Q: I'm drowning in laundry. We are a family of four, and it seems we are always living out of laundry baskets. Any suggestions would be great!
A: Let's be honest: Laundry is a pain in the basket! You have to "finish the cycle" with the laundry, and this takes a slight change of mind-set. When you take the laundry out of the dryer, you have to fold it immediately and then put it away immediately. The moment you put it down and think, "I'll do that later," you've lost the battle! Finish the cycle, from dryer to drawer in one motion.
Q: My car is such a mess. It seems like every time I clean it out, a day later it is cluttered again. Do you have any tips for keeping clean a car that is invaded by two toddlers every day?
A: Every time you gas up, declutter and get rid of the trash. Put a bin in the trunk for each child. Every time you get home, each child carries their bin (and stuff) inside. Let the kids do the work.
Q: I have a dog with 1,000 toys. He loves them all, and I can't stop buying them. But it is a lot of clutter. How can I get them organized and stop buying them?
A: Get one bin for the dog toys, and that's the limit. When the bin is full of dog toys, before you can add one you have to get rid of one. If you want to buy more, donate old ones to an animal shelter.
Q: How do I get my kids to clean without it being a painful chore?
A: It's important not to make cleaning or organizing a punishment or a chore for your kids. From an early age, make a game of it: Getting kids to pick up after they play should be a part of the play itself. It's about teaching your kids to be responsible for what they own and use. If you feel it's a chore, your kids will pick up on that.
Have bins handy for toys to go into, show kids where things belong, and keep your own areas clean and organized. Include everyone in a once-a-week house cleaning-organizing session. It's then part of family life, not a punishment or chore.
Q: What are tips I could use to clean out the clutter in my kitchen?
A: Try the one-month cardboard-box trick. Empty all those gizmos from your kitchen drawer into a box. Put it on the counter. For the next month, every time you use an item, put it back in the drawer. At the end of the month, check what is still in the box. Do you need it?
Q: What is the best way to organize and display books? I have downsized my considerable library over the past few years and still have what seem to be books everywhere.
A: If you love books it's important, I think, to treat them with honor and respect, so good organization and display is crucial. I'm a fan of "simpler is better," so invest in some quality bookshelves. Make sure, though, that the books you have fit on the shelves. No books piled on the floor or under the bed or in boxes in the garage.
Q: How do you deal with the syndrome of "I shouldn't throw this away because I might need it someday"?
A: There's nothing wrong with preparing for the future, but if holding on to stuff "just in case" is taking over your home or your life, then it's time for action. Live for today!