We’ve all been there: running late leaving the house for an appointment or a kid’s sporting event, frantically looking for car keys that were right here just a minute ago. Or, we’ve faced the scenario of searching for lost paperwork that somehow ended up at the bottom of a stack of school assignments. Living a hectic schedule every day can lead to a buildup of clutter; but according to professional organizer Kristin Long, that clutter can do more than frustrate us and make us chronically late.
“Unpaid bills, forgotten appointments, and lost possessions are just a few reasons homeowners and businesses contact me for organizational help,” Long says, pointing out that people start out thinking that hiring a professional organizer is too expensive. Once they do and realize how much money they’ve been wasting, she says they realize that getting help clearing the clutter actually saves them money. “How much money do you spend on items that you know you already have but can’t find?”
In fact, Newsweek reported the average American spends 55 minutes a day looking for things they misplace. That adds up to 14 days a year—a full two weeks that could be better spent doing, well, anything else. Long says there are five distinct ways that a lack of organization in the home can negatively impact the family budget, and she challenges her clients to tackle the reasons behind the clutter to find a permanent solution with her expert guidance.
Those two weeks a year you’ve lost looking for misplaced items represent valuable time. Everyone could use more hours in the day, and keeping your home organized into “stations” can earn you an extra hour that you could use earning money, cooking at home, or just relaxing with your family.
“Create systems to ensure you know what you have, where you have it, and why,” Long says, emphasizing that a thorough inventory can reveal a natural order to your home, if only you’ll recognize it. “Taking a little time now to create ‘stations’ in your home can help you for years to come!”
Long says the most over-purchased item in almost every home she helps organize is tape. It’s not that tape is particularly collectible or attractive, just easily lost in a frenzy of present-wrapping during holidays and birthdays. The solution? Keep tape—or any item you regularly lose track of—with the items you most often use at the same time. Keep tape with wrapping paper and scissors. Keep pens with calendars or at a bill-paying station. Keep keys on a hook near the door, along with your wallet or purse, sunglasses, and other items you might need in your vehicle. If you know what you need and why you need it, you can put it where you’ll always be able to find it. You can also avoid spending money on something you already own.
Mismanaged calendars can lead to missed meetings, costly missed medical appointments, and wasted time. Doctors’ offices often charge a missed-appointment fee, and they’re not the only ones. Beauty salons, veterinary offices, and other professionals who count on appointment-scheduling to organize their client visits often charge a fee when you pull a no-show. Some may even require that you pre-pay to schedule an appointment if you’ve made it a habit of skipping them in the past. The solution? Keep a “master schedule” that works for your family. If that’s a wall calendar, a shared electronic calendar that syncs to everyone’s smartphones, or a planner you carry with you everywhere, make sure it’s something you’ll use consistently.