The closet is where you start many mornings. Having an efficient closet system is crucial to making your life easier, especially when you’re in a rush. Keeping your closet tidy, clean, and easy to browse through makes a difference in how you start your day.
This particular space should be your inspiration, not a morning drag.
So, let’s organize your closet and make it inviting. Respect your shoes and love your clothes. Give your closet contents the care and attention it deserves.
Out With The Clutter
A thorough purge is critical. Your closet should support the person you are at this point in your life. It should not be the dumping grounds of clothes that have not fit in 15 years or clothes past their expiration date.
The closet is not some storage space for all those things no one wants or knows where to place. It is impressive the things people keep in their bedroom closets, just because they have some space available. The space available is good! Be at peace with empty space rather than rush to stuff items that should not be in that space (and then complaint about lack of space in the closet). Learn what your closet should contain and let all other items find their proper place in the home.
First, go through the contents of your closet and remove from the space anything other than clothes, shoes, handbags, travel bags, accessories, and other things you wear. Leave in suitcases, though.
Once everything that does not belong in your closet is out of the space and reallocated, it is time to sort through what should go in the closet.
Discard clothes that don’t make you feel fabulous. Discard what looks old, dated, damaged beyond repair, or does not fit you. You will not wear these things, no matter how long you keep them. Besides, having a closet full of petite clothing or something you don’t like wearing does not support you. Rather than inspire you, these clothes will subconsciously remind you of all the stuff you can’t wear. That is not an ideal way to start the day.
You’ll be amazed at the space you get back if you take an objective look at your clothes and purge.
And from now on, stay on top of your closet management. When you realize that a clothing item is unflattering, unwanted, in bad shape, or no longer fit, remove it from your closet immediately. Practice keeping a basket or nice-looking bag in your closet to place these items at once.
Outfitting The Space
Chandelier, track lights, light inside closets, and under-shelf illumination are some of the options that make a closet look magical. At a basic level, the closet space needs good lighting. The lighting system you choose must increase functionality but also enhance the ambiance. That ambiance is all in the lighting! Usually, a mix of yellow light and white light works best.
A body-length mirror is a must in every closet. It serves a practical purpose because you need to see the whole outfit on your body. But a long mirror also helps create that elegant atmosphere that we all admire in amazing closets. The location of this mirror will depend on the space available. It could be hung on a wall, behind the closet door, or free-standing against the wall. However, the larger, thicker frame, the more elegant your mirror will look.
Finding the proper storage solutions is always tricky, especially if you don’t have a walk-in closet.
A common mistake is to buy containers before doing the work with decluttering, sorting, organizing, and allocating spaces for your things. First, you need to assess what you’ll need to contain and where these things will live. To determine this, you need to remove what does not belong in the closet and re-evaluate the clothing. This is the only way to know, realistically, how many hangers your need, how much long hanging, short hanging, or double hanging space you’ll need, for example.
Consider the type of item you’ll hang versus what you’ll fold, the number of items in each category, and the area where each group should go. These elements determine the type of containers, sizes, and style.
Accessories will probably also end up in baskets or containers. So, where will those be? You want to get solutions that look like they belong in the closet, not like a random selection of last-minute solutions. You need to measure the spaces to decide on factors like pattern, materials, and color scheme.
In considering storage space available, it is common to neglect vertical space. However, some wall areas and behind doors are suitable areas where we can store many items. Just make sure that things placed behind doors don’t interfere with those doors opening freely.
There must be space to express who you are. Make the closet your special place, an area where you are glad to be. Use framed pictures or knickknacks that remind you of notable people and moments in your life. Use these strategically and tastefully.
What You Need
A trashcan is a must in every closet (and in every home space, actually!). Get a trashcan that complements the space décor. To make things easier, consider a trashcan with no lid.
You probably need a place to sit to put on your shoes. This seat could be as simple as the tiniest ottoman or stool to the most oversized armchair (space and style permitting). Ensure that your seating option goes well with the room in style, size, and color.
It is incredible the difference it makes to have all the hangers look the same.
We recommend space-saver hangers because they prevent clothes from falling off the hangers or losing their shape. In addition, they save at least one-third of the space in your closet (just by switching hangers!).
Having the same hangers throughout prevents hangers from tangling and provides a more efficient experience in your closet.
Sports shorts will usually go in drawers, along with other sportswear, but dressy shorts and cargo shorts are better hung to avoid wrinkles and save space in your drawers.
Replace your plastic garment bags with fabric ones. Plastic is detrimental to your clothes!
If you have drawers, you need drawer dividers. It is that simple. Dividers make a considerable difference in the maintenance of drawers and hold us accountable for the amount of stuff we keep in those drawers. Measure drawers before buying dividers because these come in different widths and lengths to fit every kind of drawer.
Baskets, bins, containers
Use the same type of basket throughout the closet. Measure the spaces where these will go to ensure the right fit. Use baskets to contain anything folded on shelves and small accessories. The use of baskets on shelves and niches will give your closet a uniform look.
Best Practices in Managing Your Closet
Go for it if you can hang most of what you usually fold. It is easier to see all your clothing when everything is on hangers. And thus, you wear more of your clothes more often. It is also easier to put the laundry away by hanging than folding. But, of course, underwear, PJs, sportswear, swimsuits, and socks should go in drawers.
In hanging your clothes, classify them by type and then by color. For example, place all casual tops together, jackets and blazers together, skirts together, denim, slacks, and so on. You will efficiently select your outfits and enjoy how everything looks in hangers.
Place all your hangers in the same direction. Then, when hanging back those pieces, have the hanger facing the opposite direction. This system will let you know that you wore that item. In addition, the system allows you to notice what you do not regularly use, giving you a clue on what to discard. It also helps you rotate your wardrobe more often and get creative with mixing and matching your wardrobe pieces.
Pro Tip: Always place empty hangers in a single location to avoid having to fish them out when putting laundry away. Also, your closet will look better if you isolate empty hangers.
People seem surprised to learn they should remove plastic covers from their clothes when they bring them home from the cleaners. This is because the plastic used by cleaners is detrimental to the clothes’ fabric.
When you bring home clothes from the cleaners, also switch out the hangers. First, cleaner hangers always come facing left, which is the opposite direction of what most people desire (if right-handed). Second, cleaners use wire hangers, which lose their shape, get rusty, get tangled, and make the clothes lose their shape. Wire hangers are the least desirable kind of hangers. Besides, you want your hangers to match in your closet. And by the way, the cleaners would like their hangers back!
Whether you have drawers in your closet or these are in a dresser in the bedroom, some clothing categories are simply better suited to live in your drawers. These categories are loungewear, sleepwear, sportswear (including swimsuits), underwear, and socks.
Drawer dividers have a stellar role when dealing with these categories. They will keep the contents of your drawers organized and manageable.
Spend the necessary time to fold things appropriately, though. There are also options in terms of folding. You can go Konmari-style or roll each piece of clothing. Rolling is quick and avoids wrinkling of the clothes.
And whether you believe that the dryer “eats socks” or socks run away from you, your missing socks are probably not coming back. So, stop wasting space and effort keeping an assortment of unmatched socks. Socks are cheap and your time trying to match them is much more valuable than the cost of a replacement pack.
Also, consider donating all your mismatched socks to a shelter. Did you know that socks are among the items shelters need the most? And when the weather is cold, having socks on your feet is invaluable. Nobody would complain of mismatched socks at that point.
If seasonal clothes take up too much space, consider packing them away in air-tight bags to store underneath the bed or on a higher shelf. Since those bags get random shapes when the air is removed, consider placing them in bins that fit the area where you will store them. Bins stack neatly.
Travel bags and suitcases
Never put away your suitcases and bags without emptying them first. The amount of trash collected from our clients’ handbags and suitcases is astonishing. Things get easily lost this way. Emptying suitcases and bags after every trip makes it easier to pack for the next one. It is easier to start fresh than to grapple with all the junk and expired products that remain in the bags from your last trip.
Organizing Your Closet Stuff
Organize accessories in soft baskets that go well with the closet décor. These baskets are ideal for collecting items in some closets’ built-in niches. If you do not have those in your closet, these baskets can live on shelves. They will still provide an easier way to group accessories by category and allow easy access by pulling out the needed basket.
Consider dedicating at least one of those baskets or bins to little items needed where you get dressed such as the lint roller, extra bras straps, collar stays, chaffing tape, heel tape, body and cloth tape, insoles, handbag replace items (like small hand sanitizer, breath mints, mini note pad…), and the like.
Handbags stored in a drawer or a closet cubby or wilted on a shelf can quickly lose their shape or become ruined by creases or rubbing against each other. However, you have options to preserve your bags and make them look fabulous.
You can stuff your handbags with quilted shapers that preserve their shape, protecting your investment and giving the closet that coveted boutique look. In addition, it will be a more joyful experience to look at your bags while deciding which one you will take out for that day.
If you like that idea but do not feel the investment is for you, achieve the same result by inflating Ziplock bags to the appropriate size and stuffing your bags with them. Packing paper and bubble wrap do an excellent job as well.
You could also place your bags on special purse hangers or put your folded handbags in baskets or bins on your closet shelves. However, this last alternative is better for synthetic material bags.
There are many products in the market to preserve the shape of your boots. But the same company that makes the quilted stuffers for handbags also makes them for boots. These are called Innies.
But despite the number of products available for this purpose, rolled magazines and stuffing paper will do just fine.
When no shelving or cubby space is available to display your boots, hang them with special boot hangers.
Shoes should be off the floor, preferably on shelves. This way, they are easier to access and don’t get lost in the infinite depths of your closet, gathering dust. You are more likely to rotate their use this way as well.
Some closets already have unique shelving or cubbies for shoes. But if this is not your case, you can incorporate a shoe rack that makes selecting your shoes more accessible.
Sometimes, it makes sense to remove a closet rod and make space for a shoe wall. We know of an excellent company that specializes in walls of shoes! 😊
When space is an issue with the closet, a clever shoe solution is the over-the-door hanging shoe bag. This bag utilizes the door space to store your shoes. Please note this alternative works best when the shoe collection is small!
If your closet has shelves available, particularly the highest shelf, you might want to have stackable shoe boxes. These protect your shoes from dust, but let you see the contents. You might incorporate shoe boxes with lids or boxes with front lids that eliminate the need to remove boxes above, to get that fabulous pair you want to take for a stroll. The shoe box option makes the most use of the vertical space above your highest shelf.
Scarves can go on hangers in your closet, in front, or behind your tops section. Hanging your scarves prevents wrinkles and gives them greater visibility, so you might use them more often. Try using a hanger per piece.
You may choose to store your scarves in a drawer. If so, fold them neatly or roll them to avoid wrinkles. Then, place them in a shallow drawer, preferably. The dividers you use for the scarf drawer should be appropriate for the item size.
Belts & Ties
If you or your partner wear belts or ties, you need belt hangers and tie hangers. Belts bunched up on a wire hanger or ties sliding off improvised solutions don’t work.
Drawer space permitting, you could roll each one of these items and place them in a shallow drawer fitted with the most suitable dividers for the job. Rolled ties and belts in a drawer create a colorful, accessible display.
When the only option is a deeper drawer, get the smallest, stackable containers to make two or three layers in the drawer. Place each tie and each belt individually on containers.
There might be shelf space available in your closet to place your hats on display. If you own large hats, consider using hat boxes. These preserve your hats’ shape and protect them from dust.
When space is a concern, use available wall space to install hooks to hang your hats. This idea works great for caps as well.
Would you prefer your jewelry in stackable trays in your closet or your dresser in the bedroom? Or would you rather have a utility board on the wall to enjoy an artsy display of jewelry?
If your closet is ample, you might have space to create a jewelry section. There are countless ideas to design this space so that you can enjoy your jewelry. Just check on Pinterest and be overwhelmed!
On the other hand, if your closet lacks the space to include jewelry, consider the use of stackable trays. Stackable trays are versatile, adaptable to your needs, and sit over your dresser or another flat area.
Before you decide on a jewelry system, though, make sure to edit your jewelry collection. All too often, jewelry is a forgotten category of items, and we tend to accumulate without ever purging.
After deciding what is still relevant for you, select the system that will hold the kind, size, and amount of jewelry pieces you keep. The critical factor is to have all your jewelry in one area, preferably using a single storage system.
Befriend Your Closet
Avoid a closet that laughs at you in the morning and yells, “Ha! good luck finding something nice to wear here.” Instead, every day your closet should invite you in. But it is up to you to make this happen.
Regardless of your closet size, keeping it in order is essential for your peace of mind. Getting ready in the morning sets the tone for your day.
Start your day with a beautiful and organized closet.
Not sure you can do this on your own? You don’t have to! Contact My Space Reclaimed, LLC to get professional organizing assistance.
My Desk Looks Great! All papers are on the kitchen counter. (and aren’t you proud?) If this is you, please know you are not alone and that paper clutters homes the most because it is harder to corral, classify, and organize.
Paper is sneaky, and you can’t see the chaos it makes by looking at a page here and a page there. But when it accumulates enough for you to notice, then it is too late.
Whether it is brochures, magazines, newspapers, instruction manuals, receipts, unopened mail, coupons, gift cards, or schoolwork, these things always hang around the house and clutter everyone’s lives.
When organizing clients’ homes, they are often surprised by an unpleasant by-product of the process: the unforeseen accumulation of paper and other items that seem not to have a definite place in the home.
We gather all paper, including magazines, brochures, children’s papers, and projects. These should be addressed later by the client. We can’t save our clients from doing this work.
Because looking at the paper collected, it is impossible to know what you need to keep; you’ll have to do the work you have been avoiding in the first place (except that now it is all accumulated and is a lot!)
Since this part of the process is a necessary evil and people fear paper so much, it is not even fair to leave you in the dark to do your homework So, here is a detailed guide to winning the paper clutter battle.
NOTE: Before we start: It is fair to say that you need to establish a cut-off date, after which you go forward with managing your incoming mail and papers using your new system (thus, staying on top of that).
1. Clean up your files
You will need space for the new stuff that requires filing. If you do not have a filing system, this is the time to create one. Your filing system should preferably be in your home office. The following best options would be a rolling cart under a desk by the kitchen or a filing cabinet that complements your décor in the living room.
But every household needs a filing system. Every piece of paper worth keeping should have a permanent home where you will know to look for it.
2. Gather every piece of paper
Gather every piece of paper throughout the house. Include magazines, coupons, receipts, notebooks, journals, books, and gift cards in this group.
This exercise might result in several bins of stuff as you’ve never seen before. It will be okay! We will take one box and one category at a time.
3. Divide and conquer
Start with one box and sort its contents into the categories you find in that bin or container. Then tackle the second bin of mixed contents and repeat the process.
As you move along, take your trash to the trash and clean the bins that you empty.
Pro Tip: Tackle each category separately. Do not start with a group while still working on another.
4. Sort bigger items
Start with the bigger stuff such as books and magazines. Decide what can be donated, sold, trashed, or recycled.
Then see where to allocate what you keep. For example, you might already have a logical space in your home for those items. In that case, merge the items you gathered with corresponding objects in their designated home space.
Note that if you run out of space to place all items together, you can purge items evaluating the entirety of your collection. If this does not give you the space you need, consider an alternative space for these items. The important thing is to keep the same type of items together.
5. On with the paper!
Set up the following boxes to collect four types of paper:
Shred (only for sensitive information)
File (all documents you decide to keep in paper format)
Digitize (paper to be digitized and let go of print)
Keep paper to digitize in a separate box and set aside as a project for the near future.
Every piece of paper needs a decision, and every piece you keep needs a permanent home in a file.
6. Create These Files
“Important Documents” File
Important and official documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, and the like, need their file, so you will always know where the most important things are.
You will want to make a “Medical” folder for each household member. Here is where you file medical records, EOB’s, insurance, etc. If you have too many, though, you may need to have Medical-Records, Medical-EOB’s, Medical-Insurance, and so on.
Decide what you might need to keep for tax purposes for the current year and place all that material in a file called “Current year taxes.”
When filing past years’ taxes, get rid of anything other than the IRS’s need if they audit you.
Discard any envelopes, especially manila envelopes, and unfold papers to letter size.
If you need to keep papers or receipts together, paperclip or binder clip them on the right side. That way, when they are in their folders, you can easily see what’s what.
Consider digitizing everything. Digitized documents are acceptable to the IRS. But always check with an accounting professional regarding financial/tax decisions.
“Owner’s Manuals & Warranties” File
It does not matter what these are; it needs a file to keep a user’s manual. Create a “Household Manuals” folder and place them all together. You can be more specific and divide the category (like tools, appliances, miscellaneous, etc.).
“Hold & Throw” File (or tray)
The Hold & Throw is a parking spot for things you may want shortly, but that will be irrelevant in a few months.
This space could be a tray or a file within your system. Some examples in this category are receipts for clothes, neighborhood trash schedule, paid bills. These items are not worth filing long-term, and you can safely throw them away every couple of months. This practice negates piles of advertisements, receipts, brochures, and things people put on their refrigerators. If the paper will be irrelevant in a few months, it goes in the “Hold & Throw” folder.
“To Do” File (or tray)
Among the papers you find, decide what is “to do.” Place that in your “to do” tray/file. Once done, let go of these papers. You might want to make a note on your schedule to ensure you tackle those “to-do” timely and consistently.
7. Sort other categories of paper
Get a coupon wallet to keep in your kitchen drawer. All store coupons and gift cards can live there until needed. They will be accessible whenever you go shopping. Review this wallet monthly to let go of expired offers and coupons.
Set pictures apart and place them with other images you might have. Photos deserve their category, and the procedures to handle picture organization are here.
Transfer business cards (including those refrigerator magnets with business information) to your computer or mobile phone with card scanning apps or software available for this purpose.
Discard receipts that you can find online by accessing your bank account or your transaction history with the vendor.
If you need receipts to return or exchange something, those receipts should probably go into your “To Do” file or your “Hold & Throw” file.
Going Forward with Mail
Mail comes into the home daily for most people. Without a system to handle mail effectively, we would be back in square one very soon.
Note that handling mail daily does not mean handling every piece of mail completely. Instead, it means opening each mail piece and directing it to where the action will occur. This should take one or two minutes of your day when you come home.
To this end, you should have your recycle bin and your “To Do”, and “To File” files or trays up and running in your mail processing area. Have a recycling bin next to the mail processing area so that all junk mail goes immediately to recycling. Then, sort the rest according to the action needed on each piece (near future action or file).
Recycle — Place all junk mail in your recycle bin immediately
To-Do — Things that will require some action (like paying a bill or RSVPing to an activity)
To File — Papers or documents that you’ll want to keep for reference and that belong to any of the file categories in your filing system
OHIO Rule (Only Handle It Once)
If you’d like to be one step ahead, apply the “OHIO Rule.” It means that you immediately deal with any paper coming into your home instead of setting it down, unopened, to deal with later.
In this case, you commit to processing each mail piece completely when you first handle it. Handling your mail this way reduces paper clutter and eliminates the need to deal with paper later.
Remember that if you follow the steps to handle mail every so often, you need to schedule in your calendar as a weekly or biweekly activity — time to finish processing the mail you pre-classified. The “one-touch rule” eliminates this second part of the process.
Tackling your paper might seem daunting. Nobody said you need to finish organizing all your accumulated paper in a day. Paper is the thing that takes the longest to manage! Take your time and work on a category at a time. The space and relief you will feel afterward are worth every moment you invest in the project.
You can tame the paper monster. But, as with everything in life, keeping it under control requires some commitment and effort.
If you have a hard time organizing and deciding about your paper (no, there’s nothing wrong with you!), contact us! We will be thrilled to nosedive into your paper mess. Truly!
Memorabilia, or warm & fuzzy stuff, as I call them, are items that evoke fond memories. They are usually those things that have the power to make us laugh or cry happy tears when we see them. What exactly is memorabilia and how to organize it?
No matter how ruthless you become at minimizing and organizing, there will be a few items that you can’t let go of, even when you have a digital record of it. It’s like you need to touch it, smell it, see it in person, or the memory is not there. In some cases, we are not ready to part with some items. Maybe we never will.
The “Warm & Fuzzy” box should live in a private space like a shelf in your closet, under the bed, or in your home office.
Not Everything Is Warm & Fuzzy Material
You should probably scan or photograph the things that don’t make it to your “Warm & Fuzzy” box to preserve a digital memory. I discuss these processes in my blog “Organizing Kids’ Memories.” When you maintain a digital image, you keep the memory but not the clutter.
However, as said before, dealing with your memorabilia, you will find a few items for which a digital record would never do. These are the items we are referring to on this blog.
Keep a minimal number of treasures in your warm & fuzzy collection. Otherwise, if everything seems important, then nothing is. The moments and memories in our lives are most important, not the things. So, carefully choose the items that best represent your most significant moments in life.
When you become discriminatory with your “warm & fuzzy” collection, the collection is manageable. It should be a sampling of happy memories that make you smile, not an overwhelming heap of stuff you’d rather avoid.
A Different Kind of Memorabilia
Please note that memorabilia in this context refers to mementos you keep for their emotional value but that are probably dispersed around your home, maybe even stowed away in drawers or closets. We want to gather these together and assign them a good home in your life.
Memorabilia items of high monetary value or related to famous people like sports players, antiques, and the like, should have a place of honor somewhere in your home, so they are displayed and enjoyed. However, this type of memorabilia is a different story.
Should you have this type of treasures, you need to find a way to incorporate them into your home décor overall concept. Things like shadow boxes and glass displays come to mind. There is an infinite number of options to honor your high-priced memorabilia! Just look into Pinterest and knock yourself out!
All those school projects, papers, and awards are everywhere, and you can’t find it in your heart to let them go.
Organizing kids’ memories let you declutter your life and enjoy those mementos better. I will show you how.
First, gather all your children’s projects, artwork, school papers, trophies, awards, and the like. Go through every space, drawer, closet, and room in your home. Leave no space unchecked. Take all this kid-related stuff to a single place in your home to collect them together.
However, stay hyper-focused during this gathering process. Don’t get distracted by other things you might find. Your focus is crucial! Getting distracted is what trips people on this process, and then they get confused and can’t finish half the job.
Once you have this material in one place, you will have a large group of miscellaneous items. Now subdivide this big pile by the child if you have two or more children.
After having a separate pile for each of your children, sort each one by year. When you can’t recall the year when the piece was created, and the item does not show, assign some chronological order as best as you can.
You will have several groups of items per each of your children. Now follow the steps described below for each of those years, per child. You must work on one group (year or stage) for one child at a time.
1. Discard Unimportant Papers
Unimportant papers are notifications from school, lunch menus, and the like. These are things that won’t move our hearts at the end of the day. (You know what I’m talking about). So, recycle or trash all that.
2. Photograph Non-Scannable Items
Take good pictures of everything that is not flat paper, like artwork pieces, medals, trophies, etc. As you take each photo, include a post-it note with the child’s name and the item’s date. Place this post note at the bottom of each item so that you can crop it out of the picture later on. Then, when ready to work on a project with these pictures (like a photo book or scrapbook), crop the note out, if you can tag or caption the image.
If taking pictures of these items will suffice, you can let go of the physical object. When dealing with trophies, medals, and awards, if you or your child are not ready to part with the physical thing just yet, find a suitable location in the home where you can gather and display these items in a cohesive, aesthetic way. You don’t want them to look like accidents in your home.
3. The Written Work
Group items related to written work like stories, poems, analyses, and the like. The idea for these is to make binders or books later on. But, for now, organize the material to create these books later.
4. The “Warm & Fuzzy” Box
Regardless of your most ruthless efforts to eliminate clutter, there might be a few (a few), small items that you or your child can’t simply let go of, even when these have been digitized. That’s where the “Warm & Fuzzy” box comes in.
Everyone should have a “warm & fuzzy” box, by the way. This is a nice-looking box, basket, or container with a lid that includes items we keep forever. Those are the items that take us back in time and make us laugh and cry every time. Therefore, it is crucial to be selective with the things we include here. Not everything makes it to the coveted status of “warm & fuzzy” box material. Remember that!
5. Paper and Flat Media
Loose papers, awards, recognitions, messages, etc., on paper, are scannable media. As you do this, name the electronic file with the child’s name and the year when they made it. This process is equivalent to the post-it notes you applied to items photographed.
Scan everything using your printer/scanner, your iPhone, or any equipment you might have or can purchase for this purpose. This equipment is not that expensive anymore. However, it would be an excellent investment to have a reliable scanner at home.
Stories, poems, essays, and other items you put together to make binders or books (step 3), don’t need to be scanned individually. However, it is clever to digitize these, ensuring a safe record. If you do, ensure that pages of the same item remain together in sequential order.
You will manage the scanned material the same way you dealt with the pictures. So think of each scanned paper or project a digital image comparable to the photos.
6. Rinse and Repeat
Once you finish working with all the mementos of a child’s years, repeat the process with each one of your other children, working a year or a stage at a time.
In my case, we have three children, and for each one, I divided their electronic files into four main stages: infancy, elementary school, middle school, and high school. Note that pictures or souvenirs from extra-curricular activities and summers get included in one of these four stages, depending on the year.
7. Create Digital Files
Download all the photos you took of non-scannable items into an electronic file. You could name this file “Kids’ Projects” or something like that. Then create a file folder per child, and move every picture related to a particular child into their electronic folder. After this, you may subdivide each child’s electronic folder into years or stages or any way you want to do this.
Do not forget to add all images from your scanning process. Add these to the same digital folders.
From Now On
From the moment you gather all those projects, awards, and papers from around the home, consider it is a clean slate and new beginning. Pay attention to how you manage your children’s documents, projects, and awards. The key is to stay on top of things. Here’s is how you do that.
Every day, when kids come home from school or extra-curricular activities
Note important dates and deadlines and place those dates on the family calendar.
Post any school reminders for your children on a magnetic or chalkboard where they can see them every morning.
Discard those notes or papers. Those are the miscellaneous papers you tossed on step 1 above.
When the children bring home artwork pieces, trophies, medals, and other non-flat items
Photograph these as soon as they get home (so they look their best and you don’t forget to do this).
Save these pictures in the child’s electronic file. Name the file with the child’s name and year.
Add subsequent art projects during that year to that same file.
Create a new file with the child’s name and year every year.
You or your child might want to display such an item for a while. That’s great! Just ensure you place this item in that particular location you designated for this kind of thing. But, again, you don’t want their projects to look or feel like clutter.
In any case, taking those pictures early on gives you and your kids the freedom to let go of the item after displaying it for some time.
Scan all paper items and flat media such as report cards, academic evaluations, school pictures, stories, essays, and poems as soon as they come home.
If you can’t process these items immediately, park these papers in a bin close to the scanner, and assign a day of the week or the month in your calendar (yes, do it now!) to periodically scan these things. Of course, discard originals as soon as you digitize them. But should you need to keep it, place it in a file with the child’s name in your filing cabinet.
It’s a lot of work, I know. But consider that all this work needs to be done just at the beginning of the project because you did not have a method to deal with all this stuff so far. So once you follow the initial process, you only need to stay on top of it.
But why do all of this in the first place? First, this solves the overwhelming number of papers and artifacts cluttering our home space. Second, this process allows you to have all that worth-keeping material organized and ready to create meaningful stories of each stage of your children’s lives.
Telling a story is the real purpose of keeping all these projects, pictures, and awards. Having all those papers and items with no order all over the house does not tell any story nor inspire anyone to create one. This material is simply meaningless when scattered around or carelessly stored in a bin somewhere.
On the other hand, memories in book form, like photo books, are easy to keep neatly on a shelf or library and are a joy to share. Our children will be able to see and enjoy their path through life and share this fantastic legacy with friends, family, and their children.
Also, imagine the storage space you will recover when you let go of physical items and original papers! However, you might think that throwing all that away is what you did not want to do. But how many times has anybody enjoyed those things since you put them away? Is there space in your home to display them all? Are they all worth exhibiting? Do you want your home to look like a kindergarten classroom?
Maybe when your child created a project, you displayed it for about a week or so. But eventually, that project, along with so many others, started cluttering your home and your life. So, this way of purposely and intentionally working with your children’s stuff will take you where you want to be.
Looking Beneath Your Need to Keep the Stuff
If you feel it is too hard to let go of those physical objects and original papers, even when they are safely digitized, what you are probably trying to keep is the feelings they evoke. It is not about the item itself. Images of these items can still satisfy those feelings without drowning you in “stuff.” Instead, having these memories accessibly organized enables everyone to enjoy and share them for many years to come.
Media, like DVDs, cassettes, videos, CDs, and books, insidiously clutter our homes. These items sneak into our space without us even knowing why. We feel like organizing media today. Want to join us? Keep reading!
These items are often invisible until they overrun our environment or until they gang up with other types of clutter to take us down. Do you know that feeling?
Let’s Do This!
Let’s strike back and end this battle now. Follow these simple steps and suggestions.
Go through your home and gather every book, CD, DVD, video, and cassette (if you have any of the last two?). Do not get distracted by papers, clothes, Knick knacks, or other stuff around. You need to stay hyper-focused if you want to finish this process.
Divide this large media group into five categories: CDs, DVDs, videos, cassettes, books.
3. Cassettes (Tapes)
Let’s deal with those cassettes first, if you have any.
Do you have the equipment to listen to these? And would you listen to them — ever? (Honestly!). What are their contents? Are the contents something you can easily find online (like music)? Or is the material recorded conferences, for example? If so, could you find the same content online? If the contents of the cassettes are something personal you recorded and need to keep, find a service that can transfer that tape contents into digital. A digital format preserves the material and also makes it more accessible. Then you can let go of both the tapes and the tape player. Off with clutter!!!
If you MUST keep one or two tapes in the actual cassette format for utmost sentimental reasons, that item should go in your “warm & fuzzy” box. What is that box? This box is a special box everyone should have in their closet or under the bed, with very few carefully selected items that make you laugh or cry throughout your entire life. Of course, not everything can or should go in this box. You have to be super selective!
Place all cassettes you decide to digitize in a box or bin marked “to digitize.” Then, get your calendar (yes, right now) and schedule a date when you will do any research needed about this service and when you will mail this material to be digitized.
4. VHS anyone?
Everything said in point number 3 applies to any VHS video in your home.
Answer the same questions and take the same actions described for cassettes with your videos.
Photo Home Decor Obsession
5. Books’ turn!
Check all those books collected through the home and see if anything should go away through donation, recycling, or selling. If you have a decent number of books to let go of, see if you can sell them at Half-Priced Books? They also buy movies and music so, keep that in mind.
Take the books you will keep to that home area where other books live. If you do not have a central place for the books in your home, maybe it is time to assign a place?
Don’t limit your ideas for lack of space or bookcases. There is an infinite number of ways to create bright displays for your books. In addition, books can make a design statement! Just check Pinterest, and you will see. Smashing idea; Points for Design!
6. A word about vinyl
Vinyl has come back- no doubt about it. But being a vintage item, vinyl makes a statement on its own. Because we tend to listen to records on special moments and need vintage equipment to play them, these items tend to behave more appropriately. They don’t run away like their CDs and DVDs relatives. There is not much we need to say about vinyl. But if you have some records and their player but have not given these items the standing they crave, you are missing all the fun. Consider a place of honor to display and listen to your Vinyl music. It is unlikely that you have records you no longer want out of their jackets or in random home areas. But if you do, I am simply out of words. Let’s leave it at that.
7. How about DVDs and CDs?
Make a space in the living room or a home office for all the DVDs you keep. First, you will need to pair DVD and CD cases with their discs! For mysterious reasons, half of the cases we find are empty. That probably tells us their corresponding disks might be broken or scratched somewhere or under some gooey, unknown blob. Chances are those disks are no longer suitable to keep, and you can feel okay with trashing them. But when you let them go, make sure you discard their case as well.
Other DVDs and CDs will be in good condition. So, after matching them with their cases, you can decide to keep or donate them.
The DVDs and CDs you keep should probably be all together in a single place in the home. Typically, the optimal location for these is the living room.
When you decide where all your DVDs and CDs will live, take those you found during this exercise to that place in the home. Then see if any of the discs in your collection can go. You could donate or sell them (remember Half Priced Books?).
When you go through all your disks and eliminate what you don’t want or enjoy anymore, you make a more comfortable, appealing space for the DVDs and CDs you keep.
The Most Brilliant Idea Yet
On the other hand, consider that movies and music are easy and inexpensive to download these days. It might cost you more to store these items if you consider the space they occupy in your home and the amount you pay for each square foot of the house. And when was the last time you watched a movie from your DVDs or listened to a CD? (No, honestly!)
Some DVDs and CDs might be homemade, with great sentimental value. You probably will want to keep all that material. However, here is my brilliant idea: Transfer their contents to an external drive dedicated to photos and videos or place the material in your computer and copy it to the cloud, for example. This way, all your memories are safe, shareable with others, more accessible to enjoy, and do not occupy the physical space CDs and DVDs take. Furthermore, you can also let go of CD players and DVD players. How about that? Off with the clutter, again!!!
Hopefully, these steps and ideas help you tackle the media clutter in your home. Probably media is not the most significant factor cluttering your environment, but every little bit counts. So, we need to divide, conquer, and work on every puzzle piece to get our desired results.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help or advice with your home organization.
There is no better remedy to cure me of an illness than cleaning! Although that is not my line of business, I admit I am a self-proclaimed eminence in this field. I don’t always clean joyfully, but I love the feeling when everything is squeaky clean, and shiny! So, I have a few things to say about fighting back contagious illness at home.
I spent the whole day cleaning the other day. It was not an act of inspiration. All of us got sick at the same time. And when illness attacks everyone in my home, nothing gets me in cleaning mode like the desire to fight the virus and bacteria and eliminate the mess our collective condition throws in our lives. When every family member falls ill at once, the environment turns chaotic. Chaos is not conducive to healing.
To heal from any given illness, I believe we need to surround ourselves with order and cleanliness. For example, don’t we feel instantly better after a shower when sick?
Feng Shui teaches us that Ch’i, the vital energy, does not thrive in chaos and dirt. Therefore, from an energetic point of view, it makes sense to clean and disinfect and keep the place in order. And also, the less clutter we have, the easier it is to clean.
I genuinely hope flu and COVID do not get any of you this season, but it would be good to keep these things in mind when illness attacks you or your loved ones.
Determining a specific day when illness will leave your household helps this process. I recommend this day be after 24 hrs. of following the prescribed treatment, whether it is antibiotics or any remedy you might follow. Usually, it is best to establish this date after any fever is gone. Powerful energy comes from “deciding this illness ends today.” After all, we are energy, and our thoughts determine our reality.
On this particular day, I was determined to put an end to the absurd week we had spent being sick. I kept visualizing the virus and bacteria, desperately trying to jump out the windows. Sounds ridiculous? Try using this image the next time you are going through this process. It works wonders in terms of how you feel. It will give you the energy you need to eliminate the bug making you and your loved ones sick.
Here are some tips to consider when declaring war against illness in the household.
Open windows, if you can. Invite fresh air into your home. By the way, it is my practice to eliminate the screens from windows. Windows look cleaner, more light comes into your home, and if you decide to open the windows, you won’t get the dust and dead bugs accumulated on those screens in the house. I prefer a few insects flying into my home than all those dead ones mixed with crusty dust.
Diffuse a mixture of essential oils that can purify your environment and help you heal. I never thought essential oils were beneficial and effective until I learned about Young Living Essential Oils. You might want to check that.
It’s an excellent time to clean out your refrigerator and freezer. Toss anything expired, growing mold, anything you don’t recognize, or you don’t know when or how it got there. Pay special attention to decaying produce. Sorry, it does not matter if you bought it.
All those medicine cups, what do you do with them? So many people keep those little cups in their cupboards, sticky with cough syrup from the last person who used them! Aside from the tacky factor, doesn’t it make sense to wash them with soap and water every time you use them? I mean, we use them because we are sick, after all. So, prepare a bowl with soapy water and disinfectant agent if the whole family is using medicine cups “like there’s no tomorrow” (as my husband says! LOL). Then have everyone place their cup there, after each use. Then, rinse and dry the cups once a day and change the water in the bowl to repeat the process.
Throw out the used kitchen sponge. Get a new one. Alternatively, place the sponge in the microwave for 2 minutes. That works!
If you have dogs or cats, thoroughly clean/wash their bedding, particular spaces, and dishes. Make sure they are not sick. Our furry loved ones can often get the same bacteria or viruses we get.
Make your washing queue with all things you can wash. Separate by whites and colors and by type of items: towels, sheets, bedding, and clothes. My advice is to treat the home as a flea or lice infestation. Wash everything! Wash in the hottest water available and include natural disinfectants like Thieves Essential Oil Blend or Thieves Household Cleaner. Include in your washing queue:
Mattress covers and pillow covers (and if you do not use these, you better get some!)
Blankets that you keep in the family room for when you are all cozy watching movies
Furniture covers, if you use them to protect your couch from dogs or cats
Towels, including washcloths and kitchen towels
Sheets (all used)
Stuffed animals kids sleep with
Decorative pillows from beds and couches
Clothes in hampers
Dust and wipe all surfaces with some disinfectant of your choice. Pay special attention to door handles (especially the pantry door) and the fridge. Don’t forget toilet handles and all water faucets. Lysol and bleach can do the job, but go the natural way with essential oils if you can. Again, you are trying to purify your habitat, not make it more toxic.
Do your regular weekly cleaning as usual. Use a disinfecting agent if you don’t usually use one.
Do not forget to change lip balms and lipsticks, if possible. Wipe or cut off their top portion if you can’t replace them. That might help.
If using disposable contact lenses, throw out the ones in use and their case. Use a new pair.
Change all toothbrushes. How many people forget to throw out their toothbrushes after being sick! Toothbrushes are Petri dishes of bacteria. Wash retainers and mouthguards with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and alcohol. Don’t forget to disinfect their cases too! Ah, don’t forget to change the heads of electric toothbrushes.
What Else You’ve Got?
Please don’t take me wrong. I’m not germophobic at all. Heavens knows that my kids have excellent immune systems they have worked hard at building (if you know what I mean).
But I thought I’d instead share with you all some of the things that came to mind while I was busy eradicating viruses and bacteria from my home recently.
I’m sure you can add many more helpful tips to this list, depending on your experience, your family, and the way you live. The more, the merrier!
Nothing puts me in nesting mode like having had a couple of days of family illness. But then, Mama bear comes out and fights back with all she’s got.
What other ways do you use to fight back against family illness? Let’s hear about it!