Conquer Clutter – Tips for organizing yourself for the new year.

Conquer Clutter – Tips for organizing yourself for the new year.

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With the New Year approaching, getting organized rises to the top of everyone’s list. Restoring order to your home can allow you to increase your productivity and efficiency, stay focused, free yourself of clutter and save time.

And by being organized, you can create serenity and harmony in your life and, as a bonus, reduce stress.

Here are some tips and advice to help you become well organized for the New Year.

Setting Goals/Mission Statement
“A common mistake at the New Year is to want to jump in and organize your whole house. Then you become overwhelmed and frustrated,” says Lisa Sarasohn, communications director for the National Association of Professional Organizers and a professional organizer with Hire Order in Los Angeles.

She recommends “setting goals” and developing a strategy as a first step for getting organized. “You must have a gameplan and very specific goals,” Sarasohn says. “Then break them down into smaller tasks and give yourself deadlines.”

She suggests going through each room and developing a strategy. “Getting organized isn’t just about cleaning your space,” Sarasohn says. “It’s about creating the life you want.”

Amy Siu of Simply Organized Solutions in Los Angeles says that procrastination is one of the biggest blocks to getting organized. She recommends buying a timer and starting with small time increments, say 20 minutes or so. Once the time is up, you may find you have the momentum to add another 15 or 20 minutes to your project.

“Start with the projects which will make the biggest difference. Don’t start with a back closet, start with your desk,” says Siu, a motivational speaker specializing in organization.

And, most importantly, she stresses making the process enjoyable. “Put on some good music or invite a friend to join you,” Siu suggests.

Controlling the Clutter
An essential part of all home and office organization is managing clutter. Clutter can suck the energy out of the room and make you feel lethargic and confused.

Ann Gambrell, a founding member of NAPO who specializes in clutter management and runs a Los Angeles-based Clutter Support Group, recommends starting by sorting through the clutter. It is important to be rigorous in this process and to question each item. When did you last use it? Do you have a future use for this?

Many people justify keeping clutter because they think they will use it some day. “There are only three things that can be done with clutter throw it away, give it away or store it,” Gambrell says.

A key element of clearing out clutter is finding a place for everything. “Everything must have a home,” she says.

Paper Management
Paper management is critical in getting organized for the New Year. A good day planner or organizer is invaluable. For the new year, invest in a good quality system with a calendar and address book. Daytimer and Franklin Covey feature excellent planning systems in a variety of designs.

Start by going through all of your files and eliminating papers that you don’t need. Then set up your files fresh for 2001. Divide the files into two categories, active and inactive. Keep the active files near your desk and the inactive files in a labeled storage box to save time looking through documents that may not be relevant.

Storage with Style
With the renewed emphasis on simplicity and organization, getting organized can become a stylish venture. Storage containers are not only practical but offer creative and unique decorating options.

The Container Store, a retail chain and online store specializing in storage and organizational products, features an extensive line of quality shelving and Birch storage cubes.

Another organizer’s paradise, Hold Everything, carries a line of galvanized bins ideal for storing everything from gardening tools to cleaning supplies. Vintage containers found at specialty stores or flea markets are another option to add a sense of style.

Baskets can be used to store bathroom toiletries, crafts and magazines. Basketville offers a wide range of baskets. Hold Everything carries a special “Newspaper Basket” perfect for old newspaper and magazines.

For a more inexpensive option, Gambrell recommends clear plastic shoebox containers. “They are ideal for storing office products and crafts, and they stack beautifully.”

Staying Organized
Use the skills you develop for your New Year’s reorganization throughout the year. “Like another popular New Years Resolution, losing weight, staying organized requires discipline and dedication,” Sarasohn says.

Set aside a short amount of time each day to keep your files and clutter prone areas organized, and get in the habit of making decisions every day.

By Corinne M. Bourdeau

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