Eliminate your clutter

One of the most challenging issues for people who have the tendency to gather clutter can be summed up by one word “miscellaneous”. What does this word really mean and why does it cause such a problem?

Miscellaneous means a mixture of various things, which are not usually connected with each other. One of the most important aspects of organizing your possessions is identifying where you use them and giving items a home in the same area to be returned to once used. Much of the clutter that builds up in homes, in the kitchen in particular, is made up of items that simply do not have a home, so they float around the house being gathered up into piles on shelves or countertops, looked at but not dealt with, shoved into closets before guests arrive and then moved again.

What is this miscellaneous clutter and how can we keep it under control? Here are just a few of the things that can end up being miscellaneous clutter (how many do you have lurking in your house?): bills you need to pay; forms from your kids’ school you need to complete and return; random pens and pieces of stationary, and clips and other “could be useful” items like elastic bands and tie wraps. Other items include scraps of paper with important numbers and messages on; things that need to be glued, assembled or repaired; lottery tickets (by the way, you didn’t win…); and the list goes on. How do we deal with all of these items so they don’t just come back?

Here are three suggestions to help you organize the main types of miscellaneous clutter:

1. Create a kitchen “junk drawer” to give all of those odds and ends you want to keep a home.

Choose your drawer, then add a cheap drawer organizing system with a variety of compartment sizes (can be bought from many home stores for less than $10) and simply fill with your previously homeless items — try to keep like with like when filling compartments and throw away what is genuinely garbage as you go.

2. To handle day-to-day family paperwork, a letter tray or small vertical filing box (with at least two sections for “in” and “out”) is probably the most straightforward solution.

This will allow you to capture all that floating paper in one place and you can still easily see whether you have paperwork or filing to attend to.

3. Write a list of all of the small random jobs you have to do. Then set aside 10 minutes every day to work through your list of jobs, crossing jobs off as you go.

This works well for tackling clutter like toy repair jobs, a piece of awkward ironing or hand-washing, the note to remind you to phone and make an appointment, writing a birthday card, etc.

How to tackle your kid’s closet

Well, it is that time of year again. Clothing retailers all across Canada have decided that it is spring and are busily stocking their shelves with lighter clothes in irresistibly brighter colours for the upcoming season.

The kid’s clothing business is booming and our young ones are more fashion conscious than ever before. The result: kids these days have more clothes — and parents have an increasingly challenging bi-annual chore: the dreaded closet clear-out.

Many families struggle with keeping their kid’s closets organized simply because kids have a nasty habit of growing. This leads to a lot of clothes that may just about fit, fit perfectly or are too small/short/tight all being stored together in the same space — something that causes difficulties for parents when your kid starts to have a strong opinion about what they want to wear or you are in a rush to leave the house (“when am I not?” I hear you say).

Here are some suggestions to help all you parents out there who sigh in despair every time you open your kid’s closet.

If your kid’s closet is just a simple rail and top shelf, consider investing in an adjustable closet system that you can add without having to rip out your existing closet setup. Adjustable closet organizers literally allow your kid’s closet to grow with them — you can add or remove shelving and rails to change the closet to match your kid’s height and storage needs.

Keep two storage boxes on the top shelf of your kid’s closet (or under their bed) — one labelled “outgrown” and one labelled “grow into.” As your kid grows out of a clothing item, just throw it into the “outgrown” box and at the end of the season sell, give to charity, or store the box elsewhere for a younger sibling.

Make a habit of perusing the sale rails at the end of each season and buy in moderation some basic pieces of clothing ahead of time in larger sizes; add to your “grow into” box and by the time next season comes around, you may well find that you need to buy less than you think. Keeping a note of what you have bought and what you still need for the future is a good idea, so you don’t end up buying too many of the same type of items by accident.

Are you late for school due to arguments about what your kid is going to wear? Try putting together a week’s worth of outfits on a Sunday with your kid, so they can just grab and go. Labels on the hangers with the day of the week can make this process even smoother.

If you are feeling creative, why not write or use coloured stickers to add the days of the week onto some circles of strong cardboard (about DVD size); laminate, then thread the cardboard circles directly onto your kid’s closet rail as hanger separators and you have a durable labelling system that can easily be used over and over again.

Place small storage boxes labelled with a picture of the contents (socks or underwear for example) on lower closet shelves or in a hanging organizer to allow smaller kids to get themselves dressed more easily on their own.

Whatever you try will be worth it for the one day your kid comes for breakfast fully dressed in weather appropriate, colour co-ordinated clothing without the cry of “I can’t find it” ever passing their lips.

Ten secret habits of organized people

We all have one. That friend who is never late, always remembers your birthday, and never seems flustered by the unexpected.

How do they do it? It is very true that some people are just born naturally more organized than others, but the rest of us mere mortals can still benefit by introducing just a few of their secret habits into our daily lives.

1. Accept good enough rather than waiting for perfection. Perfectionism is the sister of procrastination — in most cases it is better to do something 80 per cent right, than to not do it at all because you are waiting for it to be perfect.

2. Schedule regular time to de-clutter. Try involving your whole family to help speed up your progress when sorting and reorganizing.

3. Sort items into groups — file, throw, donate, action — and follow through by dealing with them straight away.

4. Invest in some well-chosen storage files and systems that work for you.

5. Walk away from sale items, unless you were planning on buying them at full price


6. Separate your emotions from your possessions. Most of the clutter people have the greatest problem saying goodbye to triggers important memories of loved ones or important events. Finding ways to preserve your memories without having to keep every sentimental object will help you to let go and regain some much needed space.

7. Make decisions on what to do with items as soon as they arrive in your home. Disorganized people tend to stash things until they feel ready to make a decision as to where it goes, or even whether to toss or keep it, and then end up making no decision at all.

8. Write down dates and tasks to do on a calendar or in an electronic planner and check it daily. Try to use one system to record information, so you don’t end up with dates and reminders in a variety of places.

9. Pick up after yourself — try to leave rooms as you would like to find them. This is something we would all love our children to do naturally. However, try doing this for yourself and you might just be surprised to see your children following your lead.

10. Recognize when you need help and ask for it. This is something we are all generally bad at and need to do more often. Don’t be proud; the people who genuinely care about you will be complimented if you confide in them that you need a helping hand and will be more than happy to do what they can.

Many of these secret habits seem very obvious and straight-forward. The true secret of the organized person is that for them they are exactly that, a habit, and consistently following them can help to lead you to your organizational nirvana.