Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

The ability to notice details and the willingness to creatively tweak little things are crucial to achieving the perfect space in a project. Organizing takes skill, patience, strategy, time, and attention to detail. Those are a Professional Organizer’s tools of the trade. However, Organizers are exceptional at developing systems that take organizing to its next level. Systems usually increase clients’ efficiency in utilizing their space.

Consider the kitchen cabinet and notice all details involved in the process resulting in an organized, functional space. However, organizing this cabinet also resulted in two efficient systems.

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Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

The Kitchen Cabinet Situation

  • this cabinet had lots of cookbooks and recipe binders
  • it also had a myriad of serving items
  • books stacked sideways because some did not fit the space
  • recipe clippings were sticking out of books and binders
  • nothing was labeled or had hand-written post-it notes


  • recipes were hard to remember, identify, or use
  • meals were boring, repetitive, and unhealthy
  • medicine and supplement bottles occupied the lower shelf of this cabinet
  • taking meds and supplements was inconsistent because of the sorting and opening of bottles required, and it was hard to remember who took what and when

The kitchen cabinet needed some tweaking to become a functional cabinet with valuable, organized content.

The Process

  • removed all cabinet contents
  • sorted through contents and removed what was no longer wanted or needed
  • adjusted shelves to fit even the tallest book
  • allocated specific areas for things that stay
  • created a recipe use and management system
    • recipes photocopied, cut, and pasted on 4″ X 6″ index cards
    • index cards classified by dish type and organized in index card boxes
    • recipe boxes labeled with the recipe categories it contains
    • system benefit: mixing/matching cards create a week’s worth of healthy, varied meals
  • created a supplement and med management system 
    • pills presorted in bags according to dosage/time of intake for each person
    • pill bags divided into baskets for each household member
    • system benefit: a streamlined process where everyone knows where, what, when, and how when getting their meds

The development of systems improves efficiency in the use of your space. Therefore, designing systems that increase productivity and make life easier is one of the most valuable benefits you can get from working with a Professional Organizer. 

If you want to experience some of “Organizing magic,” let’s talk! We’d love to hear about you and see how we can help.

15 Tips to a Happier Pantry

15 Tips to a Happier Pantry

Here are 15 tips for a happier pantry. These will help you increase the efficiency of your pantry space. You probably should consider these tips alongside more general aspects of kitchen planning. Please read 15 Less-Than-Exciting Kitchen Planning Considerations.

1. All Edibles In The Pantry

Space permitting, contain all edible items in your kitchen in the pantry. Kitchen cabinets are for kitchen equipment, dining, and serving items. Include in the pantry pet food and snacks. Use pet food containers to avoid having open pet food bags and spills. Use the smaller versions of these pet food containers for treats. If you mix treats together, snack time will always be a surprise for your furry friends. By mixing treats in a single container, you avoid having many bags and treat containers open at once.

2. Remove Cleaning Products

Avoid storing cleaning products in the pantry. Kitchen cleaning products should go in the cabinet space under the sink. All other cleaning tools and products have their place in the laundry room.

3. Use Floor Space Wisely

Fit your pantry floor with baskets or crates to store plastic and paper serving products, beverage bottles or cans, water gallons, water jugs, and other items like lunch boxes. The floor area is good storage space, but we need to make it appropriate for holding our stuff.

4. Zone the Pantry

Create zones in your pantry so that the various product groups are on their space/shelf. Creating areas for the different product groups makes the space more efficient.

5. Hook It Up

Include a hook behind the pantry door for aprons if you use them.

6. Contain Plastic Bags

Add a plastic bag dispenser behind the pantry door. Think Simply Human. Their Wall Mount Grocery Bag Dispenser offers a practical addition to your pantry space to contain those plastic bags and yet keep them accessible.

7. Got Bulk?

Dog food containers are ideal for storing dry bulk goods in your pantry. Utilize these containers, aligning them along the pantry floor or the highest shelf in the pantry.

8. Pizazz!

Consider adding lights to each shelf underside and watch the magic happen!

9. To Line Or Not To Line?

Some people consider lining their shelves and drawers a must; others don’t even think about it. If shelf lining is essential to you, consider a product like Zip-N-Fit Premium Liner. This liner is easy to cut to size by folding and tearing the pieces. It makes lining a breeze. There are great alternatives out there, but you should get a product that makes the job easy and makes you happy. Lining shelves (the right way) is a project and can be an investment. Whatever you decide, measure twice and cut correctly so your shelves look sharp and are appropriately protected.

10. What To Do About Cans?

Organize canned products using tiered can organizers. These organizers allow you to see all cans at a glance and save space on the shelves. Look for the expandable kind to maximize the use of space.

11. Pantry Corners — Do We Have To?

Using Lazy Susans on pantry corners is a good idea to maintain access to those awkward spaces.

12. Snacks, Anyone?

Consider baskets or bins to place individually packed snacks. Remove them from their original boxes or packaging first.

13. Dry Goods: The Pantry Defining Item

Dry goods will decide the defining question about your pantry: Do you want a Pinterest pantry or a more functional one?

The Pinterest look is a high maintenance alternative, as it requires the consistent transfer of all dry goods to containers each time you bring new products home.

The functional approach allows items to remain in their original packaging but clustered by bins or baskets.

The dry goods we refer to are cereals, rice, grains, dry fruit, crackers, cookies, pasta, flour, chips, and the like. In general, these items should not be exposed to moisture and should last fresh for some after we open the package.

Pro Tip: measure each shelf to determine the space available and count the different kinds of dry products in the dry goods category. Whether you go with the functional approach or the high-maintenance one, you will need to know what to buy and how much.

Pro Tip: Stay clear of round containers as they waste much space. Go with rectangular or square but stick to the same type of container to achieve a polished look.

14. Labeling Is Important

Labeling is not an unnecessary detail. On the contrary, labeling allows everyone to find what they need quickly. Labeling also reminds everyone where to put things back; thus, it is crucial to preserve the pantry order when many people share the space.

When using containers in your pantry, label these with a system that adapts to changes. Tastes and preferences of household members change over time. You want a labeling system that looks great, but that can be modified.

If you’d instead use the cluster method to keep items in your pantry, then label your bins or baskets with the category of product it contains.

But regardless of your preferred method, labeling also the shelves is a good idea. Label the shelf space where each item category should go.

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Where do spices go?

15. Where Do Spices Go?

Unless you keep your cooking spices next to the stove, these should go in the pantry. And as with any other pantry group, these should be together and have specific space on a shelf. A tiered spice rack on the shelf is ideal for placing all spices because it allows you to see them all at once.

When pantry shelf space is not an option, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.

Hopefully, these tips will help transform your pantry into a happier, more efficient place for the benefit of everyone involved. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need some pantry help. We love pantries!

One Catastrophe’s Silver Lining 

One Catastrophe’s Silver Lining 

Finding The Silver Lining of a Catastrophe

When a catastrophe strikes, like a devastating hurricane, we are often forced to look at our lives and possessions differently. For example, we might need to let things go when items are ruined by the catastrophe. Also, the situation may require moving on with less, due to reduced space in temporary living arrangements.

If this happens, we might start seeing what we own in a different light – might even discover that we can let go of our attachment to things as we start a new life with less. Owning less means less to take care of, less to store, and a deeper appreciation for what we now own.

Within days after a significant hurricane, community volunteers rushed in and helped declutter homes in preparation for the much-needed repairs. However, there were many random, untouched items left in these homes. Those items were not necessarily what these families wanted or needed to keep. But the rushed volunteer-led effort was spontaneous and disorganized. Everything went into boxes. Homeowners had no idea what they had or lost, and they didn’t have immediate, organized access to the saved items. 

A Different Point of View

As families prepared to re-enter their repaired homes later that year, they surveyed what was left of their possessions and, instead of holding on to those few things as representatives of what they lost, these families expressed the need for further decluttering. Why was that? Because what was left in the houses made no sense to them anymore. Their perspective had changed. The stuff that remained now clutter to them.

After experiencing the life-changing revelation that often occurs after a catastrophe, many have embraced living with less and now enjoy a different relationship with their stuff. They realize living with less in their homes means less to take care of. As a result, there are freer to live a life of connection with friends and family. Embracing the essentials in their homes helps them find serenity.

These people have opened up to change and have looked forward to a future with no clutter, a deeper appreciation for their possessions, and energetic space for all better things to come. They found the silver lining of a catastrophe.

How to Hire A Professional Organizer And What To Expect From Them

How to Hire A Professional Organizer And What To Expect From Them

How To Hire A Professional Organizer

After many years of unrealized New Year’s resolutions and failed attempts to get organized on your own, you have decided to make it happen. You have chosen to hire a Professional Organizer! Well, you will be amazed about how working with an Organizer can transform even your perspective in life.

What Kind Of Organizing Services Do You Need?

Some Organizers offer a wide range of services, while others work a specialized niche. For example, some Organizers work with corporations rather than residential clients. Others specialize in specific areas such as home offices or closets. Finally, some Organizers specialize in working with clients with brain-based conditions, including the chronically disorganized and individuals with ADD.

Where Should You Begin Your Search?

  • Use NAPO’s Professional Organizer Directory to search for a professional organizer by type of service, distance from your location, or both. 
  • You can google Professional Organizers in (your area).
  • Use resources such as FindMyOrganizer.com, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor.com

How Do You Decide Who Is Right For You?

It would help to speak to several Organizers before choosing the one to with you. If you prefer to meet in person before making a decision, note that some Organizers offer free consultations, while others charge for the consultation and credit that fee toward services if hired. Yet others charge separately for assessments and services.

What Fees Should You Expect To Pay?

As with most professions, fees vary widely based on experience, geographic location, and competition. For example, many Professional Organizers charge by the hour, while others charge by the project. Therefore, it would probably be best to establish a budget first and decide what feels most comfortable.

Avoid choosing an Organizer strictly by price. Instead, focus on value by finding a professional with a personality you click with and whose skill set matches your needs. That person is most likely to deliver the results you expect in the shortest amount of time.

What Questions Should You Ask?

One of the first questions is whether the Organizer is a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). Membership to NAPO demonstrates that the Organizer is committed to continuing education and an industry code of ethics.

Other professional associations directly related to the organizing industry include Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), and the Australasian Association of Professional Organizers (AAPO).

An experienced Organizer will ask many questions about you, your work style, what you are looking for, and the issues you believe have thwarted your best attempts to get organized in the past. In addition, they want to get to know you, understand your objectives, and determine whether they will be a good fit for you. 

Therefore, it is in your best interest to be as candid and straightforward as possible about what you want to achieve.

So here are some suggestions of questions to ask a potential Organizer:

  • What kinds of organizing projects do you do?
  • Who is your typical/usual client?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you have any training or hold any certifications in organizing or related areas?
  • Can you describe your organizing process or describe a typical working session?
  • How long have you been in the organizing business?
  • What is your fee structure?
  • Do you work with a written contract?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • I have tried to get organized before. How will this be different?

What To Expect From An Organizer

Professional organizers should be nonjudgmental, encouraging, and supportive. They should be good listeners and recommend various suggestions, alternatives, and solutions to create the system that will work best for you.

If you start working with a Professional Organizer and along the way decide that you are not comfortable with their style, you are rarely under obligation to continue the relationship. Be sure to let the Organizer know how you feel. More than likely, they will be happy to recommend a colleague.

A Professional Organizer strives to increase the organization of your space and its functionality, so you can do more with your time and live a happier, better life. This person is skilled at creating systems that work for you. But for this to happen, the Organizer needs to learn about your preferences, habits, and style.

The Deep Dive

The Organizer will invite you to have a deeper conversation about why you want this project done. Why is this space the way it is today? What circumstances brought the area(s) to its current state? Are those circumstances still present, or will they return? What are you doing to ensure those situations or circumstances won’t come back?

Failing to address these aspects might result in the organized areas returning to their previous state sooner than you imagine. Ideally, the root causes of the problems in the space are analyzed and corrected during the organizing process.

You might not be ready to engage in that conversation yet. It can be a difficult conversation to have. You might not want to discover or discuss the cause(s) behind the disorganization bothering you. If this is the case, expectations need adjustment. The long-term results of your project might be different from what you desire.

There’s Always An Option

However, you can always engage the Organizer’s help in maintaining the space to avoid reversing the progress made; a good option until you feel ready to tackle the root cause of the problem head-on. And when that time comes, your Organizer will be there to hold your hand.

When your project is due to a lack of time or availability on your part to maintain an organized space, or if you need an Organizer to help you move, or after a renovation project, for example, this professional can help you all the same. In this case, expect the Organizer to provide a specialized service to improve your space’s order, functionality, and aesthetics.

Organizing takes strategy, planning, thought, skills, and time. An experienced and accomplished Professional Organizer will seek a lasting transformation of the space and the client’s life.

5 Tips To Avoid Travel Packing Stress

5 Tips To Avoid Travel Packing Stress

Miniature Product Clutter

One of the biggest clutter nightmares in homes is faulty travel habits, from product miniatures (from samples and hotels, to name a couple) to the number of things left unchecked inside suitcases and bags when the trip is over.

5 Tips To Packing Zen

In the context of travel, here are five tips that could streamline your process and keep your environment in better shape.

  1. Designate a place to keep your toiletry miniatures or toiletry empty travel containers. This way, you’ll know where to find what you need when it is time to pack. You’ll also have a controlled inventory of these items. It is easier to notice what needs replacement this way.
  2. Carry-on regulations on liquids and gels make it essential to pay attention to what we pack and how we pack it. Depending on your needs, carry-on packing might require some creativity on your part.
  3. Always empty bags and suitcases when returning from a trip. Forgetting this step might result in ruined bags due to product spills. Products can also expire without us noticing. When packing, it is easier to start with a blank canvas instead of wondering about what we have, where, how much, and if it is expired. Then, we buy duplicates that are unnecessary costs and clutter our space.
  4. Place empty luggage and bags back in their designated area. When we empty bags and suitcases after each trip, we are more likely to place them where they belong. This practice preserves luggage in better condition and keeps our space less cluttered. Many people store their suitcases and bags in their closets, usually with limited storage space. If this is your case, it is critical to have an area where bags adequately fit so your closet remains functional.
  5. To remove the guessing game from the packing process and avoid forgetting important things, create a list of everything needed for each kind of trip you typically make. Do this when not in a rush so that these lists are complete. Then, next time you pack in a hurry, your lists will ensure you don’t forget a thing.

The Packing Lists

And here’s a little resource for you! These are some packing lists to get you started. These lists have several benefits.

  • Remove the guessing game from the packing process. Never forget necessary items, even when packing in a rush.
  • Consider everyone’s needs. There is a list for everyone in the family.
  • Comply with TSA regulations for liquids, aerosols, gels, and creams in carry-ons.
  • Specify what to pack and where to pack it, all in logical order.
  • Customize these lists to specific needs and circumstances. Be selective when adding items to these lists, though.

Download your packing lists HERE

Pro Tip: Print these lists separately (both sides of the sheet) and laminate each page. Check items off as you pack. Then erase the marks and reuse them next time. Finally, take the lists with you to ensure you bring back everything you packed.

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