While I'm blessed to now live in a home where we recently remodeled our kitchen and I have plenty of counter and cabinet space, this was not always the case. One place had only 2 upper cabinets and 2 lower cabinets. The only counter top was next to the sink. Plus, it was an "eat-in" kitchen, so there was a small dining table there, too. That was probably the smallest, but I had a couple others that were almost just as small. Needless to say, I had to learn to be creative with the space.
One of the things I learned along the way - be very picky with what you decide to keep or buy. This applies to food, cookware, and appliances. I did not buy food in bulk (I had no where outside of the kitchen to store things, either). I changed my habit of shopping every two weeks to going weekly. Planning your list is a must - you can't buy too much extra because you don't have the space for it. Also, only have small appliances that you absolutely need - and bonus points for appliances that serve multiple functions. If only the InstaPot was a thing back then! You might have to decide that you can live without a toaster oven, a crock pot, a food processor, etc. Instead use your range, and opt for a microwave and a blender that can chop food. Then, only keep the minimum amount of cookware and other dishes you use. If you have a family of four, only keep enough plates and drinkware for your family plus two more, in case of guests.
Beyond limiting the items in the space, make sure you're using the space you do have efficiently. Think about space you have on the walls, under cabinets, and on the ceiling. Can you add open shelving on a wall? This doesn't have to be pricey shelving - just some nice brackets with stained or painted 1x12 lumber would work nicely. Can you hang a small pot rack - and hang serving utensils there along with your pots and pans?
precious drawer space.
One other thing to consider - keep your counter tops as uncluttered as possible! Put things away when you're done using them. Clean up the dishes right away, rather than letting them pile up. Keeping the counter tops open will make the space feel bigger, which is almost as important as actually being bigger!
What ideas do you have for a small kitchen? Let me know in the comments!
Spring is here!!! I love seeing and hearing all the birds that have returned to our area. We have sandhill cranes (noisy but interesting), geese, and all sorts of songbirds. When I hear the cranes in early March, I know it's time for spring decluttering. Ok, Ok, I know - it's supposed to be spring cleaning. But, you can't get to the cleaning until you move all the stuff out of the way. You might as well do a bit of a purge while you're at it.
I find that beginning with clothing is helpful. Depending on the part of the country you live in, you might be switching out your seasonal clothes. Instead of packing away all the winter stuff, evaluate what you've worn this year, and what you haven't. Has that well loved sweater finally been worn out? Look for excess pilling, holes or stains. Donate children's clothing that they won't fit into next year.
In the kitchen, pull out plastic storage containers - recycle those that have seen better days. Go through food in the pantry and toss anything expired or open boxes/bags of food that has gone stale. Sort through cookware and get rid of nonstick pots and pans that have had the coating chipped off.
The bathroom can be decluttered, too. Old medicines that have expired should be disposed of properly. Half used bottles of shampoos and beauty supplies that you decided you didn't like need to go. Then, look at your towels - are they threadbare or have holes? You can turn one or two into cleaning rags, but throw out the rest.
Depending on how much spring decluttering you want to do, you could even move into storage areas - basements, attics, closets. What things have you been holding on to for years? Are they really useful - what's their purpose? Take a hard look and get into the spirit of the season by getting rid of the old stuff so that you can begin with a fresh outlook.
What's your spring declutter plan? If you don't have one or are having trouble getting started, I'm happy to help! Contact me or comment below.
You probably experience this year after year - you think you're ready to file your taxes, but finding them and ensuring you have what you need is difficult and time-consuming. If your tax preparer spends more time sorting through your receipts and documents than preparing your taxes, you have a problem. Why not get started off on the right foot for next year?
When it comes to setting up a system, simpler is better. But, simpler does not mean everything thrown randomly into a cardboard box - or a plastic bag (yes, I've seen this)! If you create a storage system that is too complex, you won't use it. It becomes cumbersome to file anything away, so you resort to the box method. One of the better methods that works for most people is either a very small file box with hanging files, or an accordion file folder. The one listed below is great because it closes, has enclosed sides and is very portable. Or, if you need something that's heavy duty, choose the plastic banker's box style.
Aim to have only 7 or categories, as you may find it too difficult to manage if you go beyond that. For example, instead of having separate files for your retirement account and your non-retirement related investments, it might make sense to combine those into one file, just labeled investments.
Speaking of labels, be sure you do label your tabs or folders. It does no good to come up with categories if you don't clearly label things. Trust me, I know people who don't label... and they end up getting very confused. When you only have a few categories, labeling can be quick. Labels can be as simple as a post-it note stuck on the tab, or as fancy as a machine made label. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as the label doesn't fall off and is clear to you what is contained in that file.
So, do yourself a favor for next year and get this ready now. It will only take you a few minutes, but save you a ton of time next year. If you aren't sure how to get started, get in touch. I'm happy to help!
As a professional organizer, I’m always interested in hearing new ideas about organizing. Because I tailor my methods according to my client’s needs, I tend to read a lot about what other organizers do and how their methods help clients in specific ways. Enter Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In case you haven’t heard, she calls her method the “KonMari” method… combining her first and last names.
To be honest, I’ve been a bit skeptical of her method since I heard about it, because I didn’t think it really would work in most American family households. Of course, I hadn’t actually read the book, so before I started discounting her work, I wanted to learn about it myself. Now, I am by no means trained in the KonMari method (and yes, there is an actual certification for this), so please keep that in mind. Realize that my opinions are based only on my reading of the book and not through taking her classes.
The very basics of her method are that you start with the premise that you’re deciding only what to keep, not necessarily what to discard. And, you only keep those things that “spark joy.” You do all your tidying by category and you do it all at once. You also verbally thank and appreciate the objects in your home.
Some of the tenants, I certainly agree with. Kondo asserts that the “tidying” must all be done at once. At first, I was laughing hysterically. If she’s been in some of the houses I’ve been in, all at once would have been a marathon 3 week undertaking with no breaks. But, that’s not what she means. She means for you to decide to tidy up and work continuously at it and complete it within a certain amount of time - 3-6 months, for example. That makes more sense to me, and I agree with that. You don’t want to start organizing and then take months off in between. You’ll undo anything you’ve started.
I also agree that it’s best to sort like items at the same time. She insists on it. I don’t. This is where we part ways. This works fantastically well for some of my clients - if their homes aren’t cluttered to the point that they simply don’t know where all their clothing is, for example. So, I would take her advice and modify it to fit my client’s situation. We sort by category as much as possible but realize that we may need to do a second sort once we’ve gone through the bulk of the home.
As far as thanking the items for their service, I think I’ll pass. But I definitely can take this and put a more culturally acceptable American spin on it. I do believe, just as Kondo states, that the things we own can be easier to get rid of if we accept that they have fulfilled their purpose in our lives. We may not have realized what the purpose was when we acquired that object, but it could have been as simple as providing us a certain amount of happiness when we found it for half price in the store. We don’t necessarily have to hang on to something just because we haven’t gotten “full use” out of it. Sure, you did, you just didn’t realize it at the time.
Overall, I enjoyed Marie Kondo’s book. I did laugh to myself a few times when I envisioned trying to work through some client’s homes the KonMari way. Surprisingly though, I did learn new ways to help clients make decisions on what to keep. So, her book has served a purpose in my life. And I can, with joy, let it go.
What do you think? Have you read her book? Has it helped you tidy up, or did it just give you a good laugh (or a little of both)? Let me know in the comments!
A few clients admitted to me recently that they were embarrassed. One was embarrassed because she had engaged my services. Another was ashamed of her home and was very humbled to have someone in when it was so cluttered (in her mind). Their embarrassment stemmed from two different reasons, so I'll try to address each one of them.
A professional organizer is just like any other "service" professional. You probably wouldn't hesitate to hire an electrician, real estate agent, or auto mechanic, right? Not everyone has the expertise or time to organize their home or office. And that's ok. I'm sure you do many things that I could never dream of doing - because you're more of an expert than I am. That's what makes the world work!
You should never be embarrassed to have a professional organizer in your home - whether it's mildly cluttered or it meets the standards of "hoarding." The vast majority of professional organizers are kind, empathetic individuals who are in the business to help. To be honest, I don't know of any organizers who are critical of their clients! We strive to keep everything we do for you and everything about your home as confidential as possible.
I have found that using the services of a professional organizer can help release you from your stress and tendency to withdraw. Creating a clean, uncluttered space can boost self-confidence and motivation. Give it a try!
A lot can happen in a year, right? I know it's been 9 months since I've posted a new entry - and I can give you lots of excuses. But, that would be just what they are - excuses, not reasons. The simple fact is, I didn't prioritize writing my blog over other things I had going on. Some of those things were important - like writing my first book, Living Within Your Means - A Practical Guide to Financial Freedom. Some, not so important - like watching every season of Survivor and Doctor Who available on Amazon Prime!
So, this post is about setting priorities. How does that fit with organizing? Well, when we're talking about organizing anything, we have to choose to make it a priority. When I work with my clients, most often, I hear lack of time as the reason for not being able to get organized and stay organized. But, I know from experience (both personal and professional) that most of us choose what we do with the time we have. And we typically don't choose to spend it on organizing.
Why is organizing important? Because it impacts pretty much all aspects of our lives. I'm not just talking about the physical space around us. Think about it! We have to organize our schedules to get where we need to be. We have to organize our finances so that we pay our bills on time (and we have enough money to do that). If you're a business owner, you have to have routine processes that everyone follows - that's an organized way of doing things.
My company is called "More Than Organizing" because I wanted to get across the point that my business is more than just 'space organizing.' I believe so strongly that organization can change lives that I wanted to help people in all those areas. Ready to get started? Give me a call, or complete the contact form to let me know how I can help. I'd also really love to see your comments and questions. Come on, be the first! :)
I have to apologize for the long break in posting. It's been a very busy few months and the time is flying by. For those who don't know, my husband and I are remodeling our house, so that's been taking up quite a bit of my time. And, business is picking up (no complaints here!), so time is short to write blog posts.
Over the past few months, I've read some really cool posts from other professional organizers. They have really "fancy" blogs with lots of sponsors. Jealous much? Yep.... but, then I started thinking about all the time and effort that must go into those blogs. And, I think about the amount of time it would take for me to do that sort of thing. I arrive at the conclusion that is not what I'm meant to do.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy reading what they write and reading about the "cute" organizing tips and tricks, but that sort of thing is not why I became a professional organizer. My purpose is to help you in a practical way. Can I suggest some fun or beautiful ways to organize? Sure! But, that's not my primary goal. I truly want to help you clean out the clutter or find a better way to file documents or think about a budget. My goal is to help you be a better you and live a more productive life.
I know this post didn't give practical tips & tricks (maybe I should link to a few of my fellow professionals here), but I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I wanted to be very clear about my purpose so when clients sign up, they know what they are in for - a practical-minded, thrifty, creative organizer... who does way more than organizing!
Are you interested in my brand of organizing? Contact me so we can start working together to get your life/house/business on a better path. I would love to hear from you!
When I think of organizing, I generally only think of my indoor spaces, but there's a lot to do outside as well. Ideally, much of this is done in the spring so you're ready for the growing season... but life gets busy (including my own) and sometimes we get started a little late!
Depending on where you live, you could have yard items, tools, furniture, etc to organize. Spring is the perfect time to clean up outside and make your outside spaces clutter-free.
Starting in the yard:
For yard tools:
Of course, as I said before, this should be done earlier in the spring-time, but pretty much anything but the planting can be done at any point. With these tips, you should be able to easily work your way through the "organizing" so that you can enjoy your outdoor living.
A lot has been written about organizing closets... so much so that it can be overwhelming. There really are some basic ideas that everyone can incorporate to organize their closet. I'm talking specifically about clothes closets. We often end up with an overstuffed closet making it difficult to find something that looks good and fits - imagine that! The steps below will help you work through getting your closet in working order very quickly.
Does it fit?
I know, this should be a no-brainer, right? Well, not really. It's so hard to take things out of the closet if you love it, but it doesn't fit any more. We all have that idea that we're going to lose that 5 or 10 pounds to fit back into those favorite jeans - and it's great to have that goal - but the clothes shouldn't be in the closet if you can't wear them right now.
Is it torn or in disrepair?
If there is a rip in the seam, or the hem is coming undone, take it out of your closet. And, if you will never repair it yourself, or pay someone else to repair it, then get rid of the garment. There is no sense in holding on to something just to look at it.
Do you feel good in it?
Sometimes we buy things on sale, or someone gives us a gift that we feel obligated to keep that we just don't feel comfortable in. You know what I mean. We hang on to it because someone spent money on it. This stuff ends up hanging at the back of your closet or hidden deep on a shelf, just taking up space. You really are under no obligation to keep these clothes. It's ok to admit you made a mistake when you purchased something. Resell it on eBay, or donate it to charity. Let someone else have a chance to love it!
Like with like
Once you have removed the clothes that don't fit, you don't like or isn't in good condition, then it's a simple matter of putting the different types of clothing together. Tops with other tops and bottoms with bottoms. Women should hang dresses separately. You can even go crazy and arrange each set of items by color. For example, in my closet, I have one section for longer items, which contain dresses and pants. My dresses are hanging from black to white and in "rainbow" color order. And, I've organized my pants in the same way. Depending on how your closet is setup, you may be able to hang all "bottoms" together, such as pants and skirts together and all tops (blouses, jackets, etc).
That's really it - organizing 101 for the closet. Do you have other ideas? What's working or not working in your closet that you may need help with? Let me know in the comments!
Hi, everyone! It's been a few weeks since I've posted. I've been working hard on my course work. For those who don't know, I"m working on obtaining my Interior Design degree so that I can add that to my services... can't wait to be able to do that. In the meantime, back to what I wanted to write about tonight ...
I think I wrote about the steps to organizing in one of my first posts: remove garbage, sort items into piles (remain in this space, belongs somewhere else, or get rid of), clean and organize. When you are working through the process, you'll have that pile of stuff that just needs to go away. The really important next step is difficult for some - you have to actually REMOVE the items from your home or business. Ok - remove the stuff where, right? You have a couple of options and it depends on how much time you have, or even how important it is to immediately get the extra items out.
Option 1: (and probably the "easiest") donate to charity. This can be as simple as bagging everything up and dropping your donation at the nearest Goodwill (or whatever charitable organization you prefer). However, I would encourage you to document your items sufficiently so that you can potentially deduct the donation from your income taxes. Some tax software actually has tools to help you figure out how much each item is worth. Even if you don't use this sort of software, it's important to keep detailed records so that you can justify the amount that you claim as a deduction. Don't use garage sale prices - use the price you'd expect to pay in a resale shop, or on eBay. If I help you organize your space, I can help you keep the list of donated items and assign values for your tax records.
Option 2: I just mentioned this - garage or rummage sale. This takes time and commitment from you. Well, at least for a week or two. You'll need to spend a bit of time and money up front (advertising and pricing supplies), but often, you'll recoup what you spend from your sales. This is great if you have the time and follow-through to actually have the sale. Keep in mind that not everything will sell - so you'll probably be making a donation list and taking the remaining items to a donation center. Don't leave it sitting after your sale, or you'll end up with a cluttered space.
Option 3: eBay or consignment. This is best when you have some nicer or higher value items - but not a lot of them. The key to de-clutter is to be able to quickly get rid of the items that don't belong in the space. So, if you have a lot of stuff, you probably should elect to go with one of the faster methods of removal. Incidentally, I can also sell items for you on eBay as part of my organizing services.
Call me today for your free consultation. I'm sure I can help you make the best use of your space!
Jennifer Raschig loves to share thoughts on creating restful spaces and presenting your best self every day.