Author Archives: Organizing Champaign-Urbana

About Organizing Champaign-Urbana

Professional organizer in Champaign-Urbana, helping busy moms go from overwhelmed to organized

Blog Overview

After being a professional organizer for years, I’ve worked with people on every area of the house, whether it be your closet, kitchen, garage, or paperwork.

I’ve written blog posts about all of the common areas that everyone struggles with. Many of these topics, such as paperwork, are covered in depth as a series as it can be addressed to the majority of people with only a few modifications.

Other topics, such as kitchen and closet, are shorter and more generic as each person will need the final result to be personalized in order to maintain it over time.

Take a look and see if anything strikes a chord with you:

Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for? Search the website for any topics you are interested in using the search bar on the menu.

I also love giving personalized answers to any Instagram questions that come my way!

I would love to discuss any other topics with you. Please feel free to contact me.

How a Work Bag can De-stress Your Busy Mornings

How a work bag can de-stress your busy mornings

Think about your dream morning that does not involve mimosas. Calmly leaving the house early, kids getting ready on their own, everything going smoothly. You can’t predict any kid meltdowns, but you can control how prepared you are.

Having a drop zone in your home with an organized work bag will certainly move you in the right direction. A work bag is basically like a big purse, but for your job. It has everything you need for work, such as your laptop, charger, papers. No wallet, no sunglasses, no IDs. Only work items.

As soon as you get home, empty out your work bag. Put away anything that is staying home. When you’re done with the work items at home, they immediately go back into the bag. No more forgetting work stuff at home. No more losing stuff at the bottom of your purse. No more heavy purse with all the work stuff weighing it down when you’re at dinner.

The same concept can apply to kid’s book bags. Go through them right away, taking out anything that needs to be done or addressed, returning it right away. In the morning, it’s one less thing to have to get on them about (please, please, please, just put your shoes on).

When combined with the nighttime sweep, your work bag will make your morning routines run much smoother. If you need help working on your family’s routines, contact me.

Streamline Your To-Do Lists

How to streamline your to-do list

Anyone else ever feel like they’re running around in circles, trying to get everything done? Finding sticky notes of things to do in your purse, your work bag, your kitchen counter, your car…

The very first tip I give to people when I see notes all over is to eliminate all those floating papers from your life. Gather them all up and put them in a single place. When they’re scattered all over the house, they have a tendency to become permanent clutter, where you learn to ignore them.

Make a master to-do list, either in a small notebook (hello dollar store), your calendar, or into an app that you can sync with your family. Write down every single thing that you need to do.

Then you need to prioritize the list. You will know which are the urgent ones. Keep those at the top, obviously. Then decide which ones are important soon (calling the electrician to fix the front porch light that has been out for a couple of days) and which ones are dreams (washing your baseboards).

Every couple of days or week, depending on how long your list is, go through and update it, adding and removing where necessary. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you have everything in one single place.

If you need some assistance getting that list in place, contact me to help you out.

Label All the Things

Labeling is so important to staying organized

Everything needs a home. I’ve discussed the importance of it before. When everything has a place to go, your family will know where to put things and where to find things without having to ask you, saving you time. When your family has all these good habits in place, you will find it’s easier to keep up than to catch up.

When you don’t have to think about where you should put the bills that need to be paid (small basket labeled “To Be Paid”) or the receipt for the dress you might return (envelope labeled “Just In Case”), it takes away a bit of that mental load that people tend to carry around. It becomes second nature to just put it where it belongs right away.

My closet has three hampers in it: darks, whites, and towels. When I first implemented the system, I put labels above each one so everyone in the house knew exactly what went where. (The cat eventually clawed them to pieces after about two months, but the habits were well established by that point). The labels prevented things from ending up in the wrong bin. And saved me a lot of aggravation.

The same applies to your kids and their toys: it makes it easier for them to pick up after themselves when they know exactly what goes where. You can use labels with pictures or words.

Let labels help you get things organized. If you need me (and my label maker) to come by to set up some good systems, contact me today.

Organized Grocery Shopping

Being (and staying!) organized doesn’t just apply to your physical house. Over time, it becomes a part of every routine you have in your life. Including grocery shopping. I want to share some tips and tricks to keep you organized before and during the shopping trip.

First, I like to keep an ongoing grocery list at all times – you know from previous posts that I love a list. Make sure everyone in the house knows where it is. I have a terrible memory so I will never remember to get more cat litter when told in passing while brushing my teeth in the morning. But when I have a list that everyone can get to, it can be added without me wasting brain power.

One of my favorite tips is to print off copies of identical lists of items that we tend to buy every week (milk, orange juice, bananas) so I don’t have to re-write the same things every single time. The list is generally in the same order I go through the store so I can avoid some back and forth and back and forth.

Our family likes to discuss our upcoming week and then start our meal planning. I make sure I check out my (decluttered) kitchen to avoid getting duplicates of items already in my pantry.

Once you get to the store, make sure you grab a grocery store basket in the main part of the cart as you load up produce. After you’re done with the produce department, just slide the basket under the cart so you have room for the heavy stuff.

I have recently been putting a spare laundry basket in the back of my car for all of those heavy items that you can’t carry in a bag, but also don’t want to take 10 trips in and out of the house.

After you start organizing parts of your life, you’ll realize that every part can benefit from some additional tips and tricks. If you need help getting started, contact me today.

How the ‘One Touch Rule’ Saves Me Time

The one touch rule of organizing: touch each item only one time before putting it away

How often is your family asking you where something is or where it goes? If your house is like mine, it’s pretty often! It’s so important to have a home for everything. Then everyone knows where to find it…and more importantly, where to put it away!

When everything has a home, it’s second nature to put it away. It doesn’t get stuck in a temporary home, becoming permanent clutter. Imagine your kids know exactly where their hockey bag is or where they should put their bake sale reminders for you to see.

The ‘One Touch Rule’ means everything gets put away the FIRST TIME you touch it. No more paperwork piling up on the kitchen counter. No more unfolded clothes sitting on your closet floor.

With the ‘One Touch Rule,’ those “I’ll deal with it later” stacks disappear. Go through the mail as soon as you get in the door (junk mail recycled and magazines onto the bedside table). Put away the laundry as soon as the dryer dings.

I’ve previously talked about how it is easier to keep up than to catch up. The ‘One Touch Rule’ is the perfect compliment. When you only touch it once, there is no chance for anything to pile up. You save so much time when you’re not spending 45 minutes each week going through a week’s worth of junk mail or cleaning up the playroom. You’re already keeping up.

If you want to hear more, feel free to contact me at organizingcu@gmail.com.

Space Limits – What they are and why you need them

Space limits: What they are and why you need them

You know that notification that pops up when your phone is running out of space and it demands that you remove an app or two before letting you save anything more? Space limits are the same thing, but in your home. It helps prevent that clutter creep, which can quickly become permanent clutter.

Space limits are restrictions on how much stuff you can keep in a certain area. In our house, we have space limits on clothing. We have 100 hangers in our closet (I didn’t count). Once we are out of hangers, I will not buy any more hangers – it means it’s time to purge some stuff out of there if I want to bring in any new clothes.

It is so easy for toys and clothing to explode out of control, especially after a holiday or birthday. Space limits make it so you can easily tell when you have too much of something. We have a couple of bins in our playroom for toys. If they’re full, we know it’s time to ship some toys to younger relatives or Goodwill.

You can do the same for your kitchen. Keep only a couple of items on the counter top and banish the rest to cabinets. Only the things that fit in the cabinets are kept. When you get new big items, it’s time to purge some of the older stuff that you don’t use.

Especially those of us that have small homes or children, you really need to keep your incoming items in check. Making a routine of it will make it easier to keep the house organized. That would make any new year a good one!

If you would like me to come help you define some space limits in your house, contact me!

When Perfectionism isn’t Perfect

When perfectionism isn't perfect

I’m a recovering perfectionist. When I lived alone and didn’t have a kid, I knew I was a perfectionist. But now, I want to spend any precious free time with my family, not worrying about the little things. 

I have two pictures in my home (hung by me) that are crooked and I’ve left them that way. I like the reminder that I’m not perfect and that I need to let some things go. All I can do is shrug and smile when I see them. When my husband folds the towels and they don’t have crisp edges, it’s a reminder that I have a partner who helps out around the house. So I let it go and smile when I see the not-quite-perfect towel stack. 

When I look back at my first few blog posts, there are some things I would do differently, but I don’t mind it too much. It’s good to continually grow and change. I’ve talked about not being perfect on my Instagram a couple of times. I post about it often because it’s a reminder I need often. 

Perfectionism can stop you from moving forward. I had minimal website experience when I started this whole process earlier this year, but I purchased the domain and started working on it. I didn’t let my perfectionism stop me from jumping in and starting because a step in any direction is a good step. 

It may stop you from getting organized. Maybe you won’t redo your front entryway until you find the perfect piece of furniture. It’s okay to not have a perfect system immediately. Our guest room has gone through a bunch of changes. Much like ourselves, our spaces and homes need to evolve with us. No system is going to be perfect forever. As our kids grow up, our lives will change. 

Don’t let perfectionism stop you from organizing, changing, or evolving. Let some stuff go occasionally. You’ll get use to it.  I promise. 

If you need help letting go of your perfectionism, contact me!

4 Steps for an Organized Closet

4 simple steps to organize your closet

I’ve already shared the simplest way to organize your paperwork in 4 easy steps, but now it’s time to tackle another big project with only 4 simple steps: your closet.

Step 1: Throw out all broken and busted clothing. If there is anything that has a broken zipper, missing button, or rip in it, throw it out. If you haven’t fixed it by now, you are not going to.

Step 2: Get rid of everything that does not fit right now. Don’t save anything for “just in case.”

Step 3: Toss all the uncomfortable shoes. If you can’t imagine wearing them for an entire day, then it’s time to get rid of them.

Step 4: Do you love it? Do you feel good in it? Scale everything from 1-10 (10 being something you can’t live without and would replace asap; 5 is meh). Everything under a 7 goes.

Four simple steps makes it seem like it should be a very easy task, but I know it can feel overwhelming. If you don’t have the time or energy for a full closet purge, try doing just steps 1-3 now and then keeping a donation box in your closet. When you put on a shirt that is less than a 7 (such as you can never seem to match with pants or it just doesn’t fit right any longer), into the box it goes. Once it gets full, it heads over to Goodwill.

You will see how much easier it is to stay organized and get dressed when you’re not constantly looking for something you love that fits you!

If your closet overwhelms you, contact me today to help get it organized.

Everything You Need for Your Command Center

Master List for Building Your Command Center

Creating a command center can seem particularly daunting if you’re on Pinterest. There are literally thousands of ideas and each one more magically perfect than the one before it. If you have seen any of my Real Life Thursday posts, you know that my house is not a Pinterest perfect home. So obviously, our command center is also anything but.

Our ‘command center’ in our house is basically the little counter space next to the stove when we can toss bags that need to be emptied after work and school before being repacked for tomorrow. I keep a little stacked letter holder for some of those little items that are strictly for short term use.  In our junk drawer, we keep phone chargers, along with pen and paper.

It can feel overwhelming if you’re trying to figure out what would work best for your family.  Here is my master list of items that you could include in your command center. Think about whether you already have a home for some of these things and if you would like to move them to one central location for everyone:

On desk:

  • Charging station
  • Small tray for jewelry and/or keys
  • Notepad and pens

On wall (can be clipboards, cork boards, photo frames, dry erase boards):

  • Clock
  • Calendar (week or month)
  • Key hooks
  • Menu
  • Grocery list
  • Cleaning checklist
  • Artwork/greeting card holder
  • To do list

Filing system:

  • Per person
  • To file
  • Bills to pay
  • School stuff
  • Invitations
  • Pending file
  • Coupons
  • To read
  • Shred
  • Mail
  • Magazines
  • Receipts

Personally, I don’t have a full-on command center in our house. Keys have their own hooks near the door, jewelry is in our bedroom, calendar and to-do list is electronic, menu is in our pantry, grocery list is near our table, paperwork is typically addressed immediately. But that’s me and my house. What is overwhelming about command centers is also what makes them so fantastic: they are 100% customizable for you and your home. If you find yourself constantly looking for some of the items on this list, it might be time to set up a command center and give these items a home!

If your family could use a command center to help organize your lives, contact me today!