Now that you’re working from home or at least chilling there more than usual, you might have noticed that your bedroom has too many sweaters or your bathroom closet doesn’t fit all your facial products. In our recent episode of the vipHome Podcast, we spoke to Betsy Marsala of NEAT Method, a luxury home organizing company, to find out the top tips to decluttering your home! Watch the full episode now!
Take a systemic approach to your home (and life)
As a professional organizer for more than five years, Marsala excels at creating a system inside the home that makes the existing space more functional for the occupants.
“We organize and give you a system,” explains Marsala, who runs the NEAT Method’s Chicago franchise. “We go out and buy organizational solutions that are designed to look good and function well.”
When Marsala enters a home, she tries to tackle the home room by room, though some of the high traffic rooms might take a little more time.
“Most kitchen and master closet projects – at least in my market – take a space a day,” says Marsala. “Homeowners just need extra help, trying to figure out how to make small spaces work. We pull everything out of that space, organize it, go over some questions with the homeowner. Then we get the products we need to make it work and fit that space.”
Some projects, such as a bathroom, generally take less time to tackle, but organization is personal and everyone’s priorities are different. Marsala might select open containers and vague categories for clients who prefer a less defined system. For more detailed-oriented homeowners, specified categories in a defined space may provide more efficiency.
“That’s where the customization comes in,” says Marsala. “Everyone’s different, and everyone needs a system. But the systems look differently based on how you live your life.”
The goal is to make the space functional and streamline the client’s routine. According to a study by ClosetMaid, 44% of women can’t find an item in their closet at least once a month.
“Can you get ready in the morning, or are you struggling to figure out where some of your items are?” asks Marsala. “If you find yourself struggling to find things in your own home, that’s a sign you need a system.”
The secrets to organizing your home
Marsala shared the following tips to decluttering your home and organize your personal items.
Tips to decluttering your house from start to finish
- Create an organizing system, and stay on top of it.
- Communicate your system to those living in your home; they won’t use the system if they don’t know the system.
- Use labels. (“Labels are a game changer. We label almost to an annoying extent because labels are the way to communicate with everyone else.”)
- If you don’t have legible handwriting, invest in a label maker. (They’re usually about $30.)
- If able, try to put items away in their original place before exiting a room for the day. (If not, items may accumulate.)
- When maintaining your own space, try to set a 10-minute timer daily and use that time to put items you used back in their rightful place. (“Ten minutes is attainable anywhere except on a treadmill.”)
- Start with a small project, like a junk drawer, to gain momentum to complete more projects. (“Start small and see where it takes you.”)
- Invest in organizers to make your spaces efficient, especially in the kitchen with those tricky pots and pans.
Tips for decluttering each space
These simple steps can help you not only start organization projects but also finish them:
- Start small and be realistic with your estimate of the project.
- Break down the process, so it’s not overwhelming, e.g. Monica’s closet from Friends.
- Then rip the band-aid off and pull everything out.
- Take inventory to know what’s there and then decide what you want to keep, donate, or throw out.
- Rely upon your system and label everything, so if you need an item in the future, you know exactly where it is.
Quick tip: While you’re taking inventory of your items, consider creating a home inventory, or a spreadsheet/document of your belongings with corresponding pictures. Then upload the spreadsheet and pictures to the vipHomeLink app, so the inventory is digital in case of a home fire or flood.
Adopt a six-month or annual rule
Once you have your specific room (or your entire home) organized to your liking, consider adopting a way to prevent clutter from building up again.
“I’m more on the six-month timeframe,” says Marsala. “If I haven’t used it in six months, I’m never going use it again.”
While helpful to some homeowners, this “rule” or “guideline” might not work for families with kids in very separate age groups. These homeowners usually keep certain items, such as sports equipment, in case younger siblings might follow in their older brothers or sisters’ footsteps.
“But there’s an intention behind it,” says Marsala. “That choice has been made rather than just putting [the items] in a closet and then 10 years from now, going through it. That’s when it’s so overwhelming.”
Taking a few minutes of evaluation every six months to a year, helps to keep your home clutter free.
“You’re really helping your future self.”
When to hire a professional home organizer
Most clients hire a professional organizer after a life-changing event and are more likely to reach out to NEAT Method and request their services after:
- Getting married.
- Having a baby.
- Getting divorced.
- Moving into a new house (downsizing or upsizing).
This also means existing systems may need to change after one of these events occur in your life.
“People tend to forget that organization is like a living, breathing thing,” says Marsala. “It evolves as life evolves. When you have a baby, your pantry needs a whole different category than when you were single or married, or just married.”
Finding success in home organization comes with acknowledging how one’s life has changed and how the system can work for them at this stage of their lives.
But what about those horror stories of hoarders?
“We’re all human,” says Marsala. “That’s been humbling to see across the board. Everyone could use some organization in their life, even yours truly.”
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