Uncomplicate your gift closet

Welcome to week 2 of #uncomplicateyourholidays where I’m sharing suggestions for short tasks you can do NOW to make the holidays easier this year. Each week has a different task that I guarantee will make your holidays a little less stressful and a lot less overwhelming. Who else would like to #uncomplicateyourholidayseason?

Question for you:  do you shop ahead of time for gifts? I do 🙋🏼‍♀️

Yay! It is great to purchase gifts when you’re traveling or when you see something you know a friend or family member would love. 

Some of us like shopping for gifts when they are on sale which may not be close to the time we are giving it.

The problem with this is forgetting what you’ve bought because you threw it in a closet that’s disorganized and cluttered. Because out of sight is out of mind and if you don’t see it you tend to OVERSHOP. 

For this week, to help you #uncomplicate your holiday season I want you to focus on your gift stash/ closet

  • Pull all of the intended gifts out and make sure they are still in good condition
  • If anything is no longer an appropriate gift, give it away
    Sometimes we purchase for an occasion and then it doesn’t feel right for whatever reason—maybe the recipient outgrew it or changed jobs. I’ve seen many gift closets where someone has stocked up on baby gifts and forgot about them until the kids were in school. 🙈 It happens, don’t sweat it! Just donate it to make room for other timely, appropriate gifts.
  • Group gifts together by category (hostess gifts or food or beauty) or intended recipient before putting back in place.
  • If you know who the gift is for right now, add a stickie note to the outside with the intended recipient’s name and occasion such as “Laura b-day.” Don’t give your brain something else to remember–write it down!

I’m willing to bet if you shop ahead of time for gifts, you haven’t cleaned out your stash in a while or maybe even ever! Now is a good time to organize your gift closet (or cabinet, box, or wherever you keep your gift stash) so that you can find the right gift at the right time. 

There’s nothing worse than finding that perfect birthday gift you bought a week after their birthday!

Plus you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to end of year gift giving because you’ll already know what you’ve got!

If you’re eager for more tips and a solution to make the holidays easier, keep reading to see information about my bundled solution called Holiday Smart Solution Bundle !

Uncomplicate your holiday cards

In my mission to uncomplicate your lives by organizing your homes, I can’t help but think about the end of year holidays that are coming soon. It seems like every year we plan to do better and start earlier and every year we are still stressing, shopping at the last minute, staying up ’til midnight to wrap gifts, and just feeling WAAYY overwhelmed. 

And this is supposed to be a happy time!

For the month of October, I am going to give you a short task suggestion to help you uncomplicate your life so you can enjoy the holidays this year. Each week has a different task and I guarantee will make your holidays a little less stressful and a lot less overwhelming. #uncomplicateyourholidayseason

AND I’m giving you specific steps to get it done. 

For this week, to help you #uncomplicate your holiday season I want you to focus on your old holiday cards

Getting cards at Christmas is great; it’s always fun to see pictures of friends and family and how they’ve changed. We love hearing from people we haven’t seen in a while. It’s fun to display these cards on our mantles, archways, windows, and bulletin boards during the holiday season.

But…We all struggle with what to do with them AFTER the holidays. Here are some option and none of them is wrong.

  • Throw them away. It’s ok, you’ll get another one. Plus the person who sent it to you has probably already thrown away the one you sent her. It’s not a priceless treasure.
  • Keep them in a box with your Christmas decorations. They will accumulate year after year. However, it can be nice to look at last year’s cards when you’re putting up this year’s decorations.
  • Store them in a book, scrapbook style. This is dependent on how many you receive each year and how much time you have to commit to this after the holidays.
  • Use the card as a gift tag. Cut the card in half and use the image as a gift tag for future gifts.
  • Use the image to identify friends. Take a picture of the card and use it as that person’s Contact photo in your phone. Then throw it away.

Those extra copies of the cards that you order “just in case” you run out?  You can let those go, too. Save a couple in your memorabilia box but you don’t have to keep that half full box of  cards from that you may have overestimated the order quantity.

Just start now so you don’t have to worry about it when you have even less time!

If you’re eager for more tips and a solution to make the holidays easier, see my post on the bundled solution I created called Holiday Smart Solution Bundle ! 

Uncomplicate your appliance manuals and warranties

organized appliance manuals

Paper paper everywhere. Are you like me in being surprised that we still have so much paper? The more our lives migrate to the digital, the more paper we still seem to have to face.  As in junk mail, flyers, bills, statements, estimates, agreements, marketing letters, and don’t get me started on political ads in our mailboxes. 😣

Some paper is wonderful like love letters, kids’ drawings of their family, and marriage certificates. 😊 Some of it is awful like speeding tickets, explanations of benefits, and boring tax documentation. ☹️

But managing and organizing all kinds of papers is a necessary and very present part of our modern lives whether we like it or not.

The trouble is organizing it can all be overwhelming and anxiety ridden. Do I need to keep this? What if I throw this out? Will I need it again? 

I am here to help you answer the often asked question of “how long do I have to keep this” and this week I am just going to focus on one aspect of household paperwork:

Appliance manuals and warranties


I am frequently asked what to do with all kinds of papers. You may remember an earlier post this year that was all about mail. I want to answer ALL of your paper questions so let me know what you’d like to see covered by clicking here and dropping me quick paper question.

To help you #uncomplicate your appliance manuals, here are my tips and suggestions:

  1. Designate a location for them. They are not something you need to access often so they don’t need to take up prime real estate. They can go in a filing cabinet or in a bin on a high shelf. The location just needs to be labeled clearly. The bin in the picture is a multipurpose bin from The Containers Store and works perfectly for this purpose.
  2. Toss any that aren’t needed. These accumulate fast and technology changes quickly, too. We recently cut cable so there was no reason to keep any of the documentation pertaining to our cable provider. Go through your current inventory and make sure you toss any that you no longer need especially because you don’t have the device any longer. 
  3. Toss any in a language you don’t speak. Many times there are multiple manuals in multiple languages provided with appliances. Scan what you are about to keep and make sure you keep only the instructions that you need in the language you prefer.
  4. Toss excess papers with the manuals. And by excess I mean additional marketing or informational material you don’t need. The excess papers do not need to take up space in your home.
  5. Use folders.  If you have a lot of papers that pertain to one specific appliance like a refrigerator, put them in a folder. Name the folder with what it is and the date when you purchased it, where, and how much you paid. If you ever have warranty questions or replacement/ repair issues you will have to answer these questions.
  6. Toss the store receipts. They are printed on thermal paper with ink that fades so don’t bother keeping it. That’s why Step #5 is important for the big ticket items.
  7. Consider NOT keeping them. While I think it’s important to keep the manuals, instructions, and warranties for your big ticket appliance purchases (refrigerator, stove, washing machine, etc.) you may want to consider tossing the manuals for smaller, less expensive appliances. Once you know how it works, do you really need to keep the manual? Plus, most are available online if you ever need to research them in the future.   

Uncomplicate your cooking

organized refrigerator
….by getting your refrigerator organized. Raise your hand if you’re tired of cooking every single meal every single day! 🙋🏼‍♀️ And I love cooking!

But every day, day in and day out, it can be overwhelming and frustrating to come up with yet another meal…that everyone will like and not be too time consuming and not a repeat of what I made yesterday. And if your refrigerator offers nothing but sadness and overwhelm it’s even harder to get inspired to cook.

Plus going to the grocery store is not as enjoyable as it used to be. Some of us miss samples!

Being organized allows you to focus on solving the real problems of the world like what to make for dinner. NOT being organized makes any task worse.

Opening a refrigerator and not being able to find what you need or not knowing what you have is the worst. This is a huge obstacle for even wanting to prepare yummy and healthful meals. If it looks depressing, it’s going to feel even worse.

So I am here to make the task of cooking a little easier for you and a lot less complicated by sharing tips on keeping your refrigerator organized. 

How to un-complicate your refrigerator
  • Toss expired condiments. Empty out your refrigerator door with all of the jarred and bottled condiments and check all of the expiration dates. If it’s past, out it goes. 
  • Toss any expired food. While you’re getting rid of expired condiments, toss out any old leftovers, fruits, veggies, milk, and anything else that has gone bad. If it doesn’t pass the smell or sight test, let it go. 
  • Group like condiments together. I love pickles and mustards so have several different types in my refrigerator. It’s so much easier to keep track of them when they are stored next to one another. It’s one less thing to remember!
  • Decant beverages. By decanting, I mean take them out of the external packaging whether it’s a box or plastic rings. Then you can line them up any way that works in your refrigerator. 
  • Use clear containers. If you have the pleasure of dining out and happen to bring back leftovers for later, switch the container from cardboard or styrofoam to clear glass with a lid. This makes the storage air tight and visible. Seeing what you have is half the battle!

I was introduced to a great resource for minimizing ALL food waste whether in your refrigerator, freezer, or pantry. Click here to read the Guide to Food Storage for Healthier Eating
It has all of the details on proper food storage and handling including what can be stored on the counter and what needs to be refrigerated and frozen.

Getting your refrigerator organized is the first step to un-complicating your cooking. Once you can see what you have on hand, you can start to build a better cooking repertoire and menus that are enjoyed by everyone.

Uncomplicate your closet…in 5 minutes for free!

I love to save time….almost as much as I hate wasting time!! 

And I love to share the sneaky tricks to saving time and getting organized without realizing it. Easier is always better, at least when it comes to clearing clutter and creating order.

So today’s tips are all about how to #uncomplicate your closet and these will take you than 5 minutes. I promise.

  1. Clear out all of the empty hangers in your closet. I’m talking about the metal hangers from the dry cleaners and the store hangers that held the dress that you bought that you no longer need. Unless there is something specific that lives on that hanger, get rid of it. Put it in another closet or give it away.
  2. Clear out all of the empty boxes. These can be shoe boxes, jewelry boxes, gift boxes, or delivery boxes. I’m looking at you, Amazon! Unless you store something in that box, get rid of it!
  3. Clear out any trash on the floor or shelf. Toss all of the old receipts, packing lists, and tissue paper. 
  4. Get rid of excess shopping bags. You probably don’t have as many of these because of online shopping but you can still look through your closet for any remaining. 
  5. Throw out and recycle dry cleaners bags. You know how I feel about these. 😩 Because it’s August you probably don’t have a lot of them in your closet but what you do have, you don’t need. They can be recycled at most grocery store chains.

See what I mean? Tossing these items should take you less than 5 minutes  unless it’s been a loooong time since you’ve last done it. 

Doesn’t your closet look better? And you didn’t have to make any decisions about whether to keep or toss. You just got rid of the stuff you know you don’t need! Yay, you!

Easy and painless is so much better, don’t you think?

Uncomplicate your inbox

Email went from a delightful novelty 20+ years ago to the mainstay of our personal and professional lives. Couple it with social media and you’ve got a major reason for why people are distracted and overwhelmed every time they look at their phones and computers.

TOO MUCH INFORMATION 

Decluttering your email inbox is a great activity you can do when you’re waiting in line or just sitting in the air conditioning trying to cool off. Deleting old, no longer needed messages is great but what if you just had fewer to deal with in the first place?

This week is a great time to #uncomplicate your email by unsubscribing to emails you don’t read, no longer want, or didn’t sign up for in the first place.
 

  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in just 5 minutes!
  2. On your computer, I think it’s helpful to resort your inbox so you look at it with fresh eyes. Sort by “from” to see all your messages grouped by sender. 
  3. If you’ve got a lot from a real person, you may just want to select all from that person and delete.
  4. Notice the ones from stores, restaurants, magazines, or services you don’t use and start the Unsubscribe process.
  5. It is required that if you have people sign up for a newsletter, there has to be a way to opt out. Most companies put this at the bottom of the email with the word “unsubscribe.”  The text can be very small and sometimes hard to find but it’s there. 
  6. Delete the message once you’ve unsubscribed. It’s easy to delete a lot if you’ve sorted by sender. Click away on unsubscribe until your alarm goes off.   You’ll get through a lot more than you realize.

The best part of this exercise is that you can see results almost immediately. Your inbox number is smaller than when you started and you’ve got the hang of unsubscribing down. You’ll get fewer emails in the future and have to do this task less and less. 💪🏻

Challenge yourself this week to declutter your inbox AND unsubscribe from unwanted emails. You’ll feel much lighter and have less junk to look at (literally!). 

Uncomplicate your makeup

Being in the dog days of summer (which I just learned has actually nothing to do with dogs) a lot of us are probably not wearing as much makeup every day. Couple that with working from home, not traveling or going out much and I have found less desire to go through a whole daily facial routine.

Which makes now the perfect time to #uncomplicate your makeup and all of the myriad of products you have for your face. Let’s say goodbye to wasting our valuable time sifting through multiple creams, potions, tubes, and jars to find just the right one.

In the process of uncomplicting makeup you’re going to find you’re also letting go of the doubt and anxiety associated with seeing reminders of money spent on products that promised the moon and delivered less than stellar results.

Start up some tunes or your favorite podcast and make haste to your bathroom area, armed with your trash can and cleaning products.

  1. Take everything out of its current location. Whether it is all in a drawer or makeup bag, just get it all out on the counter in front of you so you can really see what you have.
  2. Toss old makeup. This is easier said than done but if you haven’t worn it since Christmas, chances are you never will. It doesn’t matter if it’s expensive Chanel lipstick, or a tube of not quite finished Great Lash mascara. I put together a Makeup Expiration Dates timeline for your reference here.
  3. Group like products together. Put your eye shadows, lipsticks, foundations, BB creams, etc. together. 
  4. Find appropriate containers. I like to store vertical items like mascara & eye pencils vertically in a repurposed candle container. Julep cups are a lovely option, too. What works for you will depend on what cosmetics you have and your storage options. 
  5. If you have drawers, divided drawer liners are excellent for categorizing and storing similar products together. I’ve used these for several clients and they work very well.  
  6. If you are storing items on the counter, this is a pretty and functional container to keep the essentials together but organized. 

The ultimate way to uncomplicate your makeup, though, is to invest in products that you know look good on you that you love. I advise getting your makeup done professionally at a store that sells the brands you like. I know this may not be possible right this minute but it is always wise to seek the counsel of experts especially when it comes to your face.

I also recommend seeing a dermatologist and aesthetician to take the best care of your skin. Invest in these services so you can allocate your budget wisely and not be swayed by the marketing promises of miracle products. They may work wonders but maybe just not for you. I have fallen prey myself to the claims of youthful, unwrinkled, perfect skin only to be disappointed by results inversely related to the amount of money I spent. 

The less you buy, the less you have to organize so invest wisely, whether it’s for your face, body or home. 😊

Uncomplicate your loungewear

Today, your loungewear is pulling double and triple duty. It may be the same as your pajamas, workout clothes, AND your work uniform! 🤣

As wonderful as it is to have more relaxed standards for what we wear everyday, keeping it all organized is essential for our mental health, sanity, and peaceful home life. Nobody wants to see a pile of possibly clean (?) clothes and have to select based on what smells the least bad.😝 

Uncomplicating your loungewear, like any other clothing you have, shows a level of self care as well as power in exerting control in a chaotic situation. 💪🏻

Seeing folded or hung clothes in order soothes your eye and relaxes your brain. 💆🏼‍♀️

Here are the steps to #uncomplicate your loungewear: 

  1. Pull out all of the clothes that YOU determine to be loungewear. It could be sweatshirts, t-shirts, dresses, leggings, shorts, etc. Whatever you would put in that category should go in this pile.
  2. Review each piece of clothing and toss anything that is in sad shape:   
    –clothes with holes or stained beyond repair
    –clothes with non functioning elastic 😳
    –clothes that you just don’t wear anymore, even for lounging or sleeping
  3. Create category piles with what remains: long & short sleeve tops, shorts, pants, etc.
  4. Fold each pile.

Now comes the fun part!
Designate a specific place to store these clothes. What I see most often in clients’ closets, and the reason why I created a system for uncomplicating your loungewear, is that nobody creates space for loungewear.

Loungewear morphs into pajamas or merges into workout clothes.

It doesn’t have a specific home. And anything that can be stored anywhere is stored nowhere. 

You don’t know where to put it away so you don’t. And there it sits in a nonspecific drawer or shelf. Or top of a dresser. Or floor. 😟

It’s a jumbled mess of randomness…..until today!

Select a specific place to store your loungewear. It doesn’t matter if it’s a drawer (or 2) or basket(s) on a shelf. Treat your loungewear like your other clothes with specific purposes. Give it a place in your closet so you know where it goes. 😄

Uncomplicate your pantry: zones

I hope you enjoyed part 1 of the #uncomplicate your pantry series. My goal is to give you the steps and tips for creating a beautifully organized and uncomplicated pantry. 

Did you toss all of your expired packaged food?

I’d love to hear how long it actually took you. Some organizing tasks seem to take forever and some take less time than you expect. When you put your mind to it, though, that feeling of accomplishment is intoxicating!

Part 2 is all about creating zones for the contents of your pantry. What does it mean to “create zones?” Think about grocery shopping and how each aisle is organized by category of food. You are essentially re-creating the grocery store categories in your pantry.

However, it’s customized for you. For example, in the store, peanut butter and bread are usually sold on separate aisles but you typically use them together. I’ve created a zone, sometimes with a basket or bin to contain them, for peanut butter, almond butter or other nut butters, jelly, jam, honey (depending on how the client eats it), and bread. This is to make it easier and….

uncomplicated

No more searching multiple shelves or cabinets for the foods that go together. 

You store like foods together and thus a zone is born. 

Here are some examples of zones I’ve created. You don’t need to create all of these. These are just examples that you might have in your pantry.breakfast foodspastagrains & legumescanned foodsmeal starterssauces & condimentschipscrackerskids snacksadult snacks (usually stored on a higher shelf and contain yummy dark chocolate 😉)barspeanut butter, bread, & spreadbottled water or canned drinkspaper productsbaking suppliesbirthday suppliessmoothie ingredientsoils & vinegarsThis week I want you to create pantry zones based on the foods you have in your pantry and how you cook and eat.

Group like foods together.  You can use my list above to help you get started.

It’s all about you so if you don’t bake, you don’t need a “baking supplies” zone. 

If you’ve got a household with food allergies or sensitivities, creating zones for specific food types would probably be helpful.

The goal here is to create the zones that work for you so that cooking and shopping are easier, less complicated for you. The fewer places you have to look for foods, the better your life will be. 🙂

Uncomplicate your pantry: expired food

This month’s #uncomplicate is a series with the steps for you to uncomplicate your pantry one week at a time. Smaller steps are better anyway because we all have so much going on right now. I think we can all agree that taking a few minutes each day or week is certainly more doable than trying to get it all done at one time.

And the pantry needs attention year round due to its constant activity. We are constantly adding to and taking from it yet it’s frequently neglected because it just seems to take FOREVER.

This week I want you to focus solely on uncomplicating your expired foods in the pantry.

Take out each can, box, or package of food and look at its expiration date. The expiration date is typically 2 years after it was packaged. If you haven’t used it in that time, chances are you will not.

Look for the following:canned foodspastarice & other grainsmeal starters (Hamburger Helper, Rice a Roni)saucescondimentsteahot chocolatecerealoatmealnutsIf you can’t find a date, think hard about when you got it. If you’re struggling to remember, it’s probably time to toss it.

And speaking of tossing, that’s all you can really do with expired food. You can not donate it to a food bank or shelter. 

If the food is in a glass container, you can clean it out and recycle the glass. Or use it for storing other food once you’ve cleaned it out. Otherwise, just throw it away.

While you’re at it, throw away any packaged food like crackers, rice, pasta, nuts, etc. that has been opened and not securely closed. It is most likely stale and attracting critters. 😟

I’m going to give you steps in the coming weeks on organizing your pantry so you don’t have to deal with food waste in the future. Make a promise to yourself to do better about this and move on. 😉