organized! get Clear out the clutter 15 minutes at a time. BY SHAILA WILLIAMS As a homeowner, you have probably amassed a certain amount of stuff

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1 12 YOURHOME Fall 2005

2 UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED, ALL PHOTOS FROM HOME ORGANIZING WORKBOOK, MERYL STARR, USED WITH PERMISSION OF CHRONICLE BOOKS LLC, SAN FRANCISO, get organized! Clear out the clutter 15 minutes at a time. BY SHAILA WILLIAMS As a homeowner, you have probably amassed a certain amount of stuff throughout your life. And, you probably have good (though long-held) intentions to organize that stuff. On the surface, the thought of getting organized seems overwhelming. The truth is that you can handle the organization of your entire home by yourself. What s more, you can tackle it in an easy manner, over a relatively short span of time. The trick is in how you approach the job. A key to organized, efficient living is easy access to frequently used items. Homeowners who entertain a lot might benefit from storing tableware inside a dining room buffet table, left. Phase One: The Clean Sweep If you don t need it or use it, get rid of it! Clearing your house of the excess should always be the first step in getting organized. Tackle this phase one room at a time. Trash or recycle the items that are unusable or in poor condition; donate the items that are in good condition. If your home is severely cluttered, break down the job by setting short, daily YOURHOME 13

3 An organized closet produces amazing results in all areas of life. It can reduce the amount of time it takes you to get dressed in the morning, reduce the time it takes to put things away and streamline your wardrobe. goals. Fly Lady Marla Cilley ( Fly stands for Finally Loving Yourself ) has attracted a loyal fan base through the 15-minute philosophy she promotes in her book, Sink Reflections, and on her Web site. Any person can handle doing something for 15 minutes, Cilley says. So many people get overwhelmed because they look at a huge project and think, I ll never finish that. Well, you don t have to finish it right now. Take on 15 minutes when you get out of bed in the morning and 15 minutes before you go to bed at night. The project will come together faster than you think. Decluttering can also be the most difficult step. A lot of people find it very overwhelming to let go of things, says professional organizer Meryl Starr. They worry they won t be able to replace them. Other times they feel guilty getting rid of things even if they don t like or need the item because someone gave it to them as a gift. In her new book, The Home Organizing Workbook, Starr helps people get past these mental roadblocks by explaining the end result. By getting rid of things that are taking up space in continued on page 17 littlehelpers Get organized with the help of these resources. 1. The Home Organizing Workbook Author and professional organizer Meryl Starr puts her years of organizing expertise to work in the pages of this pretty and practical book. Divided according to room, each chapter ends with a list of suggested accessories This Web site teems with Fly Lady Marla Cilley s encouraging mantras ( Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps ) and everything from recipe ideas to spring cleaning projects. 3. Sink Reflections Cilley s book espousing the moment she realized she didn t have to conquer the world in one day and the valuable lessons that followed. THIS PAGE, LEFT: PHOTO BY MICHAEL ALBERSTAT/GETTY IMAGES. OPPOSITE PAGE: PHOTO BY EVAN SKLAR, GETTY IMAGES 14 YOURHOME Fall 2005

4 take on 15 minutes when you get out of bed in the morning and 15 minutes before you go to bed at night. the project will come together faster than you think. Fly Lady Marla Cilley YOURHOME 15

5 storagesolutions Look beyond the obvious cupboards and closets, and you ll likely discover you have more space than you think. Today s storage solutions are vast and include things like cabinet dividers, peg boards, stacking baskets and pullout drawers. More ideas: Kitchen Hang frequently used utensils like pots and pans in open, accessible spots. Instead of saving an entire magazine, slip magazine recipes in plastic sleeves within a single binder. Family Room Place magazines and newspapers inside attractive baskets or bins. Store blankets or magazines inside an ottoman. Bedroom Bath Kids Rooms Store bed linens beneath the bed. Store out-of-season clothing in attractive woven or wood boxes; then stack the boxes on top of each other and use as a nightstand. Store towels on hanging or open shelves. Store toothbrushes and other small toiletries in wall-mounted cup holders. Corral toys and apparel in easy-to-reach bins and baskets. Install slip-in drawer dividers into an existing desk or chest to house small items such as hair clips, game pieces and socks. THIS PAGE: PHOTO MICHAEL ALBERSTAT/GETTY IMAGES (KIDS ROOM), GUGLIELMO GALVIN/REDCOVER.COM (FAMILY ROOM) 16 YOURHOME Fall 2005

6 Below: Inexpensive drawer dividers, found at most houseware stores, do wonders in keeping contents neatly separated. Shown here in the kitchen, they can also be used in the bedroom for things like socks or jewelry. Right: Just because something is housed in the garage doesn t mean it should be stored haphazardly. A simple wall-mounted rack will keep utensils off the floor and close at hand. your life, you re clearing the way for good things to come in, she says. Get rid of all those old, too-small clothes crowding your closet, and you ll find your wardrobe starts to improve by leaps and bounds. Take the mental agony out of the decluttering process by asking yourself the following questions: Have I used this item within the last year? Have I needed this item within the last three years? Did I know this item was here? Does the item have a place and purpose a lid for which you have no matching container, for instance, or a board game with missing pieces? Answering no to any of the above most likely means the item is disposable. Another cue to get rid of an item is when the item is a duplicate of something you already own. Phase Two: Prioritize and Organize Now that you ve rid your home of unnecessary items, organizing what remains will be easier, quicker and more focused. As in phase one, approach rooms one at a time, and prioritize each room s contents according to use. Items that you use on a daily basis (robes, dishware, car keys), should be housed in accessible, visible spaces, such as on hooks or shelves. They don t necessarily have to be out in the open, Starr says. But they need to be accessible toward the front of the drawer, the front of the cabinet, one step away. Items that you use on a weekly basis (DVDs, vacuums, lawn equipment), should be accessible but tucked away. A second shelf, an under-counter cupboard or an outdoor utility closet is a good place to stow occasional belongings. Items that you use on only a monthly to yearly basis (holiday decorations, fine china, fans) should be kept in a storage area. Pack according to usage and seasonality, (don t store Christmas decorations with the Valentines, for instance), and clearly label each box. Make a master list of the stored items and their exact YOURHOME 17

7 keeportoss?know the lifecycle of your paperwork. The over-accumulation of paperwork often is the result of a hesitation to get rid of items for fear they may be needed in the future. Meryl Starr, professional organizer and author of The Home Organizing Workbook, shares these guidelines: keep Birth and death certificates Health records Insurance policies Mortgage and loan papers Passports Receipts and warranties for items you own Receipts and statements that are tax deductible or less than 3 to 7 years old Wills Tax records less than 7 years old For more on organizing your important paperwork, see Organize Your Financial Life, p.10. toss or recycle Anything expired (coupons, insurance policies, warranties, etc.) ATM and deposit slips (after you record them) Receipts, bank and credit card statements that are not tax deductible and more than 3 to 7 years old Receipts and warranties for items you no longer own Business cards you no longer need Pay stubs more than 1 year old (after you reconcile them with your tax documents) Previous month s phone and utility bills (after the next month s has arrived) THIS PAGE: PHOTO BY GEN NISHINO/GETTY IMAGES. OPPOSITE PAGE: PHOTO BY JO-ANN RICHARDS/PICTUREQUEST 18 YOURHOME Fall 2005

8 Built-in units like the one under this window seat, left, provide storage while also preserving precious floor space. Cilley says. Set your sights on a few minutes each day, and eventually these habits become automatic. You won t even have to think about it. Every time you open a closet, the refrigerator or go into storage, inspect that area for anything that has expired, broken or is no longer needed. Make a pact that every time you purchase something new, you will get rid of something old. Cilley recommends getting kids into the act as well. Instead of saying Go clean your room, say We re going to set a timer for 10 minutes while you pick up your dirty clothes, she says. The easier you make it for them, the better. Make sure closets and storage areas are within their reach. Set aside a place for them to lay out their clothes the night before. Take it one day at a time one 15-minute session at a time and soon, your life and mind will start to resemble the clean, uncluttered state of your newly organized house. YH location. This will help you to easily locate them later without a lot of searching. As you organize, keep in mind that storage comes in many forms. Tables draped in tablecloths, for instance, can hide kids toys. An empty kitchen wall can display rarely-used, attractive platters, while empty corners and dead space under stairs can easily be transformed into built-in storage units. People are spending hundreds of dollars each month in off-site storage rental, Starr says. Not only could you afford to build an addition to your home for that kind of money, but if you re sending things all the way off site, chances are you re not going to use them for a very long time if ever. For more room-by-room ideas, see Storage Solutions, p. 16. Phase Three: Maintenance Even more challenging than organizing your house is keeping it that way. In order to accomplish this, you must assume the role of editor. It doesn t have to be a day-long, life-long task, how we can help...get organized Let Wells Fargo help tackle the financial part of your fall organizing project. A Portfolio Management Account (PMA ) combines all of your Wells Fargo accounts (mortgage, checking, savings, credit cards, CDs, IRAs, brokerage, etc.) onto one convenient monthly statement. extension 112. Wells Fargo Online reduces the time it takes to pay your bills and the paperwork cluttering your desk by combining functions such as bill receipt and account access on one secure site. extension 110. Wells Fargo s SmartSpender SM Plan comes with the online My Spending Report, which automatically organizes your credit card, check card and bill pay purchases by categories such as gas and groceries. It s available FREE with all Wells Fargo consumer credit and check cards. If you do not already have your checking, savings or other accounts with Wells Fargo, our online Switch to Wells Fargo link can make the transition for you smoothly and quickly YOURHOME 19

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