A Professional Organizer’s Secrets to Being Incredibly Clean & Organized All Year Long
“I think a lot of people view organizing as arranging things and purchasing containers,” writes Kristen, the founder and owner of Minima, a company that helps clients declutter and organize. I know I’m personally guilty of such limited thinking. And I bet I’m not alone when it comes to feeling super motivated and organized in the first few weeks of the new year…only to slowly witness my organizing hard work devolve in an untidy slew of bad habits. So I asked Kristen — whose home is impeccable — for some tips on how to get organized (and stay organized) all year long.
Kristen’s home is a minimal dream land, filled with soothing white walls and the world’s most adorable bunny. And though this kind of sparse existence isn’t for everyone, I can’t help but imagine how stress-free her home must feel. And how easy (and fast) it must be to clean. I asked Kristen to share some more tips and advice on how to get organized and stay organized.
“The most important step in organizing is minimizing — identifying what adds real value to your life versus what you can do without. The arranging part is much easier once the number of things has been reduced.”
Where do you suggest someone start if they’re feeling overwhelmed?
Start with what I call the “low hanging fruit”— things you know you can live without. Pull these items for donation or consignment and take them out of your home that day. You’ll feel lighter and that feeling of accomplishment can help you tackle the harder areas.
The biggest part of any organizing project is making the time to do it. Mark it out on your calendar and commit to it. Or, let’s not forget the obvious — hire a professional like myself if it fits in your budget. You can also have a non-judgmental friend come hang out with you for a little extra push and accountability.
“Sometimes getting the perfect set up takes a bit of trial and error.”
What is the key to actually staying organized after you do the big organizational overhaul? How does one keep their home and life organized 6 months after a big cleaning? A year?
Carving out the time for seasonal refreshes makes all the difference. Just this past week, I pulled about 10 items for donation. When you are organized, you are far more aware of what you’re using and what you’re not. When I notice I’m not using something, I will either immediately donate it or give myself a season to decide if I’m unsure. If an area you’ve organized isn’t staying organized despite your best efforts, try a different system and/or reducing more. Sometimes getting the perfect set up takes a bit of trial and error.
What is your secret to always having a home that looks flawless?
It’s easy because I’ve minimized so much. One client even joked that I’ve probably “decluttered within an inch of my life.” It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice though. It’s freedom to me and there’s nothing I miss.
It takes about 10 minutes to get my place ready for company — address any work papers on my desk, wipe the bathroom sink, shake out the bathroom rug, empty the trash, make sure dishes are put away, light a few candles, put any store returns into my car. It takes my cleaning service one hour to deep clean my house every other week. I have so much more time because I have very little to maintain.
What’s your best guidance for keeping your clothes closet/storage under control?
Start by minimizing. Pull everything out of your closet and dressers and sort items by type. I recommend the following guidelines for your “keep” pile: you love it, it fits, it suits your current lifestyle, it’s in good condition, and you actually wear it. I tend to hang dressier items (blouses, dresses, slacks) and fold casual ones (underwear, t-shirts, jeans, loungewear).
I hang and fold by color from dark to light (yes, like Marie Kondo, love her) and use a folding technique similar to Kondo’s called the “file fold.” I usually advise against folding items like sweaters or jeans on a closet shelf — it’s almost impossible to keep neat and it’s better off in a drawer. Instead, I use closet shelves for accessories like hats and bags and also off-season shoes. Lastly, streamline your hangers! It makes such a difference.
What’s something that people should clean or tidy up every single day?
Your bag! Every day as soon as I come home, I empty my work backpack and my purse (both from Baggu). I have some basic items like chapstick and my wallet that always stay in my purse, but I’m talking about things like receipts, paperwork, food, etc.
Thank you Kristen!
See more of her home in her house tour: A Pro Organizer’s Exceptionally Serene, Minimal Rowhouse.