Article written by JON LANSNER – The Orange County Register
Jennifer Ford Berry is a organizational expert and author of the “Organize Now” series of self-help books. We figured we’d help our many readers who pledged to get organized in 2012 and ask Jennifer for some home de-cluttering advice!
Us: Organizing the house seems so overwhelming. What are a few hints that can get a person going in the right direction?
Jennifer: Start with the area of your home that causes you the most stress and get it organized. Take it one step at a time until it is 100 percent completed. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and an increase in energy which will help motivate to tackle area No. 2.
Us: Some people have kitchens that look right out of the home-design magazines. Others can’t find a thing. Who is normal? What should a clutter fighter attack first in this room?
Jennifer: More people than not are overwhelmed by clutter in their life. Start with the countertops. This is the most visible space in your kitchen and the most important because it is the area you need to work on. Put away all appliances that you use less than 1 time per week. Clear the paper and make a home for it. Don’t go crazy on the decor, one maybe two things is plenty on a kitchen countertop.
Us: Many home offices are more a collection of piles. Whatever became of the paper-free society? How can one best decide what records to keep, which ones to toss – and what does one need to buy or do to keep my paper reasonably orderly?
Jennifer: Paper-free society … ha! That is a long ways away. Paper is everyone’s worst nightmare because it keeps coming, univited, each and every day. For example, if I want more clothes to come into my home I have to physically go out and buy them. But paper just keeps on coming no matter what we do. Rule of thumb — 80 percent of the paper we keep we NEVER look at again. So ask yourself “is there at least an 80 percent chance I will need this again?” If you can get a digital copy somewhere – toss it! Good, old-fashion filing system is the best way to keep track of paper. Clearly labeled in a straight tab format for hard copies; and labeled folders on your computer.
Us: Why do most three-car garages hold maybe one car – and family’s worth of junk? Bet there’s some mental approach that needs to be changed about this open space. How do we get the cars back in the garage and the storage space better used?
Jennifer: Many times people throw the items they are not sure what to do with, or don’t have a home for, in the garage. This is much easier than (1) making the decision on whether or not to part with the item and (2) deciding on a home for the item. Get tougher on decision-making and you may have less in your garage. Also look up in the garage, that is where you can find the storage space you need to enable you to clear the floor for the vehicles.