How to Spend Less in 2020

Do you know anyone who has a New Year’s Resolution to spend more money in 2020? I don’t either. Though we’re certainly not looking to be miserly, it does feel great to know that our money is being spent deliberately, and in line with what we value. Read on for 9 ways to spend LESS in 2020.

1. Increase Spend Awareness

It’s certainly easier to keep the blinders on, but trust me on this. If you have the sense of not knowing where your money goes, and you feel like it somehow just evaporates, this step will be helpful.

Take time to understand your current spend. No judgment here. Just identify the spend. You can adjust it later. Go through the last few months of credit card statements or other sources of spend, logging each transaction and its category (eating out, etc) for the month.

You might be surprised by what you discover. No worries! This spend is your baseline, upon which you can make changes to be more in line with your goals and how you WANT to be spending your hard earned money.

spend less

2. Set a Budget

Snooze fest, right? But, it works! And it doesn’t need to be complicated. Or rigid. On the contrary, I’ve found great freedom in this because YOU get to decide where you want your money to go. I’ve found it particularly helpful for groceries. It’s so easy to buy whatever catches your eye. But, when you know you have a finite amount to work with, you plan and shop more deliberately. I’ve also found that spending less in this category doesn’t impact quality of life whatsoever.

There are lots of budgeting methods. This isn’t intended to be a tutorial, but the main principle boils down to…take what’s coming in, allocate it to various categories (groceries, savings, etc), with the goal of accounting for everything so your “balance” is 0. See? You’re telling your money where to go instead of having it mysteriously disappear on who know what.

And you decide the categories! If you enjoy spontaneity and freedom, consider a category titled “fun” that you can use for something last minute – a fun experience such as a concert, movie or night away.

3. Treat Yourself

Budgeting and awareness of spend isn’t about deprivation or lack. When you move your mindset from feeling bad about all the things you “can’t” have to strategizing how to allocate your budget to achieve your goals, this brings a sense of empowerment and freedom. And treating yourself now and again helps with motivation. Even something small does the trick.

4. Unfollow Social Media Accounts

unfollow social media accounts to remove temptation to spend

Many social media accounts are great. They’re motivating, informative, and entertaining. On the other hand, some serve as temptation to spend our money on things we don’t really need or even want. Others make us feel that we don’t have enough or aren’t enough.

I’m sure these are great people with noble intentions. But, if they’re not healthy or helpful for you, it’s ok to unfollow them. Take 10 minutes, scan through everyone you follow, and unfollow anyone who does not add value to your life. You won’t regret it. And, it’s not irreversible. You can always add them back down the road.

5. Remove Triggers

Identify your spending triggers. Is it staying up late scrolling your phone and clicking on amazon? Is it going to the mall? You don’t have to avoid these activities altogether. Just be strategic. Wait until you have something specific you’re looking for, set a budget, and choose a shopping day when you have a small amount of time with a hard stop. Then, hit the mall. You’ll still experience the satisfaction of an activity you enjoy, but with some built in safeguards against the overspending that you may be prone to.

I have found that we naturally spend less when we want less. If going to the mall and seeing all the things makes you feel that you need them all, reduce the temptation by moderating time spent in that activity.

6. Avoid Sales

sales encourage spending

Is that a typo? Did I mean to write shop the sales? Nope. In some cases, if you know what you are after – especially a higher ticket item, of course finding the item for the best price makes good sense. But, generally, sales trick us into thinking we’re saving when we are, in fact, spending. So, beware of this trap!

7. Change How and Where You Shop

We pay for convenience. I’ve used and loved grocery delivery services, but they’re typically more expensive. If the convenience is worth it to you, then by all means. But, since this is a post about saving money, I’d be remiss to not bring this up, as you can save a significant amount of money on a weekly basis shopping on your own and in a lower priced store.

I’m all about quality over quantity, so this isn’t about shopping at the cheapest store possible. However, changing where you purchase commodity items, in particular, is a good way to save money without sacrificing anything.

8. Try the Cash Envelope System

cash envelope system helps to moderate your spending

I’ve grown to really like this system. They’re something about handing over cash versus swiping a credit card that makes us think twice. I have 4 envelope categories, but everyone’s will be different. Mine are: 1. Groceries, 2. Restaurants 3. Piano Lessons, 4. Babysitters.

How it works: On a weekly basis (or monthly – whatever you choose), withdraw however much cash you need, per your budget, to be divvied up into each envelope category you’ve chosen. That’s the amount you have to spend on that category over the chosen timeframe. When it’s gone, it’s gone. You’ll replenish the next week, so plan accordingly.

There will be some trial and error here. For awhile, I had a clothes envelope, but found that I primarily shop online for clothes, so didn’t find that envelope category very helpful.

9. Revisit Outsourcing

In other blog posts I’ve recommended outsourcing as a legit strategy for carving out more time in your day. And, I stand behind that. Yet, it’s something worth revisiting now and again.

My husband had always been the lawn mower in the family. In the past, when he had a long commute to work, we made the decision to outsource to a service. It was right for us at the time – a deliberate choice that allowed him to spend time doing other things. Now, his commute is less than 5 minutes, so we brought lawn mowing back in house. So, the point here is to periodically check in to see if, given where you are and what your goals are, there are any adjustments that could be made to reduce overall spend.

These are just some of the ways to reduce spending. There are countless others. Regardless of your approach, it’s helpful to identify and remember your “why”. Let it serve as motivation and encouragement if you ever feel discouraged. You got this!

New Year, New Wardrobe Outlook

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

The new year is a great time to assess your wardrobe and make any needed adjustments. Have you always been intrigued by the concept of a capsule wardrobe, but never quite took the plunge? Or, maybe you’re feeling weighed down by a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. Now is as good of a time as any to clear the clutter. Here are 6 tips for a new wardrobe outlook for the new year.

1. Find Your Go-To Pieces

I love the challenge of finding pieces that I can get the most mileage out of. When you identify what those workhorse pieces are, you’ve built a solid foundation. The items are different for everyone, based on lifestyle, style preference, budget, etc. Try to invest in quality pieces. They’ll last for years. This isn’t a plug to go on a huge shopping spree. It’s about intentionality and establishing some key foundational pieces. You’ll likely find you actually need (and desire) a smaller wardrobe.

Once you’ve identified YOUR basics, have some fun! Supplement with fun accessories, trendier items, or colorful shoes. My go-to’s:

  1. Chambray shirt – my classic go-to for years and years. Dress it up, dress it down, it’s comfortable and versatile. I just feel like myself in it. Here’s my favorite. chambray shirt
  2. Black pants – dressy black pants are great to have on hand, as are a more casual black pair in a denim material. black jeans
  3. White button down shirt – classic. white button down
  4. Dark denim jeans – dark denim is more versatile than light denim, as it can more easily be dressed up with heels and a blazer, for example, or paired with your favorite tennis shoes for a casual look. jeans
  5. White t-shirt – great for layering white tee
  6. Black leggings – It’s crazy how athleisure has taken off in recent years. But, it’s no wonder. Leggings are so comfortable, so why not work out in them and then wear them all day? I’m all for it. There are no rules. Go for it! *Affiliate link.
  7. Blazer – so versatile. Layer it over a cami or button down. Go classic with black or reflect your personality and sense of style by wearing a blazer in your favorite bright or signature color. blazer
  8. Anything leopard or camo – an easy way to elevate an outfit and infuse a little sass. It’s just fashion! Have fun with it! *Affiliate link.

2. Consider a Capsule Wardrobe

There are lots of approaches here. The by the book approach is to select very few items to wear for a season. 33 is a common number. Others just take the spirit of it and condense their wardrobe down to what they wear and love and what mixes and matches well together. I’m more of the latter.

I suggest selecting a few tops and a few bottoms that you wear often. Pull in other items for layering and pops of color, and create outfits. Keep in mind that, though not everything needs to match, the better your items work with each other, the more flexibility you’ll have with creating a variety of looks using the same pieces.

Take pictures of the outfits and keep them handy so that whenever you’re stumped as to what to wear that day – or to pack for a trip – you’ll have inspiration right at your fingertips.

3. Ask Yourself These Questions.

  1. Does my current wardrobe reflect my lifestyle? If you’re a stay-at-home parent with a wardrobe full of pencil skirts and heels, you may want to consider swapping some of those pieces out for some kid friendly options.
  2. Are there any gaps in my current wardrobe? Identify what they are, enter them into your phone so they’ll be with you when you’re out and about. Use it as a rolling list. As you gradually acquire these pieces, you’ll likely identify other gaps as seasons, lifestyle, and interests change and grow. The list also helps to give you focus so you’re not as tempted to reach for whatever’s on sale.
  3. Do I own anything that does not fit me RIGHT NOW? I know, I know. It’s so tempting to hold onto things that used to fit, or that might fit again someday. If you’re in that camp, allow yourself a small amount of space to fill with these things. Let go of everything else.
  4. How do I know what to keep? Keep what you feel good in (you feel most like yourself when wearing it), what fits, and is in good condition. Also, keep what you have the space to keep.
  5. Would I buy this again? If not, it’s not an automatic toss. But, it’s a good gut check question to ask yourself. The money has already been spent, so no use feeling guilty about “wasting” money.
new wardrobe

4. Declutter First, Then Organize.

An organizing project is first a decluttering project. You may get rid of 1 item or 100, but decluttering is always the first step.

Then, when it’s time to organize, see this post. Keep in mind the goals of finding what you’re looking for quickly, knowing what you own, and fitting your wardrobe within the space you have.

5. Find Clothing Sources For YOU

We’re exposed to content on a daily basis that insists THIS jacket is the one you need, THESE pants are a MUST HAVE, etc. We certainly see this in the form of advertisements, but also friends, family, bloggers. This can be really helpful – and it’s fun to step outside your comfort zone to try new things. But, just remember that these things need to work for you – your preferences, lifestyle and budget. No one else’s.

When you find something that fits you well, make note of the style and store. These go-to sources might not be the same as your sisters or your friends, but they work for you. When you need something new, you’ll likely have the most luck if you start your search with one of your tried and true sources.

6. Develop a Maintenance Plan

Go through your wardrobe at least once/quarter, when the seasons change. Add an entry in your calendar/phone for these wardrobe checks. See if there’s anything to declutter. It shouldn’t take much time if done regularly.

Stained/broken clothing is best handled in real time. Anything with a stubborn stain can be downgraded to a dust rag or a “paint shirt” – but be mindful of how many you really need to keep in this category.

Designate a container in your home for donations. As you identify clothes that are in good condition but you no longer need, put them in the donation container. When it’s full (or sooner), swing by your favorite donation center. It’s great to be able to bless others with things we’ve outgrown.

Getting Organized in the New Year

Ah, the promise of a new year! An opportunity for reflection and the cultivation of some healthy new intentions and habits. 

Research shows that nearly 60% of people set new year’s resolutions. According to The Business Insider, getting organized is one of the top 7 resolutions that people make, along with exercising more and eating healthier. That’s right! People recognize the value of being organized! Yet, somewhere between setting ambitious goals and, well, February, resolutions often fall apart. According to the U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for resolutions is nearly 80%. Not this year! 

With some intentionality and commitment, you can not only get organized in the new year, but STAY organized! Here’s how:

Find Your Why

There are a plethora of benefits to having a decluttered and organized environment. Benefits include a reduction in stress and a greater sense of calm. You’ll have more available time and money since you won’t be spending time on the purchase, maintenance and replacement of so much stuff – stuff that often doesn’t add value to your life. Remember these benefits. Hold tight to them whenever you feel discouraged on your journey to organization.

Write Down Your Goals

Be specific. Do you want to improve your time management so you can carve out 30 minutes a day to work on a passion project? Or perhaps your goal is to establish a system for managing the influx of paperwork into your home. Writing these down helps with accountability and provides focus and clarity as to what success looks like to you.

write it down

Start Small

When we’re climbing out of a state of disorganization, it can feel overwhelming. To avoid this, organize in bite size chunks. Start with a small area, such as a kitchen junk drawer. Take everything out and place each item into one of four piles: keep, relocate, trash, donate. Then, assign a home to each item that will remain in the space. The benefits of this organized space will provide you with motivation to address additional spaces. Rome wasn’t build in a day, and your house won’t become organized overnight. But you will get there! Celebrate the little victories along the way. Each drawer, shelf or room that becomes organized is cause for celebration.

Employ the 1-in-1-Out Rule

It’s easy for clutter to creep in, so be vigilant about what you allow into your home. For every item that comes in, challenge yourself to move one thing out. That way, you’ll remain in a neutral state instead of one of accretion, which leads to clutter. Or, if you’re looking to decrease the total number of items in your home, get rid of two things for every one thing that comes in.

Do an Evening Reset

Each evening, set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and reset your home for the next day. Tidy up, finish the dishes, pack backpacks (kids can help with this!), and set out clothes for the next day. There’s no use in yesterday’s unfinished business following you into the next day.

clean up

Be Consistent

New activities and ways of thinking become lasting lifestyle changes when we employ them consistently, particularly during the first month. After that, they become habits. That is the goal! Leverage whatever calendar system you use elsewhere in your life to help you. Set up repeating meetings or reminders on your phone for your evening resets and organizing sessions, treating them just as you would any other commitment in your schedule.

Consider a Professional

The organizing profession exists to provide judgment free support to individuals who are looking for more organization in their life. Organizers teach skills and provide encouragement and accountability, just as a personal trainer does in support of someone on a fitness journey. Don’t believe the lie that says you’re not the organized type. Organizational skills are just that – skills – that anyone can learn. You can progress on a spectrum from wherever you are. Give yourself credit for taking the first step toward an organized year – the first of many! 

Organizing with Kids

You’re ready to rock this organizing thing, but you may live with kiddos who are, well, less enthused than you are. It’s very common for family members under the same roof to have very different views on the value of organization. To one of the more organized ones, this can be frustrating – like they’re carrying the burden and that attempts to organize are futile (“I organize, others undue or don’t appreciate the work”). And for one of the less organized ones, it can also be frustrating – to feel pressure to live in a way that they’re not on board with or don’t understand. Organizing with kids can be a challenge. But, you’re up for it. So, let’s dive into some strategies that can move everyone harmoniously forward toward a more organized household.

Approach Matters.

Sometimes we arrive at what works well by way of a few detours. Your exasperated cries to “organize your room now!” likely aren’t getting the desired response. At the end of the day, kids want to please. They are listening. So, consider modifying your approach to increase their receptivity. Try expressing that being organized is something you value and that there are lots of benefits from it. Benefits such as actually having fewer overwhelming clean ups for them to do once there is a base level of organization in place.

Lovingly share your expectations for age appropriate behaviors such as having your kids put their things away. And make sure you are on the lookout for progress and that you express sincere appreciation for it.

mom and child bonding

Lead by Example.

Let’s get real. Kids model what they see. If you don’t pick up your clothes, why should you expect them to? Ask yourself what role you’ve played in the amount of stuff your kids have accumulated. Maybe your kids have jobs or are the beneficiaries of generous friends or family. Even so, consider what you can do to ensure you’re in control of your stuff – not the other way around.

I’m not implying how much stuff is “too much”. That’s up to you. But, if you’re feeling sense of excess or overwhelm, it’s worth asking what you can do to establish an organized environment, then striving to consistently do those things. You’ll probably slip up. Your kids will, too. That’s ok! If you’re looking for lasting household change for everyone, commit to doing what you can. Invite your kids on the journey, and, celebrate those baby steps!

reading with kids

Address Fears.

You’re thinking that decluttering is the greatest thing since sliced bread! Your kids, however, may be viewing the same activity through a very different lens – one of fear that you’re going to throw all their stuff away. Stuff that matters to them. Their focus is play, as it should be. And in their mind, their stuff is a means to facilitate that play. Assure them that your intention is not to rid your children of their favorite things. But that you ARE looking to remove excess – clothes that have been outgrown, things that are broken, no longer used, or don’t fit in the space being allocated to them. Kids have a natural heart of giving. Involve them in the process of donating their gently used items to someone else who could use them.

Involve Your Kids.

Involving kids in the decluttering and organizing process is a way to acknowledge their growing independence and value their opinions. Have them choose their favorite 5 vehicles to keep, for example. Then, have them help you choose a good place for those 5 vehicles to live. This is a win-win, as you’re establishing some boundaries, and they’re exercising empowerment and choice. When your kids have less stuff, you’re less likely to hear that they’re bored. Excess stuff is overwhelming for them. If you or they have trouble parting with excess, consider rotating toys. Stow some away for awhile, then rotate them back in and they’ll be fresh and new again.

kids toys to organize

Put on Your Teaching Hat.

Sometimes we assume our kids know how to organize. Organization is a skill that can absolutely learned, but needs to be taught. It’s not known through osmosis, or by being related to someone else who is organized. One easy habit to teach: the 1-in-1-Out Rule. For every 1 item that comes into your home, 1 goes out. Specifically in reference to kids, I’ve found this to be a really helpful tool in curbing their appetite for more, new, big, shiny (you get the point). It puts that new thing into perspective. If they’re not willing to let something else go to accommodate the new, they’re more likely to realize the item that originally seemed like a must have is, in reality, not that important after all.

Be Consistent.

As with any new skill or habit, practicing consistently is key. Treat the adoption of new organizing behaviors with the vigilance and discipline that you used to potty train your kids. Do little checks throughout the day (“I’d love to go to the park with you as soon as the vehicles are parked in their garage!”) You may be tempted to clean up for your kids. And, let’s be honest. It’s faster, easier, and will be done to your standards. However, you’re not doing yourself any favors, long term, if you do for your kids what they are capable of doing for themselves. Give them the chance to build their organizing stamina, flex those muscles and shine.

kids toys

Be Realistic.

Will you magically have an organized house overnight, filled with children who are eagerly awaiting their next organizing project? Not likely. Those aren’t very realistic goals. Focus on starting small, working collaboratively, praising, being consistent, and you will make headway. Remember, you’re not trying to fundamentally change anyone. Your kids are incredible as they are, right now. You’re simply setting expectations and providing an environment that allows their best selves to unfold into the willing, capable generous souls that they truly are. It will take effort. But, the rewards of organizing with your kids will be there – for everyone in your home.

Book Picks for a Simpler Life

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I love a good book. In the past couple of years, now that my kids are older, I’ve carved out more time to hit the pages. I’m particularly drawn to books that reinforce ideas such as – life doesn’t have to be complicated, less is more, you have enough and are enough, and so on.

To that end, here’s a rather eclectic list of books picks – some oldies but goodies, and some more recent ones, that I’ve enjoyed over the years. And, that I own. That says a lot, as I’ve pared my book collection down to no more than 20 books. The ones I keep are the ones I plan to either re-read or reference, or share with someone else.

1. The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

Joshua Becker has been the most influential voice of minimalism for me. His books, social media presence, videos, and overall approach really resonate me. Though I do not consider myself a minimalist, I enjoy being open to new perspectives, and adopting little bits here and there.

This book serves as a great reminder that our stuff often distracts us from living a full life. Minimalism isn’t about deprivation, but enrichment. It leaves people with more freedom, generosity and contentment. Minimize possessions to maximize life. Yes, please!

2. Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

This book was a Christmas gift from my parents years ago, and it’s a goodie. Amazon describes it as “a manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood”.

This book covers topics from why a reduction in the amount of stuff our kids have is desirable, how to establish rhythms, and scaling back on media.

It’s a great resource for how to get back to basics, and what our children really need to thrive and flourish.

3. Love Your Life Not Theirs, by Rachel Cruze

The author, Rachel, is the daughter of Dave Ramsey. They definitely sing from the same hymnal, but I particularly enjoy Rachel’s approach and relatability. Her advice is straightforward, practical, and compassionate.

The focus of her book is on cultivating positive money habits without the unhealthy habit of comparing to the Joneses. She empowers readers to life a life in line with their values – not anyone else’s!

4. Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Okay, perhaps an unexpected choice. Why do I love it? Growing up, these were my favorites. There’s a simplicity to the life that the Ingalls family lived that I find refreshing. And the books contain great timeless messages of hard work and the importance of family and community.

This series is also a good option if you’re looking for books that you can read together as a family, with your kids.

Happy Reading!

How to Organize on a Budget

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I love the challenge of making a space functional AND beautiful. If a space looks lovely, but is not functional or easy to maintain, it has no place as part of an organizational system. Organizing and creating systems CAN cost a pretty penny, but they certainly do NOT have to. With a little planning and determination, you can organize on a budget.

baskets with flowers

Planning Steps:

1. Define the scope and goals of your project. Example: update the pantry to discard expired food and duplicates, and develop a better system for snacks. As you proceed with your organizing, refer back to those goals if the temptation for scope creep sets in. Your goals serve as a reminder to stay within the parameters that you defined – saving money and preventing overwhelm.

2. DIY or Enlist Help. Decide whether this will be a DIY project or whether you’ll reach out to a professional organizer for their expertise and support.

3. Identify a placeholder amount for any product that you will purchase. Don’t buy anything until you’ve gotten into the project and know what you really need. Often we get this step backward, purchasing random containers and later force fitting our items into them. Save your money and only get what really meets your need.

4. Prioritize. Identify where you want to spend the majority of your budget. It may be in an area that’s the most visible or an area that’s causing the biggest pain for you currently. Be intentional about spending your budget in this area.

The Role of Product

Organizing products include anything that helps to create order, create a home for things, and enables you to maintain a system long term. This could mean hooks, drawer dividers, racks, bins, baskets, calendars, and so much more.

Product can be very helpful. Without containers, for example, we have loose floating items that have a tendency to multiply and get crowded because there’s no vehicle to contain them.

If aesthetics and design are important to you, product is also a great way to achieve that “look”. However, be creative! Look around for what you already own that could be repurposed. This is the fun part! Use a tension rod under the sink to hang spray bottles of cleaning products. Use a kids’ slap it bracelet to contain wrapping paper rolls. Repurpose clean food containers such as yogurt tubs to corral office supplies. Or, use a shoebox for….almost anything!

office supplies in containers

Product Sources

Here are my top 10 budget friendly options that will really stretch your dollar with their versatility and friendly price points.


  1. Great for an office, playroom, or to contain cleaning supplies.
  2. Lots of colors, multiple sizes, excellent price and quality. Use them ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE. The end.
  3. Love this for canned goods.
  4. Really pretty. Available in several sizes and colors.
  5. Helpful for corner cabinets, deep cupboards, under the sink, or craft supplies.
  6. The most expensive item on the list, but endless uses for these cube units.
  7. $39.00 for 100! And, great reviews.
  8. The spice jars I’ve shared again and again. They’re good!
  9. This is the label maker I have. Super user friendly.
  10. Solid quality product that I particularly love to use in pantries.

How to Stay Organized

There’s nothing like the peace we feel when our space is organized. We have more time, we can find what we need, and we don’t spend money replacing things we already own. Experiencing these benefits often provides the motivation needed to stay organized. Yet, even with the best of intentions, life happens, and organization gradually unravels over time. 

The real truth is that organizing is not a one and done activity. Our homes and lives are dynamic – things come in and go out, and projects, play, and creating occurs. That’s all normal! Don’t despair! There’s no magic wand, but, luckily, no fairy godmother is needed! An organized state CAN become the norm when you employ some simple habits that help you to STAY organized!

Be Vigilant With What Comes In To Your Home

stay organized, guard what comes in the door

The bottom line is that there’s simply less to keep up with when new things never make it into your home in the first place. Birthday party swag, clothes, holiday and birthday gifts, school paperwork, mail, and the latest thing-a-ma-jiggy that was on major sale all creep in, and they all add up. Before you know it, clutter accumulates.

This doesn’t mean we need to adopt a scrooge attitude. Gifts thoughtfully given can be graciously received, kids’ artwork can be admired and displayed, and new clothes purchased and appreciated. The objective here is to bring awareness and intentionality into what we bring into our space.

Try These: 

  1. Discard junk mail immediately – directly into an outdoor recycle bin, if possible, on your walk from the mailbox to your house.
  2. Keep a list of wardrobe needs so that if you come across a sale, you can look for a targeted piece instead of an impulse purchase.
  3. If a gift giver is looking for gift ideas, you could suggest experiences instead of things. 
stay organized, mail pile

Employ the 1-In-1-Out Rule

This tip is an oldie, but a goodie. I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will again. For each new item that you welcome in to your home, find 1 thing to move out. That way, you remain in a neutral state rather than one of accretion. This practice also serves as a helpful litmus test when contemplating whether to make a purchase.


  1. This doesn’t need to be like for like. Meaning, if you bring in a new pair of jeans, it doesn’t mean you necessarily should get rid of an old pair of jeans. Just find something that you no longer use, need or want.
  2. This tip works best when your home is already decluttered. If your spaces are currently overflowing, you can modify this to be 1-in-2 (or more) out, so you will free up space over time.

Put Everything In Its Place

The golden rule of organizing….a place for everything and everything in its place. This, of course, doesn’t mean that each object remains in its home 100% of the time. We use our things, as we should! It just means that there is a single place identified where an object lives (home base, if you will). And, once we are done using the object, it goes back where we found it.

Kids can absolutely participate in this, too. It’s a habit. If and when things get cluttered and chaotic throughout the day, they can still be put away as part of a nightly pick up routine. Or, at a particularly point in the day. “Once the legos are picked up, we can go outside to play!” 

stay organized, grand rapids, toy organization

Do a Nightly Reset

This doesn’t take much time, but the payoff is huge. It entails moving quickly from room to room, returning items to their homes, picking up, finishing up the dishes, setting out clothes and resetting your space for the next day. You’re setting yourself up for a smooth morning ahead. No need to carry yesterday’s baggage (clutter, messy dishes, mindset) forward to the next day. 

Use Your Tools

When you’re adopting new behaviors (nightly reset, for example), they won’t feel automatic at first. It takes a few weeks for something to become a habit. So, until this time, build in some steps and accountability to set yourself up for success. Leverage whatever calendar tool you use to set reminders to do these things. Then, at some point, once your new habits are established, you won’t need alerts. The new activities will be integrated into your day, habitually, just like brushing your teeth.

grand rapids, calendar, organization

Identify Pain Points and Solutions

What are those times of the day or circumstances that contribute to clutter or disorganization? A common one is after school, when backpacks and outerwear get dumped, and snacks get pulled out and left out. Or when there’s a morning or afternoon at home and the kids are playing, hopping from activity to activity, leaving a wake behind them.

Each of these has a solution, one that every member in your household can play a part in. Backpacks can be hung up, and kids can play with one thing at a time, for example. Think of how teachers handle classroom management – having systems and expectations in place for kids to pick up as they go, and to be responsible for their own things. These take some consistency to set up, but if young kids can do this at school, they can do it at home, too.

Call a Professional

This is not intended to be a shameless plug! The organizing profession exists for a reason. Organizers can help you stay on track – just like a workout partner or trainer helps you stay on track with an exercise program. We can help with a periodic reset or a full home overhaul – whatever you need to get and STAY organized!


Make Space For Stress Free Holidays

Happy Holidays! They’re officially here! Full of merriment, goodwill, and wonder…right?! Absolutely. However, they can also be accompanied by feelings of stress or overwhelm. For many of us, our holiday traditions include gift giving. This is a joy to participate in, but it’s all too easy for stuffocation to set in, as the items we’re bringing into our homes leave us busting at the seams. But this does not need to be the case! Let’s start off on the right foot with some ideas of how to enjoy a stress free holiday.

4 Ways to De-Stress Your Holidays:

1. Make Space for the New

Yes, there’s a deeper meaning here. As we’re coming up on a new year (and decade!), there’s naturally time for reflection and intention setting. But, what I’d like to focus on here is our physical space. It’s fun to give and receive gifts that support and expand on hobbies and interests. Yet, if we’re bringing in the new, let’s first make space by moving out the old.

  • Where to Start Decluttering: Short answer – it doesn’t really matter. Don’t delay. Do it today. Pick a space, set a timer and get after it, designating things as either donate, sell or trash. Repeat the next day, a little at a time.
  • Go through your pantry. You’ll likely be bringing in more food than usual over the holidays. Maybe you’re hosting. Maybe you’re stocking up on all the seasonal yummies that are only available this time of year. Or, you’re getting extra snacks and food for the kids who will be home from school for awhile. The good news here is that there are plenty of people and organizations that can benefit from your generosity.
baby with toys
  • Do a toy purge. As you welcome new toys into your home, set yourself up to accommodate them by proactively purging now. If your kids are little, I’d recommend doing the purge on your own. If your kids are older, it’s great to involve them in the decisions of what they will keep and what they can bless someone else with.

2. Make a Plan for Gift Giving

app for gift giving

I am using a super helpful app this year called Santa’s Bag. It’s free from the app store and I use it for tracking gifts, recipients, and budgets. You can enter in each recipient, assign a budget for them, and enter in gift ideas by stage (idea, to purchase, to wrap, etc.) It has a few key benefits:

  1. It’s easy to use – even for a non-techy like myself.
  2. Everything is in one place. If one of my kids mentions something they’re interested in, I just quickly open the app and add the idea under their name.
  3. It helps to encourage intentional gifting and helps avoid getting sucked into sales or overspending.

3. Revisit Your Expectations

You will feel a tremendous relief if you let go of trying to craft a picture perfect holiday with magazine worthy decorations and happy smiling children 100% of the time. Let the spirit of the season come through with proudly displaying those homemade crafty ornaments. And, if your holiday meal ends up like the below, that’s life! And, you’re making memories….right?!

christmas dinner gone awry

4. Be Intentional With Your Schedule

  • Hosting – If you’re hosting any meals, you can do a little bit of prep every day. The table can be set ahead of time. You can plan your menu with plenty of time to allow for grocery shopping. And, feel free to ask people to contribute a dish. Just because the gathering will be in your home, that doesn’t mean you need to personally do all the planning, cleaning, and cooking.
  • School Break – Will you be home with the kids for their winter school break? It can get a little chaotic, but try to cherish it! The kids are likely accustomed to a structured school schedule. Though a break from this can be nice, they (and you!) can benefit from some structure in their day. Morning could be time for getting out of the house, then afternoons could be for outside play. Talk with your kids to find some holiday bucket list items. You could bake a special holiday dish, decorate your home together, or see a holiday movie. If you’re working while your kids are off from school, give yourself the permission to do what you need to do – guilt free.
  • Recharging – Don’t run yourself ragged! You don’t need to say yes to everything! You don’t need to entertain your kids all day long! This is a work in progress for me, too, but carving out some time to recharge is important. It could be an evening out, a pedicure, a walk, a bath – whatever you need to do to reclaim your peace and remind you of the true gifts of the holiday season.

The Ultimate Gift Guide

Tis the season for…gift guides! I’m seeing them left and right from bloggers and in magazines. They are fun to browse and there seems to be a gift guide out there for all the hard to buy for people in your life – husband, teacher, nephew, teen, and everyone in-between.

Giving gifts is a way to express our love and appreciation for the people in our life and that’s certainly a worthy endeavor. However, the pressure to find the perfect gift can threaten to add stress to the season, and we’re having none of that this year!

gift guide

I’d like to provide a little twist on how we can approach the gifting season. Following are some gifts of the heart to consider this year. They’re not meant to replace your gift giving traditions, but to supplement and enhance them. And, bonus! They don’t even require a credit card or a trip to the mall. 

The Gift of Forgiveness

Take a minute to consider whether there’s someone that did or said something that you haven’t let go of. Maybe it’s something big. Maybe it’s little. And perhaps you didn’t even realize, until you really thought about it, that it was still with you, weighing you down. It’s time to move forward. No one has the power to steal YOUR joy! Practicing for “gift”ness doesn’t change the past, but it WILL change the future.

The Gift of Time

What would our kids REALLY appreciate? Our TIME! That didn’t make their wish list? Well, I’m going to venture a guess and say that they’ll take our presence over our presents any day! The gift of being in the moment, fully present, is a way we communicate that there’s nowhere else we’d rather be, and that they matter. 1 on 1 time with a child is especially cherished. Set aside any distractions (phone, anyone?) and spend some real quality time together. Take your kiddo out for breakfast, or on a walk. 

gift guide, parent and child, grand rapids

This isn’t limited to the kids in our life, either. Been awhile since you and your spouse have been on a date night? No better time than the present!

The Gift of Experiences

Experiences create memories that last longer than the interest in whatever toy/gadget/possession will last. It can involve a gift that the whole family enjoys together, such as tickets to a sporting event. Or, it can be more personal and tailored, like the gift of swimming lessons for your water loving little fish. When we really care enough to be attentive and to notice what someone enjoys, it’s so gratifying to be able to gift them with something special – just for them! 

The Gift of Gratitude

There’s a reason why gratitude journals and practices are so popular. They remind us of the blessings in our lives. They shift our outlook toward one of joy and contentment. And they have power to change lives.

“Circumstances and opportunities do not create gratitude. Gratitude creates circumstances and opportunities”.

Keith Wommack
gift guide, joy sign, grand rapids

A few ideas:

1. When you tuck your kids in to bed, each of you share 5 things you’re grateful for. 

2. Start your morning jotting down what you’re grateful for in a journal. 

3. Reach out to someone you may not typically interact with, but you appreciate, and write them a card expressing your gratitude. My daughter did this for our mailman one Christmas, and it was such a meaningful experience. My daughter found great joy in this, and the mailman wrote her back to thank her, too!

The things we’re grateful for don’t need to be monumental things. If you’re struggling to see the good, you can start with small nuggets gleaned from mere moments in our day. More often than not, this will provide the momentum to notice and appreciate the bigger things, too.

The Gift of Correspondence

greeting card

It’s easy to let days and years pass by while certain relationships fall to the wayside. So take the opportunity this holiday season to reach out with a card – a good old fashioned card that you put in the good old fashioned mailbox. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money, but can go a long way toward reconnecting. 

I’ll wrap up with a poem I found:

Christmas gift suggestions:
to your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

Oren Arnold

Make the Most Of Your Space

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Do you know what people identified as the #1 challenge to organizing their homes? The desire for MORE SPACE! 34% of people (Home World Business, 10/18), provided this response. 

It’s an interesting one, too, seeing as though the average home size in the U.S. has increased from 1000 sq. feet years ago to 2,500 sq. feet today. So, if our homes are getting bigger, yet our desire for more space remains an issue, it seems like the problem isn’t really about our space, but about our stuff! Our stuff tends to expand to fill our space! So…here are 2 solutions to the space dilemma:

1. Reduce What You Own.

If you own less, you’ll have less need for storage space, and fewer items to display/maintain/replace. I recommend keeping what you use, love, and find useful, and decluttering the rest.

“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”

Jackie French Koller

Often, the decluttering happens first. Then, when the benefits of owning less become evident, the “desiring little” kicks in. Here’s a blog post of decluttering tips, to get you started:

2. “Create” More Space.

Besides decluttering, another way to gain space in your home is to get creative about maximizing the space you have.

Think outside the box. Add hooks or shelves to walls, use an over the door storage unit like *this one. The pockets can be used for anything from flip flops to craft supplies.

Get rid of product packaging. This is especially useful in pantries. Packaging takes up space, and the shape and size of it is likely not ideally suited to fit within your space.

make more space

Identify the real issue. Take a step back and analyze your spaces. Do things get lost in the deep recesses of your kitchen’s lazy susan? *These containers are wedge shaped and perfect for tricky spaces. They can help you contain like items in a way that maximizes your space.

Do you have tricky corner shelves? *Turntables are great for increasing the accessibility of items in corner spaces.

OR is your issue that clutter piles up? If that’s the case, designate a single home for everything, including mail, bills, schoolwork or anything that contributes to the clutter. Then, employ systems and habits to deal with those items on a regular basis. For example, handle mail as it comes in, pay bills every Friday, etc.

make more space

Modify your space. Closets are relatively easy to modify – add an elfa system, a hanging bar, or some hooks.

Think broad. If you have inadequate storage in a traditional linen closet, store linens in your bathroom, or allocate a shelf in another closet for them. Another idea is to store bed linens for each bedroom in that respective bedroom. Or, you could use an under the bed storage box like *this to stow them away.

I find one set of backup sheets per bedroom helpful, but you really don’t need more than this. Some people are fine with only 1 set per room total. Once the sheets are out of the wash, they go right back on the bed.

Regardless of your available space, once you get into the habit of decluttering, you’ll likely find that the space you have is more than enough!

11 Time Management Tips

So much to do and so little time, right? We all have 24 hours in a day, so being intentional with that time really makes a difference. This doesn’t mean rigidity. It does mean efficiency – working smarter instead of harder! Here are 11 powerful time management tips to not only keep your ahead above water, but to knock time management out of the park!

1. Plan Ahead.

As part of your nighttime routine, spend 5 minutes reviewing your calendar for the next day as well as the next few days, so nothing catches you off guard.

Do what you can that evening to get the next morning started off on the right foot. Set out breakfast dishes, pick out clothes, pack backpacks, and plan the order of your errands.

2. Outsource.

time management, groceries

Your time is valuable! Outsourcing and delegating are great time management strategies because they free you up to spend time on other priorities or things that match your skill set and interests.

Consider a lawn service, grocery delivery, and help with kid care. If these aren’t in your budget, revisit your budget to see if you can shift anything around to free up funds. If not, get creative! Swap kid care or meals, or delegate things you normally do to other family members to help spread the load. Sometimes we resist asking for help, because we think it makes us weak or incapable. Nope! Just means we’re human, and looking to share responsibilities.

3. Prep and Plan Meals.

time management, meal prep

A couple hours of planning and prep once/week is sooooo worth easing mealtimes for the upcoming week. I don’t full on meal prep every week, but try to at least:

  • get the kids’ lunches made for the week (my daughter makes her own)
  • prep portions of meals, such as the meat or chopping veggies
  • have a few meals identified and the ingredients on hand for them

Depending on your schedule, lifestyle, how often you eat out or have meals planned elsewhere, you likely won’t need a full 7 dinners/week planned. I plan for 3-4 because we eat out once and do leftovers or “this and that” the other days.

“This and that” has become a fun tradition. We put small portions of various foods out on platters – meats, cheeses, baby carrots, fruit – whatever we have on hand. We have this on a weekend or when we’re low key and looking for something easy peasy (when we’re out of ideas!) We’ll eat somewhere other than the kitchen table, just to mix it up. Since it’s out of the norm, it’s viewed as a real treat to the kids who love to spread out a blanket on the family room floor or eat on the couch downstairs.

4. Let Enough Be Enough.

Identify the tasks that need to be done just right and which ones can be done “well enough”. And let that be ok. Moving on…

5. Manage Your Email.

Don’t let your email manage you! Checking and responding to email constantly takes so much time and can pull us away from other things we’re trying to get done. Most emails do not need to be responded to immediately.

Many people have found success with chunking their time – setting aside a few times of day to check email, in the morning, at lunch and in the evening for example.

I, personally, prefer to stay on top of email, at least reading them throughout the day, but not responding to them all. I keep everything that I haven’t responded to yet in my inbox, and file everything else into folders.

6. Prioritize.

Identify THE #1 item on your day’s to-do list that will contribute the most towards accomplishing X (finishing a project, closing a deal, making dinner, meeting a deadline, planning a party, cleaning the house, etc). That is your #1 priority for the deal. Tackle it first.

Many of us have more energy in the morning to put towards the tough stuff. Just get’er done! I find that if I procrastinate, I fill my time with lots of little things that don’t really matter. And at the end of the day I’m less satisfied with what I accomplished – not to mention that the big thing is still there, needing to get done, rolling over to tomorrow’s list. And this is how we get behind. Do what matters!

7. Write it Down.

That grocery list? Phone number? To Do List? Find a place for these things. For example, the grocery list goes on the refrigerator, or you could keep a running list on your phone. Phone numbers go directly into your contact list on your phone. To do list could go on a hard copy calendar or planner, or the calendar in your phone or computer. Find what works for you.

Regardless of how well oiled your systems are, there are inevitably going to be stray papers that accumulate – the ones that you don’t have time to handle right away. Identify a place for them, like a folder or shelf. But be careful! This can easily end up being treated as a permanent solution/home for these things instead of a temporary holding zone. To guard against this and to ensure the pile doesn’t continue to accumulate, set aside a certain time/day every week (put it on your calendar!) to go through and handle everything in the pile.

8. Be Realistic.

It’s so easy to let the to-do lists get overly ambitious. Keep track, for awhile, of what you set out to do compared to what was actually done. This isn’t intended to make you feel badly about what you didn’t do. It’s intended to, judgment free, increase your awareness of what is realistic – for you, in this season. When you have a good sense of this, you can scale your to-do list accordingly, and set yourself up for success.

9. Minimize Distractions.

When my kids were younger, I went through a time when I rarely read. I just found it hard to carve out time for this activity that I really enjoyed. Then, when I started reading more often, I was surprised to find how challenging it was to focus! I could only go a page or two without getting distracted – by things I needed to remember, or adding something quickly to my calendar, or any number of things…not great time management! I needed to practice identifying and minimizing distractions. The more I read, the easier it got. After all, practice makes progress!

Be aware of what your distraction triggers are. If I’m in the middle of something, but then go to lie down, game over. It triggers reaching for the phone or just checking out. If I don’t allow that scenario, the distraction is removed. This doesn’t mean I don’t take breaks. I just try to sit down instead.

time management, read book

10. Break Down Big Tasks.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! It’s no different with time management. If you have a large looming job such as cleaning the garage, spring cleaning, a DIY project, or something that you’ve been trying to set aside an entire day to tackle, try rethinking your approach.

It’s a lot more difficult to clear an entire day than it is to break up the job into manageable chunks of 1 hour or even 30 min, spread over several days. And, you’ll see the results as you go, which will motivate you to start and to stick with it. You got this!

11. Be present.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, strive to be all there. This is so hard! We’re multi-tasking experts! But, if we don’t try to do a million things at once, we’re more likely to finish things to completion, and not leave a bunch of loose ends.

When we’re with the kids, but distracted, they absolutely know it. Then they can get whiny for attention, which in turn triggers us to get frustrated, and you’re on a spiral. Instead, I’ve found that if I give my kids even 15 min. of completely undivided attention, that fills their tanks (and mine) and they’re just fine when I take a break to do something else.

Lastly…Your employer/family/the world will take as much as you are willing to give. Noone is measuring this. It does not determine worth. So, as always, give yourself some grace, do the best you can with time management, and know that it’s enough.

Make Space for New Seasons

The back-to-school transition is behind us and, ready or not, we’re on to full on FALL! Embracing new seasons is the focus for this Monday’s “Make Space for…” theme. And, what a perfect time to create some physical and mental space for all the good that comes along with them.


  • Before you change over your closet to cool weather clothes, try things on and give them a once over. Inspect your clothes to ensure everything is in good condition and fits well. Do any shoes or boots need to be repaired? Get that done now so you’re starting the season fresh.
new seasons, fall wardrobe
  • Do you have a system for storing summer items? There’s no right or wrong way to do this. You could pack up summer things in labeled bins. Or maybe you have enough room to keep clothing for all seasons together in one closet year round. Find something that works for you.
  • Assess your overall wardrobe for gaps. Are you in need of any fall items? Tis the season for cozy sweaters and cute boots.


This time of year is particularly ripe with traditions. Some of our favorites are Friday family movie night, picking apples, getting cider and doughnuts, carving pumpkins, hosting a Halloween get together, and wearing themed family Halloween costumes. 

This year we’re not doing a family theme, as the kids are getting older and their costume interests are diverging. It has been a good reminder to cherish traditions while they last! Let’s guard our schedules so that we can carve out time for these things. They really do matter and can make for some lasting memories. 

new seasons, apple picking, fall vibes

You may want to ask your kids what their favorite traditions are. Don’t be surprised if they mention something that you never considered was a tradition – but THEY do! This was the case with my daughter, who, turns out, cherishes setting up the Dickens Village sets at my parents’ house. This holds deep meaning for her, and, since we’re now aware, we can prioritize this special activity.

Consider introducing a new tradition to the season, based on the ages of your kids or the interests of your family members. We’ve recently started gathering to watch Sunday football or volleyball matches on youtube, which has been a fun point of connection after a busy week.


Usher in all the fall feels with some home decor. There’s something about a change in physical space that helps to welcome in the new. No need to go overboard here. A simple and inexpensive update of your kitchen table decor or front porch foliage can go a long way.

Bring out those fall recipes! Make something tried and true like a traditional hearty soup, or get adventurous and make something new. Pinterest and the internet at large are great resources for discovering what may end up being a new favorite! 

new seasons, soup, fall food


You could also call these resolutions, but they aren’t limited to Jan. 1. Any time there’s a change of calendar seasons, or a significant life event, is a good opportunity to be intentional about what to bring forward and what to leave behind. 

One idea I like is to choose a word for the year, or a new one each quarter or season, to focus on. Examples could include intentionality, service, grace, bravery, or gratitude. Once you decide on something, focus on how to cultivate these concepts more in your life. If you choose service, find a cause you’re passionate about, and commit to serving them in a way that feels right to you. If you choose gratitude, consider starting a gratitude journal. 

Whatever you choose, write it down. There’s power in this simple act, and it’s a good accountability strategy. 

new seasons, intentions, journal, resolutions


  • I’m going to leave you with this – and I think it has tremendous potential to improve your life. Here in the Midwest, fall, and certainly winter, can be cold. And dreary. Complaining about it is common, almost expected. Not by everyone (winter die hards do exist!), but by many. I’m proposing something radical. It’s a challenge that I know you’re up for. Ready?
  • DECIDE to look for good in it. Why? Because it won’t hurt – it can only help. You WILL find the good. Choosing our outlook is a habit worth pursuing. This isn’t head in the sand Pollayanna-ish. Sure, there’s an element of fake it till you make it at first, but you will start to see beauty, promise, opportunity, and inherent goodness in all seasons.
new seasons, shoveling, winter with kids
  • Shimmering snow on tree branches is breathtaking! (Or was it the sub zero temps that took your breath away? Wink wink). Bundle up, get out and enjoy it! Make memories with your kids by putting on rain gear and splashing in puddles! Discover an outdoor family activity everyone can enjoy together – rosy cheeks and all! Or gather round the fireplace with some hot chocolate. It’s a great season for that, too.
  • Our kids, with their perceptive listening ears and watching eyes, will adopt the attitude and outlook we display. That is my “why” for taking on this challenge. The more we cultivate a positive attitude, the more they will, too. So, let’s not propagate complaining. Let’s not propagate the lie that there’s only good in part of the year, but, instead, embrace a spirit of adventure and renewal in every season.
new seasons, fall fun
  • Outlook doesn’t have to be weather related, either. What good can you find now, in your current circumstance? It’s all around us, waiting to be discovered.

Clothes Organization Q&A

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

One of my favorite things to declutter and organize is clothes. It’s just plain fun! Clothes organization is an area where there’s typically a lot of potential. Potential for decluttering, discovering the pieces, colors and styles you love, and feeling the weight lift as you pare down, organize, and make your life easier!

There’s no right answer to how to handle clothes organization, or how many items you “should” own. I have a lot more pieces (even as someone who grativates towards minimalism – gasp!) than some people. And I have fewer pieces than others. It’s all good. Unless…. it’s not all good. Meaning, regardless of what you own, if you feel overwhelmed by lots of options but nothing to wear, or you’re generally stressed out by your clothing situation, it may be time for a refresh.

Here are some ideas, compiled Q&A style. Enjoy!

Q: Jeans – Hang or fold?

A: Either! If you have more hanging space, hang them. More shelf space? Fold them.

I prefer to hang them on pants hangers w/ clips. Here’s why…jeans tend to all look similar, so hanging jeans enables you to see the whole length so you can more easily differentiate between pairs and quickly grab the ones you want.

clothes organization

Q: How Do You Organize Hanging Clothes?

A: You will be the most successful in maintaining an organizational system if it reflects the way that YOU think about your wardrobe. Some people like to group clothes by function (church clothes together, school clothes, work clothes, etc). This is what I prefer:

First “Tier” of Organizing Hanging Clothes:

First, organize clothing by type, with like items grouped together – pants, skirts, dresses, tops, etc. 

Second Tier:

Within each clothing type (above), I organize by color, specifically rainbow order. Why? Each item has a home within this system. When you put things back in the same place you found them, you’re more aware of what you have plenty of and what you don’t. And you’ll be less likely to arrive home with a purchase to only realize you already own something similar. Plus it just looks pretty and visually calming.

clothes organization

Third Tier:

Within each color block, organize by sleeve length/weight. Sleeveless first, then short sleeve, then long. 

Q: Any packing tips?

A: Yes! A girl likes her choices, so I don’t go overboard trying to pare down too much. Here are some ideas to simplify your packing and travel.

1. Capsule wardrobe: This is is made up of an edited down group of workhorse pieces that fit with your lifestyle and that you’ll get a lot of mileage out of. For travel, pack a mini capsule wardrobe in a color theme so you can mix and match them. Either black or blue works well, as does grey. Or if that’s too blah, bring on the color. But, still, look to pack pieces that are versatile and can work in different combinations.

2. Packing for kids: Choosing a color theme for kid’s clothes works particularly well. I found that, when buying boy’s clothes for my son, so many are in the blue family anyway, so they’ll naturally coordinate.

When my kids were babies/toddler I packed each individual outfit in its own sealable gallon size plastic bag. This made it so easy to keep everything together, including socks and accessories. I kept the bags in my kids’ closets and reused them over and over.

3. Air travel: If you’re flying, wear your bulkiest items (jacket, shoes etc) so you’re not taking up too much valuable suitcase space.

Q: Do you use packing cubes for travel?

A: I do! They help to keep items together and visible. They also make it easier to unpack at your destination, find what you need throughout your trip, and repack to head home.

You can organize within them any way you like – a cube for dressier outfits, workout clothes, or tops in one and bottoms in another. They’re often sold in multi size packs. These are the ones that I own.

clothes organization

Q: Do you file fold your clothes?

A: Yes! This method entails folding clothes into smaller and smaller rectangles until they stand upright. Then they’re put into drawers vertically like a file folder. It has the advantage of making everything visible, and is easy to maintain.

It works very well for tanks, t-shirts, pants, towels, table linens, and more. It’s trickier, though not impossible, for bulkier items like sweatshirts. I posted a how-to video on Instagram for you to check out (scroll to the bottom of any page on the site for my Instagram link).

clothes organization

Q: What’s the best way to store sweaters?

A: I find that, with a padded hanger, most sweater can be hung, without creating shoulder creases. But, in general, folding works best. To avoid sky high piles toppling over on a shelf, a divider works well. 

Q: How do you store swimwear?

A: Swimwear and accessories, such as scarves, work well in bins. 

Q: How do you stay on top of clothing clutter?

A: This hits the nail on the head. Staying decluttered is the like the foundation of your house. Once you have a strong foundation, you can build from there with organizational systems to organize your clothes.

Having only the number of pieces that fit within your allotted space is the first step. Then, you can build on that base – employing organizing systems, folding methods etc. Those things are the icing on the cake. Any number of methods will be successful, frankly, if you start from a decluttered state. 

Now on to the how….

  • Employ the 1 in 1 out rule. Whenever you bring a new article of clothing into your home, one goes out.
  • Declutter regularly (minimum once/quarter, as seasons change)
  • Only keep what you like, wear, fits, and is in good shape. 
  • Do not be afraid to let items go that you “paid good money for”. I hear you. But the money has already been spent. 

Q: What are your favorite hangers?

A: If you’re going to do one thing in your closet, swap out mismatched hangers with consistent quality ones (out with the wire)! It makes a surprisingly big difference in the overall cohesiveness of your space. This doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Here’s an amazing deal on Amazon. I also love and use wooden hangers. They’re sturdy and sophisticated.

clothes organization

Make Space to Simplify

We’re continuing the “Make Space Monday” series by focusing on Making Space for simplification. Many of us would agree that there’s a certain appeal to the concept of living more simply. I’ve always been a huge Little House on the Prairie fan. There’s just something about that time, though far from easy (survival was a daily goal!), that was more simple. Consume what you grow, work hard, support each other, without the distractions that scream for our attention on a daily basis.

The benefits of a simpler life go hand in hand with the benefits of decluttering and organizing. They include having more:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Freedom
  • Flexibility
  • Peace of mind

If you hear “simple living” and think of an existence of scarcity and lack that’s devoid of fun, think again. It’s not about deprivation, but enrichment. And peeling back extraneous clutter that can build up over time can reveal the simple pleasures in life. It’s about getting rid of what doesn’t belong – on your schedule, in your home, and in your thoughts. 

This isn’t all or nothing. I do not live in a cabin in the woods, foraging for sustenance, without any modern day conveniences or personal possessions. Though there’s nothing wrong with these things, that doesn’t need to be the goal. I’m simply offering some thoughts on bringing more intentionality around living more simply – even in just one area. I’m confident you will notice a positive difference.

The world is full of choices, which can be overwhelming. Simplification could involve having or entertaining fewer choices. It could involve paring down your grocery list.  There are so many possibilities. Here are 5 categories to consider, each with a practical action step you can do TODAY to simplify your life.

1. Possessions

This is the obvious one, but for good reason. Owning fewer things is easier. Less to buy, maintain, store, fix, clean, replace. Rotating your kids’ toys is a great option, too, as it helps to reduce their decision fatigue/overwhelm. They can rediscover things they’ve likely forgotten about and actually focus on something for an extended period of time. I have several posts about decluttering. Check them out here and here. *Challenge: Find 5 things in your house today that you can part with.

2. Schedules

This isn’t necessarily about getting more done, but instead, having less to do. This will seem more achievable when #1 (slimming down possessions) is done. See? There’s a method to the madness! *Challenge: Find one thing on your calendar/to-do list and remove it. One trick I use to prevent myself from immediately replacing the task with something else “productive” is to take that time and schedule in something like “rest” or “knit” – some kind of bucket filling, soul restoring activity that brings joy.

3. Holidays

Holidays can sure get crazy! Here are some suggestions to simplify:

  • Give experiences instead of things – If you celebrate a gift giving tradition consider giving the lasting gift of an experience. Yes, online shopping is simpler than standing in lines, but experiences are simpler yet – and more meaningful. Consider subscriptions to a museum, lessons, a mini vaca, something you can do together as a family. Another toy will likely be forgotten, but the memories from an experience will not.
  • Set a budget – Advertisers will tell us that we, and our kids, need all the things. This is simply not true. Set a reasonable budget that works for you and stick to it.
  • Plan ahead – Make a list of everyone you want to give a card or gift to this season. Teachers, mail workers, house cleaners, other service workers. Plan ahead and stock up on little gifts that you see when you’re out and about. Or keep it simple with gift cards, homemade or purchased greeting cards, or a handwritten note of what you appreciate about someone.
holiday photo
  • Simplify holiday meals – One of the favorite family traditions my kids have of Christmas morning is making store bought cinnamon and orange rolls. Super simple, yet memorable.
  • Be on calendar alert – Holiday get togethers, school parties, and other holiday specific to-do’s can threaten to add stress and steal the true meaning of the holiday season. Be vigilant about managing your schedule and say no to whatever feels like too much.
  • *Challenge: Write a list today of everyone you want to reach out to this holiday season.

4. Media Consumption

Though I’m all about a no guilt binge watch of your favorite series, there is still opportunity to simplify in this area. Between all the social media channels and the accessibility of information, everything is right at our fingertips. But that does not mean we need to consume it all. Or at least not at this very second. *Challenges: 1. Establish a tech free time (no phones after 7pm for example) and/or zone (no phones at the table is a good one). 2. Delete any apps that you do not use.

5. Food

Just because the store is more than happy to offer 9 million types of chips, this does not mean we have to buy in to excess. Jen Hatmaker wrote a book titled Seven in which her family identified 7 areas of excess in their life (food, clothing etc), focusing on how to simplify 1 of them each month. They simplified each category down to 7 items. This wasn’t meant to be a way to live long-term but an experiment to bring more mindfulness to what they were consuming and how they were spending their time and money. I took the food challenge for fun, only eating 7 types of food for a month. Though this is extreme, it did bring more mindfulness to consumption, and had the added benefit of decreasing the grocery bill! 

*Challenge: Pick a meal prep day (Sunday works well) and prep some dinners and all school lunches for the week.

Enjoy your simpler life!

Make Space Mondays

“Make Space Mondays”. It has a nice ring to it, eh? I’ll be starting a series of posts every other Monday about something either in our mental space or our physical environment that we can make more space for. It may be deep or it may be casual and light. Consider it an invitation. An opportunity. An opportunity to start the week with intention. I liken it to the motto of Never Miss a Monday in the exercise world. Let’s cultivate some good habits (I’m right there with you) to get our heads, hearts, and spaces ready to make the most of our week. What a gift it is that we get to start a new week with fresh perspective, letting go of last week’s mistakes or trials and embracing the blessings that this week, this day, this moment brings. 

Make Space For Mistakes.

Ever heard of the growth mindset? Carol Dweck wrote a great book about it and included this: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” This mindset is in opposition to a fixed mindset, the belief that you either are or aren’t good at something, based on your inherent nature. The schools are really focusing on this recently – cultivating a growth mindset in our kiddos, encouraging them to try something new and allowing them to fail without anyone sweeping in to save them to make it all better. Here, in this space, resilience develops. 

The growth mindset not only allows for, but welcomes, mistakes. What if our babies gave up at walking after failing the first few times?  They’re not over there sitting in their high chairs condemning themselves. They get up and try again! And they eventually succeed! Maybe it’s in that moment, or later that day, or not for another month or two. They don’t understand timelines. They just move. And try. One step at a time. Without judgment. Without comparison. 

Let’s show ourselves that same grace. Give yourselves a darn break. Screw something up! Better yet, let your kids see you screw something up and react kindly toward yourself when you do. Failing doesn’t mean we ARE a failure. It has nothing to do with our worth. It just means we are learning something new or that we are working on something that may not come naturally to us. Couldn’t we all use some more of this in our lives? Go forward this Monday with grace, friends. You deserve it.

Decluttering Sentimental Items

Let’s jump into a tough topic here. No, no, we’re not discussing how to achieve world peace. We’re talking about something that can evoke some big emotions…decluttering sentimental items!

As a professional organizer, it is NOT my place to determine what people should and should not keep. It IS my place to bring thoughtfulness and respect to the scenario, acknowledging that our items can be deeply personal and can put a smile on our face or spark a great memory from a time in our lives that’s worth preserving. However, let’s explore this a little bit and be open to different perspectives or ways to think about these sentimental items. 

First of all, I would not recommend starting with decluttering anything that is sentimental. Start with easier non-sentimental areas and items first. Then, after you’ve exercised your organizing muscles, you’ll be more equipped to tackle the harder stuff. Often, then, you’ll view the sentimental items differently. You may be ready to move them along or, conversely, you may have created enough available space to keep these priority sentimental items due to the previous decluttering work you accomplished. 

Having some sentimental things does not necessarily mean you have clutter. But when these seem excessive, exceed your space, or conjure up negative feelings, perhaps they’re no longer serving you. The value is not in the item itself. The value is in the memory of it. Let’s explore some ways to preserve the memories while releasing some of the clutter, and the accompanying weight of the clutter. 

decluttering sentimental items

Choose your favorites.

If you have a large collection of the same or similar pieces, consider keeping your favorites and parting with the rest. You may find that you notice and appreciate the items even more when they’re not lost in a sea of others.

Share with others. 

Your grandmother’s china? You could split the set and gift pieces to several family members who would find joy in these heirlooms.

Take pictures. 

Make a fun photo album with captioned photos of the items and the memories they hold. You can then donate or sell the pieces themselves.

Have a sale and do something special with the proceeds. 

If you inherited pieces that have monetary value, hold a sale and use the proceeds to donate to a cause that was near and dear to your loved one’s heart. If he or she was a nature lover, you could plant a tree in their memory and find great joy in watching it blossom year after year. 

decluttering sentimental items


Think of a way to utilize your items in a way that provides purpose and meaning, turning clutter into utility or beauty. My grandmother had a spoon that my mom made into a ring for me. I wear it daily and am reminded of her much more often than had the spoon been tucked away in the back of a drawer. 

Overall, let your intuition guide you in this space. If an item does hold special meaning to you, by all means, keep it. Cherish it. If it does not hold special meaning, you’ll find that releasing that clutter will free you up to make space for what truly matters to you.

You, Yes, YOU Can Do Hard Things

I left a great corporate gig after 20 years to start my own business. To take a risk. Me. “Oh, you must be one of those entrepreneurial types”. Nope. At least I never thought of myself that way. “Wow, I wish I could do that. You must be really brave”. Hmmmm, some days I feel that. But overall, not so much. 

Is putting yourself out there and taking a risk easy? Um, NO! So why in the world do we do it? Why do we do hard things? Is the reward that accompanies the hard thing worth it? Yes! Life is in the journey. Character is built, barriers are broken, growth abounds.

dream big sign, do hard things

This summer, I often took advantage of beautiful sunny days by taking my work poolside. One particularly sweltering day, I grabbed my usual lounge chair on the perimeter of the pool, overlooking a basketball court. There was just one person on the court, a guy who looked to be in his mid teens. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, he proceeded to pass the ball to himself, run toward the hoop, and attempt to catch and dunk the ball. Dripping in sweat, he failed. Over and over again. 

I just sat there watching, contemplating what it means to do hard things and speculating what his motivation was. How long would he keep at it? What was his ultimate goal? Eventually, after a great toss and a particularly determined jump, he successfully dunked the ball. 

do hard things

Unbeknownst to me, he had garnered the attention of other onlookers, who started cheering at his accomplishment. I found myself so proud of this complete stranger for doing the hard thing. It’s so freeing when the sense of competition with one another is allowed to melt away. This guy’s accomplishment did not take anything away from anyone else’s goals. We were created not to see how we can “one up” each other, but to support one another, in community. Author Rachel Hollis says it best when she says we are “Made for More”. Each of us has unlimited capability.

I found it helpful to further reason through this topic of “doing hard things” by way of  identifying some lies and truths in this space. The more aware we are of these lies and how they try to talk us out of doing the hard thing, or chasing the dream, the more we can argue right back with the truth, and gain the courage needed to move forward. 

Lies and Truths:

Lie #1I’m not good enough. You could substitute the word good with any number of things…not capable enough, not knowledgeable enough, not brave enough. Ever heard of the Imposter Syndrome? Boiled down, it’s the notion that you somehow achieved success, but you don’t really belong. You don’t actually have what it takes. It’s accompanied by negative self talk and feelings of inadequacy. Hold on here. Who in the actual world gets to tell you whether you belong? Whether you’re enough? And, who are you looking to to define this for you? Random people on the internet who appear to have figured it all out? We will get nowhere if we compare our insides with other people’s outsides or our beginnings with their middles or ends. 

Truth #1You are just as worthy and capable as ANYONE to reach for a goal.  In this moment you are capable of more than you realize. You CAN do hard things! You are capable of comforting a hurting child, making that deal, starting an exercise program, learning a skill, decluttering a home, extending grace. And you are enough. Right now. Not down the road, when you’ve somehow “earned” worthiness. Nonsense. Worthiness has nothing to do with how often you volunteer, whether you make food from scratch, whether you work outside the home or not, or anything else. What a great example we can be for our kids in this space. When we see ourselves and others as already worthy, they will, too.

do hard things

Lie #2 The Joneses have it all figured out. This Instagram culture of cultivating a perfect looking feed does not tell the whole story. The Joneses home, possessions, lifestyle (or how these things appear), as well as how they define success has nothing to do with you and your life.

Truth #2There is more than enough room at the table. Comparison is unhealthy, unhelpful, and we need to knock it off. Seriously! I know, it’s easier said than done, but it will rob us of our joy if allowed to fester. All that being said, however, sometimes people really ARE rocking life! Instead of feeling threatened by that, let’s cheer on our brothers and sisters! Let’s be genuinely happy for their successes. All ships are lifted up with a rising tide.

do hard things, you are enough sign

Lie #3 – You just don’t have time to take on one more thing. My heart goes out to anyone feeling overextended or burdened. It’s a heavy weight to bear and we’ve ALL been there. There are certainly seasons of life when we’re in the trenches. Parenting little people, caring for aging parents, or perhaps navigating a particularly taxing work situation, relationship, or financial struggle may not be the best times to tackle a huge life goal. But, there are always little opportunities to prioritize and be intentional with how we spend our time and energy.

Truth #3 You can gain more control over your schedule, your commitments, your life. The first step is being aware of how you currently spend your time. Sometimes reaching for our phones is just a habit – one that drains our time and energy. Redirecting a mere 15 minutes of this time towards the pursuit of a meaningful goal can go a long way towards forming a new habit and accomplishing the hard thing.

Secondly, outline your priorities. Then, attack anything on your schedule that does not align with your priorities. It’s ok to say no! Be sure to allow yourself grace with this exercise. The goal isn’t being 100% productive all the time, but, instead, baby steps, awareness and intentionality. 

Though being of service to others is important, cultivating time for you and what makes you tick is important, too! Carving out space for stillness, or to hustle toward a big dream, or for self care, is something you have the right to do, guilt free. Chase those dreams! Do the hard things! You’ve got this! 

6 Steps to Organize ANY Space

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

So you’re on board with the benefits of an organized space and are ready to get after it? Fantastic! Now you’re ready for a down and dirty step-by-step guide for HOW to organize your space. Here’s the secret. Ready….? It doesn’t matter whether you’re organizing a closet, garage, pantry or any other space, the method for how to organize is the SAME.

1. Take EVERYTHING out.

I mean everything. So many aha moments come from seeing ALL.THE.THINGS. out in one place. Together. In all their piled glory. This is when you realize you have 4 nearly identical grey sweaters or discover that the pair of gloves you thought was lost was just hidden in the back of a drawer.

2. GROUP into like categories.

Look for similarities between your items. Your clothing categories could include sweaters, loungewear, dresses, jackets, summer tops, etc. Keep the categories broad. Tip*: Move fairly quickly through this step. Your focus in this step is grouping. It is not yet on deciding what stays and what goes.

3. SORT.

Find 5 boxes or bags and label them: 1. Keep, 2. Relocate, 3. Trash, 4. Donate, 5. Sell. The relocate box will contain items you want to keep but that should really live in another area of the home. Go through each item, one by one, and put it in one of the 5 boxes. The keep box should contain only items that fit within the space that you are decluttering. Now pat yourself on the back for just completing the hardest part of the whole process! Tip*: If you start to experience decision fatigue, take a break. You can get back to it when you’re fresh.

how to organize, books lined up

4. ASSIGN a home for every item you’re keeping.

For each item that you decided to keep/relocate, you’ll now assign a specific place for it to live. One of THE biggest contributors to clutter is not having homes for things. Sometimes those homeless items have several possible places they could be, or they float around the house here and there. Find a single place where each item will live and put it away there after each use. Tip*: Make sure to bring other members of your household in on this so the responsibility of maintaining spaces can be shared.


This is the fun part! There are a multitude of fun, functional, and beautiful containers out there. Some multi purpose options include this one at a great price point, *these lazy susan turntables (for pantries, crafts, under sink), any *iDesign acrylic organizers, and these beautiful *baskets. Or get creative with using and repurposing containers that you already have. 

how to organize, containers

6. Develop a plan to MAINTAIN.

Determine what systems should be put in place to help you maintain your newly organized space. What habits would it be helpful to employ? For example, now that everything fits nicely into your space, adopting a One-in-One-Out rule to manage the inflow of items into your home will help to keep your space in tip top shape. 

Now that you know HOW to organize, the sky is the limit! Enjoy your new clutter free environment and go live your life!

Escaping the Culture of Busyness

How busy are you this fine day? Busy as a bee, right? After all, we live in a culture of busyness. It’s almost assumed. You’re doing all the things. You’re parenting, working, planning, cleaning, socializing, playing, chauffeuring, scheduling, and perhaps carrying the mental load of managing a household. The list is endless. And you’re knocking it out of the park! You really are! 

We’re created to be productive, to contribute, to add value. We get a deep sense of satisfaction when we work hard at something and see it come to fruition. Yet, I would argue that being busy and being productive don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Sometimes life is busier than other times, for sure. And, if you’re someone who thrives on the rush of having a packed schedule and you feel content in your busyness, more power to you. It’s great to have the self awareness to know what makes you tick. Or, perhaps you don’t love the crazy pace of life right now, but it truly seems necessary as you’re juggling everything life throws your way. Maybe you’re caring for loved ones, starting a new job, or going back to school.

I would simply like to offer some strategies for anyone with a nagging sense of feeling toooooo busy and too tired of running around at 100 mph.

I often saw this in my corporate career. People’s schedules are filled with meetings. So many meetings – some productive and needed, some not so much. Do we question why we’re doing something? Or are we just moving from one thing to the next? It seems socially acceptable, even admirable, to be busy. And there’s this underlying sense of busyness as a badge of honor. After all, if you’re busy, you’re valuable. You’re important. Heck, you’re indispensable. Right?! 

culture of busyness, quote that being busy does not equal being productive

Well, there’s a lot of research on the positive correlation between stillness/quieting your mind and innovation. Google has famously adopted a 20% time philosphy, giving its’ engineers one day a week to work on whatever they want – projects that interest them but may be outside of their day to day job responsibilities. It’s in this space of mental freedom that we can really listen. And this listening can open up thought to be receptive to those innovative ideas and aha moments. We’re not looking to put the brakes on the doing. Doing is necessary. We’re just looking for some mindfulness and intentionality which can often come from slowing down.

Here are some suggestions for how to get off the busy train. 

Adjust your schedule to align with your values. 

If you’re volunteering at the school out of a feeling of obligation, but it’s not your jam, there are other ways to contribute. If you are spending hours cleaning your house because of how others may perceive you, but you are personally ok with it as is, then stop! You do you. You do NOT need to buy into the culture of busyness! This is not selfish. It will bring out the best version of you. And this best version will inevitably show up as the best _____ (employee, leader, spouse, friend, mom, etc) for others.

Schedule down time.

It would be nice to think we can carve out down time simply by hoping it will happen, or loosely planning for it. But many of us are so accustomed to living by our calendars, so embrace that by scheduling down time just like you would schedule a meeting. This is a really effective strategy because it increases the likelihood that you’ll follow through. It could be just for 1/2 hour. Maybe it’s right before bed, or when the baby is napping, or during lunch hour. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel after taking some time to recharge. Take a walk, connect with a loved one, or whatever else it is that fills your tank.

culture of busyness, daily planner shown, reinforcing text which suggests scheduling down time into your day.

Consider outsourcing. 

Warning: Side effects may include extreme feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Having someone else clean your home when you’re perfectly capable? Yes! It is ok. I understand this may not be in your budget, so consider other ways to share the responsibility with other family members. Your daughter has a ton of energy and enjoys being on the move? Great! She can be in charge of swiffering or an active outside chore.

Other free ways to outsource include swapping kid care with friends or family so you can enjoy some me time or a night out. 

Set a time limit for tasks. 

Are you familiar with the clever children’s book series by Laura Joffe Numeroff? Titles include If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The idea is that one thing leads to the next. If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask for some milk. When you give him some milk, this triggers something else, and so on. In adult speak, when we open the fridge to start dinner, we notice that we’re low on milk. We add milk to the grocery list, but realize the pens in our junk drawer are running low. And, my that junk drawer is a mess. Let’s just take a minute to organize that. And. And. And. What were we having for dinner again? 

If we don’t tell our day how it’s going to roll, the day tells us. Then, we don’t get to the true priorities on our list, which compounds our feeling of busyness, as we move those items to tomorrow’s already full list.

Instead, set a timer for household tasks and walk away after that. It’s amazing how productive we can be when we stay focused for a short amount of time. I’d suggest 10-20 minutes, depending on the task.

Culture of busyness, picture of a clock to reinforce the text which suggests setting a timer to increase efficiency with tasks.

Acknowledge that you are in the driver’s seat of your life. 

But… my work requires me to be in meetings all day. But…my kids are little and need me 24/7. I hear you. I hear you, sister. However. You are not a slave to your schedule. Let me repeat. You. Are. Not. A. Slave. To. Your. Schedule. Question the need for another meeting! Ask that your kids wait 2 seconds before giving them a glass of water while you step outside for a breath of fresh air! It is ok. Verbalize to loved ones that you’re looking for ideas and support for how to steer of the culture of busyness and watch as they come up to bat for you. You are in the driver’s seat of your life.


3 Lies About Getting Organized

1. “I’m just not an organized person”. Consider that statement for a minute. Or its close cousin “I’m just not wired that way”. Do you believe these to be true about yourself? Maybe you think of yourself more as the creative type. Both of these things are wonderful – being organized AND being creative. However, these labels don’t serve us. They limit us. And they can prevent us from believing that it’s possible to grow into other spaces.

Organizing may not come naturally to you, but there’s a spectrum and we’re all on it somewhere, fully capable of progressing along it. Organizational skills are named such because they’re just that….skills! Skills that anyone can learn! It just takes the willingness to embrace the beauty of being a beginner – of practicing, trying, adjusting, and shifting our mindset to one that believes growth is possible. Or, better yet, that growth is inevitable.

sign says you've got this, encouraging reader that they CAN be and get organized

2. “Getting organized takes so much time”. I get it. It feels like one more thing on your already full plate. Between family obligations, raising kids, running a household, working, and trying to carve out some time for yourself, life is full. But, do you know what? We find time for what matters. If you’re committed to taking some steps towards greater organization, and the ensuing freedom that it brings, the time will be there! Improvement in the organization of just one space can make a huge difference, as a little goes a long way! And, it will likely provide you with motivation to do more, so roll with it! Click here for a blog post containing suggestions of where to start!

Yes, it’s true, the initial room by room process of going from cluttered to clear takes time. But the great news is that, with some systems in place, good habits, and a healthy dose of discipline, keeping the space organized is totally achievable! It will take you significantly LESS time than before to tidy up, find things, and maintain your space. And the mental peace that an organized environment will provide you is priceless. 

3. “Being organized is all about perfection and that’s not obtainable”. You might see all those Instagram posts with spaces that are sparse, cold, dare I say perfect looking – without a thing out of place. That’s not real life…right? Well, we all know that Instagram doesn’t reflect all of life – but rather a moment in time. Before the kids rummaged through the pantry or the milk spilled or the school paperwork got sprawled all over the counter. The list goes on.

However, let’s take a deeper look at what’s behind the photos, and whether these things seem desirable and achievable. For example, a photo may reflect a sense of order, an intentional use of space, a tidied room, or a smart use of containers. Containerizing is simply a logical grouping of like items that enables those items to be more easily located. That’s helpful! And achievable! Right? The goal isn’t perfection. It’s increased functionality. And freedom. And peace. To make space for what matters to YOU. Everyone’s “why” looks a little different and that’s the beauty of it. And EVERYONE can learn the skills to become more organized.

7 Steps to an Organized Pantry

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

An organized pantry is one of the top requests from clients. And, it’s no wonder, as it’s used daily by multiple members in your household. It has the ability to make you motivated and inspired to prepare great food, to start your day out with a feeling of calm OR the complete opposite. A cluttered pantry can make meal prep feel chaotic, can be a cause of overspending (because we can’t see what we have!) and can cause us stress. No one needs that! Let’s take our pantries back, friends! Check out these 7 steps to an organized pantry.

1. Determine your pantry’s purpose.

Seems obvious, right? Store food? Sure. But, perhaps your pantry serves as a multi-purpose space for keeping food AND cleaning supplies, overstock, pet food, appliance storage, etc. If you have enough space, it’s intentional, and it works for you, that’s great! But, if your pantry has become a dumping ground for everything but the kitchen sink, it’s time to get clear on what your pantry’s purpose is and what it is not. Go ahead and find a new home for anything that doesn’t fit within your pantry’s purpose. 

2. Empty out your pantry.

I promise it’ll be worth the time it takes to do this. You’ll find expired items, duplicates, and things that belong somewhere else (you remembered that “purpose” step above, right?) Get rid of anything that is expired, broken, or that you no longer need.

3. Decide on pantry zones.

These will likely correspond to what containers you will use and how you will allocate your space. Do you need a baking zone? A snack category? Other common ones include pasta or grains, drinks, eat first, treats, or dinners. Once you’ve identified these zones/categories, you’ll be ready for step 4. 

4. Containerize.

Containerizing serves a helpful purpose in defining the space we’re allocating toward a certain item or category. Without these boundaries, it’s easy to overstuff a shelf, making it hard to see what you have. It works well to decant your dry goods/baking goods into containers such as *these OXO containers (my absolute favorite). The link is for a large size great for flour or sugar. There are lots of other sizes as well.

Containers make items visible and help you to see when items are running low. Have fun with this step! What is your personal style? Do you prefer the homey warmth of baskets, the utility of a great acrylic bin? Are you looking to utilize what you already own? Fantastic! 

Container resources: The Container Store, Amazon, Target, Home Goods, and Bed Bath and Beyond are all great for containers.

5. Label.

Particularly if you have several different kinds and styles of containers in your pantry, the simple addition of utilizing consistent labels will bring a cohesive look to your space. Labels can be functional and fun! You can use a label maker (*here’s a good one), purchase inexpensive *chalkboard labels, or make your own! Labels are easy to change out down the road if you have a new category or if something isn’t working for you. Tip: It works well to keep your label category names generic. Unless you always have Fritos on hand, for example, it’s best to use the label of snacks. This affords you maximum flexibility and increases the likelihood that you’ll have a category just perfect for that new product you’re waiting to try.

spices with labels lined up in a cupboard, organized pantry

6. Utilize all the spaces.

An organized pantry is one where all the space you have is maximized. If you have a pantry with a door, consider how to use the back of the door for additional storage. Or you can add hooks to walls to hang up aprons or dish towels. I’m a fan of putting large bins on the pantry floor for overstock or to house those bulk Costco purchases.

Lazy Susans are helpful for oils and vinegars or any round items. *Here is a great one. Or *this divided one. Even if your pantry consists of just a small cupboard, consider how to maximize it by adding risers or command hooks throughout. 

7. Maintain.

Once you have your categories, containers, and labels, the space largely maintains itself. Really! If you find a category that’s overflowing (ours is snacks!), readjust your space and your containerizing to accommodate your real life. Or, you could purchase fewer snacks…nah! Ensure everyone in the household is prepped on where things get put away in your new and improved organized pantry and get on with the more exciting things in your life! 

Decluttering Jumpstart – “5 Things”

Here’s a little hack I use, a game, if you will, when I’m looking to do a decluttering jumpstart. It’s great for times when I want to feel productive, but don’t necessarily have the time or energy for something more ambitious. This typically occurs at the end of the day when I’m winding down, but feel like accomplishing a little something more. I call it “5 things”. I find 5 things to get rid of from anywhere in the house. Sometimes this entails items to throw away or recycle such as papers that are no longer needed, or items to donate or sell.

The beauty of a decluttering jumpstart is that it’s quick, doable, and it really does make a difference. Even if I just did the 5 things exercise the day before, I can always (always!) find 5 more things the next day. These easy little daily decluttering habits help to contribute to a home that stays relatively clutter free. 

You can do this as frequently as you want. Daily, weekly, or whenever you feel like it. I make a phone calendar entry titled “5 things” because, let’s face it, the things we write down have a tendency to get done. If you feel like overachieving you could always up your game and find “10 things”, or as many as you can in a short time period. Here’s what I found in today’s installment of “5 things”.

Decluttering Jumpstart image with 5 different household items selected to declutter - mix of trash and recycling

Other Ideas of Items to Declutter:

  • School paperwork
  • Clothes – damaged, not worn or don’t fit
  • Expired or unused toiletries or personal care products 
  • Mail – catalogs, ads
  • Extra boxes
  • Hair accessories
  • Old photos
  • Socks without mates
  • Food storage containers with no lids
  • Expired food
  • Books 
  • Vases
  • Writing utensils
  • Picture frames
  • Tools
  • Office paperwork
  • Junk drawer items
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Dried out pens
  • Items from the depths of the kid’s backpacks;)

5 Back to School Organization Tips

*Disclosure: The amazon links included in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

It’s back to school time! Here in the Midwest the air is getting crisp and the leaves will soon change colors. Along with nature’s metamorphosis, our schedules and routines find new rhythms as well. Here are 5 tips and proactive strategies to help you not only survive but thrive during this time of back to school transition!

1. Control School Paperwork

Anyone with preschool or elementary aged kids, in particular, knows what I mean when I say there are just sooooo many papers! But, you CAN stay on top of it! It’s all about having systems that prevent the paperwork volume from getting out of control and help to ensure papers get to the right place at the right time. 

  • Artwork/Projects. Instead of letting these accumulate, ask your child to select their favorite piece to display on the fridge for a few days, then rotate it out and replace with something else. Acknowledge the work your child put into their masterpieces. Toss the rest or file it away. The photo below is a keepsake box we made for my daughter. My son has one as well. It’s simply a file folder box with a labeled pendaflex file for each year baby through 12th, 1 bin per child. Here are the *links: bins, files, chalkboard labels, and chalk pens. We have a separate container for the kids to put their selected work in throughout the year (when they want to keep everything). Then, by the end of the year, they’re typically ready to choose their favorites to be moved into their keepsake box.
  • Papers that need to be returned to school. Have your child empty their backpack each afternoon, ideally right when they get home from school. Designate a place for your child to put any papers that you need to see (permission slips, homework to sign). Maybe it’s the kitchen counter or perhaps you prefer papers to be handed directly to you to handle right then. Whatever works for you and your family. Go through the paperwork by evening so your child can put everything in their backpack BEFORE the next morning. Mornings bring their own surprises and demands on our time, so the fewer things we need to remember at that point, the more likely our kiddos will arrive at school with what they need. Encourage your child’s growing independence and age appropriate accountability for having what they need in their backpack.

2. Prep Lunches

Before the start of each week, determine what days your kids will have hot vs. cold lunch.

  • Cold Lunch:
    • Choose a prep day. We like to take Sundays to make all the school lunches for the week. Sandwiches can be frozen (minus the lettuce, tomatoes, etc), then moved into a lunchbox the morning of the day they will be eaten. There may be other last minute adds, but you can get 90% of the way there before the rush of a school morning.
    • Involve the kids. Even young kids can take an active role in packing their own lunch. Your kids are more than capable of assembling their own lunch. Really! You can set guidelines and pre-fill bins for them to choose from (ie pick 1 thing from the snack bin, 1 from the veggie bin, etc). Make it fun with a packing party. Turn on some music, put everything out on the counter and watch the kids enjoy making some of their own lunch choices. If you have a picky eater, you’ll find they’ll be more likely to eat their lunch if they played a role in the preparation.
  • Hot Lunch:
    • Sit down with your child to review the hot lunch menu for the upcoming week and to select what they would like to eat. Be sure you’ve deposited any needed funds into their account so you’ll be set for the week.
    • Even if your child is having hot lunch, they may want to bring something from home for a school snack, so select it either as part of your morning routine or the previous evening’s routine.
apple and books and pencils on table, representing school in general

3. Employ Routines

Morning, afternoon and evening routines are helpful not just for kids, but for the adults in their life, too! These systems (that eventually become habits) provide consistency, opportunities to develop responsibility, and good time management.

  • Morning: Grab that already packed lunch:), add any other backpack items needed such as a jacket for a chilly morning. Try to allow enough time for your child to eat a decent breakfast, and not feel too rushed. Establish a short list of things for your young child to do each morning (get dressed, eat breakfast, make bed, brush teeth, etc). Make it fun with a chart or other visuals.
  • Afternoon: Have your child unpack their backpack and grab a snack. Your child may need some time to unwind right after school, or they may be the type to jump right into their homework. Either way works. Take cues from your child as far as what seems to work the best for them.
  • Evening: Prepare for the next day by setting out/packing any items needed for the next day. If the next day is library day, have your child put the books in their backpack. We’ve finally learned our lesson after some frantic mornings trying to find lost books! Have a consistent bedtime routine that may include reading, snuggles, and lights out. This time can seem like anything BUT a peaceful time, I know! But a routine can help your child know what to expect and calm any back to school jitters. Sweet dreams! 

4. Develop a Schedule Strategy

The day-to-day schedule for back to school likely looks very different from the slower pace of a summer schedule. Take the opportunity to get all family members aligned on what is happening when.

  • Calendars: Find a central place to post schedules of extracurricular activities. The refrigerator is a nice spot for this. Consider a master family calendar that has everyone’s activities in one place. That way, it’s easy to spot any schedule overlaps or extra busy times.
  • Communicate: Have a touch base with the whole family over the weekend to review the upcoming week’s schedule. Include discussion on how to divide and conquer a busy after school schedule. It’s also a great time to offer support to a family member who may have a challenging week ahead – a parent with a big meeting, or a child taking exams. 
calendar shown, representing a family back to school calendar management system

5. Connect

Every year, it seems that there is a new school app or way to communicate with your school or teacher. It’s a lot to keep up with! It will pay off down the road to take some time to wrap your head around it. Download the app and follow the school page on Facebook or Instagram. Ensure all caregivers do this so that everyone is getting the same information. You do not need to be the sole keeper of all the happenings! Also, develop a list of resources, including carpool opportunities or backup before or after school childcare providers. This will be a handy resource that you can reach out to in a pinch.

Where to START Decluttering

Congratulations! You’re motivated to declutter and that’s half the battle! However, if you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed at the thought of tackling your WHOLE ENTIRE HOUSE, don’t despair! Like most things in life, the best way to start decluttering and organizing is one step at a time. 

Here are 5 recommendations of where to start decluttering. These ideas should give you the jump start that you need, so choose one that speaks to you and get after it! You’ve got this! 

1. Start With the Area That Causes the Most Stress.

In other words, the place that makes you cringe when you walk by or spend time there. Tackling this first will give you the biggest return on your investment and motivate you to keep going.

2. Begin With Something Easy

If you’re feeling really overwhelmed, or don’t have a lot of time to devote to this, commit to tackling just one drawer, or a corner of a room. Set a timer for 15 min., stay focused on the task, then be amazed by how much you accomplish!

3. Tackle a Visible Area

You’ll experience the benefit of seeing the fruits of your labor, which will likely lead you to tackle another space. 

4. Get Rid of the “DUDs” 

DUDs refers to Damaged, Unused or Duplicates. We tend to hang on to broken items thinking that we’ll fix them “someday”. Either commit to fixing them now or move ‘em along. 

5. When in Doubt, Start With the Bathroom

This room is typically small and not likely to contain many sentimental items that can be emotionally taxing to declutter.

Now, you are well on your way! Also, don’t forget the power of POSITIVITY. I call this “No Limits and No Labels”. There are no limits to what you can accomplish. Also, be careful not to label yourself as “not the organized type”. This is about progress, not perfection. Anyone can do it, including you! 

See this post for a step by step guide on HOW to declutter.

How to Organize Your Car

*Disclosure: The amazon link included in this post is an affiliate link. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Many of us are in our vehicles every day. We’re transporting kids, hauling groceries, commuting to work, eating snacks or a quick meal. It’s no wonder our car interiors can look like a tornado came through. We often forget about organizing this space. No more! A few products, systems, and habits will go a long way toward ensuring you have a peaceful functional space while out on the road. Check out these ideas for how to organize your car.

1. Containerize the Center Console

This is my #1 game changing tip. Gone are the days of treating this area as one giant catch all. I love these photo boxes from The Container Store to organize everything. They’re inexpensive, versatile, fit well in consoles, and come in a couple different sizes. I recently adopted this system and love it! I labeled each of the containers, so there’s now a designated place for: snacks, mints/gum, writing, and cleaning (tissue, baby wipes, etc). Other categories could include teeth, hair, or chargers.

2. Designate a Place for Trash

Without a specific place for this, it’s human nature to just put our trash where it’s convenient (pockets of the door, on the floor, hand it up to mom). Provide the back seat kiddos with their own trash bag, within reach.

3. Stow Reusable Bags in Your Trunk

Many people keep these in their pantry. But, we often need to use these when we’re on the go. A great alternative is to store them in your trunk so they’re always accessible. They don’t take up much room and can come in handy for that quick grocery stop or even to contain wet clothes or an outfit change after a trip to the pool, beach, or park. You can keep your reusable bags (and so much more) in a tote like *this one. It’s what I use to stow all my organizing supplies. It’s roomy, durable, and has a great price point.

4. Use the Seat Back Pockets

This is the perfect place to keep activity books or other reading material for the kids. Remember to rotate the books periodically to keep them fresh.

5. Remember the Necessities

Do you have up to date insurance and registration in your glove compartment? Pack a small bag for your trunk containing jumper cables, a basic toolkit and other seasonal items like an umbrella or a winter blanket.