Monika Kristofferson of Efficient Organization in Lake Stevens, Jennifer Ford Berry, an organizational expert and author of the "Organize Now" series, and Nikki Havens of Seriously Organized in Bloomington, Minn., offer hints to point you in the right direction:
One step at a time
Start with the area of your home that causes you the most stress and get it organized. Stick to it until it's 100 percent completed.
You will feel a sense of accomplishment and an increase in energy, which will help motivate to tackle area No. 2.
Start with the countertops. This is the most visible space in your kitchen and the most important because it is the area you need to work on.
Put away all appliances that you use less than once a week.
Use baskets or bins to store snacks for kids, such as granola bars. Kids will know where to go for a snack and you will eliminate all those opened half-full boxes.
Create zones to keep the supplies that you need at your fingertips. Examples: baking zone, lunch-making zone, food prep zone.
Use turntables to corral items and eliminate the need to reach in back.
Only buy what you have space to keep and use before expiration dates.
Store less frequently used items and keep items you use every day at your fingertips. For example, holiday dishes can be kept higher, lower or out in the garage with your holiday decorations.
Tackle the paper
We're a long ways away from a paper-free society. Paper is everyone's worst nightmare because it keeps coming, uninvited, each and every day.
Rule of thumb: 80 percent of the paper we keep we never look at again. So ask yourself "is there at least an 80 percent chance I will need this again?"
Get a digital copy and toss the paper.
A good, old-fashioned filing system is the best way to keep track of paper. Clearly label folders in a straight tab format for hard copies and label folders on your computer files.
Think ART: Paper that requires A for action (paying bills, making phone calls, filling out paperwork);
R for retention (storing for future reference);
T for toss (recycle, shred or throw away, such as junk mail and bill inserts.
Remove yourself from mailing lists: www.dmachoice.org, www. catalogchoice.org.
Place a tray or basket on top of your file cabinet for paper that needs to be filed when you don't have time to file on the spot.
Place it where you pile it: If you usually place your mail on the kitchen counter, put an an attractive basket there.
Purge file drawers at least once a year.
Your entry hall closet is the most convenient spot in your home. Use it to your advantage.
Identify the coats you actually wear and pull out anything you don't, along with out-of-season outerwear.
Use the floor for frequently used shoes
Add two shelves above the shoes for two color-coded bins for each family member. Label them with names.
Place the first set of bins on the bottom shelf for seasonal accessories: hats and gloves in the winter or goggles in the summer.
Use the second shelf of bins as the "clutter control center" for everything from hairbands to finger-painting masterpieces. These tubs are the place to throw odds and ends as you come in the door.
Remove the hanging bar and install hooks in a diamond pattern for coats and bags. Kids can take the lower hooks while adults claim the top ones.
Jon Lansner, The Orange County Register, and Cedar Burnett, Associated Press, contributed to this report.
• Kelly DuByne of Distinctive Interior Designs and Monika Kristofferson of Efficient Organization, both in Lake Stevens, offer classes to help you declutter your surroundings.
• Classes at the Marysville Library, 6120 Grove St. Register at Marysville Parks & Recreation website, www.marysvillewa.gov or call 360-363-8400: March 22: Declutter, Organize and Park in Your Garage Again, 6 to 7:30 p.m. $22. April 19: Organize & Design Your Office for Optimal Productivity, 6 to 8 p.m. $30. May 9: Decluttering, Decisions & Downsizing for Seniors, 6 to 7:30 p.m. $22.
• Lake Stevens School District classes at Educational Service Center 12309 22nd St. NE, Lake Stevens Register 425-335-1500; www.lkstevens.wednet.edu: April 26: Decisions, Decluttering & Downsizing for Seniors, 6 to 7:30 p.m. $20. May 15: Declutter, Organize & Park in Your Garage Again, 6 to 7:30 p.m. $20. June 5: Design and Organize Your Kitchen for Beauty and Efficiency, 6 to 8 p.m. $30.
• Classes at VanValey house, 2130 Colby Ave.., Everett.Register at Everett Parks & Recreation, 425-257-8300, ext. 2, www.everettwa.org: April 10, 17, 24: Office Efficiency Series: Paper, Time Managerment, Email Management, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. $70 for series.
• Lake Stevens Boys & Girls Club, 1609 E. Lakeshore Drive Lake Stevens: May 5: Declutter, Design, Desserts & Donate (For a Cause), a free class from 10 a.m. to noon. Call 425-238-3678 for more information.
Kelly DuByne and Monika Kristofferson offer many other classes in organization and decor.
Kelly DuByne 425-238-3678 www.distinctiveinterior designs.net
Monika Kristofferson 425-220-8905 www.efficientorganizationnw.com
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