Forty-five percent of Americans — that’s how many people made New Year’s resolutions last year, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
After losing weight, the second most popular must-do is to get organized. But while almost half of Americans may make these promises to themselves, statistics show only about 8 percent will succeed.
Professional organizers Stasia Cymes, owner of Clear the Clutter, and Kay Morrison, owner of The Occasional Wife, say there are a few reasons people fail to get organized.
“For most of my clients, it’s a matter of just not having the time,” Morrison said. “They are busy moms, busy professionals, trying to juggle everything.”
“It can also be overwhelming,” Cymes added. “You look around, and you just don’t know where to start, so you don’t.”
So where do you start? Cymes and Morrison weighed in with their top three most common clutter offenders and some tips for making this the year you finally conquer them.
1. Long-term storage units
“I would say one of my top priorities is to encourage people to get rid of any long-term storage units,” Cymes said. “Storage units are typically the result of having so many things that you run out of room to store them, but at the same time, you aren’t ready to part with them. The problem with this is that now you are spending your hard-earned money to house clutter, and over time, what you have paid to house these items ends up being much more than they’re worth.”
Cymes said the first step to getting organized, no matter what the space, is always to pare down your belongings.
“Clear the clutter; don’t organize it,” she said. “Otherwise you’re just organizing junk.”
2. Home office
“Everyone seems to have some form of a home office, but nobody really uses it,” Morrison said. “With laptops, you can work anywhere, so the first thing you need to do is figure out where it is you work — the couch, the kitchen counter, or maybe it is in your home office — and then make sure what you need is accessible and organized.”
For this, Morrison recommends using a portable file folder system.
Another big part of keeping your bill-paying area or office area in order, she said, is having a system for mail.
“You always want to open your mail by a trash can,” she said. “Open it up and right away trash the envelope and file it where it needs to go — either in a file to be paid, or in an individual file. Every child and adult in a house should have their own file.”
Even houses that appear neat and tidy can be hiding a dirty secret.
“Closets are usually the home of the long-term kind of clutter,” Cymes said. “We typically only wear about 20 percent of what is in our closet, which makes this a great place to do some clearing.”
Cymes said the first step is to remove each item, one at a time.
“When you lay your hands on it, you make a decision right then and there, and it goes into one of four bins or piles: keep, donate, recycle/toss or take action, meaning it needs to be returned or mended.
“With each item, I tell my clients to ask themselves, ‘If I were out shopping today, would I buy this for myself?’ If not, send it on its way.”
And what about those clothes everyone saves for when they lose those extra pounds?
“Get rid of them,” Cymes said. “Think about it, when you do all that work and lose that weight your new body is going to want, and deserve, some new clothes.”
When it comes to getting organized this year, both Cymes and Morrison offered some general advice. “Start small,” Cymes said. “Pick a drawer or one closet and just tackle that.”
And for those who can’t seem to find the time?
“Schedule it, just like with everything else in your life,” Morrison said. “And if you just can’t or don’t want to, you can always call for help. That’s what we do.”