According to Mary Beth Breckenridge, the average American wastes 55 minutes a day looking for things. Almost 25 percent of adults report they've paid bills late because they lost the paperwork.
More than 90 percent of people say they have an overwhelming sense of "time poverty."
These statistics come from Nancy McGarity, an owner of Real Solutions for Living in Canal Fulton, Ohio, and a residential organizing specialist.
Organization takes practice, she says. It's a set of skills that can be learned, and setbacks and imperfection are all part of the process.
Here's a baker's dozen of clutter prevention tips from McGarity.
1 Have a home for every item.
2 Always return items to their homes.
3 Store items where they're needed most.
4 Keep frequently used items in very accessible spaces and seldom-used items in places that are harder to reach.
5 Consider your habits when deciding where something should belong. That will make it easier for you to maintain your system.
6 Label shelves, containers (especially opaque ones), drawers, etc. to make it easy for anyone — even a visitor — to find and put away items. 1
7 Choose containers that appeal to you, so you will be more apt to use them.
8 Think realistically about items you are keeping "just in case" or because "someday I might need it." That "someday" rarely comes. Remove all those items, and stop yourself from accumulating more.
9 Don't believe you haven't the time to get organized. The time involved in searching for lost things or redoing tasks is always greater and creates unnecessary stress.
10 Take a few seconds to hang up clothes or put them into the laundry basket at the end of the day. It will save time that would be spent later on scooping up the piles, sorting, ironing and relaundering.
11 Don't make a habit of picking up after older kids. That only encourages them to rely on you to do their dirty work.
12 Sort mail as soon as you walk in the door and pitch junk mail immediately.
13 Impulse buying thwarts organizing efforts. Remember that even if an item is on sale, you'll save even more money, time and space by not buying it.