We’ve all got our issues with organizing. I keep mine secret and hidden away. The public areas of my house, all clear counters and orderly bookshelves, belie what’s behind closed doors. My sister Billie, who believes that I alone received the genes for my mother’s neat-freakiness is flummoxed by the state of my closets and drawers. That’s what doors are for: to hide my dirty little secrets of untidyness. My go-to gal for help in these matters is my good friend, Ellen Madere. These days she’s also an organizer to the stars, and this month (February issue) she is featured in Real Simple’s Ask the Organizer. The article addresses all of my pain points: where exactly IS all the stuff I’ve so neatly stored away, dealing with emotional clutter and the top of my husband’s bureau (I have a very efficient way of tackling this one: when I can’t stand the chaos for one more minute, I sweep the collar stays, post it notes, change and chewing gum into a cardboard box, label it “Joe” and stash it in the basement. He, of course, hates me for this). If you simply can’t face going it alone, here’s a list of advice from Ellen. Or better yet, give her a call, and she’ll come right over, 860 227 6427. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ellen Gets It Done! As you embrace your winter cleanse and new exercise regime, make this your year to get organized! And better yet, maintain it! Take back your living environment and instead of trotting around your house like a horse with blinders on, attack the piles, drawers, shelves and closets and get your organizational endorphins flowing! You can get the same high from creating some order in your life that you can from your improved fitness programs that you’ve signed yourself up for…. and you’ll be elated that you did. YOU Can Do It! Many people DREAD dealing with this aspect of their lives as they believe that ANYTHING is more enjoyable than spending time creating order on the home front. To this I say WRONG. My pep talk is simple: YOU can do it. Here’s how. Start by using a timer (a conventional one, your smartphone, whatever) and set it for a reasonable amount of time: 15-30 minutes. Pick one area: a closet, a drawer (kitchen, desk, bathroom, bedroom) a shelf – don’t agonize over your choice – dive in. Reward yourself when the time is up. Coffee, tea, a glass of wine (depending on what time of day it is), something sweet, a gabfest with a friend or online shopping for items that may be needed to make your work shine (we’ll get to that shortly). Many of my clients are SO motivated when they use a timer that they keep going because they are seeing (and feeling) the difference that some order can make that they don’t want to stop….whether you belong to that camp or not is immaterial; something is better than nothing. One of my mantras is that one size does not fit all; access your situation realistically and go forward. Look around you – is there an empty bureau that is just waiting to be used for a collection that you’ve been housing in a crummy dilapidated box for years? Seize the moment and transfer it. Donate! Don’t throw away perfectly good stuff. Just because you may no longer have a need or desire for something does not mean that your throwaways cannot live another life elsewhere – happily. Here are a few local organizations that would be delighted to accept your gently used clothing, household items and furniture. Homeward Bound provides shelter to the homeless and is a marvelous place to donate your furniture and housewares. They pick up as well! Restore, the Habitat for Humanity store with locations in Waterford and Cromwell will send their truck for your stuff. Safe Futures, a haven for those impacted by domestic violence, keeps their website current with a list of their needs. Finally, here are a few websites I’m currently obsessing over to aid you in this process: MUJI – simple Japanese design that I’ve been consumed with for years now has an online presence. POPPIN – working will never be more colorful – you neutral types are not left out here either! And to protect your clothing, furniture and other paraphernalia: THE BUTLER’S CLOSET – for museum quality archival coverings (shoe bags, pictured).