I stopped by a grocery store recently to grab a few things but didn’t plan on also leaving with a couple magazines. However, while in line, bright green, capital letters, appearing like a subtitle to Family Circle, shouted, “GET ORGANIZED! 20 Things to Toss Today.” Next thing you know, Oprah is grabbing my attention with a colorful, spinning flower design inhabiting the words, “So Much Stuff, So Little Space. The Key to Creating a Clutter-Free Zone.” Well. It must be a popular subject!
Being a professional organizer, passionate about the topic, I decided to investigate. What do they suggest and is there anything new or helpful for myself- or my clients?
When I got home, I made some collard greens and put chicken in the oven to bake and boy- is it summer. Note to self: wait until winter to use the oven. Then I got to reading.
In Family Circle, Valerie Rains article, The Clutter Cure: 20 Simple Ways to Say Good Riddance to Unwanted Stuff lists ten areas in the home, offering two suggestions for things to eliminate from each one. Essentially, the pattern I noticed ~ any items that are broken, expired, or out of date. For example, old magazines (you can visit catalogchoice.org to unsubscribe), VHS tapes (do you have a VCR?), toys that are no longer age appropriate; and expired paint, coupons, or beauty products.
And alas, her Chuck-It Checklist, which many organizers would agree with:
- Is the item broken or damaged beyond repair?
- Has more than a year gone by since this was last used or worn?
- Do I own something similar that I like better?
- Are we saving this because it might come in handy one day?
When you go to Family Circle’s website, there’s even a permanent Organization section under the Home tab. Appearing in this month’s Halloween issue: The 5-minute Clutter Cure, which offers suggestions for what you can accomplish when you only have a few minutes, such as establishing online bill pay. Well that surely takes me more than 5 minutes, more like 65, unless they mean setting up one payee at a time, as the bills come in. Baby steps are better than no steps.
Onto unexpected magazine purchase number two. The Oprah Magazine article of course features Peter Walsh, her go-to expert on the topic of organizing. I actually got to meet him recently at the grand opening of El Segundo’s Container Store. Check me out, on the left!
In my opinion, Oprah has helped mainstream the organizing profession, mainly using Peter Walsh’s expertise. In Meredith Bryan’s article, Make Over My Weird Spaces! she highlights how Walsh is able to help two women tackle awkward spaces in their home, ones that don’t seem to serve any purpose. He transforms an extra hall closet into an office desk area; a small corner space into a child’s reading nook; and an under the stairs closet into a functional storage access area (as seen below, respectively).
For all three, he explains the challenge, possibilities, process, and result. He finds it crucial to develop very specific purposes for each area and commit to it. For example, the desk (left) was designated for sorting mail, working on her laptop, and filing paperwork. Walsh calls it “the nerve center- the place where you can run the business of your home.” Then you must make the area inviting by adding your own style and taste to the mix.
I must say for the reading nook (middle), the shelf towering over the toddlers head has me a tad nervous, so be sure to drill them safely into the wall in case of earthquakes or natural disasters. Maximizing vertical space is wonderful, when done safely.
What I like about the under the stairs closet (right) is a technique I often use in my organizing sessions with clients. “When the volume of one category exceeds the allotted space, Sohal must make choices, trashing the excess art supplies or storing them elsewhere.” I suggest donating or recycling though, whenever possible, helping keep trash out of our landfills, something Goodwill is strongly dedicated to. With that said, I suggest practicing the Revolving Door strategy, in which you designate a bin for giveaways and make a permanent home for it in a closet or garage. As things come in, place things that no longer serve you well, in the bin to go out. More on this soon in a future blog.
Although Oprah’s website doesn’t have its own permanent Organization section, there is a Home & Garden tab which includes articles and tidbits. You can also expect an annual “De-Clutter Your Life” banner across the cover. Enjoy!