GIMME SHELTER- Clutter buster: Focus on the little things

Peggy Woodwall
Owner, Simply Organized


Q: After the holiday madness, I find myself with a messy house, lots of presents to find room for, and a New Year's resolution to "get organized."  At the end of the day, I'm overwhelmed by the clutter and too tired to do anything about it.  What are some simple ways to reduce clutter and organize my house, particularly after the holidays?

 A: Today most of us have more things than we really need and a limited amount of time to care for them, a feeling that's only exacerbated during the holiday season. A good approach is to make room for the things you love and let go of the things you don't.  

Take Christmas presents, for example. Did you receive anything that's a newer, spiffier version of something you already have, like a great new blender? You may be tempted to keep the old model "just in case," but in reality if something happens to your new blender, you aren't very likely to bring that old one out of storage. Heck, you might even decide it's easier to buy another blender than to try to remember where you stashed the old one. The best thing to do do is give older models and toys away to charity or friends.

Another common gift issue we all face is unwanted presents that just don't suit us. Maybe your aunt sent you a wool sweater two sizes too big, or you got a big bag of peanuts and have a nut allergy. Rather than hiding those presents in the back of the closet, go ahead and stick them in the donation bag along with the blender.

In fact, I recommend that everyone keep a donate box or bag ready to receive all those things in life that you no longer love or just never worked as promised. Each week, do a sweep and look for just five things to give away.  After a month or so, you'll be surprised at how much clutter you've removed from your house!

Instead of thinking of "getting organized" as a huge project that you have to tackle in a weekend, think of being organized as the sum of all the little things you do to make life easier. You can probably think of several tasks you do around the house that already work really well; maybe you have a great system for handling mail or doing the laundry. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, just pick the next area that you want to improve on, and work on that. It may take several weeks for a new system to snap into place, but once it does, you've added "being organized" to your repertoire.