Thursday, August 01, 2013


MYTH: Being organized means having a home that resembles the pages of Real Simple magazine, with nary an object out of place!

TRUTH: Being organized means having a few systems and tools which free you up to spend more time with your friends and family and less time hunting for things you need or stressing about piles of stuff that have no rhyme or reason.

Here are ten organizing practices to get you going:

1. Set aside time to open your mail every day! Open mail over a trash/recycling can and throw out solicitations and other junk mail. Daily mail sorting prevents paper pile-up and the resulting feelings of overwhelm.

2. Use the RAFT acronym for handling papers.
R = Refer to someone else
A = Act on it if the action takes 5 minutes or less OR put it in an action pile
F = File it
T = Toss or recycle it!

3. Put old financial or archival documents which you don’t need to refer to often in a banker’s box and store on a high shelf. Create homes (binders, files, whatever works for you) for papers which come in on a regular basis – financial statements, bills, etc.

4. For de-cluttering, set aside a specific amount of time. It’s helpful to use a kitchen timer. Pick an area that you know you will be able to complete in that time frame – e.g., two shelves on the bookshelf, a dresser drawer, the top of your desk.

5. Look at one item at a time. Make a decision about each item before going on to the next. Do you want to keep it, toss it, repair it, or donate it? Make a pile for each category.

6. While going through books, clothing, jewelry, etc., ask yourself: Do I need it? Do I love it? Do I use it? Do I want it? Do I feel good when I wear it, use it, look at it? Keep or let go based on the answer.

7. When you come up against “I might need this someday,” trust that you can get what you need when the occasion arises.

8. With gifts and other objects of sentimental value, ask yourself: “Can I hold onto the memory without holding onto the object?” Choose the most precious memories and store or display them so that they are easily accessed – in albums or decorative storage boxes.

9. Have a designated place in your apartment for give-aways so that everyone can get into the habit of putting unused or unwanted stuff there. Choose a charity that you can easily walk or cab your stuff to, or one that makes pick-ups.

10. Put a vase of flowers anywhere in your apartment where clutter tends to accumulate. It’s less tempting to let clutter build up where there is beauty!

About Eleanor: A professional organizer since 1999, Eleanor assists busy New York women de-clutter and make better use of desks, closets, filing cabinets, and more. She has been featured in Time Out New York, The Brooklyn Paper, Family Circle, The Sun Times Chronicle, and Fitness, and was listed as one of The Park Slope 100.
Eleanor is also a writer, educator, and community-builder whose mission is to bring people together through the arts, creativity, and humor. She is Editor of the NY arts and culture blog Creative Times.

To contact Eleanor:   ETraubman{at}gmail{dot}com