By Nicole Villalpando - Austin American-StatesmanSeptember 3rd 2016
Marie Kondo writes in her best-seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” that tidying up is “a special event, not a daily chore.” She espouses that once you tidy up your whole house, you won’t have to constantly tidy up, you’ll just have to put things back where they belong.
Marie Kondo does not live with my family. We are constantly having to tidy up, to sort through the mounds of stuff coming in, most of which needs to go out again.
Last year as part of the Your Home series, I interviewed experts on garage, closet and pantry organization and took on these projects at my house. For one day, these spaces looked like what you see in a magazine. And then life happened.
Now, a year later, I reassessed these spaces and rolled up my sleeves to get organized again. “People think that you get organized and you’re done,” says Deniece Schofield, author of “Confessions of an Organized Homemaker: The Secrets of Uncluttering Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life.” “Somebody has to keep it organized.”
While we might want to nag and scream when the family doesn’t follow the system, the reality is someone has to take ownership of keeping the organization system working. And that someone is usually the person who created the system, the one for whom it matters most.
Many organizers use acronyms to describe the process of organizing your stuff. Austinite Lorie Marrero, who created Clutter Diet, a home organization online subscription service, uses ORDER:
- Outline your plan by assessing how you use the space and how you want to use the space.
- Review your items deciding what goes and what stays.
- Decide where things belong.
- Establish a home for everything and routine to get it put back there.
- Revisit your system to reassess your space and make tweaks where you need it.
Marrero says people fail most often at the first step by not outlining the plan before starting and at the last step by not revisiting the site to rework it.
When things don’t go well, people often will ditch their current system and go looking for another system, another product or another magic bullet to solve their problem, says Barry Izsak, certified professional organizer and owner of Arranging It All in Austin, Texas. He reminds that “the best organizing system in the world isn’t going to last if you don’t stick to it.”
The easiest way to stick with it is to have a system that everyone in the house understands. An easy system will make people more likely to put things back the first time.
Catch yourself when you think “I’ll just put it there for now and I’ll put it away later,” Izsak says. We all know that later often doesn’t happen.
Ideally you can then spend five to 15 minutes a day just running through the house and putting anything out of place back. Or, when you see something out of place, move it to the right place right away. “When you do a quick pickup, you don’t give it the opportunity to pile up,” says Leslie Byer Rosner, a professional organizer with Found Space Organizing.
But if you have let it pile up, it’s time to start over, maybe not from scratch entirely this time.
Some key tips from our experts to make the pileup less likely to happen:
- Don’t fight nature. If kids naturally leave the scissors in one spot on the counter, maybe that’s where the scissors should live.
- Find your roadblocks. If there is an item that is never put back where you think it should go or if there is a space that gets junked up first, create a new plan for that item or that space.
- Containerize like items in clear containers. They will be easy to see.
- Lose the lids. You want putting things away to be a one-handed, one-step process.
- Use open shelving systems rather than drawers when you can. It skips the step of opening the drawer, and you can see what’s there.
- Opt for hooks rather than hangers for items like jackets and robes that are hung up daily.
- Label everything. You can use something as simple as masking tape and markers, but often family members respect the label more when it is either preprinted or made with a label maker.
- Explain the system to everyone who lives there. Make sure the labels make sense to them and they understand what you mean.
- Create a space for temporary projects or items. Maybe it’s a bin to contain the science fair project while kids are working on it or a container for an in-progress craft project.
- Create a bin for items that you want to donate or have a garage sale with. Then, when you see something you don’t use, you have a place to put it away from the stuff you do use.
- Turn clothes hangers the opposite direction once a year. You’ll be able to see if you wear certain clothes or not.
- Be flexible. Life changes and your system has to be adaptable to create more space for the workout clothes that you’re now going to use or more dog toys for the new puppy.
- Know where items are going to go before bringing them into the house. Impulse shopping can be dangerous.
- Above all, Keep It Simple, Stupid. The system cannot be difficult to understand or require too many steps.
- Give yourself the motivation to stick with it. Keep a list of things you’d like to do with your newfound extra time and do them.
The Virtue of Uncluttering
By Harriett Harrow - Austin American-StatesmanJanuary 30th 2016
From Albert Einstein: “Out of clutter, find simplicity.”
Easy for him to say. If you shelter as much junk as the universe has stars, finding simplicity is, well, relative.
But there’s an industry itching to help. From professional organizers and senior move managers to consignment shops, container makers, hauling services and storage facilities, lots of folks are eager to guide you from chaos to calm.
Publishers noticed. Stores push how-to-organize books; “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has sold three million copies. Martha Stewart’s magazine, Organizing 2016, competes with others sporting articles like “Edit Your Wardrobe” and “Clear Clutter for Good!”
Everyone has stories. As a child, my friend Richard watched his Mom burn her wedding dress, saying “What’re the odds I’d ever wear that again?” At 55, his Dad emptied the attic, “So we’ll be ready when the time comes.” Dad died 20 years later and Mom, now 89, still lives with that vacant attic overhead.
My sister Carol attached a big safety pin to every piece of clothing in her pack-rat husband’s closet and tied pairs of shoes together. A year later, she gave away every still-pinned or tied item, the majority of clothing. Hubby never noticed the vanishing.
My niece Arlene rose to the challenge of a 100-year-old Atlanta home without closets in two of her three kids’ bedrooms. She uses under-bed storage and won’t let a child buy anything without designating a place for it. Her 16-year-old designed and installed a wall of shelving and drawers in her bedroom.
Arlene, a chef and nanny, blames baby stores for most kiddie clutter. “Clerks give pregnant couples a tour, urging them to pump up their baby registry,” she says. “All they really need is a crib, car seat and diaper bag!”
At the other extreme are hoarders. Niece Beth is a Kansas City real estate investor whose buys include hoarder homes no real estate agent will touch. She donates mountains of items to schools, charities and recyclers of glass, textiles and scrap metal.
Hazardous waste is sent to the county recycling facility. Still, several junk-filled dumpsters must be hauled away.
Austinite Barry Izsak is past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers, a senior move manager and owner of Arranging It All. “With more demands on folks, it’s harder to stay organized,” he says. “The paperless office is a myth.”
His firm has 10 employees to meet demand, including seniors wanting to downsize. He encourages them to give belongings to their children, whom he advises to “take it even if you don’t keep it” — a helping hand during parents’ transition.
Real estate agents often encounter clutter problems, says Michele Blood of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty. “I bring a stager to help the owner see the house as a prospective buyer. Even beautifully decorated homes need de-cluttering.”
This column was prompted by a dear friend, Lily, as she slipped into dementia. Lily was single with no children, so friends helped her dispose of contents in her three-bedroom house before she moved closer to a sister.
Eager to spare my husband and daughter such duty, I became a clean-out maniac and found Next to New on Burnet Road. Run by St. David’s Episcopal Church, this store offers a 50-50 split on consigned items, with their half funding several worthy charities.
In 18 months, I hauled 156 items to Next to New, earning $311 and an equal charitable tax deduction. I learned that paring down is the addictive counterweight to hoarders’ compulsive collecting. I love gazing into my half-empty closet.
What keeps many folks from uncluttering is confusion about how to dispose of things. Most hate the idea of their discards heaped into landfills. A city of Austin website can help. Search “Austin Resource & Reuse Drop-Off Center” to access links on what the center accepts and how to responsibly dispose of other items. The Austin Materials Marketplace fosters business-to-business reuse of materials.
Finally, uncluttering seems like a modern obsession, but maybe not. From Benjamin Franklin: “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”
Win the War on Garage Clutter With Pro's Organizational Tips
By Melissa Erickson - Springfield State Journal-RegisterJune 2nd 2011
Where’s the bike pump? How about the plant fertilizer you bought two weeks ago? Why are these snow sleds blocking the recycling bin? Is your garage too cluttered to find what you need or hold what you want?
“The average American two-car garage has become a no-car garage because it is crammed full with so much clutter,” said Barry J. Izsak, certified professional organizer and past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Izsak likens the garage to a “purgatory” for all the stuff you don’t know what to do with. He should know since he is the author of Organize Your Garage in No Time.
“It is ironic that the one room of our house where the door is open for the whole world to see is the most unsightly, poorly utilized and neglected. The garage has become the family dumping ground,” Izsak said, who owns the Austin organizing company, Arranging It All.
Looking for a solution to the garage clutter war?
“There is a solution for everyone regardless of your budget, your organizing IQ, how handy you are and whether your garage has been a dumping ground for the past 30 years,” he said. Many garages are so crammed with clutter that cars lose out, Izsak said. With a little planning and elbow grease, you can do better.
• Be realistic and have focus. If you haven’t camped in five years, maybe it’s time to get rid of some equipment. Are you storing holiday decorations that are never used, or do you have more than one lawnmower? Take a good look at what you’re storing. If you’re not using it on a regular basis, it’s time to purge or donate it to charity.
• Analyze your needs. Think about how you want your garage to look when it’s finished. Create a clear vision of garage zones, whether that means by individual or category (sports/gardening/tools). Then, start working. “Remove, sort, weed, select a home, containerize if necessary and replace,” Izsak suggested.
• Consider the elements. Depending on where you live, temperatures can reach 120 degrees in the summer, Izsak said. Be cautious when storing paperwork, photographs and clothing in a garage.
• Get it off the floor. All kinds of fancy organizational tools can be bought, but if that’s not in your budget, use some well-placed $2 hooks to hang bikes or 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood in the rafters to hold winter gear or fishing poles. Getting things off the floor will maximize space and make your garage seem less cluttered while keeping your things dry, clean and away from insects and rodents, Izsak said.
• Be safe. Store paint, toxic chemicals and pesticides in a locked cabinet. Store heavier items on the lower shelves to prevent injury. Keep flammable items away from heat sources and work areas. Good ventilation is important while organizing; keep the garage door open.
• Go with what works for you. There’s no wrong way to organize, but you should stick with the system you’ve chosen for long-lasting organization.
Safely Store and Preserve Your Holiday Decorations
- The Chicago TribuneDecember 23rd 2010
As the seasons change, and pumpkins and gourds make way for twinkling lights and snowmen, a big question for many homeowners is: What is the best way to store this year's decorations so I am more organized next year?
There is nothing more upsetting than pulling out grandma's vintage tree-topper to find that it has succumbed to dust and mold. Often, the only place to store holiday decorations is in the garage or attic, according to organizing expert Barry Izsak, a professional organizer in Austin, Texas and past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. "The problem is that these storage locations leave your precious holiday decorations and family heirlooms vulnerable to excessive heat and moisture, as well as a cavalry of insects and rodents," Izsak says.
Here are some easy ways to properly store your holiday items:
--Store holiday decorations in enclosed plastic containers to guard against water and moisture damage.
--Check the storage area to ensure there are no water leaks due to the roof or a wet basement, potentially causing damaging mold and mildew to occur.
--Clearly label the contents of each container on the outside to ensure items are easy to locate. Most large retail stores sell plastic bins in varying sizes and colors; color-coding boxes can help in identifying the contents quickly and easily. Valentine's Day decorations can be in red bins, Halloween in orange, and so on. This will save you time and energy in the long run. For example, a red box labeled "Holiday lights" is easier to identify and locate than one labeled "Holiday."
--To cut down on frustration next year, take the time to check all light strands, and throw out or repair those that don't light properly. This is also a great time to replace any worn-out lights with LEDs that conserve energy, emit less heat and last longer.
--Organize as you pack your decorations away. Neatly wrap up cords to prevent that dreaded tangle next year. Wrap breakables in bubble wrap or tissue to prevent damage. Keep linens, such as napkins, tablecloths and tree skirts, away from anything containing wood pulp or dyes, which can bleed onto them, and avoid using paper, cardboard or tissues that aren't labeled "acid-free."
--Launder and press linens now to save time next year and prevent damage to fibers.
Warm, cozy boxes full of tissue paper, linens and decorations are perfect places for unwanted pests to hide and nest. "I have seen extensive collections of holiday decorations destroyed by insects and mice because simple precautions were not taken to guard against it," this Austin professional organizer says. Spray pesticide around the inside perimeter of your basement, crawl space, attic or garage to provide protection against insects for up to 12 months indoors.
"With little added effort, you can ensure that your holiday decorations will endure season after season for future generations to enjoy," says Izsak. "Isn't it worth taking the time now to preserve your holiday traditions?"