January is Get Organized Month, a time to bring order to home and office spaces. Not surprisingly, it comes just after the holiday season, which brings its share of clutter in the form of packages, presents, cards, decorations and other items.
Nancy Fox says it's not a coincidence that most people hire her services during the start of the new year. The Lutherville resident is founder of Clarify the Clutter, a service that helps people clean out and organize spaces in their homes. She is among several area entrepreneurs who have made a business out of clearing homes of clutter.
Another is Jacquie Ross of Ellicott City, president of the Baltimore-area chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers and founder of the organizing business Castaway the Clutter. She said that many of her clients say they have made organizing their spaces a new year's resolution.
"The new year is definitely a time for new beginning; people feel like it's a chance for a fresh start," said Ross, a former British Embassy executive assistant who came to the U.S. in 1987 and decided to stay, ultimately making her passion for arranging a business. "They've been procrastinating and then they say, 'I'm ready.'"
Those who clean spaces for a living say their clients call when they've resigned themselves to the fact that they cannot make sense of their spaces themselves. And they call, Fox said, when they've come to realize how stressful and time-consuming it can be when their lack of disorganization prevents them from finding their keys or locating a document.
Fox said that many of her clients — 95 percent of whom are women — make resolutions to finally rid their spaces of clutter and added that now is a good time of year to do so.
"In the month of January there is kind of a lull before other things pick up again," said Fox, who founded her company in October 2009 after being laid off from an executive administrative assistant job.
Fox said that men who seek her help often travel because of business and want to organize the days' worth of mail they come home to.
Ross agreed that paper can lead to clutter, saying home offices often suffer from disorganization because of paperwork, files and bills.
For women, the rooms that usually need the most attention are closets, Ross said, because they "tend to buy a lot more clothes than they really need."
Saralee Greenberg of Owings Mills said she sought Fox's aid last spring after wanting to organize her closet, adding that she was spending too much time looking for shoes in the morning.
"Spending the time looking for things that you know are there but can't find them, it's just not a quality way to spend time," Greenberg added. "It was a new year's resolution, but it took me a little while to act on it. I'm very organized in my workplace and with my family. But it was just my closet."
She said that Fox helped her get rid of closet items she no longer needed and brought containers to place items in. Greenberg said that in cleaning out her closet, she came across items she hadn't seen in years.
"I found things from the 1980s, things that I haven't worn in 20 years," said Greenberg. "I had shoes that I don't wear but haven't gotten rid of them. I was able to give them to Goodwill, where other women were able to get some use out of them."