Everything in its place, or is everything in your space? If your dining room has come to resemble a mail room/coat room hybrid, a phone call to an organization consultant may be in order. In and around Baristaville are several full-service firms whose professional organizers will come to your home or business and work with you through the often emotional challenges of achieving order.
Deborah Gussoff founded InOrder, a Montclair-based consulting firm specializing in organizing, sixteen years ago. Gussoff says becoming a certified pro organizer was likely a manifestation of growing up with her mother, a compulsive pack rat. She said clutter, defined as “deferred decision making,” develops when people are unable or unwilling to make a decision regarding a particular item.

Gusoff described countless bags and boxes she uncovers, labeled “To Be Shredded,” confirming that paper, from mail to art projects, is the most pervasive ingredient of clutter. To maintain daily order, she said people need to ingrain new habits that work into their daily routine. InOrder’s busiest season is in January, when people act on resolutions to get organized, but Gusoff says spring is an ideal time to clean out attics and garages.
Victoria Pearlman, founder of Order Artisan, located in Glen Ridge, has been promoting harmony in homes and work spaces for six years. Formerly a librarian at New York Public Library, Pearlman has a natural inclination toward organization. Order Artisan provides in-home planning for time management, bill paying and space planning. For businesses, the company offers services such as space, information and maintenance planning, and material selection.
Eileen Kirna, founder of Kirna Consulting, has been coaching individuals for 11 years. Kirna, a certified real estate agent, turned to organizing after being hired as project manager for an executive who had converted his third floor into his home office. She offered suggestions to aid efficiency and organization, and was soon referred to others. Besides homes and offices, Kirna Consulting conducts organizational assessments of new construction, provides room redesign, wall color assessment and home staging services.
If you have commenced your spring purging and have earmarked belongings for donation, there are several organizations that would be happy to designate them to new owners.
Montclair Public Library will take gently used adult and children’s books (but no text books), as well as DVDs, CDs and books on tape.
In May, the College Women’s Club, at 26 Park St. in Montclair, will again be accepting books, DVDs, CDs, sheet music, and such ephemera as post cards and book marks.
The Vietnam Veterans of America accepts household goods of all kinds. Simply schedule your pickup online.
Story by Melody Kettle

Reuters editor, food blogger, photographer, diva of the domestic arts

21 replies on “Got Clutter? Get Professional Help”

  1. I donated over 1,000 books, CDs and LPs to the College Women’s Club last year.
    It was so good to get all of that stuff out of the house.
    Anyone know where I can donate a 180 lb. nephew?

  2. 99% of “professional organizing” can be accomplished with a dumpster.
    If you don’t need it, get rid of it.
    There’s a point where clutter and disorganization crosses over into mental disease. Anyone watch “Hoarders” Often on the show they have “professional organizers” come into the scene and it always seems like Shirley Temple has come to battle Godzilla.

  3. I wouldn’t say that my DH’s case is pathological but he does like holding onto things more than I do. Not only that, but if I go to throw something out of mine, he’ll sometimes retrieve it and ask why I am throwing out a perfectly good FILL IN THE BLANK. LOL.
    I think it has something to do with how you were raised, what era in which you grew up, etc.

  4. I’m always in doubt about what to keep and what to get rid of in regards to medical or financial information. How long do you need to keep it — if at all?

  5. i love ‘hoarders’. it’s compelling. i’m about to clean out my basement and i’m thinking of doing it the way they do it on ‘clean house’. I’ll put everything out on the lawn on sale day and arrange to have everything picked up for charity at the end of the day or the next morning. one thing i notice about the de-cluttering shows is that they try to start with a clean slate: they empty out the room before they attempt to create a new system of organizing.

  6. Mono: I keep financial statements, tax returns and such for 3 years. Medical records, 10. I like to see patterns there. But I do keep them in a filing cabinet.

  7. Under certain circumstances the IRS can go back 6 or 7 years. So, I’d keep them 7 years.

  8. I’d like to know how one goes about becoming a certified organizer. I would then like to offer up my services to the township for a mid-six figure salary with lifetime benefits.

  9. A friend of mine’s elderly father is such a pack rat that her room on the second floor was turned into his “collection” room after she moved out.
    Some years later the ceiling in the kitchen actually caved in from the weight of it all, but they still can’t get him to throw anything out.
    Sadly, she seems to be following suit (the second room of her two-bedroom apartment looks like that storage facility at the end of Indiana Jones).
    I don’t know that they need a “professional organizer” so much as a dumpster to clear out the decades of newspaper clippings and random knick-nacks and an auctioneer to sell off all but his favorite parts of his rather impressive coin and stamp collections.

  10. Thanks guys, I guess I’ll just keep what I have, and organize it a bit better. This comes up every tax time when I need to pull out last year’s information, and I realize what a mess everything is.
    Personally I find “Hoarders” disturbing. I was involved with you for years, and it’s a losing battle. It’s always the junk over everything and everyone else.

  11. “I don’t know that they need a “professional organizer” so much as a dumpster to clear out the decades of newspaper clippings and random knick-nacks and an auctioneer to sell off all but his favorite parts of his rather impressive coin and stamp collections.”
    You need a psychologist, really and truly. Nothing else will work.

  12. RoC is absolutely right; it becomes a sickness (and a fire hazard). I have intimate knowledge of this… someone who refuses to let us into her apartment for this very reason. She knows it’s bad but won’t (can’t) do anything about it. And unfortunately it’s not even something plausible like coin or stamp collections… it’s utility bills from 5 years ago, old shopping lists, and not just clippings but entire newspapers stacked up high.
    Bring on the Dumpster!

  13. If you like stuff– KEEP IT!!
    Forget all this organization stuff– you have your “system” and it works for you. So who cares if no one can enter your living room because of the stacks of papers, those papers will be worth something someday.
    Who cares that you still have old records from when you DJ’ed in college– wait, that’s me…
    Oh well, whatever, Nevermind (miss you KC!).

  14. Hello, my name is walleroo, and I’m a hoarder. I’ve got all tax returns going back 25 years. I’ve got issues of Redbook from the 1970s, and every copy of National Geographic that’s been published in the past 50 years. I keep all copies of the NYTimes, in floor to ceiling stacks in crawlspace below Liz’s porch. I have every scrap of paper that my kids have so much as scribbled on, every art project, every report card, boxes and boxes of photographs, an old Dell PC from 1994 with a busted hard drive, every pair of shoes or sneakers I’ve ever worn, trousers going back to the size 32 waist I had ten inches ago…
    Help me. Please.

  15. It is easy to accumulate clutter if you’ve lived in the same place for a while. Two years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed so elicted the help of an exceptionally organized friend to help me. Voila! My house was cleaned out (I, too, donated more than 1,000 book to College Women’s Book Club). I’ve kept the place in good shape since.
    Don’t hesitate to contact a Clutter Buster if you think you need help. The end result is well worth it.

  16. Its only a disease because it has manifested to be one. Nobody in their right mind (no pun intended) could maintain even the slightest social life with a “hoarder” lifestyle. Everyone on that show had one thing in common. White Trash

  17. Jimmy, someone living in a tiny apartment because it’s all they can afford has no social life which would involve a visitor anyway. And you’re right, they are probably not in their right mind. Thanks for being so understanding.
    What comes around, goes around.

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