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Organizing tips: De-cluttering for a healthy home

Anyone who has been careless with her car keys or misplaced the mail knows that a cluttered home is a chaotic home. Disorganization can cause more than just a headache because hidden health hazards abound in messy homes. Lucky for you we’ve been in touch with four professional organizers around the country to find out how they optimally organize homes for physical and emotional health. Read on for tips to de-clutter your home.

Woman in organized kitchen

Keeping it clean in the kitchen

Common sense tells us that dirty kitchens act like Petri dishes for bacteria, not to mention attract the attention of all kinds of vermin, but disorganized kitchens can be just as dangerous. Miriam Menin, a Connecticut-based professional organizer with a counseling background, is very familiar with the link between a cluttered home and high stress. “Keep [in view] only those items that are used on a daily basis, for example a coffee maker, toaster, food chopper, that kind of thing,” advises Menin. “But be sure to leave room for plants, pictures and other pleasing objects in your kitchen.”

Some of her quick tips for keeping things neat, clean and organized:

  • Place dirty dishes in the dishwasher or wash by hand.
  • Return items on countertops to their “homes” in cabinets or drawers or pantries.
  • Clean the fridge and discard spoiled food.
  • Use a sponge to do a fast cleaning of your kitchen table and countertops.

Organizing in the office

Robyn Howard, owner of Neatly Nested Organizing Services in the Columbus, Ohio, area, sees a link between disorganization, increased mental stress and decreased physical health. “Disorganization can cause emotional stress, which can lead to physical ailments such as back pain, stomachaches and headaches,” Howard notes. “Desktop and office clutter collects dust, which can lead to increased respiratory distress, coughing and exacerbation of asthma and allergy symptoms. When you have an organized home office, you will have adequate room to position your chair comfortably and allow freedom of movement around your desk, reducing the incidence of back and neck pain.”

To organize your office, Howard recommends:

  • Removing any inessential office supplies on your desktop.
  • Removing all the sticky notes on your monitor or desktop and consolidating the information into a calendar.
  • Deleting any e-mails that are no longer relevant.
  • Shredding any papers you have been accumulating.
  • Filing the project piles that have been accumulating — neatly labeled, of course.

Banish bedlam in the bedroom

“Disorganization or clutter can contribute to safety issues. Tripping or falling over various items can lead to injuries. The frustration of how a cluttered room looks and feels can cause one’s blood pressure to rise and heart to beat faster. These are not good for anyone’s physical health!” says Becky Esker, president and owner of Get Organized! LLC in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Not to mention that “a bedroom should be a sanctuary, a place to relax and rejuvenate. If it is cluttered and chaotic, the look and feel of it can cause serious frustration and anxiety.”

Banish bedlam in the bedroom by:

  • Going through sock drawers and throwing out any socks not worn in the last year, which are not loved, have holes or have no mate.
  • Putting away any clothes, shoes or accessories worn that day.
  • Re-aligning shoes.
  • Putting away all the items that have somehow crawled into the room that day.
  • Attending to the clothing “in purgatory.” Put away clean clothes and put dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Forget the free-for-all in the family room

“My motto is ‘Less mess, less stress,’ ” declares Lisa K. Rasmussen, founder of Utterly Organized, LLC in Delano, Minnesota. “Self-confidence is stronger when one is more efficient and can produce better results by having the ability to find what you are looking for at your fingertips.” And of course, not having to search for every last thing amid a cluttered home means less wear and tear on the body.

To tidy up the family room, Rasmussen suggests:

  • Setting up a station for remote controls and television guides.
  • Setting up a station for phone messages with pens, paper, paperclips, etc.
  • Investing in nice-looking baskets for toys to be “dumped” in throughout the day.
  • Using racks or nicely lined baskets for magazines and newspapers.
  • Keeping DVDs or games alphabetized, behind the closed doors of an entertainment center or in a small basket or bin.

Your physical and emotional health is only an organized home away. De-clutter and organize one room at a time and you’ll soon have a neat, tidy and safe living space.

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