Taking baby steps to get organized

Creating room to breathe is a crucial step to living a more organized life.

Creating room to breathe is a crucial step to living a more organized life.

De-cluttering is typically one of the top three New Year’s resolutions each year.

It’s too bad that so many peple get frustrated and give up before they’ve really made much progress. Maybe this statistic from the National Association of Professional Organizers might help: Simply getting rid of clutter eliminates 40 per cent of housework in the average home. Imagine that!

Getting rid of clutter can cut your housework by nearly half! Dealing with clutter can also help you rein in unnecessary spending.

When your space is overflowing with items you don’t need or use, it’s harder to find items you need but already have, so you waste money “replacing” them or buying organizational tools or even professional assistance to help you wrangle all that junk. Let’s make 2010 the year you get one step ahead of the clutter. The key: baby steps.

Sarah on “Ditch the Guilt”

Clutter is a major stressor. Whenever we interview people about clutter, they use words like “overwhelmed,” “nightmare” and “guilty” to describe how they feel about the issue.

Those descriptors carry a lot of weight and are capable of sapping anyone of a substantial amount of energy and joie de vivre. We’re hugely in favour of ditching the guilt. Clutter simply accumulates. If you don’t have systems in place to deal with it on a regular basis, then it’s going to be a problem. So rather than lose sleep or precious energy and good will over it, we say, learn why it accumulates and how to stay on top of it, using shortcuts whenever you can.

Alicia on “Right-Size the Problem”

Osne major reason people let clutter accumulate is that they think it will take a lot longer to deal with than it actually does.

As a matter of fact, Sarah actually procrastinated for months on cleaning up her desk, but when she finally tackled it, it only took her 20 minutes to deal with it. Check out the video of how she took her desk from disaster to desirable at http://www.youtube.com/buttonedupincp/a/u/2/Wg0CpI3S8Uw. Don’t let your fear of how long it will take to deal with clutter get in the way of doing something about it now.

Here are a few more ways to take baby steps toward getting organized in the coming year.

1. Establish a Daily Clutter-Busting Routine — Once established, simple routines take almost no effort and are incredibly effective at keeping clutter at bay.

For a lot of people, a simple five-minute clutter-scan and cleanup routine right before you head to bed works wonders.

For others, a routine 15-minute clutter-busting session on Saturday mornings does the trick. Just decide on one routine that you can fit into your daily or weekly schedule and start implementing it this week.

2. Establish Some Rules About Clutter — If you make rules for dealing with clutter, dealing with the inevitable onslaught becomes a mere reflex. There are two kinds of rules you can put in place: (1) rules about how much clutter you will tolerate before having to deal with it, or (2) rules about preventing clutter from accumulating. An example of the first type: on Sunday night before you go to bed, the desk must be clean (or the mail pile must be dealt with).

An example of the second type might be: no junk mail can enter the house (or stay on a counter for more than 24 hours). Before the week is out, make one of each type of rule and put them into effect.

3. Create a Temporary Holding Bin. There are some items you just don’t know whether or not you should hold onto or throw away. During a review, place items you think are no longer useful or needed in a temporary holding bin. If you find that after a specified amount of time goes by, you have not looked at or used any of the items in the temporary holding bin, take the next step and get rid of them — either donate or toss them.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife(at)getbuttonedup.com. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.