Secrets Of Professional Organizers

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It is one of the top resolutions we make every year -- "This year I'm going to get organized."

There are all kinds of resources and tools to help with the task, but if we're going to be successful, we have to start all on our own.

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Have a mess to master? The secrets of professional organizers may help you make a dent.

"Getting organized starts with your thinking," said Deb McIntosh. McIntosh, who has the business, Simply Organized, along with fellow members of the Arizona Professional Organizers Association, presented "Secrets of Professional Organizers Revealed" at the Jan. 9 session of the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show.

"Think about your different habits," McIntosh said. "Organizing is a skill you can learn. You can read about it, watch a video, learn from others. Organizing is learning to let go."

"Keep it simple," she added, "It should be only one to three steps."

Amalia Gorratz, another member of APOA, outlined the steps for handling household mail.

"Process it on a daily basis," Gorratz said, "Instead of dumping your mail, sort it first. Open the bills and note the due date on the envelope and put them in the one spot where only the bills go."

Next, set aside the magazines you will look at later, and then, in another pile, put the catalogs or circulars you think you might want to look at -- the rest, toss in the trash.

Then, once a week, set aside some time to deal with the mail -- take care of the bills, write out the checks, put on the return address label and where the stamp goes, note the mailing date, which should be five to seven days prior to the due date, Gorratz said. Once you have dealt with your bills, look at those magazines and circulars, and when you're done, file what you want to keep -- such as that recipe you want to try or that inspiration for decorating, or resource material -- then throw the rest away.

Eileen Roth, owner of Everything in its Place, and author of "Organizing for Dummies," carried the discussion about household papers further.

"For your home filing you really only need two file drawers, plus a box for warranties," Roth said.

She suggests using hanging files and inside hanging files -- file folders with reinforced edges.

"The hanging file stays in the file cabinet as a place holder. Take out the file folders from the hanging files," she said.

Her system for household filing involves keeping all financial papers in files of the same color -- green for money was her suggestion; legal matters and insurance papers could go in yellow files.

Perhaps the household paperwork is not your problem. Maybe you have a bigger problem -- a whole room.

"Pick something small and doable to start," Sue Shipman said.

"But don't start when you're at a point of frustration. Start when there's reasonable time."

Shipman's example was a junk drawer or maybe a pantry of no more than four shelves.

"Take it all out and sort it as you go," she said, things will go into groups naturally. "if you are faced with indecision on an item, start an indecision pile and come back to it later."

Shipman said when you are putting things back, have the things you use most frequently with the easiest access.

Renee Belisle, owner of Clutter Rehab, believes you can organize children, too. She suggests using containers that are colorful and fun, the right size for their contents.

"The best model is the kindergarten classroom," Belisle said, "Cubbies were used, there were activity zones. Hangers are hard for kids to use, use hooks or pegs and hang them at children's heights."

She said organize a child's room in a similar way.

"Divide and conquer," said Karen Ussery, owner of Organized for Success, and president of APOA. "Set an appointment for an organizational task and when it is done, reward yourself."

Stores all over Payson have a variety of bins, baskets, shelving units, closet systems and more to help you get organized.

For more information, the APOA has a website, www.apoa.info, which includes the individual websites of some of its 40-plus members.

A couple of television programs are devoted to organizing, "Clean Sweep" on TLC and "Mission Organization" on HGTV.

Check out the Payson Public Library for other resources.

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