Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Mess in the Home Organizing Aisle

I had to get some storage products for a few clients this week, and pressed for time, instead of going to the mecca for organizers, The Container Store, I went to Target. Like most big stores they carry an impressive line of organizing products, but I nearly fell over when I saw the state of their home organizing section. It looked like the dairy, bread and paper product aisles before a major or minor snow storm in the D.C. area! The shelves were barren and what was left was picked over and in some cases damaged in some way.

Of course, then it hit me that most of us have the spring cleaning and clutter bashing bug at this time of year, and that is why the home organizing section looked a mess. Most of us have the desire to rid our home of the backlog of fall/winter clutter that inevitably piles up. Unfortunately, I was only able to get a few things that I needed and days have passed, and I still need to make my way out to The Container Store.

As an organizer, I always tell my clients to not buy any storage products until their organizing system is set up. Most people, tend to want to buy the products first and then make them work for their system. Think about the commercials and print ads we see claiming to get you organized by installing the perfect closet or garage system. The process of organizing entails sorting, purging and decision making so that the best, tailored system for you can be created. One of my favorite acronyms on this topic is Julie Morgenstern's SPACE - sort, purge, assign, containerize and then equalize (make adjustments to your system as needed). Even the highest end custom closet won't be the organizing solution if the organizing process hasn't been done first.

So, my sense is the Home Organizing Section in Target reflected the common desire most of us have to buy the containers first to get organized. I wish us all luck as we get rid of winter's cobwebs and readjust and/or create new systems that make our homes and us function better.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Addressing My Sliding Filing Mountain

Spring is in the air and many of us want to throw open the windows, let in the fresh air and start the organizing and cleaning frenzy. Before we can start, yes, I make it a family effort, we have to cull the clutter and get rid of lots of stuff. I know at our house, despite my best efforts to manage the paper clutter, it does pile up - unread magazines, newspapers, school projects (got to love those 3-dimensional projects), pictures, coupons and on and on.

If we are all working the systems that are set up, the paper can be managed effectively. We have a homework zone for supplies and school papers to be kept for studying purposes. We don't keep memory type school work and art in the homework zone; that goes in each child's memory box in the top of their closet. We do have a hanging file for restaurant coupons and menus and a drawer for bills. We have 2-3 magazine baskets and a recycling basket, but still, if the paper isn't processed regularly, it will pile up.

Since I manage clutter for a living, I am usually on top of things, but one area that inevitably gets neglected is the filing. Who likes to file anyway? I always think of the organizing fact that 85% of what we file, we never retrieve again. So, as I look at the mountainous pile of papers in my office that are in the "to be filed" box I vow yet again, to not let it stack up so high. I will be ruthless to discard the paper that I don't need, shred what needs to be shredded and only file those papers that I may truly need.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there will be many spring community shreds and recycling events planned. So be on the look out and check out one that I'm aware of coming up soon on April 9th in Arlington.

Happy filing and shredding!

Friday, March 4, 2011

If Only I had a Garage....

I admit it, I am envious of people who have garages. Not because they can park their cars in them, but because they have all of that extra storage! There are so many amazing organizing systems for garages that I would love to utilize to organize all of my garage type clutter that ends up in our utility room, screened in porch or our shed.

We have edited down sports equipment, tools, seasonal toys and house and car maintenance clutter, but still it seems to grow overnight. I know I'm not alone in this quandary especially in my neighborhood where most of the houses don't have garages, we have sheds.

I do realize that though it appears like I have a lot of garage type items, I do regularly pare it down and I am always looking for new solutions to contain it.

When my husband and I worked with our architect on a small home addition, part of it included a screened in porch. I think she initially thought it was a little strange that I wanted 3/4 of one side of the porch to be storage closets. It has worked out nicely for us, because now instead of the utility room and outside shed exploding with stuff when we go in, it is more organized. We have outside toys in one of the screened-in porch closets and also in a resin gardening bench in the front of the house. All of these toys used to be in the shed which now has all of the tools and equipment to maintain our house...oh and our bikes...another challenge without a garage!

I guess I'm thinking of sheds and outside items because spring is around the corner. Also, I have started a walking regimen and last week when I walked in the neighborhood next to ours, where most of the houses have garages, some of the garage doors were open. I had to chuckle because there is no way 80% of the garages I saw could hold cars.

So whether we are blessed with garages or not, we all have to regularly go through our outside clutter, just like we do inside, so that we can actually park our car in our garage, or just dream about it, if we are one of the unlucky ones.