know the neighbor or friend that ignites the fires of envy in you. Itís
really not the person with the most expensive car or the fantastic
wardrobe, or even the honor student.
Itís the person that has his or her
clutter under control.
According to studies, nearly 80 percent
of the clutter in our lives is not due to lack of space. Instead, the
vast majority of clutter is due to disorganization.
"Everybodyís idea of
organization is different," says Brendan McDaniel, owner of
Action Organizing Services of Milwaukee. "There is no right or
wrong way to file, store or label items. The purpose is to find
something when you need it."
Sorting is always the first logical
step in getting rid of clutter. McDaniel suggests creating three
piles: Best Friend (items to keep), Acquaintance (items youíre not
sure about) and Stranger (items to discard).
"Anything in the stranger pile
should be discarded immediately, whether it is to the trash can or a
donation center," he says. "If you are getting rid of
something, take it to the trash right away. Items in the Acquaintance
pile can be put aside for a later date, and youíre likely to find
more to discard when you hit it a second time."
Jennifer McDaniel, owner of Organize
for Life! in the Northshore, suggests the SPACE method for attacking
the clutter in your home. After Sorting and Purging, the next step is
to Assign a home for your stuff and Containerize it. The final step is
Equalizing, or maintaining the clutter-free space with 15 minutes of
upkeep a day.
"Putting items in a labeled
container is very important," says Jennifer McDaniel. "If
items are not in some structure, (the space) tends to become
Brendan McDaniel suggests clear plastic
bins for regular storage and colored bins for holiday storage.
"The colored bins, such as the reds and greens sold around the
holiday season or the orange-and-black at Halloween, make it easy to
spot the boxes you want at the appropriate time," he says.
keep clutter down in closets, he suggests turning all the hangers
toward the wall at the start of every season. At the end of the season
if the hanger hasnít changed, discard the item.
"Many people keep clothes because
they think they will lose weight," he says. "Nine times out
of 10, if you do lose weight, you want new clothes or styles. Let them
Home offices tend to accumulate
clutter, particularly papers. According to the Quill Paper Products
survey, 45 new sheets of paper are generated by each American office
worker each day. Couple that with the 49,000 pieces of mail ó a
third of which is junk mail ó the average American receives at home
during his or her lifetime and the home office often gets buried in
Try this drastic tip to get the clutter
moving out: Put all loose papers in a banker box or bin, which will
make the office look instantly organized. Then grab a handful of
papers and begin sorting them into categories. The experts then
suggest using sticky notes to denote the categories and, when each
pile is complete, they can be transferred into their own file folders.
Clutter elimination can be applied to
any living space, from your office to your home and even your garage,
a place that often becomes the "final frontier" for most
"The garage has a tendency to
become a very expensive storage facility," says Paul Jorgensen,
owner of GarageTek in Waukesha. "The typical garage has four
corners and eventually everything ends up leaning in a corner and you
end up with an Ďoctopusí of things that youíre not quite sure
He says that most of his clients reach
a point where they realize they need professional help.
"When does it happen? When they
end up going to the store for the third time to buy a rake because
they canít find the ones they already own," he says.
GarageTek uses a zone approach to help
clients bust garage clutter. For example, childrenís items may get
their own zone, a golfer in the family gets another.
"The aim is to give everything its
own space," he says. "When everything has a visual spot, you
have a much greater tendency to put things back and stay
Likewise, Jorgensen suggests moving
everything up and off the floor whenever possible.
"Not only does this help you see
that everything is in its place, it also reduces the time it takes you
to clean the garage to about two minutes with a leaf blower," he
notes. "That makes organizing worth it right there."