Milwaukee/NARI Offers Tips for Clearing the Clutter

Jan. 25, 2013

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to be organized, to clean out the clutter, to simplify? You’re not alone. Most of us want to be more in control of our “stuff.” In fact, has more than 20,000 books on organizing your home, your office, your life.

The idea of organization is easy to dream about. But putting the plan in action can seem overwhelming. Certified professional organization expert Brenden McDaniel, owner of Action Organizing Services, LLC in Milwaukee and a member of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for more than 51 years, offers some tips for getting the job done.

“Organizing doesn’t have to be arduous, it can be fun,” said McDaniel. He advises before beginning the process, decide which area bothers you most and what you want to accomplish. If it’s a large project, such as an entire basement, garage, or home office, break the project down into small, sequential steps.

“The worst thing to do is a marathon over a weekend or on a Saturday,” he said, suggesting it may be helpful to write down your goals for a particular area. “Make your goals specific, not general. By planning a time to do it, you become accountable for it and are more likely to get it done. If it’s really overwhelming, start working in 20 minute increments.”

Other tips from McDaniel include:

• Have the right tools for the task such as trash bags, containers, and label makers. Smaller trash bags are easier to carry up stairs and haul to the trash bin. Heavy-duty leaf bags stand upright and stay open and their flat bottom makes it easy to stack clothes.

• For items that need to be kept and stored, use clear square or rectangular boxes. Stick with the same brand so they stack easily. If you use Space Bags®, don’t over pack, as they can explode.

• Have a label maker so you remember what you stored and when you stored it.

Now that you are ready to trash or store, begin by keeping like items together so you can concentrate on each separately. McDaniel likes to use the terms best friend, acquaintance, and stranger, when separating items into piles. Best friend is for items you need or want to keep; acquaintance for items you are not sure about; and stranger for the items that are definite discards.

When you’ve made your decisions, immediately get rid of the discard group, either through donations (gently used items only) or the trash. Items in the acquaintance pile can be put aside for a later date. “When you hit it the second time, you can usually find things you want to discard,” he said. “Ask yourself why you are keeping an item. If it’s not useful, don’t feel guilty about giving it away or throwing it away. If you need to, take a photo of it so you can remember it.

“If you backslide, keep working on it,” McDaniel said. “You already have a better shot for having done it before.”

The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 800 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call 414- 771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at

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