When was the last time you went into your attic? (If you don't have an attic, substitute another out-of-the-way spot in your home--perhaps a guest bedroom, a finished basement, or a back hall closet.) For most of us, attics and other hidden spots often seem to be clutter magnets, accumulating years' worth of stuff we rarely use. These spaces also tend to cause stress, guilt, and frustration: what to do with all of that stuff? What's really lurking there, anyway? Wouldn't it be great to put the space to better use?
Recently, Liz Seymour, Deputy Editor of the Washington Post's Home section, embarked on an 11-week project to clear out and organize the attic in her Washington, DC, home, with the help of local Professional Organizer Caitlin Shear. Seymour detailed the project in a series of articles for the paper; these articles are also available on the Washington Post website.
Whether or not you're facing your own attic organizing project--or even have an attic--the series is well worth a read. For one thing, the articles are full of advice from PO Shear, who explains why things tend to land in the attic in the first place and offers a simple, straightforward option for getting started on a large project like this. Another highlight: Seymour's observations and insights. As she goes through the process of reconnecting with, and then sorting through, all of the stuff in her attic, she comes to understand why she'd been keeping it (even though she wasn't using it) and, on the flip side, why she's ready to let it go.
Also helpful are the targeted tips for the different types of things that tend to make their way to the attic, from books to holiday decorations to archived papers. Each week, Seymour and Shear tackle a different category of stuff, and the article for that week offers suggestions on how to decide what to keep, where to donate unwanted and unused items, and how to organize what remains.
Seymour's experience in her attic shows that organizing a space--especially one that's been largely ignored for a while and has gathered clutter--takes time and effort, and is best done with help. But it also proves that putting in that time and effort is well worth it. I won't spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that good things happen when she organizes.
Read the article series here. (You'll need to register in order to access them, but the registration process is fast, easy, and free.)