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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is clutter driving you crazy? An organized lifestyle can mean efficiency in your day and a more relaxing time while at home. Use the following tips to get some organization in your home.

Begin by making a list of items needed in each area, keeping in mind that you want to have less to maintain in the future. Keep items closest to where they will be used. Store like items together.Work on one area of your living space at a time. Go area by area until your whole home is organized. Have three boxes or large bags labeled "KEEP", "DONATE", and "TRASH". As you pull each item off the shelves, from dusty corners, from under beds and couches, or wherever, put it in one of these boxes/bags. In general, if you haven't used an item in a year or more, it is probably safe to throw/give it away. Dispose of the "TRASH" box/bag immediately and give away your "DONATE" box/bag as soon as possible to a local charity like a church, Goodwill, or the Salvation Army. But allow enough time to prevent regrets, which may cause the need to repurchase an item. Assess your KEEP box/bag. You should ask yourself if these items belong in this section and how often you use each of them. If an item belongs elsewhere in your home, put it there. If you don't use an item frequently, consider how you can store it so it is out of the way of the items you use more often. Work throughout your living space weeding out all of the extra "stuff" and placing everything else where it belongs. Now that your possessions are organized, maintain this state by ensuring that items belonging in a particular area stay there. If you use something, put it back where you found it when you're finished. If you need to relocate an item to a cluttered area, re-assess why each item is there so you can make room for everything you need. Buy or re-use organizers to store items that would otherwise look cluttered if left out in the open.

Decorative containers can be stored beneath a bed, couch, chair, bench or table. Stack different containers to create a table. For important files (i.e. insurance documents, automobile information, receipts, instruction manuals), purchase a filing cabinet or look for one in a local garage sale. Designate a counter top as a "landing pad" for your keys, purse, cell phone, and other items to be put away at the end of the day. Keep one drawer in your desk for supplies such as pens, paper clips, and sticky notes so they are not roaming around the house. Always looking for a pen? Now you will always know where you can find one. Buy a planner. Write in designated times to maintain your newly organized space. Color-code your planner so you can easily pick out meeting times, due dates, and appointments. Use a planner to record your annual cleaning. Indoor cleaning in the winter. Outdoor cleaning in the summer. Allow for only one or two major projects for each month of the year. This gives an entire month to accomplish a project. As each year goes by, each area will become more efficient. Just by taking time away from an area, new thoughts will arise to utilize a space in a better way. By taking the time to plan, half the work is already done. If you continuously maintain your space, you will have less clutter building up.

When choosing which area of your living space to begin organizing, try starting with the area that you use the most, such as your study area, if you are a student, or the kitchen. A good way to store infrequently-used items is to invest in good quality organizers, such as CD holders, bookcases, and under-the-bed containers. If you have a birthday coming up or Christmas is around the corner, try asking relatives for gift certificates to the Container Store, Bed, Bath & Beyond, IKEA, Target, or Wal-Mart.American culture is avid about organizing. Therefore, you can usually find organizers that are trendy and fashionable, so you won't have to worry about hiding items away that you store. Find ways to reuse your existing organizers. For example, if you have a candle holder but no candles, you can use it to hold pencils instead. Use compressible Space Bag storage bags for storing seasonal clothing or bulky bedding then store the compressed bags under the bed or in the garage. You'll keep your seasonal clothing/bedding together and protected and you'll create more space at the same time.Space Bags do not save nearly as much space as they seem to on TV, especially since air eventually will leak back into the bag(particularly the travel bags that you roll to push the air out, these can fill back up with air in a matter of hours). This product really isn't worth the money or time put into it, plus when it's time remove the items you packed away they will have an unpleasant plastic odor to them.

Keep in mind fire hazards while you are organizing. Some safety hazards include overloading a wall outlet with extension cords, storing huge stacks of newspapers, or not putting away shoes and other articles that block your exit path in an emergency. Be careful when moving furniture. Lift with your legs, not your back, and ask a friend to help you.


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