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:
“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.
Your home becomes cluttered because clutter invites more clutter. It’s a vicious cycle.
You can’t find what you need when you need it since nothing is where it belongs.
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.
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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.
Here are some tools you might need for this process.
Pillboxes with morning, noon, evening, and bedtime compartments are available here.
Label maker (optional)
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
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.
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.
Assign each person taking medications or supplements regularly a pillbox and label both sides of each pillbox with their name.
Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids.
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.
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.
Repeat the process for each person or per product bottle (depending on your preferred method).
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.
“I have nothing to wear” (sigh!) Is this what you say when facing the closet each morning?
We’ve heard it countless times — we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. It’s wardrobe fatigue (I totally made that up just now). But, yes, it does get boring.
And although it’s entirely possible to look well put together every day without repeating a single outfit in a year, I bet you have never used your clothing collection to its fullest potential.
Imagine approaching your closet, knowing what you’ll wear that day, convinced that it looks fantastic.
The Wardrobe Capsule
Susie Faux developed the concept of the “wardrobe capsule” in the ’70s.
The term referred to a collection of high-quality essential items of clothing that would stay in style to wear across multiple seasons.
According to Faux, a woman’s wardrobe capsule should typically contain at least two pairs of trousers, a dress or a skirt, a jacket, a coat, a knit cardigan, two pairs of shoes, and two bags.
The idea was to update the collection with seasonal pieces to provide something to wear for any occasion without buying many new clothing items.
The wardrobe capsule makes the closet more manageable and enjoyable using better quality, fewer clothing pieces.
In 1985, American designer Donna Karan made the capsule concept famous when she released her “7 Easy Pieces” collection.
The capsule idea has evolved these days – Instead of limiting the collection to 7-11 items, the current capsule limit is about 30 items, including shoes, handbags, and accessories. (It’s still an improvement from the two or three full closets many women own!)
The Stylebook App
A couple of years ago, I discovered an app called Stylebook. Stylebook is your closet in virtual format, at your fingertips.
It starts with cataloging pictures of your clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories so that you can combine these into infinite outfit possibilities.
The images that populate your virtual closet come from your closet, online stores, social media, and other sources. However, no matter the source, each clothing piece looks magazine-worthy. The app makes the image-gathering process effortless.
Once the wardrobe is uploaded into the app, you may record details about each piece for future reference (fabric composition, color, size, brand, how to launder it, and more).
Stylebook helps you prepare packing lists for trips, keeps statistics on the styles and colors most worn, and even has an outfit calendar planner, eliminating the chance of repeating outfits within the same social groups at the same gatherings. (Yes, I know!!)
Befriend Your Closet Again
The Stylebook app removes the boredom of wearing the same things over and over or the same way and eliminates the stress of getting dressed.
Including all your clothes, shoes, and accessories in the app takes some time — it is the most time-consuming part.
But once that part is complete, it’s easy to get addicted to playing with the many possibilities the closet holds.
Every person who invests time, effort, and money in organizing a closet deserves to get on board with this app.
The Stylebook app works for men and children alike.
Check it out! And if you need help getting this going for you, reach out to us. We’ll be thrilled to help you with this project.
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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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
What could be the mess the Organizer made? Allow me to explain.
People overbuy for many reasons and often end up with so much stuff they can’t see what they own. Other times, it’s a matter of not letting go. But whatever the reason, there’s usually a severe problem with space, although the problem lies in how much stuff we accumulate.
There is a need to fill every inch of space available. When there are available drawers in a spare room, they get filled with the most random collection of things because of open storage space.
What We Find
Too often, clients call us to organize a room in their home and insist there needs to be more storage space in the area they want to manage.
But upon assessing the project, almost invariably, we realize three things:
inefficient use of the space
the space contains unwanted things that have not left the home
much of what the project space includes does not belong there
No wonder there is no space for what does belong in that area.
Once unwanted items are out of that area, and we allocate and organize what is to keep, the client marvels at all the space they have.
But then they turn around and see the mess in their living room. 😂
Okay, So This Is How It Happens
No one expects to end up with a mess in other areas of the house when they engage an organizer to work on their home. That’s for sure.
During the organizing process, what we remove from an area of the home accumulates somewhere else while we work on the project’s primary goal.
Once we organize the project area, whatever is out of that space will require some decisions – what stays, what goes, and the best place to allocate what remains.
Often, we need to repeat the organizing process in areas of the home the client did not contemplate in the project initially. If things removed from one space are to be kept but belong to another area of the house, we need to find the proper space for them wherever they should go.
But when there is no evident storage space for these items where they belong, we must discover or create such storage space. And for that, the whole process repeats itself (remove what does not belong in the other areas and what might be unwanted/unused).
It Always Works Out
As Organizers, we want to delight the client, take care of everything, and leave their home looking perfect. And we know it will all work out in the end. (Because it always does!)
In the meantime, invariably, it’ll get worse before it gets better. So, take a deep breath and play along. The mess the Organizer made will go away.
A Real Case Example
See this example. The first picture is the living area “before.” The second picture is the living room after organizing the first three bedrooms. It might seem as if the pictures are inverted, right? That’s the mess we made! But here’s the other thing: often, a home’s chaos seems contained and controlled. You might not see it, but the clutter monster lurks behind closet doors and inside drawers.