Special To The Record
By Delia Blackler Perretta

The Record
January 6, 2005 If you’re like most people, you probably made a couple of New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’re planning to hit the gym every day. Maybe you’re swearing off junk food. Or maybe you plan to conquer all that clutter in your house. Those focusing on the latter may want to consider the ancient Japanese tradition of Osoji to increase their chances of success – because willpower alone might not cut it. Osoji is both a literal and metaphoric cleansing of the physical and spiritual stains of the past year. (For more information about Osoji, visit kyotoguide.com/e-p01-interview).

But if you think you’ll be able to reorganize your entire house in a weekend, even with Osoji’s help, think again.

“The problem with resolutions is that people resolve to change too much too quickly, so they set themselves up for failure,” says Sunny Schlenger of Fair Lawn, a professional organizer, life coach and author of “Organizing for the Spirit” (Jossey-Bass, $14.95). Instead, she suggests starting with smaller things that can reduce your stress level. For example, are you one of those people who are always looking for their keys? Then create a drop-off space – say, a key rack by the front door – and train yourself to use it, and eventually putting them there will become a routine like brushing your teeth.

“You’re really taking care of yourself when you create these systems, and allowing yourself to focus on more important things,” Schlenger says.

Making the most of your junk drawer

The junk drawer – just about every house has one, including Sunny Schlenger’s. But the Fair Lawn professional organizer has some secrets about how to make yours more functional:

1) Get rid of anything that you don’t use, that doesn’t work or that you have duplicates of. And if you’re holding onto something that might come in handy someday, get rid of that, too, because odds are it’ll be easy to replace.

2) When you’re left with only what you use, make sure there isn’t a better place for everything. For example, it’s better to have a pen and a pad by the phone – so you can take messages – rather than buried in a drawer. Also, instead of hiding away coupons, keep them in a holder that can come to the store with you.

3) For safety reasons, don’t have anything sharp hidden in your junk drawer. If you rummage for something blindly in an overfilled drawer, you might get hurt.

4) Arrange things by size, and use different-sized containers. For example, if paper clips are in their own little box, you’ll find them faster than if they’re mixed in with your scissors, rulers and tape dispensers.

For more on easy ways to organize, visit suncoach.com.

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