Reduce clutter for spring

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter is the perfect time to organize the clutter in your life, professional organizers say. Below, Diana Vavrek, owner of Kicking Klutter, organizes a toy room. She says everything should have a permanent place to live, and like things should be grouped together.

January is a busy month for professional organizers, as people set out to become more organized to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions.

January is also Get Organized month for members of the National Association of Organizers, who donate their time to help various charity organizations get their houses in order.

People seem to have so many New Year’s resolutions, said Diana Vavrek, owner of Kicking Klutter, but becoming organized should be a priority.


Email newsletter signup

“It relieves so much in life,” she said. “You can’t pay bills if you can’t find them. You can’t exercise in a room with a floor covered in things. Organizing relieves a lot of stress in your life.”

And there’s no better time than winter to start getting rid of the clutter, she said.

“When you’re snowed in and it’s cold outside, there’s not a better time to get organized, Vavrek said. “You’re stuck inside anyway, might as well make the most of it.”

Even if you don’t have the money to hire a professional organizer, Vavrek suggests teaming up with a friend to help each other get your lives straight.

Organizing in the winter months also is a great way to prepare for spring-cleaning, Vavrek explained. Cleaning is part of organization, but it’s harder to clean when things don’t have an assigned place.

Children’s rooms and garages are often the most difficult areas to keep organized, according to Vavrek. However, home offices, closets and kitchen countertops are also trouble spots in many homes.

For any area of the home, Vavrek has two major pieces of advice — find a permanent place for everything to live, and group like things together.

Once everything has a place, return it to its place after use. It’s a lot easier to find something when you know approximately where it is, Vavrek said.

Rather than spreading your plates between two or three cabinets, Vavrek advises put them all in the same cabinet. You can put the plates that you use least often on a higher shelf and the plates you use most often on a lower shelf so that they will be more easily accessible.

Your organizational system should be as straightforward and as simple as possible so that you will want to follow it, Vavrek said. She also suggested that your system must match your personality.

For some, an open organizational system where everything is visible and accessible at all times will be best, while others prefer to have items organized in drawers and on shelves where they are not visible.

When you have an organizational system down, everything will have a place, Vavrek explained. When you put items back in place, your home will stay organized.

“Once you’ve set up a system, it’s important to follow it to stay organized,” Vavrek said.

Immediately after birthdays and holidays, find a home for new gifts and decorations. Decide where you will house the items, and put them back where they belong when you are finished using them.

Many people struggle to keep their closets organized because they own more clothes than they have closet space for, Vavrek said. She gave a few tips on keeping closets organized:

4Only keep clothes in the size you’re currently wearing. You can keep a few quality clothes no more than one size up and one size down from what you’re wearing.

4If you have a small closet, keep clothes for the current season only in your closet.

4Get rid of the clothes you don’t wear to make room for your favorite outfits. Vavrek explains that most people wear only 20 percent of their clothing 80 percent of the time.

4If you are not sure what to get rid of, hang up your clothes in the opposite direction from how you generally hang up your clothes. As you wear your clothes and hang them up in the closet again, hang those items in the closet facing in the right direction. At the end of the season, see which hangers are still hanging backwards. Those will be the outfits you never wore.

4Donate the clothes you don’t wear. There are plenty of shelters that will welcome your donation.

Vavrek’s final piece of advice: “Never, ever, ever purchase organizational items until you are organized,” she said. After your home is organized, find everyday items to help you stay organized.