We live in a cluttered age. Despite our best efforts and intentions, we continue to pile up more stuff than space to hold it.
"Get organized" annually ranks among the nation's most popular resolutions (right behind "lose weight"). More products exist today than ever before to help us reach that goal. But our transformation to efficient neatnik always comes down to how we rein in our disorderly tendencies.
"People are getting more technologically organized," observed author Deniece Schofield, a longtime home management expert. "Like they say, there's an app for that. But as far as procrastination, setting things down and forgetting them, creating complex systems that are impossible to maintain or just making the same messes over and over — we're dealing with human nature. People will still be people."
Especially people with too much stuff.
"It's overwhelming," said Sacramento, Calif., professional organizer Gwynnae Byrd. "You look at all that stuff and don't know where to start.
"You've just got to start," Byrd said. "There is no one right way to organize or perfect storage system for every person. You pick a spot and start. It's just getting over that initial hump."
The biggest roadblocks come from "deferred decisions," Byrd said.
That starts with little everyday decisions, she said. For example, mail can pile up quickly. Instead, sort it over the recycling bin as soon as you bring it inside. At the point of purchase, decide if you really need a printed receipt (usually the answer is "no"), otherwise little slips of paper may stuff your pockets or purse. When traveling, know exactly where you'll display a souvenir before you add it to dust-catching clutter.
Schofield recommends breaking down the task into small steps. "Do it piecemeal," she said. "Put blinders on and just focus, one drawer at a time."
The key to staying organized is finding space for the stuff you keep.
"Everything should have a place," she said. "And don't bring anything else into your house unless you know exactly where it's going to go."
"There are four ways to store things: Hang it up, on the floor (under furniture), in a drawer or on a shelf," she said. "You can find alternatives, and there are so many options now with multifunctional containers. But make sure to measure your closets and storage space before you buy or those containers and boxes may not fit."
Schofield's favorite option is see-through drawers that provide quick access as well as visibility. Labeling is important, too. It designates a place for stuff and helps build the new habit of putting things back where they belong.