Get organized: Living well in small spaces
Janet Hennick's mission is to make people's lives easier. "You know that feeling you get when you open a drawer and can't find what you're looking for?" says the organizational consultant. "It creates so much anxiety and wastes so much time. I develop a plan to solve disorganization so my clients can focus their energy on achieving their goals." For those clients, Hennick's Toronto-based company, J.R.H. Creative Concepts, is a godsend. She helps them sort through overstuffed closets, set up home offices and even sift through stacks of photo albums. Then she teaches them how to manage the mayhem on their own. Here, she shares her ideas for creating order – in even the smallest of spaces.
Q Getting organized is such a huge task that most people don't know where to start. What do you suggest?
A The first thing you have to do is say, "I'm in trouble and I want to organize my life." Then you start with the area that stresses you out the most. For many people, that's a toss-up between the home office and the kitchen. If you start putting bills on that one little table in the kitchen, things are going to get lost. What creates stress is when things get scattered all over the house.
Q Once you've decided which area, then what?
A I create zones; no room should have more than three. In a kitchen, you'd have an eating, a cooking, and a pantry or storage zone. The key is to keep things in their zones. For instance, in the kitchen, I set up a binder that contains phone numbers and papers. I also like using the fridge. Put invitations and a calendar there so you can see them. Everything has to have a place, and you have to condition yourself to take two seconds to put things back where they belong.
Q: What home organization mistakes do people make?
A Holding onto things. The biggest culprit is paper. I know people who've had recipes for 15 years that they've never used. And most people keep stacks of magazines. My rule is, if you haven't read them in three months, send them to the hospital. If you haven't looked at a piece of clothing for a year, send it to a charity.
Q OK, so you've established zones, parted with the insurance policy on the 1977 Gremlin and are ready to organize. What tools do you need?
A A Daytimer -- it's the bible. You need to make time for everything in your agenda -- for meetings, but also for filing and meal planning. If the chaos in your spare room is bothering you, schedule time to organize it.
Q: What are other useful home organization tools?
A I love clear plastic storage bins. You can see the contents right away. You can put wrapping paper in one, and mitts and hats in another, and stack them in a closet or in the basement. I also like clear plastic garment bags. In a small room, you can put sweaters in an airtight bag and gloves and scarves in clear boxes that can all go under the bed.
Q A plastic box is great in a closet, but what about in a living room?
A There are lots of beautiful wicker baskets. In small living spaces, look for items that do double duty. If you don't have a linen closet, for example, use a trunk to store linens and to sit on.