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Call to Order

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Professional organizers can help you get a handle on your mess

desk-clutterEver note how organized and neat the rooms are in magazines? There are always flowers, the pillows are perfectly fluffed, and there is never a telephone in sight!

I look around my place and realize that I know Martha Stewart, I’m not Martha Stewart. Her magazines pile up into something that could be a bedside table. Fortunately, Martha puts all her recipes online so I can find something when I need it. Unfortunately she can’t come over and declutter my place. Clutter makes this Virgo stressed, and just about now, I am really stressed. I also just got married, so along with a wonderful husband, I now have double clutter!

Fortunately, my editors at New Orleans Living decided to reformat our interior design pages. The first subject for this new format is getting organized! I could kiss my bosses! An excuse to consult with Mary Gaudin, a co-owner of the Occasional Wife on Magazine Street, seemed a gift! A condo tour later, Mary suggested, “Let’s do this in parts.” Breaking things into manageable parts seems a fave starting point for professional organizers. And it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. So in a two-part series, over this month and next, we are pulling together tips to help you, me and anyone who’s ever stepped over a sock on the way to the kitchen!

It’s back-to-school time, so let’s start with ideas to organize both space and time. A loving parent strives to eliminate things that put stress on their child’s life so …

  1. Before the new school year, purge everything and store memorabilia in a “memory box.”
  2. Divide a room into defined areas or zones to lasso chaos. There should be adequate space to spread out homework and story materials.
  3. Keeping a collection of general school supplies for access throughout the year avoids the 10 p.m. crisis of “I need a new notebook for tomorrow.”
  4. Most tweens are allergic to coat hangers. Labeled bins and baskets for clothing types (T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, jeans) avoids the clothing “carpet” on the bedroom floor.
  5. Designate a place for all school, PE and sports uniforms including equipment, socks, shoes and undergarments.
  6. Give each child his or her own “in-box” for school correspondence to avoid lost paperwork like permission slips. Check the boxes every night.
  7. Hanging memo boards and calendars with large date boxes is a must to keep track of schedules, project deadlines, sporting events, tests and so forth.
  8. A permanent note in a conspicuous place (for example, the inside of the front door, the bathroom mirror) serves as a reminder for items frequently forgotten: signed test papers, PE shorts, etc.
  9. Create bins or boxes for phone, iPod and other chargers.
  10. Be prepared: Buy a box of brownie mix every time you go to the grocery. There is always a bake sale or someone’s birthday on the calendar.
  11. Hide what clutter there is in boxes under the bed or behind a screen or curtain.
  12. Do a major cleanup at least four times a year, preferably at the start of a new season. Store all items from the previous season that won’t be used until the next.
  13. Back up all computers onto auxiliary, portable drives and memory sticks (also handy should we have to evacuate for a storm).