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  • Kate Berry

5 Ways Getting (and Staying) Organized Can Save Your Sanity

One day, you might realize that you simply own too many things and you've run out of room.

Clutter can take over your home in a flash. Plus, it drains your mental energy and causes chaos to replace the peace that once filled your home. Instead of packing everything up and into storage, what would be possible when you are able to free yourself from unwanted items that drain your energy?

Periodically, it’s important to get rid of those items that detract and distract from the life you want to live. When you purge the clutter, you’ll often find that amazing things start to happen in your life - particularly when it comes to gaining clarity and saving your sanity.

Check out these 5 ways that getting (and staying) organized can help you live your best life (and keep you from losing your mind AND your stuff):

1. You can actually find what you need when you need it

Have you ever spent 10 extra minutes trying to find your keys, or digging through your junk drawer looking for tape, rubber bands or safety pins? Our time is precious, especially when we’re trying to get out the door. It can be so frustrated to know that something that you’re looking for exists somewhere in your house, but for the life of you, you can’t find it.

One of the mantras of professional organizers is “like with like” or, one of my favorites, “group with a purpose.” When all of your winter gear stays together, it’s much easier to find your favorite beanie and keep that set of gloves together. By creating organizing systems that work with how you live your life, it’s simple to figure out a way to get to what you need, exactly when you need it.

2. You will free up your mental and physical energy

How often have you found yourself saying “If only I could get organized…” or “I should really be better at keeping my house in order,” or “We have so much stuff, I don’t even know where to start”? It’s exhausting, right?

The truth is, there is no better time than the present to get organized and declutter your home. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that more stuff will pile up and the more overwhelmed you will be. When you finally take the time to declutter, organize and refresh your home, you will be amazed at how much mental energy is suddenly freed up so that you can focus your attention on other things, like family or hobbies.

3. You’ll get to spend more time doing the things you actually like to do

I know, I know. This one seems a little counter intuitive. After all, cleaning up and decluttering can take up a lot of time. But it’s like my Grandma used to say: “a stitch in time saves nine.” In my organizing work with clients, we often discover that 15 minutes of cleanup 3-4 times a week can actually save your hours of time on the back end.

If you think about it, a mid- to large-sized organizing project can easily take anywhere from 5-20 hours. But what would it look like to take small, daily (or every-other-day) steps to keep clutter in check and put things in their home, rather than spending huge chunks of time revamping everything to get it back in order? Once you get organized, it’s easy to keep it that way by devoting small chunks of time to clean up and put things back where they belong.

When all is said and done, what are you free to explore or spend your time on when you no longer need to stress about the mess in your garage or your cluttered kitchen?

4. Your home or office will reflect more of who you are, rather than being weighed down by clutter and mess

Have you ever cleaned or decluttered a space and felt so refreshed and comfortable afterward? Once you strip away all of the excess “stuff,” the clutter, and the garbage, more of YOU actually gets to shine through in your space. Your home and your work space provide excellent opportunities for you to remind yourself of who you are and what’s most important to you - it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, confused, and a little lost when there’s a bunch of other stuff mucking up the spatial reflection of YOU.

5. You will be more motivated to tackle bigger projects and goals

One of my favorite things about completing an organizing project is that I generally feel like a total badass once I’m done. Stepping back to look at my work, I marvel at the focus and dedication that it took to transform the space and I can’t help but want to recreate that energy in another project. So many clients that I have worked with have taken that feeling of clarity and competence and used it to tackle other goals in their life.

Of course, there are a myriad of other benefits to decluttering including improved health (less stuff = less dust) and a feeling of comfort and joy in your home.

What’s possible for you when you imagine getting decluttered and organized?

To get you started, here are 8 ideas for getting rid of household items (maybe making a little cash from it!)

1. Ask family members if they need anything. Your close family should get first dibs on the things you want to give away.

* Announce the items that you're giving away to your family and give them a time limit for getting back to you on whether or not they want them.

2. Check to see if a thrift store or charity has any pickup times slated for your area. Sometimes the only thing you have to do is place your items in a box or bag. Thrift stores look for new items for their stores all the time. Many of them will come out to pick up your donation.

3. Drive items to a Goodwill station. Just driving out to your local goodwill might be the best bet, especially if you're in a hurry to regain control of your home. And, you'll be doing something good by choosing to donate. This is a good alternative if you're not getting rid of much or you're not getting rid of bulky, heavy items.

* Remember to pick up a tax receipt so you can deduct the value of your donated items from your income on your income tax forms.

4. Sell your items on eBay. eBay is a great place to hold online auctions for your unwanted items. You might be surprised at how much money you receive for them. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure!

5. List your items on Craigslist. Craigslist is another excellent place to get rid of clutter. List your item, price, and contact information in your initial listing. Then people can call you to arrange a pickup.

6. Join a website like Freecycle. Freecycle is a network you can join to give items away locally for free. You never know when someone else around you needs an item that you're giving away. It's also a great place to find items that you might need.

7. Toss items that are in poor condition. Certain items should just be thrown into the trash. A large trash bin can often be your best friend in gaining control over your clutter. The more you throw away, the quicker you'll experience the peaceful home that you crave.

8. Advertise your items on social networking websites. Let people know about the items you're giving away or selling on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Your friends will instantly know about your items and you'll save time by announcing your offer to everyone at once.

While clutter can be overwhelming, there really are only four things you can do with any item or piece of paper. You can keep it, sell it, give it away, or toss it. Get started today, and you'll experience a peaceful, clutter-free home before you know it.