organizational supplies

Most people look forward to spring because it means warmer weather, more hours of daylight, and that your family's spring break vacation is just around the corner. While I love those aspects of the season too, I must confess: I anticipate the process of spring cleaning nearly as much.

To get in the right mindset, I spoke with Dr. Regina Lark, founder of A Clear Path professional organizing services in Los Angeles, California and author of the upcoming book, Before the Big O: Professional Organizers Talk About Life Before Organizing.

Being organized means that you have access to what you what, when you want it—and that you can put an item away just as easily as you found it. According to Dr. Lark, the three things you need to be organized are: productivity, time management, and organization skills. The first element, productivity, helps you identify a goal and create a step-by-step plan for achieving it within a specific time frame. This is where the second element, time management, comes into play. If you have good time management skills, you have an understanding of how long a task will take and are able to complete such projects on a reasonable timeline. Finally, organization skills will help you identify problem areas of your home and makeover habits that contribute to the accumulation of clutter in specific areas.

The good news is, if you're having trouble staying organized, it doesn't mean you're a slob. Some people are naturally inclined to different degrees—and methods—of organization in their homes.

Surprisingly, a lot of this has to do with wether you're right- or left-brained, says Dr. Lark. Right-brain dominant people (who are often creative, visually oriented, musically inclined, and intuitive) tend have more trouble following rigid or conventional organizational methods than left-brain dominant people (who are often logical, structured, exacting, and critical thinkers). However, just because your brain isn't hardwired to crave a controlled, clutter-free space, doesn't mean you can't decrease the chaos in your house.

In fact, Dr. Lark says the key to managing the mess is to first understand yourself—the way you operate, your strengths, and your weaknesses—and then to embrace your natural tendencies. By incorporating organizational methods that mesh well with your existing lifestyle, you'll be more likely to make lasting change.

The same is true for your kids! If you want to help your kids get organized, get started by finding out which side of your child's brain is more dominant with this quick online test. Dr. Lark says, "Once a parent understands their child's brain strengths, they can gear chores and other family activities where their child can excel. Right-brain dominant children will find it difficult to stay in their room alone to de-clutter and clear their space. They may need mom or dad to hang out and talk while the child is working (rather than making them stay there 'until it's done')." On the other hand, a left-brain child may enjoy more structured tasks. "For example, helping to organize items in the pantry or garage may appeal to a left-brain child's sense of linearity and categorizing," says Dr. Lark. "Your right-brain child may be perfect to help create a fun family meal, where your left-brained kid could have fun scanning papers, or transferring CDs onto an iPod." Once you understand your child's strengths and weaknesses, you can better tailor your organizational strategy to to suit their needs—and keep the experience fun.

Take our quiz to find out if you're setting a good example for your kids.

Image: Organized desk supplies via Shutterstock.