Embarrassing Room 911

Stop hiding your dirty, little secret space and live in a place you're proud to share.

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Messy Pile of Decorative Pillows

You just walked in the door after a crazy day. Your mother-in-law is expected in eleven minutes for a visit you scheduled last week. Your house resembles something in a Will Smith disaster flick. What do you do?

a.) Quickly scan the space -- scooping up toys, shoes, etc. and stuffing them behind the couch. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

b.) Start sorting that scary, monster pile of bills, magazines, catalogs, and newspapers that is covering what used to be the kitchen table.

c.) Admit defeat and start closing the door on any and all offending rooms -- she always liked the front porch.

d.) All of the above.

Everyone has a room (or rooms) they are reluctant to share with the world.  It's the one you instinctively rush to whip into shape when the PTA is meeting at your house. It's that space that makes you slightly cringe each time you walk by. Most likely, it's the room that seems to attract and cling to any sort of clutter. Let's call it your organizing Achilles heel. Take heart we all have it and we all can do something to transform it into a room to be proud of.

Stressed-Out Space                                                                         

The seemingly harmless stack of "stuff" lurking in the corner, spread out across a table, or collecting dust on the floor takes an emotional toll.  Psychologists have found that a constant stream of physical and informational clutter leads to higher levels of cardiovascular stress, impaired judgment, and irritability. We've spoken to hundreds of women across the country that confirm these findings.  An out-of-control room can make you feel as chaotic and stressed as the space appears.

To lose the "heel", identify the weak spot, and start implementing these simple practices to restore order and calm to house, mind, and spirit.  

#1: Trash, Return, and House

Start with three large garbage bags or cardboard boxes. Label them "Trash", "Some Place Else", and "Stays."  Don't you feel better already? Next, move through the room and assign everything that's in view (that means on shelves, on counters, under sofas, next to chairs, or on the floor) to one of the three destinations.  When you've finished, throw out the bin labeled "Trash" (yea!) and remove the "Some Place Else" bag from the room -- you will come back to this one after you've completed the room are in now. Take each item out of "Stays" and return it to its proper place.

#2: Home Sweet Home

Repeat after us...everything needs a home.  It's seems obvious, but nothing creates a mess faster than objects that don't have a place to live. Worried about fitting it all? Think about the space vertically as well as horizontally.  Put the items you rarely use up high and the everyday things at eye level. Lastly, keep a trash bin handy to make throwing out future clutter contenders easier.

#3:  TV Tidy Time

At least once a week, (ideally when the family is together watching a favorite show), use the annoying commercial breaks to stay on top of the room clutter. You'll be amazed what a few people can accomplish in a mere two minutes, two seconds.  In the course of 'Extreme Home Makeover', that one-time Achilles heel will be running smoothly.

Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed people get themselves organized. They are also co-authors of Everything (almost) In Its Place.

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