Clutter-clearing guru on the way here

HURON TWP. An author and speaker dubbed the most organized person in America is sharing her secrets
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010

 

HURON TWP.

An author and speaker dubbed the most organized person in America is sharing her secrets with Sandusky.

Deniece Schofield is scheduled to present a pair of seminars at the Sawmill Creek Lodge on Thursday to help people cut back on clutter and make better use of their space and time.

The mother of five says she understands how overwhelming it can be to live in a chaotic environment -- she was there.

"I hit rock bottom after our third child and decided I couldn't face the rest of my life feeling so out of control and discouraged," Schofield said. "I decided to work on one problem at a time, and it became a whole system."

That system has become her trademark -- leading her to write several books on organization and become a national expert on the subject.

A review from Publishers Weekly says Schofield's common-sense tactics can help anyone, regardless of their situation.

"If participants put to use even a small fraction of her advice, their lives will be, if not happier, at least less cluttered and harried," the review states.

When people are pressed for time, Schofield said their cars, garages and basements often become the first casualties.

But once a space is organized, cleaning it becomes much more manageable.

The first step to managing a mess, she said, is to put it on paper.

"Write down all the trouble spots, because everything on the list is already in your head, and you probably can't sit down to dinner or go to sleep without thinking about it," she said.

Organizing always makes a space look worse before it gets better, she said, so start small.

"Pick just one space and give yourself a time limit of 15 minutes," she said.

Once an area is organized, Schofield advises labeling items so that everything has a place, and everyone knows where it goes.

She recommends keeping toys in a bin during the day and having children return each to its proper place before bedtime.

The first portion of her seminar will focus on finding more storage space without throwing everything away. In the next segment, participants will devise their own plan for managing belongings. The last part of the seminar will focus on eliminating paper clutter by using a planner to record information mailed to them and ending the "junk mail" cycle.

"Paper is everybody's biggest problem -- everyone generates it, the computer generates it, and it never stops," she said. "We keep stuff because we're afraid to get rid of it."

Using Ecocycle.org, residents can stop junk mail from ever reaching their mailbox. The Internal Revenue Service Web site also offers a form with advice on record-keeping -- allowing people to keep what's important and shred what they don't need.

Most importantly, Schofield said people should keep their organization systems simple and not allow themselves to be paralyzed by a desire for perfection.

"Don't let an imperfect situation be an excuse to do nothing," she said. "Maybe you can't wash all the windows today, but you can wash one."