Virginia called me today, and she was crying, reveals professional organizer Vicki Norris in her commonsense handbook, Restoring Order to Your Home. Buried in junk, Norris' client simply couldn't cope. Maybe you're not that desperate, Norris says, but maybe your relationships or family is suffering because of household disorganization. Alleviating that suffering, she claims, is not about having a picture-perfect home or buying plastic storage bins. Instead, she says, Ordering your life and your environment is about one thing: reclaiming your life. The foundation of Norris' organizing plan is understanding and fashioning a customized approach: if you take the time to truly divine the cause and effect of your disorganization, the better able you are to find solutions you can live with to banish chaos forever.

Norris, like other organizational consultants, offers a room-by-room battle plan for home de-cluttering (one strategy being to zone a space), but bases her solutions on a person's individual preferences, plus whether a room is a public, private or storage area. She identifies common causes and hot spots of clutter, offers family-oriented strategies for dealing with the messes that toddlers and teenagers can create, and warns about the financial and psychological drain of the offsite storage unit. Organizing, says the author, will not only liberate you from household chaos; it will give you a fresh start on life! Alison Hood plans to tackle her closets in San Rafael, California.

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