As Passover and spring arrive, it’s time to clean out the chametz to prepare for the holiday. Many of us have been “quarantine” cleaning and getting organized since the pandemic hit. Overflowing closets and disorganized drawers are becoming a thing of the past.
“It’s always time to get organized. Creating functional systems that also look beautiful gives you a chance to feel calmer and more in control,” said Clea Shearer, who with Joanna Teplin are nationally recognized organizers, authors and founders of The Home Edit.
“Sorting by color is just another form of labeling,” Shearer said. “Since kids learn by color, we also suggest sorting items in rainbow order as a labeling system. Don’t confuse organizing with cleaning. If you don’t create a sustainable system first, a mess is bound to reappear. If you take the time to think through your habits, your home and your lifestyle, you can create smart solutions that you’ll be able to maintain.”
Teplin added, “The biggest mistake we see first-time organizers make is thinking they need to tackle their entire house at once. Instead, start with a drawer. The knowledge and confidence you gain from a smaller project will motivate you to tackle the larger portions. Next, start every project with an edit. This means removing every item from the space, grouping them into categories, and purging what you no longer want or need. Rolling carts have proven to be a helpful solution. Each kid has their own and we store their supplies on it. Create a spot for current, on-going, or pending projects. Having a specific spot will decrease piles of clutter that can otherwise accumulate.”
Atlanta certified professional organizer Michelle Cooper, a member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity & Organizing professionals), is a former realtor and co-owner of The Student Organizers of Atlanta. Her company Put It There focuses on helping clients get organized, and she suggests these organizing tips:
■ Assess a space: How do you and your family members use the space? Pick a location to work and arm yourself with all necessary supplies: trash bags, Sharpies, donation boxes, and a tote or laundry basket to relocate items.
■ Purge: Start small. Pull items out of one drawer or cabinet or pick one area of a room. Group like items together and then go one category at a time, picking out the items that work best. Only after you have purged and decided what items will live where should you shop for proper bins or baskets.
■ Donate: Find an organization that pulls at your heartstrings and feels worthwhile. A few choices for clothing plus other household items includes Goodwill of North Georgia or the Community Assistance Center.
■ Create systems: Label everything. Create an efficient, easy-to-use paper management system. Papers kept for reference and retention purposes need a file cabinet or storage area. Action papers need a system for bills to pay, papers to read/file/scan, etc.
■ Schedule regular maintenance: Paperwork should be processed daily, but do a weekly catch up on those that are laying around. Closets should be evaluated seasonally. Toys should be reviewed twice a year (definitely before birthdays and Hanukkah when there is an influx).
■ Downsizing or merging households: Purging is essential and it can be emotional.
Even once you have decided to part with items, do you donate it? Sell it? Who wants it? Having a neutral, third party help you cull through your belongings can be invaluable.
Stephanie Jenkins, owner of Simplify with Stephanie, offers stress-free services in relocation, decluttering and organizing as well as preparing homes for an estate sale once the house is decluttered. She said she believes, “When a house is organized, nothing lives on the floor; it’s easier to keep clean and everyone is happier.”
The entire organization industry is booming, according to Dale Cardwell, a consumer advocate and founder of TrustDale.com, a free research and referral business. “The past year has seen an explosion in the home improvement space. Closet makeovers are especially high on that list, because they create beauty and efficiency.”
Regardless of which area of your home you target, with a little elbow grease and a plan, you are in for a more organized life.