written by Jenny Mathews, contributing writer

After binge watching several episodes of the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, my resolve was firm: I was going to tackle the problem areas in my home. I was going to get rid of everything that didn’t “spark joy” for me and finally feel like every space was organized and clear of clutter. Four hours later, my closet gleamed, and my pride lifted as I observed the newly visible spaces between the hangers and the neatly folded rows of jeans on the shelf. The next weekend my husband and I attacked the storage room with a similarly pleasing result. The entire time I knew that the real problem area in my home — my office — was waiting patiently in my future for its long-awaited opportunity to spark anything but anxiety and overwhelm the hearts of brave souls who dare cross its threshold. Now, weeks later, the room is still waiting.

Surely, I am not alone and there are sympathetic masses who are nodding their heads as images of their own disorganized spaces run through their minds. What are some of the reasons it seems impossible to be completely organized and tidy? What obstacles slow us down in our journey to the land of the totally uncluttered? After consulting an expert, I narrowed the list to three:


How many of us think to set aside money in our budget to pay for expensive bins or drawer separators? Likely many of you have done as I have and picked up a bin or two as they’ve gone on sale and made the best of your mismatched, hodgepodge of storage solutions. Katie Bradley, owner of local business Clear Tidy Spaces, offers some inexpensive suggestions, like using shoe boxes for photo storage, cardboard boxes covered in clearance fabric as cubbies, and always keeping an eye out for clearance sales. Your space doesn’t need to qualify for the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, it just needs to work for YOU!


Googling “organized home office” yields images of spaces that seem way out of my space’s league. I can’t seem to make the connection between the mounds of stuff in my office and the clear desktop, single filing cabinet, and stylish bookshelf stacked with what appears to be mostly knickknacks. Let’s get real here. I have to store a lot of stuff in a my somewhat small space. Katie suggests beginning with the end in mind: What is the true purpose of the room? What needs to be accomplished in the space? Are there items that you don’t really need to store here, that will just end up becoming clutter? Don’t get caught up in the Pinterest-worthy images on the internet or in magazines. She also recommends describing, in two or three words, what you hope the space will feel like once you’re finished. If the words are something like “peaceful, productive, uncluttered,” keep those words constantly in mind while deciding what goes back into the room and what does not.


How long will this take? I don’t want to get started and not be able to finish. What if I clear everything out and realize I don’t have the time, energy, or resources to achieve my goal? According to Katie, overwhelm is one of the most common reasons people put off organizing. If you aren’t sure if you have the time or motivation to do the whole room, start with ONE small area — a cupboard, a drawer, or the desktop, for example. If you find you’re feeling pretty good about yourself and you want to keep going, great! You’ve got this!

Katie Bradley came by her passion for organizing after losing both parents and having to sort through their things. She knows how overwhelming it can be to stare a disorganized mess in the face with neither an endless supply of time or money at her disposal. Listen to our recent podcast interview with Katie by visiting our website, clicking on “Featured Families” tab and then you’ll see the link for our podcast called “Breakfast Epiphanies.” Hers is episode #28.