Monthly Archives: September 2018

September 27, 2018

Keep all your cleaning supplies on a shelf in your laundry room to give you more space under your sinks

I doubt it will surprise anyone to hear that I didn’t come across my organizing habits on my own: “I got it from my mama.” This is the cleaning shelf at my parents’ house – how clever is this?!? When they put on an addition in the early 90s, they put a large laundry room in, adding a long rod and shelf. Since then, it’s been dedicated to all the cleaning supplies! The teal basket is to take to the kitchen and bathrooms for those projects, while the other bottles are more one pony tricks and some back up supplies. If you’re looking to remodel or upgrade your laundry room soon, I definitely recommend adding some additional storage for cleaning supplies.

The Best Way to Declutter Kitchens

When I explain what a professional organizer does, the three three places I get asked about are always toys, closets, and the kitchen.

Kitchens can be one of the toughest place to organize. You’re likely in there all the time, whether you’re a cook or not. It’s the place that people tend to gravitate towards, during a normal week or a party. It’s the drop zone for basically everything in your home: mail, paperwork, toys, dishes, bags. Though it’s certainly fine for a short-term storage, you need to have a permanent home for everything in there.

The absolute best way to declutter kitchens

I like to keep my counters clear of everything but snacks and toaster oven. That means everything else needs to have a space in my cabinets or drawers.

My husband and I combined our households when we got married so we had too much stuff. Though we had space for all of it, the kitchen felt crowded. We used to have about 10 larger dinner plates that we didn’t use; I kept them “just in case.” I finally realized that I’m not going to suddenly host a dinner party with seating for 10.

I hosted Christmas at our house for about 15 people last year and guess what I used? Paper plates. (Sorry environment!) I’ve now had them out of our kitchen for about 3 months and I have not missed them a single day.

When working on organizing the kitchen, I like to start by pulling everything out and then dividing everything into several categories: stuff you use all the time (your “A” group), stuff you barely use (your “B” group), and the stuff you could donate (your “C” group). Of course, I recommend a donate pile for all those things you forgot you had and no longer need!

The A group should be pretty obvious to you: dishes, cups, specific pots and pans. While you’re working on this, keep in mind that a type of item may have some A and some B or C. If you have fancy china, that may fall under C, while your everyday dishware is going to be A. Cups may be A and champagne glasses may be in B.

Next, you need to determine what areas of your kitchen are for A, which are for B and which are C spaces. The A spaces should be readily accessible. For us, that’s the bottom shelves in the upper cabinets, where we store plates and glasses.

The B space is the higher shelves in the upper cabinets, which require some stretch to reach. We keep things like extra travel mugs up there.

The C group gets put somewhere that we don’t go to often. In our house, it’s the bottom of our pantry and the shelves in our dining room. The bottom pantry has pull out drawers and I keep a popcorn machine, crock pots, immersion blender, etc. in those. The dining room shelves get the prettier items: trifle dish, cake stand, and the Dutch oven.

A quick note for parents: we keep all of our kid stuff in a big bin on a shelf within her reach: bowls, sippy cups, plates, etc. She knows where to get a plate to tell us when she’s hungry and she knows where it goes after it’s been washed. It’s never too early to start organizing!

If you feel overwhelmed in your kitchen, let me help out. Contact me today!

Real Life Thursdays banner for Organizing CU, a professional organizing company in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, helping you get your house and life organized.

September 20, 2018

Cable clips that stick to anywhere to keep your cords in place

Let’s talk about amazing finds: I recently got a pack of six of these cord clips from Wal-Mart for under $5! I used to have just one charger there for my tablet and phone, but new phone=new charger. I didn’t like the look of having the cords just thrown over the back of the nightstand all the time, so I “invested” in these little ones and haven’t looked back. They make my nightstand look much more organized, giving me peace of mind (and hopefully better sleep!)

Digital clutter: Email

There are 2 kinds of people: 267 unread emails or 0 unread emails.

I’m positive I don’t have to say which one I’m in! I like to use my inbox as my to-do/follow up list. Currently, I have 4 emails in my personal box:

  1. Booking confirmation for a work trip I am currently on (holding onto it for the confirmation numbers for checking in)
  2. Email exchange from my insurance agent (I am waiting on a refund from them so I want to make sure I get it and will follow up with him if I don’t get it after 6 weeks)
  3. Scholastic book order through the kid’s school (I will delete it when I get the books)
  4. Evite to a birthday party (waiting for the husband and me to decide what our plans are that day since I am out of town earlier in the day)

That’s it. I should be able to delete 1, 3, and 4 within a week or two. Sure, some more may show up in the meantime, but I like to keep it pretty low so I’m not overwhelmed. I could print #1, put a reminder on my calendar to follow up on #2, assume that #3 is going to happen, and ignore #4 til I get the reminder notice. But I’ve found that this system works for me. It may not work for you.

I am also sure that over a thousand emails in your inbox is not working for you either. Here are some quick ways to get that down. First, delete any emails over a year old (or less time if you’re feeling especially brave today!).

Next, make some folders and sort if you need to keep anything. If you have emails from teachers, make a folder for each kid’s school. Some people like to put all their coupons into a single folder or multiple folders with one per store. Then you can pull up the folder that you need when you’re at the store. If you do a lot of traveling, keep all upcoming trips in one folder.

Third, unsubscribe! We talked about this a bit during our Week of Me. If there are any ones that you no longer need or never subscribed for, get rid of them. You don’t need to get any additional emails a week, especially if you’re the type that looks at each email when it dings. I don’t think I get a single promotional email any longer. I’ve managed to get out of every single one. I know you’re thinking, “But what about when I need a Walgreens photo promotional code?” Just Google it. Pretty much any store that I get stuff from (business cards from Vista Print, holiday cards from Tiny Prints, photos from CVS) has codes online that you can get when you need them.

Last, mark stuff as spam and delete it. If it’s something you don’t want to see, get rid of it. And ensure it doesn’t come back in the future.

Clearing the email clutter is a great way to stay organized for the future and make sure you don’t miss anything important in the future.

If you feel overwhelmed by your digital clutter, contact me today to help you get it under control!

Real Life Thursdays banner for Organizing CU, a professional organizing company in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, helping you get your house and life organized.

September 13, 2018


When you have 4 seasons like we do in the Midwest, you can go months without using some of your clothing (think: bulky sweaters and swimsuits). If you’ve read this site before, you know I love a bin – in the kitchen, in the playroom. Let me give you a peek into our closet. I love to use big baskets to store some of those out of season items. Since we are approaching fall, the sweaters and hoodies are going to be making their way out and the shorts and sandals taking their place. Keeping everything nearby, but out of sight, is a great way to keep what you’re currently using organized!

Digital clutter: computers and laptops

Desktop with icons filling the entire screen

There is so much unnecessary stuff on computers! One of the computers at my work has iTunes pop up every time you log on. As you can imagine, we are not using iTunes as part of our job. But it’s one of those default settings that magically appears sometimes. Sadly, I am not an administrator on that computer so I can’t change it. But I can change ones on my own personal computer.

First, you can stop those random programs from running when you start the computer. For windows, check this out. If you have a mac, it’s a little different.

Second, go onto your internet browser and check out the bookmarks. There are probably ones that you have never used or way too many of them! I like to try to group them into categories, such as work websites, parenting ones, health ones, etc. Make some folders and group them in a way that makes sense to you.

Third, delete any documents and programs you don’t need any longer. If you have old resumes that you don’t need, maybe your kids have some projects on there. Get rid of them. Not only are they clutter, but if you have enough large programs on there, it may interfere with the speed of your computer.

Last, take a look at your desktop. Delete any unused shortcuts. The desktop should be used as a temporary storage for a document, like a project you’re currently working on. If you need everything easily accessed, put them into a folder. I have a work “OCU” folder on my desktop with upcoming blog posts, templates, logos, etc. I don’t need each individual document on the desktop, but I reference and upload them enough that they need to be readily available. So I like to use just one folder with subfolders.

Or if you realize that you can get rid of the entire computer, you can do what I did recently. Think about the last time you actually opened up your laptop or desktop at home. You may be surprised about how infrequently it gets used!

If you feel overwhelmed by your digital clutter, contact me today to help you get it under control!

Real Life Thursdays banner for Organizing CU, a professional organizing company in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, helping you get your house and life organized.

September 6, 2018

Organizing Pyrex using under shelf storage baskets

If you’re like me, you have a TON of Tupperware and Pyrex. The Tupperware is kept in a lazy susan, but the Pyrex needed to find a new home when we child-proofed (basically, decluttered and organized by putting all breakables in the upper shelves and the kid-approved stuff in the lower cabinets). Putting an under shelf storage basket in this cabinet with the Pyrex means the lids will always have a safe home near the container without risking them falling every time we open the cabinet!

Digital clutter: phones and tablets

Organizing your home screen and phone can keep my mind clear

We just finished up a whole series on working on that paper clutter in your life, but there is also digital clutter that you need to take care of. When you take a look at your phone, does it resemble your junk drawer? Apps any which place, page after page of unused apps? I like to keep all of my home screen apps in folders. I have an agenda calendar widget with my upcoming events, a to-do list, and 2 folders on my home screen (social media and work related apps). Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, you can do a lot of modification to apps using folders. I like to create folders that relate to each other and keep infrequently used apps together.

Take a look at how many photos you have. If you have little ones, you tend to take about 50 pictures of your kid to get that really good one. I take the extra two minutes while watching some mindless TV show and delete all of the recent outtakes. Not only does it give you some additional space on your phone, but it also makes it easier to upload the right ones to social media since only the good one remains on the camera roll. If you have thousands of photos, it may be quite a task to get rid of them. Similar to my home screen, I like to use folders for my pictures, such as one for upcoming Instagram posts, funny things I screenshot to show my husband, the best pics of my kid. This way, when someone asks to see a recent pic, I can pull up a perfect shot that actually took 30 tries!

When it comes to apps, I like to keep fewer, partially for space, but partially for keeping me off the phone all day and night. There are many apps that I download only as needed, such as Uber and Dominos, and then uninstall when I’m done. I still have my account with each company and need to re-log in each time I download, but it saves my phone a whole lot of space and clutter on my physical phone when I don’t keep them for occasional usage.

As an aside, I recently got a new phone and noticed there were 7 apps on there that I did not download. It was easy enough to uninstall them and it saved me 4 GB. You may see the same on yours. Your phone will not delete any app that is integral to its use, so don’t worry about that!

When you take a look at your contacts list, how many of the people do you actually talk to? When I first got on Facebook over a decade ago, it started importing all of my friends’ information. I had email addresses and phone numbers for people I had in one class 15 years ago. If I ever needed to contact that person, I would never look at my contacts first. I would definitely go to Facebook and find them on there. When you’re looking through your contact list, decide which people you would look for in contacts if you wanted to reach them.

Lastly, clear your cache (here for Android and here for iPhones) and do a restart. The cache folders are basically just junk files and can be safely deleted. It may slow your first visit back to that app or website, but it will not do any harm.

Keeping your phone organized is just as important as a clutter-free home. It affects you in ways you didn’t even realize til it’s been cleaned up!

If you feel overwhelmed by your digital clutter, contact me today to help you get it under control!