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Unclutter Your Home

Ask yourself these questions: do you forbid guests from opening your closets? Do you have a pile of papers so high that they haunt you but you never go through them? Do you buy grocery items you already have but you didn't know it because the pantry is so crowded?

If the answer is yes, you're suffering from household clutter. For a fee, clutter-control expert Jane Reifer will organize your home and show you how to stay clutter free. CBS News This Morning Correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports in part 3 of a week-long series on spring cleaning.

Heidi Hitt lives near Los Angeles. Her house was full of clutter. "I collect all my paperwork here on the counter top, and it's just, sometimes, I go through -- I'm a piler," she says.

With two kids, a husband and a dog, Heidi has her hands full. She says, "I have the kids always wanting me, and I feel that's more important than cleaning up the clutter, so I just stuff it and think I'll get to it later, and I don't ever get to it. My pots and pans don't have a lot of storage area, so I just throw everything in."

There's paper everywhere in the kitchen. And yet, upstairs, Heidi has an unused office. That's where clutter expert Jane Reifer wants to start. "I think Heidi was saying one of the biggest problems was the paperwork," she says. "And 80 percent of the people who want to get organized want to get paperwork handled."

Using professional tools of the trade -- a labelmaker and file folders -- Heidi and Jane work for hours. Jane's rule for paperwork: "Papers should fit in one of three places -- a day planner for things like invitations, a file cabinet for long-term items like your kid's immunization record, and a hot file for papers needing immediate attention, such as current bills."

Then it's on to the laundry room. Pulling everything out of the room, the two found many things that belonged somewhere else. Jane's rule -- "keep like things with like."

She asks, "Why should there be things that don't pertain to the laundry room in the laundry room? Why should there be paperwork in the bathroom?"

For Heidi, "It's embarrassing because my husband wants everything to be just right, and I feel that I just don't measure up because everything's so messy all the time. I feel inferior."

Not anymore. The laundry room, those messy cupboards, even the junk drawer and those piles of paper are now neatly filed.

"I feel great," Heidi says. "This is really exciting. I have my house organized, and I'm feeling a lot lighter already."

The question is, will she stick to it? The organizer, Jane, says the key is commitment. Go right to your files as soon as the daily mail comes in. Don't stick it somewhere thinking you'll get to it later. That's how those piles of clutter start building up again.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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