Is this the year to de-clutter your life?

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We all want to be organized. But almost everyone dreads doing it.

Clutter seems to haunt us wherever we go. At work, desks are piled with papers and littered with sticky notes. Cars are carriers of empty cups and forgotten jackets. And at home, where there are usually more people sharing more communal space, the problem only multiplies.

Getting organized can be daunting – a seemingly insurmountable task. But organization expert Ranka Burzan says there are manageable ways to tackle clutter. And the payoffs, she says, will extend far beyond just a neat environment.

Clutter is defined as "a collection of things lying about in an untidy fashion." But that untidiness is often an indication – and the cause – of other problems.

Burzan says material possessions (and the collection of them) is often equated with happiness. The resulting accumulation of stuff, she says, "is creating chaos in many homes and lives."

She suggests the first step in simplifying your life is to figure out what's really important to you. Does your life reflect your values and beliefs?

Next, set goals – not generalized ones, but specific, achievable ones such as "from 4-4:40 p.m., de-clutter and organize your garage." Set a timeline with a deadline to have it completed.

Other tips include:

• Tackle one area at a time - pick one area or room to work on and prioritize projects. Pick three to five things to do and don't move on to the next until those area done.

• Organize your closets - we only wear about 20 per cent of our clothes. Take them all out, try everything on and only put back the things that fit and that you like.

• Reuse and recycle storage containers - jars, small boxes and even pill bottles can be used to store things like elastics, batters, paperclips, and pins that tend to litter surfaces. Give everything a place to be put away.

• Rotate collectibles – if you want to keep all your knick-knacks but don't have the space to display them all, put some out and pack the rest in a plastic container or box. Twice a year, swap the display with the stored items.

"You'll be amazed at how much calmer you feel in an organized space and how much easier it becomes to do things such as cooking dinner, getting dressed and perhaps moving to another residence," says Burzan, who owns Solutions Organization Simple (SOS). "Don't let your things take over your life."


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