Top Ten Categories of Clutter in Your Space

Top 10 Clutter Categories

 

I recently saw a list of top common clutter categories shared by my colleagues on my National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals site. The list is compiled of categories of items in people’s homes regardless of socioeconomic status that causes clutter. It was interesting to see where many people have challenges with clutter.  Do you recognize these categories in your home?  Check out the list!

 

Common Clutter Categories

  1. The paper includes junk mail, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and unopened mail.
  2. Empty boxes including shipping boxes, shoe boxes without shoes, technology, and product boxes
  3. Free condiments from fast food or other take-out restaurants including ketchup, salt, soy sauce, and plastic cutlery
  4. Free toiletries including those from travel and gifts with purchases
  5. Bags including zip locks, gift bags, and reusable shopping bags
  6. Cords, cables, telephone wires, and other outdated technology
  7. Linens including blankets, extra sheets, towels, and comforters
  8. Trash includes half-empty water bottles, opened junk mail, paper plates, and grocery sacks.
  9. Hangers including wire hangers and plastic hangers from stores where clothing was purchased
  10. Excessive quantities of any item, including plastic bags, shoes, clothes, and books

 

Now you are ready for change!

Now if you have identified any of these clutter-causing items in your space, you are ready to make a change. Take advantage of a power period for organizing and declutter your space. That is write an appointment with yourself for a time block to edit and let go of one or more of these categories. Allow time to drop off at a local philanthropy and you will already see a big difference in your space. Consider this a challenge for your organizing this season and share your successes with others.

 

3 Project Management Tips for an Easy Household Move

 

3 project management tips for an easy household move

Getting organized for a move requires a project management approach. What’s useful are a timeline, extensive lists and a team approach to help you keep your sanity. Here’s how to put that into action.

 

Your Timeline

Start with developing a timeline for your move. There is the actual move and the moving preparation.  Included in the move timeline are dates the movers will load the truck, packers will arrive, and time you will be between residences while packing occurs. Be sure to include when utilities and internet will be set up. Moving preparation includes decluttering and optional items you will sell or donate before the move. You may have offsite storage and need to assess items coming out of storage for your move. Work backwards on your timeline  and record this timeline in your planner. Review this timeline with your family to be sure they know what to expect.

How much time do you give to each step?  Start decluttering at least three months in advance. You can eliminate what you don’t use or need at your new residence. Ask your mover for how many days to pack and move. Add in those many days to unpack at your new residence.

Your check lists

Your timeline evolves to your task list.  Record each task on a check list to be sure you have completed each step. Create a list for what will be placed in each room so that the furniture can be labelled.  Use a packing list for what is in each box going into specific rooms. Write a list of what will be in your personal needs boxes to be sure to remember the details. Each evening update your check list with more tasks and check off what is completed. It is a time where there are lists of lists!

 

Your team

Moving is a project the requires a lot of help.  Add team members to your project. This includes movers, packers, professional organizers, childcare help and other resources. Price all these additional team members to add to your move budget. Ask for referrals for these services, interview three potential movers and get everything in writing from each of your team members.

 

Keeping your sanity

Keep your move organized with lots of labelling. Have plenty of markers available to write the contents on your box. You can label the boxes with a room name or assign a number to the room. Your movers will appreciate knowing that they can unload in the correct room without your direction because you have labelled the rooms and boxes.

Remember the last in – first out box and your own personal needs during this move. The last in- first out box contains all the hardware for beds and the remote controls. These are vital to your happiness during the first 24 hours in your new home. Your personal needs items include medications and stuffed animals that must be a part of your first night in your home.

Keep your most valued and valuable items with you. A valued item might be your daughter’s stuffed animal or the keys to the car. Valuable items include jewelry, guns and irreplaceable family keepsakes. Use specific luggage for these items so you can separate these from the moving boxes.

 

Keep calm and carry on. It will take a little longer than you like to settle in, even with every box unpacked. Happy moves happen with a plan!

How to Organize Your Kitchen (and get dinner on the table)

how to organize your kitchen

 

Kitchens are the heart of our home. We gather, connect and entertain here. Big or small kitchen, getting and staying organized is important for all of us. You might have a small pantry, narrow drawers, lack storage or have a lot of dishes. There is a lot to store including small appliances, dinnerware, cookware, “tupperware” and serving pieces. There are also those tricky items like cuttings board, and baking sheets that need to be stored. Keeping your kitchen items accessible and organized makes it easy to make meals and spend time together. These strategies are smart ways to make this space more user friendly.

 

Declutter your counter tops

Exactly what is stacking up on your counter tops? Likely it is technology and papers. Set up a command center on a transit way wall to be sure your counters stay clear. If backpacks are in your kitchen, add a landing strip to your entry area. And what about technology and your common charging spot? Gather these items in a location that makes it easy to keep devices charging and counter tops clear. A clear counter area makes your kitchen feel inviting and ready to cook.

 

Organize your kitchen cabinets

Follow this step by step process for organizing your kitchen cabinets (and your kitchen drawers too.)

  • Empty cabinets onto the counters in your kitchen. As you empty, sort your items into categories. Group items by use such as drinking, eating, or serving. Categorizing and grouping items used together make your space more efficient.
  • Decide what to declutter and what to donate. That may depend on how many items match, how many items you need of one category or how well used the item is. Give yourself permission to let go of more, rather than less.  Donate those items right away.
  • Determine the best location to store items by their use. Pots and pans should be by the stove, while plastic storage should be by the sink and refrigerator. If you want your kids to access these, be sure items are stored low.
  • Add shelf inserts and any other storage solutions to make it easy to access items and put them away after use.

Edit inside your kitchen drawers

  • Once done decluttering,  your kitchen drawers may need an additional round of editing.  Think about which tools are multi-purpose and more functional.  Group together tools that are used for baking, barbeque, garnishing, and grating. This last pass helps you keep only what you use and need.
  • There are many different drawer dividers that keep these spaces organized. Standard silverware trays are great for flatware. For drawers with a variety of tool sizes and dimensions, adjustable drawer dividers keep order intact.

 

Assess your small appliances

Small appliances have gained great popularity with Keurigs and Kitchen Aids. Placing these under cabinets where you can create a “zone” helps, such as the coffee area or baking corner.  Most cooks love showing off these appliances despite being counter top hogs.

 

The best maintenance tip for a kitchen is having a great dishwasher routine and coordinated chore chart. When you pair the timing for dish washing overnight, kitchens stay organized and tidy all day long.

 

 

 

How to Organize Your Bedroom (for a great night’s rest)

how to organize your bedroom

 

Your bedroom is more than a place to sleep. It is where you begin the day and end the day intentionally. It is where you take time for your self care and your preparation for work and family. It is your personal space to keep what is precious to you. This spot is restorative in an uncertain time. However, your bedroom might have turned into a storage space. It may be stuffed with papers, clothes, technology, returns, Amazon boxes and more.  Check out these tips to return to rest and relaxation in your bedroom.

 

Categorize

Typical organizing wisdom says to declutter first. In a small space with many different items, start by categorizing. This strategy will give you an idea of what you have and how much of each category. You may be surprised by what you have! Your categories could include jewelry, shoes, clean clothes, laundry to do, technology, papers, as well as returns and recycling. Making categories first gives you the opportunity to determine what to keep in your bedroom and what can be stored elsewhere.

 

Declutter

Even with the best of storage, it is important to edit and declutter. Make decisions based on what you love and what you use. If you have difficulty, use the tournament method to decide between two items at a time. How many you keep in the end of any item is determined by you, rather than a set quantity.

 

Organize

In a space with multiple uses like your bedroom, you can organize with zones. These are specific areas that you do different activities. For getting ready for the day, designate a vanity in your room or in the bathroom. Cluster items that you use like make up, hair accessories and jewelry in this area.  For night time, group items on your night stand or headboard for use getting ready for sleep. That might be glasses, books, and lotions. Move around your bedroom organizing zone by zone.

 

Maximize

Use of organizing products that add storage make better use of the space. Think about the best way for you to use existing storage and add more as needed. That includes storage on the back of doors and in dressers.

 

Decorate

Your space should be a reflection of what you love. Include what brings you joy in your décor, color palette, textiles and sounds. A beautiful space reminds you to make your bed every day and keep your space organized.

 

Keep in mind what you do every day in your bedroom to maintain it. Have adequate trash and laundry storage for these weekly routines. Be sure to give yourself time daily for resetting like putting away clothes and straightening your space. Give yourself the gift of intentional organizing and your bedroom will always be a spot for slumber and serenity.

How to Organize Your Garage (and park your car inside)

how to organize your garage

 

With spring is here now is the time to tackle the garage. Organizing the garage can be a giant project, but you will be giddy when your garage is clean and organized and you can easily park your car and find gardening tools, bikes, and other items you use in warmer weather.  Use these 6 steps to organize your garage this spring.

 

1. Make a Game Plan: Planning ahead makes every tasks easier. Write down what you want to accomplish in the garage and how you plan to accomplish it. What are my goals? How will things be stored? Will I use boxes or bins? Where will things be stored? Will I need to invest in a storage system?  When will I do this work? How will items be donated? How will heavy trash be picked up? Be practical and keep the end in mind in planning your project.

2. Enlist Help: Working as a team makes everything easier. It can be you and your family, you and a team of teens, or you and your paid helpers. Your team helps you decide what to toss out, helps you move large and heavy items around, and offer perspectives on how to best store and organize things. A team also makes the work more fun!

3. Move Everything Out: Plan to move everything out of the garage. You can use your lawn blower to blow out all the cobwebs and dust that have accumulated. This gives you a fresh start to your project.

4. Sort & Toss: As you are moving items out, determine what you will be decluttering and letting go.  Deciding what to keep and what to toss is usually the most difficult part. Decisions can be based on how often an item is used or if it is broken or unusable. Items can be donated that are still working to local philanthropies. Consider placing items that are to be given away on the curb depending on rules in your neighborhood or listing free items on local social media sites. Be sure your plan and timeline align for trash pick up.

5: Categorize: Once you’re left with your “keep” pile items, it’s time to group like items together. Some typical garage storage categories include:

  • Landscaping and yard tools
  • Power tools and repair tools
  • Automotive items
  • Holiday decorations
  • Sports gear
  • Children’s outdoor toys

Items that should not be kept in the garage are technology or photos. These deteriorate with non-climate controlled conditions.

6. Store:  Plastic bins are best for stacking and durability. Use clear bins so you can see what is in each. Add labels to the bins to be specific.

Choose a specially designed tool box for your tools. With drawers, you can categorize your tools. Label each drawer to know what is stored inside.

Instead of stacking bins and other items on the floor in the corner, take advantage of the vertical space your garage has to offer. Sturdy shelves with ample durability, large hooks, and ceiling racks are great for storing and hanging everything up off the floor, creating a clean, organized look and opening up floor space.

Place items back in the garage with an eye toward frequency of use. More frequently used items should be stored in a visible area and within easy reach. Less frequently used and seasonal items should be stored out of the way. Kids bikes and riding toys should be to the front of the garage, near the garage door.

 

Look back on your project and the work you have accomplished each day as you pull your car into your newly organized space.

Three Small Spots to Organize to Keep You Ahead

keep ahead of the game

 

Do you think about big organizing goals and not so much about the little spaces that need organizing? Here are three small organizing spots that will make your life more organized and productive, and most importantly help your peace of mind.

 

Your purse, satchel or man bag

What you carry with you should give you peace of mind to know you have what you need when you need it. Often your bag becomes where everything goes without order to it at all.

  • Divide your bag into useful categories and use organizing products to keep the categories together.  Use a wallet for money, a zipper case for medicine and makeup, and a glass case to protect your glasses. A small Ziploc can hold your receipts until you trash these or move them to your command center.
  • Pare down to essentials in your bag. The less you carry, the less weight on your shoulders. Remember that carrying papers back and forth may not be necessary if you can find that information online.
  • If you are carrying important documents or check books just so as not to lose these, purchase a small safe to keep at home and store these documents.

Once week clear out all the debris, paper and other items to keep your bag organized.

 

Your contacts in your devices

Communication with home and work is key in this new era of work from home and the uncertainty of daily life.

  • Sync your contacts across all your devices including your computer so that you can access these from anywhere. Being automated saves you time.
  • Determine a consistent approach to entering contacts. That includes entering the contact’s name, the company name, and the work of that business. You can enter multiple data to be sure you can find the information.  An example of that is Ellen Delap, Professional-Organizer.com, professional organizer. Or Professional Organizer, Ellen Delap. Choose the easiest way for you to find what you need.
  • Use your device automation to add contacts from email.  It’s the easiest way to add information and it takes just a few minutes.

Spend a few minutes every day entering information as you receive it in email, in text, or from scraps of paper.

 

Your self care, morning and evening supplies

Getting ready for the day and your night time routine can be much easier when you are organized.  Many times we have too many supplies in these areas to be able to get ready quickly.

  • Gather together what you use every morning and evening. You can store these in a caddy under your sink area or attractive tray on your countertop.
  • Store loose items like cotton balls and qtips in attractive containers for easy access.
  • Have a trash can that is very easy to access.
  • Edit ruthlessly. Toss out items that are six months old and unused. Share your partially used items with friends or colleagues.
  • Save the deep dive into bathroom organizing for a longer session. Keep everything else off the countertop.

Tidying your stuff daily gives you extra time to get ready and get to bed every day.

 

Each of these small organizing projects should take 15 minutes or less a day. Keep it simple and get it done.

9 Ways to Maximize Your Storage in Your Home

 

 

9 ways to add storage in your home

 

Have you wondered if there are more storage options in your home? We want to maximize our storage options with value, function and flair. The value of additional storage is to easily access what we need and have a home for all items. It is most functional when we use additional storage in an area where those items are needed. Of course we want an attractive option with flair.  Check out these 15 ways clever ways to be more organized and functional with the space you have.

A note of caution before we proceed. Having more storage space is not license to over purchase. Keep in mind realistic amounts of purchases with respect to your and your family needs.  It’s tempting to over stuff our space so refrain from creating a difficult to access amount of items in your home.

 

Go vertical

There is a lot of wall space in your home and your garage. Use taller bookshelves, add additional upper level shelving, and use over the door storage to add storage options.

 

Categorize

Group items you use together in the space these are used. When grouped together, you can consolidate the amounts in a clear container.

 

Find under, upper and lower space

You can store items that you need less access to in less accessible spots. Use shallow, under the bed storage with wheels or shoe organizers under your bed for additional storage. Add flair with a decorative basket for upper store.

Double up

Use furnishings as storage. Think ottoman with hanging files, dresser as gift wrap organizer, or closet as an office space.

 

Divide up

Use dividers in spaces to create function and access.  In your junk drawer have slots for each item stored there. In a room, use a screen or an IKEA bookcase as a room divider and storage.

 

Clever containers

Decant into your favorite glass container or use a favorite tea tin as storage in your spaces. These items turn visual clutter into attractive, functional organization.

 

Zone options

Segment spaces in a drawer or a room by thinking about zone options. A zone is a space or area dedicated to one use, within the space itself.  A kitchen is a great example with the zones for prepping, cooking, serving, and containing leftovers. By adding specific zones, you are grouping items you use together.

 

Store on the back of any door

The back of any cabinet or closet door is great to add storage with either a shoe organizer or rack.  It makes access super easy for any items. Use cabinet doors to store towels, paper towels or rubber gloves. Use any closet storage for toys, grooming items, jewelry or any small items.

 

Hire a professional

It’s not a luxury to hire a professional organizer, closet designer and/or installer for your home. It adds value to your home sale which sells your home quickly. You will enjoy your closet, most especially your primary closet, with more space dedicated to your personal needs. Professionals come to your home with ideas you can implement on your own.

 

Look around your space and see where you can add a little more storage with these clever ways to add homes for all your items.

15 Minute Tasks that Keep You Organized

15 minutes tasks that keep you organized

 

Would you be surprised to know that in just 15 minutes you can make a difference in your organizing?  It is true! There are many small tasks that can make it easy for us to maintain systems and processes that we have established.  Check out these small ways to make a big difference.

 

Put away items you purchased

Busy lives have a lot of items coming in. These come from Amazon subscriptions and routines purchases, as well as projects and upcoming events. Take 15 minutes to put away what you have purchased and consolidate the items. Counters and floors stay clear and your home stays organized.

 

Try on items you purchased

You run to the store for that one item to complete an outfit. Maybe you purchased more exercise clothes to add new tops and bottoms. It was easier to try on at home, you thought, than in the store. Try these on within the week of purchase to return and credit back your extra purchases.

Return items you purchased by mail

It is easy to over purchase items online. You might have purchased multiple sizes or styles or a variety of the same item. Order using one email account and print the return slip within a week of purchase. As you might already know, Amazon has a 30 day return policy. This way you don’t accidentally “own” more than you need of any item.

 

Drop off items and make returns frequently

With my planner pad, I look at the week ahead to see where I can drop off items when I am in the vicinity.  During your weekly planning, check ahead to group your errands and drop offs.  If you have noticed, there are more drop off bins for donations than ever. Drop off at one of these you pass with just a 15 minute stop.

 

Consolidate items you purchased

We are preppers! With all the uncertainty, all of us are purchasing ahead. Consolidate what you purchase and rotate your “stock” to be sure it is all kept together to know what you have.

 

Review your calendar at night

A quick review of your calendar for the night before makes your next day more predictable and you are prepared for what is ahead.

 

Check your calendar in the morning

It might seem redundant to check at night and in the morning. However, it is about being prepared. Overnight you might have remembered something to add to your calendar or thought about an extra task. Checking your planner twice a day makes for your best work.

 

Keep a master list of tasks, errands and projects

I advocate to write stuff down either digitally or on paper.  Keeping your master list clears your mind. Not everything can be done on the list, however you are keeping your thoughts for deep thinking. It saves your working memory from being over taxed.

 

 

This list of 15 minute tasks is just the beginning of small ways to stay organized. Choose one or more to keep you organized and productive.

 

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.