Out of all the cluttered spaces that I’ve seen as a Professional Organizer this year, one image remains. No, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve seen, and it wasn’t found in the home of a hoarder.

It was an opened package of Oreos® perched on top of a stack of plates in a kitchen cupboard. The pantry was so packed that there wasn’t room for one package of cookies. The Oreos stood as a symbol for all the clutter in the kitchen.

If we are honest, we’d all admit to having a drawer, file cabinet, closet, or even an entire room that reflects that same scenario, a place that we can’t seem to get under control, where stuff just seems to accumulate. It’s a “tough cookie” spot.

Instead of vowing vaguely to be more organized this year, take on that space--your own tough cookie spot.

To help, I’ve assembled some tough love advice that has resonated with clients and helped them to reclaim their space:

• Set a goal. What do you want to do in that space? Work? Relax? See the bottom or floor? Keep the goal in mind and repeat it when the going gets rough.

• You don’t have to want to do it to get started. Papers would never get filed if I waited until I wanted to file them.

• Set a timer for 20 minutes, and get moving. When the timer rings, you can either breathe a sigh of relief that you made a dent or continue because it isn’t that bad. It will never get done if you don’t get started.

• If you don’t get rid of anything, you’re just moving stuff around. How many times have you done that?

• Stop mindless filing. If you look at a file, a section of clothes, or a drawer full of junk and say, “I want all that,” that’s mindless filing (see above). Look at each item. Do you really want / use / need it? Is it helping to reach your goal?

• Don’t be an Aunt Mabel. We all have an “Aunt Mabel” who continually gives unwanted gifts. If saving an item for someone else, make sure they really do want it.

• Yes, you could, but will you? Whether it’s sell it, read it, or do it, the reality is that you aren’t selling, reading, or doing. Donate or discard and move on.

It’s time to get those Oreos off the plates. Make 2013 the year to finally tackle that drawer, cupboard, closet, or room. Set a goal (and a timer). Look at each item. Make a decision. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Get started. You’ll be glad you did.

©Renee Ursem, 2013

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and owner of Get It Together, LLC in Las Vegas, helps people learn how to organize and maintain their spaces using simple, practical strategies.
Renee can be reached at www.get-it-together-llc.com. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GetItTogetherLLC) and Linkedin.