Cutting the clutter

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Everyone has one, be it a drawer, a closet or a room. That place where random things end up. The miscellaneous graveyard of forgotten items.

There is hope in sight for the unsightly clutter, said Deniece Schofield, author of "Confessions of an Organized Homemaker." Schofield will be at the Drury Lodge on Monday night to speak about how to get and stay organized in everyday life.

Schofield has been speaking about organization for about 20 years. Her book was published in 1974 and sold 5,000 copies in just six weeks. To date, the book has sold almost a million copies. She has written three other manuscripts on organization techniques.

"I'm sort of an organizing pioneer," she said.

There's one basic way to get organized, according to Schofield. Go into a room with four boxes: One for trash, one for things that belong in another room, another for things to definitely give away or sell, and a fourth for things you are unsure about.

"That's the best way," she said. But not everyone can devote a day to renovate a cluttered room, so Schofield has modified her method to fit different needs.

The "Fast Fix Method."

It's not really a way to get rid of things, she said, but it will help in a pinch, like when you need a room for overnight guests or party overflow.

For this, you take large plastic trash bags and just move along one wall at a time putting everything in the bags. You can separate trash quickly by having two bags, one for trash and one for the rest.

The "Toss it and Move it Method."

"This is a knit-picking way to do it," Schofield said. You take one day at a time and do one box a day. Basically, comb the room for trash on Monday night. Tuesday box up the things you aren't sure if you want to keep or not. Wednesday take all the items for Goodwill or garage sale. Thursday return misplaced items to their rightful rooms, and Friday you have a clean room.

The "Tidbit Method."

The Tidbit Method tackles one area of a room at a time. Schofield advises using smaller containers and clearing out a shelf or a drawer.

It's a slow process, but "it's ideal for a person who can't stand to be in a mess for very long," she said.

The "Prove it Method."

Schofield said this is especially good for organizing the kitchen. She said to clean the kitchen and set aside everything you use on a daily basis. Box up everything else and write the date on the box. Put the box in the garage or storage space. You'll prove you need an item when you actually make the trip to retrieve it.

"Chances are, there'll be a lot of stuff out there that you don't even miss," Schofield said.

This also works for cleaning out the closet. Hang clothes on a rod with the hangers all facing the same way. When you wear something, put it back with the hanger facing the other way. In just a few months, Schofield said, you'll know what to throw out.

The "Pile it Method."

This is pretty self explanatory, she said. Instead of boxes, just pile the things into designated areas to be disposed of or put away.

The "Party Method."

"Another person can be very objective about your stuff," Schofield said. "They can help you reason."

People tend to personify things in their homes and feel guilty about throwing the items away. "That rocking chair becomes grandma," she said.

Invite some one over who doesn't live in the house and let them be the bad guy.

Once the clutter is cleared, it's a continual process to keep it at bay. Schofield preaches to throw away floating paper like receipts, "to-do" lists and outdated school papers.

"Know that nothing stays organized. Somebody has to keep it organized," she said.

Want to go?

Get Organized

From 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, July 23, 2007

Cost: $20, no registration required

Call 1-800-835-8463 for more information

Books:

Confessions of an Organized Homemaker

Confessions of a Happily Organized Family

Kitchen Organization Tips and Secrets

Spring in the Time Trap

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