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Our Getting Organized Experts

Peter Walsh

Peter Walsh

Design professional and star of TLC's Clean Sweep

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Meryl Starr

Meryl Starr

Organizing expert, author and personal consultant

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Debbie Stanley

Debbie Stanley

Author and owner of Red Letter Day, a professional organizing...

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Ideas for a Simple, Clutter-Free Life

Emotions in the Wings

With any organizing project, you may be surprised to feel a lot of emotions rushing in—both about the items you’re sorting through and your past habits. There may be strong feelings and emotions attached to certain items. As you make decisions about whether or not to keep these items, try to stay practical when at all possible. Take a picture of items before throwing them away, if it helps. As Leist tells her clients, “The meaning is in the memory, not in the memorabilia.”

Signore says it’s also common to be overwhelmed and embarrassed at how far things have gone. “They feel like they’ve failed, but in most cases, they’ve just never learned how to organize before,” she says.

For Lois, a mother, wife and lawyer, organizing was a time-consuming process. “My entire life needed organizing,” says Lois. “I delegated assignments to my children to cull their belongings and clothing.” She assigned each family member a responsibility and kept a checklist visible to ensure the tasks were completed. This kind of delegating can keep things streamlined and process-oriented, instead of random and emotional.

People Do This for a Living

If you don’t have family and friends close by, or you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, you may want to consider hiring a professional organizer. Lots of people do it—it doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

Judith Kolberg, founder of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization and owner of FileHeads Professional Organizers in Decatur, GA, prepares her clients for getting organized. “We’re probably going to take things apart before putting them back together, so we can see what you have and what you need,” says Kolberg.

Pat and Frank, a married couple from Blauvelt, NY, decided to use a professional organizer when they moved into a new, smaller house. The couple had been married for almost 40 years, and a lot of stuff had accumulated in that time. “Using an organizer made the chore of downsizing a lot easier,” says Frank. “He helped us organize our closets, cabinets and drawers.”

If you can't afford to have someone come in and get you going, try some organizing tips or check out some books at your local library or bookstore. There are also tons of web sites out there! You can learn lots from the pros, even if you can't get one into your home.

Posted: 9/25/07
marvinwilliams

Becoming organized requires a whirlwind of activity, but I've found STAYING organized requires a system. Many highly successful people have taken the stress out of being busy by choosing an organizer for notes and projects that agrees with their personality. A helpful article on balancing many projects at once without forgetting anything is called The Secret: Link

DeborahD

This is great how do i make sure it will come to my email? There was not a box to click!

Only37Constant

I've only read the first page, and already I've gotten some great, usable ideas. Sometimes I can read through an entire book on the subject and not get a quick jump start like this. This is great!

Anonymous

My personal organizer recommended NOT starting with what was bugging me most, but something small and achievable. In my case, I did my pantry, which wasn't that bad, before my study, which is a disaster with eight boxes of paper! This way, I felt a sense of accomplishment to tackle the rest of the apartment!

  • By Anonymous
  • on 6/22/08 4:22 PM EST
Anonymous

My personal organizer recommended NOT starting with what was bugging me most, but something small and achievable. In my case, I did my pantry, which wasn't that bad, before my study, which is a disaster with eight boxes of paper! This way, I felt a sense of accomplishment to tackle the rest of the apartment!

  • By Anonymous
  • on 6/22/08 4:22 PM EST
Ballerina

I feel that I've received a most beautiful, useful gift today. A friend in Florida sent me a quote from "First 30 Days" ... and my daughter and I immediately enrolled in the program. We're both plagued with extreme accumulation and clutter, and what we've read today is truly encouraging.