getting organized


It’s a new year. Time for a new start for your home, your time, your stuff? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. According to, “…not only is 54 percent of America overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, but 78 percent have no idea what to do with it or find it too complicated to deal with so they let it build up, taking over their homes and offices.”

What is the answer? We gathered advice from home organization expert, TC Zimmerman, owner of Happy Homeowner, LLC, a cleaning and organization company; and James I. Owens, Jr., owner of Performance Strategies Group, and organizational and coaching firm. Their guidance gives answers about how to organize your home, and how to allocate your time to stay on task and to waste less.

To wrap up the feature, we’ve compiled a list of donation points to help you make the most of the things you’ll no longer use in your home.

Here’s to making your new year happier and less stressful!


Written by T. C. Zimmerman, owner of Happy Homeowner, LLC

Want to get organized? Start with the space in your home or apartment that is used the most. Most people will discount an area or apologize when company comes over. “Oh, don’t mind that pile of clothes on the sofa. Just move it over.” Or “Ignore the moving boxes in the corner of the dining room. We just haven’t had time to get to that.” If you have apologized about an area more than three times, it subconsciously bothers you and creates stress. Don’t beat yourself up about not having it done. Just make yourself and your family a promise to work on it a little at a time. I always tell my kids “make little rocks out of big rocks.” I say it so much, they will probably put it on my epitaph! But it helps to set the expectation that the issue will not be resolved in an hour, a half-day push or maybe even a weekend marathon. No one is chasing you! Just start small.

I prefer to set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. It is a short period of time and not at all daunting. In the beginning, just do one session in the morning and one in the evening. You will be surprised what you can accomplish and how motivating it will be to look at after a couple days. Clutter subconsciously causes stress, anxiety and even health issues. Your home needs to be your sanctuary. You deserve a peaceful place to rest at the end of the day. Give yourself this gift.

If the kitchen is your dumping ground, find a spot that the mail goes and put it there every day. Do not open any piece of mail that you do not have time to act upon. You are just creating extra work for yourself by having to remind yourself of the topic later. Now don’t let it sit too long though! Set aside a time to go through it. Gather like items and file weekly or monthly. The time efficiency will amaze you!

If you can’t see the floor in your closet, start by pulling everything out that is laying there. Stepping over things in the dark can prove dangerous. Again, gather like items and make a decision as to whether they need to be cleaned and put away (they’ve been on the floor mind you!) mended, donated or thrown away. Please always consider donating if possible. It helps those less fortunate and gives you a sense of accomplishment in helping others. Look for clothing that you have not worn in two years or more. If the clothing items are in season, pull them out and commit to wearing them in the next 10 days. If you don’t manage to fit them into your wardrobe in that period of time, donate. Sometimes we hold onto things that we really don’t like as much as we thought.

Bathroom cabinets are another place for things to pile up. Pull out all the prescription bottles and discard the expired ones. Your local pharmacy can do this safely for you. Never put expired pills in the trash or down the drain. Check over-the-counter medicines as well. Gather your cleaning products into a plastic caddy or basket so you can pull them out easily when it’s time to clean. If you can combine partially used bottles, you create more space.

A fun challenge you can do is “40 days. 40 bags of clutter.” I do this every year during Lent. You gather a bag – big or small – of unused items from an area of your home each day and get rid of it. This is an easy way to get started without feeling overwhelmed. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish this every day. Just catch up on whenever you have time. It’s easy and very freeing to have the extra space.

Basically, getting organized is something you can start at any time. Just start and start small. Rome wasn’t organized in a day! Grant yourself some grace and get going!

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