I’m thrilled to take you on a shopping experience with me – introducing Shop with Us* – my website’s newest development.
But let’s be clear: I don’t recommend items because I sell them – I sell them because I’ve carefully considered them, loved them, and recommended them to my clients.
And what’s better is that Shop with Us is a carefully selected collection of those items that will elevate your daily life and home experience.
Products are organized by home area in the shop. Things you’ve never considered using in a particular space or for some purpose are the best for a different space or goal. (hey, got to love that out-of-the-box thinking!). So, you’ll find some product repetition across sections of this shop.
Also, I wanted to mitigate that deer-in-headlights factor at certain stores when people face innumerable options without knowing what works best for what or why systems go together. (Know that feeling?)
This shop is that helping hand some need. It’s shopping with purpose and direction.
Let me say this is an eclectic shop. From the mundane (like cleaning and home miscellaneous) to the sublime (design items and elements that create the sensory experience you deserve at home), each piece of the puzzle is equally important in developing the elevated lifestyle you crave.
Some clients ask me what is reasonable to have in a home without excess or deficiencies. This shop may serve as a guide or validation of their home’s inventory.
Others have jumped with me into the unknown (without a parachute) to start a new chapter in their lives. I witness the cleansing and healing power of starting anew whenever this happens. (Have you ever noticed it’s easier building something from nothing than fixing or transforming something else?)
Despite its benefits, this radical exercise of starting all over from nothing is only for some. But my experience with those brave souls led me to consider, source, and create new homes and lifestyles for them.
And in doing so, we learned about the elements that comprise that new, thriving, simplified, and upgraded life in a new home. That’s how my “Home Essentials” lists came to be (and these will be available for sale soon -Stay tuned!). This new shop is primarily based on those Home Essentials lists.
But remember that before acquiring organizing solutions or thinking about home design, we must let go of the burden, the excess, the baggage – physical or otherwise. That requires some pre-work.
Only after this pre-work will the items in the shop make sense. It’s not my wish for you to accumulate more stuff or shop for the sake of shopping. Buying storage solutions, containers, or design elements without the proper context will only result in additional clutter. And the goal is to transform your home experience into a streamlined, simpler, organized, exquisite, and fulfilling one.
So, if you have yet to eliminate the clutter in your home and life or look at my shop collection without the faintest idea of what to get or why, let’s backtrack the process.
I’m constantly learning and growing. And I would certainly appreciate your contribution to this shopping experience. Let me know of products that speak to you or diverse uses you give to some mainstream products. Please share your ideas for this shop with me for everyone’s benefit. I’d love your opinion on this new initiative in my business.
So you say: “My desk looks great,” but all the papers are on the kitchen counter? Aren’t we proud? (LOL)
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 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 hang around the house and clutter everyone’s lives.
When organizing clients’ homes, they are often surprised by an unpleasant by-product: the unforeseen accumulation of paper and other items that don’t have a definite place in the house.
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, leaving you in the dark to do your homework is unfair. So, here is a detailed guide to winning the paper clutter battle.
NOTE: Before we start, you need to establish a cut-off date, after which you will manage 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 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. This group includes magazines, coupons, receipts, notebooks, journals, books, and gift cards.
This exercise might result in several bins of stuff you’ve never seen before. And that is okay! We’ll 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 your gathered items 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 by evaluating the entirety of your collection. If this does not give you the needed area, 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, EOBs, insurance, etc. If you have too much paper in this category, you may need to have Medical-Records, Medical EOBs, Medical-Insurance, etc.
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, eliminate 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 schedules, and 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” tasks promptly 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.
You can find discarded receipts online by accessing your bank account or 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.
Moving Forward with Mail
Mail comes into the home daily for most people. We would return to square one very soon without a system to handle mail effectively.
Handling mail daily doesn’t mean handling everything 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 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 each piece will require in the future.
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 want 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 must 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 one 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 commitment and effort.
If you need help organizing and deciding about your paper, contact us! We will be thrilled to nosedive into your paper mess. Truly!
When envisioning well-organized spaces in your home, the kids’ playroom may not be the first that comes to mind. However, creating that ideal place for your children can foster their creativity, exploration, and joy. It also makes it easier for parents to maintain order and encourage imaginative play.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best practices for organizing a kids’ playroom. Striking the perfect balance between fun and functionality creates a space that nurtures learning and enjoyment.
First, Declutter and Organize
The initial step in organizing a kids’ playroom is decluttering the space. Begin by sorting toys, games, and other items into specific categories, such as puzzles, building blocks, stuffed animals, art supplies, and board games. Discard broken or unused items. Consider donating toys your children have outgrown to make room for new experiences.
Investing in proper storage solutions is crucial for maintaining a tidy playroom. Combine open shelving, closed cabinets, bins, and baskets to store toys and belongings effectively. Open shelving allows easy access to frequently used toys, while closed cabinets can safely store items that might be hazardous to younger children. Clear bins and labeled baskets help children identify where to return toys after playtime. This encourages them to participate in the cleanup process.
Activity Zones Ideas
Organize the playroom into different activity zones to stimulate specific types of play and learning. Here are some ideas:
Reading Nook: Designate a cozy corner with a bookshelf or bookcase, soft cushions, and good lighting to create a welcoming reading space.
Art and Craft Area: Set up a table with art supplies, drawing paper, coloring books, and washable markers to ensure ample space for creative exploration.
Building and Construction Zone: Utilize open shelves or storage units for items like LEGO, building blocks, and magnetic tiles. This inspires engineering and imaginative play.
Pretend Play Corner: Arrange a play kitchen, dolls, action figures, dress-up costumes, and accessories for imaginative play.
Transform the playroom into an excellent environment for learning. Introduce educational elements like a whiteboard for drawing and practicing writing skills. Consider adding a map, alphabet chart, or numbers display to make learning fun and accessible.
Consider implementing a toy rotation system to keep things fresh and avoid toy fatigue. Store some toys away and rotate them periodically. This method reduces clutter and reignites children’s interest in toys they last saw a while ago.
Safety is paramount in a kids’ playroom. Anchor large furniture to the wall to prevent tipping, cover electrical outlets, and use cord holders to manage wires. Keep small items or toys with small parts away from younger children to avoid choking hazards.
Flexibility is vital as children’s interests evolve, and their playroom should grow their interests.
Designing an organized kids’ playroom is a fulfilling investment in your child’s development and happiness. You can build a space that encourages creativity, imagination, and joyful play by decluttering, employing smart storage solutions, creating purposeful activity zones, emphasizing safety, and incorporating learning elements.
With some planning and effort, you can create a magical haven where your child can explore, learn, and make unforgettable memories.
About the Author: Kevin Connors owns Inspired Organizers in Phoenix, AZ, and serves as the Director of Membership of the NAPO Arizona Chapter.
It has taken me an excessive amount of time to write this piece. I had allowed the cloud of dust to settle. In the meantime, I have been learning about the subject, filling in the information gaps where I deem appropriate. So here is what I’ve got on Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo.
The way I see it, Mari Kondo helps you eliminate the clutter and teaches you how to fold your shirts and underwear in a particular way. Still, her method is not about professional organization. Some KonMari-certified consultants are Professional Organizers. But more than following the KonMari process is needed to call someone a Professional Organizer.
The Need That Each Serves
Please do not take me wrong. I’m not at war with Mari Kondo. On the contrary. She brings a lot of attention and value to our industry. But having said that, she serves a specific portion of the market. What she does is different from what a Professional Organizer does.
Choose the KonMari method or a Professional Organizer if you need to declutter your space. However, you need a professional organizer to find the root cause of disorganization and implement systems that maintain order. Unfortunately, Mari Kondo can’t help you there.
Let me present a couple of criteria to compare how the KonMari method differs from the Professional Organizer’s approach.
Scope and Focus
Organizers typically follow a method that involves evaluating, classifying, purging, allocating, containerizing, and labeling spaces. As part of this process, they emphasize improving the client’s productivity and the space’s efficiency. To achieve that, Organizers implement systems and processes.
On the other hand, the KonMari method focuses on decluttering the home using the classification of items. Her process does not address the organizing details. Indeed, Mari Kondo does not focus on systems or methods to enhance the efficiency of the space or maintain the order achieved.
Mari Kondo does not address the root cause of disorganization in a home or a person’s life. Therefore, it is logical to presume that her process does not work for people whose clutter problem is “not about the stuff.” Should these individuals follow the KonMari method, the chances are that shortly after, they will be back on square one.
Organizers train in a wide variety of areas to help their clients best. Therefore, looking for an Organizer best suited to each person’s needs is essential. A good Professional Organizer seeks to find out the root cause of the problem, transfers skills, and designs systems to make their client’s life easier.
Aesthetic Value and Design
The KonMari method emphasizes reusing what the client has available to organize and containerize the client’s items after decluttering. The process expressly avoids the purchase of containers and systems. Not buying additional equipment or supplies could be advantageous when considering project costs. However, things have recently changed with the merger between Mari Kondo and The Container Store.
Nevertheless, as humans, we are more inclined to maintain the organization of areas that look neat and that are pleasing to the eye. An organized place should be decluttered and functional but also aesthetically pleasing. An organizing design does not need expensive organizing products to look fantastic. However, it requires careful consideration of style and form. And random repurposed containers might not achieve great-looking results.
Room by Room Vs. Categories
One of the fundamental KonMari principles is organizing the whole house using a process based on categories, placing together all items from the same type to evaluate them simultaneously. Some see this method as more definite, fast, and conclusive than organizing room by room.
But Professional Organizers agree with the organizing by categories! One hundred percent! We all want to place similar items together before the client decides what to keep. The difference lies in what happens next with each category once the client has decided what to keep.
Organizers Go Further
Organizers take it a step further, clarifying the purpose of each room to assign items to their logical place. But yes, we completely agree that it should be a whole-house approach.
And the whole-house approach is inevitable anyway. People love to spread their things all over the home, regardless of item type or home space purpose. So, we must search the whole house to combine all items in the various categories.
Once And For All?
As they say, the KonMari process is a “once-and-for-all solution.” But organizing is a life skill. Habits must be learned and exercised throughout life to keep an organized space.
The order does not magically happen “once and for all.” People change, fail, recover, let go, and come back. We are more complex than “once and for all.” Without addressing disorganization’s root causes and the human condition, how can anyone sustain the “once and for all” claim?
When clients work with a Professional Organizer who shows them how much easier life can be by using the “logical place for things” and the “one home per category of items” approach, they usually adopt new habits.
We are not opposed to the KonMari method – it works in specific situations and for a particular type of client. However, people should understand the fundamental differences between the KonMari way and what Professional Organizers do.
It is time that people needing organization services stop thinking they don’t need a Professional Organizer because they read the KonMari book. Those requiring a Professional Organizer will see no progress with the KonMari method. On the other hand, people who do not grapple with disorganization or any underlying clutter situation will be happy, experiencing joy with what they keep and gratefully saying goodbye to their discards.
I always refer to that elevated living we should all experience or my “Elevate Your Everyday” message. And we might immediately think of luxury, high-end brands, a richly designed home, or other things.
But when I speak of an elevated life, I refer to much simpler yet meaningful things – often details, that can alter our perception of our environment and ourselves. That might be the deeper subject to dive into at a different time.
It turns out that what lies beneath an elevated life is something most people neglect. No one would ever consider having it part of a happier, more beautiful life. However, this piece is crucial for extraordinary living.
Cleanliness and Maintenance at the Core of Elevated Living
We can all agree about how we like the experience of a hotel room or a spa, although we might have different views about how or why we enjoy these places.
I typically refer to the minimalism in hotel room designs and the serenity spas convey. Both places speak of relaxation and peace and offer a rich experience that appeals to our senses.
But at the core of every experience in a hotel room or a spa, there is a common denominator we hardly ever think of – cleanliness and maintenance.
Without cleanliness and maintenance, the experience of staying in a hotel room or visiting a spa would never be as we regard them.
We know these two places require constant cleaning and maintenance. Yet, we never see evidence of these activities – like tools or cleaning products. If we did, the magic would disappear.
We enjoy the experience of these places because we don’t have to think about cleaning and maintaining them- just a fresh, uncluttered, well-appointed, functional environment to relax and enjoy.
That Feeling Should Begin at Home
However, cleaning and maintenance are essential for those places to create the feeling of a perfect life where nothing ever gets broken, and cleaning is even unnecessary. And by extension, we tend to feel as if nothing could go wrong when we are there.
Cleaning and maintenance tasks must happen, whether it’s you, other family members, or trained service personnel. So, if cleaning and maintenance are necessary and unavoidable, why not systematize and schedule these tasks? With a system, a plan, and a schedule, these tasks get done, and the Home remains in shape.
On the contrary, neglecting the cleaning and upkeeping of the house means:
Trying to make up for all the tasks left undone when guests arrive
Coming home daily to a less-than-desirable place
Draining your energy
Being unable to rest appropriately
Not enjoying your Home at its fullest
Cleaning and maintaining the Home should not be left for when you feel like it, have the time, or whether you like those activities. Stop fighting, ignoring, dreading, and suffering it. You’ll never feel like doing it, you’ll never have the time (if you don’t plan for it), and no one likes to do these chores. (No one!)
Systematize and Schedule
The less you think of home cleaning and maintenance, the less energy you put into those thoughts, and the less these thoughts will bother you. How could we make sure these activities happen without thinking much about them? Scheduling is the answer.
Scheduling these home tasks:
takes them off your mind
ensures these tasks happen consistently, thoroughly, and promptly
allows you to enjoy your home without constantly worrying about maintenance and cleaning
More importantly, these tasks will stop interfering with your life when they have a specific time in your schedule. You might even forget about them if you trust yourself to follow the routine and allow your schedule to guide you.
Food for thought: A schedule we respect and follow allows the mind to relax.
Love It Clean but Hate Cleaning It
A few years back, we downsized considerably. With a much smaller house, I do most of the cleaning. I find our place to be bright, joyful, and super cozy. I love it! But cleaning? Nope. Not at all.
However, I do love having a clean, cozy home. I feel thrilled when the home is fresh and clean; I can relax and feel comfortable.
I’m disciplined and, as someone once said, “very task-oriented.” This is important when planning activities and following a schedule (especially when we want to avoid doing any of it).
I’m disciplined and, as someone once said, “very task-oriented.” This is important when planning activities and following a schedule (especially when we want to avoid doing any of it).
Tips for the Not-So-Task-Oriented
What do you do if you can’t follow a routine or schedule? You may want to learn to put yourself into “automatic mode” to keep up with your household routines. (Works like a charm).
And here’s what I do when not feeling so task-oriented (because this has nothing to do with how we feel about it, remember?). My cleaning time goes by much faster when I listen to podcasts, webinars, or classes that interest me while working on house tasks. Try something like that and see how it goes if you hate cleaning the home like me.
A nurturing, restful, and organized home starts with consistent cleaning and maintenance.
Cleaning and maintenance don’t magically happen; you must make them happen.
Scheduling is the solution to ensure cleaning and maintenance tasks get done consistently with the least amount of stress.
When home-keeping tasks get scheduled, these are off your head and allow you to enjoy a clean, fresh space consistently.