Do you frequently find yourself muttering some variation of: Where are my keys and I've got to get organized? You're not alone. Dozens of people showed up at Organizing U. 2001 to learn more about ordering and decluttering homes and offices.
Participants in the recent Waltham, Mass., seminar, sponsored by the New England Professional Organizers, were treated to three hours of talks on such topics as "Home Hot Spots" and "Calm or Chaotic: Help for the Harried in Setting Priorities."
Many of the usual platitudes were underlined: "Clutter is postponed decisions," for example. Among the helpful home organizing tips shared by the faculty were these:
In cleaning, begin by taking everything out whenever possible. This helps in the weeding process. Otherwise, work along the clothes rod.
Paint the interior an interesting color to make it more attractive and appealing space.
Organize clothes by length, to improve the visibility and access to shoes, etc.
Don't bring junk mail in the house. Dispose of as much as possible between the mailbox and the front door.
Keep reading materials in a large basket or tote bag, not on your desk. This way they can be transported from room to room.
Establish an in-box for each person in the household.
Put together a portable desk caddy, with stationery, stamps, pens, and so forth, to create a roving office. An inexpensive Lucite organizer works well, partly because everything is visible. A similar strategy, using a multislot organizer, works well for sorting the mail into folders, designated To Pay, To Do Today, To Do Soon, To File, and To Read. Separate categories may also be helpful for mail that requires the joint attention of spouses or children.
Place items to be sorted into boxes or bags with the following labels: give away, throw away, fix, and sell. Keep items that don't fit into these categories and find a good place for them.
Control buildup of children's artwork by taking a photo of your child with the art and save only the photo.
Straighten up each evening before going to bed. This keeps clutter from accumulating.
Organize a little at a time; otherwise you keep waiting for an uninterrupted block of four hours that never comes.
Use the "one in, one out" rule. If you buy a new pair of shoes, select an old pair to give or throw away. Do the same with other items.
Place an errand basket in a central location for rented movies that need returning and other outward-bound items.
Even preschoolers who haven't learned to read can help put things away. Use picture labels to show them where things belong.