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Blog: An Organization Diet -- Lose the clutter and drop the weight
Dumpster Delights...storage clearing!

    I've come to the conclusion that no matter how clean, tidy, organized and orderly our living space is…(and hopefully now, by week 15 on my Organization Diet, our homes have really taken shape) if we have hidden pockets of stuff crammed into storage areas…we're never really going to feel completely at ease! Follow me on this theory. It's actually quite logical in the perspective of Organizing to lose weight. As a professional organizer, I naturally strive to maintain a basic sense of order in my home, but with two young kids, it's always a work in progress! In recent months, maybe even over the past couple of years, my attic and basement storage areas have begun gnawing at me…to the point of actually stressing me out a bit. Old camping equipment, outgrown children's toys, old books and record albums, holiday decorations (everything but my Christmas décor, which I pride myself on keeping orderly!) and so much more!
    Living in a fairly large home (which can be a curse for keeping clutter!), I got into the habit of just 'putting things away' in storage because I had the room, instead of the more practical choice of just 'throwing things away' because we didn't need them anymore. Well, after a few years, the 'things here and there' that got thrown into storage turned into piles of 'clutter'…and they became a stress factor that closing the storage room door could no longer prevent.
    Here's what I did…and what I'm currently doing to finally address this problem!
First, THE ATTIC: I waited for a fairly warm week end day this past winter to get up into my attic. Just as I instruct so many of my organizing clients who want to chip away at big clutter projects, I took a box of black plastic jumbo size garbage bags with me and simply addressed one are of my attic. One piece of clutter at a time, I picked up things and either tossed them over to a different area of the attic to be packed away with similar things or tossed them away into the garbage bag. I was actually surprised that almost everything I picked up, got thrown into the bag…I wondered why on Earth had I wanted to save all these things?!
Time works wonders on removing people from the emotional/sentimental attachment to things. Within a few hours, much of my attic was cleared out. I swept the floor, and while my excitement energy was in full mode, I got in the car and drove to a discount store to purchase an inexpensive 8x10 area rug for my attic! The kids helped me roll it out in excitement because, to them, it was another new 'play space' in their house! Adding that carpet really made the space look complete. A new rule I established is that NO storage items are allowed to be placed anywhere on that carpet…that should be enough to keep that area clean and clear! That new carpeted clean space of my attic is on the left side of the center attic stairs. The right side is my 'Christmas Shop' as I call it (because, as Christmas junkie, I do have lots of décor…but it's very organized!), and the very back of the attic still remains to be done, but it is not so intimidating to me anymore, because there is less stuff and when I do get up there to work on that, I will repeat my attic cleaning process with garbage bags in hand and plan to add another carpet or two when that area is done!
   My next, and perhaps even bigger problem storage area, was my basement. We have nicely finished basement with my craft room, kids playroom, an extra bathroom, my husband's 'sports memorabilia' recreation room…and a fairly large unfinished room, we purposely left alone for our storage. Big mistake. If you give someone lots of room to hold clutter, it's going to fill up with lots of clutter!! I decided that this will be my Spring project. I was going to get rid of this clutter stress once and for all! I called up our local trash removal company and ordered a good size dumpster which they delivered. Timing was good. The dumpster was delivered during Week #13 on this Organization Diet, when we were all clearing out our garages! So, I started there with the intention of leaving the dumpster at the end of my driveway until my basement storage was cleaned out!
   Well, since my kids are home from school this week (spring break) I decided this was a great week to get started. Lindsay worked inside the storage room grabbing item after item and passed them to Lexy who walked them over to me at the door to the backyard. I took each item and placed them in appropriate piles in the backyard…one pile to gather like items together that will eventually go back into storage, another pile for things we have to sort through and decide what to do with later, and the third pile for things to be dumped into the dumpster! (I did put up a small 10x10 party tent in the backyard to house the things we're sorting in case it rained…this way, I can keep them out of the house until the storage room in completely clear!). So, this is the start of Spring break in the Lelas household! A few hours each day…should have the storage room clean and clear by the weekend! If I only knew what to do with all the old record album collections from my husband and I. Do any of you know any websites I can investigate? Let me know!
  Okay, this is Week 15…our final week on The Organization Diet! I will post a new blog next week, however, making week 16 a look back and review of the entire program. If you are new to this blog, check into next week's blog posting for the review and then I would suggest backtracking my posts to  January 7, 2008 (Week #1 on the program) to start the program for yourself from the beginning!
   In keeping with my own personal organizing escapades I just finished telling you about, it's no wonder that this week's final pit-stop project will be: CLEARING OUT YOUR STORAGE AREAS: ATTIC and/or BASEMENT! If you are on vacation this week…then mark your calendars to get started on this next week and continue for as many weeks after as it will take you to get control of this space. Consider hiring a professional organizer, if needed. It's amazing what a second set of hands can do in getting the job done. And since they are not emotionally attached to things, they will help you separate yourself from things you really no longer need to hold onto. The National Association of Professional Organizers can put you in touch with organizers in your area. www.napo.net as well as this website www.onlineorganizing.com (which also has an organizer referral system).
    Clutter Critter to exterminate from your home this week: unfinished craft projects that you know you will probably never finish. In cleaning out my basement and craft room, I came across many of these that I or my kids started years ago…and instead of holding onto for the day we find the time to finish…I simply tossed them…creating space and peace of mind instantly! Hey, when my home is lighter and orderly and my body is lighter and my energy higher…I will be happy to treat myself to a new craft project I can begin anew!
    Good luck in taking on this last but critical part of The Organization Diet! Hopefully you are still drinking your daily water and eating those vegetables every day. Please do not forget about your daily dietary & exercise cards, despite that we have not addressed them too much over the past few weeks as we raced to finish up our home projects. Please let me know how you did on the program. Email me at . Let me know if you know have discovered, first hand, how lightening up our home space goes hand in hand with lightening up our body! Happy Organizing!
    Hope to hear from you! To my New England readers, hope you can visit me at the Southern New England Women's conference on Sunday, April 27 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI. I'll be presenting "Let's Get Organized…simple solutions for busy lifestyles'…and singer, Colbie Caillat will be on hand to sing from her popular new CD! For more information, visit www.southernnewenglandwomensexpo.com  or log onto my website for more event information www.lifestylingwithLisa.com  ~ Lisa Tongue

posted on: 4/15/2008 12:30:00 PM by Lisa Lelas
category: Special Populations

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An Organization Diet -- Lose the clutter and drop the weight

by Lisa Lelas

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About Lisa:

Lisa Lelas is an author, life coach, professional organizer and speaker on the subject of simplifying, enhancing and organizing one's life. The owner of Life Styling, in Guilford, on the Connecticut Shoreline, Lisa has been featured on Oprah Winfrey, the Today Show, NBC news, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal and more. She is the creator/host of the country's first daily talk radio feature "The Organizing Minute" and has come to be known in New England as "the organizing lady" from her many regular segments on local TV network affiliates, radio & the press. Lisa is the author of the bestselling 'Simple Steps: 10 Weeks to Getting Control of Your Life', 'Simple Steps for Every Holiday', Simple Steps Audio-book (6 CD set), an all new Simple Steps wall calendar 2008, and creator of a retail line of floral hand painted and collaged organizing bins called 'Blooming Bins'. Lisa lives in Guilford, CT with her husband, John, two daughters, Lindsay 10 and Lexy 8 and her very spoiled, very cute maltese dog, Daisy!

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