Every year, about 45 percent of Americans make a new year's resolution, but only 8 percent of them are actually successful, according to Statistics Brain Research Institute.

The Camden Herald is running a series to help improve those odds. Each week, we will feature one of the most common new year's resolutions and ask an expert for advice on how to enter the resolution winner's circle in 2016.

Mess equals stress, according to a study by the University of California, Los Angeles, which showed a link between stress hormone levels in female home owners and a lot of clutter in their homes.

Men did not have the same reaction to clutter in their homes, but both sexes have lower productivity in a disorganized environment, according to a Princeton University Neuroscience Institute study.

For tips on organizing your home, we contacted Diane Garbacik, owner of Coastal Home Organizing, which provides professional organizing services in the Midcoast.

My house is a disaster area. Just thinking about organizing it is overwhelming. Where is a good place to start?

When starting the process of organizing I like the two step process:

First, bring your focus from the large overwhelming clutter picture, to one small, solvable clutter problem. This may be an entry way where your winter boots, jackets and scarves have taken over the area, a cluttered counter or even an overflowing drawer. Pick the area that nags you often and change it for the better.

Second, schedule a time to do the small project. It may be this afternoon while the kids are at practice or during next Saturday’s weekly house cleaning time. This can be as little as 15 minutes to a half hour. Once you have accomplished your first small project it will provide that welcome motivation and overcome the overwhelming feeling and will inspire you to continue the process one manageable step at a time. Later on, schedule a larger project for two to four hours.

If I step on one more Lego….How do I get a handle on all of the toys?

Involving children in the process of managing and organizing toys is both a helpful and meaningful process.

Working with the child to decide what toys are now outgrown, unused or broken is the beginning. You can encourage your child to give their outgrown and unused toys to less fortunate children or in some cases pass on to a younger member of the family. An ideal time to start this process is just before a holiday when the child may acquire more toys to fill the space or the start of the New Year.

Shelves with baskets are wonderful holders of toys and games. They can be easily and safely accessed and they encourage easy clean up. Shelving and baskets can be purchased to complement your decor, providing an aesthetically pleasing look for both you and your child.

Another way is to use bins and decorative boxes with lids that are filled with Lego's or similar toys that can be left in the room where they are played with while making none the wiser of what’s inside except you and your child.

I have a ton of paperwork like paid bills, canceled checks and bank statements. How long do I have to keep it all? What is a good way to get it all organized?

Paid bills, canceled checks and bank statements should be kept for one year unless you use them to support a tax deduction (like for a home business), in which case you should keep them for three to seven years, depending on your situation (see the IRS website for details).

Safe deposit boxes should hold your hard-to-replace documents.

There are many different paper filing systems that can be created with your needs in mind. These items can also be stored electronically online or in folders on your computer.

A mail or command center can be created to make your mail have a home until you have opened and paid your incoming bills and filed your statement. You can also have online automatic billing set up to automatically pay your monthly bills, eliminating the paperwork altogether.

A lot of homes in Maine are older and have tiny closets. What's the best way to maximize closet space?

To stretch your closet space, begin by sorting through your closet, separating what you use and love and what is just taking up usable space. Whatever is just taking up space, can be tossed, donated or sold. Those misplaced things that found their way into your closet can just be relocated to another more practical place.

Using the right hangers, storage boxes, bins, shelf separators or sometimes moveable storage units can increase your usable space quite significantly. Another consideration is under-the-bed storage boxes that can house things like occasionally worn dress shoes and pocketbooks.

Help get me motivated. Why do I need an organized home?

An organized home creates an environment that supports your well-being by reducing stress, frustration and anxiety levels, and frees up time to spend time on what matters most.

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