Brooke Staggs doesn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but when sifting through all her stuff began delaying her morning routine, she realized she could use some home organizing tips to clear her space.
“I just want life to be simpler,” she said. “I don’t want to go into a drawer and find all these things I don’t like or use.”
She’s just one of many people looking for advice on how to clear clutter, so we talked to Jamie Novak, a New Jersey-based professional organizer and author of Keep This, Toss That, who helps about a hundred clients a year. Keep reading for her tips on getting organized and staying that way for years to come.
“Most people who want to get organized are overwhelmed and unsure how to get started,” said Novak.
“Could 2017 be your year? Good news, it can!”
Make a Home-Organization Priority List
Grab a pen, some paper, and a friend with nonjudgmental, fresh eyes to help list all the areas of your home that need improvement.
“When you live with clutter, it becomes part of the landscape and you don’t always notice it,” Novak said. “Go from room to room and try to really notice the areas that need attention.”
Take a video on your phone and photos of problem areas to help build your list and to look back at after you’ve organized to see what progress you’ve made!
Staggs said she makes lists of goals on her phone, since she’ll think of things when she’s running errands.
An electronic list will also help you make sure you don’t lose it!
Set a Timer to Avoid Burnout When Reorganizing Your Home
One of the biggest organization mistakes people make is doing too much, too fast, Novak said. That’s why it’s important to allocate smaller periods of time – like 30 minutes – to avoid getting overwhelmed.
“Many people get excited for organizing and pull everything out of the space, but they’re not pacing themselves and get exhausted, so they don’t have the energy to put it all back,” she said. “Do a task in pieces by setting a time limit, or setting a goal, like filling one bag of things to donate.”
After work, Staggs allots 30 minutes of spare time to tackle at least one of her home’s disordered drawers or to reorganize her impressive scarf collection!
“I could watch TV for a half hour, or I could make something less cluttered,” she said of her mindset.
Create a Home-Organization System to Prevent Future Clutter
Sort your incoming clutter – mail, dirty clothes, kid’s toys – as you go, so it’s not left in random places for long periods of time. Place a mail crate on your kitchen counter; organize your dirty clothes by color in separate hampers; or designate toy boxes. And no matter what you’re organizing, donate everything you don’t use or don’t need!
“People are much more willing to let things go if they know it’s going to someone that’s going to use it,” Novak said.
Since adopting Bruce Hornsby, a shaggy, mixed-breed dog, Staggs has been better about avoiding clutter, so the dog doesn’t get ahold of anything, but she is still working on organizing her stuff once it’s put away. She’s also working on getting rid of what she doesn’t need.
“I’m not a pack rat, but I don’t want to be wasteful, so it’s finding the fine line between those things,” she said.
It takes the average person about three weeks to make organization a part of a routine, said Novak. But with a little discipline and some elbow grease, you can transform your space into a well-organized home!
“Clutter adds up gradually, and we don’t notice how it has negative impacts in our life,” she said. “But once you start to clear the space, you’ll realize the lifted weight and understand how your life can change and improve for the better.”