Organizing tips

Three Steps to Organize Any Space

Start Small.

Just take one little baby step toward your organizational goal. Perhaps today it’s your car, pantry or your nightstand.

1. Empty 

Simply clear the space of all its contents.  If you are working with a very large space you can do this step in segments, working only with a given section of the room.

2. Sort and Purge

Decision Time! If you don’t love it or use it, toss it! Less really is More. Clutter creates physical and mental clutter. Your sort piles may include:

“Trash”

“Shred”

“Donate”

“Sell”

“Relocate”

“Belongs Here”

3. Replace

Put all the items that you love and use back into the space and you are finished!

Store Items Where You Use Them

I call this concept “First Point of Use.”  Storing items near where you use them, saves time, effort, energy and perhaps even sanity. Well, let’s just say, it keeps things simple and I like simplicity!

Years ago, I was visiting a family member and I simply could not find the trash bags because they were stored 6 feet away from the trash can, on the other side of the kitchen. I shared the “store-it-where-you-use-it” idea and the bags were relocated closer to their first point of use, saving steps and saving time.

More recently, I was organizing for a client that was seeking kitchen/pantry organization.  As I observed how the family used/returned items, it became clear that the cereal boxes needed to be stored directly at the pantry entrance, as opposed to the very back. This offered ease of use for the kids to quickly grab and return the boxes.

A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place.

Once you have identified where items belong, work as a team to put everything back where it belongs immediately after use.  At my house, I frequently say “clean and clear” which means “put everything where it belongs, we’re about to eat dinner.”  Do it daily; do it together! Don’t assume all the responsibility for your home’s organization, it robs your children of learned responsibility. Get them involved; delegate!

Living in chaos can be overwhelming! But living a life of order can be freeing! You CAN do it!

Every Client Receives A Custom Organizing Action Plan

Elevated service begins with your initial interaction with Peace By Piece Home Services.  After an in-home Needs Assessment, a customized Action Plan, outlining our prescribed approach and methodology for achieving your organizing goals is provided to each client.  

Organizing kids' rooms

The singular, most important thing you can do to motivate them to keep their room tidy is to get them to own it. If they can take ownership, I believe it will be a game-changer!

 

Tell your kids their room is like their own little apartment. It is. Now help them (again) get it in order so they can keep it that way. Here’s what I do:

 

  • Empower kids to make wise choices.
  • If kids are allowed the freedom to choose what stays, what goes, and even how to arrange and decorate their room, they will better care for and respect their belongings. The more “power-to-choose” you delegate to them in the area of their personal belongings, the more they’ll want to maintain order.
  • That’s exactly what happened to me with my middle child. He is creative and inventive and actually likes order, but he was consistently struggling to keep his stuff off the floor. Suggesting the idea of his room as his “little apartment” seemed to help him take pride and ownership of the appearance of his space. His floor has been “clean and clear” (for the most part), with a little coaching and reminding.

 

Get rid of stuff:

The common problem in every kid’s room I have ever seen is too much stuff! Their room is overflowing with all kinds of toys, books, clothes, shoes, accessories, collections, and just plain trash! Often there is a mix of clean and dirty clothes on the floor, along with a mixture of all the items mentioned above. If their room is in chaos and disorder, they won’t want to spend any time in there and neither will anyone else. Get rid of surplus stuff. They probably can’t keep their room tidy because there are far too many things in it. Help them with this mass exodus of junk by setting aside an afternoon to liberally purge by category:

 

  • Clothes: Get all the dirty clothes out. Pile all the clean clothes on a clear “palette” (the bed). Sort through each article and make a decision. If it fits and if it is loved, place it in the “keep” pile; If not, toss it into their donation box. Don’t get hung up on how much you paid for it; it no longer works for this child so it must go. If possible, hang all shirts and tops. It is helpful for kids to visually see everything they own if it is hung, ideally low enough for them to reach independently. Put smaller clothing items in labeled drawers.
  • Toys, books, games, shoes: Working with one category at a time, put all items in a pile in the center of the room and quickly sort: donate, trash, keep. Anything that is broken, has missing pieces, is outgrown, or unloved has to go. Only keep what is loved and used. Your child will find it much easier to care for the remaining items and keep the room tidy after this big purging process.
  • Paper: Most paper in a child’s room can go straight to “file 13”; the trash. However, there are those “treasures” that they’ll want to hang onto. In my home, we do two things with the “keep” papers. We’ll hang them or put them in their 3-ring binder of keepsakes. They choose what is kept and whether it is displayed or stored. The wall space acts as a natural boundary limit. If there’s no additional room to display, then something needs to come down. I also suggest using the furniture in the room to create physical boundaries for their items (i.e. when the lid on the toy box no longer closes, it’s time to get rid of some things and no new toys can enter the room).

 

The last thing they need is MORE. But I’m going to suggest it anyway! Add a trash can, a laundry basket, and a donation box for items they no longer want. Don’t worry, you’ll discover plenty of room for these potentially bulky items after you reclaim this space, but they can also be placed out in the hallway near their room.

 

Bottom line: Encourage your kids to “own” their space and give them the freedom to make decisions about their stuff. Give them guidance and boundaries using existing furniture in the room to set physical limits and “maximum capacity” for their stuff.

And lastly, give grace. Progress over perfection. The goal is to empower our kids not to control them.

 

Happy organizing and happy parenting!

 

organizing kids' artwork

Let’s talk about kids’ artwork.

The amount can be overwhelming! What should you do with it all? Most school paperwork can just be recycled but what about the treasured pieces? It can add up over the years, especially with multiple kids in the house, as we have.

This is what I do: I let my children decide on the “keepers” and display them on their bedroom walls using thumbtacks or frames until the space runs out. Then I pull down the old art to make room for new, incoming artwork.

The older treasures can either be recycled or placed in a three-ring binder for safekeeping and easy viewing.

Be sure your kids put their name and the date on their papers so you’ll know who painted it as well as how old they were at the time, which makes it more meaningful. A printed name and date are so helpful!

If you don’t have the time to put it all into notebooks, at least store the nicer, quality pieces in bins to protect them from being damaged until you can frame them. 

I know a friend who had two of her son’s large pieces of artwork framed in large matching matted frames and hung them in her dining room. They look lovely. What pride the child must feel to have their masterpieces on display!

Remember you can also give their artwork as gifts to the grandparents.

May all the projects, papers, and artwork your children produce be a blessing to enjoy and display – not clutter!

Laundry

Time yourself: How long does it take you to fold (or hang) and put away all the clothes in the dryer?  Probably 10-15 minutes. 

The point of this exercise is to realize how little time it actually takes.  We can do anything for a short period of time.  Fight procrastination with the fact that it will only take a matter of minutes.

Make it a game: The is a game called “search and rescue.”  Find all your clothes and put them where they belong in 7 minutes. 

Changing clothes:  Do you tend to drop or toss clothes when changing? Wherever you notice piles accumulating on the floor, that’s where you need a basket or hook to “catch” the clothes. 

Paper

Like dishes and laundry, If you take care of processing your paper regularly, you won’t have to devote a large chunk of time to deal with the pile-up.

Eliminate as much paper as possible. 

Advertisements and junk mail should go in the recycle bin immediately!

Establish a processing system for all your current incoming paper.

Gather. Sort. Contain.

1. Take action – To Pay, To Read/Respond

2. File (only essentials)

3. Recycle 

4.Shred

5.Reference

Most everything can be accessed online. 

I personally don’t keep copies of anything like paid bills so no need to scan or shred. 

Establishing a routine and carving out time to process your paper will prevent pile-up and alleviate overwhelm

I have observed that incoming paper tends to land on your kitchen table.  This is probably because it is one of the closest horizontal surfaces as you enter your home.

I recommend adding a piece of furniture near the front door or near the kitchen table for “command central.”  An ideal piece would have drawers and cabinets to discreetly contain your incoming paper. Consider assigning an “inbox” for each family member. It’s perfectly fine to shove your paper in a basket or drawer if you regularly make time each week to take action on the accumulation. 

School work/Art work:

I have purchased a larger plastic bin to contain incoming artwork.  This should be purged annually and “keepers” can be hung on the wall or stored in a three-ring binder in page-protectors (labeled with the school year and age). Reviewing his “masterpieces” with daddy should be an enjoyable experience for Ian at the end of each school year. His framed artwork would make a great gift for his grandparents!

folding clothes

Easily see what you own  and maximizes space with “file folding” File folding is storing clothing in rows rather than stacking one item on top of another and storing  horizontally.
The benefits are 1) items can easily be seen. 2) An item can be retrieved without messing up the others 3) more items will fit into the space.
 
Shirts were added to this drawer and there’s still room to spare. 
 
It amazes me how excited kids get when order is introduced to their spaces. This particular kid loved it so much, he’s kept it this way! Let’s teach our kids organizing skills they can carry with them into adulthood. Their future spouses will thank us!

pantry

Our food pantries contain all kinds of things. If yours feels too congested or too small, identify opportunities to relocate non-food items elsewhere. 
 
Store like categories together just as the grocery stores do. 
 
Contain and label.