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  • Organizing your space

    for the new year
  • When the holidays are finished, it's time to pack away the decorations and plan for the year ahead. And while you're at it, all that rearranging can also be a prime opportunity to organize your closets and storage spaces.
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    • Thinking outside the box
      Sometimes storage challenges can have unique and imaginative solutions, says Rosann Johnson of Organize It Right. Sometimes you just don't have the option, she points out, if your home is built wit...
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      Thinking outside the box
      Sometimes storage challenges can have unique and imaginative solutions, says Rosann Johnson of Organize It Right. Sometimes you just don't have the option, she points out, if your home is built without adequate storage. So be creative.

      Some suggestions include using over-the-door shoe organizers with clear pockets to store office supplies, finding an ottoman that opens to provide storage, or "going vertical" with your storage. For containers, Johnson says, "I really feel clear containers work the best because you can see what's in there. And labeling helps a lot."

      It might also mean finding a way to not keep an item but still keep the good memories associated with it. "People are so attached to their items - there is an emotion there." Perhaps consider taking a photo of it and putting it in an album rather than have it take up space in your home.

      "I'm not going to make people throw out an item that is really important," says Johnson. "Part of my job is helping with the evaluation so that they're keeping the things that are important to them." And with a little creativity, all your belongings can have a home of their own.
  • When the holidays are finished, it's time to pack away the decorations and plan for the year ahead. And while you're at it, all that rearranging can also be a prime opportunity to organize your closets and storage spaces.
    Sound daunting?
    It often is, says Rosann Johnson, owner of Organize It Right in Medford. Most people look through their homes or offices and simply don't know where to begin. "Part of it is just being really overwhelmed," Johnson says. "It makes you freeze." The key to making progress is to break it into smaller stages.
    "The first thing people really need to do," says LaMont Ray, owner of Closet Concepts in Medford, "is sort through and decide what they're going to keep and what they will get rid of." Johnson agrees that this is the biggest, and often most difficult, stage. Some questions she proposes to evaluate each item are: Do I need it? Do I love it? Does it enhance my life? And it might be all three, she admits, but the most important question is: Does it match the function of the room? "It's really important that you know how you want that room to function."
    "It's better if you can take small steps," says Johnson and suggests either beginning with a smaller space like an entryway or closet, or by simply tackling one area at a time. In a larger room, for example, "start on the left and work around in 15 minute areas," says Johnson. But as a caution she adds with a laugh "Don't leave the room!"
    Make piles of things to be taken to a more appropriate spot after your time in that area is finished. Set a timer if you find it helpful and when that time is up "make another appointment with yourself." Even in small stages, you will begin to see the improvement.
    Once you've sorted through your belongings, then what?
    "Once you know what's left, you can plan," says Ray, and decide the best storage system for that space. Johnson agrees. "Do the sorting first so you know exactly what you need and buy accordingly." And both Ray and Johnson agree that you need to take your personality into account, too. "Some people like to hang jeans, some people like to fold them," says Ray. "Some people want to have it all behind a door"¦some people like to see it."
    The prime location for storage is usually a closet, says Ray, but most people don't take advantage of all the space available there. "When most people buy a house, it's just a shelf and a pole." Adding an extra hanging rod or extra shelves instantly increases the storage capacity. Ray adds that while adjustable shelving can be a little more expensive, ultimately it's more flexible and can be adapted to your specific usage. And items like drawers, baskets, clear containers or hooks can all be incorporated so that everything is easily accessible.
    In any area of your home or office, says Johnson, "Look to see where you have dead space." Upper closet shelves, under beds or attics provide spaces that can be used for storage but she recommends that "prime real estate" — eye level storage — be used for common items and the high spots or low spots be used for items that are seasonal or only pulled out occasionally.
    "It doesn't have to be perfect," says Johnson, "because nobody is perfect." But by developing a habit of organization, it frees your time and energy to do those things most important to you.
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