You look around your house and feel overwhelmed by the piles of papers and countless tchotchkes and simply don’t know what to do.
It might be a good time to call a professional organizer.
“Being organized and decluttering one’s home results in people feeling better emotionally, mentally, and physically,” says Vinnie Giacalone of Massapequa, owner of The Organized Guy, Inc. “It also makes you more productive and saves time and money.”
Giacalone says he starts by trying to get a general understanding of people’s issues, followed by an in-person or virtual tour of the problem areas of the home. The three-step process can be boiled down to the A.C.E. mnemonic: Assess the situation; Create the plan; Execute the plan.
Giacalone advises starting with smaller projects or tasks. Even if your goal is to organize the entire house, it’s better to tackle one space or room at a time.
“It’s easier to measure progress and it’s a great way to feel positive, productive, and empowered,” he says.
Through the years, a person’s belongings often gain sentimental value, so Giacalone says he’s careful to respect people’s wishes.
“However, I will make suggestions and recommendations that remain in line with the vision we defined,” he says.
To achieve a more manageable space, it’s not necessary to throw everything out, but to remain true to the goals set forth in the plan, advises Giacalone.
“If their goals were to clear out stuff but instead they keep giving me reasons to keep stuff, I will ask if they’re changing the goals or altering the plans. It’s always about accountability.”
Basements, garages, attics, and closets prove the most challenging spaces to declutter because these are the places where we typically stash things away.
“Over time, these spaces become dumping areas for stuff that’s no longer used or wanted,” says Giacalone, who advises people to periodically clean out and remove old, unused, unwanted items from these areas.
Bonnie Reich, president of Symmetry Closets in Holbrook, suggests the following tips for organizing/decluttering closets and pantries:
Take everything off the shelves and place in groups of like items
Separate into three piles: Keep; Toss; Donate
If you spend more than 3 seconds choosing a pile for any item, place it in a fourth pile: Maybe
After sorting everything, return to the Maybe pile and sort items into first three piles
Place seldom-used items on the top and bottom shelves; frequently used items at eye/hand level; heavy items at the bottom
Add Hafele hooks to hang mops, dog leashes, reusable grocery bags and more
Add drawers or wire baskets to organize smaller items, table linens, cleaning supplies and spices that otherwise get lost on deep shelves
Once you’ve gotten things under control, Giacalone recommends creating a schedule and blocking out time in order to maintain the order and basically create new habits.
“We all have busy schedules, so if we can find or make the time to do everything else, then we need to do the same for keeping our spaces as neat and clutter free as possible,” he says, adding that he shares his calendar and reminders list to illustrate how this can be accomplished. “But if they have issues or challenges, I’m always available to conduct a ‘maintenance’ session to get them back on track.”
And if you begin to feel defeated in your quest to declutter, Giacalone suggests an old and helpful joke: Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time!