STYLE

Time to declutter? 'Consumed' host Jill Pollack has three tips to get organized

05/29/2013 09:29 EDT | Updated 07/29/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Whether you're in the thick of spring cleaning, preparing to transition your home for summer or simply tired of seeing piles of unwanted junk lying about, Jill Pollack has advice on how to start the decluttering process.

The organizational expert helps families clear the excess from their homes on "Consumed" which premieres Saturday on HGTV Canada. Here are three tips from Pollack on organizing and tidying spaces and ensuring they stay in good order.

1. Stop procrastinating. Pollack says thinking and worrying about cleaning up a cluttered space takes a lot more energy than actually doing it.

"So many people think that putting time away to actually organize is time that they don't want to spend," she said.

"They say: 'I'd rather play with my kids, I'd rather cook, I'd rather read a book.' But the fact is, all of this stuff is truly weighing on your mind subconsciously. You're playing with your kid, but you know you have something (to do)."

Pollack recommended dedicating an allocated time — be it a few weekend sessions or an afternoon — to the work.

Taking a bite-sized approach — such as just tackling the closet or the drawers — can help make the process more manageable and less intimidating, she noted.

"If you become this Whirling Dervish of spring cleaning, if you're that person, great," she said. "But we're busy, we have lives. Nobody's dedicating three weekends in a row with vinegar mopping every closet. That's not realistic."

Maintaining consistency with managing the home can be accomplished by incorporating simple habits as part of your existing routines.

For example, while in the bathroom brushing your teeth, that can be an opportunity for a routine check of the medicine cabinet for any expired capsules or medications, she noted.

2. Out with (most of) the old. Deciding which items to ditch versus those to keep can be difficult, particularly those which carry a strong sentimental attachment.

"If it's something very special from your past and you really want to keep the physical object, then dedicate, let's say, a large plastic bin, and put those objects in there," said Pollack. "If you're overflowing with three, four, five bins, you're probably keeping too much.

Taking a photo of an old object bound for the trash as a keepsake is another way to preserve the memory, but could create new clutter in the process.

"If you can't let go of something, then taking a picture is a nice way to do it. But I guarantee you, you'll take a picture of it, then where is it going to be? Are you going to download it and put it in a book and then you're going to call it 'Stuff I Used to Have?'" Pollack said.

"I'm for that if it helps you go to the next level. But if I'm being honest, I think sometimes a lot of times people don't want to get rid of things because they're afraid they won't have good homes."

Pollack said ill-fitting or outdated clothes should be tossed out, but not all unwanted items have to be put by the curb. Consider finding a specific place — like a charity — where such goods can be donated, she noted.

For those still having trouble letting go, Pollack said they should ask themselves if the item in question serves a useful purpose and if it truly is something with which the owner can't bear to part ways.

"We want so much, but what do you actually need?" said Pollack.

"I ask people: 'If you moved, would you want to pack this up and move it with you?' That's a good way to decide: 'Do I want it or do I not?' There's a lot of decisions to be made, but most of the time, you can do without it."

3. Make frequently used items accessible — and keep the rest tucked away. How often do you bake cookies or mix blended drinks? If creating sweet treats is just an occasional habit, keep the appliances and other items used for such tasks out of your space when not required.

"You have to decide what's the frequency that you use something," said Pollack.

"If you are never using your blender, maybe it looks good, but it's taking up a lot of real estate on your counter. So perhaps put it away for the (one time) a year you make smoothies."

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