The Herald Bulletin

January 11, 2014

Now is the time to declutter and dispose

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — New Year’s resolutions of organization coupled with winter weather that forces residents to stay inside are resulting in homeowners decluttering and putting order into their lives. Closets that are filled to the brim and belongings in disarray are being conquered by determined individuals with lofty goals of reclaiming their space.

Cluttered homes seem smaller. By finding proper places for their belongings, homeowners can create the illusion of adding square footage.

Tips and tricks are widely available online. Ingenious and cost-effective solutions to common problems abound. All that is needed is a little spare time (likely supplied by the weather), motivation and a spark of creativity.

Before getting distracted with clever organizational ideas, start by decluttering. Here are a few tips:

— Divide the work into manageable tasks.

Honestly, the biggest obstacle is getting started simply because it seems like an insurmountable job. Rather than deciding to clean out all the closets in one day and becoming overwhelmed, choose one closet (or pantry or set of drawers) and promise yourself a good long break when finished. Hopefully the feeling of accomplishment will set in when the finished product is admired and a renewed fervor will keep progress flowing.

— Empty the area by placing items in three piles.

The overarching goal is not to move everything around. The goal is to free space, which means letting go of the old typewriter that hasn’t seen the light of day for 30 years. Three piles will help you move faster.

With a “keep” pile, a “dispose of” pile and an “unsure” pile, you will be able to move through the items fairly quickly. The beauty of the “unsure” pile is that it keeps you from getting bogged down with a lot of decisions. Once you see how many articles you are definitely keeping, these decisions will become a lot easier.

— Sort the third pile.

Now you have to make the call on all those “unsure” items. An often-used rule of thumb is that if you haven’t needed it in the last year, it probably doesn’t deserve storage space. Obviously, exceptions exist, but offering rent-free space to a never-used product isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

— Repack your space and dispose of unwanted items quickly.

Store your articles in a manner that you can easily reach the most used items and get the unwanted things out of the house. Granted, you are probably snowed in, but at the first opportunity, you need to hit the Goodwill or the Salvation Army. This is especially true if you have cleaned out the toy box with your children. Items have a way of working themselves back onto the shelves if they sit in the home too long.

— Seek solutions that fit your needs.

Don’t simply buy expensive tubs. Find the perfect and manageable solution to your problem online. Many of them cost very little. Here are some of my favorites:

Storing cookie sheets, cutting boards, jelly-roll pans and pot lids can be maddening. Simply place a desk organizer inside the cabinet to keep them easily accessible. (A dish drainer also makes a great storage unit for Tupperware and lids.)

Adding a simple tension rod to a drawer for pots and pans creates a second storage area perfect for the lids to stand vertically. Keeping the lids separate from the pots allows them to stack nicely.

Hang shower curtain hooks on your closet rod for a spot to place handbags not in use. Rather than search through a pile on a shelf, they will be eye level and easy to spot.

To store Tupperware lids alongside their containers, add wire CD racks to one side of the drawer.

To organize your jewelry and keep necklaces from tangling, hang cutlery trays with command hooks inside your closet.

Chargers and cords overtaking your life? Wrap them up, place them in an empty toilet paper roll, and store them in a box. No more tangles.

Shoe organizers can organize anything, from cleaning supplies to toys to toiletries. Able to hang on the back of any door, they are easily hidden and can free up some serious shelf space.

Here are some websites that will give you more ideas: