Writer Pam Coyle

By Pam Coyle

This piece on getting organized for spring cleaning was due a month ago but I was too unorganized to pull it off.

I wish I made that up because it sounded clever but it is painfully true.

Throwing more random stuff in the attic, or basement, or closet, or storage shed, would have been very, very easy with Easter, Passover and other spring holidays behind us. “Oops, too late, maybe next year.”

But it is never too late to work toward making our homes and ourselves healthier. So I am starting. Again. For me, cleaning is the easy part. Bringing order to the stuff that is on top of the dirt is the hard part. But much like shouting New Year’s resolutions, tackling “Spring Cleaning” means little without maintenance. A clutter-filled house will, without some new rules and a system in place, fill up with clutter faster than you can say, “Is that a new episode of ‘Hoarders?’”

Tanna Clark, a professional organizer, stresses maintenance when she works with clients. It does not take her long to figure out whether an individual, couple or family wants to make changes.

“I can usually tell when I walk into a house,”  she says. “If they say, ‘I want to get organized but I am not going to get rid of anything,’ they usually aren’t ready.”

She uses the time-tested three-bin method: keep, donate/sell, trash. “Once you make that decision, get it out of the house as soon as possible,” Tanna says. “All clutter is is delayed decisions. You don’t want to think about it. It has to be a constant process.”

Keep boxes for trash and donations in closets. Impose a household rule that a new toy can come home if an old one departs. Think about why saving some items is important – if they aren’t displayed but trigger pleasant family memories, consider taking photos and starting a journal to give the next generation not only the object but the context.

“I stress to more people now with the memorabilia they keep in boxes that the next generation has no idea why it is important,” she says. “They don’t have the stories. Start taking pictures and keep a journal of what these people did and the memories you have.”

Complete Organization Solutions” is the name of Tanna’s company and she tailors solutions for each household. What works for one family won’t for another. A few basic rules apply across the board, though: Do more instead of thinking about it; weed and sort BEFORE buying containers; and maintain the order by rotating displayed items and sticking to a system.

Don’t wait to get started – or start again if need be.

“Today is a new day,” Tanna says.

What do you want to know about getting organized?

Expert Tanna Clark answers your questions.

All the above information has been reviewed by this week’s expert.