Spring Cleaning 101: How to Get Organized Now

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If you’ve seen the TV series Hoarders on A&E, you’ve probably been motivated to de-clutter your home, but haven’t quite gotten around to it. Well, procrastinate no more. It may seem like a daunting task, but all it takes are some organizational skills and a bit of time. To stay focused, just think about how great you'll feel once your life is in order!

We talked to professional organizer Silvia Balderas-Saari from Cheryl’s Organizing Concepts in Washington D.C. about how to tackle some of the most problematic areas around your house. Here are her tips:

Closets

Assign areas where you’re going to put clothes you want to keep and clothing you don’t want to keep—whether it’s going to a charity or a consignment shop—and an area where you can toss the clothes that aren’t in good shape (some textiles can be recycled). All of us hold on to things that maybe we’ll fit in it again or that remind us of a special occasion. If you haven’t used it in a year, than it really should go. Get a friend to help you sort because they don’t have that same attachment.

Kitchen

One of the best things you can do is have a shopping list and stick to it. We often go shopping and buy things we already had. You didn’t realize you had it because you haven’t cleaned your pantry. Go through the pantry, check expiration dates and see if they’re still good. And even if they’re still good but you know you won’t use it, send it to a food kitchen or shelter.

Home office

Have a section in your office where you pay bills. You need a folder for bills that need to be paid and another for bills that have been paid. With paperwork, folks are doing more online bill-paying these days. I save PDF files of my bills on my hard drive. Some people keep their files for a long time and don’t need to. You should keep tax files for up to seven years and then you can destroy them. You also want to take advantage of all these opt-out websites for credit card offers that inundate our home offices.

Garage

You need to break it down into areas. For example, where is your workstation for tools and such? Where do you keep your auto items? Where is your sports equipment? You don’t want to keep things in cardboard boxes because they will get moldy. Plastic is better for storage. You want to toss in some cedar balls so that you can store things for a longer period. It’s like anything; you have to look at it and say, ‘do I really want to keep this?’ That’s where some people have a hard time.

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About this author

Grace Bastidas, Deputy Editor

Born and raised in Queens, New York, where more languages are spoken than anywhere in the world, Grace Bastidas is Latina’s Deputy Editor. She oversees lifestyle content, including topics as diverse as career, health and relationships, and occasionally writes about her own experiences in The Good Life section. As a writer, Grace’s work has appeared in The New York TimesNew York magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure. She is fluent in Spanish.

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