Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Home Organization—Avoid These Five Common Mistakes

Home Organization—Avoid These Five Common Mistakes By Penny Johnson and Anne CalkinsTime and Space Unlimited LLC

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition. The warmer, brighter days prompt us to clear out our homes as we put away heavy coats and blankets. Decluttering and organizing seem to have a greater effect on our surroundings than just scrubbing and dusting. Indeed, getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in the average home, according to the National Soap and Detergent Association.
Five common mistakes can thwart your springtime organizing projects. Avoid these blunders as you strive for a clutter-free home.

MISTAKE #1 – Buying storage containers first. When most people make the decision to “get organized”, their first step is to head to the store and buy a variety of plastic boxes and drawer organizers. Soon they find they are overstocked with containers that don’t suit their needs— the containers become part of the clutter. Do your sorting and purging first, then you will know exactly which storage tools to buy. Measure your space, count your items, decide on your style, then purchase containers. You may be surprised to find you don’t need nearly as many boxes as you thought!

MISTAKE #2 – Keeping things for the wrong reasons. You are paying room and board for your stuff. Is your stuff earning its keep? As you sort through your possessions, question yourself: “What value does this item bring to my life?” Just because you received that ugly vase as a gift, or you inherited it from Aunt Betty, or you bought it cheap at a yard sale, doesn’t mean you have to keep it now. Allow yourself to sell, give away, or toss those things that have no positive meaning in your life.

MISTAKE #3 – Using the “miscellaneous” label. The definition of organization is the ability to find what you want when you want it. The gold standard is being able to find it in thirty seconds or less. Store like things together and you will be able to find things quickly. Instead of tossing all of your tools into a miscellaneous box, for example, sort them into type: screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, etc. Now you can grab exactly the right tool without rummaging through the miscellaneous pile.

MISTAKE #4 – Ignoring your personal style. Are you an “innie” or an “outie”? If you crave clear counter and desk space, with everything tucked into closets and drawers, you are an “innie.” If you need to have everything out where you can see it, and you fear you will forget something if it is in a closed drawer, you are an “outie.” Either style is acceptable as long as you plan for it. An “innie” needs sturdy file cabinets, drawer organizers, cupboards and closets with doors, opaque containers, and lidded baskets for storing possessions. An “outie” needs open shelves, clear containers, clear desktop trays and file holders, baskets without lids, and tool turnabouts. Using storage solutions that match your style will help you stay organized.

MISTAKE #5 – Neglecting a maintenance routine. Remember when your high school science teacher taught you about entropy, the tendency for things to fall apart when left alone? Entropy can undo all of your organizing triumphs. If you are going to put the effort into getting organized, you are going to want to stay organized. Build a “maintenance plan” into your daily routine to keep your things in order. Choose something you know you will do regularly, and tie an organizing project to it. Make it a new rule that you cannot brush your teeth until you have spent five minutes decluttering your bedroom. Use the commercial breaks during your favorite TV show to sort household paperwork. Before you mow the lawn each week, straighten the garage.

Welcome springtime with a clutter-free home. Then go outside and enjoy the sunshine and flowers!
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AUTHOR RESOURCE BOX:Penny Johnson and Anne Calkins are professional organizers with Time and Space UnlimitedLLC, Baraboo Wisconsin. For a free copy of their idea-pak for seasonal organizing projects, contact them at 608-356-2089 or visit their website