"It's not the 'clean' part of the equation that's difficult. It's just finding a place to put all the stuff."
Okemos mom Cheri Meyer has two kids. And just about anyone with kids will tell you that no matter how hard you try, that "stuff" you work so hard to keep under control can easily overwhelm even the cleanest house.
"Every day, more paper comes home from school. And the pile just gets bigger and bigger."
And that's just schoolwork. What if you happen to be a person who just can't let go of anything - from his first grade spelling tests to the sweatshirt you wore in college?
Here are a few tips on breaking through that clutter.
First, consider the source. In many cases, there's a reason someone is a packrat. And it might not have anything to do with actually needing the stuff they're keeping.
"Every person is different," says Carol Kanners, owner of Home Sweet Home, a local professional organizing company "Maybe there's an emotional attachment to the (clutter) and they're not ready to part with it."
Life experience also is a factor.
"Elderly people, those who lived through the Depression ... they see value in a rubber band," says Jackie Bornor, owner of Stuff the Clutter, a Haslett-based professional organizing firm.
Once you've come to terms with the "whys" of your inner-packrat, it's time to ...
* Get comfortable. "Pick one area to focus on, and document with a before (and after) picture," Bornor says. "Use a timer (you'll see why in a moment), add your favorite music and dress comfortably to set the mood."
* Start small. "Oftentimes, it's easier to start with a single room," Kanners says. "The (process) will go quickly; you can see progress and inspire yourself to go further."
Bornor agrees smaller jobs make the progress easier to see. "You may want to start small, a shelf, drawer, or under the bed to ensure that you see results immediately."
Severe clutter may mean breaking the job into several steps. "Divide it into four sections and work within one section until completed," Bornor says.
"Stay focused on that one section only. When your timer goes off, decide if you have the stamina to continue and set the timer for another 30 minutes."
Not done in a day? Don't give up.
Stuck on something? We all have things we can't imagine parting with - and it's OK to keep a few favorites. But do you really need every single "Playbill" from every single musical you've ever seen?
Bornor says she works with one simple rule: "When in doubt, live without."
* Should you call a professional? Yes, if you've been struggling with the task.
Contact a professional organizer, and ask if they are members of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Bornor says members have access to educational opportunities that assist them in working with clients.
* The final step: Where does all your stuff go? Categorizing as you de-clutter makes it easier to find homes for your old stuff. "Decide to keep, sell, donate or toss, and be ruthless," Bornor says.