Simply Put Organizing

Clutter Control

Clutter has a funny way of expanding to fit any undefined spaces in your home. For that reason, it is very important to assign a purpose for each room, cabinet and closet you have. Once spaces are assigned a definite purpose you can go about the job of relocating items in your home to the places they belong and remove the excess as you go. I once had a boss who taught his employees to never walk anywhere in the restaurant empty handed. He knew there was always something to be relocated and put away. He didn’t know it then,but he helped me develop a lifelong habit that has helped me save time in everything I do. Below you’ll find more useful tips and inspiration to help you clear the clutter everyday and reclaim your spaces.
Food for thought

Determine your priorities in life: It is impossible to know what you don’t need if you haven’t determined what you do need. For example, I need more time. I had to take a look at my time wasting habits. I have decided that I don’t need to tear out and save pages of things I want to buy from magazines anymore. If I tear something out of a newspaper or magazine it becomes a to-do. I don’t need anything else to do. And if I really need that thing so badly then I won’t forget to get it. It has been so liberating to flip through a magazine and enjoy it without feeling the need to tear and manage all that paper and to make a trip to the mall to get the thing I thought I had to have in the magazine. This small tweak in my habits has saved precious time, mental energy, and, most likely, a lot of money.

Determine your priorities and what you are willing to spend time on and what you’re willing to give space to in your home.

Clutter is a delayed decision: Take a look at any cluttered areas in your home and you will see that each item there is really a delayed decision. Maybe you just didn’t decide where the item should be located in your home or maybe you haven’t decided if you will ever wear something again or use something so it has been relegated to a spare closet until a decision can be made. Make decisions on the things in your home right away. Choose if it stays or goes and, if it stays where will it ‘live’. If you have given thought to what you really need to support your values and priorities this becomes very easy.
Make a Plan

Choose a charity: For many of us, it is easier to let things go if we think it is going somewhere where it will be appreciated and put to good use. However, sometimes finding the right place can be paralyzing so you stay stuck in your stuff. Charitynavigator.org can help you find a charity in your area you can to be good stewards of your things. Set up a donation receptacle to make it easy to unclutter your home on a daily basis.

Schedule regular decluttering sessions: whether you are drowning in clutter or just a little it is important to assign a time each day or week that you will devote time to relocating items and clearing clutter. It could be 10 minutes a day or 1 hour each weekend. Whichever works for you, it is important to be consistent with the commitment.

Create a landing spot: Organization is about everything having a place. A landing spot is the place where you unload things as you come in the door. Clutter happens when we put things down in random places and then become too busy to go back and put them away. Your landing spot should be located near the entrance you most often use. It needs a designated place for mail, purse, wallet, keys and an area for any shopping bags or other things you may not have time to put away at the moment. In having it all in one spot-it is easier to go back and clear it as time permits. Caution: don’t fill up your landing spot and then make a new one. Take time each day to process what has accumulated there.
New Habits
Set goals; Daniel Hommer M.D., is an expert on brain imaging and motivation. He shared in Real Simple magazine that there is a phenomenon called delayed discounting. If it takes a long time to reach a goal we value that goal less then one we can reach quickly making it harder to get started at all. The solution is to make projects small and rewards immediate. For example, if you clear off a surface, dress if up with something you love keeping in mind that eventually your entire home will be that orderly and beautiful.

Don’t bring it home: Walk away from bargains. Just because you can buy three for the price of one doesn’t mean you should. Ask yourself: Where will I store it? Will it expire? If you find yourself accepting a freebie there’s nothing wrong with putting it in the donation bag straight away.

Put it away immediately: We all have good intentions to do things later. The problem arises when “later” creates piles all over our home. Put things away right away or, at least, the same day. Remember it’s all contained in your landing spot.

Give yourself time: If organizing doesn’t come naturally to you putting things back where they belong is not going to happen overnight. According to Charles Duhigg New York Times reporter and author of the book ‘The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business’, habits are hardwired into our brains. They are our brains way of simplifying our lives, saving us stress and energy. The trick is not to focus on undoing the habit but to replace the bad behavior with a better one. If each time you walk in your kitchen you drop everything you are holding on the counter think of the better habit of putting things away where they belong or using your landing spot to hold them until they can be put away. The reward: clear kitchen countertops.

The Pampered Pantry

It’s no doubt that our pantries play an integral role in our family’s life. They come in all shapes and sizes and they all have one thing in common, they need to be organized in order to save you and your family time and money. With our busy lives the reality for pantries is that they often fall victim to what I like to call “the shove and close method”. If you and your family are prone to putting things away on the first glimpse of a shelf the answer if definition. Yes, definition is what organizing is all about.

The following tips will help reclaim you space and restore order to one of your household’s busiest areas.

  • Schedule the time. Large pantries can take up to six hours to organize.
  • Assemble your tools: a large garbage bin for expired items, a donation box for the local food bank (let go of items your family no longer enjoys before they expire and turn into garbage), a container to relocate all the things you’ll find in the pantry that don’t really belong there, a tape measure, a shopping list for organizing supplies you’ll need once you determine what you are keeping and where it will live and a label maker.
  • Identify your pantry’s “prime real-estate”. These are the shelves that are most accessible to you. Your go-to items should make their home on these spaces.
  • Sort the items you have removed from your pantry into like groups discarding anything that is expired or unwanted. If you find holiday items while you are organizing, set them aside to be stored with other holiday items in a remote location. Most pantries are not large enough for holiday storage and should be used only for food and kitchen items.
  • Take a moment to look at your empty pantry and decide where the things you are keeping should live. Remember, seldom used items should be placed on the hardest to reach shelves and often used items should be very accessible. Don’t forget to consider the door and wall space. Often times wire racks can be added to these spaces to accommodate extra items. At this point, if you are able, it is a great time to make a trip to the local organizing store or discount department store to purchase containers to organize with. If you are unable to make the trip during your organizing time, take measurements to shop with later. Resist buying items in advance unless you are really good about returning unused purchases and know exactly what is in your pantry and what you will keep.
  • My favorite products are baskets that fit your shelves to contain bags of pasta, rice and grains. Baskets are also great to contain bulk purchases of lunch snacks. Label one sweet snacks and the other salty snacks and dump the boxes of small packages into them. Kids love this!! I also love turntables that fit the shelf for oils, vinegars, marinades and condiments (turn tables make items on high shelves accessible). They are also good for liquor, vases and any other tall, round items like airtight containers of flour sugar etc. I use plastic containers with lids and labels to contain small items used for baking such as sprinkles, cookie cutters, and birthday candles.
  • Load up your pantry. Place things according to how often they are used. Heavy appliances should be on lower shelves and seldom used things up high. Avoid using the floor space if at all possible. Having a clean floor helps keep the dust at bay and will make your pantry much more appealing.
  • Label everything and explain to your family the new system so they will understand there is now an assigned space for each item.
  • Hang a shopping list in or nearby your pantry. When you see your running low on a family favorite jot it on the list. This will save a lot of time and money at the grocery store.

Pantries can run the gamut from functional to beautiful and they are one of my favorite things to organize. Once you have restored order to your food storage the key is to maintain it. Avoid bulk purchases if you have a small family. If you have a small pantry and you need to buy in bulk consider storing the bulk items in a warehouse area either in a basement or garage until you need to restock your pantry. When you see your pantry looking disheveled, take a moment to straighten it up and discard any stale or expired items. With a little elbow grease, definition and new habits you too can take your pantry from pathetic to pampered.

Repurpose. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Relax.