Instant Upgrade: Closet

Is your closet looking “meh” and blah? Would you like for it to inspire you to have an awesome, productive day? Keep reading for some quick tips to give your closet an instant upgrade. Also, most of these suggestions are FREE!

  • Get rid of wire hangers. Get those extra wire hangers out of your closet now! They are taking up valuable space and are ugly. And unnecessary. Take them back to the drycleaners where they will be welcomed.
  • Recycle empty shoe boxes. If you’re not using the boxes to store your off-season shoes then get rid of the boxes. I know it’s tempting to hang on to them “just in case” but what are you waiting for? They take up space and collect dust. They are super easy to recycle if you take out anything plastic in the box.
  • Put a small trash can in your closet. Every closet needs a small trash receptacle for clothing tags, paper filler, old tissues, and unnecessary receipts. Otherwise, that trash ends up on the floor making your closet look messy and unkempt. Get a cute, petite trash can to hold the little trash pieces and make your closet look like a boutique.
  • Hang up your belts. Trying to hang a belt on the neck of a regular hanger takes too much time to put on and take off. Save yourself the energy and take better care of your belts by investing in a belt hanger. You’ll be able to see them all together and pick one out in 2 seconds when you’re dressing in the morning.
  • Re-group your clothes. Sort your hanging tops by sleeve length and then by color. Hang your skirts, pants, and dresses together by length. Just creating some uniformity will ease your visual clutter and give you a sense of calm.
  • Get appropriate & adequate hangers. While I love the velvet hangers for blouses, dresses, and trousers there are other hangers you may need to get for specific clothing. Skirts and shorts should be hung on hangers with clips at the waist band. This keeps them from getting wrinkled. Heavy coats need a wooden or heavy plastic hanger. Men’s suits are best hung on a suit hanger to keep the jacket and pants together and wrinkle free. It makes me crazy to see skirts flung over a hanger or multiple items on one. Each piece of clothing needs its own hanger!
  • Adjust your lighting. Maybe your bulb just needs to be changed but keep the lighting strong in your closet. Most of us have lower ceilings so we are stuck with a flush mount. But, there may be more than one bulb in there. Make sure you’ve got enough light so you can see what you’re about to put on. Those navy and black pants can look awfully similar!

Take a few minutes to make a few adjustments and you’ll be on your way to an upgraded closet in no time. Plus you’ll feel better being able to see exactly what you have in your closet. And your clothes will thank you by becoming less wrinkled. 😉

Happy organizing!

Organized Moving Tips so you don’t lose your mind in the process of packing

So moving is not on the top of anyone’s favorites list, especially mine. However, I do love helping people make it a less stressful and a bit more enjoyable. It is AMAZING how a little planning and a little forethought will ease this process tremendously.

  • Start early. Start as early as you can with planning, acquiring boxes, packing, picking your move date, hiring your movers, etc. The last minute is definitely not your friend here and you will pay literally and with your sanity waiting until the last minute. From the day you decide to move to the actual move date, do something every single day to help this process.
  • Declutter first. You will end up going through every nook, cranny, drawer, cabinet, and closet in the process of packing so you will have to declutter. Every item that you pick up to pack, ask yourself:
    • “do I want to move this?”
    • “Will this fit in my new home?”
    • “Do I love this?”
    • “Have I used it?”
    • “Will I continue to use this?”

The more you declutter now, the less you have to pack and the less you have to move. That saves you money with your boxes and other supplies as well as with your movers. It also saves you time packing and unpacking.

DO NOT TELL YOURSELF THAT YOU’LL DECLUTTER AFTER THE MOVE

Packing is THE BEST time to declutter because you are looking at all of your home’s contents with a fresh set of eyes. You are focused on your new home and new space. You get a chance to start over with your favorites and things that are truly special to you. Use this opportunity to focus on keeping the best and starting fresh.

Someone else can use what you no longer need so be generous with your donations and giving to your friends.

  • Pack other seasons first. Whatever season you are NOT in, pack that one first. If it’s June, pack your Christmas decorations, holiday china, sweaters, boots, blankets, flannel sheets, etc. You definitely aren’t going to use these items anytime soon so there’s no question about needing to access them.
  • Label boxes clearly. It’s helpful to know the room the contents came from when you’re trying to figure out which new room to move it. If something is going to be stored, like holiday decorations, add STORE or BASEMENT to the box. The fewer boxes you have to re-move at your new location, the faster you’ll be able to unpack what you actively need.
  • Set up a staging area. While you’re decluttering and packing it is helpful to have a staging area for items that are NOT going to be moved. Whether they are being donated or given away, these items don’t need to be packed so they should be separated from what you’re taking with you. It’s helpful to have these items in a place that has easy access for someone to pick up like near the back door or in a garage. As you are decluttering and packing and you continue to find things that you aren’t taking with you, move it to the staging area. You may need to call friends to pick up or schedule a donation pick up and it’s easy to tell them where to come.

You may even want to have a separate staging area for trash and recycling. Since you are packing early (right?!) you’ll find trash and recycling all over your home. Keep it simple and designate an exterior location for all of the trash and recycling to go so you can focus on the decluttering and packing.

Above all, don’t wait until the last minute. The last few boxes feel like the law of infinite regression where the packing just NEVER ends. You can do this!

Happy packing!

Organizing Your Pantry for Your Healthiest Year Yet

You may or may not have seen the Facebook live that I did with Health Coach Angela Brown last week about how to have your healthiest year ever by getting your kitchen & pantry organized. Here is a link in case you haven’t seen it. Organize your pantry and kitchen for your healthiest year ever

Here are our tips that we shared that will help you meet your healthy living goals this new year.

  1. Toss expired, old, stale food from your pantry. You’re not going to use it because you haven’t used it yet so get rid of it.
  2. Toss tempting, holiday leftovers. This means candy, sodas, sweets, and other foods that are unhealthful. Leaving them around for the kids isn’t fair to them and you don’t need the temptation. 
  3. Put a bowl on your kitchen counter for fresh fruit. This is a much better snack option. Having it visible makes it much more likely to be chosen at snack time.
  4. Clear your kitchen of unused appliances. If you never used that bread maker/ pasta maker/ coffee grinder, give it to someone who would like to have it. If it’s not used regularly, store it in the pantry. Your counters will look much better cleared off and clean.
  5. Match the tops & bottoms of your plastic containers. Toss any unmatched pieces. Also toss anything that is permanently stained or melted.
  6. Or, better yet, make the switch to glass containers.
  7. Clean out your refrigerator door of old or expired condiments. These typically have a lot of unhealthful ingredients so now is a good time to let them go. After you’ve cleaned off the containers you’re keeping, group them together by type before putting them back in the door. That way you have mustards, pickles, dressings, etc together.
  8. Put kids’ snacks on a lower shelf or drawer that they can access easily. 

Try these tips out and let me know how it goes. Organizing your pantry will do you a world of good in eating more healthfully and cooking more easily. Meal prep and shopping are easier when you can see what you have and know where it goes. 

Happy organizing!

Thanksgiving Week Organizing Tips

Thanksgiving week is usually a super busy one so let’s make it a little easier with these easy organizing tips!

 

  1. Write out your Thanksgiving Day menu. Or whatever it is that you’re responsible for making for the celebration. Write down everything you are responsible for from snacks to dessert. Writing it down also helps you remember everything so it’s ingrained in your brain.
  2. Make your grocery list. Look at your recipes to see all of the ingredients you need. Consolidate similar items on your list so that you buy enough of each item. Also, check to make sure you have enough of the right spices. Check the dates to make sure they haven’t expired either. Don’t forget a trip to the liquor or wine store!
  3. Set the table. Assuming that you will be eating at home, go ahead and pull out your Thanksgiving serving pieces, linens, decor, or anything else that you’ll use to decorate or celebrate the holiday. Set the table as early as possible so you can focus on other preparations.
  4. Bring out your serving pieces. Like Nancy suggested on the Thanksgiving Drink Wine Get Organized, use a sticky note to label what goes in each serving piece and lay it on your table. Put the appropriate utensil next to the dish so you’ve got that out of the way.
  5. Relax and enjoy the holiday. I like to have everyone at the table say something they are grateful for that they’ve never said before. It changes things up a little and provides for some fun conversation!

File Folding T-shirts Will Save Your Life

So maybe that’s a little dramatic but it will definitely save your sanity and save your drawer space.

  • With file folding you don’t have to worry about your piles falling over every time you reach for shirt in the middle.
  • It also makes it easier to put clean shirts back whether you have a stack of them or just one.
  • You can fit more in a drawer because you’re utilizing vertical space.
  • You can see your clothes better.
  • It works for all types of clothes.

So what is file folding? Some folks call it the Marie Kondo method but I think it’s a little simpler.

  1. Fold the t-shirt with the shoulders in first
  2. Fold the body to bring the bottom to the top
  3. Fold that in half so that you’ve folded the body of the shirt into 4ths.

I add another fold after #6 so it’s in fourths

When you have a stack, you can place them in your drawer and they line up like files in a drawer.

Give file folding a try and see if it doesn’t change your life, or at least your drawers. 😉

 

Happy organizing!

Organizing Mistakes to Avoid like Friday 13th

While I prefer sharing organizing tips and positive suggestions, there are some mistakes I’d like to tell you to avoid at all costs to get and stay organized.

  • Declutter first. While this seems like a simple task to start with in an organizing project, it is usually the most time consuming and mentally taxing. However, you need to remove what you don’t need any longer before you can create workable systems. I tell clients who are dealing with an overcrowded desk or closet or cabinet to throw out any trash that they see first. It’s usually easier to spot wrappers, empty containers, old catalogs, and toss them first to get your decluttering mojo going. Then you can move on to the items that are going to require some thought. Consider it your warm up time before a work out. 🙂
  • Measure twice, shop once. Do not buy organizing supplies without measuring not only the space where it will go but also what it should contain. If you are replacing hangers, you need to count the number of hanging items first, Yes, each one. Measure a shelf’s height and width and depth before shopping for a basket to put on it. Measure kitchen utensils before buying drawer dividers.
    You will save yourself so much in terms of money, time, and frustration by not having to make multiple trips to buy and return excess items.
  • Don’t buy because something is On Sale. This applies ANYTHING that is on sale not just clothes, shoes, and fun stuff. Think carefully before stocking up on food, cleaning supplies, gifts, cards, holiday decor, candles, shampoo, makeup, etc. These “great deals” have a way of taking over our storage space without much notice and then we tend to forget that they’re there. The next trip to Target to buy toilet paper turns into a crazed shopping spree and you forget about the shelf/ closet FULL of toilet paper/ paper towels/ shampoo that you already have waiting for you at home. Ask yourself the following questions before you stock up on what seems like a great deal:
    • Do you have enough already?
    • Do I really need this?
    • Do I have an imminent use for this?
    • Do you have a place to store it if you buy it?
    • Do you know how soon you’ll be able to use it?

I define being organized as knowing what you have and where it goes. Having too much, even of a good thing, crowds your space and doesn’t allow for new experiences to be a part of your life. Shop carefully and thoughtfully so you don’t have to spend time later decluttering it or returning what doesn’t serve you.

Happy organizing!

(any) Holiday Decor Organizing Tips

Normally you don’t see tips on holiday organizing except in reference to Christmas but there are holidays throughout the year that need to be organized as well. While there may not be as many decorations as Christmas, other holidays signify changes in decor: Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, etc. They need their own place as well so you can find them at the appropriate time.

For any holiday that includes its own decor or entertaining paraphernalia, you need to designate a specific home for keeping it when it’s not in season. It could be a shelf in a closet or a bin (or several) with a lid–whatever suits your needs. You just need to group it all together by season or occasion.

There is nothing that puts you OUT of the holiday season faster than not being able to find all of your decor when it’s time to use it. Having them all together will save you frustration as well as time and money not buying duplicates.

I personally prefer clear plastic bins for myself and for clients so that you can see what’s inside. However, colored or patterned bins can be fun, too. Again it’s your choice and needs to meet your needs.

Label the bins with the appropriate holiday. It’s easy to label a plastic bin with white duct tape and a marker which is what I use all the time. If you need to change out the bin, the tape comes off easily. You can also use a label maker if you have one.

I also like using bins with lids so that you can stack them out of the way on higher shelves in your closet when not in use. Once the season rolls around you just pull out the appropriate bin and decorating is easy, fun, and stress free, the way it should be!

Happy organizing!

Organizing Your Pantry: Canned Food

We’re celebrating National Canned Food month at the end of the month by sharing with you the best ways to store canned food in your pantry. Modern technology is great that it allows us to store food without refrigeration but you still need to create a system to keep track of what you have and not waste time buying duplicates.

  1. Check expiration dates

Foods going into a can are marked with a “Best By” date upon packaging. Typically it is 2 years from the package date. Past the expiration date you’ll notice color and texture changes in the contents.
While it technically probably won’t hurt you, I don’t recommend taking any chances.
If you’re cleaning out your pantry, check all of the dates and only keep the cans you are going to eat that haven’t expired. Unexpired food that you’re not going to use can be donated to a food pantry.

  1. Group like foods together

The easiest way to keep track of the canned food in your pantry is to designate a specific shelf or two to store them and grouping like foods together. The categories I group together for clients are: beans, vegetables, fruits, meat, and tomatoes. You can further subdivide if necessary like grouping your white and black beans together or your crushed tomatoes with your tomato sauce.
When you have them grouped together you most importantly know where to store them. When you are checking your inventory, it’s easy to take glance at one or two shelves to determine what you need prior to heading to the grocery store.

  1. Make them visible

Your pantry is like your closet: you should be able to see what you have when you open the door or walk in. You want to limit the amount of digging around you have to do in order to find what you’re looking for. Deep shelves are great for storage until they’re not; food can get lost in a dark shelf.

Use stair step shelves to stagger the height of your canned goods. Wire shelves on existing shelves allow you to double the usable space. Use lazy susans (turntables) , especially in corners, so you can take advantage of deep shelf space. What to use all depends on how your pantry is configured and what your specific needs are. Measure your shelves before you buy anything to make sure a potential solution will fit.

 
Here are some of my favorite pantry organizing tools, especially to help with storing canned goods.

Coat Closet Organizing Tips

The coat closet is one of the most utilized yet neglected areas of the home. We expect it to hold a lot of items (coats, leashes, hats, umbrellas, various shoes & boots) yet builders rarely put more than a bar and a shelf in there to get the job done. So what’s an aspiring neat person to do? Pull in some smart organizing tools to store and contain yet provide easy access to what you need on a regular basis.

Here are some ways you can make your coat closet one that you’d be proud to show off.

  1. Clear out what doesn’t belong there. It goes without saying that Neatsmart is going to ask you about everything you have in your coat closet to determine if this is the best place to store it. Do you really need your tennis racket and previous years’ taxes in here? Is this the best place to store them?
    The coat closet is usually pretty small so you want to limit it to the items that you really need there like, um, coats. Anything that you need on a regular basis needs the easiest access and things that you’re not immediately using, like out of season items, can be stored in a labeled box with a lid.
  2. Get good hangers for your coats. I usually recommend getting wooden hangers for coats because of their weight. If you’ve got littles, it’s worthwhile to get smaller hangers for their outwear as well. If you don’t have enough hangers nothing is going to get hung up. If you have uniform shapes and sizes, the visual appeal and eye candy are strong Jedi mind tricks to coax coats back on hangers.

    Baskets and wooden hangers go a long way to keep this coat closet in order.
    Baskets and wooden hangers go a long way to keep this coat closet in order.
  3. Use hooks. These can be individual hooks attached to the wall or an over the door rack with hooks. These attach without nailing anything in and are immensely useful in bathrooms as well. I love hooks because they require minimal effort to put things away like dog leashes, scarves, tote bags, and hats.

    Over the door rack with hooks hold a variety of coat closet items.
    Over the door rack with hooks hold a variety of coat closet items.
  4. Use over the door shoe pockets. This is a great option if you have very little space and/or children who have a lot of hats, gloves, headbands, shoes, etc. Also, these are great in many areas of the home besides storing shoes. You can even label the pockets so it makes putting items away easier. You probably will have to choose between this one and #4 but everyone’s organizing solution has to work for their needs.

    Over the door shoe pockets are great in coat closets for storing lots of small items & making them accessible to the littles in your home.
    Over the door shoe pockets are great in coat closets for storing lots of small items & making them accessible to the littles in your home.
  5. Baskets are always a good idea. I <3 baskets of all shapes and sizes and use them as much as I possibly can. They are just great for corralling like items together and making the whole closet look better. Just make sure you measure before you buy to know the right sizes to get.

    Pretty baskets organize sunglasses in this closet
    Pretty baskets organize sunglasses in this closet

    So what are your tips for Coat Closet Organization? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

Happy organizing!

First and last photographs courtesy of Tara Carter Photography