Everyone knows how to achieve the No. 1 New Year’s resolution: losing weight. But how do you lose the excess weight in your home — the oil change receipts from 1995, the skirt in the back of the closet that doesn’t fit any more but you swear you’ll fit back into someday, or the 20 Phillipshead screw drivers dispersed in four tool boxes that are located in various places in the house?
The first step is to make a date to organize your home, and there’s no better time than the new year.
“Set aside time for it,” said professional organizer Leila Nelson, owner of A Better Space. “Nothing gets in the way. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t pick up your kids.”
Then, be prepared to make some difficult decisions about what stays and what must go. Keep in mind that how you spend time affects how you structure your space.
Nelson suggested organizing the clutter into three piles:
- Stranger: What you won’t use, could give away or should be recycled or trashed
- Acquaintance: You don’t know what to do with it, but it is stuff that you’ll come back to
- Friend: What you like and you’ll organize immediately
Once the piles are organized into these categories, come back to the middle pile, the acquaintance. After making some major decisions about where your stuff should go, it will be easier to go through the rest, Nelson said.
“What I have learned about working with people in their homes is: One, people don’t know how to let go of the mess and, two, many of their things don’t have a home, meaning they don’t have a place to be,” Nelson said. “If you don’t have a place to put it, it lays around. You shove it in the corner and you forget that you were keeping it for a reason.”
Nelson has been organized most of her life. She discovered that she had to be organized to achieve certain life goals, such as earning her speech pathology degree or organizing outreach programs for visiting families during the Olympics. “It’s important to know that I am not anal,” Nelson said. “It’s OK to have some mess. It’s not OK to let the mess grow. If you came to my house right now, you’d find some papers on my counters.”
When people hire Nelson, she tackles the problems they’re most concerned about, outlines the entire plan and begins an elimination process. “Doing the work together is exhausting,” Nelson said. “It’s mentally and emotionally daunting. I am going to ask you to throw away stuff, to change your attitude. I’m going to ask you to make some changes. Changes are tough, but they’re also liberating.”
Organizing the home means regaining control over your life, because you’re making good choices, Nelson said.
“I don’t just come in and clean up,” she said. “I help you make a better space. It’s a long-term situation. If you’re going to be back to the same place in six months, it’s like gaining weight back — ‘Oh, I did it again.’ ”
- Create a “now” closet:
Keep only the things in your closet that you will use now. Out-of-season, too-small or sentimental items need to be stored elsewhere.
- Follow the “one in, one out” rule:
For every new thing you put in the closet, remove one thing. Keep the closet from getting overcrowded.
- Reorganize your closet two times a year:
Be ruthless. If you haven’t worn it in a year and you do not love it, give it away or put it in a consignment shop. Give permission to yourself to let go.
- Hang clothes by category, color, style, etc.:It will allow you to create new looks and will make it easier to select items in the morning.
- Make most used items easy to reach:
Rarely used items can go on a shelf, in a clear storage box or in another closet in the home.
- Reverse your hangers on the rod at the beginning of the season:
When you wear the garment, turn the hanger in the right direction. If a hanger is still reversed at the end of the season, you will know what you did not wear and then you will know what needs to go.
- Create a “need” list on a notepad that you keep in the closet:
When you discover you need an item to complete an outfit, write it down. Take this “need” list with you when you shop and you will make better purchasing decisions.
SOURCE: Leila Nelson, A Better Space, www.organizeabetterspace.com
FOR MORE INFO
For more information about Leila Nelson, visit her Web site at www.organizeabetterspace.com or call 298-0433. For more information about professional organizers, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers web site at www.napo.net.