Those who love Netflix’s “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” can have that same experience in their own homes with some tips — and maybe some help — from local professional organizers.
People generally need help tidying up after they’ve gone through a life transition, such as moving, a new baby, children leaving the home or the loss of a family member.
For some people, getting organized can be overwhelming — they’re not sure where to begin or how to finish once they’ve gotten started.
Fortunately, professional organizers have shared some of their tips.
Decide where to begin
There are two ways to approach where to begin cleaning, said Emily Fitzgerald, certified professional organizer and owner of Fort Wayne-based OLS Organizing.
For some, starting with an easier place allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment and can encourage them to keep going. For others, picking a more difficult space that will have the biggest impact can help reduce their stress enough to keep going.
Get mentally ready
Prepare to tackle a home organizing project by first setting time aside for it, said Lauren Bower, professional organizer and owner of Bowerbird Organizing based in Whitley County.
She also advises to practice self care before beginning and throughout the process.
“Drink your favorite drink, get yourself ready to do it,” Bower said. “Taking care of yourself while you’re making these decisions (is important).”
Set a timer
Fitzgerald likes the Pomodoro Technique, where a person starts with a list of items he or she wants to complete. The person then sets a timer for 25-30 minutes, works during that time, then takes a five-minute break. This process is repeated three more times, then a 30-minute break is taken and the process is repeated.
Even deciding to organize for 20 minutes can be helpful, she said.
“A lot of time just getting started is the hardest part,” Fitzgerald said.
Don’t shop just yet
“Usually, once you’ve paired your things down you can usually things just around the house to store things,” Bower said.
In addition, sometimes people don’t realize the dimensions of the storage items they need until the end of the process, so it makes sense to wait to see what they actually need to store before they spend money on storage solutions, Fitzgerald said.
Decide what to keep
Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be overwhelming for some people.
“Professional organizers have a whole toolkit they can use to help you get to the basics of what you want, who you are and learning how to make some of those decisions,” Bower said. Everyone can do it; it just takes some practice.”
Both Fitzgerald and Bower emphasized that they never force clients to give up something that is important to them. However, they do ask clients to be honest about their priorities, passions and why they’re keeping items.
One way Fitzgerald helps people reduce unneeded items is the Pareto Principle, which is the idea that we “use 20 percent of the things in our lives 80 percent of the time.”
“For the average person who just wants a simpler existence in their own space, just observing your habits and practices at home (can help),” Fitzgerald said. “When you start going through things one by one and really looking at them you realize what you have that you’re really not using.”
Areas where this is especially useful include the kitchen, where unused gadgets can take up space, or with clothing, where clothing people have outgrown or don’t wear may linger.
Another way to help discern what is being used and what isn’t is to have a dedicated space to put items that are rarely used and might be donated, such as a box with a lid, Fitzgerald said. If no one misses the item for a few months then it’s OK to get rid of it.
For those who have a difficult time getting rid of items, “having a person or place where you can give things or donate things can be really impactful,” she said.
Know that there is an end in sight
Though organizing a space can take several hours over the course of a couple weeks, Bower said clients are usually surprised how quickly the process goes.
“The level of relief you get after such a short (period of time) — it could have been bothering them for years and years and then we get it done in a matter of weeks or a couple of days working together,” she said.
“It doesn’t take forever, there is an end in sight, it does happen, and it happens a lot quicker than most people realize.”