Many people, especially women, feel ashamed about being unable to keep up with a tidy home or an organized life. Is that the shame that binds you?
Society has perpetuated three beliefs that are particularly harmful to women:
It is a woman’s job to organize the home, her life, and the lives of everyone in the household while even working outside the home.
This female job comes from the fact that a woman’s capacity to organize, plan, and manage comes inherently to the female gender.
A woman should be capable of doing all that naturally, effortlessly, and excellently.
But planning, organizing, and managing require engaging the brain’s executive function. And whether it is due to an accident, illness, a brain condition, or genetics, the ability to plan, organize, and manage, takes work and requires learning for a large part of the population. The truth is that most people do not excel at those activities, even less enjoy them.
An Outsourcing Economy
And that should not be a problem. Our societal arrangement provides for outsourcing services and products we cannot make ourselves due to lacking skills and time. We defer the making of products and provision of services we need to groups or individuals that are experts at what they do because engaging our time in or learning all the skills needed to produce our products and services is not cost-efficient.
And there is no shame in that.
For example, we go to a salon to get a great haircut. Of course, we could cut our hair, but that does not mean we should, would want to, or be successful at it (I know, I’ve been there! LOL).
Or we go to a store or tailor to get clothes instead of sewing our own. Although many people excel at sewing, that is not most of us. And even those good at sewing would only make some of their clothes. In general, it is just not an efficient use of their time to make their whole wardrobe from scratch. So even they outsource their clothes acquisition.
Why The Shame?
So, why the shame around organizing, managing, and planning?
Is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company embarrassed to engage a business coach or a team efficiency expert? No! This is even expected from a person in such a position.
The shame of being unable to keep a tidy home and an organized life comes from thinking we are inherently capable of achieving this. So, if we can’t do that, something is wrong with us. Furthermore, if those skills are a given, they are expendable at some level.
A Compounded Problem
We are dealing with a double fallacy that compounds that shame.
Believing a person is inherently capable of planning, organizing, and managing, negates the possibility of needing to learn these skills, as is the case for so many.
Consequently, someone without those skills might feel ashamed and even less open to acquiring the skills by learning.
How about focusing on what we excel at and what makes us joyful? It is easier to feel happier, accomplished, and fulfilled in life this way instead of pounding ourselves with guilt every step.
Here’s The Solution
And for things that involve knowledge we don’t have, skills we were not born with, and time we don’t want to spend (like organizing, planning, and managing, for example), the Professional Organizer comes to the rescue!
A Professional Organizer is skilled and, in many cases, instructed in organizing, planning, and managing physical spaces, time, people, systems, and ideas.
Doing the organizing and planning, you do not have time to do
Doing the organizing and planning, you do not want to do
Developing systems that make your life and home more efficient
Using their knowledge, experience, and skills to build systems to make your life and home more efficient
Teaching you the fundamentals of their work, should you be interested in learning to maintain your systems
A Professional Organizer sets household members up for daily success and long-term goal achievement, plus a home that operates like a well-oiled machine. Who would not like to have that?
A Matter of Perspective
Look at it from the perspective of that Fortune 500 Executive that engages a coach to crush their short- and long-term goals while learning to work smarter, not harder. After all, you ARE the CEO of your home.
So, stop the guilt if that is what’s holding you back. Instead, give a Professional Organizer a chance to show you how easier life can be! You might be surprised. Your only regret might be not making that decision sooner.
Mise En Place is a culinary term that describes the act of gathering, preparing, and organizing all your ingredients and materials before you start cooking.
Mise En Place refers to the physical setup of the process. It also refers to the mental readiness to get the job done. Of course, we need a kitchen with the right ingredients to prepare exquisite, nutritious meals. But a confident physical and psychological readiness is also necessary.
Discard all ingredients contrary to the plant-based philosophy
Acquire those ingredients needed to prepare the meals
Organize both the pantry and the refrigerator
The Organized Kitchen and Mise En Place
This assignment made me think of the tight relationship between having an organized kitchen and the Mise En Place concept.
We can easily monitor product freshness and inventory levels when we have an organized pantry and refrigerator. That’s a big step in favor of nutritional quality and budget control. Also, having an organized kitchen allows one to achieve the mental and emotional readiness required to be efficient at and enjoy the process of cooking.
Organized and clean kitchens are more inviting, so we use them more often than messy, cluttered ones. Owners of such kitchens enjoy cooking and tend to cook healthier meals.
Efficient Kitchen Systems
To become a true kitchen ninja, you better know more than what a Mise En Place is.
Daily processes, maintenance routines, and kitchen systems are the true heroes behind an efficient, enjoyable kitchen and a happy cooking time.
The value of meal services such as Green Chef or Blue Apron, for example, is the Mise En Place delivered to your door. They provide all the ingredients needed to prepare dinners in the amount needed. Their ingredients have been sourced, washed, cut, and individually packed for your specific meal, including the recipe to follow, of course.
However, if you wish to enjoy that same efficiency in meal prepping but without the price tag of a meal delivery service, you must pay attention to the processes behind that Mise En Place and the systems that support an efficient kitchen.
Here are four processes that support an efficient kitchen and a streamlined meal prep process.
Managing Recipes & Meal Planning
Organizing Fridge & Freezer
Managing Recipes & Meal Planning
Managing your recipes takes care of all those clippings, books, and notes floating in our cabinets. But most importantly, it promotes the use of favorite recipes in healthier, varied menu creation. The key is how you organize your recipes to start using them daily. See the video where we discuss recipe management here.
As a bonus, managing the recipes makes it easier to develop the weekly grocery shopping list without overbuying (recipes include all ingredient amounts). Not overbuying means less waste of food and money.
What happens to all those items bought at the grocery store when they come home? These need to become part of our systems if we seek to improve kitchen efficiency.
Incorporating groceries into our systems means that pantry products and refrigerated items need to be unbagged, unboxed, stripped of outer packaging as much as possible, washed, cut, divided, re-containerized, or decanted.
The goal is to have every item needed to cook or to put together a snack or breakfast as ready to be used as possible.
Organizing Fridge & Freezer
An organized fridge and freezer means adequately designating the containers to maintain those items processed from grocery shopping.
Containers should seal properly, preferably be transparent or translucent, be labeled (choose a labeling system that allows for constant changes), be BPA-free, and be dishwasher and microwave safe.
The freezer and fridge organization also needs to consider the zoning. By grouping items according to purpose or type of meal in the freezer and fridge, everyone has an easier time finding what they need.
The pantry configuration can make or break your time in the kitchen. The organization of the pantry should maximize the use of its space, add convenience with the placement of items and maintain product freshness. Read all about the details that comprise a stellar pantry here.
Redfin is a real estate brokerage that represents home buyers and sellers. In their blog, Redfin asked some organizing experts about Creative Ways to Maximize Space in a Small House. My Space Reclaimed was one of the Organizers consulted. Here’s a link to the original blog post. Read along and see how you can make the most of your space in a small house.
When you have a smaller home, every inch of space counts! If you’re feeling cramped in your tight quarters, don’t worry, making a small space more livable can be easy. To help you get started, we asked organizational experts for their best tips and tricks for maximizing space in a small area. Check them out and you’ll feel like you’re living large in no time.
1. Start by purging your items. Set up three boxes and label them “keep” “donate” and “trash.” Set a timer for two hours and start categorizing the items within the three boxes. Don’t step away to put an item in the room or area that it belongs, just place it in the keep pile for now. If you come across things that spark a trip down memory lane, set them aside for now in the “Keep” category. Plan a “Memory Night”, order some food in, and take that trip with family and friends! – Organizing by Ali, Alison Monaghan
2. Store less frequently used kitchen items elsewhere. In the kitchen, look for small appliances, big cookware, extra canned foods, and extra paper products that are not used regularly and move to another storage area in your home. This frees up space and allows for a less cluttered feel. – Cleared Spaces, Amy Van Arsdale
3. Accommodate the storage spaces you’re working with, versus attempting to accommodate your belongings. So many of us feel we don’t have ample storage, however, we may just need to pair down our belongings in an effort to truly work towards a simplified space in a smaller home. – Organized for Life, Lauren Silveira
4. Incorporate storage within your decor. For example instead of having shelving staged with only home decor and books, mix in beautiful bins to house other items. Think of electronic accessories, envelopes or office accessories, and even toys. – Freshly Organized, Melanie Schmidt
Tall bookshelves or cabinets can also store clothes, crafts, and toiletries. – Arranged by Erin, Erin Kelly
5. Use over-the-door organizers. The back of a door can be a wonderful storage place. Buy an inexpensive clear hanging shoe organizer, place it over your door and use it to store items such as scarves, socks, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, travel toiletries, or hair products. You can even use them for shoes! – Aim 4 Order, Cindy Bernstein. In the absence of a linen closet, utilize over-the-door organizers for fun and functional linen storage. – Let Your Space Bloom, Amy Bloomer
6. Remove doors from closets. If you have bedroom closets with bi-fold doors and you need more space, remove the doors. They pop out easily. Once they’re gone, the space will feel larger, and you can put up a curtain instead if you like. The closet can become an office, too, with a desk, computer, and other office accessories. – DETAILS Organizing It All, DeeDee Welles
7. Have a paper filing system. Every household needs one. Every piece of paper worth keeping should have a permanent home where you will know to look for it. There are things that will have to be kept and those need to be filed. Most likely, those files will have to be created as you go. – My Space Reclaimed, Maristella Bertram
8. Utilize vertical wall space. New York City apartment dwellers are always looking to maximize their tight spaces. Make use of vertical spaces with shelving, hooks, or other mounting options. Backs of doors are hidden gems, as can be tight spaces to the side of fridges, washer/dryers, etc. Using wall space can be a great way to blend the functional with the visual hooks for a decorative hat display or floating shelves with color-coded books are great ways to add personalized decor while also adding storage. – Embrace Your Space NYC, Sarah Grace
9. Clear the medicine cabinets. Medicine cabinets are often home to mostly expired medicine, lotions, and all manner of potions. Find inexpensive drawer organizers at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, or The Container Store. Keep first-aid stuff close at hand. Use baggies to gather hair clips, razors, nail supplies, etc. – A Clear Path, Dr. Regina F. Lark
10. File fold. Things tend to get lost in deep shelves that hold clothing. To solve this problem, plastic boot boxes from The Container Store allow one to “file fold” so clothing isn’t stacked. File folding allows you to see what you have and eliminates the clothing from falling all over if it was in a pile. – Lisa The Organizer, Lisa Haubenstock
11. Remember that less is more. We can all cut down on the number of products we buy. If your space is overwhelmed with products, that clutter can make an already small space feel tiny. – Clutterless Home Solutions, Lahni Carney
12. Turn cleaning into a game for the kids. To de-clutter the playroom and instill de-cluttering habits in your kids, make cleaning fun by turning cleaning into a game! Use clear packing cubes as a smart storage solution for toys and other knick-knacks. Categorize each packing cube and ask them to match the toys to the corresponding packing cube. – EzPacking
13. Save space in your laundry room. Use open shelving or a hanging rack system placed on the back of a door. Both are good options to keep washing supplies organized and easily available. Zone the shelf space and use containers to keep categories together. – Everyday Organizing, Nancy Patsios
14. Use clear or mesh wall pockets for mail. These are a must for organizing mail when you don’t want papers piling up on your kitchen counter or dining room table. Designate one wall pocket for magazines/catalogs, one for bills to pay, and the third one for all other types of mail. Be sure to label your wall pockets and go through them once a week to keep the papers from piling up. – reSPACEd, MaryJo Monroe
15. Find storage solutions for “dead” space. These are places where furniture or full-size wall shelves won’t fit. Some examples of dead space are:
The wall underneath stairs – Perfect for hooks to store coats, keys, hats & bags, a dry-erase board/bulletin board/family calendar, or wall pockets to store mail.
The inside of kitchen or bathroom cabinet doors – Ideal for 3M Command hooks or magnetic hooks or cups to store small items like pot-holders, dish towels, Tupperware lids, scissors, make-up, or toothbrushes. – Cluttershrink
16. Be careful when using vacuum-sealed bags. Never use vacuum-sealed bags for delicate textiles like cotton, suede, silk, leather, etc. Only use them for durable fabrics such as denim or ski gear. Natural fabrics need to breathe or else the fabric will be irreversibly damaged. Don’t ruin your clothes in order to save space using a vacuum-sealed storage bag. – Garde Robe, Doug Greenberg
17.Give your items a consistent home. If you notice piles of clutter, it is likely that you have never designated a particular spot for them. Every item needs one consistent home, so when you are done using it, you know where to put it, and when you need it again, you know where to find it. – Cocozza Organizing + Design, Heather Cocozza
18. Invest in storage containers like baskets and bins to organize valuable square footage. Whether it’s reorganizing your kitchen, decluttering a storage room, or tackling overstuffed closets, implementing an organizational system is a vital storage hack for maximizing each area of your home. – DFW Packing Pros
19. Install a custom space. Built-ins tailored to your needs can utilize every available sliver of space. When they’re part of the walls, you don’t lose as much valuable square footage. For example, turn a wall into an office or craft space. – SolutionsForYou, Anne Blumer
20. Double-duty furniture. This allows you to not only maximize your physical space but also the functionality of a space.
For example, my ottoman holds a dozen shoes, my mirror is hiding all of my jewelry, and my nightstand doubles as an underwear drawer. It’s all about getting creative while finding homes to store your things and the possibilities for multi-purpose furniture pieces are endless! – Sort & Sweet
In your living room, choose a coffee table or end table that provides storage below for books, blankets, etc. either by neatly placing the items or by utilizing baskets to conceal the items in the space.” – Orderly by Danica, Danica Finocchario-Smith
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.