Getting Organized!

What a new year so far! My main goal, as you all know, has been to just be better than the day before. In 2013 we have gotten a pretty good start at something I enjoy so much – organizing! There is nothing better than a clean, clutter free, organized living space. It reduces stress, creates a sense of calmness and makes life so much easier. If there is one thing I can encourage everyone to do is – organize your personal and professional space. Talk about motivation and a sense of ease in day to day operations!

Since the first of the year we have accomplished the following organizational projects:

Pantry – a cause of burden for us has been our overflowing, can’t find anything, chips are crushed, soup is expired, 25 cans of tomatoes but no flour, kind of shelving system. Well, not anymore! With the New Year we performed a complete overhaul. Now, it’s simple. Here is what we did:

  • Removed everything, threw away anything bad, donated anything we wouldn’t eat, wiped down and cleaned shelving – you would be surprised by the crumbs that need to be vacuumed out!
  • Piled together all similar items and restocked in an organized manner. Every pull out shelf has a theme with similar items (snacks, canned goods/condiments, pasta/rice, baking needs/spices, breakfast, bread, etc.)
  • The very bottom is used for bulk and stock piles items like jugs of oil, vinegar, additional dressings, condiments, and things like that.
  • Baking good bulk items (such as flour and sugars) are in matching, air tight containers that are now labeled. These items created the most mess (granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, brown and powdered sugar) are now stored in containers so the messy bags can be thrown away. Not only is it cleaner, but measuring is so much easier and the spillage has been reduced. Not to mention the containers are air tight so the brown sugar seems fresh and soft instead of brick hard when used.
  • All small items like sprinkles, candles, icing tubes, cupcake tins, etc. are all in their own container; to prevent get crushed easily and falling and rolling all over.
  • Nothing is overlapping anything else and only similar items are stacked on top of each other. All labels face outward and all spices are lying with the name facing upward as well.

Refrigerator – our next cause of burden was our unorganized, eggs are balancing on the milk, bottles are on their sides, leftover chaos, butter sticks hit you in the stomach kind of refrigeration unit! Now, wait until you see what we did:

  • Removed everything, threw away items we wouldn’t use or that were out of date, combined same items into 1 bottle. (we had 2 open half full bottles of certain things that are now 1), wiped all containers and bottles down – no more gross mustard tops!
  • Removed all shelves and drawers and washed them with soap and water – did you know everything comes apart in your fridge?! Even the bars on the door.
  • Reorganized the shelves so the items we always have (milk, salsa, green tea, brita water jug) will always fit without having to be stuffed.
  • Reorganized the door shelves so the items we use most frequently are on the first shelf and the rest follow.

Master Closet – the worst, and I say the worst because getting dressed is already a hard enough decision. But, throw on top of that shirts and pants that are clean but piled because they didn’t make the cut for a Monday at work, hangers facing different ways, stumbling on shoes, and scarfs so tangled they might as well be utilized as a giant friendship bracelet!

  • Determined a trash bag section for items that should have been tossed years ago
  • Give away/sell pile
  • Keep pile
  • Removed EVERYTHING, and sorted the keep items in piles based on similar clothing type: (the following items were hung)
    • Tank tops
    • Short sleeve shirts
    • 3 quarter sleeves
    • Long sleeves
    • Nice blouses
    • Jackets/cardigans – yes I am 80
    • Sweaters
    • Sweat shirts
  • The following items were folded and places on the shelves
    • Tank tops
    • Casual t-shirts
    • Jeans, sweat pants, yoga pants
    • Casual long sleeve shirts
  • Vacuumed and wiped down inside of the closet
  • Placed all clothes inside
  • Placed shoes – based on most worn and put the casuals together and the dressier ones together. Older tennis shoes will be sent to the garage where all the other dirty things belong!
  • Hung scarves around the clothes bar – kind of a fancy touch like in a store – and things like hats and belts were neatly placed on shelving.
  • The clothes hampers fit perfectly behind the door and all loose hangers now have a place behind the door to be stored until I need more in the laundry room

Basement Storage – my favorite project of all, we are still working on it! Sunday we went and bought matching plastic tubs so everything could be neatly and safely organized and stored, with labels of course! At the same time it was so fun to go through childhood things and share stories. One cool thing is we got to relive some of our teenage memories together as we went thru things like yearbooks, notes, and pictures!

The best part in all of this – as bad as it sounds – is simplifying and getting rid of unneeded items. A simple life is a happy life. Clutter is such a heavy weight, and hey we are trying to lose some pounds right?! J But really, if you haven’t used it in 6 months, chances are you don’t need it. I always love something sentimental, and it is important to keep a hold of items that are irreplaceable and that you want to pass down. But, one thing that is important is you can’t keep everything! Figure out what you appreciate most and focus on keeping those items.  Here are my keys to revamping successfully with organization:

  • Get rid of anything you don’t need – stop saving things for the ‘just in case.’ If the just in case moment hasn’t come along in a year or five years, it probably won’t. And if it does, chances are the item is like 20 bucks, hopefully you have 20 bucks, or you could borrow someone else’s J  You don’t need your high school Spanish books, VHS’s, 5 dollar Wal-Mart picture frames, books you will never read again, or games you will never play.
  • Donate – there are so many people out there in need. And more than you, they could put to use your extra coffee pot, clothes, and a lamp. Donating to someone in need also makes you feel good, or you can find places that offer you a tax credit.
  • Hoarding for value – chances are items that are collected or held onto are not going to gain you as much money as working one week at your 40 hour job. If you really do have a million dollar piece your grandparents probably already told you the value. Beanie babies, McDonald happy meal toys, porcelain dolls from Macy’s, baseball cards of people who are not in the hall of fame, and checkers are more than likely not going to allow you to quit your job when you sell them to a pawn shop or make it on Antique Road Show. If you think something is worth money research it and if it isn’t, chances are it won’t be in a long time either.
  • Invest in smart storage options – We used the plastic tubs, but chances are if you are saving something you want it to remain in good condition. Get storage items that will protect from wear and tear or possible water damage. Placing a bunch of boxes with tape flying everywhere doesn’t really protect anything and it makes you look like you are moving around things that are broken and have no value. Pack like items together and label them, then when you go to stack and store them you know where things are and everything you need is accessible.
  • Clean under everything – when you have everything removed clean out underneath stuff, everything gathers dust and yuckiness (especially if it is in cardboard) wipe down tubs, items, floors and shelving.
  • Go through things regularly – when you get out the Christmas stuff, if there is something you haven’t used in a year or two, and it doesn’t have sentimental value then get rid of it. Do this each time you put up and remove the yearly décor. Same with all holiday things, kitchen items, etc. If you get something new, chances are you are going to be replacing something else – so in with the old, out with the new!
  • Look for opportunities to save money – one thing I love more than anything is saving some money a.k.a. skrilla! After holidays are the best times to get cheap items for the following year (wrapping paper, bows, name tags, etc.) by cleaning out storage room you should have some new found room to store some of these surplus items. We have 1 bin dedicated to holiday wrapping things like boxes, gabs, bows, ribbon, and tags; then we have a tall bin for wrapping paper. This means we will save the money and they are stored in a way that won’t get ruined! There is no point in purchasing these things if you don’t plan to store them in a way that they stay usable.
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