The change of seasons is a good time for...well, change. If your prized possessions have started to look more like ugly clutter, it's time to organize your home and your life. Here are 10 steps to ease the process, from Angelo Surmelis of The Learning Channel's show "Clean Sweep" and professional organizer Cyndi Seidler.
Make the desision to organize your space. Forget about trying to impress guests with a clean home, and focus on the fact that once you've organized, you'll have more time to do the fun things you want, instead of sorting through junk.
First, tackle the room you spend the most time in, or the one that will make you the most productive. Worry later about that basement you've been meaning to redo, and focus instead on that home office so you can get more work done.
Sort junk into three categories: Keep, Sell and Toss. Then organize items into categories such as kitchen, clothes, office, audio-video, etc.
While sorting items, evaluate each piece to decide what value it holds for you. If it has use or importance, keep it and display it proudly. If it isn't going to be used or displayed, toss it.
If you do nothing else, paint. Not only does this add personality to a room and keep clutter from blending into whitewashed walls, but taking everything out of a room helps you self-edit what you decide to bring back.
Every item in a room should have a home. Whether it's a personal piece framed or displayed on a shelf or table, or a handful of craft supplies stored in a clear plastic box or rolling cart, it all belongs somewhere. Store away office supplies to keep clutter off desks, and keep miscellaneous clothing items in clear containers for easy access.
Identify the storage needs of each room you work on, and shop accordingly. Dark wood-accented pieces may work for your living room but clash with kitchen decor. And different-sized boxes and accessories may work best in different places in your home, so take stock before you hit the stores.
Self-editing is key to organizing spaces. Always be conscious of what you bring into a room and where it fits in. Take a little extra time to maintain organization, lest it build up. Five minutes at the end of each day can prevent the overwhelming task of dealing with a monster organizing project.
If you're just completely over-whelmed, consider hiring an organizer or designer to help you out. Or, if you know what you want done, you always can hire the labor to get the project finished. You can find a professional organizer in your area by going to the National Association fo Professional Organizers'Web site, www.napo.net.
Give yourself time. An entire crew working practically around the clock on "Clean Sweep" can get a lot done in two days. But don't expect the same if you're flying solo.
-Found in the Seattle Times, fall 2004. Call "The House" to get an objective perspective on the matter and find the right help: 360-321-4718 in the Seattle area, or visit our website: www.abouthehouse.com, where we address cleaning, clutter, and color issues.