Hanging around the house so much has inspired many of us to get organized. We asked two professional organizers to share some tips on how to tackle the clutter and repurpose less-used spaces.
Amanda Jefferson trained with esteemed organization guru Marie Kondo in 2016. Her Media-based Indigo Organizing is dedicated to helping people simplify their lives so they can get back to what truly brings them joy.
Radnor’s Carrie Kauffman is the name behind Carrie’s Essential Services, an organization consulting business. She’s also the founder of Getting Organized on the Main Line, a Facebook group with over 10,000 members.
Here’s what they had to offer.
Make a plan before you start. “To set yourself up for success, it’s important to give yourself a timeline and not overwhelm yourself,” says Kauffman. “Take a before-and-after photo so you can see the difference.”
Jefferson adds: “The beautiful thing about the KonMari Method is that it gives you a roadmap, so you don’t have to guess where to start. You do the five categories in order—clothing, books, papers, and komono (miscellaneous) and sentimental items. Doing it in this order means you see progress fast.”
Some of us are now repurposing dining rooms and guest bedrooms as impromptu workspaces. Whatever space you’ve claimed as a temporary office, make sure it’s both productive and peaceful. “I think a mostly clear desk with just a few things that spark joy is the way to go,” says Jefferson. “Give yourself plenty of workspaces so you have room for your planner, your to-do list or a place to scribble notes.”
Both experts also suggest having an item or two on your desk that lifts your mood, whether it’s a family photo, artwork or something else that makes you smile.
Everyone knows the anxiety that comes with an overflowing inbox or a low storage alert. Start deleting what you can in a slow, methodical way to avoid being overwhelmed. “In the first hour, delete 20 files, then walk away. Come back the next hour and delete another 20, then walk away,” says Kauffman.
Then go through your emails and tag important ones with different colors. “Pick a color for your business—mine’s green,” Kauffman says. “Then add one for your family, like blue.”
Donation centers may be closed right now, but don’t let that keep you from separating a few bags or boxes and setting them aside for local charities.
You have to find creative ways to compartmentalize when your space is limited. “The Time Timer works well for my 7-year-old daughter,” Jefferson says. “If I set it on 25 minutes, she can see the red triangle getting smaller and smaller, and she can better manage her urge to interrupt me. You might also try a playful sign on the door—like ‘On the Air.’”
Kauffman recommends visual separation. “Partition off part of your bedroom so you don’t see that computer at night—or if you need to be in the same room as your kids, partition off the part of the family room where you have your work,” she says. “Use something like a shower curtain to hide yourself in your workspace.”
For Jefferson, making the bed every morning is non-negotiable—and so is keeping the bathroom sink wiped down. She also dedicates 15 minutes a day to other regular chores.
Kauffman brings her kids into it, so “everyone knows we’re in this together.” The key: Give everyone a chore that matches their abilities.