[This article originally appeared in Quick & Simple]

Secrets of the organizational gurus

Image courtesy of Unsplash and Harry Tang

They give advice for a living, but what inside tips do they swear by? We found out!

“You can’t organize clutter. Ditch all those containers and pretty little boxes you use to store stuff — they’re just dust collectors. Throw things out and keep only the containers you use. When you have no place to keep all that extra stuff, you won’t have the extra stuff!”
-Marla Cilley, creator of FlyLady.net, an organizing and housecleaning Web site, and author of Sink Reflections

“Find a new home for things you don’t need by having a garage sale or donating to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. You can also go to sites such as Craigslist.org and Freecycle.org and advertise what you want to get rid of, then arrange for the person to come pick up the item. It’s a really good way to detach from your things because you know someone else really wants it.”
-Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple

“Create an information area that you can call the Family Communications Center. Put up a blackboard or dry-erase board so you can leave notes for one another, and set up a color-coded file rack where you can keep mail, invitations and school papers. That way, all those things are contained in one specific area, instead of all over the house.”
-Nancy Black, owner of Organization Plus, in Beverly, Mass.

“Regift or return a present if you don’t like it. Just because somebody gave it to you doesn‟t mean you have to love it or have use for it. Get rid of the guilt. No one is judging you!”
-Jill Pollack, a Los Angeles organizational expert whose celebrity clientele includes Jennifer Tilly and Brittany Murphy

“Expect organizing to be painful. It takes time to undo the mess, so do this in small steps. You’re going to have to face some of your bad habits in order to change them. You might discover that you’re a compulsive shopper and that’s why you have so many things. Most of us don’t welcome change, but it’s an inevitable part of life.”
-Vicki Norris, author of Restoring Order and a regular expert on HGTV’s Mission: Organization

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to spend money to get organized. Use things you already have around the house to store things, such as baby-food jars or that empty plastic container from the Chinese takeout order. You can store nails or screws in those. Store the kids’ crayons and markers in shoe boxes.”
-Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and author of Organize Your Garage in No Time

“Use a small bookcase as your night table. Keep it neat, clean and uncluttered by putting a lamp to read by and your alarm clock on the top shelf, using the second shelf for the books you‟re currently reading and keeping magazines on the third shelf.”
-Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing From the Inside Out

“Make a daily to-do list, but write it in the late afternoon, when you’re already in the swing of things, thinking about what needs to be done and saying ‘I’ll do this tomorrow.’ If you do it before bed, your mind will be too stimulated and you may not be able to sleep. And writing your to-do list in the morning doesn’t work, either, because you’re liable to feel more overwhelmed thinking about everything that needs to be done during the day.”
-Diane Hatcher, owner of Time-Savers Professional Organizing Services Inc., in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

“People feel the pressure to have a perfectly organized closet, but the truth is, we don’t all live in spacious places. Go to the dollar store and buy a shoe bag with clear compartments that you can hang either on the inside of the door or on the closet rod. You can organize anything in there — cleaning supplies, scarves, belts, hair accessories. They even make smaller versions for kid-size shoes, which are perfect for storing Barbies, Legos and art supplies.”
-Debbie Williams, author of Organized Kidz

“Live your life in your home so it makes sense to you. It’s OK to leave things out. It’s about what you can tolerate and what you are comfortable showing your friends. Sometimes you may have to shove things in closets if guests are coming to visit and you don’t have time to organize. It’s not a permanent solution, but don’t despair — you’ll get to it eventually. Focus on the important areas instead. It always helps to have the guest bathroom and the entryway look presentable. Having a clean, tidy and welcoming entrance area, both outside and inside, makes a good impression, and people will most likely be more forgiving about the rest of the house.”
-Sally Allen, owner of A Place for Everything, in Denver

“Resist comparing yourself to others and thinking they’re better at organizing and cleaning than you are. Choose two or three of the most important things you want to accomplish during the day, and then if you get to do anything else, consider it gravy! Remember, there’s always tomorrow, and the world is not going to end if you don’t get something done today.”
Maria Gracia, president of Get Organized Now! in Watertown, Wis.

-By Quick & Simple



See the PDF here: Quick & Simple – Secrets of the Organizational Gurus 5/2007

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