Organize your home for the new year

Small steps are key to tackling the mess
There’s no need to give up on that resolution to de-clutter your home just yet. January is Get Organized Month, so you still have a chance to start over and get your house organized for 2005.

Imagine how much easier your life will be when you can find that special sweater or quickly pick out that spatula in your kitchen drawer. And imagine the peace of mind you’ll have when you don’t have to stress out trying to find an important document among the piles of paper on your desk.

But achieving this higher state comes not just through physical but mental effort.

Professional interior decorators can break down the organizational process for you to help you achieve the peace of mind that psychologists say can come from organization.

“Organizing the home is on many people’s list for their New Year’s resolution,” says Barbara Ziebron, a professional interior decorator and organizer from Barbara Ziebron Interior Design in Hollister, but, she adds, “People need to have realistic goals for the new year.”

Organizing isn’t easy. For some, the process can take days and for others, years. That is why it’s important to make a specific goal. “You need to choose to devote extra time into becoming organized, and recognize that it will take a certain amount of time,” Ziebron says.

Ziebron suggests to take on one area at a time, and figure out if what you have in a particular area of your home is necessary.

Take a piece of paper and write down what you want to accomplish, and what rooms, closets, desks or tables need organizing.

That way you can focus on a specific goal and not become overwhelmed.

Frequently, Ziebron believes, people’s homes get disorganized because they just don’t have time in their busy lives to take care of the clutter.

Ruth Chase, a professional interior decorator of Chase Creative Design in Gilroy, explains that sometimes it can be a lack of action or guilt that can lead people to keep things they might not want or need, and that the passage of time can help assuage those feelings.

“I think people collect a lot of things to make them feel safe,” she says. “There is a lot of nostalgia involved. People find it hard to let go of material things, instead of donating it and moving on.” Chase says that getting rid of things you don’t need will help you let go of things in your personal life as well because your home represents who you are in mind and spirit.

Ziebron says organizing your home, “crosses over into your mental well-being. It frees you up to do other things, and it is very uplifting once a person is able to stay organized. It can be very beneficial to the mind.”

Donna Cohen Cretcher, a psychologist in Morgan Hill, says clutter in the house can reflect what is on a person’s mind.

“If you have a cluttered home, the best thing to do is to start to get rid of things and empty things out,” she says. “People who tend to operate with a cluttered house are maybe more likely to have a cluttered mind.”

Ziebron believes feng shui, an ancient Chinese art of positioning objects in your home to maximize the flow of energy, can help decrease clutter in the home and add to the feeling that the home is a comfortable place and a refuge.

“There really is something to it because if you have a lot of clutter around you it does affect your mental state,” she says. If you do not rid your home of clutter “you don’t connect to your home or the rest of your environment,” Ziebron says.

She gives an example: “Every morning, you’re driving out of your garage, and it’s a disaster, or you’re looking at really gross garbage cans.

If that is the last thing you see, and the first thing you see when you come home, it’s really not that great,” Ziebron says. “The more organized your environment is, the more organized your thoughts are.”

Mary Tomasi-Dubois, a feng shui expert and interior designer who teaches at UC Santa Cruz, suggests keeping a certain goal in mind when you are arranging your home because then you can aim to achieve what you desire.

“The exterior reflects the interior – in other words – your emotional, psychological state. So if there is clutter in the home, there is clutter in your mind. One of the key elements to practice it is let your intuition be your guide.”

Most commonly, the entry way of the home – the first thing people see when they come home from a hard day at work – is a trouble spot. “What happens is that people come home, and they just drop their stuff while a pile of odds and ends are left,” says Ziebron.

But piling things in one spot isn’t the only problem. Hanging onto or buying things you don’t use is also a common problem.

“If you keep buying items and don’t give away or throw out items, you’re doomed to failure because you cannot stay organized if you do not have the room for all your stuff,” Ziebron says. Look at what items you use frequently and which items you never use, and get rid of what you don’t use in order to keep your house ship shape.

If your kitchen drawers are disorganized, Ziebron suggests putting in drawer dividers to create a place for everything instead of having items tossed into a pile in the drawer.

A good system to use to keep the house clean on a regular basis Ziebron suggests, “is to clean up after yourself as you go along and stay on top of things before and after work.”

To maximize the space in your home, Chase suggests that you “have a place for your clutter to go – have a garage sale, give it away.” The idea is not to collect but to keep a constant flow of household items.

Don’t be afraid to throw away an item that you do not use, have not used or will never use.

Ziebron believes that organizing really comes down to knowing yourself – how you live and what you do, and keeping the things that relate to that.

By Michelle Rydberg Special to South Valley Newspapers

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