'Tis the season for bunnies — dust bunnies

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It’s spring, and our clocks have sprung ahead, providing one more hour of daylight to tackle spring cleaning. But where to begin?

Professional life coach and Wilkinsburg native Linda King recently published a book, "The Joy of Getting It Done," for people who are struggling with time management and organization but would like to try the do-it-yourself approach to spring cleaning.

At the beginning of her book, Ms. King helps readers identify organizational goals. Each chapter teaches a tool designed to help tackle overwhelming projects. "As you go through the book and learn each tool, there is an exercise at the end of the chapter that makes you think about how you can apply these tools to create new routines," she said.

Some people prefer to go through the entire book, learn the tools and apply them on the fly. Others like to sit down and think about how they are going to come up with a comprehensive plan to get their lives in order. In general, Ms. King recommends starting small — quickly clearing that small space of everything and then filling up boxes one by one with the contents of that space.

"That's instantly rewarding because you look at that space and go 'Ah! Fresh, clean space,'" Ms. King said. "You also incidentally broke that task down into distinct units, which is those boxes ... and you are working in a nice, clean environment, instead of a messy environment."

When organizing the content of those boxes, Ms. King advises breaking things into simple categories and implementing easy-to-maintain methods. For example, use baskets and boxes without lids to eliminate an extra step when putting things back.

"When we are in a rush, everyone will just throw things down on the counter, but if just one step up from the counter is a basket and you can throw it in the basket, you'll do it," Ms. King said. Fussy or hard-to-maintain methods do not work in the long run. "If you really have to move things out of the way to put it back, you'll do it later and that's where it falls apart," she added.

Ms. King does acknowledge that her book is not for everyone. "All the tips won't work if you really don't have a clue how to organize in a way that is sustainable," she said. For those people, Ms. King suggests hiring a professional organizer.

Dorothy Clear, director of marketing of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers and the owner of Clear Organization in Conway, agrees. "A lot of professionals will do coaching. We can provide staging and a game plan to help people get started, " she said.

For people who need more than coaching, professional organizers can also work together with you on your organizing project. "It is important to find a professional you can get along with, who is credible and willing to work within your time frame to customize an organizing system that will fit your lifestyle," Ms. Clear said.

Jill Yesko, a certified professional organizer, owns Discover Organizing in Mt. Lebanon. She and her team help clients break projects into manageable chunks. "A lot of people underestimate how long it takes to clean an area. Sometimes it takes two hours just to clean out a cabinet," Ms. Yesko said. "A lot of people say 'I am going to clean my whole home this weekend,' and they bite off more than they can chew, so I say, 'Let's try and focus on this wall today.' "

According to Ms. Yesko, the garage is a good place to begin spring cleaning. "The temperatures are great, you can pop open the garage door... and once that is organized, it becomes a great holding area for everything that is leaving the home when you are decluttering," Ms. Yesko said.

The whole process can take about 15 hours. "A lot of people don't understand cleaning out the garage is not something you can do in one day ... sometimes it takes three people on my team plus the client two six-hour days," Ms. Yesko said.

Ms. Yesko emphasizes the importance of working within a time budget when tackling big projects. She will often put down a piece of painter's tape and tell clients to work until they reach that point. "They'll say, 'Oh, that's easy! I can do that!' '' Ms. Yesko said.

After decluttering, Ms. Yesko said it is important to leave space for future storage and to label containers. "Clients really appreciate finding what they need when they need it because of the labels," she said. "Once everything is in its proper place, we sweep, dust, wipe everything down as best we can and get out the cobwebs."

Marsha Morgenstern, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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