August 30, 2018

Keep spices and sauces near where you use them and organized for easy access!

I’ve previously talked about moving items in your home by changing its habitat. Since we do a lot of cooking in our house, we have a variety of spices and sauces that get used regularly. Before, they were kept at a variety of different spots around the kitchen. Since we recently decluttered the entire kitchen when child-proofing, I’ve put all of my oils, vinegars, and spices in one area next to stove for easy access. Keeping them organized is now a breeze!

Final Thoughts on Organizing Paperwork

A home for all your paperwork, organized for your life

For our month of organizing paperwork, we hit a lot of stuff! Let’s review the four steps:

  1. Put all the papers in one place
  2. Sort into keep, recycle, shred
  3. Sort keep pile into active, current, long term storage, sentimental, receipts
  4. Find a permanent home for each pile

Organizing all of these piles and finding a home for them is the crucial last step. Without a home, you won’t be able to keep up the routine of putting papers in their home spot. You need to figure out a system that works for you and your life. It will likely change over time. Some people may want to do a shred box that you shred when it gets full, while others can shred as they go. Each kid may have their own bin with one hanging file folder for each school year to save the best of the best while other parents would prefer to keep everything saved electronically.

I know these 4 simple steps make it look like it should be easy, but I know that it is a daunting job to go through all of those papers! I know that you may get stuck at some point. But keep moving forward, even as few as 5 papers a day will eventually make progress and you may even get some momentum! But keep moving forward!

Step 4 of organizing all that paperwork!

Step 4: Sort items by category and location. Inbox for your active pile, expanding file for current, filling cabinet for long term, storage bins for sentimental, envelopes for receipts

Now that we’ve done step 1, step 2, and step 3, you have five piles of keep, the next step is to go through each of those piles and find a permanent home for them. If you can do several of them in a night, great. Just make sure you take a break after each one. If you’re short on time and can do one a night, no big deal. This should work within your time constraints. Again, you may run into more shredding and recycling, which is great! Remember our key question throughout this paper organizing process: “What do I need to keep?

Your active pile will be the most fluid with stuff going in and out frequently. Try to keep a small basket in a set location, such as on your desk or in the corner of your kitchen. Schedule a time each day/week/every other week to go through the papers and toss/shred/ file anything that you need to keep. Personally, I keep a small paper holder in my kitchen and go through it every couple of days. That may be too often for you.

You can use an expanding file for the current folder. I’ve also used these in a filing cabinet with a “Current” label. Again, this one will have some in and out documents. Take a look at the documents you have in there and that may lead you to the right place to store them.

Long term storage can be kept in a filing cabinet with labeled hanging file folders so you can easily file anything away. You may prefer to scan these items and keep them saved electronically. If that works for you, awesome! As I’ve said before, I’m a paper girl so I don’t keep too much saved electronically, but that’s just personal preference.

For the sentimental stuff, we like to keep bins in our storage area (basement for us, but it could be your attic, garage, under bed). If you are short on space, you may want to go through them yearly and clean out anything that is outdated or that you no longer think you’ll need. Each person gets a set amount of space: one bin for each person. Again, electronic storage is a great option for this. I keep all of my kid’s art stuff saved in a folder on Google Drive, then I don’t feel bad when it doesn’t make it into her scrapbook or to a grandparent.

With receipts, I keep all of the current month’s receipts in envelopes (one for each account) and then reconcile them with my bank statements once a month. Anything that may have a return at some point, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, etc, I move to a new envelope that is “Saved for returns.” Every couple of months, I clean that out. Since most of our stuff is groceries and food, it’s a very small folder. You may want to just keep a folder for the possible returns and not worry about the rest. Again, that’s totally up to you!

The best part of this step is that you can totally customize it to fit your life! If your family doesn’t keep receipts, then don’t keep them! If you already have bins in the basement for some of your sentimental stuff, then go through them and purge/add as necessary. If you have a place that paper tends to pile up at, then add an inbox right there. This is the part that you can customize to your life, which is a great way to make it a habit!

August 23, 2018

Shelf risers under the bathroom sink

I’ve talked about shelf risers in kitchen cabinets and under the kitchen sink, but why limit “yourshelf”? I  paint my toes about once a month, do my hair and makeup even less, so I don’t have many products to store. Tossing in a small shelf riser helps organizing this small space even easier!

Step 3 of organizing all that paperwork!

Step 3: Sorting the keep pile into categories (active, current, long term storage, sentimental, receipts)

Now that you’ve done step 1 and step 2, and you’ve gotten rid of the shred and recycling piles, you are left with only the keep. This will likely be the hardest step for most people. Go through them and sort everything into one of five piles:

  1. Active (‘to do’ items like bills to pay, RSVPs, rebates, forms to fill out and mail back)

  2. Current (‘use for the near future’ like tax docs, sports calendars, paid bills from last 3 months)

  3. Long term storage (previous tax returns, medical records, warranties)

  4. Sentimental (old papers you wrote in college, kids artwork)

  5. Receipts

Keep in mind, you may now be in the mindset of tossing stuff and you need to create more shred/recycle piles. If so, that is awesome! Remember our mindset shift: “What do I need to keep?” instead of “What can we get rid of?”

Like I said, this one will be the most daunting one. For every 30 minutes you work, take a 5 minute break! Sorting everything in one night may not be possible and that’s fine! There is no need to rush through all of this! As long as you continue to make progress, you’re moving in the right direction!

Real Life Thursday – August 16, 2018

Shelf risers under the kitchen sink can double your space!

Last week, I discussed the amazingness of shelf risers. Feel free to try them in a variety of places in your home. I recently moved one to under my kitchen sink and fell in love immediately. After decluttering and organizing under there, I was able to fit the remaining items with ease when I added an extra shelf!

Step 2 of organizing all that paperwork!

Sort into 3 piles - keep, recycle, shred

In step 1, we put everything in a huge bin. This next step is sorting everything into three bins: keep, recycle, and shred. Decide for yourself on the best time and place to work on sorting. Typically, I like to do all of the organizing in the house by myself, but you may want or need some family member’s input on this step. I prefer to do this when my husband is watching TV that I have zero interest in, such as basketball games. He’s nearby in case I need his input on a certain document, but he is not getting in my way!

For this step, it is absolutely key that you DO NOT SORT THE KEEP PILE NOW! I repeat, DO NOT SORT THE KEEP PILE NOW! As a client recently told me, this is where she was getting hung up before we worked together. She was trying to sort as she went through everything.

Types of items in the recycle pile: junk mail, old lists, old catalogs, expired coupons, old magazines

Types of items in the shred pile: outdated bills, old receipts, bank statements, investment/retirement statements over a year old

Remember our key question from step 1: “What do I need to keep?” instead of “What can we get rid of?” If you’re unsure, put it in keep since the next step is sorting that pile.

As soon as you have these three piles, stop. DO NOT SORT THE KEEP PILE NOW. Take a break and move the recycle pile to the recycling bin and shred all the stuff you can.

Now go take a break – you deserve it!

August 9, 2018

Using a shelf riser in the kitchen to gain extra space!

If you’re like most, the kitchen is typically packed with lots of stuff. For me, I’ve learned to love shelf risers that basically DOUBLE your shelf space! This is one of the top shelves in our kitchen. As you can see, there is not a lot of stuff we use all the time; it’s all pretty infrequent use items (we are that rare breed of non-coffee drinkers!). Although decluttering and organizing is always the best way to gain more space in your home, this is a pretty good substitute!

Organizing all that paperwork in 4 easy steps! Here is step 1!

Step 1: Put all of the paperwork into a box. From every corner of your house. Toss it all in.

I want to share the system that I find works the absolute best when you feel overwhelmed by all the papers in your house. There is a fair amount of stop and go with this technique, which makes it a more-than-one day-project, but it will stop you from feeling overwhelmed and let’s be real – your papers didn’t get like this in just one day! As you’re going through this process, walking away and coming back fresh is a HUGE help when going through piles of paperwork. It may make one part of your house a mess for a few days or weeks, but it’s a fair price to pay to get it all under control and to get your new system in place to avoid this in the future!

The question I want you to remember throughout is “What do I need to keep?” instead of “What can we get rid of?” It’s a small shift that will pay dividends for your mindset when tackling a huge project like this! You’re then thinking of getting rid of everything, unless you need it for a certain reason. You are setting yourself up for success.

Let me reassure some doubters by saying that I’m not a paperless person. I still get my bills sent to my house (though I pay them online). My mind and system work better with physical reminders of my tasks, not electronic ones. However, this technique could also be used if you want to go paperless. Once you get to the end, you can scan all the documents and save them electronically and then create an upkeep system.

The first step is to walk around your house and take every sheet of paper and put it in one bin such as a laundry basket. Find every single one and toss it in. Go through every filing cabinet, every drawer, and every shelf. And then stop. Don’t do anything else. Give yourself some time to be in the right mind space for the next step! As more mail and papers come in this week, go through it as best as you can and toss them into the basket as well.

Week of me – Sunday

me time

It’s time to take some time for you. Trust me, you deserve it! I know what you’re thinking – what does a week of me have to do with organizing my house? Everything! As I’ve mentioned a couple of times on Instagram, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others or your home. I’ve included the entire week on each day so you know what’s coming up ahead! If you have the time, try to keep doing the ones from previous days to make them a habit in your life!


Monday – Purge: unsubscribe from unwanted emails. Take a look at the last week of emails and see if there are any you can unsubscribe from using the link at the bottom of the email.

Tuesday – Clean: tackle one project you’ve put off. For me, it’s a quick sweep of bathroom baseboards! Make it a small project like wiping out just the door of the frig or putting some baking soda and vinegar down the garbage disposal.

Wednesday – Donate: find 3 things in your closet to donate and add it to your donation box. Bonus points if you donate it today!

Thursday – Energize: take a 20 minute walk, get some fresh air.

Friday – Self-care: take care of yourself by drawing a bath, doing a face mask, getting a pedicure (or all of the above!)

Saturday – Digital detox: take a night off from all screens. Maybe try to include the entire family!

TODAY – Health: make a healthy meal.