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Mindfulness: A Fundamental Practice in Organizing

Mindfulness: A Fundamental Practice in Organizing

Mindfulness is a fundamental practice in organizing, although most people don’t think much about it. Here’s why.

Did you know one of the biggest reasons a house becomes disorganized is because we fail to place things back where they belong? 

Much of the blame for this goes to everyday absent-mindedness. And the antidote to this absent-mindedness is mindfulness. 

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Mindfulness is one of the fundamental practices to live by when we wish to gain better control over how organized life can become.

 The (Lack of) Focus in Everyday Life

Unfortunately, regardless of how focused we can be when something demands our attention, everyday menial tasks, things we routinely do, and how we move around in our home or work environment usually are not focus-demanding tasks. At least, we do not perceive them to be.

When we get comfortable in specific routines, especially at home, we engage the mind in something that happened, something to come, or anything else but what lies in front of us at any given moment.

An Exercise in Mindfulness

Have you heard how a sustained focus on chewing food helps with weight loss? Concentrating on chewing achieves several things:

  • We savor the food better.
  • Digestion starts with the chewing process (it’s supposed to).
  • The brain reaches satiety with less food.
  • The body absorbs nutrients more efficiently.

Notice that focusing on chewing food is an exercise in mindfulness. I remember undergoing this process during a 12-week mindfulness workshop that I participated in. At that time, paying full attention to chewing our food, we could taste even the additives and preservatives in the food. Talk about focus!

This seemingly unrelated example illustrates how focusing attention and engaging the senses in a particular activity or life moment connect us with new information that ordinarily would have been overlooked. That is what mindfulness does. It makes us understand better what we do, how we do it, why, and how we feel about it without judgment.

Recognizing and Mending Mindless Patterns

If you need help with disorganization or feel you can’t keep up with the house, the solution might be to focus on your actions, reactions, and thoughts at home. Notice those things you might be performing mindlessly. You’ll recognize the pitfalls in your processes throughout the day. Noticing those instances will help correct the habits responsible for the home chaos. 

We could discuss many tips and tricks for this or that. We can list ways to become organized or maintain home systems. But as long as we remain mentally disconnected, habits won’t change.

Exercising mindfulness (as in being constantly present in the body and aware of our circumstances without judgment) is essential to change unhelpful patterns.

 Nothing Like This Very Moment

Have you ever heard, “In the present moment is where your power lies”? I don’t know a better quote to illustrate the power of mindfulness and focus on the NOW.

Mindless operation is what makes us place the phone in the freezer, look for our glasses while wearing them, pour orange juice in the cereal, or take the dog’s pills instead of ours (true story -this one has happened to me more than once! 😬)

If you need help organizing your time, home, work, or life, you must know that some things must change. Habits need to be modified for those things to change sustainably and significantly. Becoming mindful allows us to recognize which practices need to be adjusted. It also helps us achieve the modifications required to become more organized.

Becoming mindful takes effort – like learning to meditate, for example. However, to become intentional, aware individuals, we must learn to focus attention on the moment and be present in the body.

For The Love Of Dogs

For The Love Of Dogs

Let’s discuss some aspects of caring for, living with, and loving a dog that sometimes even dog owners ignore.

If you know me, then you know I love animals more than words can express. In particular, I adore dogs.

When working with a new client with dogs, I ensure those little ones have an adequate, clean, and comfy place to sleep (I will celebrate big if I hear they share your bed!).

I will note where they eat and drink and observe the type of relationship my clients have with their pups. It’s in my nature to look out for these defenseless, loving beings.

Many never notice when I clean their companions’ bowls, feed them fresh food, and serve them fresh water. I try to be discrete to avoid my fellow humans from feeling self-conscious.

But today, I’d like to address some things about living with dogs. I might ruffle some feathers, but I am not apologizing for that — not this time.

Dogs deserve all our love, compassion, and more! As humans, we owe them big. Dogs, as we know them, did not exist in nature. We created them by domesticating their wild ancestors. We created this type of creature that depends on us. It would be absurd to turn our backs on them by neglecting their complex needs. Dogs are intelligent, sentient, social beings; often caring for them with “just the basics” won’t do.

Why do you “own” dogs? If the answer is purely practical, please look for a loving, deserving family for them. Dogs love and need love. They are much better than us at seeing through our intentions and feelings. Dogs know when they are not loved. That can break a dog’s heart and spirit. So, if you have dogs but do not love them — truly love them, do yourself and the dogs a favor and rehome them ASAP.

Now, continue reading if you have dogs because you genuinely love and respect them. On behalf of my canine friends, I have some pointers that might not be the usual things we consider.

Safety First

Microchip your dog(s) and keep the national registry updated about pertinent changes like moving (duh!). Also, remember to include them in all possible national registries. Registering your dog(s) will substantially increase the chances of finding your fur babies if they get lost. It is only possible to use the technology if you keep the registries current.

Create a name tag for the dog’s collar with your phone number and address (not the vet’s). If the dog gets lost, reuniting him with the owners is easier if he has a tag on the collar with the home number, given that the vet’s office is not open 24/7. Consider also incorporating an Air Tag to your dog’s collar. There are collars that come equipped with a space to insert an Air Tag but also simple adapters for regular collars are available.

It is essential to have that tag because not everyone will be willing or able to take the dog to a place to scan the microchip. And, as I learned the hard way once (happy ending, though!), not all sites have scanners that can read all kinds of microchips.

If your animal sleeps in the room with you and the metal sound of their ID plate bothers you, consider following a routine to remove the collar last thing before going to be and putting it back on first thing in the morning.

Adopt, Do Not Buy!

Millions of animals need a good home out there! Don’t pay hundreds of dollars for an animal when so much love dies every day in shelters! Dogs get depressed and heartbroken in those places. They know why they are there. They feel the rejection and void in their hearts. Yet, ironically, these are the most grateful, intelligent, and graceful creatures you will ever find.

Besides, whenever money is involved with animals, inevitably unscrupulous behavior follows at some point. Nothing good ever comes from seeing animals in terms of dollars and cents. If you only knew the horrors these animals go through in places like puppy mills (that supply pet shops), you would definitively consider adopting instead of buying.

Spay or Neuter

Be a responsible owner and spay or neuter your dogs. There are way too many pups in shelters waiting for a loving family. Avoid the heartache of dealing with a litter of puppies. Chances are puppies will end up in houses where they are less than cherished, especially if the owners of these puppies did not have to pay a hefty price for them.

Adequate Shelter

Be kind if you have chosen to share your home with an animal. Animals deserve so much better from us. They did not choose to be your pet. You did.

Please do not get a dog and ignore him or leave him outside. Dogs have socialization and love needs. They also feel the heat and the cold. The “house dog” is okay for cartoons and stories (perhaps), but it does not work that way in real life.

Kenneling

If you kennel your dog(s) when you are not home, ensure that the kennel has adequate ventilation and that the dog has access to clean water. 

There are water bottles for kennels that work with gravity and water demand as the dog drinks. These eliminate the mess.

Remember that the dog will do his best to avoid soiling the kennel, but do not push their limits or abuse their good nature and respect for you. You don’t want their bladder to explode or the dog in pain. Keep in mind that you have a kenneled dog at home. Either go home at the usual time and allow them to go potty or make arrangements with a neighbor or paid service to walk the dog at some time during your absence.

Ensure the kennel has a soft surface for the dog to rest. For example, get a kennel cushion or place some plush (clean) towels inside the kennel.

Find a good location for the kennel. For example, avoid direct sunlight or dangerous spaces with access to electrical cables. When the kennel is in an area with a fan or windows, leave the fan on and window blinds or shutters open for the dog to enjoy natural light. It is best not to cover the kennel with towels or blankets. The dog enjoys seeing the surroundings. 

Leave the tv on or the radio at low volume for entertainment. 

Consider also leaving a chew toy inside the kennel.

When the dog is very young or getting used to living in your home, leave a piece of clothing or bedding with your scent.

By the way, a kennel that is the appropriate size allows the dog to stand upright and move around. Ensure the kennel is the correct size for your dog. Can you imagine spending your days in a cage where you can’t stretch your legs? That is a form of torture (and even then, the dog still loves you. Dang! We don’t deserve them.

Dog Grooming

Some breeds are supposed to skip bathing (like the Puli or the Komondor). Even if your dog does not share your bed, please bathe them from time to time, groom them, clip their nails, and express their anal glands (yep, that too!). Don’t want to do this yourself? Hire a grooming service. Don’t you have the resources for that, and don’t you want to do it yourself? Don’t have a dog!

I’ve heard many times, “We don’t want the dog inside because he smells.” And who’s fault is that? You would smell ten times worse than any dog if you stopped showering for several weeks.

Homes with pets tend to develop strong odors when not following proper hygiene. Therefore, wash their beds and clean their quarters as often as possible. Make this part of your cleaning routine (as in schedule it!).

Walking The Dog

Smile, for God’s sake! I can’t tell you how many times I have crossed paths with people walking their dogs who look so miserable and act so anti-socially that they don’t even answer a “hello.” 

It is your privilege to be in the company of such a magnificent creature that loves you! If this thought does not make you smile, read the seventh paragraph above again.

Allow your dog to sniff around. What is the purpose of walking your dog if you constantly pull the leash when the dog wants to “read the news”? It’s their time! Let them enjoy themselves. Smells are to a dog what Facebook or Instagram are to you. That is how they know who is around and what is happening. Their daily walk might be the only socialization the dog will get in his entire day!

Consider using a harness instead of latching the leash to the dog’s collar. When the dog pulls away or if you pull the dog, the collar hurts tender tendons in the neck. This kind of injury can be severe. And speaking of leashes, avoid those retractable ones. There have been too many instances of those leashes causing severe injuries to dogs and humans alike!

Food And Water

Thoroughly clean your dog’s bowls daily with soap and water, regardless of the type of food you feed your dogs. If your dog eats wet or raw food, you must adhere to a schedule to remove and discard leftovers and wash the bowls after every feeding.

When it comes to the water dish, it is not just a matter of replenishing the water. Every time a dog drinks water from a bowl, the saliva goes into it, and mixed with the water, it creates a slimy film in the bowl. So let’s keep those bowls squeaky clean and grant them constant access to fresh, abundant water.

Consider a raised feeder for their bowls for medium or large dog breeds. It is hard for taller dogs to eat or drink from a bowl on the floor. These raised feeders also help their digestion, given how they eat more comfortably. It’s a good idea to place a large rubber mat under bowls or feeder to avoid bigger messes.

Avoid human food. Yes, to human-grade food for dogs, but prepare it according to their needs, calibrating its composition and caloric value. 

Do not give dogs your chicken bones and things like that. Some dogs might behave as if they were garbage disposals. But they are not and should not be treated as such. Avoid feeding them the family’s leftovers, and much less the spoiled food in your fridge. You and the dog will both pay for awful consequences.

If your pup eats dry food, transferring the food to a sealed plastic container in your pantry (floor level) will keep the food clean and fresh. Also, you will quickly know when to buy more, and the food will be accessible and easy to serve. Keep the dry food bag closed, especially if storing it in the garage!

Sleeping

Hopefully, your dog has a comfortable bed or a comfy, cozy corner to sleep in and feel safe. Wash the bed at least every month if the bed has a removable cover. When dogs sleep on blankets or towels, wash all that stuff regularly. Dogs need a clean place, too!

Invest In Training

It is better to have a trained dog than to spend the few years he lives with us, yelling at the poor creature when he does the wrong thing. Dogs are intelligent creatures. It is us, humans, that are inconsistent and impatient with them. How should they learn when we don’t show them what we expect? (But then again, we all know some people should have taken IQ tests before having human children!)

Keep Them Healthy

Vet care

The least you can do for your dog is to ensure that he has an annual checkup with the vet to receive their shots and, at minimum, one thorough dental cleaning per year. Bacteria from the gums can easily affect the heart of a dog.

Of course, whenever a dog looks or acts strangely, take him to the vet to ensure his well-being.

Prevent heartworms

Remember the heartworm medication every single month. Seeing a dog suffering from heartworms is deplorable when this is easily avoidable.

Treat those fleas!

Can you imagine what the dog goes through living with an infestation of fleas 24/7? Don’t treat the fleas, and you won’t have to imagine it for long. Enough said!

Preparing For Baby

Put that baby blanket to good use

Before bringing your new baby home, allow the dog to familiarize himself with the baby’s scent. A used baby blanket is great to place in the dog’s kennel or bed. The reception of your baby by your furry friend will be much different.

Don’t break their heart!

Please do not neglect your dog or feel you have to keep the dog out now that you have a baby. That is a sure way to break a dog’s heart and create resentment towards your baby. Dogs are (or should be) part of the family. They naturally bond with babies and love caring for them! If you do not have enough love to share now that you have a child, find a loving family that does not feel that way. The dog deserves it!

Train early on

Consider engaging a trainer before the baby arrives. A trainer can help you and the dog work on walks with a stroller and other foreseeable situations you might want to prepare. Advanced training will decrease the stress of bringing the newest family member home. Primarily, work on barking at the door and greeting visitors. These are two areas where significant challenges arise upon bringing a new baby to a home with dogs.

Dogs And Kids

Dogs and kids are a great combination only when the children have learned to respect the dog. 

Some people think it is funny or speak highly of the dog when their children do all kinds of things to their dog, and the dog does not bite or snarl. This only speaks highly of those persons’ stupidity, I’m afraid. They are pushing their dogs’ limits, potentially creating a dangerous situation for both the child and the dog. The dog is being harmed, abused, or at least disrespected. Adults model a terrible example for their children this way.

Children need to learn early in life that dogs need to be respected and cherished, which is why dogs share the home with the family. What part of this is funny or should make the dog owner proud? I do not have a frigging idea!

Things We Do That Dogs Hate

Play dress-up

Do you think dressing up your dog for Halloween or other occasions is so cute and funny? Newsflash! They do not share your views on this. So do not do this ridiculous thing! Dogs don’t like the feel and know how stupid they look. Believe me!

Face to face loving

Do not love your dog by placing your face close to theirs. Dogs hate it! They might tolerate it because it’s you, and they love you and do not want to disappoint you. But they do not like this a bit.

Leaving them outside

Some dogs are suited for cold climates, but others are not. If it feels cold to you and your dog is not a furry snow beast (like our Great Pyrenees), consider getting them a size-appropriate jacket for those moments when there is no other option than going outside. 

Do not presume that being a dog and having fur is automatic protection. Freezing weather is when your dog won’t mind being dressed warmly (just a jacket and booties)

If your dog sleeps outside, bring them inside unless out is their choice (some breeds are like that)! They are part of the family. If you do not think a dog’s place is inside the home, again, DO NOT HAVE A DOG! 

In many states, leaving a dog outside when it is too hot or cold is a crime. And there is a reason for that — it is an aberrant act of cruelty!

Shaving off their fur in the summer

The dog’s fur protects him against the cold and insulates him in the heat. Some people think they do their dogs a favor by shaving off their hair when it is too hot. Unfortunately, this makes the dog lose their natural protection against the heat. Unless the dog is very matted and there is no better solution than shaving the hair, do not do such a thing!

Final Thoughts

Do not ignore your dog(s). Dogs look for eye contact as a reassurance of your love. So please look at them, smile at them, talk to them. Often. 

Tomography images of the dog’s brain have shown that when a dog sees his beloved human, the brain lights up in the same manner the human brain behaves in the presence of a loved one.

Whoever abandons an old dog because he has become an inconvenience or no longer as much fun as he used to be deserves the same treatment by their children. 

Neglecting or rejecting an older dog is a lesson they teach their children. So, wait for it — Karma is a bitch and is coming for you one of these days.

If you have the privilege of sharing your home with an animal, then honor that. Honor them! Don’t consider that a privilege? Then, allow someone else to give those creatures the love, happiness, care, and honor they deserve.

For the love of dogs!

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That Defining Moment

That Defining Moment

That moment when you re-enter your home from a day out defines how organized your home will be and how organized it will remain (or not). That is the defining moment.

From groceries and mail to a briefcase or your children’s school and sports gear, chances are you are carrying things into your home each time you come back from a day of errands, work, or a trip. 

So, what do you do at that moment? Do you put things down, or do you put things away?

There is a big difference between putting things down and putting things away. If you needed to put everything away in your home right now, could you? 

The answer depends on whether everything in your house has a specific place to belong. Everything in your home should have a single, designated, permanent space where that item or category lives. Recognizing and following this principle may make daily life easier and more efficient.

You find everything easily when items have a permanent, specific storage place. It also facilitates putting things away since objects have a known space where they should go.

But if anything can go anywhere in your house, everything will go everywhere. So, day after day, this way of going about your environment will yield undesirable results.

When you “put things down for later” instead of taking the time to put things away, several things happen:

  1. “Later” never seems to arrive (it is not an actual date on the calendar!). Every day’s residue accumulates all over the house day after day.
  2. Your home becomes cluttered because clutter invites more clutter. It’s a vicious cycle.
  3. You can’t find what you need when you need it since nothing is where it belongs.
  4. Looking for things, you waste lots of time. Also, you spend money buying replacements for items you have but can’t find.

Then, one random Saturday morning, when the sun is shining and you feel great, you decide to clean up your place. You spend hours sorting through the clutter and finally putting things away. 

When finished, your home is manageable again, but you’ve spent the whole day cleaning up instead of being outside, enjoying the possibilities that await you. 

You are tired, sore, and frustrated. Yet, ironically, you conclude that being organized is a drag that intrudes on your life, preventing you from living your life. 

As a result, you put off “organizing” or “cleaning up” again for as long as possible. The senseless circle of events repeats itself.

What if you took a moment or two to put everything away (as in “where everything should permanently go’) instead of “putting things down until later” every time you come home? Your home would remain organized. 

If your home remains organized, there is no need to spend an entire day organizing later. Yes, it takes a few minutes every day, and it might take some time to make the practice a habit, but it pays off significantly. 

Besides, spending a few minutes daily to keep our environment organized is more manageable and less time-consuming than spending hours cleaning up or trying to find what we need.

The next time you enter through that door carrying all that “stuff,” think about it – It is a defining moment.

Got Swag?

Got Swag?

Think about the last time you attended a seminar, workshop, or tradeshow. You got swag.

All the stuff you brought back, where is it? What did you do with those little gifts, binders, notes, notebooks, and product samples from a continuing education event or tradeshow?

You may come from the event and “put the bounty bag down for later”. But if you did not have a concrete, immediate plan for it, “later” never came, and eventually, you got tired of stepping over that bag or moving it from one place to the other.

You decided to place it where it would not interfere with your daily life (i.e., where you could not see it anymore).

Swag Turns into Clutter

Once you can’t see that material anymore, it is out of your mind. It does not interfere with your daily life, that’s true. But that means that you forget about it. Hence, a new bag to clutter your space!

If all that stuff is out of your mind, it is unimportant to you, and you don’t need it.

But why did you gather that stuff in the first place? It could be an automatic reaction to grab anything free.

Benefit From It

Think of ways that material can benefit your present life, help you in your career, relationships, or whatever it might be. Then, decide on concrete, appropriate steps to allow that to happen.

This process takes intention and planning. It will not happen if you relegate that bag or binder full of notes and product samples to a place you won’t think about.

What To Do with It

Here are some examples of what that process of paying attention to that material might look like:

  • You took notes on the various seminars during the activity — to cement the knowledge in your brain, transcribe the notes by hand. Then, scan those notes and file the document in an electronic file related to the topic. If you have Evernote or the like, that’s another convenient way to keep your information handy and classified.
  • You received printed material you already know is valuable and want to keep — scan it and follow the steps described above. If you’re going to keep the paper copies, make a file.
  • You collected sample items — Are you interested in trying those items? Place them where you are most likely to use them and try them! Did you collect the items for someone else? Place the things where you won’t forget to take them the next time you see that person.
  • Were there recommendations about books, apps, or programs to try? — If you made notes on these, these interested you in the first place. Revisit each of those and decide what needs to happen for you to act on it if that still sounds like a good idea.
  • Do you have ideas to develop? — Don’t let it go to waste! Instead, assign a time on your calendar to make those things happen or list the steps needed to obtain that goal. Then, calendar those steps. What gets in the calendar gets done.
  • Business cards — Scan them or input the information with appropriate notes into your iPhone. Then, establish steps and dates to reach those contacts, explore possibilities together, and network.

Take Action

You can certainly come up with more ways to benefit from all the material gathered at that event. The point is to take action about those ideas!

You paid money to attend these events, and you invested your time. Don’t let that go to waste. Learn how to get the most out of these mysterious swag bags we love to collect, for they hold a wealth of possibilities!

7 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

7 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

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Let’s Simplify Pill Management

Whether you are a caregiver to an older adult or a mom managing a family who values wellness, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job. But here are seven steps to ease your pill pain.

I want to share a system that can simplify pill management and increase consistency in everyone’s taking meds and supplements.

The secret is the pillbox!

What You Need

 Here are some tools you might need for this process.

  • Pillboxes with morning, noon, evening, and bedtime compartments are available here.

  • Label maker (optional)

  • Sharpie

  • A medium to large plastic bin or container – these Multi-Purpose bins work wonders. Also, here’s my favorite plastic box ever.

Follow These Steps

  1. Place all prescribed and OTC meds and supplements that household members regularly take in the plastic bin or tote. The amount and size of pill bottles on hand determine the size of your container or box. This step only happens once because this bin will become the forever home of ingestible medicines and supplements at home. You may benefit from a second plastic container for all OTC medicines NOT regularly taken, like cough syrup, painkillers, allergy medicine, etc.

  2. Write the name of each person (or initial) who takes each medication on the bottles’ lids. Include the intake frequency of that product. For example, “M 1-am / 2-pm” indicates that person “M” takes one of those pills in the morning and two in the evening. Repeat this process with all bottles for easy identification at a glance.

  3. Assign each person taking medications or supplements regularly a pillbox and label both sides of each pillbox with their name.

  4. Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids.

  5. Work by person – Select all bottles with someone’s name and place all meds/supplements they need in their pillbox, according to timing and dosage.

  6. Work by-product – If you’d instead work with one product at a time, distribute a medication or supplement into the pillbox of each person taking that product.

  7. Repeat the process for each person or per product bottle (depending on your preferred method).

  8. Close all pillbox lids when each box is complete with all medications and supplements for that individual.

**Devote 30 minutes to this task every week. Make it a commitment and calendar this activity!

Where and Why

Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not the bathroom. The humidity in the bathroom might affect the product’s integrity.

Keeping medication and supplements in the kitchen makes sense because we ingest these, usually with water or another beverage. The pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen are optimal spaces for these pillboxes and the bin with the medication bottles.

On the other hand, things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. This group includes rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, etc.

It is simpler to take medications and supplements when we do not need to sort the product, open several bottles, and make the same decisions repeatedly, several times per day. It makes sense to streamline this process.

When medicines and supplements are in a single place, finding what we need at any moment is easier.

A central location for meds and supplements also facilitates knowing what needs reordering and when.

It also eliminates having multiple open bottles of the same product.

This process has an inherent accountability built in; it’s easy to notice when someone forgets their meds and when it happens just by looking at the pillbox. Thus, this system also increases the consistency in taking medications.

Make It Happen

These five steps described above will make it easier for everyone to take their meds and supplements consistently.

However, to make the system work:

  • Devote 30 minutes to this task every week.

  • Place this activity on the calendar as a recurrent weekly activity.

  • Make it a commitment.

Pro-Tip: Consolidate medicine when it arrives at your home. Usually, medication bottles come half empty. There is no reason to have several half-empty bottles of the same product, which takes up a lot of space and leads to expired medication around the home.

15 Kitchen Planning Considerations

15 Kitchen Planning Considerations

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Here are important kitchen planning considerations, some of which you might have never thought of.

Despite the increase in take-out dining, the kitchen is still the heart of the home. This space is central to the house, allowing families to gather and share special moments. A well-appointed kitchen is always a joy.

Whether getting the kitchen of your dreams, you’ve wanted for years, or just reorganizing the space to add efficiency to your days, here are some essential considerations for your kitchen space.

We don’t always pay attention to these factors when considering a kitchen revamp, but they are critical and will make your life easier, your kitchen more appealing, and support your lifestyle and health.

1. Thoroughly Declutter

There’s little you can do in a cluttered and unappealing kitchen.

So, the first thing it needs is thorough decluttering. Remove everything from drawers, cupboards, and cabinets to start.

Then, sort every single item and decide what goes and what stays. The more you let go, the simpler your life will be. For example, why keep kitchen utensils and gadgets duplicated or that you do not use or want?

2. Establish Kitchen Work Zones

Kitchen efficiency depends on the proper designation of work zones. Establish zones according to how you use the space to get the most out of your kitchen. Think about how you move around the area and what you do there to understand better where to allocate everything.

Here are some ideas for zoning your kitchen:

  • Establish a clear distinction between a cooking zone, a meal prep zone, and a baking zone.
  • Assign the drawer and cabinet closest to the dishwasher to flatware and dishes. It is easier to put these items away when emptying the dishwasher.
  • Place baking tools and accessories together to save time and effort when baking if you bake.
  • Keep most frequently used items within easy reach. For example, less frequently used appliances or seasonal serving dishes can occupy out-of-the-way places such as higher shelves or back sections of cabinets.
  • Place drinking glasses and dishes in upper cabinets because that space is more accessible. Specifically, glasses should go on the upper cupboard closest to the fridge because the fridge is where beverages are.
  • Dishes go on an upper cabinet above or directly across from the dishwasher to facilitate putting them away.
  • The counter area by the fridge is ideal for a coffee/tea station. Thus, the drawer below that station should have all coffee/tea accessories.

3. Create Extra Storage Options

Sometimes, a proper declutter won’t create the space needed for optimal organization. In those instances, it becomes essential to create new storage space.

Over-the-door storage racks are good alternatives. These go on kitchen doors and inside cabinet doors.

A formidable storage solution is the Elfa Spice Rack (sold at The Container Store). It goes inside the pantry door to accommodate all cooking spices and condiments, creating more space for other things.

Pull-out drawers or drawer inserts in cabinets solve the never-ending problem of things getting lost in the depths of cabinets.

When the budget does not allow for a kitchen remodel, achieve the same result by using bins to organize the cabinet contents. You can pull out these bins to manage their contents, eliminating the need to bend over and reach inside the cabinet.

4. Evaluate Your Trash Situation

Few things are less exciting than trash. Whether you like to compost, recycle, sort your garbage some other way, or discard what you no longer need, you need a system that works for you.

Nothing speaks of unhealthy habits like trash and perishing food accumulated in the kitchen due to the lack of a proper disposal system.

We must consider the trash situation to maintain a clean yet great-looking kitchen.

Investing in a large, functional trashcan for the kitchen is a must. Some kitchens have a pull-out drawer that contains a space for the trashcan. If this is your case, measure that space and divide that number by two. Then, get two identical containers comfortably fitting together in that area: trash and recycling.

If your kitchen lacks cabinet space for trash, it is essential to pay attention to the style of your trashcan. Consider getting a rectangular, double-sided trashcan. Rectangular ones are easier to disguise. Budget permitting, get a trashcan with a sensor lid for a hands-free experience, which keeps the bin cleaner.

5. Clean Up Your Food Container Act

Do yourself a favor and recycle all that mismatched, old plastic stuff that overflows your cabinets. Get a set of new, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, plastic or glass containers with lids.

You need them to store leftovers and organize your fridge and freezer (more on that in the following section about systems you should have in place).

You should also get an additional but less expensive set for sharing food with others (avoiding resenting them for stealing your best containers or growing old waiting for them to return them).

Select a specific cabinet, preferably a lower one, to neatly organize those containers in one single place in your kitchen.

6. Corral Cleaning Products

Store cleaning products that pertain to the kitchen under the kitchen sink. Install cabinet organization solutions in that space to easily access these products and equipment.

The under-sink cabinet is also an excellent place to store the various types of filters you might need in the kitchen (sink faucet, fridge/freezer, etc.) and your trash bags.

7. Know What That “Junk” Drawer Is and Is Not

A miscellaneous drawer in the kitchen is handy, but this space should be manageable and intentional.

Junk drawer implies accepting everything we do not want to decide on — clutter.

This utility drawer is not a substitute for the garage either. We’ve seen drills and all kinds of tools in some kitchen drawers.

The utility drawer should contain a few things that are often needed, such as a tape measure, a couple of pens, scissors, a notepad, some tape, maybe envelopes and stamps, a mini screwdriver, and the like.

Tools go in the garage. Lightbulbs and batteries should have their bins and belong in the laundry room area or utility closet. Get the idea?

organized kitchen

efficient spice cabinet

8. Determine Where the Spices Go

Where do spices go? The most convenient place for spices is near the stove, where we frequently use them.

Select an upper cabinet for the spices to the right or left of the stove area. Another great area is the drawer next to the stove.

Once you decide on the spices storage area, choose among the many spice storage solutions available to make your life easier while cooking with them.

The pantry is the next best option without cabinet space or a drawer for spices.

As with any other pantry group, herbs should be together on a shelf area. Use a tiered spice rack on the shelf to better see everything without much effort.

When a pantry shelf is unavailable, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.

9. Light Up!

Ideally, the kitchen should be well-lit and combine top light and task or functional illumination.

Lighting also impacts your mood. For example, placing light under upper kitchen cabinets offers the functional task illumination needed on counters while preparing food, but it also does wonders for the ambiance of your kitchen.

10. Clear Counters

Sometimes, people go overboard with décor on kitchen counters and islands. Although some décor items are essential, do not overload flat surfaces with stuff.

Counter space is not storage either. Keep counters as clear as possible. It makes the kitchen look much better and gives you the space needed to work.

11. Don’t Ignore The Pantry

The process of organizing the kitchen needs to include the pantry. Organizing the pantry is an excellent opportunity to clean the space and, if warranted, line or reline the shelves.

You’ll be amazed at all the duplicates and expired products in your pantry when you see it all in front of you.

To keep an organized pantry, follow these steps.

  • Throw out any expired food.
  • Separate the items you keep into categories and designate appropriate spaces in the pantry for these categories.
  • Label the pantry areas accordingly to make it easier for everyone in the house to maintain the space organization achieved.
  • Place products with a closer expiration date to the front to use these first.
  • Invest in pantry containers to store rice, cereals, flour, sugars, grains, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Square and rectangular containers utilize the space best. Containers stand and stack better than the usually opened product bags with clips we keep in the pantry, right? With these containers, products stay fresh, and you can always see what you have and how much, thus knowing when to buy more. Additionally, your pantry will have that magazine look you admire. It takes effort and discipline to keep the system as you need to transfer the products to the containers when coming home from the store, but it pays off immensely in the day-to-day kitchen operation. Oh, make sure you label these containers.
  • Remove pre-packed items from their primary packing — group snacks in clear containers for easier access.
pantry organization

Organized walk in pantry in Frisco TX

12. Befriend Your Fridge

As a principle, limiting your grocery shopping of produce and meats to smaller quantities that the family will consume weekly is best.

This practice preserves the product’s freshness and nutritional value. It also helps organize your refrigerator space efficiently and enables you to remember the items so food does not get spoiled.

An organized fridge leads to a more straightforward cooking process, more in-home cooking, money savings, and better health.

An excellent routine to achieve an organized refrigerator and freezer is to wash, cut, and repack produce and meats when coming from the store.

This process takes some time and effort but ensures that the refrigerator and freezer stay clean and organized. Opening the fridge to see plastic and paper bags, some halfway open, saluting you is not an inviting proposition.

The washing, cutting, and repacking of produce and meat before placing these in your fridge or freezer also saves significant time throughout the week during cooking.

Having the proper containers for your fridge and freezer is crucial. Invest in transparent or translucent containers that can be labeled and relabeled, BPA-free, and dishwasher safe.

Being disorganized can cost you. Think about all the food you throw away in an average month.

On average, your fridge and freezer need a thorough cleaning and disinfecting each month. Use an open pack of baking soda to eliminate odors in your fridge safely should this become a concern.

A well-kept kitchen is a process that takes time. Staying tidy requires lifestyle changes. If you’re ready for those changes and want professional assistance with your kitchen adventure, don’t hesitate to contact us at My Space Reclaimed, LLC. We will be thrilled to partner with you.

Organization for the fridge with food containers

Left overs in containers

13. Adopt A Meal Planning System

Having a meal-planning routine makes your life much easier. Of course, this requires some prep work, but once that’s done, you’ll be gliding through your weekly planning, shopping, and cooking.

It starts by going through all your clippings and books full of recipes. By the way, as a bonus for following this procedure, you get a streamlined kitchen book and recipe area.

 

  • Get all those recipes out and choose only those you like or want to try.
  • Then, clip them or make photocopies of those recipes to place them individually on 4″ X 6″ index cards.
  • Divide these cards into salads, main dishes, pasta, soups, desserts, beverages, protein shakes/smoothies, dressings, snacks, etc.
  • Finally, get all your categories sorted into index card boxes (choose the style of boxes that makes your heart sing).
  • Choose a day of the week to make your meal planning. On that day, each week, mix and match recipes to compose your weekly meals.
  • For each meal, choose the main course and other dishes as desired. You’ll have all kinds of options, so choose the type and number of dishes needed per each meal you’ll be making.
  • Then, group each day’s recipes and have them accessible for later cooking.
  • Since each recipe includes ingredients and the amounts, you have your grocery list done! Add any other items like snacks and miscellaneous needed and go shopping.
  • Coming back from the store, remove bags and packaging from every item.
  • Store packaging helps you transport things home but is inappropriate for storing food items in your freezer or fridge.
  • Wash all produce, meats, fish, etc. Peel, cut, divide, and season all your items as needed, and transfer them to your food storage containers.
  • If you still have some energy left and want to save significant time during your week, batch-cook dishes shared by some of your recipes.
  • Then, use your containers to save those dishes until you need them throughout the week.

Did you notice that you have gained a streamlined, great-looking, manageable, and helpful recipe system and a great-looking fridge and freezer thanks to your new meal prep and container systems?

14. Follow A Sound Dishwashing Procedure

Provided that your dishwasher is in working order, there is no need to see the accumulation of dirty dishes and things in the sink or counter.
Start every morning with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher.

As kitchen stuff gets used, people should rinse their items and place them inside the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink or the counter. All dirty stuff will be inside the dishwasher after dinner, presumably the day’s last meal.

The dishwasher runs, and at the end of the cycle or first thing in the morning, whoever is responsible for this task puts items away. The dishwasher is available for a new day every morning.

However, if the day starts with a loaded dishwasher with clean stuff, there is no chance of accumulating used equipment inside it. Therefore, dirty stuff gets all over the kitchen. It’s as simple as starting the day with an empty dishwasher. Really!

15. Clean & Maintain Appliances

Get in the habit of cleaning the refrigerator and freezer, inside and out, at least once a month.

Performing a weekly fridge cleanout before grocery shopping is always a good idea. That ensures no food gets forgotten and spoiled in the fridge, plus it makes space in the refrigerator and frees up containers for that week’s fresh groceries.

Clean your microwave weekly, inside and out. It makes no sense to warm up meals in a crusty microwave featuring food remains from weeks ago.

The dishwasher needs cleaning as well. Pay attention to the dishwasher filter. The filter must be hand-cleaned every other week for the dishwasher to do its job correctly.

So, there you have fifteen less-than-exciting considerations to make your kitchen space more efficient, whether renovating the area or just reorganizing.

These steps will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable and productive once in place.

But if you feel this is too much to handle, contact us! We’ll gladly partner with you on your kitchen adventure.