Image of less stuff, more happiness - handwriting in a sketchbook against colorful abstract landscape

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Organizing your space

Image of less stuff, more happiness - handwriting in a sketchbook against colorful abstract landscape

Many of us would love to get organized this year. Easier said than done! I’ve been in the same house for more than 35 years, so I certainly know clutter. In my opinion, we need to try and understand the clutter and why we keep it in order to get rid of it. (You might think you’ll need a few years of therapy to figure that out, but I don’t think we need to go that deep). 

Maybe the issue is that you’re holding on to the past, remembering some happy time or place. You may just not want to be wasteful and are trying to live sustainably. Or, like me, you’re too worried that “I might need that someday and will regret throwing it out”. Nevermind that I have so many things I haven’t looked at in years! Whatever it is, try to get a handle on the “why” first.

Always start small. Taking on too much is a roadmap to disappointment. Personally, I’m going to organize my kitchen today! How about we start with a single drawer or cabinet. Save complicated things like tax paperwork organization for last. Build up to sentimental items leaving them closer to the end as well, as they take the most emotional energy. Set time limits. Say you’ll work for 30 minutes. If you feel chipper, keep going! But don’t feel bad for only doing 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in a short time. Look for small wins

Try to take out the emotion. We become attached to many items because we associate them with good times. But, realistically, keeping an old, dented pot from college isn’t the best memento! Look with a neutral eye. Think, “What would I say about this item if I was helping a friend organize? Toss it!” I know, it’s easier said than done. But the more you try the easier it will get. 

Don’t add to the clutter by buying all sorts of fancy organizers. Look at what you have on hand first. Disposable plastic containers; if you’re like me, you probably have quite a few of these on hand, and they make great drawer organizers. They come in all shapes and sizes and are inexpensive if you need to buy a few. Any old iPhone boxes around? (You know you have some). They’re strong and great for organizing small items like jewelry and office supplies. 

Think of the golden rule of what to let go. If you haven’t used something in a 12 month period it’s unlikely you ever will. This works for everything from kitchen gadgets to clothing. So, get out those 3 boxes: donate, throw out, and keep. Be ruthless! Before you know it your clutter will be whittled down to something you can be comfortable with. There are also endless places online to look for help, just search “declutter” or “organize”.

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago