Getting started is the hardest part! Areas of our home that are full of clutter can be so overwhelming. We will walk into a room having the mentality and the gumption that today is the day. Today we are tackling this space, then we start, and 15 minutes later we are out the door, closing it behind us.
Sometimes all we need is just a little encouragement and support to continue on our decluttering journey. Upstate Organized Living would love to help you in this journey, after all that is what we are here for. Let me offer some encouragement to you to push through the first hour. Below are 5 Tips to Get Started Organizing.
1. Pick a zone.
What area of my home overwhelms me the most? Is it the kids cups that fall out of the kitchen cabinet? Is the hall closet that holds all the coats and other miscellaneous things? Is it under the bathroom sink? A junk room?
There can be more than one space but the priority here is to pick one. Which one sends your blood pressure rising? The one that just drives you nuts, that's the one. That is where we are going to start. This space may be the hardest to start but it is going to give you momentum to continue throughout the rest of your home. The area is going to be drastically changed allowing you to see your other zones more clearly and tolerable.
2. Empty Zone
Okay!! I realize if this is a whole room that this step may be a little hard to follow. What you want to keep in mind here is to put everything in a central location. For instance if you are tackling a bedroom you may choose to do your clothes first. Take everything out of your drawers and closets and pile them on the bed. Then follow steps 3 through 5 below.
Then, move to the drawers that hold other things like your nightstand, electronics drawer or junk drawer, etc. and follow steps 3 through 5 below.
If you are tackling a junk room move as much as you can to a central location like a corner or one side of the room. Doing this will allow space to work and sort, following steps 3 through 5 below. If you still have limited space look around and if you have big items, that you are getting rid of, go ahead and remove those items from the space. Removing the big items will give you more space to work.
3. Sort Objects
Now!! THIS is the FUN part and where most people get hung up and discouraged. DO NOT get discouraged in this phase! All you are doing in this phase is SORTING. Don't make any decisions in this stage just sort all like things together as fast as you can.
For example, if you are sorting clothes you would put all skirts together, all pants together, all t-shirts together, all blouses together, all socks and undergarments together, then...follow steps 4 through 5. The key here is to sort as fast as you can not thinking about anything else but putting like things together.
Back to the junk room example, put all cords together, all gift bags together, all painting supplies together, all unsorted mail together and any miscellaneous items together. There are often many things that dwell in a junk room, so do the best you can. The next steps will show progress.
4. Grab Two Bags.
Introducing the decluttering stage. In most cases you will need more than just two bags. You will be surprised how fast one bag will fill up. In my organizing work bag I carry white trash bags and black trash bags. I use white trash bags for trash to be thrown in the garbage and black trash bags for donations.
Boxes or bins will also help for heavier or awkward items or you can just put those items straight into your car to drop off at the local donation center...OR call your local donation center and schedule a pick up. Donating is a great way to give to others what is no longer useful to you.
5. Assess the Leftovers.
Once all of these steps are complete it is time to look at the leftovers and put them away. Keep two things in mind here, put your items in a place easy to get out and easy to put away. The concept here is having it easily accessible to you. Once you get an item out, it HAS to be easy to put away or you are less likely to actually put it away.
Think about your every day routine. How do you move through your routine? What things need to be the most accessible to you? What items need to be closest to the bathroom? What items need to be closest to the door that you can grab when you are leaving the room?
When I am organizing I will put something in a spot that I think will work then take it down or out, and put it back, just to make sure it is accessible. Close and open drawers making sure the drawers aren't stuffed, slide a bin from underneath the bed and slide it back. If the item is difficult to remove or put back it is time to make some adjustments. Use this method to help you when you are organizing.
Several tools you can use to help you are hooks on the walls or over the door. Stack-able bins with lids and bins without lids. Bins with lids are great for less used items and bins without lids are great for more frequently used items. Clear inside the drawer organizers are great as well!
Get EXCITED to make a space your own!!! Be encouraged to tackle it and not forget about it. Once it is decluttered it is yours to make beautiful. Do it, love it and do it some more. You will find you will be encouraged after your first project and if you get stuck...CONTACT ME.
OKAY!! All this talk about organizing...NOW I have to go find something to organize!!!
If you are located locally I will be happy to help physically and if we are at a distance I will be happy to help virtually. CONTACT ME.
What are your challenges when you organize? What article topics on organization would further help you get started?
Do you want to know the secret to motivating yourself to clean? Who doesn't? Spending the whole day cleaning is not fun for anyone. A popular way to spend a Saturday is cleaning your house. I use to clean on Saturday or a day that I had "off."
Not only did this method of cleaning wear me out, but most of the time something would come up. Spending time with my family was a priority and when they were out having fun while I was cleaning...well, that's just NOT fun!
Something had to give! How could I balance the days meant for fun and keep my house clean? One day it dawned on me, a little at a time. Zone cleaning allows you to do a little every day and if you miss a day, it's really not that big of a deal because you did the job last week.
The goal of zone cleaning is to set an intention for what you are going to do on a specific day and shoot for that goal. Always remember your family is more important than a clean house. Please snuggle with your child and skip bathroom day when you need to. The bathroom will be there for cleaning, I promise.
Zone cleaning includes the more involved tasks such as, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting and vacuuming. I started the process of zone cleaning by putting cleaning essentials in each area that I would be cleaning. That way I wasn't running back and forth leaving something somewhere else, etc. There are several ways to set up your cleaning essentials. Use a caddie under the cabinet, use a basket on a shelf, or use a plastic container with a lid.
For example, I have a caddie in my master bathroom, one in my linen closet near the hall bath, and one in my kitchen. My main goal here was convenience. I wanted to have everything I needed in easy to access areas, therefore making it more enjoyable and likely that I would clean.
Zone cleaning is not, and does not include the small daily chores that I include in my, Not Your Average AM and PM Routine.
Next I decided to dedicate certain areas to specific days and not spend more than 25 minutes tops on each task for the day. I sat down and thought about my days. I thought about what extracurricular activities I had on certain days, what chores I found the least enjoyable, the different areas of my house and what attention they need weekly.
For example, I do our two bathrooms on Monday. Bathrooms are not so fun to clean so I get it out of the way on Monday, leaving me with clean bathrooms for the start of the week.
The key to zone cleaning is to set aside your days, set a timer and start. I like to race the clock, it makes it more fun, and when that stopwatch dings, I STOP. What you don't get done in 25 minutes you can get done next week.
When you miss a day continue with the next day, just as planned, or substitute if you need to. You know best what needs to be done. Do a little every day. I find when I do a little every day, I am more encouraged to keep cleaning.
Below I listed my Day Of the Week Chores Checklist. Download and use as an example or use it as your own.
Day of Week Chore and Details of Chore
Monday-Baths & Trash
Sinks, Mirrors, Toliets, Floors, Counters, Shelving, Tidy, Refills, Empty All Trash Cans
End of Every Month: Wash Rugs, Trash Cans, Shower & Tub, Baseboards
Dishes, Wipe Down Counter Tops, Stove, Microwave, Trash Can, Vacuum Floors, Mop Dust Book Shelf, Clean Screen Door, Spot Clean Cabinets End of Every Month: Rugs, Window Seals, Baseboards
Wednesday-Den & Foyer
Tidy, Dust, Vacuum Floors & Furniture
End of Every Month: Clean Mirrors, Baseboards & Mop
Thursday-Bedroom & Office
Tidy, Dust, Vacuum Floors
End of Every Month: Clean Mirrors, Baseboards & Mop
Friday-Catch Up Day
Complete Chore Days Missed, Take it Easy
End of Every Month: Complete a Monthly Chore
Saturday-Fridge & Freezer
Clean Out Fridge, Eat Leftovers,Throw Away Old Food, Make Note of Food to Use, Wipe Down Fridge & Assess Freezer End Of Every Month: Deep Freeze
Sunday-Towels & Sheets
Wash All Towels & Change Bed Linens & Comforter
Wash Dog Bed & Any Dog Toys
End of Every Month: Wash Matress Cover
Get inspired to clean and remember stay practical my friends. Life happens and sometimes you just don't get it done. That's okay, just try again next week!
Would you like to know what's in my cleaning caddie?
Do you struggle to keep a routine? Do you have your routine standards set to high? Is having or not having a routine stressing you out? I know for most of my life I have tried so many ways to get use to a routine. What comes to mind when you think of a routine? Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast?
While all these things are very much apart of your routine and you should definitely do them. Right now, we are going to focus on the not so obvious parts of a routine. The tasks that will help you stay on top of things so you don't end up with piles of dishes or loads of laundry to do all at one time.
Adding small tasks to your routine not only keeps you productive but keeps you motivated. Naturally, when we see a clean surface or complete a task our minds trigger the, "I want more of this," trigger. Signaling to your brain you are satisfied.
Do not treat these little things you do every day as trivial. Emptying the dishwasher, putting a load of laundry in, all while having a good mindset is something to be very proud of. There are so many things to do every day and we get overwhelmed that we need to do it ALL, but this is simply not true.
1. Know how long it takes you to complete tasks.
You can time yourself, but I can tell you that it takes me as long as it takes my toast to pop up out of the toaster to clean out the dishwasher. The first time I discovered this it started to change the way I look at all household chores.
Time yourself putting in a wash and you will be amazed at how long it actually took. I do smaller loads of laundry than I use to. If I know there is a small load in the dryer and it literally is going to take me 3 minutes to fold then it encourages me to do it. I find I am more likely to fold and put the clothes away if it is a more manageable pile.
Oh you know the eye role you give the dryer when it stops...NOPE, not right now you say out loud, I'll do it later, but you know that doing it right then is the only way you will ever get it efficiently done. If you wait you will end up turning the dryer on 3 times to warm your clothes back up before you get those close out to fold.
Try putting in a smaller load, you'll thank yourself later. Get in the habit of checking the laundry every morning, there are days I don't have a wash load but creating a habit of checking means you are more likely to do it when there is a load.
2. Create habits you do every single day.
Referring back to number one. Every morning I empty the dishwasher, every day I check the laundry, most every day I put in a load of wash.
Every night I start the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, stove and table and put away pots, pans and cutting boards that may be drying in the sink.
Throughout the day I look for small tasks that I can complete on my way to do something else. See more in Tip 3.
3. Clean up as you go.
I have mindfully made it a habit to clean up the kitchen as I cook. Wash pots, pans and mixing bowls while something is simmering or while waiting for the oven to beep.
Load the dishwasher with anything you can. Put away pots, pans and cutting boards that might be drying in the sink. If I clean up as I go I can spend about 10 minutes after dinner, not 30 minutes, and be on with my night.
Prepping for your meals and keeping it simple help with this as well. See my post on Minimal Time In the Kitchen - Planning Meals a Whole New Way.
There are plenty of places to clean up throughout the day, but sometimes, I understand you have to leave it for later. Focus on one thing at a time and then it will become natural to clean up as you go everywhere.
Cleaning up and putting things away becomes so much easier when you are organized. See my post on What Does "Being Organized" Really Mean?
Practice and train yourself, if you get up to go to the kitchen and half way there you realize you forgot your bowl you had your lunch in, turn around and go get it. You will not be happy about this at the time but believe me it will become a habit and eventually it will become automatic.
When I first started this method I started with the kitchen because that is where I spend most of my time.
4. Have a good mindset.
Tasks and chores can sometimes be daunting. Our thoughts and our attitude reflect how we accomplish the task and how we feel afterwards. If we fill our heads with, why do I always have to do this? Or, did nobody else see this dirty dish? The day and your mindset can take a turn.
We are not perfect and thoughts will inevitably creep into your head, but you don't have to keep them there. Just smile, remind yourself of the actual time it is taking you to complete the task and think about the way your clean and orderly space makes you feel.
5. Enjoy and Treat yourself for sticking to it.
Rewarding yourself for sticking to your tasks is a must. I really wish I could justify getting a Starbucks every time I folded and put away laundry, but sadly, I cannot. However I can justify once or twice a week for a Starbucks. I can justify lighting my favorite candle and letting that sucker burn filling up my house with its goodness of fragrance.
We must concentrate on the little things, dwell on them. What makes your day, your hour, your minute? Fresh flowers in the house, the smell of an all natural cleaner?
Reflect on what keeps you going, invest in those things, keep it simple and love the life you live.
I have met clients that have sighed in relief once they meet me. Their thoughts of an organizer is pretentious, stuck up, uptight...geeee thanks. Truth is I would not be an organizer if I did not know what it's like to be unorganized.
I do not judge one person that is not organized. Most people are not organized because they truly don't understand what "being organized" really means. All they see are pintrest worthy homes and are bombarded with home improvement ads that just tell you..."your house has to be better!!" Believe me, I know it can be discouraging, you just want it done, you don't want to do it, or find the time to do it, but be encouraged to take the next step.
Please do not buy into what is not true. "Being organized," does not mean that you have to have the latest most beautiful boxes or containers. Truth is you probably already have exactly what you need right in your home, OR you are not even at the stage of needing those beautiful containers.
We must stop telling ourselves that we need pretty things and then we will be organized. Instead, we need to except that decluttering is the first step. Freeing yourself from the things you no longer need, or want, will give you new eyes. Keeping the things that add value to your life is what makes life more productive and more simple. There is no way to become truly productive and live simplified if there is clutter in our lives.
The stage of decluttering is not easy to see at first. There often comes a time that you just can't take it anymore. At that time you have a choice to make, keep living in your clutter, holding on to things that really don't make you happy or letting them go. This decision is one that can change your quality of life.
We must not think of decluttering as a daunting task, but as a task of shedding, coming into a new light, letting yourself find yourself, again. There are many stages we go through in life. The single stage, the newly married stage, the married with children stage, the children are now teenagers stage, the teenagers are now gone stage, and then the later in life stage.
Now, through all these stages, things change. You change. Your surroundings change. Your motivation changes. Your life changes. With all the changes that occur it is hard to keep up sometimes. Life happens quickly, we must except that, and respond accordingly. Knowing where you are in life can make all the difference.
All that being said, do not be discouraged, but encouraged. Decide to look forward to what you can create for yourself. Determine what stage you are in, and where you need to go from here. If you need help determining where you are and where you need to go contact me at Upstate Organized Living here. I will be so happy to help.
I am a woman that wants my daily tasks and chores to be as simple as possible, therefore, I help other people with the same desire create a lifestyle that is organized, productive and simple. Being organized just makes your life easier so you aren't pulling out your hair every time you empty the dishwasher or try to cook dinner.
Being organized does not mean you have to change your personality type. Organized is defined: to arrange in a structured whole order. Create a system for your life that works for you leading to a more productive and simplified life.
Start looking at your surrounding in a new way. Go to your closet. Do you see that shirt you keep trying on, the one that you keep putting on, the one that has never fit you right. You just can't let it go because you should have never spent the money. Let it GO. Take your own advice, thank yourself and never buy that style or fabric again. Move on.
Now, go to your kitchen. Open a drawer. Is there something in that drawer that will not allow the drawer to close easily, or something that you used one time and will never use again? If so, take everything out of the drawer, sort through the items keeping only the things that are useful to you and let the rest go. If you need any of those things in the future Target or Wal-mart are stocking them right up the street for you for you.
Looking at each area of your home like this will allow you to see your belongings in a whole new way. The things that you own are just things and just like life they come and go. Declutter your life so that you can focus on the things that matter most like time with your children, holding your face up to the sun and breathing in, or taking a walk around the neighborhood.
Be encouraged to get started.
Remember, do it in thankfulness and love and be glad that you can do it!!!
Time and time again I have tried meal planning with no real success. I always find myself wanting something else for dinner, or wanting to be creative. I have created a simple system that will not only takes loads of stress off "planning" but will make the whole process of cooking and meal planning less stressful and more enjoyable. I am not saying never look at a recipe, but no more pining over them. My overall number one tip is KEEP IT SIMPLE.
In today's world of pintrest and organic foods we often find ourselves trying to make things to fancy. We think if we don't follow the precise method of "plans", we find online, then we aren't successful at running our household. We are held at a high standard to put the perfect elaborate meal on the table.
My memommy, yes memommy, a name I made up for my grandmother when I was first speaking, still follows the simple method of cooking that she grew up eating. Meat, vegetable, herbs and usually a grain of some kind. No fancy recipes, just real food.
My friends, you don't have to be fancy to feed your family healthy sustainable food. As an organizer I have come across a lot of plans, joined a lot of subscriptions and nothing really seems to work. I mostly ran into food my family would not eat and ingredients that were hard to find.
Precise meal planning is a good thing, I am not saying that you should not do it. I am saying that it has not worked for my personality. I found myself being more stressed out than happy when I was cooking and preparing meals for my family, rather than enjoying what I was making.
I came to the realization that I do not have to fit into a category of precise meal planning and neither do my clients. Most of my clients are not Type A people, I saw their heads spin as I encouraged meal plans. Then, one day, I just decided, it doesn't have to be so HARD! I thought about the way that I love to cook and the real methods that I use in my kitchen. How these methods make life easier and how I get dinner on the table in 15 to 30 minutes.
I don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, nor do I have the energy, but I do have energy to do a little jig when dinner is on the table in 15 minutes and tastes SO GOOD that I can hardly stand it. I am just say'in...it is pretty satisfying!
I will share 5 tips for healthy dinner every night without a specific...you gotta do it, PLAN...this is how I keep dinner simple, my family happy and me dancing.
1. Meat prepped/thawing in the fridge.
My staple meats are roasted chicken and ground beef. I will also have one of the following if I have found something on sale: pork, roast or steak. There are times when I will have fish, but it is rare. I keep a 9 x 13 glass dish in the fridge for thawing meat.
The key to the meat is keeping it simple. For instance, there are some weeks when it's just chicken and beef because it's what I stock, at all times. Often there is no leftover time or energy to shop for other meats on sale. At other times I find my pork, roast or steak on sale, get extra and freeze it. At the beginning each week I take a look in my freezer and see what I have on hand. I will then take it out and put it into my thawing dish. Know your basics, what you eat the most and concentrate on them.
Know where you buy your meat and how much you get. I purchase 4 to 6 roasted chickens and 6 lbs of ground beef at Costco about every two weeks. When the budget and time allows I purchase more and back stock in my freezer. On the day I purchase my meat, I pull the chicken and divide the ground beef. I store by the pound in quart size freezer bags. Each roasted chicken is about 1 lb. I brown half of the ground beef, if time allows, before I freeze it then I can make meals even quicker. At the beginning of each week I just make sure I have enough meat in my thawing dish for 5 to 7 meals, depending on the week. This process will turn into a routine that you don't even think about...you just do it.
2. Do a little prep work when you have extra time.
Prepping makes everything so much easier! I always prep rice, it is my go to! See tip 4 for more info on rice.
More things to prep: salad, my salad consists of romaine lettuce, spinach and any other vegetables, like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. Peppers are great for prepping and freezing, use them for, fajitas, on top of rice, in a salad, in eggs or as a side. I store prepped vegetables in mason jars for freshness.
Noodles are a great prep for a quick pasta salad or Italian inspired dinner, just add sauce and your cooked ground beef and you have dinner in less than 20 minutes. Throw in extra sweet potatoes when you are cooking them for dinner anyway, use the extras for any side.
3.Keep quick cooking staples on hand.
Eggs, you can eat for any meal. Boil, scramble, make a breakfast sandwich or yummy egg salad. Keep a frozen pizza or pizza crust, homemade or bought, in the freezer for those I am not cooking nights. I always stock tortilla wraps, buy in bulk at Costco and freeze half. Make quesadillas with your roasted chicken or beef and some cheese in no time.
Any type of potatoes are great to have on hand! Bake a potato or dice and fry them up crispy. Eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
And of course...bread, cheese and tomato soup.
Tip 4 will definitely help you out for a quick and easy meal when you forgot about dinner or forgot to thaw your meat.
4. Keep the fridge stocked with easy sides.
I always have rice in the fridge, cooked and ready to go. I can make the quickest lunches and dinners with rice, and they are filling and delicious. Someone gave me a rice cooker that I did not use for a long time, in fact, I almost donated it, but one day I decided I would give it a try. I was always starting a new batch of rice on the stove but now I start a new batch in the cooker, leave it and forget it...perfect rice every time. All I have to do is dump into my container and refrigerate. I have made it a habit that every time I run out of rice I grab my rice cooker and put some on, so fulfilling!
A vegetable that I stock and are long lasting in the fridge are carrots. In no time at all I can boil or steam them and add butter, or shred carrots in stir fry. I just take the top layer off with the peeler and then peel the rest of the carrot right over what I am cooking on the stove.
Avocados and cooked beans are great to have as well! See Tip 2 for more stocked side ideas.
5. Stock your staples.
Know the things that you eat all the time and stock them. I always have chicken and beef. Potatoes, rice and noodles. Tortillas and english muffins. Carrots, brussel sprouts and strawberries. Eggs, milk, bacon or sausage. Spaghetti, barbecue and tikka masala sauce. Canned black beans, corn and kidney beans. I try to eat fresh but canned are so great to have on hand in a pinch, just rinse first! And of course dark chocolate.
Other snack items we keep on hand is Lays sour cream and onion chips for hubby and chocolate chip brownie Laura Bars for me.
Remember, KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Know your basics, what you eat the most and concentrate on those items. You will be amazed at how many things you can create with them.
Keep at it, this system will turn into a routine that you don't even think about...you just do it. Getting the same thing at the grocery store every time makes your life so much easier, your grocery list simple and you less stressed!
Enjoy your time in the kitchen and don't forget to add some love in everything you make.
How about you? Do you have any tips that you use in the kitchen to make meals faster?
Give me your bins of your children's artwork, paintings, stories and certificates, and I will return, to you, personalized memory binders. Memory binders allow you and your child to enjoy accomplishments of the past and they are great for sharing with grandparents as well. Children have great fun flipping through them, and you can keep your fridge free of clutter. When a new piece comes in, file the old one in the memory binder and enjoy the new one on the fridge. You can even have a memory binder made for yourself containing your childhood, that way you can share it with your children, your friends, or just each other.