Clearing the clutter and stress from your life

Published On: Dec 03 2012 11:01:57 PM EST

Our experts will help you clean up the confusion that's clogging up your house -- and your brain!

Clutter in the home, at work, anywhere can cause stress and the bigger it gets, the worse it can feel.

"The messier your environment, the harder it is to find things, the more difficult it is to even get around your home and sometimes that produces a lot of stress.  Plus there's been studies that show that just looking at the stuff can make you more upset and can make it more difficult for you to do ordinary things like cook or do activities of daily living," said Dr. McGeorge, Local 4's medial expert.

Watch: Easy ways to keep clutter from taking over your home
Karen Eschebach could be considered a clutter-clearing expert.   She was a professional organizer until she went into business with her friend Jennifer Weaver.  The two Grosse Pointe women created Clever Container, a direct-sales company, that sells products to help keep people organized.

"People feel alone, there is a stigma associated with clutter.  Some people don't socialize because of  it," said Eschebach.

Eschebach said people need to make room for everything in their home; especially this time of year with more items coming in through gifts and decorations.

"Everything has to have a place, because if it doesn't then it's going to end up on a table, it's going to end up on a shelf in a corner and the floor," said Eschebach.

Weaver's home is a good example of how to keep clutter from gathering.   She recently organized her mud room.  She took a pantry organizer and put it on her back door to create a space for hats, gloves, a lint brush and items for the family pet.    She recommends having a hook in the mud room for everyone in the home and having double hooks.

"When the kids come home from school, the backpack can go on the lower hook, and coat can go on the top hook," said Weaver.

So how can people organize their homes and keep them free from clutter? Eschebach offers four pieces of advice to help people get started with organizing their spaces.

First: Don't bite off more than you can chew

"The main thing to realize is that they don't have to do it all in one day," Eschebach said. "Lets say it's the junk drawer.  Let's say it's just one shelf in your pantry, you know, with all the cans on it or again one thing in the closet or one drawer.  Just your sock drawer.  Go home and organize your sock drawer today."

Second: Take before and after pictures

"When you take the before picture, it kind of shows you where you started and when you take the after picture it's kind of twofold. Number one, it shows you your accomplishment and also it kind of gives you a reference to how it looked with you were complete with the project," said Eschebach.

Third: Set a timer

Eschebach said people should set a timer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes and just focus on the task at hand.   She said it should be uninterrupted time with no cell phones, no email and no television.  She does recommend putting on your favorite music to stay motivated.

Fourth: Have three boxes or bags

One for garbage, one for recycling and one for donations.   
She said once you're done put them in your car and get rid of them the next time your running errands or call for a pick up of donations.  That way they are out of your home immediately.

Weaver recommends going through your mail as soon as you get it. She says toss the junk mail immediately and she has special folders to keep bills, coupons and other items organized.

People can start to feel better almost immediately after clearing their clutter.

"The problem is you have to maintain it.  it's just like maintaining your weight, so if you get on top of it, you have to stay on top of it.  Sometimes people find that very difficult and they can back slide a little bit but just get back into your routine and you should be OK," said Dr. McGeorge.

As for those who have organized chaos, Eschebach said that is not a bad thing.

"If you have a table or your desk at home and the whole thing is covered, if you can still find whatever you need within 30 seconds, then you're doing great.  it's when you spend five, 10, 15, or 30 minutes looking for something that the system is not working for you," said Eschebach.

Another way to keep clutter from piling up is to go through the mail as soon as it arrives. Never let it sit. Weaver recommends tossing the junk mail immediately and having places to put things like bills and coupons.

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