“Buying containers will make me organized.”
The right containers will certainly help keep things ordered and neat, but all the containers in the world will not help a space that is too cluttered and lacks a clear purpose. A common mistake that people make is buying the containers before decluttering and sorting an area. Buying containers that are not right for the space or buying too many containers will only make the chaos worse.
“Getting organized takes too much time.”
Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Pick a small area in your home to start with, like a drawer or cabinet. These successes will give you the motivation to move on to something bigger. Set a timer for 30 minutes. You are free to stop once the timer goes, but you may find you want to keep moving forward.
“If I could only get organized this one time, I would be set.”
Wouldn’t that be nice?! It’s hard to completely stop the continual stream of mail, papers, toys, clothes, and other items into your home. Setting up systems to manage these things is a one-time process but it does require daily maintenance. The good news is that if you’ve done a good job organizing, the work to keep things under control is minimal, especially if done on a regular basis.
“Being organized means being perfect.”
The need to be perfect gets in the way of even trying to be more organized. Life is rarely as pretty and perfect as Pinterest. As long as you are comfortable, can find the things you need, and function well in your space, your organizing efforts have been successful. Progress, not perfection!
If you are still having trouble getting started, a professional organizer can help. They can create an organizing plan customized for your home, teach you the skills to stay organized, and provide you with new ideas and solutions that fit your space.
by Michelle Kinney, Bloom Organizing
As a busy mom, I understand the stress that comes with each new school year. Setting up routines and systems to manage multiple tasks is a great way to get everything under control. Here are some ways to help make the school year a breeze.
Avoid communication breakdown.
Designate an area in your home for a family calendar. Any high-traffic area like the kitchen, mudroom, or entryway will work. Assign everyone in the family a color to make it easier to see who’s doing what when.
Get on top of paperwork.
While it may sound overwhelming, the key to managing paperwork is to process it on a daily basis. Keep it simple by setting up an inbox where kids can drop off forms, announcements, sign-up sheets, and anything else that needs attention. If your inbox is set up near the family calendar, important dates and events can easily be added. Once you’ve noted the information, recycle the flyer or take a picture with your phone for future reference. Don’t forget to delete it after the event has passed! A small desktop file with a folder for each child can be used to keep track of papers that need to be referenced on a regular basis. These can include reading tracking forms and cookie sales sheets, as well as any signed forms that need to go back to school.
Manage homework time.
Setting up a dedicated spot for homework will help establish this task as an important part of your child’s daily routine. Make sure it has good lighting, a clean surface, and a comfortable chair. If the spot has multiple purposes, like the kitchen table, set up a homework caddy. A small container containing regularly used supplies including pencils, highlighters, scissors, tape, and glue, can be put out of the way as required. Set a timer to keep homework sessions on track.
Be prepared for after school activities.
Instead of constantly emptying and repacking duffle bags for each school activity, consider keeping multiple totes. A separate bag for sports practice, band rehearsal, and dance class will make getting out the door a snap. As an added bonus, you will eliminate those frantic last minute searches for a missing glove, slipper, or sock.
Make lunches and snack time easy.
Help kids put together own lunches by stocking easy-to-grab items like juice boxes, carrots, and granola bars in separate bins in the pantry, refrigerator, or cupboard. Snacks can be kept in another basket. Make sure things are within easy reach for smaller children. Take individually-packaged items out of the packaging to save space and take stock of inventory quickly.
Be your own museum curator.
A lot of parents feel they need to keep every piece of artwork that their child brings home. If you treat everything like it is special, then nothing is special! Deal with the many piles by keeping it all together in a large bin. Once a summer, go through everything from the past year and only keep the five or six items that your child likes the most. Don’t feel bad about throwing away the others. Chances are your child won’t even miss it, especially if you hang a couple of the more cherished pieces on the wall using a simple shadowbox. Take photos of everything else and create printed books or photo albums.
Pick one or two areas that cause you the most stress and start there. Incorporate other solutions once these are working smoothly. Consider getting your kids to help you when setting up household systems and routines. They loved to get involved and are often more willing to keep things organized if they’ve had the opportunity to provide their input.
Need a helping hand?
I’ve helped many overwhelmed families become organized and learn the skills they need to stay organized.
Check out my current back-to-school special!
We all have some difficulty letting go. Let’s face it, we cling on to things based on ideas about who we were in the past, who we think we are today and who we want to be in the future. Here is a list of 12 categories of stuff, which if you let go of them, will make your life a lot lighter, freer and much, much happier.
1. LET GO OF CLOTHES
Before diving into your closets, take some time to think about your current lifestyle; the things you do today in your everyday world. Write down your current size, favorite colors, and the best style of clothes that fits your personality (tailored, romantic, artsy, minimalist, etc.). Now dive! Get rid of anything that’s outdated, worn out, the wrong color, size, style, a gift you don’t like, or anything you haven’t worn in years like the clothes you call your “someday clothes”. Here’s news! Someday never comes!!! Most important, get rid of anything that has a bad association like the dress you wore on the day you married Mr. Wrong!
2. LET GO OF BOOKS
Is there a Book Fairy in your home who magically adds to your book collection when you’re not looking? Let go of books you’ve already read, never intend to read, were unwanted gifts, are outdated (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.) or have no interest to you. Evict the Book Fairy and be more selective and resourceful when it comes to acquiring book. Think library!
3. LET GO OF KITCHEN STUFF
The kitchen is the hub of most homes and the one room that gets filled the quickest with things we have good intentions of using but don’t: the bread maker that takes up half the kitchen counter, ice cream maker, you name it! Let go of anything you no longer use or have no intention of using, multiples like vegetable peelers…excesses like coffee mugs (how many do you really need and use?), plastic containers, and old food. Yes, you might be surprised to find outdated food in your cabinets and unidentifiable mystery items in your freezer (frozen does not mean forever, 6 month is the suggested shelf life for anything frozen)
4. LET GO OF PHOTOS
OK, face it. You most likely have no idea how many photos you have stuffed in boxes or old albums that you never look at. Gather them all up and I do mean all of them. Go through every photo and toss all the bad shots. You know, the shots of the back of someone’s head, or with no heads, or blurred, or too dark to see, or multiples upon multiples. Or, the photos of an ex-spouse, relatives you’ve never met or people you don’t know at all. Just ditch them.
5. LET GO OF PAPER
No balking here. Toss business cards of people you don’t know, kids art projects, scraps of paper with unreadable information, outdated coupons, solicitations, magazines more than two months old, newspapers more than a week old, receipts (unless needed for tax purposes).
6. LET GO OF THINKING YOU NEED MORE
Until you’re willing to face and look at your possessions with an open mind and a realistic attitude, chances are you will continue to think you need more of anything when in reality you might not. This mindset comes from a place of lack and fear.
7. LET GO OF THE MUSEUM
That’s right. Tear it down. Have you held on to every trinket and historical artifact from your past? Playbills, Christmas and birthday cards, travel brochures from long past trips, hair from some significant long ago hair cut, collections of things you now have no interest in? You hold on to sentimental items, because you don’t want to lose the memories, or because it means a lot. Really, you’re afraid you will lose the love or relationship that these items represent (grandpa’s jacket represents your loving relationship with him). Be realistic, what is the cost of saving all this stuff in space, physic and emotional energy and some memories you would rather not have?
8. LET GO OF DEBT
You might ask where this fits in. Well, if it’s taking up space in your mind, on your calendar or if every time you see someone who you have unfinished business with it’s got to go. If you owe someone money, repay it. If you’ve promised someone you would do something, do it. If you’ve borrowed something, return it. If you’ve taken anything from anyone without just payment, make restitution. Every outstanding debt or unfulfilled commitment or promise will weigh on your energy and your conscious. Clean it up and move on.
9. LET GO OF UNWANTED GIFTS
Do look that gift horse in the mouth. This can truly be challenging for many people, but here’s my very best advise. Admit that you don’t like it and get rid of it. Here’s why. Unwanted gifts will drain your energy and take up valuable space in your home. They actually create an energetic gloom in your home. And, don’t just think that out of sight, out of mind will work because it doesn’t. Your subconscious will know you still have it somewhere. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. You can thoughtful appreciate the gift without keeping it. And, don’t worry if the person who gave you the scary clown paintings notices their gift missing. Trust me, they won’t ask. Let it all go with love.
10. LET GO OF UNUSED EQUIPMENT
This includes obsolete computer equipment, old cell phones, exercise equipment like the treadmill that you never use, outdated electronics, electric hair rollers and foot massagers; dilapidated garden equipment (rusty mowers, worn-out garden furniture, cracked plant pots, broken garden tools).
11. LET GO OF THINGS THAT NEED FIXING
This is a list that can go on forever. Whether it’s shoes that need fixing or electronics, here are the acid test questions to ask yourself. If you were to see any of this stuff in a store today would you buy it? And, if you would, how much would you be willing to pay? If you answered no to the first question, let it go. If you decide it is something you would purchase again, is the price you are willing to pay less than the cost of having it fixed? The truth is, most things are not worth fixing.
12. LET GO OF EXCESS
Truthfully, how many Christmas tree ornaments, candles, coffee mugs (I’m mentioning this twice because every home I’ve ever been in has way too many coffee mugs stuffed into the kitchen cabinets) rolls of crinkled wrapping paper, empty gift boxes, picture frames, pencils and pens, yellowed greeting cards, fridge magnets, towels and bed linens, ….does a person truly need?