Miss A Columnist

Alejandra Costello is a Certified Professional Organizer who teaches individuals through videos and webinars how to become more productive and more organized on a daily basis by setting up systems in their home and life. Alejandra started her company, AlejandraTV, in 2008 at the age of 23 and to date has shared her organizing expertise with thousands of people in over 60 countries around the globe. Named 1 of the 7 most organized people in America, Alejandra's organizing expertise has been seen on HGTV, NewsChannel8, Family Circle, The Washington Post Express, The Washington Times, and Woman's Day to name a few. If you have organizing ideas for videos you’d like to see on Miss A, please visit Alejandra's YouTube channel and request your topic in the comments.

Common Excuses for Clutter!

Despite what you think are your best efforts, your home has evolved into a cluttered mess. You certainly wouldn’t qualify for one of the hoarder shows on TV. Yet you know that a dining room table where, thanks to the piles of paper, no one dines, isn’t okay. What do you think the problem is? Check out the most common excuses and our suggestions for getting to the bottom of the mess.

“I don’t have the time to get organized.” – Have you ever wondered how much time you would save if you didn’t have to hunt for your cell phone charger, sunglasses, and keys every day? Nonetheless, we acknowledge time is an issue today!

Start small. Each weekend pick one little corner of your world and tackle it. Is it the linen closet that causes morning chaos? Make that your mission this weekend. Once you’ve been ruthless with the contents, returning to the shelves only that which you will need and use on a regular basis, you can stand back (careful when backing up because you haven’t tackled the bathroom yet!) and feel a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps opening that closet every day will enable you to look forward to the next small mission you’ve designated for the following weekend.

“I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.” – “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” No doubt Confucius was working on an organization project when he said this. Just as we said with the time issue… start small! Even if you’ve blocked off a whole week to organize your life, you’ll still need to start somewhere. Open up that kitchen cabinet and start decluttering out. Once the first one is finished, open up the next one. There! You started. Just keep going!

Are you finding that one cabinet overwhelming? Then consider tackling one item at a time. Take everything out and only put back what’s needed. Three cans of expired mushroom soup? Trash.  Pumpkin pie spice you bought for the one and only time you made that disastrous pumpkin pie? Out! Two bottles of red peppers that you use every Friday on your pizza? Oh yeah, that’s a keeper.

Once you decide what’s going back, figure out how to arrange it. Rather than alphabetical storage of spices, how about commonly used spices front and center with lesser used ones toward the back? However you want to store your items, make sure it’s a workable plan that saves you time when working in the kitchen. Cabinet #1 done? Great! Repeat with cabinet #2, and without much sweat, you’re on your journey.

“Everything I have is special to me.” – It’s understandable that you want to keep your elementary school report cards, every fingerpainted hand-turkey your kids made, and your mother’s old tablecloth. But it’s taking up a lot of space! While it’s hard to let go of these items, try to limit yourself to only what will fit in a tote box or a large drawer. Make a point to go through these items once a year to determine if they are still of sentimental value to you. What tugged at your heart 10 years ago might not seem so important today. As for what won’t fit in the box:

  • Does your grown child want his painted turkey from 1st grade?
  • Are there items you could save it in a display frame or shadowbox that will hang on the wall?
  • Have you thought about passing along treasures? Perhaps your daughter would use her grandmother’s tablecloth.
  • Our favorite remedy for keepsake-itis is a scanner. Invest in a good one and start scanning in all those report cards, kid’s paintings, and thank-you notes you’ve saved. If it’s worth your time to have it done professionally, check out places like Kinkos.

Keep in mind that when you have an over-abundance of “special” things, nothing really stands out as important and worthy of saving. Reminiscing over one box of items every now and again is special. Having an attic or basement piled high with boxes of mementos is not

“I don’t have enough space for all my things.” – There are many reasons for not getting or staying organized, but at the bottom of the proverbial pile is one truth – you have too much stuff. Is the answer to rent storage space? No! [Don’t listen to those storage unit commercials!]

Whatever space you have – a studio apartment or a large house – clutter only makes it feel smaller. Getting and staying organized will make you feel you have all the square footage you need.

Once you’ve cleared out, do some shopping for the tools you’ll need to stay organized. Bins, baskets, shelving, files – stores are loaded with everything you’ll need to make your space, no matter how large or small, an organized sanctuary.

When it’s “mission accomplished,” hopefully you’ll be motivated to keep your space organized. If not, grab your well charged Blackberry and set a reminder for this spring – “Clear out linen closet. No excuses!”

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