Self-quarantine has forced a lot of us to reacquaint ourselves with and reevaluate our belongings—and not just because it’s spring cleaning season. No longer are we able to turn a blind eye to the kitchen junk drawer, the knee-high laundry pile, or the thick layer of dust accumulating on the bookshelf. With time on our hands and our full attention at the ready, organizing is inevitable.
So where should you even start and what should you prioritize? We asked four experts what tasks they’re tackling while homebound—because you know they’re staying busy. “Pro organizers are type A’s by nature, so we’re handling the isolation by going through every square inch of our homes,” says Corrie Jackson, cofounder of Maison Haven. Don’t think of this as a chore list but rather an opportunity to get up and move around. Get to work on these five areas stat, and you’ll feel a whole lot tidier come summer.
The Art Room
With her twin daughters now home on weekdays, Rachel Rosenthal wants to make their craft space extra-hardworking. After pulling out all the supplies from their current boxes, she realized most of what they had was either dried up or hadn’t been used for a while (those items were immediately tossed). As for the supplies she kept, she put them in white storage bins with wood lids and designated each container for a different object (one for glitter, another for markers, and so on). This way, the kids know where to grab things and, more important, where to return them.
Jackson and Maison Haven cofounder Jennifer Bakker often create “wellness zones” for their clients, but it wasn’t until now that Jackson got around to designing one for her own family. “We’ve started doing daily smoothies, which is a ritual I never seemed to have time for when I was out at work,” she says. After stocking up on mixes and protein powders, the organizer ditched the packaging and decanted everything into glass jars. Then she labeled each and displayed them on a door-mounted rack where they’re easy to see and grab.
The Supply Closet
How do you expect to get your house sparkling clean if the tools you need to do it (rags, surface cleaners, sponges) are in disarray? Pro organizer Shira Gill suggests setting aside a few minutes to dump and recycle expired products, wipe down sticky residue on bottles, and set up a portable caddy stocked with the essentials so you can move from room to room with ease.
“Even though you might not be going anywhere for a while, having a curated wardrobe will boost your spirits,” says Gill. It also provides an instant sense of order and control. Her quick tips for sprucing up this mess-prone spot: Set aside anything that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t worn for years, including socks that have lost their mates. It also pays to scrap excess hangers, she says. When you’re wrapping up, hang items so they’re facing the same direction. “No inside-out blouses!” she warns.
Jennifer Johnson of Orderly Space went through her family’s photos, from framed images to loose pictures to digital albums. Blurry ones definitely got the boot, but she’s also not hanging onto pictures of landscapes and landmarks because, well, it only takes a quick Google search to find those scenes nowadays. “Making decisions like these can be empowering, especially if you are feeling like you’re drowning in the weight of a hundred boxes,” says Johnson. When she was done narrowing things down, she put everything in transparent cases, separating by date, event, or person. This way, her most treasured memories can be stored on a shelf and pulled out whenever she’s in the mood to reminisce.
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