Junkluggers Expert Panel: Spring into Spring, Organized and Clean!

With Spring cleaning on the mind and some of the implications that may hold, whether that means getting organized, interior design options, or even preparation for a home sale, the Junkluggers have reached out to an expert panel of top organizers to see what insights they might hold. Please feel free to check out their websites for more info about them.

Featured (alphabetically) we have Matt Baier, Matt Baier OrganizingJeffrey Calandra, ocd4lifeBarbara Reich, Resourceful Consultants, Professional Organizing.

JUNKLUGGERS: With Spring just around the corner, how can people avoid closet clutter due to seasonal items that need storage?
BARBARA REICH: My suggestion is that you don’t take out seasonal summer items until you put away the winter items that need storage. If you have everything out at once, it’s a worst case scenario. You’ll be overwhelmed, your closets will be overwhelmed, and you won’t have a smooth transition to Spring.

JUNKLUGGERS: If someone is moving this Spring, or looking to sell their home – what can they do to make the process move more smoothly?
MATT BAIER: Selling a home and moving are both stressful and labor-intensive events. Finding focus can reduce this stress and labor. A great way to start focusing on the important stuff is by getting rid of the less important stuff. Clearing the clutter helps you see what is most important. If you are selling your home, potential home-buyers can see an open inviting space that they can imagine filling with their own lives. Clutter inhibits this imagination. When you move you can reduce the stress and work, by not paying for a second moving truck or for outside storage space, if you have tossed and donated the stuff you don’t truly need in your new home. It’s much easier to make a fresh start with a clean slate.

JUNKLUGGERS: As a professional organizer and designer, what can a client do to prepare for a massive cleaning?
JEFFREY CALANDRA: The first thing a client should do when preparing for a cleaning of any size is spend some time thinking about the project’s end goal. Having a set objective in mind will help the client prioritize the areas within the overall project. This will not only make the process more productive, but it will likewise make it more rewarding. Setting the goals for your project is something you can start on your own, or determine with the help of your organizer or designer.

Other preparations depend on the organizer or designer you are working with. Personally, I prefer that my clients leave their space “as is” (i.e. as it would be on any given day). I want to be able to see how my client lives on a daily basis so that I can create appropriate solutions. Too much clean-up prior to my visit can create a false understanding of how to help them and lead to ineffective designs and organization.

JUNKLUGGERS: I saw on your blog that you recommended focusing on different organizing tasks each month, for those that missed your blog – is it better to start organizing in a specific place or to focus on what needs organizing most?
MATT BAIER: There’s no one right way to get organized. My organizing-by-month plan is just a way to do it more easily and harmoniously with the changing seasons. Actually, to focus best on what needs organizing most, I recommend starting on a specific place, namely the exit zone. In most houses the garage is the best area to collect stuff that is heading out. Most garages already have a trash zone and maybe a recycling zone, but make sure there is also a dedicated donate zone. If there’s not enough room in the garage for these zones, make room. And if you’ve got lots of clutter in your home, make lots of room. It’s the low value stuff that tends to clutter up a garage anyways. Now you may say, it’s the hall closet that needs organizing MOST, but if you have a clearly defined exit zone established FIRST, then you have a way out for the excess stuff in your closet. It’s the same idea as keeping an “open drain” for papers. Filling up your garage with trash and donation is a lot of work. My recommendation: reward yourself by letting the pros at The Junkluggers take it from there!

JUNKLUGGERS: If someone is looking to stage their home for a sale, or simply make their home more attractive – is there a method or starting point that puts people on a path to success?
BARBARA REICH: The most important part of staging an apartment is getting rid of the excess clutter. People want to imagine their belongings in a space, not see your personal effects all over the place. Whether you just want your home to look more attractive, or you want to obtain a better price in a sale, you need to eliminate all of the unnecessary “clutter” that makes you and anyone that visits your home feel overwhelmed. The starting point or the method is unimportant. What’s truly important is just starting and following through.

JUNKLUGGERS: What type of clutter hampers the aesthetic appeal of a location most of all?
JEFFREY CALANDRA: There are two types of clutter that hamper most spaces and affect the aesthetics; the first is paper. Even though we are moving to an almost completely digital world, we still receive massive amounts of paper on a regular basis. From personal note taking to junk mail, paper piles up quickly and creates both physical and visual clutter, which affects the overall appearance of a room. Spending time to manage that clutter on a regular basis will help prevent this from happening.

The second type of clutter that hampers the appeal of a space is “stuff” – those things that don’t have a functional purpose or an irreplaceable sentiment attached to them. We all live with a lot of “stuff” in our lives. It collects at home, at work and even in our cars. That “stuff” is what clutters our spaces, distracts our eye, and ultimately causes a space to lose its aesthetic appeal. To start reversing this process, identify at least one item you own that isn’t truly necessary and place it in the trash or on a donation pile. Set a goal to identify one or two items a day to remove the unnecessary “stuff” from your life and create welcome mental and physical space. Going through this process will not only help your space look better, but it will also help you simplify your daily life.

JUNKLUGGERS: In terms of getting organized, are there any specific tips or products you recommend for being organized in an aesthetically pleasing fashion?
JEFFREY CALANDRA: The aesthetics of organizing, as well as many solutions, vary from space to space and from one situation to the next. One overarching tip that can improve the aesthetic appeal of any space is to remove the visual clutter. Visual clutter refers to any excess and/or disorganized items that cause crowding in a space, distract one’s eye, or create an unsettled feeling. To get started, focus on the areas of your space where your eye is immediately drawn and remove the visual clutter in that area. This will be a huge step towards improving the aesthetics of a room and making it more inviting.

Another tip to keep in mind is that purchasing well-designed and aesthetically pleasing products will not necessarily improve the organization and overall look of your space. While I am a big proponent of these kinds of products (particularly ones that are functional and well-designed), I often find that many people purchase them in hopes of solving their organizational woes, when in turn it simply leads to more clutter. See if you can work with the items you have on hand before purchasing new products. Sometimes the best solutions are found with items you already own.

JUNKLUGGERS: In terms of space planning, does organization or interior design come first — how so?
BARBARA REICH: Organization and interior design go hand in hand. The first step to designing a home is to identify a style you want to implement, whether it’s traditional, contemporary, or something in between. Yet, no matter what style you choose, you still need to take into account how your furniture and closets are going to house your possessions. Without looking at what you have, eliminating what you don’t need, and determining how much storage space it will require, you can’t properly design a space that will work.

JUNKLUGGERS: In terms of eliminating paper clutter, what would you recommend to elicit a convenient and effective process?
MATT BAIER: Compare your paper processing systems to water going down a drain. Is your paper drain too small? Is it clogged? Is your sink cluttered with stuff that’s getting in the way? Paper needs to flow smoothly from one stage to the next: action items need to flow to user-friendly files, which need to flow to archives after tax season, which need to flow to recycle (or shred) after a set number of years. Start by looking at the part of the paper drain where the paper gets backed up. Odds are good that the backup is caused by keeping more paper than you need and by a system that is overly-complicated. Another quick paper drain: Go Google and kiss boxes of reference material goodbye.

Contacts listed in alphabetical order:

Matt Baier
Matt Baier Organizing, LLC
[email protected]

Jeffrey Calandra
ocd4life, LLC
[email protected]

Barbara Reich
Resourceful Consultants, Professional Organizing
[email protected]