Do You Lead a Cluttered Life?

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume 111, No. 6June, 2011

Cindy Green, LCSW

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at or (212) 397-4802.

With the dark days of winter finally over, we set our sights on longer, brighter days of sunshine and fun summer plans.

Spring is about renewal, so what better time to undertake some new projects and plans – including organizing your living space!

Instead of facing this task with dread and anxiety, consider the following tips to help motivate you.

Clutter causes stress. Being organized will save time, money and your sanity. When all of your belongings have a place, you always know where they are. Imagine – no more wasting time looking for misplaced items. You can accomplish redundant tasks and errands more quickly.

Being organized will leave you with more time to do activities you like. Suddenly deadlines will be easier to manage and you’ll be less likely to miss appointments. Plus, you’ll be more likely to deposit checks or cash you make at gigs rather than leave them at the bottom of another pile.

Tackling the task of organization can be overwhelming; it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some ideas to consider before you start.

Pinpoint the things in your apartment that need a “home” – a reliable location. Are these items that need to be easily accessible or can you place them in an out-of-the-way spot?

What kinds of supplies (file folders, plastic containers, shelves) will you need to stay organized? Perhaps your bills need to have their own spot for you to visit once a month, not every day. A file folder in a drawer might be ideal to manage this task.

Be proactive and block out time to manage your space. It may sound like a challenge with our busy schedules, but think of it as an investment. If you simply take an hour or two out of your week to organize, the time you save will always exceed the time you invest in taking charge of your space. Make lists and check off the things you’ve accomplished. Calendars are also helpful, for business and for personal time. If you have access to an electronic calendar such as Outlook or Google Calendar, you can access them anywhere you have internet access and receive alerts for events and tasks you might forget.

Be ruthless when you’re considering what you need and what you can toss out. Make rules for yourself and follow them.

Clothing that hasn’t been worn for more than two seasons goes to charity.

Magazines or papers older than four weeks get recycled

Access information online: toss out those flyers and take out menus

Open your mail (or e-mail), then throw it away, file it or take the required action (such as paying the bill) immediately so that these tasks don’t pile up.

Check your apartment for duplicate items or other things you don’t need.

Look at your home and see where you might be able to create additional organization space. Placing your bed on risers can leave an extra foot of storage underneath. Draping tablecloths over end tables you can store items underneath and out of view. By placing shorter furniture at an angle in a corner, space can be used behind it to keep seldom used items like holiday decorations.

Becoming organized when your life and space is chaotic may take some time. Allow yourself to become organized gradually. Trying to tackle every aspect of your life at once will likely make you want to give up entirely. Take one area at a time and stay committed to the process. Try to start by prioritizing your needs and deal with each item one day at a time.

If you find you’re struggling with your organization skills or you simply can’t reduce your clutter, please call the MAP office at (212) 397-4802. We’ll be happy to organize with you.