rather than spread them throughout a space. Collect family photos and group them on a wall or on a table top and watch how each one empowers the other as they interact and relate to the other. Or take a collection of, say, Buddha heads, and gather them en mass as the various shapes, sizes and colors entice the eye, creating a powerful “story”.
Handle It Less: When you pick up an item, place it where it belongs rather than setting it down or putting it where it doesn’t live. As a home organizer I teach my clients that the less we handle items, the more efficient we become, giving us more time for other pursuits.
Sort it, Purge it, Store it: Have a centralized location for incoming mail. A quick scan can determine immediate items to purge such as junk mail. Make sure to shred credit card offers and anything with pertinent personal information. Sort bills and any mail requiring immediate attention, opening items and discarding envelopes and unnecessary inserts. Magazines, periodicals and other items to read later can be stored in a basket or standing slotted organizer. Doing this on a daily basis makes mail easily manageable and avoids the piles of paper that grow increasingly overwhelming with each day’s addition (not to mention missing bill payment deadlines).
When it’s Worn, It’s Done: Clothing can be like mail. We leave it where we drop it and it continues to grow with each day’s passing. When we come home from work or from a certain activity, take any dirty items and place directly into clothes hamper or laundry bin. Anything that can be worn again, hang up immediately, replace shoes into closet or shoe rack. Avoid throwing over chairs, heaping into a pile or casting it about the house. Everything has a place and when we’ve used it, we return it to it’s “home.” This maintains daily order and from chaos ensuing.
A Pantry like the Store: The pantry doesn’t have to be a disheveled mess with like items placed on various shelves with no rhyme or reason to it. Just as in the supermarket, place your items in categories, where canned veggies and fruit sit together, flour, baking goods, oatmeal and dried cereals are grouped, sodas, bottled water and the like can sit on the floor or lower shelves, meat products such as tuna, salmon, canned meat share space and condiments and snacks each have their own designated areas. Large bags of dog food can become an unwieldy mess though easily remedied with a large flip top clear plastic bin that you can access and store with ease.
It’s Christmas time. Now where is Everything?: Christmas can be a festive time except when decorations and lights have been haphazardly tossed in various boxes with no consideration to the contents or items. Clear plastic storage containers work great because contents can be easily viewed and retrieved. Group like items together such as ornaments in one, lights, extension cords and any power/energy related article together, ribbons, bows, silks/artificial fruits in another. No need to spend endless hours trying to untangle lights. Roll each strand into a ball and tuck the final cord in. This allows for easy retrieval the following year and makes lighting a snap. Be sure to test all lights and toss out dead ones. Pack ornaments in their respective boxes and use tissue paper as needed for valuables/collectibles and anything that has lost its original packaging. Label the outside of each container so it’s easily identifiable and group all Christmas items in one place, preferably high up or back in storage spaces since they sit there 11 months of the year.
Working with Excessive Clutter: Living in an environment where no “white space” exists can overburden our minds and senses. We need places for our minds and eyes to rest. Some of us are literally drowning in clutter and need help. A home organizer looks beyond the emotional overwhelm of the client and sees the potential of how best to sort, purge and contain the items at issue. With skill and finesse, he/she will start with a doable and manageable area or task and begin bringing immediate order to the scene. Without the sense of client paralysis, the organizer gently coaches her to eliminate what is no longer needed and sorts through piles of things that had no order or clarity, consuming valuable space. With the initial inroad, the client sees the possibilities that organizing makes and can literally feel a shift occurring within, both physically and mentally.
Salt It First: It can be such an annoyance when eating a salad and a leaf flicks a drop or more of salad oil on your shirt/blouse or elsewhere. I recently discovered the magic of salt for extracting oil spilled on clothing and fabrics. Take the soiled article and pour salt on the designated area. allow it to sit overnight. Remove excess salt and then apply a prelaundry cleaner to it. I’ve had great success with this trick.
Post Its–Help or Hindrance?: Post It notes are an indelible part of our home and office lives, some people use multi colored swatches in various sizes atop our desks, computer screens, refrigerators, dashboards and elsewhere. For some, the Post It can serve as a quick reminder of a task or appointment. For others, this piece of paper can create more clutter and distractions to someone already having problems focusing and gathering attention. Individuals with ADHD may find the need for Post Its and yet not realize they are creating more confusion than clarity. We don’t need more banners in our lives, we need simplification and clear spaces upon which our minds can relax and regroup. Think twice if the Post it is a help or hindrance.