The Organizing Secret No One Wants to Hear

We all welcome a magic bullet, a hack, a shortcut that takes something hard or time consuming and makes it easier and fast tracks our success. What’s the secret to parenting, a happy life, or…an organized home? I’ll pass on weighing in on the first two, but I do have some things to say about the last one. This organizing secret may not be popular, though. It may not be what you want to hear. And, I don’t particularly love sharing it. That’s not true. I do love it, but I tend to tread lightly here. Any guess what it is?

Most organized homes have common components to them…effective systems, daily maintenance, healthy habits. But THE number one thing that makes getting and staying organized easier is to HAVE LESS STUFF.

So, why would no one want to hear that? Well, it could be interpreted as a directive, or a judgment…on decisions you’ve made, money you’ve spent, lifestyle, habits, priorities, emotional attachment to things, etc. But, it’s not. Why? That wouldn’t be helpful and it’s often not true. Also, people often judge themselves enough with others doing it, too. So what is it? It’s simply an objective look that acknowledges having less = less time and money spent on the purchase and maintenance of said stuff. Less stuff = more open space. Less stuff = less opportunity to create clutter. And, less stuff = more ease. And I want ease for you.

It’s also just simple math. If you compare the amount of space you have to the amount of stuff, and stuff > space, that equals excess. And excess can be organized at a snapshot in time, but it’s very challenging to keep organized over the long haul. Adding one more thing to a taxed overflowing space and the system falls apart.

You many be thinking easy for you to say. You don’t know MY situation. True. There are many reasons for stuff… lots of kids, multiple hobbies, a tiny home, no pantry, not enough storage, or inherited stuff. I don’t want to diminish the reality that some circumstances make it harder to “just own less” than others. However, if we come back to the notion that, emotions aside, less stuff = more ease, we can at least more easily see the attractiveness in scaling back.

Desire is one thing, but commitment and taking action is another. Commitments can be hard. But, really, is there a decent alternative? Continue to bust at the seams? Continue to have stuff take up your precious space, maintaining it, fixing it, moving it? Continue to feel burdened for…ever? At some point, cut your losses. EVEN THOUGH your stuff cost $, EVEN THOUGH you thought you’d use it but you didn’t, EVEN THOUGH it was on sale, let it go because it’s not serving you.

So, if there’s even a tiny part of you that thinks that you have too much stuff and you’re ready to part with some things, now what? First of all, start small. Get rid of a few ______ (fill in the blanks) and see how it goes. If you’re still standing ( you will be!), dig a little deeper. There are levels to decluttering and we can only tackle what we’re ready for. Step aside and come back in an hour, a day, a week or a month. When you’re ready for more, you do more. Whenever your mind resists you…”But I paid good money for it.” Or “But it was a gift”, remember your goal of ease, and remember that memories are not in things. They’re in you. All that being said, by all means keep your grandmother’s china. Keep what you value.

This isn’t about minimalism, which often gets a bad rap. A middle ground is available! You can have a life that doesn’t involve deprivation or lack, but includes owning what you want, need, use, and have space for. There’s no universal answer as to how much is too much, not enough, or just right. But, some clues you may have too much are….feeling stressed in your environment, having trouble finding things, piles that just grow bigger not smaller, time consuming clean ups. So, chip away one item at a time, one decision at a time. Move quickly, without overthinking. You will make progress. It’s inevitable. To quote the wise Joanna Gaines from her book The Stories We Tell “letting go reveals what else our arms were made to carry”.

New Year, New You?

A new year is here, ready or not. Some of us may be welcoming the opportunity for a reset, while others may not feel ready. The new year can bring with it the weight of expectation…for a new and improved you, they say…for goal crushing, they say. Wait, who is they? And, was there something wrong with the old me?

I’m particularly reflective on the concept of resolutions, not only due to the time of the year, but because of my profession as an organizer. Two common resolutions people have include getting in shape and getting organized. Yet, the vast majority of resolutions made are broken by February. As one small cog in a much larger wheel within the organizing space, I can only do so much. But, I do feel compelled to play a part in encouraging a mindset that will set you up for, not a new you (the current one is pretty great), but one that feels capable of making progress in your life – in whatever area you feel compelled to focus on.

calendar depicting a year for new years resolutions

Progress is always a worthy endeavor. There are many schools of thought on the “right” way to express these desires…Resolutions? Goals? Intentions? Words of the year? I don’t know that it matters all that much, as long as it’s authentic to you and is an honest reflection of what you are looking to accomplish.

Yet, there are are ways to frame up your desired growth that set you up for success, and other ways to avoid – ways that lead to discouragement and throwing in the towel. Though I’m not an expert in the new year’s resolution space, I have noticed parallels between what trips people up in terms of desired progress on their organization journeys, and what trips people up regarding progress on a bigger scale.

Here are 5 tips to help you kick off the new year on the right foot.

1. Be clear what you actually desire vs. what you think you should desire.

Many people have new year’s goals that are financial or business growth focused. But, if you feel more of a tug toward something else – even something that may appear frivolous or not as “productive”, listen to that voice. Who cares that someone has a goal to build their business to a certain level? That’s great for them, but your focus on things like being a more joyful or present parent, for example, may not be what the world appears to value, but may be more in line with what you value. And, thank goodness, you get to define what matters to you.

2. Beware of right goal, wrong time.

If you are currently in a season of a demanding work or travel schedule, caring for a newborn and other kiddos, health or relationship challenges, etc., this may not be the best time to pursue large bucket list items – ones that may take a great deal of time, focus, dedication. You don’t want to set yourself up for burnout or feeling inadequate. Neither of these things is welcome in your mindset and life for this year.

Choose something that fits where you are now. If you’re crunched for time, avoid a goal that requires additive time, such as finding an additional 60 minutes to get to the gym. Focus elsewhere, such as selecting a topic you want to learn more about, and listen to a 20 minute podcast daily while you’re doing other things like household tasks or running errands.

3. Identify your end goal AND daily habits

Does the following sound familiar…You’re excited! You’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano and THIS is the year it’s going to happen! In January, your end goal felt soooo far away…12 whole months to achieve this? Great! You’ll get around to starting soon. Before you know it, it’s April and you’ve been busy with other things. But, next month, you’re convinced, you’ll carve out time to acquire this new skill. There are still 8 months left – plenty of time! Soon it’s Oct. and you start to question everything…maybe I can’t do it, maybe it was the wrong goal, maybe I can never do it. You’re discouraged.

What’s the issue? You identified your end goal, but neglected to identify and employ regular consistent habits that set you up to achieve your end goal. The end goal was fine, you just need to SCHEDULE IN (just like important appointments) regular practice sessions of, say, 15 minutes per day. It all adds up! 15 minutes a day is over 90 hours a year, certainly enough to learn a new skill!

big goals are achieved one step at a time

4. Language and mindset matters.

Instead of saying someday you’ll be a runner, for example, start identifying yourself as a runner now. You’ll be more likely to think and act out from that identity. You can still identify as a runner without being an Olympian! Kick the comparison game to the curb. It doesn’t matter that your run may be alternating between a slow jog and a walk. Progress is progress.

5. Employ habit stacking.

I love this concept. It’s simply pairing a desired new habit with a current habit. For example, if you’re working on flossing consistently, put the floss next to your toothbrush. When you brush your teeth, you’ll see the floss and start to make a habit of flossing after you brush.

Last year, I started the habit of a daily walk. Now that I’m accustomed to that, I’m stacking on to that habit with a new habit of doing some exercises when I get home. Following through becomes easier because I’m already wearing workout clothes from the walk, and I’m in active mode already.

Also, in 2022 I had a daily goal to read 2 pages of a particular lengthy book. A mere 2 pages per day taking approx. 10 min. was enough for me to finish the book! Since I already have the habit of daily reading, I simply swapped the book out with another one for 2023, taking advantage of my existing habit, without needing to find any additional time in my day. What habits do you want to start this year?

This is achievable for everyone! No goal is too small. You have what you need to make the most out of the year. You can, concurrently, hold the belief that you are enough now, while also looking to explore new interests or progress in specific areas. Let’s make it a great one!

Get Organized for Summer – With Kids!

With summer upon us, your pace may be a little slower, which can be just what we all need to recharge and connect. Yet, it can also be a time when we feel the most disorganized. Routines change (or fall apart completely), maybe you’re still working, but perhaps the kids are home all day. More meals in the house and more little feet. On one hand, we want to make the most of this time and do all the things, and on the other hand, we long for some ease. I’m confident you can find that sweet spot, and here are some ideas to transition into the season and get organized for summer.

1. Transition Clothing & Gear

Before shoving winter gear into a bin or closet to be unearthed months down the road, take the time to evaluate first. Do the items still fit your kids? Are they in good shape? If not, no use storing them for months. Donate or sell them now. Also, swap out the sleds for beach toys so you can have what you need for that spontaneous summer outing right at your fingertips.

2. Make Grab and Go Totes

It’s helpful to make themed portable totes that have us ready to take advantage of some spontaneous summer fun. Make a grouping of craft supplies to bring out to the yard or to a park for a change of scenery. Or, make a s’mores tote to grab for that summer backyard bbq. Another idea is a driveway tote for bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Makes clean up fast and easy, too! Here’s my favorite container:

3. Assess Your Needs

Did Jr. outgrow his bike from last year? Is the trampoline still in good shape, and will it get used? Or, perhaps you have summer clothes that you’re ready to part with. Consider collaborating on a neighborhood garage sale. Or, do a donation run to your favorite organization.

4. Get Water Ready

If you have access to a pool, lake, or nearby splash pad, you’ll benefit from having key water and sun essentials at the ready. I like using these pouches for grab and go sunscreen, goggles and bug spray. Throw some labels on them, store in a closet or cupboard at home, then toss in a beach tote and you’re good to go!

A large basket is perfect for beach towels. Consider keeping them by the door, or in the same area as the sunscreen and other warm weather essentials. Other ideas to get organized for summer include beach toys, life jackets, and swimwear.

5. Keep Some Structure

Yes, I know, summer is the time for free-flowing days. But, it doesn’t take long to realize that both kids and adults will maintain a little more sanity with some amount of structure or routine. Kids like to know what to expect. And, you can definitely build in flexibility, as this can be as loose or tight as works for your family.

Keep it simple! Some examples: 1. Get dressed and make beds before heading out to play. 2. 20 min. of reading before screen time. 3. Adjust your work hours to accommodate the summer flow, but keeping them consistent every day. 4. Afternoon chill time to read or nap. 5. Have a daily outing where you walk somewhere or drive to a park, beach, or other attraction. 6. Kids choose 1 chore per day from a basket of choices. 7. Friday movie night. 8. Picnic Thursday.

6. Make a Summer Bucket List

Summer goes so fast, so make it intentional! Involve your kids in the fun activity of creating a summer bucket list! Everyone in the family can contribute their ideas – anything from an early morning sunrise, picking flowers, making popsicles, or going to the beach.

7. Wrap Up the School Year

We’ve been there – opening the backpack in the fall to find an unidentified science experiment (is/was that a grape?!). Let’s take the time now to ensure those backpacks are cleaned out and ready for next fall, or for summer use. Run them through the wash, so they’re fresh and ready to go.

It’s also the perfect time to go through paperwork and keepsakes from the school year, filing away the special ones, and recycling the rest. I make these keepsake bins, so let me know by shooting me an email if you’re interested!

school files and keepsakes
school papers

There you have it! You’ll be organized for summer in no time, free to enjoy all the beauty of the season!

How to Save Money by Getting Organized

There are countless benefits to being organized – from freeing up time to greater peace of mind. Let’s focus on what you have to gain financially from getting organized. Here are the top 5 ways being organized saves you money.

1. No more overbuying

When you’re organized, you have a “just right” amount of items for your space. You’re less likely to forget about the things shoved in the back, and more likely to see what you have. When you see what you have, you don’t inadvertently buy something you already own. See the connection? This really adds up over time!

2. Less waste

Using containers is a great best practice. When we define the amount of space we’re willing and able to allocate to a category of items, we are defining what is enough.

For example, when we designate a certain container for snacks we are essentially putting a boundary in place. A boundary that says this is a sufficient amount of space to house the snacks I want to keep in my home at any given time. It’s clear to everyone where to go to find snacks, where to put them back, and what you’re running low on. All this translates into less food waste, and a higher likelihood of using up what you have before buying more.


3. Less shopping

We know that when we have a big goal, we don’t get there by a wish and a prayer. We get there by having a plan, and chipping away, a little every day, at committing to new, healthy habits that are in support of our goals.

One of the culprits of disorganization is an excess of stuff. And, a large contributor to excess stuff is shopping. It’s all too easy to scroll and click that buy button. This is not a “shopping is bad” stance. I like a new thing now and again, too! But, this IS about bringing more mindfulness to what is often a mindLESS act of shopping. And, with a true commitment to the goal of getting organized, let’s face it, less stuff coming in can get you there more quickly.


4. Sell Unused Items

We’ve heard all the criteria variations to determine what to keep and what to part with….keep only what you use and love, keep what you would pay good money for again, keep what fits in your space, etc. However you arrive at identifying what items you can sell is great!

It’s easier than ever to make money on these items…facebook marketplace, poshmark, online or in-person yard sales, consignment or antique stores. This can really add up! Word of caution, though: Be realistic about what you are actually going to take the steps to get sold. You don’t want these things sitting around for months as clutter. You want to get them out the door asap!

5. More Time

More Time = More Money. When you’re organized, you have more time. You with me? You have MORE time because you spend LESS time looking for lost items, re-arranging, cleaning, and shopping. And, what is your time worth? I know you! You value time! Time is precious. So why not take the steps to realize the freedom that comes with getting organized. It’s so worth it!

8 Do’s And Don’ts To Kick Clutter For Good

The holidays tend to bring on next level busyness, stress, & overwhelm, all of which can be exacerbated by a cluttered home. It’s extra important now to pull back on our environment…make it extra calming, err on the side of less rather than more.

I’ve seen lots of approaches to clutter, and some seem to work better than others. I developed a list of do’s and don’ts not to be prescriptive or imply a right or a wrong, but to be tactical and helpful. To give you a guide that works, help you use your time effectively, make lasting progress on something that matters, and to be that list you pick up when you’re trying to get the motivation to start – especially when you don’t really feel like it or know how to begin.

At the end of the day, cluttering should not be a dreaded chore. Quite the opposite. It can be incredibly freeing, without much thought or effort once it becomes a habit. Here are my 8 Clutter Do’s and Don’ts:

1. DO Keep What You Love. You will need to make choices and define priorities, but absolutely keep what brings you joy! If you have the space for it and love it, it’s not really clutter! 1. DON’T forget you still have the memory. The main value isn’t in the item, but in the memory surrounding it.
2. DO Keep What You Have Room For. Let a container be your parameter. Keep what fits, part with the rest.2. DON’T Overfill your spaces or containers. It’s very hard to keep an overflowing space organized or to see what you have.
3. DO Give everything a Home. Golden Rule of Organizing! Clutter is often comprised of things that don’t have a home, so give them one today! 3. DON’T do the “Clutter Shuffle”. Moving clutter from one spot to another doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s inefficient, doesn’t address the problem, and just shifts it elsewhere for you to deal with yet again.
4. DO consult an outside perspective. Ask the opinion of someone you trust, who can help reframe how you look at your things and can support you in the decluttering process.4. DON’T consult a “yes” person. You know, the one who will want you to keep everything and won’t nudge you in the direction you’re committed to.
5. DO declutter frequently. There’s always another layer to uncover once you’ve addressed the low hanging fruit and realized “I’m ok. I got rid of xyz and it feels great. I don’t miss those things and I’m ready for more”. 5. DON’T ever stop. Decluttering is most effective when it’s a recurring habit, a mindset that says “I’m committed to sticking with this and I’m making everyday choices that will set me up for success”.
6. DO set a timer. It’s a great motivator. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish in 20 min. 6. DON’T make the timer too long. You’re better off setting two 15 min. timers than one 30 min. timer.
7. DO set a specific goal. Declutter one drawer, find 10 things to donate, find 5 things to throw away, or declutter as much as possible with a 15 min. timer.7. DON’T make your goal too lofty. Yes, it’s great that you want your whole house decluttered. But, if you think and move room by room, you’re more likely to start AND to establish the momentum needed to accomplish big things.
8. DO act now. Remove donations/trash out of your home immediately. Once you’ve made a decision about an item, stick to it.
8. DON’T delay. If you set too many things aside, you’ll delay progress (“I’ll see if Great Aunt Martha wants this” or “I might try to sell that”). The main priority at this point is action and progress. You can do it!

How Much Should I Own?

People often want to know how much of something is the “right amount” to own. It could be pairs of shoes, toys, sheets or towels – any number of things. In reality, there’s no right or wrong. What feels like the right number for one person won’t necessarily feel that way to someone else. I like the motive behind the question, though…being open to pare down and resisting excess. In reality, getting and staying organized is definitely easier if you own less. But how much less?

Here are some guidelines and questions to consider as you work toward determining your right amounts.


  1. Do you currently find it hard to keep on top of toy pickup?
  2. Are toys invading multiple areas of the home?
  3. Do you have lots of toys, yet your kids tend to play with the same few?

If you responded yes to these questions, it’s an indicator that you could benefit from paring down. After you’ve gone through one round of editing, ask the questions again. Repeat cycles of editing down, then asking the questions. Ask until you’re able to answer “no” to the questions.

There may be some other changes worth pursuing, as well. For example, to prevent toys from spilling over into multiple areas of the home, you’ll need to set some boundaries with the kiddos. Make it easy for them by providing places to put the toys (labeled containers, shelves, etc.) only where you want the toys to live.

Toy rotation is another great option if you’re not ready to part with something permanently, but want to limit choices and clutter. Kids will appreciate (and use) what is available to them without getting overwhelmed.

When I’m organizing toys for a client, I come across several common categories. These include balls, play-doh/slime, vehicles, building, dolls, craft supplies, workbooks/coloring books, books, stuffed animals, puzzles and games.

2. Clothes and Shoes

clothes and shoes

What someone random on the internet declares is an ideal number/type of clothing items may not work for you. She may have a corporate job, whereas perhaps you’re a stay at home mom. Or, she may live in a colder climate and need all the jackets, whereas you live in a warm climate, and that just doesn’t make sense for you. She has different interests, lifestyle, priorities, budget, clutter threshold and available space. Instead of targeting an arbitrary number, consider:

  1. How often you do laundry. We do laundry daily (again, no right or wrong) – that just works best for us. So, no one in my family has a need for 12 pairs of socks. Instead, I like to consider the duration of a typical vacation. If we travel for 1 week, it’s helpful to own/bring 7-9 pairs of socks, but we wouldn’t have a need for more than that.
  2. How much space you have. Maybe your desired number of sweaters is 10. But, if your space only accommodates 3, that’s probably your right number. Let your space parameters guide you. It’s an impersonal way to help you make decisions of what to let go of.
  3. What you love and what fits. If something doesn’t fit you, isn’t in good condition, or you feel meh when you put it on, consider parting with it.

3. Linens

organized linen closet
  1. Bath Towels: People often have more than their share of raggedy towels. They’ve lived out their usefulness as your primary bath towels, but are kept…just in case. For rags. Or backups. Or, if you get a sudden influx of guests. There are exceptions to this, but 2-3 rag towels would typically be sufficient. I like to keep two bath towels in each full bathroom, and 1-2 backups per bathroom in the linen closet.
  2. Beach Towels: 1 beach towel per person in your household, plus a couple extra, should typically be enough.
  3. Sheets: You can get away with just one sheet set for a master bed. You may want to own 2 sheet sets for a child’s bed – either to swap out seasonally, or in case a set gets dirty. Nobody wants to wait for sheets to wash and dry in a middle-of-the-night emergency.

When in doubt, put something aside for awhile, and see if you need it. You’ll get to your right numbers. Let the space you have be your guide. Then, make maintenance easier on yourself by employing a 1-in-1-out rule. You’ll know it in your gut when you’ve hit your “just right” numbers.

*Post originally written for Living Simply Pittsburgh, posted here:

10 Daily Habits to Stay Organized

I’ve written about this topic before, and I will again. Why? Because it’s a good one. Because it’s so impactful. And, because I want you to feel the lasting peace of an organized space. Organizing takes maintenance. Sometimes people balk at this, but I assure you, it’s preferable to the toll it takes and the time it takes to be disorganized.

Employing 10 daily habits will get you well on your way to maintaining organization. I know what you’re thinking…10?! How could I ever…? You can! One at a time, in small chunks, doing what you can until the once foreign feeling actions become habits! And habits don’t feel burdensome. They’re automatic! They happen without effort. And, most of these take merely minutes to do. Here we go…

1.Make the bed

It’s fast and gives you a sense of accomplishment for starting your day off on the right foot with some forward momentum.

bed is made

2. Clean the kitchen every evening

If you focus on one space, focus on this one. Set a timer for 10 min., round up some helpers if you have some, and knock it out before heading to bed.

3. 1-in-1-Out

Your kiddo brings home a trinket from a party? Great. Find one thing to exit your house. It will become automatic, it’s quick, and it is super important in guarding against the slow and unconscious accumulation of excess.

4. Finish what you start

I know, distractions happen. You get legitimately pulled away from what you were in the middle of. This will help…break the bigger elephant into smaller chunks of work that you can wrap up in a short period of time. Then, in a few hours, if you have more time, start that next piece.

5. Pack bags for tomorrow

backpack is packed

This could mean a laptop and work supplies, or backpacks with permission slips and a library book for the kiddos. You’ll feel more on top of the day knowing that the unexpected 20 min. search for the library book is behind you, and you have what you need.

6. Spend 10 min. on email

In the evening, set a timer for 10 min., and whittle that inbox down. Don’t just read them, but take the action needed so you can file them away and be done with them.

7. Handle mail from the current day

Mail is received daily, and is best handled daily. If it piles, it’s just too easy for our mind to think the pile is just where the mail goes. Toss catalogs and junk mail into the recycling immediately. The rest can be sorted into bills to pay, other items to action, or things to file. This should take less than 5 minutes.

8. Review your calendar for the next day.

Transportation needs covered? Any conflicts/double bookings, or things that need to be communicated to other family members? A quick glance usually does the trick. It’s just a quick once over to get prepared for the next day.

9. Celebrate progress.

Take a quiet moment to acknowledge progress, to recognize that any of the above steps you’ve done that day moved you forward. You didn’t get to the whole list, but you gave away 3 things? Great! You’re decluttering.

10. Identify 2 priorities for tomorrow

Not necessarily the little daily stuff, but what priorities (longer term) are you going to move the needle on? Have some upcoming travel? Spend 15 min. and look for a place to stay. You’re not planning the trip in one sitting, but you’re keeping that ball rolling, a little at a time.

If you can focus on these 10 daily habits, you’ll feel more prepared for the next day. And staying organized is largely about habits, preparation, and combatting clutter accumulation. Don’t let your head make this out to be bigger than it needs to be. A little at a time is all it takes. You can do it!

Organizing Your Mental Space

Undoubtedly, our mental space and our physical spaces are related. One impacts the other. If our physical space is in order (we know where to find things, it’s not cluttered, it feels calm and peaceful), then it’s easier for our mental space to reflect that sense of peace. If, however, the physical space is in disarray, it’s all too easy for the mental space to follow suit. So, how do we avoid this? First off, I’d advocate for the obvious…get organized in your physical space. However, if you’re in a place where that’s challenging, it’s still possible to get a handle on the mental space.

1. Consume Intentionally

The focus here isn’t just on the most obvious – purchases or food. It’s on consuming in the broader sense – particularly social media, the news, or intrusive or repeating thoughts. We want to consume what will improve our mental state, not drag it down into doubt, fear, despair. You know what this includes, and what it doesn’t.

Your mental state can’t be decluttered if it’s swirling with images, jammed with to-do’s, just remembers, and in a state of constant rush or catch up.

2. Establish Systems

calendar organization

If your mental state feels cluttered, check in to see if you’re relying on “me, myself, and I” too much. Yes, you’re capable, talented, a master multi-tasker, a keeper of all the things! Yet, you’ll likely get to a point where it’s all just too much. You run yourself ragged, start to forget things and drop balls (no, not because you’re a bad mom/wife/friend, but because it’s just too many balls for one person).

You could delegate some of things filling your mind with clutter. Or, stop doing the non-essential things. And, you can also employ systems to help you. This could mean to-do lists, schedules, or calendars. It could mean regularly scheduled family meetings to get everyone on the same page. Or, it could mean establishing some routines – getting the kids and yourself on a consistent morning, after school, and evening routine.

3. Get Out

This can mean various things…get out of your head. Get outside. Get moving. Get, as in, a verb. Mental and physical movement helps you shake things up and re-gain perspective. It may feel like the last thing we feel like doing. But, likely just what we need.

peaceful nature

You may be at a time in our life that is just busy – work, kids, activities. But, you can still guard your mental space against excess and burden. It’s your right, and it’s part of taking care of you, because only then can you care for others. You’re not destined to a mental state of clutter and chaos, but peace and joy. It’s yours to claim!

3 Reasons Why a Seasonal Deep Clean is a Must

Blog post written by guest Aimee Lyons of

A seasonal cleaning is just so invigorating, especially as you prepare for the months ahead. But there’s more to it than feeling like you have a fresh start for the new season. For example, if you’re planning on selling your home, deep cleaning is a great way to get your home listing-ready for the market. Regardless of whether you plan to sell or stay, there are countless mental and physical perks to giving your home a deep cleaning every season. 

Here are three reasons why you should add deep cleaning to your seasonal to-do list.

Cleaning Means Comfier Living Conditions

The first benefit of deep cleaning is that you can enjoy a clean and germ-free home. Shampooing the carpet and wiping down every surface of your house keeps dust, pet dander, and pollen in check. Experts recommend using household and vacuum filters with HEPA protection for the best air quality possible.  

Of course, if you don’t have the time or energy to handle a whole-house cleaning, hiring a professional is an excellent alternative. Whether it’s a one-time deal or a regular appointment, choosing a housekeeper to do a deep cleaning is worth the investment. Plus, they often use their own cleaning products, so you’ll need to keep fewer cleaning supplies on hand. 

clean kitchen

Deep Cleaning Helps You Ditch Stress

Having clutter in and around your home keeps you from relaxing. Piles of stuff can cause stress and affect your day-to-day life. From triggering guilt to distracting you from daily living, clutter is a hazard. 

Spending time purging your closets, garage, and other storage spaces can help you feel refreshed, unburdened, energetic, and can boost your mood. Plus, you can donate your unwanted items to charity, which increases those feel-good vibes. Some organizations will even pick up your donations at your curb. This makes downsizing a no-brainer. If you don’t have enough bandwidth to tackle a full-home declutter and organization, connect with Making Space Organization to give your home the attention it needs. 

Get A Workout In

Another way deep cleaning supports your health is that it gets you moving. From climbing up and down the stairs to cleaning your bathrooms to vacuuming rugs in each room, you’ll move a lot—and burn calories—while cleaning. Of course, to get full fitness effects, you’ll need to put a bit more effort into working every muscle group with cleaning exercises. Put on your favorite upbeat playlist, and get in your cleaning workout!

Whether you’re dancing your way through vacuuming or digging through piles of clutter to donate, seasonal cleaning is an all-around positive tradition to incorporate into the changing of the seasons. 

Bedding Storage to the Rescue

Many homes, including mine, have limited storage for linens. This presents an opportunity to get creative with how and where we store linens, as well to be intentional with how much we own. Storing bedding is often a trouble spot, largely because of the shape and bulk of the items that we’re trying to stack (er, shove) on shelves that are overcrowded.

So, first, edit down. Anything stained, worn, or unused can go. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to group like with like and contain. The best container I’ve found for keeping things like off-season bedding, oversized comforters and blankets, and other bulky items are storage bags from Chaos Clear. There are several options on their site, so check them out! They’ve given me a code to share with you for 10% off! Use makingspaceorganization10.

I have found several advantages to using these bags:

1. Space

These bags can hold a king sized comforter, multiple sheet sets, and bed pillows. I keep 4 full sized blankets in mine! Your shelves will stay much neater, too, as the bulkier comforters and blankets that don’t sit well on a shelf are great contained in the bags.

2. Usability

The bags are lightweight, easy to use, offer protection from dust, dirt, moisture & critters, fit well in the width of a typical linen closet, and have a great little window that allows you to see the contents without getting the bag down from the top shelf to open it up.

3. Quality

The bags are made of high quality fabric and PVC material. They’re washable and sustainable.

4. Value

At under $15, they are a great value, and well worth the price tag. I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know over on Insta at making_space_organization. Enjoy!

4 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers Considering Fixer-Uppers

*Guest post written by Ray Flynn,

Buying a home for the first time can be stressful. It’s a huge investment. Luckily, homes that are in dire need of repairs go for much less. Fixer-uppers are ideal for renovation and easy decorating. If you’re considering buying a home that needs some TLC as your first property, here are some tips that will help with this decision. 

When you’re ready to seriously declutter and organize your home, connect with the pros at Making Space Organization. Call 616.915.5481 today!

Look into Zoning Laws

The first step you need to do is try and figure out what part of your town or city you want to live in and see if there are any fixer-upper homes in that area. You need to make sure you look up the zoning rights for that area, especially if you’re already thinking about a certain home. 

Zoning restrictions will give you more insight about the home and what you’re allowed to do to the property legally. For example, if you have your sights set on a fixer-upper in a historic district, construction projects may be limited. You can visit the municipality’s website or arrange a meeting with a staff member to learn more about zoning laws in your area. 

Work With a Contractor

Once you’ve decided on a fixer-upper home, hire an architect or contractor to walk through it. Family Handyman recommends having a list of things that you want to be inspected beforehand. It’s important to get a professional’s opinion before you start working on your house for a variety of reasons. They can let you know if the home you’re interested in is in your budget and if it’s worth buying. If your list of projects includes creating a wrap-around porch or a second bathroom, they can let you know if these are doable.


Decide Which Projects to Pursue

Have you decided which renovation projects you’d like to prioritize? Start by making a list. Then figure out what needs to be fixed immediately and what can be delayed. Rockwell Tools recommends making repairs prioritizing repairs that will fix any safety hazards first. Make sure your budget aligns with the repair costs you’re estimating. If you don’t have a huge budget, you can renovate your home with DIY repairs:  replacing doors, refinishing floors, and repainting walls. Make sure you have the right tools (including jigsaws, drills and sanders), and these projects will be a lot easier to complete. 

More involved projects that include structural repairs, electrical wiring, or plumbing changes will cost more of your budget and require professionals. Another project that will likely require hiring a pro is window repair and replacement. The cost of these services will depend on which type of window is being repaired or replaced. To find the right window repair services, always ask for customer referrals and make sure they’re licensed and insured. 

renovated home

Figure Out if You Want to Sell

Once you’re finished with your renovations, you may think the hard part is over. But, now you have to decide if you want to live in your newly renovated home or sell it for a profit. What should you consider before you make this big decision? Look at the state of the housing market and how much you spent on renovating your home. 

If you’re currently in a buyer’s market, we recommend staying in your new home for a couple of years. If you’re in a seller’s market, get a second opinion from a residential appraiser and consider putting it up for sale. A residential appraiser will be able to walk through your home and let you know the worth. Once you get a final estimate, you can decide if you want to put it on the market.

Buying a fixer-upper as your first home can make the home purchasing process easier in some ways. A fixer-upper home usually costs less than other homes on the market. You will also gain valuable experience fixing it up. Just keep these tips in mind, and you’ll soon have success with your own fixer-upper, whether you decide to live in it or sell it for a profit. 

5 Tips to Maintain Your Organized Pantry

Pantries come in all shapes and sizes. We make a pantry out of what we have, which may be a cupboard or a shelf. Regardless of what your pantry looks like, once it’s organized, you want to keep it that way. Right? It’s discouraging to spend the time organizing your pantry only to find it gradually (or, perhaps seemingly overnight) attain a state of chaos once again. Here are some tips to keeping your pantry organized:

1. Continue purging

You likely purged when you first organized your pantry. But, guess what? It’s ongoing. Food continues to be consumed and replaced, with things coming into and going out of your pantry perhaps more than in any other area of your home. So, it’s no wonder that going through and editing out what’s expired and unused, or consolidating open bags needs to continue as well.

2. Re-evaluate decanting strategy

Maybe you don’t decant at all. If that’s working for you, more power to you. Or, perhaps you went all in and decided to decant everything. If so, evaluate how you’re keeping up with it. If the cereal decanters are nearly empty, with the box of cereal sitting beside it, it’s ok to be real with yourself and choose a different system. Or, buckle down and give it another try. It’s a habit change. Re-evaluate so you can tweak in a way that works for you.

labeled food items in pantry

3. Employ First-in-First-Out

Set up a system that makes it easy for your household to use up what you have before opening something else. It’s helpful for several reasons: 1. Food is less likely to go bad, because we consume it more quickly, 2. You’ll save on grocery spend, 3. It’s easier to know/see/remember what you have. One system is to have a snack bin containing anything that’s opened. Then, a separate back stock bin contains any snacks that have not yet been opened. It acts as a replenishment source. Works great!

4. Update Categories and Labels

You’ll likely find, over time, that you may want to adjust your food categories (and, associated labels). Perhaps you have one container for snacks, but it’s overflowing, and you have room to add another. Go for it! Make those little tweaks as an alternative to throwing in the towel.

5. Be Intentional With Purchases

We’ve all been guilty of impulse buying. No shame there. But, for the most part, if you look first to your current inventory for meal planning inspiration, you’ll maximize use of what you have and minimize needed purchases.

Also, your systems can help you know what to add to the grocery list. Specifically, check that backstock bin first to see if you have more of something already on hand. If not, add it to the list! Keeping your pantry organized doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Employing a couple simple systems really works!

7 Organizing Strategies to Stay On Course

Decluttering and organizing isn’t inherently complicated or challenging. It doesn’t take formal training or life experience. Even children can take part. But, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily feel easy. It takes consistency, motivation, and looking that overwhelm in the eye and just starting.

We sometimes see people’s end states and think we could never achieve that. I love the story about Michelangelo, when asked about the difficulties he must have faced sculpting the masterpiece David. He said you just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David. It was a process, right? He couldn’t just press fast forward and get to the end. Same with organizing. It follows the same step by step approach of doing a little bit at a time.

It’s worth the persistence. Unlike many things, such as raising children, where it may be the 547th time you say something that it clicks, you’ll see and feel the positive results of organizing and decluttering right away. The weight will start to lift, your outlook will improve, and the momentum will build.

Ideas to help you keep at it:

  1. Adopt the philosophy that tomorrow is a new day. If you don’t get to what you wanted to today, don’t beat yourself up. Put it on the calendar (don’t skip this step), and try again tomorrow.
  2. Set yourself up to be successful. Organize when your energy is the highest. Get the kids occupied elsewhere. Gather your supplies. Carve out 20 minutes. Set a timer. These little steps will help get you going, but don’t wait for the perfect time, because there won’t be one. Just start.
  3. Do a little every day for one week. 20 minutes a day for several days in a row will get you further than you think. Don’t underestimate little windows of opportunity that present themselves.
  4. Keep the end in mind and remember your why. More peace? More free time and less time picking up yours and other people’s stuff? Less overwhelm?
  5. Keep it simple. No need to overcomplicate this. If you’re decluttering, strive to make decisions quickly…donate/sell, garbage, or keep. Then, give everything a home. Even if you don’t have fancy matching organizing containers, the fact that you’ve pared down and everything has a home is a huge win.
  6. Take breaks if you feel discouraged. Get some fresh air, grab a snack, reset that timer for somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes, and get back to it.
  7. Start in a low emotion space. Start with a small space that has items that you have no emotional attachment to, such as a junk drawer. Leave the photo organization for another day.

Just like with most good things in life, organizing takes patience and takes doing something that may be hard for you. But, the results will be worth the persistence. I can’t wait for you to have more time, money, peace, harmony, and to love the space you have!

Baby Steps to Organization

One of the top organizing woes I hear from people is that they’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. I hear you – thinking of getting a whole house organized CAN be overwhelming! But, we’re breaking it down today and kicking overwhelm away! There’s a method to the madness of getting from point A to point B. Here are 4 baby steps to organization.

1. Start Small

I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s the same approach that works for anything else overwhelming. The key is to start with a baby step – something that won’t take too long, and is achievable enough to get you moving in the right direction.

The big gains will take care of themselves once the small steps are in motion. No different than with nutrition and fitness goals. We fall off the wagon (or never get on the wagon) because we get too focused on the long term larger goal. If your eventual goal is running a marathon but you’ve never run 1/4 mile, of course it’s overwhelming and unrealistic to try to start with 5 miles a day. We work up to that as we gain stamina, just as we tackle harder organizing projects after we’ve achieved some quick wins.

drawers to organize

2. Choose Your Space

You already know you’re going to start small. I see your wheels turning. You probably have some areas in mind. I suggest selecting something singular…1 drawer, 1 corner, underneath 1 bed. If your 1 space is still overwhelming, break it into smaller chunks of work that can each be completed in a single work session.

Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking it’s not enough. The objective here is to do what you can with the time and motivation you do have, not focusing on what you don’t have.

Worth mentioning here that comparison has zero place in this space. Kick it to the curb. Yes, your home may never look like so and so’s, or the images you see on social. We can get down a rabbit hole of “not enough-ness” real quickly with that train of thought. Instead, choose your space and get on with it, knowing that incremental improvements lead to big gains.

3. Make a Plan

You have your first space identified! Great work! Now it’s time to make a plan. No need to overcomplicate it. Think in terms of what will set you up for success. Trying to tackle your space at dinnertime with tired and hungry kiddos at your heels? Probably not. Choose a time when the kids will be in school, otherwise occupied, perhaps with a sitter or on a play date. Estimate how long the job will take, then double it.

Then, add it to your calendar. No, this is not overkill! Your work session is something that you’re treating just as seriously as on outside appointment you’d schedule in and wouldn’t think of skipping.

step to organization

You’ll also want to measure your space and identify what supplies and products you’ll need. Depending on your project, helpful supplies could include a trash bag, 3 bins or bags for donate/sell/relocate, labels or a label maker, and a tape measure. As far as organizing products, I recommend getting into the project (see point 4 below) first, then getting the products that EXACTLY meet the need – right size, shape, quantity. Amazon, Target, and The Container Store are some of my favorite sources. Or, repurpose what you already own.

4. Get organizing!

Here’s a simple explanation of the steps to take that apply to almost any organizing project. First, take everything out. Then, group like items together into categories. Third, edit down, getting rid of things you don’t like or use. Lastly, contain and label. Congratulations! Following the baby steps to organization did the trick…you have an organized space! Rinse and repeat! Before you know it you’ll have made some MAJOR PROGRESS! After all, progress is the name of the game.

Here’s To All The Moms

Mother’s Day is a day I’m very grateful to experience as a mom myself, and as a daughter to an incredible mom. I do have a broader intent with this post. But, indulge with me a moment while I give the honor due to my own mom…

She’s SELFLESS. She shows up and blesses through acts of kindness… homemade meals, caring for grandkids, sending homemade cards and thoughtful gifts. She works very hard, but never complains. She’s joyful, positive, devoted, and a light in the world.

She’s FUN and ENGAGED. Never one to sit idle, & always a fun activity up her sleeve – sewing costumes, catching frogs, going on adventure walks.

She’s WELL ROUNDED. She makes great home cooked meals and is a skilled gardener. She sews and knits beautifully. People always tell her “You could sell that!” Yoga? Check! Biking? Check! Line dancing? Check-ity check. It’s no wonder she rarely sits. When my daughter was young, she thought a 5k was “that racing thing that grandma’s do” because that’s what her grandma did!

She’s a ROLE MODEL. Some kids go to their grandma’s house and it’s all about getting spoiled & eating junk food – with no rules. There’s no doubt my kids have fun with grandma, but she’s always teaching. She talks kindly about others, instills manners, helpfulness, being brave, and doing the right thing. She’s consistent, follows through, and is 100% dependable.

She’s WISE. My mom is a balanced, open, insightful thinker with valuable judgment and perspective. She has and voices her own opinions, but is respectful and open to others’ ideas as well. She was never overbearing, letting us find our own way, but always encouraging and supportive.

I also want to shout out to all you other amazing moms out there! My work as an organizer gives me a glimpse into the more vulnerable side of motherhood. The moms who are trying to keep it all together, who may be juggling all the balls and hoping that not too many fall. If this is you, know that you’re not alone! I see you. It’s ok to simultaneously hold the sentiment of being 100% enough right now AND having a desire to improve – to show up as a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday.

There are several things that tug and challenge at that sense of being enough. One is comparison. “I could never be as organized as so and so”. Well, so and so may be shoving all her things in a closet when you’re coming over. Or, so and so may truly be organized, but may not bake like you do, or throw a football with her kids like you do. It’s not only ok for everyone to have a seat at the table, but it’s necessary to fill the seats with diversity of perspective, experience, and talents.

Motherhood isn’t a comparison game. It’s a shared experience, a journey that twists and turns and looks different for everyone. Here’s to the moms who:

  • aren’t afraid to reach out for help (people want to help)
  • feel overwhelmed
  • are on the clock 24/7 (everyone)
  • wonder if they’ll ever have a moment to themselves (you will)
  • feel buried in toys, dishes, or diapers (this, too, shall pass)

I see you! You’re doing your very best. You’re just the mom your kids need. And, if you need some help on the home front, get it. Getting organized tends to ease burdens. It simplifies schedules, overwhelm, and provides a blank canvas to re-build and prioritize what matters to you. My goal with organizing is to help in this space – whether it’s through blogs or in-home organizing. We can, collectively, support each other in this wonderful community of motherhood. You’re doing a great job! Happy Mother’s Day to you!

For the Love of the Junk Drawer

Junk drawers…most of us have one, including yours truly. The name gets a bad rap. It can imply that the things in the drawer are, indeed, junk – but, they really shouldn’t be. And, it tends to be an invitation to just throw anything in there.

At their worst, junk drawers are dumping grounds for… junk. At their best, they’re simply a place for miscellaneous items to live, that are conveniently located at the tip of our fingertips. They can be really helpful! So, how can our drawers fall into the latter camp? Here are some tips to creating an organized junk drawer that works for you.

1. Start from scratch.

If your junk drawer is like mine, it’s probably due for a little makeover, so let’s start at the very beginning and take everything out. As you do so, sort out the trash and discard it. Take note of how much space your drawer has, so you know how much to edit down later.

2. Group Items.

kitchen drawer

Notice what categories emerge with the items you removed. Common ones include batteries, tape, scissors, hardware, adhesives, chap stick, matches/lighters, candles, notepads, writing utensils, keys, spare change, paper clips, rubber bands, or tech cords.

3. Edit down.

Now, go through your categories and see what you can get rid of. Hardened superglue, misc. hardware for who knows what, 100 rubber bands or clothes pins when 5 would do. This is the time to try out all those spare keys. Find what they go to, and label them accordingly. Anything that you can’t figure out can get the boot.

I invite you to be ruthless here. Even though this is a junk drawer, it does not mean we need to keep things we don’t use. If you haven’t used something in a year or more, you probably won’t. When you’ve edited down to only the things you want to keep, you’ll move on to the final step.

4. Find homes for things.

This is where you question where things should belong. Consider 2 things as you make these decisions:

  1. Where do you use the item? Just because something has always gone in the junk drawer doesn’t mean it needs to stay there. If you use paper clips when sorting papers or making crafts, perhaps a craft storage area or office would be a better permanent home for them.
  2. How much space do you have? Your junk drawer can only hold so much. One of the reasons a junk drawer tends to look cluttered is that it’s stuffed to the brim. Larger items or bigger categories like light bulbs or batteries may be better off elsewhere, like in their own shoebox sized containers in a utility area, laundry room, or garage.
kitchen organization

5. Final Tips.

Incorporate a quick tidying up the junk drawer into your routines. If your drawer is in the kitchen, give it some attention when you have downtime while waiting for water to boil, or a part of your tidy-up evening routine.

Clear acrylic drawer organizer trays are very helpful in junk drawers. You can find them on amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, Target – all over. I recommend purchasing them individually, in various sizes (vs. a large pre-sized unit), then fitting them in however they work best. You can return the extras.

4 Organizing Mistakes to Avoid

We start out organizing with the best of intentions. We know the benefits that will come on the other side, and we get to work. I love the optimism and the enthusiasm! But, sometimes, we get stuck. We take some wrong turns, go in circles, and fail to make lasting progress, never fully reaping the benefits that are right there waiting to be discovered. And, that would be too bad!

I want you to experience peace, free up time, and have a calm environment! Here are the top 4 organizing mistakes that I see – and what to do about them. Just in case you might be there yourself.

1. Not editing down first.

Editing down, or, decluttering, is almost always the first step to organizing. At the very least, treat it is an exercise that involves looking at your items with discerning questioning eyes that asks “Do I use this/love this?” Or, “Would I buy it again?” It’s very common to struggle with organization when the real issue is having too much stuff for the space. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole!

extra coffee mugs to choose from

Make it easy on yourself and go through that decluttering process. Get rid of as much as you can, then repeat. You’ll find that there is more than 1 layer to peel back. The more you peel back, the easier you’ll find the subsequent organizing work.

2. Obtaining organizing products too soon.

We’ve all been there. We see some cute baskets at Target, throw a few in the cart thinking that they’ll work for….something. Where? What would you contain in them? And, most importantly, how much do you have in a particular category that needs containing? If you have an amount that would fill the trunk of a small car, the shoebox size container won’t cut it (regardless of how cute it is or what a steal it was). Or, if your shelves are 12″ deep and the containers are 15″ deep, that’s not going to work so well, either.

So, instead….first, edit down. Second, categorize items needing to be contained into groups. THEN, find product. Make sure you get enough. You can always return extras. The more strategic and intentional you can be with product, the happier you’ll be with the end result.

3. Not labeling.

I understand the temptation to say “I have this container for markers. It’s obvious that markers are in there. No need to add a label”. The challenge with this is in regards to maintenance long term. Without a label, the contents is up to interpretation. You might know it’s for markers. Your daughter, however, might think it’s for any craft supply, and start throwing in glue, paper, stickers, and pencils. And, someone else might treat it like a random misc. bin because they have no idea what it’s actually for.

There’s something powerful about seeing an actual label (even for something “obvious”). Not to mention, adding consistent labels gives a nice aesthetic that pulls everything together.

4. Not adopting new behaviors.

new idea

Maintaining organization over the long term requires a commitment to forming some new habits, to adopting some new behaviors. One might be to change your buying habits.

Let’s say you recently organized a pantry and allocated 2 bins for snacks. And, let’s imagine that your previous shopping habit was to stock up on sale snacks, regardless of how many you already had. Now that you have a defined space of 2 bins, your new habit could be to wait until those bins have space, then shop. This helps immensely with maintenance, and you’ll save money and waste less in the long run.

Examples of other new behaviors would be to establish a morning routine, an evening route, a 1-in-1-out rule, or putting things away before getting something new out.

There you have it! I’m confident that, with your next organizing project, you’ll avoid these organizing mistakes. You’ll first edit down, be patient with your product selection, label your containers, and adopt some new behaviors that will set you up for long-term success!

“Find Five” – Kitchen Decluttering Ideas

The concept is simple…find FIVE minutes in your day to find FIVE things you no longer need. (Then, give yourself a high FIVE). Everyone can do this! After you do it for awhile, you’ll have a new daily habit.

I’m choosing 5 because it’s manageable. It’s a baby step that is so doable it will spur you on to action. Also, it can break any inertia you might be experiencing. Once you are in motion, bets are, you’ll stay in motion. The 5 kitchen items will lead to 10 items, then will lead to decluttering toys, or a closet. You’ll want to repeat it all again tomorrow. The fact is, you’ll be able to find 5 things to declutter every day well into the future.

kitchen counter reported that the average home contains 300,000 items. Say what?! The article went on to say that 84% of Americans worry that their homes aren’t organized or clean enough – with 55% saying it’s a cause of stress. So, now is the time. Start small, and over time, the results will be anything but small.

Let’s start with the kitchen. Below are some ideas. If you’re on the fence, ask yourself: 1. Do I use this? 2. Would I re-buy it? 3. Does this item make my life easier? If not, you’ve found a good candidate to get rid of.

First, grab a bag for trash and another for donations. Then, scan the list and find 5 things to declutter. Lastly, don’t forget to give yourself that high five! Here we go:

  1. Coffee mugs
  2. Melted spatulas
  3. Rusty baking sheets
  4. Unused appliances
  5. Stained dish towels and oven mitts
  6. Extra water bottles
  7. Chipped dish ware or glasses
  8. Mildewed sponges
  9. Scratched pans
  10. Expired spices
  11. Expired baking staples
  12. Mismatched food containers
  13. Anything that leaks
  14. Freezer burned food
  15. Paper take-out menus
  16. Overflowing plastic bag stash
  17. Baby silverware no longer needed
  18. Dried up pens and markers
  19. Clutter on the fridge
  20. Old sponges
  21. Dusty cookbooks
  22. Gadgets you never use
  23. Expired coupons
  24. Old batteries
  25. Broken candles

Kids and Organizing – Oxymoron?

I’ve written about this before, but it’s a topic that warrants being a recurring theme….kids and organizing, organizing and kids. They go together like two peas in a pod, right? Or, more like fire and ice? Well, getting and staying organized with kids in the mix is not for the faint of heart. But, I’m here to tell you, it is definitely possible!

In certain times of life, this is definitely more challenging than others, so be easy on yourself, and be realistic. But…I want you to believe this is possible, and to be inspired to try one small step. Remember, organization is a set of skills and can be taught, just like anything else. It’s a long term investment, like any other behavior or habit we’re looking to instill in our kids.

Note: The below focuses primarily on ideas for getting kids to take responsibility for keeping their things picked up. It’s not expecting them to fold clothes perfectly or to develop organizational systems. Let’s keep it simple. Here we go…

1.You are in charge.

You’re overwhelmed by stuff. It’s taking over. How does all this accumulation happen? Well, lots of reasons. School generates paperwork, people give gifts, we buy things, and receive hand-me-downs. The list goes on and on. But, you know what? You are in charge! Your kids are not. You decide what stuff will be in your home, and the accompanying expectations for caring for said stuff. When you act out from that mindset of empowerment, you can take hold of the clutter and make a real difference.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Kids know the routines at school and can and do pick up. Sure, they may listen better to teachers than to their own parents, but at least it’s proof that it’s possible! Remember that when it’s hard and you’re sooo tired of asking for the 100th time. It may just be the 101st time when you’ll see a glimmer of progress;).

2. Make organization a routine.

playing with toys

Think about how to incorporate good organizational habits into your routines. If someone were to ask your kids what they do before bed, they’d likely have a response that closely resembles reality….we brush teeth, put pj’s on, read two stories – whatever your routine is.

You can tag onto these existing habits to incorporate new ones….like putting dirty clothes in a hamper and clearing the floor of their rooms. I recommend keeping it specific and simple. Instead of “Clean up this room before bed. It’s a mess!” Try, “Great job putting those clothes away. Do you remember that one other new thing we’re doing at bedtime? Yes! Clear the floor! So once you pick up this lego pile you’ll have more space to play tomorrow!” Consistency and follow through is key!

3. Link the desired behavior to something fun.

If you’re trying to instill a habit in your kids, such as picking up, there will naturally be more motivation if doing it is tied to the ability to do something fun afterwards. “Before screen time, let’s make sure those pj’s are put away.” Or, “Going to the park sounds fun! We’ll all be ready once the paper and crayons are picked up.” Again, consistency is key. And, allow plenty of time. That way, you’ll be able to wait until the kids pick up their things before heading out the door. When we feel rushed, the temptation is to either not enforce the rule or quickly do it ourselves.

kid painting

4. Give ownership.

Kids often take great pride in “owning” something that is their responsibility. Their rooms are a great place to reinforce this. Saturday morning could be clean their room time, in addition to tidying up daily. Giving kids some choice as to how they might display their prized shell collection, or the color of a throw pillow can give them the feeling that their space is reflective of who they are, and that it’s a privilege to maintain their space and keep it looking nice.

5. The how matters.

working together to organize

It’s tough for anyone to cheerfully do something if they’re being nagged to do it. If the kids pick up on our negative tone, they can associate the thing we’re asking them to do with negativity, and can start being defensive or argumentative. Yes, the reality might be that we ARE frustrated. After all, we have asked 21,907 times to pick up their ______ (fill in the blank). But, there will be payoffs! It’s so hard, but trying our best to stay even keeled with our ask, then following through, will yield a better outcome.

6. Make it easy on them.

When you’re organizing, think about the way your kids interact with their spaces. Do your kids like to read in their bedrooms? Provide a place to keep books there. Are your kids young? Adjust shelves to be reachable, or install a low hanging rod in their closets. Label bins and use pictures for non readers. Make it easy for them, and they, in turn, will be more likely to make it easy for you.

Organization doesn’t fall on just one person. One person may take the initiative, but success will be greatest when everyone shares in the responsibility – including the kids. They have a natural desire to be helpful, and when we honor that and see their true nature, it’s a blessing for everyone.

10 Procrastination Busting Strategies

Procrastination…why does it matter and what does it have to do with organizing? Well, clutter is often a component in unorganized spaces. And, clutter can be referred to as delayed decisions. Delay in deciding where it belongs or in putting it away. This can cause anxiety, frustration, and can impede the achievement of our goals because we’re always in catch up mode. It’s the antithesis of productivity.

No use carrying over today’s challenges into tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring its own set of challenges. Let’s dive into some strategies that can help bust procrastination.

1.Remove distractions.

We often pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task. Sometimes it truly is the best way to get a lot done. But, if we’re always in juggling mode, it can actually become an obstacle to tackling that thing – that bigger thing that you don’t want to do, but need to. You may need a longer stretch of focused time, and distractions like phones aren’t helping. Consider only responding to emails during certain blocks of time throughout the day, instead of immediately. It will free up time for other things.

2. Identify why you’re procrastinating.

Ask yourself why you’re not wanting to do the thing you’re procrastinating about. Depending on the reason, your strategy will vary. If you truly dislike doing the task, ask yourself if it’s something you can delegate. Or, if it even has to get done at all. If you’re procrastinating because “that thing” feels just too big, too overwhelming to even start, this next strategy can help.

3. Break it down.

If the looming thing feels too daunting, you’re probably thinking of it in its entirety. Break it down into smaller pieces. Maybe you can’t free up a whole day, but you can find an hour to just start. Starting can be the hardest part, but it’s so worth it, because it’s all you need to build some momentum.

4. Get moving.

get moving, stop procrastinating

If you start feeling lethargic or falling into a repetitive state of thought dreading that thing, get a change of scenery. Get up and walk around or try to get outside. It is great at getting you unstuck and waking you up. Afterwards, you’ll likely feel you have a different perspective, more energy, and a better state of mind for productivity.

5. Pace yourself.

Just like it’s important to break something down into smaller pieces, it’s also helpful to work in chunks of time, pacing yourself and taking short breaks. Using a timer is a helpful tool here. Start with just 20 minutes.

6. Reward yourself.

“That thing” might really be hard. It’s undesirable, for whatever reason. So, identify a reward for when you finish something. Use positive language – yes, even with yourself. “WHEN I finish this workout,….” not “IF I finish it”. It makes a difference!

7. Timing matters.

creative energy

Do you have the most creative energy first thing in the morning? Then that could be a great time to do something that requires creativity. In general, tackling something we’ve been putting off by doing it right away in the morning will work out well. Or, if you need a distraction free house, tackle it when the kids are sleeping.

8. Let go of doing it perfectly.

Worrying about perfection prevents us from even starting. Identify what good enough looks like for the thing that you’re avoiding. Think of the worst case scenario and it’s probably not that bad. The fact that you’re even thinking about quality and doing something well likely means it will be done to satisfaction, because you’re conscientious. Let that be enough.

9. Make a plan.

writing a plan down to bust procrastination

Making a plan makes that thing start to take shape in a way that feels manageable. When you can see a path forward, the ambiguity that was contributing to avoidance and churn falls away. Break it down into concrete pieces, each with a timeline. Jot them down on sticky notes. It’s ok to make them easy and obvious. If you’re procrastinating building a desk, break it down into steps such as: first, find inspiration photos. Then, set a budget. Next, buy supplies, etc. Slow and steady progress and productivity will further propel you towards completion.

10. Self talk matters.

You may currently identify yourself as a procrastinator. You don’t have to do this forever. Start thinking of yourself as someone who is working on procrastination, and can make (better yet, IS making) baby steps to bust procrastination for good.

Organization – Making it Stick

When you imagine your ideal state of organization, do you picture one blissful day, followed by a slow decline to a state of chaos? Or, do you desire a set of systems that stand the test of time? True – organization isn’t a one time activity, as it takes daily attention, intention, and commitment to a new set of habits. And, it’s certainly normal (and smart) to make adjustments and tweak systems. But, it is also possible to maintain a general level of organization for the long haul. Let’s take a look at how to make it stick.

1. Commit to picking up.

There’s 2 rather obvious pieces to this, and I point them out not to be obnoxious, but to invite you to think about this for a minute. There’s 1. commitment, and 2. the act of picking up. Our days consist of using the things we own…playing with toys, preparing food, wearing clothes – you get the idea. And, the partner activity to using is picking up/cleaning up/putting away after the use. Put the toys back where they belong, clean up the kitchen, put the laundry piles away, etc.

If we want to maintain organization, we need the commitment (via a habit, eventually, and initially, the awareness of a lack of this habit) and the act of following through on that commitment. Why is this hard? Well, picking up isn’t as fun as the “use” part. And, we tend to move quickly from one thing to the next – multi tasking and being pulled in many different directions, making timely follow through challenging. Also, we may live with other humans, who may not have a habit of picking up. Thus the compounding ensues. The remainder of the below list addresses these…

list to organize

2. Everyone does their part.

What does doing “their part” mean? Well, this is partly age dependent. But, even someone as young as 1 or 2 can participate – by carrying an item of clothing into a laundry basket. Yes, of course, you can do it faster. Yes, of course it will take loads of patience. But, it will be worth it in the long run!

If kids are creating most of the messes, that’s ok! They’re kids! BUT…they can clean up. If they know they can’t move on to the next fun thing until the previous fun thing is cleaned up, they will do it! This is going to take some strong expectation setting and repeated reminders, consistency and follow through. But, I always say, if they can do it at school, they can do it at home!

teamwork sign so everyone organizes

3. Regulate what is in your home.

Not just regulate, but be vigilant and intentional. If something comes in, something goes out. Any other scenario will, mathematically, result in accumulation – more to find a home for, to pick up, to clean, maintain. You get the picture. This isn’t to say you should never get something new. Just be intentional, so that what comes in is something you really want, will use, and that you have room for.

4. Let your systems work for you.

When you allocated 1 shelf to your paper goods purchases, that worked great for awhile. But, then you saw some on sale and bought out the store. The problem is you already had a full shelf, so you have nowhere to put the new purchases, and your system is no longer working for you. You overtaxed the system, so it can’t do its job. So, either permanently allocate more than 1 shelf to paper goods or don’t purchase something until you have room for it.

Let the system act as your trigger for when you need to purchase more. That’s largely why I’m such a big fan of visibility and clear containers, particularly in the kitchen. When we see what we have, we know when we’re running and low and can add that item to the grocery list.

5. Make adjustments.

Your home is dynamic – things come in and go out, people use things, seasons, needs, and preferences change. So, adjust those organizational systems accordingly. If you thought decanting snacks sounded like a good idea a couple months ago, but realistically, you’re just not committed to the upkeep after every grocery run, adjust! Get a big basket, label it snacks, then put those chips and cracker packages right in there! It will still look nice, but it will be a better fit for you and your family.

6. Employ daily habits.

organizing laundry

It’s so much easier to stay organized with little bits of time here and there throughout the day to stay on top of things. Examples include handling mail daily, picking up the kitchen before bed, having kids pick up toys regularly, putting laundry away, and relocating items from room to room as you move throughout your house.

7. Ask for help.

I have multiple clients who are repeat clients. That doesn’t mean the initial visits failed. It just means things get out of sorts after awhile, and need to be reset periodically. That flexibility in systems (#5 above) plays in, as categories get added and subtracted, labels get adjusted, and things get overall tweaked. It’s a great step to demonstrate commitment to maintaining organization for the long haul. And, that’s the goal, after all!

31 Ways To Be More Organized

Being organized is absolutely something you can learn. It is a set of skills and habits, and can be improved upon with some intentionality in this space. Organization may come more naturally to some people than others. But, there are small and attainable habits and mindsets that anyone can incorporate that will really make a difference in helping you to be more organized.

The below list is pragmatic and focused on efficiency. I mean, who doesn’t want to free up more time in their day?! Some of these will resonate more than others. These aren’t value statements, meaning there’s no judgment if you do none or all of these things. And most people have areas that come more easily to them, and others they’re working on. I sure do! Now, let’s get started!

  1. Purge photos from your phone daily
  2. Plan meals
  3. Write things down
  4. Make your bed
  5. Have routines
  6. Remove trash from your car daily
  7. Tidy kitchen before bed
  8. Handle mail daily
  9. Keep a spot for donations and bring them in regularly
  10. Keep a grocery list
  11. Put things away after using them
  12. Purge clutter regularly
  13. Have a place for everything
  14. Give the kids chores
  15. Pick up after an activity before starting the next
  16. Clean your purse
  17. Go through coupons – purge expired, use soon to expire
  18. Have and use a family calendar
  19. Clean your inbox daily
  20. Minimize distractions/stay on task
  21. Know when to delegate and ask for help
  22. Finish what you start
  23. Minimize multi tasking
  24. Make a decision and then move on
  25. Manage not only time, but energy levels, and schedule work accordingly
  26. Break large tasks into smaller ones
  27. Set priorities
  28. Strategize errands for efficiency
  29. Do mini pick-ups/resets throughout the day
  30. Plan ahead & anticipate what’s coming (next week/next month, etc.)
  31. Keep perspective – tomorrow is a new day and you can get right back on track

Decluttering – Why Does it Matter?

Decluttering….it’s a common goal, especially this time of the year. We may have had an influx of gifts over the holidays, the kids were home, structure was, well, nonexistent, and the house can easily slip. As much as we feel that pull to get on top of the clutter, sometimes it’s not lasting. Or, we swing between being on top of it – for 2 seconds – then getting out of control again. What are the reasons to declutter?

If a decluttered state is what you’re after for the long term – if you want that to be the rule, instead of the brief exception, it’s worth exploring why you want to declutter in the first place. Your why may be different than mine, and it’s important to personalize the reasons so they really resonate with you. Why? Because then, you’re more likely to stay motivated for the long haul. Here are some common benefits to decluttering. See if any of these ring true for you, or if you’d add to or modify the list. 6 reasons to declutter:

1. Stress less

reasons to declutter = less stress!

When your environment is cluttered, your mind can easily become cluttered, too. What does this look like? What does it feel like? An inability to see past the clutter to focus on other things. Easily frazzled and behind the ball. Irritable, unproductive, overwhelmed, frustrated you can’t find what you need, even ashamed.

On the flip slide, when your space is pared down to what you use and love, you notice and appreciate those things more (and the people in your space). You have more time and energy to focus on what really matters to you. There’s space to breathe.

2. Save $

When you declutter, you become more aware of what you have. And, when you know what you have, you won’t buy more of it.

You’ll likely also find that you want less. You’re content with less. So, the allure of buying the new thing starts to fade.

And, lastly, when you declutter items in good condition – that you no longer use or need, you can sell them, and put that $ toward something meaningful.

3. Entertain with freedom

Clutter doesn’t need to be accompanied by a hesitancy to have people over due to the state of your home. But sometimes that’s the case. I’ve heard clients share that they’re embarrassed to entertain, so they don’t. Their ability to connect with others, share a meal with loved ones, is being stolen due to their stuff! Their stuff and the power it is exercising is robbing them of living freely! If that’s you, you can take that power back!

If it feels overwhelming at first, here are some suggestions on where and how to start digging out. It’s so worth it.

reasons to declutter = entertain without embarrassment!

4. Find hidden treasure

Things you thought were lost or forgot you had unearth themselves. You’ll find toys that will feel brand new to the kids, “new” pieces to add to your wardrobe, or that long lost item you’ve been searching for.

5. Maintain more easily

This is one of the BEST reasons to declutter! Decluttering (not just picking up and temporarily sorting and organizing excess, but truly paring down) is a great way to set yourself up for a long term decluttered state! More than a fancy organizing system, more than products and gadgets, or throwing money at it. Paring down means there is less to purchase, fix, maintain, clean, and keep track of. There’s no magic wand of maintenance (daily habits are key), but the initial heavy lifting of decluttering is the bulk of the work.

6. Reclaim your time

Where do the days go? How can we get everything done? Always so much to do, and it’s easy to feel that our time is not our own. There is absolutely a link between being decluttered and having more time to spend how we want to spend it.

It’s easy to find reasons for our clutter and forget our reasons to declutter. “This was from my great Aunt Marge. I have to keep it.” “Everyone gives the kids so many gifts.” “Noone picks up their stuff!” I’m sure you could add to this list. And, we don’t want to minimize these challenges. But, we also don’t want to give them more power than is there’s to claim. And, we don’t want them to get in the way of our goals. Who’s in charge of your home? Do you have the ability to make positive change? To say what stays and what goes? Yes, of course you do! Baby steps. It’s well worth the effort, especially when you find (and remember) YOUR why.

How to Avoid Overspending

The holidays can easily get out of control, from a spending standpoint. Our mentality can quickly shift to a “Sure, why not? Add it to my tab!” perspective. This can become a habit if we don’t get on it. As with other areas in life, January is a good time to do a financial reset. Here are 7 tips to avoid overspending:

1.Make a mental note of your space

This is particularly helpful when we’re hitting the bulk stores. Before leaving for the store, check your current supply and available space. If your back stock bin of paper towels is still fill, no need to buy more – EVEN if it’s on sale!

2. Reframe what sale means


Sales do not mean you save. They mean you spend. You just don’t spend as much as you could have spent. And, often on things you do not need. Know that sales will come around again. With the access we have to procure things from all over the globe, there are always sales to be found – once you know what you’re really looking for. Shop intentionally.

3. Use a list

Use a list, bring it with you, and stick to it. This is crucial to staying on a budget and avoiding the impulse purchases that contribute to overspending.

4. Don’t grocery shop hungry

We’ve all been there. We start throwing things in the cart – anything and everything. It’s a recipe (ha ha!) for overspending.

image representing grocery shopping hungry and blowing the budget

5. Have a budget

Self awareness helps in this area. If you’re one to “have” a budget, but then blow it, try a new approach. Incentivize yourself to stick to a budget by doing something intentional and fun with the amount that you come in under budget. If your grocery budget was $150 and you only spent $130, put the $20 in a trip fund, or go out to eat. Switch the budget “deprivation” mentality on its head. It’s really the opposite! Being intentional in one area means a fun “extra” somewhere else.

6. Let the 1 in 1 out rule guide you

If you’re at the store, tempted to purchase something you didn’t intend to buy, ask yourself a key question. Would I want to part with something I already own in order to make room for this new thing? If no, then the new thing probably isn’t a true priority.

7. Make it hard to overspend

If you’re running into the grocery store for 2 things, but find yourself coming out with 10, here’s a tip. Don’t get a grocery cart. It makes it hard for you to make impulsive purchases, because, just like our homes, our arms have a limited capacity. We can only hold so much, so we’ll be more stick to our plan.

Lost Sock Syndrome

No, no, lost sock syndrome isn’t a real term. It’s not a thing. I made it up. But, stick with me. Do you have a bunch of lost/mismatched/singleton socks that you keep…..just in case…just in case you find their mates? How long do you keep them? Indefinitely?

Now I’m not promoting wastefulness or hastiness. Anyone who keeps a single sock for months or even years awaiting its mate must have the patience of a saint and the optimistic disposition of Pollyanna. But, truly, it’s ok to let the sock (or insert whatever it is that you hold onto) go.

Most of the time, our “socks” just take up space and add weight to us. But, that doesn’t mean we need to toss them out in every instance. Here are some guidelines that can help to know whether to hold onto something or not:

Item Size

Practically speaking, the more space an item takes up, the less likely I’d be to hold onto it. It’s just not worth the prime real estate in your physical and mental space.

Likelihood of use

In the sock example, unless a certain scenario happens (finding a mate), it is very unlikely you’ll use the sock again. Be realistic here. Hint: Using a word such as “maybe” is a red flag. “Maybe I’ll lose 30 pounds someday and will fit in these pants again”. OR “Maybe we’ll buy a light fixture down the road that would take this particular type of light bulb, so I’ll hold onto it”. If the realistic likelihood of use in the next year is low, let it go.

let it go in blocks


Hanging onto a $1 baby sock holding out hope for the other one? Even if the cost is higher than that, it’s a sunk cost. Hanging onto something won’t change that fact.

Outside Perspective

Run your scenario by a trusted person who has no vested interest whether something stays or goes. Ask for their perspective regarding whether your reason (or justification) for keeping a just in case item makes any sense. Of course, you make the final call. If you’re emotionally attached to your “sock”, it’s ok. Noone should guilt you into getting rid of something. But, we only have so much room in our homes (and accompanying mental space) for such things. You may be surprised by the freedom that comes with releasing them. Give it a try!