New Year, New You?

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

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

calendar depicting a year for new years resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

2. Beware of right goal, wrong time.

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

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

3. Identify your end goal AND daily habits

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

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

big goals are achieved one step at a time

4. Language and mindset matters.

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

5. Employ habit stacking.

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

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

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

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

Organization – Making it Stick

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

1. Commit to picking up.

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

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

list to organize

2. Everyone does their part.

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

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

teamwork sign so everyone organizes

3. Regulate what is in your home.

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

4. Let your systems work for you.

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

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

5. Make adjustments.

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

6. Employ daily habits.

organizing laundry

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

7. Ask for help.

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

Approaching the New Year…

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Or, perhaps you choose a word, an intention or a focus area. This year, my guess is that many people are happy to leave 2020 behind. Yet, it’s a particularly appropriate time to not just kick 2020 to the curb, but to reflect on it. What did you learn that you want to apply to the following year? How did your priorities shift, or solidify? What did you gain greater clarity around?

Here are some thoughts to guide how we can approach our intentions for the new year.

1.Write it down.

There’s so much research supporting the fact that when you write down a goal, you increase the likelihood of achieving the goal. It adds to a feeling of accountability, too, so break out that planner, your phone, a notebook – whatever you have. If it’s on paper, consider posting it somewhere that is visible. This helps to remind us of the commitment we’re making!

writing new year's resolutions down

2. Be specific.

Do you want to “get better at X skill”? Expressed in that way, it isn’t specific, so who knows if it’ll happen?! If, on the other hand, you specifically call out “taking one virtual conference/quarter on the topic of communication”, you WILL get better at communication! That will be the by-product of your intentional, specific steps and focus in that area.

new year's inspirational note

3. Keep it simple.

Having your sights set on something big and challenging is not inherently bad. But, the trouble with resolutions is that they don’t stick, because they’re often too big to bite off at one time. We can’t gain momentum if we never get started!

Another reason to keep resolutions to a manageable level is because resolutions are often things we’ve struggled to gain traction on in the past. They may be areas that don’t come naturally to us, or things we’ve been unsuccessful at in the past. Because of this, we need to be extra kind to ourselves. Keeping it simple means we’ll be more likely to take that first step. We tell ourselves that we really want “that thing” (eating zero sweets all year, for example), but it may not be realistic given where we are today (daily sweets). It becomes a mental barrier that holds us back. Let’s walk before we run.

4. Throw out the rules.

Who says you only can have 1 resolution? Maybe you want to choose 1 thing in each of several categories, such as spirituality, business, parenting, marriage, or self improvement? If you do go for multiple things, though, make sure to keep each of them simple!

5. Put triggers in place.

happy new year sign in blocks

Proactively think about what will help you to keep the focus on what you selected. If you’ve chosen a focus word such as presence, for example, you could put calendar entries on the first of the month for the entire year saying “Reminder – presence” to help you to keep focus on the word. It’s your trigger to think about, and more importantly, take action on your intention.

It’s all too easy for months or even a whole year to fly by, as we get caught up just keeping the wheels on the bus, that we lose sight of what was important to us in the beginning of the year.

6. Consider continuity.

I love the idea of building on a strength, or digging deeper into a concept, year over year. If you like last year’s focus and want to further dive in, go for it! Continue to build on a strength or improve in a certain area, as a thread that connects the previous year to the next one. Whatever your approach, mindset matters, so let’s roll into the new year with an outlook of positivity and an expectation of good.

Kitchen Organization

*Disclosure: Links included in this post are amazon 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.

If there’s one room in the house worth organizing, it’s definitely the kitchen. It’ll make you feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s the hangout place, the space you’re in morning, noon, and night. It can feel frazzled and chaotic or calm and chill. Here are some tips to get your kitchen organized.

1. Clean the kitchen before bed.

Do the dishes, putz around and pick up. Get it into some semblance of order before heading to bed for the night. Yep, you’re tired from your day, but your morning will thank you.

2. Pare down dishes.

Somehow, we accumulate dishes – mismatched plates and miscellaneous bowls. We may use them because they’re just, well, there. But, we could easily get by on fewer. Determine how many sets of dishes you really need, and go through your current inventory inspecting for pieces that have seen better days – that have been melted in the dishwasher, or are cracked. You get the drift. Anything that is excess, damaged, or no longer fits your lifestyle can go.

3. Corral water bottles.

Talk about accumulation! Water bottles build up from your kids’ sports, the freebies you get at events, or through work. The allure of “free” isn’t always in your favor – like if you don’t have room for the item. Step 1: Pare down to your favorites, or one for each family member. Step 2: Ensure they each have a home. I love the above water bottle holder to keep them neat and tidy.

4. Try drawer dividers.

$20 well spent. They’re great for dresser drawers, bathrooms, and most certainly kitchens. They help to organize messy utensil drawers, food storage container drawers, and anything in between. Bamboo dividers like these are particularly pretty in a kitchen space:

5. Tackle counter clutter.

Pay attention to your pain points here. Is it paper accumulation? Misc. items on the counter? I recommend tucking appliances away. Even a toaster that may be used once/day can have a home in a cupboard as it takes but a minute to get out. If you have items that you like to keep on the counter (a place for keys or change or maybe a diffuser and oils) consider a pretty tray, so at least the items are contained instead of loose on the counter. Here are some decor options:

6. Embrace the junk drawer.

Say what? Did I write that? Sure! We all have miscellaneous things that can be grouped together in a drawer. But, grouped is a key word. See what the similar items are – rubber bands, notepads, pens, keys, etc. Clear acrylic drawer organizers are great for separating out piles so the drawer doesn’t become a jumbled mess.

7. Sort through food storage containers.

This is typically one of the top kitchen pain points. I’m “team lids on” for storing, so you’ll never be searching for lids. But, if you have another storage method that works, go for it! Either way, take some time to pull all the pieces out and make sure everything has a mate – all the bottoms have lids that are supposed to. Discard the rest. Drawer dividers come in particularly handy here if you’re storing containers with lids separate. You can nest the bottoms in each other, install a drawer dividers, and put all the lids on the other side of the drawer.

organized kitchen drawer

8. Organize one drawer or cupboard per day.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Kitchens are no different! Kitchens can feel overwhelming, as there are so many items in so many different cupboards, drawers, spaces. Yet, it’s a simple area to break into chunks because it’s a naturally compartmentalized space. Drawers already exist to help us delineate and contain. So, go with it, and tackle one at a time. Junk drawer one day, utensil drawer another. Before you know it, you’ll have worked your way through the entire space.

9. Develop a paper system.

Counters and horizontal surfaces such as tables are clutter magnets. This includes piles of paper. But, you are the one in control of your paper. You tell it where to go! Bills go here, things to file go here, and recycling goes directly into the recycle bin as it enters your home.

10. Pare down pots and pans.

This is another category where you may have more than you use or need. And, since pots take up so much space, it’s really worth your while to pare down. You’re the one who knows what your favorites are, so based on your cooking preferences and lifestyle, keep what you use and get rid of what you don’t! And, enjoy your organized kitchen!

10 Ways to Simplify Groceries

Let’s face it. Grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking consume a large percentage of our time and finances – day after day, week after week. But, luckily, this is an area that we have a lot of say over – where we shop, how much we’ll spend, what meals we’ll make. With some minor changes, we can streamline the whole process and save a buck in the process. Here are 10 ways to simplify groceries:

1.Use a Rewards Program.

I’ve been using the Fetch Rewards app for awhile now, and it’s great! All you do is scan your grocery receipts, which equate to points that turn into savings. I scan the receipt before I even leave the parking lot – just so I don’t forget or lose the receipt. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can select from a number of reward options. I always choose some $ toward Amazon. Give it a try!

2. Have a budget.

Groceries is one area of your finances that’s relatively easy to adjust, without feeling deprived. A starting point could be $150/person per month, but depending on cost of groceries where you live, the types of food you like to eat, the stores you prefer, and a number of other factors, your number could be higher or lower. Start with whatever you currently spend, then gradually decrease every week from there until you’ve reached the point where you can’t reasonably decrease further.

The number isn’t the point. The point is finding a budget that works for you, and sticking to it by adopting some habits (from this list of 10) that free up cash to be used for more appealing things than a gallon of milk;)!

3. Plan number of dinners.


I find breakfast and lunch to be easy enough to wing, but, I like to at least estimate the number of dinners per week that will be made at home. Take into account how many times you’ll eat out, get take out, and consume leftovers. Some people meal plan to the nines every week – that’s very aspirational. For the rest of us, it’s a great start to decide on the number of dinners, and ensure you have the ingredients on hand to pull those meals together.

4. Start with what you have.

Where’s the first place we typically turn to when planning meals for the week? Pinterest or the internet, perhaps? I find Pinterest to be a source of inspiration, but find I’m starting from square one when a recipe catches my eye – with a total disregard for what I ALREADY HAVE! Start with your refrigerator instead!


What do you already have that may be hiding in the back needing to be eaten up? See what meals you can make from there, only adding those supplemental ingredients to your grocery list – whatever you need to turn that ground turkey into some mean turkey burgers!

5. Keep a running grocery list.

Throughout the week, you’re continually consuming groceries. You just ran out of eggs….add it to the list right then! Your toothpaste is running low. Add it to the list right away! You get the drift! Have one central place for your list and ask that everyone contributes. Don’t rely on your memory or you’ll be bound to forget things and have to go back to the store again. Bonus tip – if you’re familiar with your store, try writing your list in the order of the aisles so that your shopping will be extra efficient!

6. Bring your list to the store.

grocery list

We’ve all been there. You somehow end up at the grocery store, famished, and without a plan or list. Not good on the budget or the food choices. Make sure you bring a list to keep you on track.

7. Purchase in bulk strategically.

I have a love/hate relationship with Costco. More of a love relationship, but it’s all too easy to blow your budget there (the Target of the food world).

Also, bulk purchases take up precious space in your home. So, purchase in bulk strategically. This means sticking to your budget and only buying what you have space for! If you have a tiny kitchen/home and no space for 20 paper towel rolls, don’t buy them.

8. Shop weekly.

Weekly seems to be that sweet spot – not so infrequent that food goes bad, yet not so often that you spend unnecessary time and money running to and from the store. It also feels manageable enough to wrap your head around what’s going on for the next week – when you’ll be out for dinner or have other commitments or scenarios that will impact your food prep and consumption.

If you find it challenging to only shop once/week, revisit tips 2-6 and see if you can up your planning and list making to help accommodate a weekly shopping trip. Sure, sometimes things come up and running to the store to get what you need for that spontaneous hosting is fun! But, keep an eye on the frequency from week to week and you’ll likely find that fewer trips to the grocery store is positively correlated with sticking to your budget.

9. Cook extra.

It’s a lot of effort to cook! You’ll save lots of time by doubling recipes and freezing extras or enjoying them as leftovers.

10. Start a garden.

garden haul

We planted a garden this year, as a family. It’s great because they kids are involved, they learn about food sources, love to eat what they grow, and you save money. Win-win all around.

I think you’ll find that implementing some of these tips to simplify groceries will help you save time and money – without sacrificing nutrition or preferences. And, who doesn’t want that?

Decanting Basics

*Disclosure: All links included in this post are amazon 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.

Decanting….it’s not just for wine. But, what is it? And, what does it have to do with organizing? Decanting is something I often do for clients, and have done extensively in my home. This post has all the decanting basics, as well as answers to the questions you never knew you had!


1. What is decanting?

The process of transferring something from one container to another. In the context of the kitchen, it’s transferring food (let’s say flour) from the original bag into a more permanent and sturdy container. When we get rid of original packaging we free up space in our cupboards and pantries. More on the benefits to follow.

2. Should I decant?

It depends. It comes down to personal preference, and whether you’ll be committed to maintaining it and transferring packages after every grocery haul. I find a lot of value in decanting, and the pros heavily outweigh the cons in my book. But, I’m not here to tell you what to do – only to present information and perspective so you can do what works best for you.

And, this isn’t all or nothing! You can decant certain items and not others. My recommendations are in question 7 below.

  1. Less messy (no dusty flour bags or cumbersome cereal bags)
  2. Keeps food fresher longer/air tight
  3. Food is visible so you know when you’re running low
  4. Save $ in long run (know what you have/won’t buy duplicates)
  5. Fits spaces well (often modular/stackable)
  6. Uniform look
  7. Frees up space
  1. Putting groceries away takes longer
  2. Up front container purchase can be costly

3. How do I know what size containers to buy?

Fortunately, brands such as OXO provide guidelines for what containers work well for commonly decanted foods, so you can purchase exactly what you need. See below image. Guides for their other sizes are on their site.

oxo size guide

4. What is a backstock bin?

A backstock bin is a large container (I like a basket on the floor) that contains excess/bulk items, used to replenish your main stash of food. If you decant a bag of crackers into a container and it overflows, toss the partial bag of crackers into your backstock bin until there’s room for it in the main container. Or, if you purchase 6 boxes of pasta, decant one, and keep the other 5 in backstock until needed.

It’s a way to manage inventory so you know what you have and what you need. How do you know what to put on the grocery list? First, check the container where you decant your items. If it’s empty, check the backstock bin to see if you have replenishment there. If not, the item goes on the grocery list. It’s easy, and keeps your main food areas clutter free!

In the second image below, you’ll see the snack backstock bin on the floor, directly under the main snack bin…all the components of a great organizational system!

overstock bin

5. What containers should I use?

OXO Pop containers are my favorite, Pricey, but worth it.

Mason Jars work well, too:

I like these for cereal:

I love these for spices. They also come in a pack of 36.

There are lots of great options. Look for something clear so you can see what you have, and airtight to maximize shelf life.

oxo containers

6. How do I know the use instructions or expiration date if the original package gets discarded?

I stick these adhesive business card holders onto the backs of containers. Cut out the pertinent instructions, slide in the sleeve, and you’re good to go. I do this with pasta, quinoa and rice, primarily.

As far as expiration dates, we use up food pretty quickly, so it’s not an issue. But, if you want to log the date, write it on the container with a paint pen.

7. Any tips on getting started?

Yes! Start with just a couple categories of food to see how you like it. I recommend starting with cereal, baking staples, or spices. Snacks and other categories can come later, if you find you’re liking the decanting process and experiencing some benefits. Give it a try!