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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Get Organized" - Article

     50 Clutter Hints

Why organize? Do you spend too much time looking for things, large and small? A pair of scissors, a pen that works, the invitation to that party, or a bill that’s overdue?? The first step to organizing is to UNCLUTTER!

Unclutter with reckless abandon! Have respect for yourself and your time by uncluttering and maintaining that organization -- after all, you deserve a calm environment when you come home. Organizing means finding a HOME for everything -- but it also means that you stop BUYINGneedlessly and compulsively. When you go shopping, ask yourself, will I use this? Will I wear this? Can I replace something else with this new item? Do I want this more than I want a new car (or new kitchen, or vacation…)?

Organizing can bring beauty and a sense of calm to your home. Uncluttering allows you to surround yourself with the things you LOVE, not with clutter; surround yourself with things that make you smile, not with things that make you feel claustrophobic. Let’s go room-by-room to organize and unclutter…

Decorate and organize your dresser-top by using beautiful things to hold your jewelry, hair accessories, watches, bracelets, etc. Put only what you NEED on your night stand: tissues, pen and tablet, Chap Stick, earplugs, reading glasses, water glass and small pitcher. Put things in pretty containers. Use antique furniture to hold your television, decorations, out-of-season clothing. For example, sewing machines, wood secretaries and Hoosiers.

Good Rule of Thumb: To look organized, store nothing UNDER furniture with legs.

Go through your clothing at the end of each SEASON (end of winter and end of summer). If you didn’t wear it that season, donate it if it’s still in style. If it’s worn, faded, “pilly”, or out of style, throw it away. If it still has the tag on it and you haven’t worn it in one year, donate it! If it was a mistake, donate it and move on. If it doesn’t make you feel good to wear it, get rid of it. Ask yourself, why don’t I CHOOSE this when I get dressed? Old sweat shirts, sweat pants and t-shirts don’t count as pajamas -- you deserve beautiful pajamas! Replace stretched out or stained lingerie, you deserve nice things. Keep different colors of hosiery in separate plastic bags. Takes less time to find them and they don’t snag.

Good Rule of Thumb: If you buy something new, get RID of something.

Do you wear all the jewelry you have? Do you have to wade through your jewelry to find the piece you want? Narrow it down to a MANAGEABLE amount by handing some down to relatives. Real jewelry is always in style, wear it often and not just in the evening. Costume jewelry goes in and out of style, styles change, go through and purge every year.

Do all your BELTS fit and are they all still in style? If you’ve lost weight, get a new hole punched in the belt! If they are too small, donate them! Try new ways to use SCARVES (e.g. scarf on a purse); donate the rest of them. Store flat in Ziploc plastic bags with air pressed out; takes up less room.

Replace the heels on good shoes-have them repaired or replace them. Need new laces? Get them! Store with dryer sheets in them to smell fresh. Store shoes without boxes-boxes take up too much room. The arches on sneakers break down, replace often.

Go through UNTENSILS and pull out those you never use-you’ll never miss them! Keep the 5 basics (from Rachael Ray): a good sharp knife, huge cutting board with rubber feet, big deep sided skillet, good wooden spoon, bowl for garbage by the cutting board. Sharpen knives that don’t cut. Keep cup measure with the flour or sugar or dog food. Keep things you use daily on top of the counter in a pretty container. Gadgets aren’t as useful as the basics, consider donating them. You only need so many CUPS, so they don’t spill out at you when you open the cabinets. Resist the “free mugs” at the gas station. Use the “good stuff” when you drink tea or wine, treat yourself! Keep similar sizes of plastic CONTAINERS together -- store separate according to lids and bottoms so they are easier to find. Resist the urge to have every size and every color of Tupperware. Keep only the pots and pans you use; polish copper bottoms to look like new.

Good Rule of Thumb: Store things INSIDE cabinets or glass doors-less dusting.

Throw out pens that don’t work. Keep a small “office” of supplies in bedroom or kitchen (pad, pen, scissors, tape). When dealing with the MAIL, “touch only once” -- this means don’t flip through the mail, put it down, pick it up again later and to go through it again. Tear credit card offers and junk mail in half and throw away. Use baskets or drawers for a quick FILING system; sort close to where you bring the mail into the house. Store bills to pay where you pay them. Get one container to hold all CATALOGS, store alphabetically and when the new issue comes, replace it with the old one.

Use a display rack to enjoy notes and cards, pictures, children's artwork. etc. each season -- then go through once a year and store the keepers in albums. Don’t make SENTIMENTAL decisions to keep or throw away on a daily basis. Display children’s art on cork or magnetic strips and cycle often.

Throw away EXPIRED medications, suntan lotions and tubes. Throw away cold remedies that didn’t work or expired. Use only one of each shampoo / conditioner at a time in the shower-store the rest in the closet. Donate little bottles from hotels to emergency shelters. Keep on counter only those things you use every day. Use pretty containers or trays to keep orderly. Throw out old make-up that is 2 years or older.

Good Rule of Thumb: If you don’t like it or it isn’t working as PROMISED, get rid of it!

Go through toys and clothing after every birthday and holiday when kids find it easier to give up their stuff. Get them in the habit at an early age to DONATE toys to children who have no toys. Donate clothing that is too small or give to a neighbor or friend.

If you have items that you put out for different seasons, make it manageable. Take a hard look, keep only things that have MEANING, don’t buy into keeping “crap” (i.e. stuff that stores only put out at the holidays to make you spend your hard earned money.) Keep in clear containers with labels -- one box for each season.

Go through movies and music as the kids grow and as your TASTES change. Keep only the BOOKS that have meaning for you. Unless textbooksare history books, things have changed!! Donate the rest to community libraries.

If you haven’t used a WEDDING gift in 5+ years-donate it. Wedding gifts should be enjoyed not kept in the attic. Antiques and family heirlooms -- use them, display them, enjoy them, don’t hide them.

Store garden tools up on pegboard, drill holes in handles and hang. Keep a few essential TOOLS inside the house in an open-type tool box. Hang ladders and lawn furniture on the walls or up on rafters.

Good Rule of Thumb: Use the WALLS to place things up and off the floor.

Store bags them in USEFUL places by type of bag. “Hide” your recycling! Use paper grocery bags to recycle newspapers, use small shopping bags to recycle catalogs and magazines, use plastic grocery bags to carry recycling outside and throw out smelly trash. Recycle the rest by taking them back to the grocery store.


Vali Heist is a Professional Organizer, the owner of The Clutter Crew for homeowners, and a Certified GO System Trainer for businesses. She also writes a monthly column for the Reading Eagle called 'Ask the Organizer' and has a radio program called 'Organize This!' on BoomerGenerationRadio.com.

Vali's bachelor's degree is in Business Administration from Shippensburg University and her Master's Degree is in Higher Education from Kutztown University. Vali has an extensive background of 24 years in Higher Education including training, administration, project management, writing, and editorial production.

Her passion has always been organization and how it relates to the simplification of work and personal life in order to enjoy both to the fullest. Her ultimate goal is to continue finding simple, easy to implement ideas that work in the real world and pass them on to her clients.

Member Of:

  • Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Greater Philadelphia Chapter of National Association of Professional Organizers
  • National Association of Professional Organizers

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