Please Explain: How to Get Organized - Clean Sweep for the New Year

Friday, December 27, 2013

Maxwell Ryan, CEO and founder of Apartment Therapy, gives advice and answers questions about how to get organized for the new year. From cleaning out closets and clearing clutter, from financial files to the tangle of wires behind your television and stereo.


Maxwell Ryan

Comments [16]

Mariug from Rockville Centre, NY

Cleaning closets it is exhausted work, and usually the best time to reorganize and cleaning them are in the end of the year and spring time. The best way to clean them is to take everything out of the closets and then clean or paint them, if it needed. Rearrange everything again, and there is the discovery of many things are not needed to be in the clothes any more. The exhausted work done is been rewarded by see everything in the clothes reorganize again.

Jan. 06 2014 02:53 PM

All the decluttering books I've consulted (5 or 6), as well as my accountant, say that 7 years is the maximum time necessary to save tax-related papers, including tax returns. No need, either, to save bank statements/canceled checks that don't contain tax-related items. Phone bills, cable bills, utility bills etc--same. As for credit-card receipts, no need to save them once the bill comes, as all charges appear on it. The bill itself? I save it longer than a year only if it contains a tax-related item (or some expense I want a record of for longer). The decluttering books point out that 90% of the stuff in our files we don't need and won't look at again: all we need is the courage to toss it. I agree--for me at least, financial papers are the easiest to purge, as they have no emotional resonance (unlike photos, letters or articles), and you have clear rules to follow re what to keep and for how long. Alas, owing to ID theft, getting rid of papers safely can be labor-intensive. But it's worth doing, because--alas again--you'll always need the space for more. (Storage in the "cloud"? Great idea. . .maybe one of these years!)

Jan. 02 2014 04:12 PM

If you suck all the air out of your fluffy winter jackets, you may end up with a jacket that has lost its loft! Maybe not the first year, but this happened to my (very expensive) sleeping bag after spending a long time in its compression sack, intended only for shrinking the bag down for hiking.

So please use caution when compressing your down/fluffy items. It is the air that is trapped in them, referred to as its loft, that acts as insulation.

Jan. 02 2014 02:16 PM
jonn knoxx from NYC

Hey, thanks for responding. Sorry its here in the comments.
FYI I am using DoggCatcher on Android for my podcasts.

Dec. 27 2013 02:52 PM
Carola from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Speaking of swaps, as the last caller did, just in time: the Really Really Free Market is happening this coming Sunday, as it does the last Sunday of each month, 3 - 7 p.m., at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, Meeting Room. It's an anarchist/freegan bazaar where everything is traded and everything is free....bring whatever you want, take whatever you want: clothing, books, whatever. 

Dec. 27 2013 01:56 PM
Suzanne Bruner from Hell's Kitchen

How can we hook up to the January purge so I can work with others on my clutter?

Dec. 27 2013 01:51 PM
Jo P from NYC

This piece is the perfect accompaniment to de-cluttering today! I get overwhelmed and ambivalent and have the urge to get up and leave before it's done. But I will carry on while I listen to Maxwell and Leonard. Thanks.

Dec. 27 2013 01:46 PM
Julie from Manhattan

What about paper? How to process it...what to save...what to scan?

Dec. 27 2013 01:39 PM
Heide from Manhattan

My tip for saving space is to store my off season clothes in a big decorative steamer trunk. I then use the trunk as a coffee table (I put a piece of glass over the top and wheels underneath to make it movable). It's amazing how much can fit in a bit trunk - especially when you compress it by sitting on it to close. xxxooo

Dec. 27 2013 01:36 PM
Jan Jasper from Plainfield NJ

A comment about what your guest said on how long to keep tax-related papers. It's generally safe to discard things like receipts, bank & credit statements, and other backup documentation after 7 years. If you get audited, it will happen within 7 years. You should keep the actual returns - the IRS forms you fill in and file - indefinitely. (Perhaps that's what the guest meant?) The only time you must keep all your related paperwork in addition to the forms, is if the IRS accuses you of Fraud. If you think that might happen, you need to save _all_ your tax-related paperwork indefinitely. But for most of us, after 7 years you can discard everything except the completed IRS forms. Also, whatever proof you have that you paid the tax you owed - you should also keep that forever.
- Jan Jasper, Jasper Productivity Solutions,

Dec. 27 2013 01:28 PM
jon young from Staten Island

Tax stuff- yeah- keep em forever, but only the first two pages of the of the federal-toss everything else after about 7 years unless it pertains to things like stocks or bonds, business properties, or real estate- keep those at least three years after you have disposed of the items. As to the feds auditing- its usually three years, if you are committing fraud- then keep everything forever.

Dec. 27 2013 01:25 PM
Susan from New York

Any tips for a life-long apartment dweller who hates clutter, but has become highly skilled at hoarding neatly. Psychology of my obsession seems to be rooted in sentimentality, thriftiness, and self-anthropological egoism. Now faced with a possible move overseas, I am alternately wanting to dump a lot and bound and determined to move lock, stock, and barrel.

Dec. 27 2013 01:21 PM

Sorry to hear that you've been having problems with our audio. This segment, however, hasn't aired yet. It will be live from approximately 1:05 to 1:50 pm, and we'll post the audio by 3 pm, Eastern today.
We'll pass along that you've had difficulties -- and thanks for listening!

Dec. 27 2013 01:07 PM
jonn knoxx from NYC

You really need to fix your podcast streams, seems someone has been asleep at the wheel all year for this show. This one doesnt seem to be available.
And this show is the only one I have constant difficulty downloading on android week after week. All I get are txt files. I dont have this problem w any other WNYC shows.

Dec. 27 2013 12:59 PM
Steve from Rockville Centre, NY

I highly recommend using your local chapter of This a free site where you give away anything you don't want. You arrange a time and then leave the item on your front steps. Because it's free, people always show up!

Dec. 27 2013 11:26 AM
Steve from Rockville Centre, NY

I highly recommend using your local chapter of This a free site where you give away anything you don't want. You arrange a time and then leave the item on your front steps. Because it's free, people always show up!

Dec. 27 2013 11:26 AM

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