How to Prevent and Eliminate Clutter in Your Home

 

how to prevent or eliminate clutter

The best case for clutter control is keeping clutter out of your space. That saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies in this situation. Proactive strategies for clutter prevention are double the rewards in saving you time, money and energy. Here are some easy strategies for you to use in your clutter prevention.

 

Paper clutter prevention

Paper clutter prevention helps you from spending hours on sorting and decluttering paper.

  • Set up a recycling and shredding center at the entry to your home. Immediately after pick up the mail, triage and remove the clutter.
  • Unsubscribe to magazines. Make magazines special by purchasing these as a reward for yourself.
  • Use your smart phone to take a picture of information on papers. Create an album for papers in your photo stream.
  • Use digital coupons available through store apps.
  • Add business card information to your contacts and label the contact with who referred and the work itself.
  • Use Evernote or Notes to capture and organize information.

Purchase only what you need

Over purchasing is often when clutter accumulates.

  • If you have determined a need for a purchase, it’s time to let go of the item it is replacing.
  • Purchase only what you need, not additional “just in case” items.
  • Establish one area for returns and set a date to return items.
  • Set up a purchases sub-folder in your inbox in order to keep up with online purchases and required emails for returns.
  • Purchase from a list. If you are not prepared with a list, postpone your shopping until you are prepared.

Declutter

Routines help you keep clutter regulated.

  • Declutter your closet every season, at the end of the season. Know what you have before you purchase. Create criteria for letting go of your clothes so your decisions are not as cumbersome.
  • Declutter your cosmetics every year, at your birthday.
  • Declutter your kids’ clothes at the start and end of the school year.
  • Keep a shopping bag to drop clothes and other items in as you are ready to let these go.
  • Recycle weekly.
  • Establish a “home for everything” and a time to get items back to their homes. Reset time helps you know what you have and where you have stored it.

 

Start with one small step in clutter prevention and see how easy it is to be proactive.

My Organizing Obsession Keepsake Boxes

keepsake boxes

 

Throughout the year 2020, it has become clear what is most precious to us. As we think about connections, family and friends, we know that relationships are by far the most precious. There are some small significant items that are priceless to us. These may be a baby birth announcement, a lock of hair, a college honor society pin or a note from a parent.  My organizing obsession is a place to keep these precious items and honor them.

  • Keepsake boxes come in all sizes and shapes. These can be decorative or plain, locked or keyless.  The concept is that every item needs a home and precious keepsakes are no different. You decide what is to be stored in this box because of it’s value to you.
  • Every member of your family should have their own box to keep what they consider precious.  Store this box on the top shelf of that person’s closet. It’s easy to place items and retrieve it when you want a happy boost.
  • What if your items are larger than the box? Take a photo and print that to keep in your box.

What is in my keepsake box? My mom’s gold wedding band, a shell from my first trip to the beach with my husband, small trinkets my children gave me when they were little and pins of all sorts from all different times in my life.

 

Too many times have I seen my clients’ precious items mixed in with what’s not precious.  I love that these special items have a special home.

 

The New Organizing Vocabulary and The Home Edit

New organizing vocabulary and The Home Edit

File fold: to fold your clothes to appear like a file folder in a drawer

 

Decant: to empty items out of the original container to a clear container

 

Roy G Biv: to color code according to the rainbow colors of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet

 

 

Have you seen the Netflix show, The Home Edit? It’s real life organizing in celebrities’ homes. The show depicts organizing with a glossy final product.

 

This show gives a new spin to organizing.

  • There are new vocabulary words to do with organizing. This updated vocabulary reminds us that there are always new strategies, tools and tips to share with our clients in our work together.
  • We always knew that keeping the final product in mind is important. The impact is clear with this show that cute counts overall.

What’s not new are the basics of organizing.

  • The essential concept is functionality. That’s essential on our new normal to lower stress. The more functional your space, the easier life will be.
  • Keeping the end in mind is critical to organizing success. Know what you and who you work with want to see and feel at the end of a project.
  • Not surprising is that value of labels. Labelling makes it easy to maintain the organizing system you set up.
  • Organizing remains a top priority in the 21st century. We are blessed with abundance and we continue to have a need to keep it edited and organized.

 

Having a new organizing show on Netflix is a happy thing for everyone!

 

 

What to Organize Now Fall Organizing

fall organizing

 

Start fall out with a plan of what to organize now. In the uncertainty around us, we want to create a calm, organized space at home, at work, for family and for ourselves.  That’s the biggest benefit of organizing. We feel in control, make decisions and see positive changes in our space.  Here are 5 tips of what to do right now for Fall Organizing.

 

Edit and reset your closet

Make every day better by editing and resetting your closet for fall.  Now you know what you did not wear this summer so grab a shopping bag and start decluttering.  Your closet editing will lead to resetting for fall.  Bring in items from other closets and rearrange fall colors to the front of your closet. It’s fun to see your new fall wardrobe this way.

 

Pantry prep

Starbucks is heralding pumpkin spice and it’s time to spice up your pantry. Check for expired items from spring’s surplus buying.  Re-organize what has gotten out of order.  Bring in your fall favorites for winter weather like apple pie filling and canned pumpkin.

 

Get ahead of the holidays

Holidays are going to look different this year. Now is the time to start conversations with your family.  Start with your family plan on gathering and gift giving.  Assess what is in your gift closet now, make a list and take stock of what you will be giving this year.  Get head with your holiday lists. It will be joyful to think ahead.

 

Structure your schedule

Schedules offer us sanity in uncertainty.  It is about work flow for our both our personal and professional life. Our schedules include routines which help us thrive.  Review your morning and evening routines.  Talk through homework, dinner and bedtime and what to improve on getting your routine consistent.  Drill down to a simple, easy to follow schedule for you and your family.

 

Declutter your home and office

The pandemic has set us in motion to make big changes. Families are moving, individuals are seeing new work opportunities and relationships are taking off. Decluttering is important. You can let go of more than you think and thrive. Place a donation bag at an easy access location to drop items in regularly. When the bag fills, drop it a your local philanthropy.  Letting go will always be what to do now for getting organized.

 

Fall is a favorite season for many of us with cooler weather and getting back to routines. Follow your intuition and use this time to get organized and gain clarity.

 

How to Organize the Tools You Use

 

How to organize tools

With the uptick of home maintenance and repair, organizing your tools is becoming an important topic. There are a variety of tools to use regularly, as well as a variety of storage methods.

 

Assess your tools

Tools are a part of family memories. My husband owns tools handed down from his dad and grand dad, and passes these to our grand kids. That means there are many of the same tools and multiple tools doing the same job in our home.  I recommend grouping your tools together by use to know what you have and how many. We sorted these tools into what to keep and what to sell. Tools are a popular item to sell online. Now that these are grouped you are ready to think about how to store your items.

 

Quick Assess Storage: Tool Drawer

We want to tap a nail into the wall to hang a picture or unscrew a batter compartment quickly.  Having a tool drawer in your kitchen or laundry room would be the spot to store these tools.  The tools stored here are a hammer, two kinds of screw drivers of multiple size heads, and other frequently used tools.  Having a drawer organizer helps keep items together and organized. (Note: the pencil space is where I would store the tools.)

 

Container Store drawer organizer

 

Mobile Assess: Tool box

Mobile assess to multiple tools helps you complete a home repair.  A tool box has a variety of storage for a larger number of tools that you frequently use.  This box can be stored in the laundry room or garage on a shelf. Inside will be a shallow tray which can hold hardware with tools under the tray.  Many families create these small toolboxes for their kids as they start to drive to keep in their cars and as they head to college.

Container Store Tool Chest

 

Onsite Assess: Tool chest, Pegboard and Slat wall

If you want assess to a larger quantity of tools, you want a larger area to store your items.  The Tool chest has drawers to store a single type of tool, such as a drawer of multiple hammers or screwdrivers of different sizes.  Each drawer can be labeled on the front to share what is inside the drawer.  It is on wheels to move around your space.  This is best stored in the garage as it is a large item.

 

Sears Craftsman Tool Chest

Sears Craftsman Tool Chest

 

For those who have a work bench or wall for hanging tools, Pegboard and Slat wall are outstanding ways to see your tools. These require installation however the benefits are that everyone knows what tools you have, where to find them and where to return them.  Often tools that are family shared are easily stored this way.

 

Home depot slat wall

Home Depot Slat Wall

Our family was fortunate to have a master craftman’s, also known as Papaw, who create an amazing Pegboard system in our garage. We have had this system for years and we all know where to get the hammer and return it.  We love to share it with those who come in through our garage. Often people comment on it’s organization!

 

Home Peg Board system

Ellen’s Home Peg Board

 

With many home projects going on, it’s time to organize your tools to help you be efficient about your home repairs and maintenance.

6 Ways to Create a Home To Recharge and Re-energize

6 ways to create a home the re-energizes

 

Our homes continue to be our place for work and play. Since Spring we have been “safe at home” with COVID-19 and now we are home this summer more than ever with restricted travel. This summer is the time to create spaces in our homes for tranquility and vitality. Every family needs space in their home to recharge and re-energize.

 

Declutter first

Decluttering first gives us energy. Maybe you haven’t realized how much your stuff is weighing you down. When we edit and remove that which is not loved, used or needed, we open up space in our homes. Start in your family room and then move to your kitchen, then next to your bedroom.  In the family room decide which collectibles are still important to you.  Do you need to edit photos or add more recent photos? Are there books you can donate to the library book sale room?  Create a space that helps you gather together for games and family fun. In the kitchen, simplify what you use for preparation and storage. Have your extra dishes become more than you need? Are you ready to slim down your food storage containers (aka tupperware)? In these high traffic areas, look to simplify and create easy access for what is most frequently used.

 

Create Tranquility Zones

Set aside time each day for tranquility.  Comfy sofas and bedrooms are ideal for napping.  These spaces for tranquil rest are where we can renew with cool temperatures and the whirl of a fan.  Add a soft throw or coverlet and you will enjoy your short rest.

 

Create a Book Nook

We’re learning and reading more than ever. That reading includes audio books, paper books, kindles, devices and magazines.  Book and magazine storage can be a small basket beside your night stand or in the family room. You can create a family library by installing additional shelving in a hallway with low two shelf storage or tall five shelf storage that matches the wall color. Decide how much book storage you would like, set that as a boundary for the number of books you want and then donate books that won’t fit into your space.

 

Create a meditation or yoga space

More of us are using meditation and yoga for calm starts to our day.  Your family room can be divided into zones for a variety of uses including media and exercising. Place your yoga mat in a wicker basket for storage in a corner of your family room for easy access and room to exercise.

 

Invite your family outdoors

Time outside in the sun and the shade energizes us.  Getting our daily dose of vitamin D is important as well as fresh air.  Invite your family into the outdoors with a hammock between trees, an oversize Adirondack chair in the shade or a bistro table and two chairs for snacks outside.  New sports like pickelball and old sports like crochet are fun family activities to play throughout the summer.

Create a common charging station for everyone’s devices

Prioritize your family’s tranquility each evening with a common charging station in a common space. Each evening place all the devices in your home in the station to recharge.  Everyone will benefit with a better night’s rest.

 

Re-organizing your home this summer will re-energize everyone.  This boost will make a difference for summer fun and time together as a family.

3 Tips to Help You Get Organized to Stay Healthy

 

 

Health has been a long time priority for our family. Above all else, we prize taking care of ourselves and building good routines that support wellness.  Our motivation includes being a role model for our kids and grands kids. We know that what we do reflects on their choices.  As a family we have sadly had parents die at an early age. We want to live a long healthy life to spend time with our family and friends.  We have prioritized health and well being and you can too by adjusting a few tweaks to your self care and lifestyle.  Check out these 3 tips to help you get organized to stay healthy.

 

Make time for exercise in your schedule

Exercise is a stress fighter and immunity builder. It’s that important to be sure that even with the busiest of days with the longest hours, you add in exercise. There are so many ways you can make sure you exercise multiple times a week.  Set a schedule to include some exercise, whether it is a class at the gym or a far walk from your car to your office.  You can exercise with your family when you all take a walk together, ride bikes or online classes.

Finding the exercise you love helps you commit to this. Since 1988, I have prioritized taking a walk every day. I have the opportunity to set my own schedule, I start my day early with a walk. A variation of my walk can include a “walk and talk” with friends to keep connected or “think big time” about my business, professional next steps or personal goals. I have made the commitment to walk 10K steps a day currently and love that I am accomplishing this early in the day.

 

Make it easy to take medications, supplements and vitamins

While not everyone agrees on the value of supplements or vitamins, we do all agree that to take care of ourselves we need to make it easy. What is easy? It is placing your medicine or vitamins where they are easy to see and take each day.  Using a medicine organizer, you can be sure you are taking your daily doses timely. It’s easy to take medications by setting your alarm on your phone to be sure you take these at the correct time.  I carry a small ziplock of over the counter medicines to keep with me as I go about my day.  Using auto refill, it’s easy to have all your medications without hassle.  You can pull up to the pharmacy window to pick up your refill when texted. When things are accessible and easy to see, it’s easy to be sure we take what we intend or is prescribed.

 

Plan a great night’s rest

There’s nothing more powerful for wellness than a great night’s rest.  Experts share the many ways to help you relax and rest. With so much to think about and worry about, it’s hard to settle in.  However, getting more exercise helps us rest better. We slip into slumber more easily and stay asleep all night. As adults it is tempting to stay up late, binge watch and then hit the snooze button in the morning. It is a matter of creating a schedule that includes a bedtime that works for you.  By establishing time for tranquility, we are setting ourselves up for a better day tomorrow.

Here is how I get started scheduling my bed time. I start very early in getting ready for bed, like ridiculously early, at 6 pm. I wash my face and get ready in my night wear. I keep my bedroom very cold and very dark. Also my bed sheets are heavy and weighted. I plan on eight hours of rest. My bedtime and rise time are the same every day, including the weekend. As you can see, I love being rested! I am a creature of habit that makes it easier too. While you may not be a person with solid routines, take one of these tips to use for your bedtime.

 

Get started on these lifestyle changes with one small step. Over time, your new habits will be something to brag about to others.  Your family will be thrilled too.

 

 

 

COVID-19 (Summer) Organizing Makes Me Happy

 

covid-19 summer organizing

Congratulations to those of you who have been decluttering and organizing during COVID-19! Time spent decluttering has helped you feel productive, organized and calm. For those of you who have not, this transition to Summer is a great time to get started and get organized.

 

Every Summer, regardless of pandemic or not, we have decluttering and organizing to do. This has to do with routines of our organized lives. These routines include editing what has come in throughout the year and transitioning to the Summer season. Our lives, homes and offices require setting aside time for ongoing editing. Each seasonal transition is a good time to do this work. Most importantly, by getting back to our traditional routines, we are recreating some level of “normal” for ourselves and our homes. Here are seven traditional and one new area for us to work on for Summer Organizing.

 

Wardrobe Seasonal Swap

In Houston we had a longer Spring than usual. Summer heat is here! Many of us have a Summer and Winter closet. It’s time to do our seasonal switch with whites and lighter clothes. It’s a great time to edit what we did not wear, what we do not love and what has gone out of style. If your Summer items have gotten grey, underarms are stained or if you have lost your love for items, you can declutter these. Donation locations are open again so drop off a bag of these items asap.

 

Pantry Prep

The pandemic may have caused some chaos in your pantry. As we enter the “New Normal” phase, we are assessing what is in our pantry and how to use it up. If you have found way too many cans of green beans, donate to local food banks. Reassess what your Summer meals will be. There are lots of veggie co-ops to bring in fresh produce boxes this Summer. Re-establish your snack zone for Summer consumption. A pantry prep can help you save money and help you lose extra weight put on during our extended time at home.

 

Kids School Work

It has been an extremely different school year! Even so, this week papers will be coming home from school. Take an hour with your kiddo and go over school papers with them. It’s a time to reflect on the successes of the year. Determine what is precious and let go of the rest. Do the same with school papers that are from your “corona” school. Keep your precious papers organized in a bin in your kiddo’s closet.

 

Books, Magazines and Recipe Organizing

This Spring we have been reading more, clipping more recipes and holding our magazines to take on a trip to read. Divide up your recipes to those you have prepared, those to prepare and those that need to be tossed. Share your books with friends and place your books to read by a comfy chair. Working steadily on reading and recipes keeps you and your items up to date and uncluttered.

 

Summer Linen Switch

Fluff up your pillows and take off your heavy comforter because Summer is here. It’s time to switch your dark colors with whites. Assess your linen closet and let go of ripped, thread bare or stained linens. Think about how many sheet sets are needed and donate to pet shelters. (By the way, did you know that pet adoptions are at an all time high?)

 

Summer Routines

Routines have been rough this Spring. It’s time to initiate Summer routines to create a level of calm and sense of organization. Maybe your have not had a family meeting in a while. It’s important to host a family meeting to determine everyone’s bedtime. During your family meeting, recreate your family responsibility chart for partnering around the house on meals, laundry and cleaning. At your next meeting, discuss tech time and learning time. With the “New Normal” of COVID-19, we have the possibility to gain traction on family communication and routines.

 

Summer Self Care

Self care in the Summer may mean more time to sit in the sun (with sunscreen) and read magazines. Find dedicated time to regroup and refresh. Take up a new hobby or sport you have been thinking of for a while.

 

COVID-19 Safety

Masks and hand sanitizer are available everywhere right now. HEB, Walgreens and many other stores have these at the front of the shop. Be sure you have your stock organized and placed for easy access. Organize these items in your car, purse and bags to be readily accessible.

 

This year Summer Organizing may feel a bit different. Pace yourself with your organizing. We are in a marathon, not a sprint, during the pandemic. Give yourself a reward for each step you take like flowers on your kitchen counter or a bubble bath. As always, I am here to support you and cheer you on! And sometimes just sharing on social media what you have accomplished is the best reward.

 

 

COVID-19 Cooking with your Quaranteam

 

cooking with your quaranteam

COVID-19 meal times are the best times of the day! According to Google, the most searched items are recipes especially breads and banana bread!  It is a great time to take advantage of cooking with those in your home and on your quaranteam.  On FoodTV we are seeing quaranteam cooking in everyone’s homes like Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman. Join the fun of cooking with those in your home or who you are isolating with you!

 

Meal Planning

When I talk with families, the biggest fail at family meal time is deciding what to cook! The parents feel the ownership of what to prepare and feel compelled to decide. That decision making creates paralysis.  Let’s share this responsibility with your family by creating a menus with their input. Families have been creating theme nights during the pandemic to spice up their time together.  This includes different countries’ cuisines to cooking in different times in history.  Work together to plan and write out a menu so everyone looks forward to dinner together.

Dreading your online grocery order? Our kids are digital natives and can help with this too! When groceries arrive, plan a group effort to organize and put away the items.

 

Dinner preparation

With many people at home, making dinner is a team effort. You can partner on different nights to prepare dinner. Cooking is a life skill that requires math so you are learning as you go. Reading the recipes require following instructions. Dinner prep is a great time for out of the box learning.

 

Dinner time chatter

Make communication the key during dinner. Set aside all technology (and that includes the parents.)  Make dinner time talk more fun with these prompts.

  • What’s one word that describes your day and why?
  • What is the Best of the Week (BOW) and Worst of the Week (WOW)?
  • If you could be a famous person for a week, who would you be and why?
  • If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

Cafeteria, aka Leftovers

Because there are 3 meals or more a day at home, be sure to cook extra for leftovers and other meals.  Get creative on how you plan to convert meals into a multi-purpose menu. Here are some ideas.

  • Tacos become quesadillas and taco salad
  • Marinara with pasta becomes pizza sauce
  • Extra rice and beans become burritos
  • Roasted veggies become Italian subs

Help your family be self-sufficient with an organized pantry.

Dinner clean up

No one wants to be left in the kitchen to clean up. How do you establish standard operating procedures for clean up after dinner? There are no reasons not to do this as a group now. Everyone can do one small part. There are paper plates too! Be sure the dishwasher is empty and ready to receive incoming plates, etc.

 

The best part of being together is the communication during dinner. Keep dinner time as together time during this “new normal.”

How to Organize Your Pantry When You Have Emergency Supplies

 

We are in our pantries more than ever right now! Meals are shared times that bring us comfort and hope during stressful times. Emergency preparation has us supplying our pantry so that we are prepared to eat at home while we work at home. The combination of both access and extensive supply can be a challenge for us. Here are 7 tips for getting organized and making meals happen in your home.

 

Pull it all out and expect chaos

The first step of all organizing is decluttering and categorizing. Start this step with lots of counter space available. Even the most organized cook has items that are past expiration dates.  Check dates and let go of items that you feel are past the prime. This first step may feel chaotic and overwhelmed, however push through to clear the pantry and wipe the shelves clean.

 

Categorize and group items together by use

Think of your grocery store and how items are grouped together.  Use this to group items together for your pantry.  You can also create useful zones which apply to your family, such as the breakfast zone, beverage zone, and snack zone. You can group as you empty your pantry too.

 

Think about auxiliary locations

Most of us have added a substantial amount of additional products to last through the time we are at home. Locate auxiliary storage in an adjacent closet, in a nearby laundry room, or near the door in your garage.  Before you return items to your pantry, think about where you would store which items.

  • Store items used frequently in your kitchen pantry.
  • Store back up items in your adjacent closet.
  • Group items used together (speghetti, sauce) in the pantry or adjacent closet.
  • Adjust shelves or add additional organizing products to add space.
  • Add storage to your door.

 

Place items by use in your pantry

The best organizing advice has to do with placing items by function.  Place what you use most frequently at eye level. For your kids, place snacks at their eye levels. Heavy items go on the bottom of your pantry and be sure to keep entry clear for access. Use the top shelf for overflow items.

 

Use organizing products for access

Here are some favorite bins for organizing your pantry.

 

Use labeling to be sure your pantry stays organized

My favorite labels are simple with black lettering and white background. A Brother P Touch labeler is what I use. There are tons of fun options on Pinterest. I label both the bins and the shelves.  Its easy for everyone to put away groceries and help!

 

Keep your extra supplies organized

In your new auxiliary space, organize just like your pantry. Be sure to use a list posted in the auxiliary space to be sure you keep on top of inventory.  Use vertical space wisely to maximize the access and space as well. For the freezer, you a magnetic dry erase board to list what is located there.  Group items by shelf or use a plastic bin in the deep freeze. Categories in your freezer include veggies,

 

Have fun with getting your pantry and extra stock organized. Organizing is a team sport! Your family can join in sorting and categorizing. One family member will love to help you with labels.  Organizing is a skill like all others your kids are learning at home schooling. Take this to the next step with sharing meal preparation and kitchen clean up too. If you are on your own, pull up your organizing playlist for fun.

 

 

More pantry organizing here!