Professional Organizers Share Their Favorite Way To Get Organized
It's about to be a new year, and for some, that means it's time to declutter. Whether you want to purge your wardrobe or become an organization maven, here are five helpful tips to remember, from cleaning and decluttering experts:
Tackle the biggest thing first.
It might sound counterintuitive, but organization and decluttering expert Lisa Dooley tells mbg that when you're getting started, you want to work on your biggest pain point first. "Determine what's causing you the most stress. Is it the kitchen? Is it the wardrobe? Is it the mudroom? Once you determine what your biggest pain point is, start there," she says.
Not only will you have the most motivation and momentum at the start, but once the biggest task is out of the way, everything else will seem that much easier.
Create "zones" in different rooms.
Dooley is also a big fan of creating "zones" in rooms that are multipurpose. "Think about it like a kindergarten classroom with different zones," she explains, noting that this will help keep everything in the right place. In the garage, for example, you would have a zone for recreation, a zone for gardening and lawn tools, a zone for maintenance and repair tools, etc., she adds.
Whittle down the wardrobe.
It wouldn't be a story about decluttering if we didn't mention the closet, one of the more overwhelming projects for most people. Organization expert Marie Jackson tells mbg that going through your clothes can be emotional, so it's a good idea to prepare for that.
"Allow it to take a lot longer than you think it's going to because it can be very emotional. You really have to get in that mindset—I recommend even having a friend with you to help or playing music to get you going because it can be overwhelming, and those things kind of really help keep you on track," she explains.
From there, Jackson says she always keeps a "donations" bin in her closet, and all year round for that matter. "Things come and go all the time, so keeping a bin and adding to it regularly over time really helps prevent the buildup that takes place," she adds.
Clean up your cleaning products.
Organizing your cleaning products? Yep, we're going there. As green-cleaning expert Tonya Harris tells mbg, cleaning products are an area of your home that can get away from you quickly. They wind up all over the house, some are probably expired, "and not only that, but we really don't need as many cleaning products as we often believe we do," she says.
So, she recommends making a point to go through the cleaning products you have, getting rid of expired products or ones you never really use. Just make sure that when it comes to harsher cleaning products, you're disposing of them safely and properly.
"Offer them to friends and neighbors to see if they have any use for them, go to freecycle.org to see if any local organizations can use the products, or call your local sanitation department to see if there is a hazardous waste disposal program in your area," she adds.
Labels, labels, labels.
And last but not least, Jackson is also a big fan of labels. Even if you don't have a label maker, sticky notes will do—and you can use them for anything and everything. "Organizing labels are really important. It just keeps things going back to the right places," she says, adding that you can use them to label things in your pantry, label different bins for donations, and so on.
The bottom line.
Decluttering isn't a one-and-done deal, it's very much a lifestyle practice. But as with any practice, the more you get the hang of it, the easier it becomes. So bust out those labels, create your zones, and prepare for a clutter-free home.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.