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"The most common organizing issues for Canadian families are lack of space, lack of organizing systems, lack of planning, lack of time and too much paper," says Estelle Gee, director of Orderly Lives, a home management service in the Greater Toronto Area. "There are really two major steps in tackling any clutter problems: The first is to determine your organizing goals and the second is to change everyday habits."
Clear clutter and reduce stress
Solving the clutter problem can have myriad benefits. Gee cites reduction of stress, better family interaction, improved health and greater connection to family and friends as the foremost advantages. "You'd be surprised how many clients haven't entertained in years because of their cluttered homes," she says. "That's sad. When you consider that 40 per cent of the time we spend on housework is in dealing with clutter, think of all the time you'll save by clearing your home of unwanted stuff."
Not sure where to start? Gee offers the following tips to help you pull yourself (and your home) out from under the mess.
Tips for clearing clutter hotspots
Home office: If possible, have sufficient storage for books (such as tall bookcases), office supplies (bins and baskets in a closed storage unit) and an L-shaped desk. Drawers should have internal dividers such as Rubbermaid interlocking drawer organizers.
Kitchen cupboards and countertops: Inside cupboards, double your usable space with shelf extenders. Use dividers inside drawers, and clear storage containers for dry foods. Create a paper management system, such as a file box or drawer, to keep the counter clear.
Laundry room: Invest in a divided laundry hamper for presorting clothes to avoid piles on the laundry room floor. Install either a shelf or cupboard for storing cleaning supplies.
Closets: Most closets only contain one rod that runs the width of the space. By installing an additional rod you can double the available hanging space. Storage closets, such as your linen closet or front hall closet, may need a few extra shelves or storage baskets for each category of item.
Basement: Divide the space into zones: play area, entertainment area and workshop/craft area. Each area will require its own storage depending on its use.
Living room: Magazine racks and well-built bookshelves are essential for keeping reading material orderly.
Bedroom: Purchase nightstands with at least one drawer for extra storage. Avoid small or low dressers that don't provide adequate storage. Retrofit closets to include at least two rods to double your hanging space, and add cubbies for folded clothes.
Bathroom: If space is limited, try storing bottles or other frequently used items in a clear, multisection shoe organizer mounted on the back of the bathroom door. Plastic drawer units can also be used inside a vanity; group like items in separate drawers. (Discover great tips for updating your bathroom on a budget.)
"Home is where we can let our hair down, but it also should be a haven from the stresses of life," says Gee. Take the time to create some order at home and you'll reap the rewards.
Adhere to this simple saying – a place for everything and everything in its place – and your home will have a more harmonious feeling, allowing you to feel more relaxed and less stressed.