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Professional organizer offers tips to clear clutter
All Things In Order owner Angelina Manolakis can create better home environment
All Things In Order owner Angelina Manolakis says the Christmas season is the best time to call her and other organizing experts. She helps her clients declutter their closets along with other projects such as basements and garages.

Professional organizer Angelina Manolakis offers these tips to clear the clutter from your home:

* Plan a day or a few to work on specific tasks and give yourself a deadline.

* Make a list of things you want to organize and accomplish.

* Tackle your biggest problem first, such as a basement or a garage. Once the big element is complete, smaller ones don’t look so intimidating.

* Designate boxes or totes for sorting. Label them keep, donate and throw away. Make sure to have trash bags handy.

* Follow this general rule of thumb: If you haven’t used it in a year, then you probably won’t. It should only take 10 seconds to decide to keep or donate.

* Once you decide to donate an item, put it in the designated box and stick to the decision.

* Once you decide to keep an item, assign it a new home.

Christmas is finally over, but remnants of the holiday are strewn all over the house.

Children’s toys are lying on the floor with no place to go. Brand-new clothes are hanging over your freshly purchased exercise equipment, because the closet is full. And you still have to pack away the Christmas tree and its ornaments.

So instead of resolving for a better body this year, try organizing your living and work spaces with a professional organizer.

All Things In Order owner and part-time craft extraordinaire Angelina Manolakis said the Christmas season is the best time to call her and other organizing experts.

“You can go through your doubles, your triples,” Manolakis said, explaining many people have multiple items of the same thing.

For example, some homeowners have identical sets of salt and pepper shakers or candles with the same scent. Manolakis advised saying goodbye to at least one of these items.

The Gainesville businesswoman also said when you receive a new gift, you should dispose of the old, outdated version to reduce clutter and avoid disorganization.

“You have to get rid of the old to make room for the new,” Manolakis said. “If you haven’t used it in five years or if it’s ratty, it’s ready to go.”

In her experience, parents usually have a tough time convincing children to let go of their old toys when Christmas rolls around. However, she’s found a way to make it a bit easier in most cases.

“What really gets my son in the mood for giving is telling him the toys are going to a little boy or girl who needs it more,” Manolakis said.

She’s tested out this theory on her 8-year-old son and her two stepchildren.

If kids are more involved in the process, they are more likely to part with a toy they have not touched in a year or more, she said. And donating them will teach them about generosity.

“It’s something they will carry with them through the rest of their lives,” Manolakis said.

As the 35-year-old works with clients, she donates their unused or gently used items to charity. She transports the items to the No Longer Bound Thrift Store, which aids addicts and rehabilitates them, as well as churches or the foster care system.

And she has enough people to work with this time of year.

“It’s a really busy time before and after New Year’s,” Manolakis said. “Business slopes a bit down after February, and picks back up again in March.”

She explained customers seek her help with their resolutions of decluttering their homes.

Before the clearing of clutter begins, Manolakis conducts a free consultation. She uses a home visit to determine the client’s needs as well as desires.

“You get a feel for each other,” Manolakis said. “I’m not everyone’s organizer ... You are going to be going through people’s personal stuff, so you want to know them a little before.”

Once she chats with them, Manolakis will determine a timetable and plan for her and her client. Some jobs are bigger than others, she said. For example, one home had 27 years’ worth of possessions in moving boxes. Another client just needed to dispose of clutter and resorted to a few space-saving bags.

Manolakis said she prefers bags instead of boxes for one key reason.

“Roaches like to get in and nest in them,” Manolakis said.

When she’s confronted with a new client’s clutter, Manolakis explained her crafty side comes in handy. She can repurpose old items to make them useful again and uses Pinterest organizing hacks she finds online.

“It tends to help,” Manolakis said. “If they just need a quick fix or something small.”

The woman is not only limited to helping declutter homes. She helps some move in and out of homes by managing where their possessions would have the best functionality and look the best.

Manolakis even has weekly clients, busy moms like herself, who can’t seem to stay organized. But the women like their homes to be orderly.

“You would not believe the added housework that clutter creates,” Manolakis said.

For more information about Manolakis, visit