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NAPO - National Association of Professional Organizers

 NAPO Golden Circle


How to Kick Clutter in the New Year

Messenger Post Newspapers (Brighton-Pittsford Post), 1/6/11
Bethany Young, Staff Writer

Dorothy Madden of ORGANIZE IT!For many, the resolution to get organized tops many lists of things to do in 2011. But how do you begin to scale the stacks of unsorted mail, cluttered closets or basements bursting at the seams with junk? The task can be overwhelming, but as it turns out, there may be help just around the corner.

Enter local professional organizer, Dorothy Madden of Penfield. She is the owner of Organize It, a small business that allows people to pay for personalized help getting organized. Since she went into business in 1997, Madden has served hundreds of clients ranging from business owners to parents seeking a fail-proof system for sorting through their children’s old toys.

The job comes with its share of shocks.

“I see a lot of paper,” said Madden. And not just mail — one client had a magazine dated from 1987 in a stack of old newspapers.

In homes and offices across the nation, disorganization isn’t just a problem, it’s an epidemic. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, about 80 percent of clutter in a home is due to disorganization and not lack of space.

The statistics also say that the average business executive wastes 180 hours a year searching for documents that are misplaced. Also, Americans only wear 20 percent of the clothing in their closets 80 percent of the time — the rest just hangs there.

But this is neither a maid service nor help for hoarders, who get referred elsewhere. Organize It is specifically targeted toward people who are willing to make changes in the way they take care of their belongings.

What are some solutions to these growing trends? Madden says, it’s different for each person. In each case, it’s important to find a system that works well for each individual to avoid frustration.

“I encourage people to eliminate the word perfection,” Madden said.

After screening customers through a phone interview, the next step is going to the home or office to assess the individual’s needs and develop a plan that works for them, whether it’s a better paper filing system or closet makeover.

When the client is satisfied with the system, the rest is up to them. But instead of looking at it as a chore, Madden says that staying organized is ultimately empowering.

“Don’t use the word resolution,” she said. “Make it a year of better choices.”

Want to get organized?

Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Choose wisely — As you sort through your belongings, ask yourself, “Do I want this in my life?”
  2. Find a place for it — If you decide to keep something, decide where you will put it where you can find and use it again.
  3. Give unwanted stuff a home — Don’t simply pawn your old clothing, appliances, etc. to family or friends. “You don’t want to clutter somebody else’s life as you are un-cluttering your own,” said Madden. Find a collection agency like Goodwill or the Salvation Army to bring your donations.
  4. Follow through — Don’t just load your bags of clothing into your car, or let them sit at home. Be sure to take them at the appropriate drop-off time.
  5. Keep it up — Perhaps the toughest part of any new habit. Once you have a new system of organization, don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Stick to your routine.
Reprinted with the permission of the Messenger Post Newspapers