It is time to clean out the old to make room for the new. We asked several local experts for their advice on how to get started organizing your life, including your home computer.
As humans, we experience both the cycles of the seasons and the events of the calendar. For many, the beginning of the new year signals a time to declutter their homes, studios, and offices and to begin again with a feeling of order and optimism.
With the holiday season just past, you may have an accumulation of decorations and traditional objects that felt festive and beautiful when they went up and feel more like clutter now. It is time to clean out the old to make room for the new.
We asked several local experts for their advice on how to get started organizing your life, including your home computer.
Organizing home, work
When the whole house needs organizing, it can be hard to know where to start. Patti Sampson of Organize-It Taos! helps people figure out how to tackle problem areas. She gets calls to help organize homes, as well as art studios and offices. "I think we are programmed by the coming of the new year to consider major changes in our lives. A lot of times we need to clear out space and to get rid of old stuff that no longer fits in with our current or future plans," said Sampson.
For artists who have evolved their medium over time, Sampson has assisted with sorting through and disposing of the materials, tools, and supplies of the previous art such as wood-working for example, in order to make room for the tools of a new artistic effort.
At home, parents ask for help to organize their kids' rooms. "Kids collect toys and junk and usually don't get rid of anything. These things get shoved under the bed or in a closet," said Sampson.
When people are planning for a garage or yard sale, they ask for Sampson's help to come and choose the items to go in the sale. When it is time to move or list a home for sale, Sampson can also be helpful in sprucing up the space making it easier to sale or rent the property.
How to get started
For those who want to organize a particular space like a closet, Sampson recommends making lists in five categories:
- things to keep,
- to throw out,
- to donate,
- to sell
- and a category for items that haven't been designated yet in another category.
"If that process feels overwhelming, you can just take things out of the closet and then begin to sort them into piles on the floor," she said. Limiting the organizing project to one room at a time can reduce the stress of the process. That allows you to close the door on the room in progress and relax in between organizing efforts.
"Home organizing can be a valuable service. I help people clarify their goals for their projects by asking questions. I offer a consultation and that is sometimes all people need," Sampson said. "Other times they want me to take over and do it for them, after they clarify how they want a room to look. If there is heavy furniture or boxes to be moved, I bring an assistant to help out. We are overloaded with too many things to do, juggling many balls in the air. When people are ready for help, they know it and that's when they come to me."
Brightening and rearranging
Georgia Gersh of Magpie Gallery in El Prado also offers home organizing services. She helps people decide what to get rid of and how to rearrange their homes to bring them new life.
"I really encourage people to move their art around or acquire new art with this fresh season," she said. "This new year reminded me yet again that each day is a new beginning and sometimes small changes make a big difference. Cleaning, organizing, and freshening your space this time of year brings hope into the house. I just bought a couple bouquets of red tulips at Smiths and put them around Magpie and they made my whole week different. Spring is right around the corner."
Your home computer
Michael Ferrara, owner of Electric Sheep Computers, a local shop in Taos, helps his customers keep their computers up and running, along with selling new and refurbished computers and installing computer networks. He says the key to keeping your home computer well-organized is knowing a bit about your computer. For instance, understanding the location of your documents or the path to follow to find the files on your hard drive can be useful in retrieving the document, especially if something goes wrong.
Setting up logical systems like organizing the websites you bookmark and also using rules or files for your incoming email can save you time and reduce frustration when you are trying to find particular information.
"There are all kinds of specialized tools out there for organizing music, photos, and written work," says Ferrara. For clean-up software, he recommends using a well-known brand like Avast that can help you periodically clean up your computer. He does caution that even tools that are supposed to make your life easier, can complicate things if they become out of date. "Computer programs are continually evolving, and it is hard to keep up," he said. 'Even an update to your Windows operating system can cause big problems to your other programs."
At Electric Sheep, they have a variety of tools that can be used to scan your computer and look for viruses and other problems that might be slowing things down. "We think of computers as machines, but they are more like evolving complex ecosystems. The whole point of computers is to be a mutable and flexible platform for what you need to do. There are millions of different ways that things can go wrong. We can help narrow down the seemingly infinite possibilities, beginning with figuring out whether it is a hardware or software problem."
Tamra Testerman who writes the Tech Talk column for The Taos News said, "I use a brilliant program for my 2013 Macbook air called CleanMyMac X. It has a smart scan feature which is quick, and you have ultimate control over what you want to trash. I run the CleanMyMac X once a month. It keeps my download speeds zippy and the harddrive happy."
She said the most challenging thing for her is keeping a clean desk top. "I make files with nice colors and try to stay organized that way. I still have an avalanche information overload occasionally, but the remedy is easier with the files on the desktop in cool colors."
Can organizing change your life?
As you consider where you might begin to organize and declutter your life, you can ask yourself what areas cause you most the frustration or make you lose time looking for lost information or items like keys or glasses.
With a more orderly home or workspace you might gain more than previously lost time. According to Psychology Today, decluttering creates a sense of confidence and competence. It can energize you and launch you into other projects on your to-do list. Organizing can reduce anxiety and may even lessen family stress and help make a better environment for creative leaps of insight.
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