Even as a young child, Tammy O'Neil was an organizer. It wasn't unusual for her to organize her neighbors' kitchen cabinets, and she was known for organizing everything in her family's home.
"My mom would laugh when she came in from work - the house would be rearranged and everything would be stacked up," said O'Neil, of Parkersburg.
In 2007, O'Neil started her own professional organizing career, naming her business "Tammy the Organizer." She offers home and office organizing services and makes presentations about organizing during conferences and staff and corporate training sessions.
Whether they are buried under stacks of papers on their desk at work or tripping over piles of clothes and toys at home, nearly everyone is disorganized to some degree.
Experts say it's important to get organized and get rid of the clutter and this can be done in a way that's not overwhelming.
"As a capitalistic society, we encourage consumerism, so 'stuff' is going to build up in our lives. When stuff breaks or we don't use it all the time, it hangs around," said Mark Sibicky, a psychology professor at Marietta College. "There are large personality differences between what one person considers neat and another considers cluttered. In general, clutter is not a problem until it interferes with your life and causes frustration and stress."
Tips for decluttering
Designate a spot for incoming papers, such as receipts, school papers and flyers. Papers often account for a lot of our clutter. Creating folders with labels for your major bills and similar paperwork is a good idea.
Whether it's your counter, kitchen table or the area around your couch, clear one area and designate it as your no-clutter zone. Make it a rule not to place anything there that's not actually in use. Slowly expand your no-clutter zone until it envelopes the whole house.
Keep all flat spaces are clear of clutter. Start with one counter and clear off everything that is not essential, including something like a blender that you haven't used in years. Next, clear a shelf of all non-essential things.
Schedule a decluttering weekend. Put boxes and trash bags to good use and plan to donate items to a charitable organization.
Pick up five things you use and designate spots for them. Always put those things in those spots when you're done using them.
Visualize how a room will look uncluttered, then figure out what is essential and get rid of the rest. Remember, only furniture and rugs belong on the floor.
Create a "maybe" box, where you can place things you don't use but that you might want someday. Store the box somewhere out of the way. Check the box six months later to see if there's anything in it you really needed.
Teach your children where things belong. This will take patience and you should be setting the example.
Clear your closet and drawers of things you no longer wear and also clear your medicine cabinet of things you don't use.
Still, Sibicky pointed out that clutter and disorganization at work can slow a person down.
"If you can't find what you need, then the clutter is interfering with your ability to do a job," he said.
O'Neil said whether a person wants to get organized at work or at home, the first thing they should do is determine their organizational style - harmonizer, maintainer, prioritizer or innovator.
Harmonizers are loyal, sensitive and helpful but tend to focus more on feelings than concepts such as deadlines, so they usually run late and have a lot of clutter. Maintainers, on the other hand, like schedules and rules and like to be prepared and punctual.
Prioritizers like to take charge, but they don't like details, while innovators are easily distracted and don't care where they keep their things.
"Really from the age of 3, we start developing our own organizational style," she said. "Once you understand what your style is, you will be organized for the rest of your life."
She said it's also important for a person to ask themselves why they want to become organized, then develop an action plan that involves devoting 15 minutes at the same time and same day once a week to getting organized.
"We are more likely to congratulate ourselves and you can finish it but it doesn't have to be overwhelming and done all at once," O'Neil said. "And I ask my clients not to buy anything. I'm a firm believer in re-purposing what you already have and going shopping in your own home for any organizational tools or containers."
Those who are trying to get organized should also establish an accountability partner who will make sure they stick to the task, she said, and when in the process of organizing, it's a good idea to prepare at least four black garbage bags marked as donate, keep, trash and other.
"The reason I say black is once the items are in the bags, we don't go shopping in them again," O'Neil said.
Pam Holschuh, owner of Copper Leaf Interiors in Marietta, said play rooms, closets and kitchens are areas that many people would like to get more organized.
She said toys that have been outgrown should be donated but other toys can be put into a "toy rotation," with toys that are not currently used much being brought out for play and others going into storage. By doing this, not all the toys are out at once.
As for closets, Holschuh recommended that an extra rod be added so hanging space is doubled.
"Sort through the shoes, pants, dresses and skirts and use a box for donation and one for consignment. If you haven't worn it in two years, it's time to say goodbye," she said. "Group shirts and pants by casual and dress and by color. Grouping by color keeps the closet neat and easy to see what you have. Often times, we over buy because we forgot about that white shirt hanging in the back of the closet."
Holschuh said a kitchen can be organized by cleaning out drawers and lining them with shelf vinyl, which is easy to clean and prevents items from moving around in the drawer.