Get Your Place Organized With The Help Of A Local Pro
There’s no better time of year to get your house in order than the spring, but decluttering and getting organized can seem like a daunting task. As president of the Austin chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers, Jennifer Lava has been helping people get their spaces into shape for nine years. “Organizers are a lot like personal trainers,” she says. “We’re personal trainers for your stuff.” We asked Lava for her top tips for effective reorganization.
1) Decide What to Keep or Toss
Determining what stays or goes is the first step in Lava’s organization process—and it’s often the slowest step because of people’s emotional attachment to their belongings. Ask yourself this: Do you need it, use it or love it? “If it’s one of those,” she says, “you can keep it.” And don’t let the high amount of money you spent on something be a reason to keep it. “You have to ask yourself, is it enhancing my life?” she says.
2) Let It Go
There’s a liberating feeling that comes with getting rid of things, but not everything you purge should go to the trash can or recycling bin. You have two choices:
- Sell: If items are in good condition, list them on Craigslist or eBay or sell them to a consignment shop or thrift store. Although going the garage sale route is popular, Lava does not encourage it. “It’s a lot of work for not a lot of return,” she says.
- Donate: Bring discarded electronics to Best Buy or the Austin Resource Recovery Center for recycling, and take your remaining clothing and home wares to the Goodwill, Salvation Army or the Texas chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Another simple solution? Post an item on freecycle.org or Craigslist’s free forum and make someone’s day.
3) Cut Out Clutter
The most common problem area that Lava sees with clients is excessive mail. She recommends downloading the app PaperKarma, which helps users remove themselves from unwanted mailing lists. Lava also suggests signing up to pay bills online. “Anything you can do to opt out of receiving the mail in the first place is good,” she says. Not to mention eco-friendly.
4) Maximize Space
Now that you’ve pared down your stuff, the key to smart organization is utilizing storage as well as walls, doors and vertical space. Here are six items that can help:
- Hooks: Stick them on the back of cabinet doors to hang everything from measuring cups to curling irons to robes.
- Spice racks: These can be repurposed to store rubber bands, thumbtacks, nails and more. The racks can be especially helpful in a craft room or office.
- Over-the-door shoe organizer: Not just for shoes, these can hold socks, ties, belts, small toys or cleaning supplies.
- Magnetic strips: They’re perfect for neatly storing knives in a kitchen or tools in a garage.
- Lazy Susans: Spinning solutions are great for hard-to-reach places, such as under the sink, in the pantry or even in the refrigerator.
- Risers and stackable storage: “Use your vertical space,” Lava says. “A lot of times we have more room to go up than around.”
5) Keep It Up
Just like someone who has lost a bunch of weight must work hard to keep it off, people who have purged their junk must be vigilant about keeping unwanted items and clutter out of their home. Says Lava: “You have to think really hard about, What am I going to allow in my house? And if I do bring something new in, where is it going to go? And does something else need to leave?” Consider tossing out one old thing every time you buy something new. Upkeep is essential.
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