Ahh, springtime! With the curtains parted and the sun shining through the windows, you have a clear view of the mounds of stuff haphazardly strewn about. Take note: The mess matters. All that disorganization can make our minds feel as disheveled as Penny’s apartment on The Big Bang Theory. And that in turn can lead to stress, depression and a lack of productivity.
So what’s the best way to finesse the mess? Clearing out the clutter isn’t about a one-size-fits-all shoe rack. What researchers and organizational experts such as Lisa Adams, the founder of LA Closet Design, are discovering is that people’s brains are wired differently when it comes to staying organized. Some of us are born to stack, while others are biologically disposed toward sprawling. So, pick the plan that suits your personality and everything will fall into place … more or less.
Horatio Caine (David Caruso) of CSI: Miami and his ilk prefer highly structured organizational systems, says Adams, who has designed closets for such celebs as Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy and Jillian Michaels. “What works best for these people is to lay out a closet to follow the order in which they get dressed, from putting on underwear to stepping into their shoes,” she says. “And they really need to have a place for everything.” Adams’ top pick for the fastidious CSI investigator: dedicated belt, tie and scarf hangers ($45–$49, laclosetdesign.com).
If you’re more visually oriented, like Max Black (Kat Dennings) of 2 Broke Girls, what you see is what you’ll use—whether that’s a pair of pumps or the cupcake recipe you clipped from last week’s newspaper. Choose clear containers, suggests Lorie Marrero, author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life. Neat Containers (above) are interlocking transparent pods that allow you to slide out a unit from anywhere in the stack without the rest tumbling down. Black could organize her (and roomie Caroline Channing’s) shoe collections with the 30-piece shoe kit ($69.99, neatcontainers.com).
Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt of Two and a Half Men “sees a sock without a mate and says, ‘I can make a hand puppet out of that,’ ” says Adams. For them, the key to conquering clutter is to make it into a creative enterprise. The Tower of Clips from the Museum of Modern Art store transforms notes, papers, photos, business cards, pens and other desktop detritus into a work of art—or at least more controlled chaos ($38, momastore.org). The Kartell Bookworm (above) throws the traditional bookcase a curveball. You can bend the shelving into whatever rounded shape you want (from $425, kartell.com).
Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind for The Mentalist’s Patrick Jane (Simon Baker). He can opt for the highly stylish Kartell Optic Storage Cubes, which look more like decorative accents than organizing tools. Made of faceted plexiglass, the gorgeous stackable units come in purple, black, smoke, yellow, crystal and matte black (From $283, store.module-r.com)
TRICKS TO CONQUERING CLUTTER
- Practice small acts to avoid big messes. Make your bed every morning, hang up your clothes daily and, in between, throw out junk mail, stack the dishwasher and put away groceries.
- Tackle one room at a time. Divide it into sections, and completely organize that area before moving on to the next.
- Follow the “in/out rule.” Every time you bring something new into your home, toss out or donate an older item.
- Don’t create clutter catchalls. Folders marked “miscellaneous” and “junk” drawers are just decisions you’re deferring. Clearing clutter is about taking action.
Below are the best anticlutter bets we’d recommend for some of our favorite TV characters.
Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell), Mike & Molly
DrawerDecor Custom Drawer Organizers are a new innovation in taming a junk drawer. The sticky silicone mats can be trimmed to fit the bottom of any drawer; then you position the Divitz dividers to create perfectly sized, no-slide storage slots for anything from ice cream scoop to corkscrew. ($24.95, dailygrommet.com)
Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), The Good Wife
Clear your desk and filing cabinets by storing important documents and images on this stylish and discreet Swiss Army slim USB drive. An added plus for privacy freaks: While the data encryption technology offers secure password-only protection, the chip will self-destruct in the event of a brute force attack. (From $58, swissarmy.com)
Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), The Big Bang Theory
Toss out the Post-it notes with scribbled mathematical formulas and messages for your housemates that end up stuck to the bottom of beer bottles. Instead, turn any surface you can paint into a dry-erase board with eco-friendly IdeaPaint. ($30, ideapaint.com)