Simple solutions to clear up your clutter
PIFFARD, NY — A few years ago, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get organized. We had recently moved into our first home and I was overwhelmed by the boxes of “stuff” that had popped up during our move – things you don’t even realize you have until you are forced to move it.
I’m not sure I ever fully accomplished that resolution, and now life presents new challenges: a two-year-old daughter, a new baby on the way, and a fourth “bedroom” getting filled up with baby clothes and toys.
This is our main storage space in our single-level ranch manufactured home, as we lack a garage, a basement, and an attic. I think this resolution needs revisiting.
I enlisted the advice of professional organizer Janine Lukaszonas of Geneseo, president of Organize This, a business that offers home and business organizational consultations.
Her tips have reinforced for me why people so often fail at their resolutions, and why I often don’t make them! Home organization may sound like a task that you just need to bite the bullet and tackle, but just like losing ten pounds, it requires a shift in your own daily routine.
According to Lukaszonas, time management and discipline are a huge part of successful organization. For self-described obsessive-compulsive housekeeper Lisa Schiske, of Pavilion, this means very predictable daily schedules.
“I feel it all comes down to timing and scheduling. Routine is a huge key to keeping our lives in order,” says the mother of three.
Clearly we don’t all have the discipline and drive that Schiske does, but Lukaszonas suggests some small changes that she promises will bring big rewards.
Lukaszonas is a firm believer in waking up and readying yourself for the day before your children wake up. This allows moms to focus their time and energies on the family once everyone is up and chaos ensues (I added this last part).
As a mother I know how hairy things can get when I’m trying to brush my teeth, get dressed, etc. and my daughter is trying to “help,” or worse, trying to put makeup on herself.
She also advises setting aside limited blocks of times each day for checking email and/or Facebook – which many of us know, me included, can be major time-suckers.
Lukaszonas recommends twice a day for e-mail, 20 minutes each. I admit this is an important one for me.
Another key to accomplishing organization, says Lukaszonas, is focusing on one task at a time. For example, she recommends organizing one room at a time and finishing it in one day. Here is her method:
Have on hand cleaning supplies for the room, garbage bags, and four bins:
• A KEEP bin – items you will absolutely need in the room
• A TOSS bin – items going to the garbage
• A GIVE AWAY bin – items going to Goodwill, e-bay or a friend
• A PUT AWAY bin – items that you want, but don’t belong in this room.
Lukaszonas is very firm about making a decision for every item in the room and very honestly answering the following questions: do I use this, when was the last time I used this, will I use this in the future, and can I live without this?
I have been applying these questions in a way to the many boxes of hand-me-downs for our next daughter: will I really dress her in gender-neutral colors when I have all this pink stuff? I think not, off to the local clothing drop-box.
Lukaszonas is also adamant about the contents of these four bins being put away, disposed of, stored or given away as soon as possible.
Schiske also emphasizes the usefulness of bins, but she uses hers on a regular basis throughout her home, for example to collect mail and to hold reading materials next to her bed.
The key with bins though is to not let items pile up in them. Both Schiske and Lukaszonas recommend assigning specific tasks to certain days of the week, and Schiske has chosen Sunday as her day for sorting through mail and paying bills.
I am going to apply the methods recommended by Lukaszonas to clear out our third bedroom for baby number two and declutter our “storage” room.
I feel a sense of accomplishment as I close the lid to a plastic storage bin and write with finality in black marker the contents of the box, and when I toss a garbage bag full of clothes into the church’s drop-off box it is like a weight off my shoulders.
And if I dust off my alarm clock and schedule my days, hopefully maintaining the organization in the nursery and elsewhere won’t seem so daunting.
For more information, contact Janine Lukaszonasof Organize This at 350-8297 for a free one-hour consultation