Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living Well: Getting Organized

One of the biggest challenges I hear from both friends and clients is taming clutter and struggling with how to both get and then stay organized. Not only does it look messy but it affects stress levels and the ability to enjoy one's home to the fullest.

There are a few simple tips that I live by which can help keep clutter out of your home, keep your space clean and serene as well as save you time and money too.

1. Managing your Mail-One of the largest clutter contributors is paper, more specifically mail and junk mail like flyers, coupons books and newspapers. When you pick up the mail, set all of the important mail aside and weed out the junk mail. Toss it straight into your recycle bin before ever bringing it into the house. Next, spend 3 minutes immediately opening your mail, recycling the envelopes and then filing away what you need to pay or keep and toss anything that cannot be recycled. If you do this everyday, you'll keep mountains of papers out of your home.

2. Look before you Shop- Before ever heading out to buy more clothes, be absolutely sure that what you think you need is not something you own already. Many of my clients have 10 black t-shirts or white dress shirts because they forgot they had one already and kept buy more of what they already had in their closet. Take a few minutes one day and look through all or your closets and drawers. Make a note of what you do not have but need. Maybe you got rid of a little black dress that had a stain or no longer fits, or your perfect summer pumps got chewed up by your puppy and need to be replaced. Perhaps you don't have a single pair of jeans that fit you anymore.  These are items you know that you in fact need. This is a wise way of shopping which will save you money, time and closet space.

3. Taming your Closet- There are two tricks I have to keeping my closet and drawers from overflowing. I always donate or give away an old piece of clothing or pair of shoes for every new item I bring into the house. If we don't do this, our closets will explode and will be filled with items we likely don't need or wear. Also, get into the habit of spending an hour each season or (more often if you like, I do it monthly) and really use an objective eye to eliminate what you don't need and what no longer fits or suits your style-try everything on if need be. Go through both yours and your kids clothes and donate or bless a friend with some items you don't wear. Try to avoid thinking you'll wear it 'some day' because that day usually never comes. The rule of thumb is that if you haven't worn it within the past 12 months you aren't likely to wear it ever again and don't need it.

4.  A Little Every Day-Most people get overwhelmed at the thought of spending a whole day or even an hour working on a very cluttered space. However, if you start small and do a little bit everyday, you'll reach your organizing goal in no time. Maybe you have some messy kitchen drawers, cabinets or a cluttered office. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, commit to just one drawer or set a time limit using an oven timer of about 10 minutes. Really, everyone can spare 10 minutes! See how much you accomplish, you might surprise yourself with how much you get done and may even feel inspired to keep going once you get on a roll. The important thing is to start. Even if it's just for a mere 5 minutes every day, you'll be so much farther ahead after just 2 weeks than if you had done nothing at all.

You can also do this while you watch TV, bring a stack of clean towels that need to be folded, or a bunch of old magazines and decide which to keep and which to recycle, or bring a drawer into your living room and work on organizing it while you watch a show and you'll feel a sense of accomplishment when tv time is up.

5. How to Organize- Some of you might be wondering how to begin organizing. No matter what the space is, it could be as small and simple as organizing your handbag, there are four essential piles you need to create. They are: Keep, Toss, Donate, Re-locate. Toss or recycle items you no longer need which are broken or expired. Donate items that no longer have a purpose in your life, do not fit, do not work with your style, do not make you happy or that you have duplicates of. Give them away to either friends that want them or to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, your trash IS someone else's treasure. Remember to pick up your donation receipt for your taxes too.

Re-locate anything that is in its wrong place. A roll of packing tape doesn't belong in your purse, so place it back in your office or garage where it belongs. Make sure every item has a 'home' in your house so there is no confusion as to where it is supposed to go. Keep everything that has a real purpose in your life or that you really do need and will in fact use.

*psst....want to know how to keep a clean car? Click the blue link for tips on maintaining your home on the road.

There are numerous tips on how to get and stay organized and there is no right or wrong way, it's about what works best for you. These are just a few key tips I use and encourage my clients to implement as well to simplify their life. Now, I want to hear how YOU like to stay organized!

*images (1) (2) (3) (4)


  1. Great reminders on how we can stay organized....which makes everything else more enjoyable!

    Happy Tuesday!
    xo Elizabeth

  2. Great tips Karla. I haven't tried this one yet, but I once read that when you think it's time to go shopping, shop your closet instead and make up a variety of outfits using pieces you own in fresh ways-then (and this is the idea I liked)take snapshots of the outfits so the next time you don't know what to wear to work you can consult those pics and you'll have some choices.

  3. Great tips Karla. I have recently started to have do some organising at home and at work.

    Shredding in the office is the key. Sometimes we just seem to collect bits and pieces until you just can't see the desk anymore. Then its time to start shredding.

    Also I have a golden rule with my little girl. Her birthday is mid year. So, in the lead up to her birthday and christmas we always go through her room and have a clean out. She has to give away some of her things to charity for other little boys and girls so that she can make way for new clothes and toys. We've been doing this since she was six months old. She has always participated and doesn't find it distressing because she's part of the process and knows that something new will be in its place soon.

  4. @Karen-Thank you for your comment. What a great idea. When I'm feeling bored with my wardrobe I like to come up with new outfits especially since I haven't earmarked a very big budget for new clothes this year. I haven't taken snapshots for the new outfits I've put together but I used that approach once when packing before a cruise! LOL. We were going away for 2 weeks and I really wanted to maximize on several key pieces and not feel like I had to bring everything since I usually tend to bring a lot of shoes. I snapped pics of the various outfits that I layed out on my bed and then kept the images on my camera to refer back to once we were there. :)

    I've been wanting to do a budget fashion post for a little while. Especially in this economy, saving every penny is so important. I'll be sure to reference your fabulous tips in the upcoming post. :)

    @Deborah-What a great way to teach your daughter about organization at a young age and giving to those who are in need all while keeping a tidy home! ;)


  5. Great tips Karla! I really need to focus on keeping the mail clutter under control.


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