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.

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!

The Importance of Slowing Down

The importance of slowing down

I have slowly become one of those people: an early riser. My alarm typically goes off at 5:00 am. It’s not because I enjoy getting up early. Because it’s not that. It’s because I need to have some me time before my day begins, which is in short supply the remainder of the day. Other than my drive from school to work and back again (during which time I try to check in with my parents), I am around people basically until I go to bed at night. As an outgoing introvert that needs to recharge frequently, I love having that hour in the morning during the week that I can use for just me.

As we are getting past Halloween, we are officially entering the holiday season. How many things are on there? Is there any time for you? Is there any time for your kid to just play? Just relax? If you’re a parent, you may not even think about the fact that your kid may be an introvert and need some down time. They are constantly on the go from one activity to another, just like us. It’s time to give everyone a break.

Here’s my challenge to you. Take a look at your calendar and find the next completely open weekend. And then mark it as a slow weekend. The entire thing. Friday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday. Do not add another thing to it. At all. No plans, no errands, no rushing. Do not plan any events before the day. Ask yourself how you see the day going and what your perfect day would look like. Ask your kids that morning what they want to do if they could do anything that day.

I understand that you may still need to do some grocery shopping or meal prepping for the week. Or that you may need to run a few loads of laundry. But resist the urge to stop by the dry cleaners on your way home from the park. Don’t run to Walmart for some batteries. Don’t tackle any home improvement projects (unless your whole family loves doing them together!). Give yourself and your family a weekend to just be together and enjoy a slow weekend of doing nothing. You all may enjoy it more than you think. It may become a new routine.

If you need to slow down, contact me today to find out how I can help you!

The Most Important 10 Minutes of Your Day

Find out the most important 10 minutes of your day!

I’ve previously talked about the importance of keeping up. I mentioned how a couple of minutes every night doing a quick pick up of the house (before it gets too overwhelming) means saving an hour of cleaning on the weekend. I spend just a couple of minutes getting everything ready for the next day: getting out anything I can for breakfast, ensuring the dishes are all put away, moving any bags to our landing zone, and putting away any paper or toys left around.

Another one minute task I do before going to sleep is to check out tomorrow’s calendar to make sure I’ve got everything I need for the day. My kid has show-and-tell every Friday, usually with a different theme. We came thisclose to missing it this week, but one final peek at 9:00 pm reminded me that we needed to find something orange.

I like to do the same thing at the end of my work day: take a look at tomorrow’s calendar, put together a quick to-do list, make sure my desk is orderly before leaving. Having everything in its place makes a calmer start to my day, especially on a Monday!

That’s really what this 10 minutes of your day is all about: getting you in a calmer, more peaceful mindset to make your day run smoother and your life more organized.

If you need help with finding those 10 minutes to change your days, contact me today!

It’s Easier to Keep Up than to Catch Up

It's easier to keep up than to catch up

I would love to tell you that you can simply just organize your house once and that it will magically stay that way. But that would be a lie. My organizing motto has 3 steps: reduce, arrange, maintain. First, you need to get rid of some stuff. Second, you need to organize it. Third, and most important, you need methods and tips to help you keep it organized.

If you haven’t been organized in a while, you will have to do all three steps, which is always going to be daunting and feel crushing. If you need to tweak an area of your house that was previously organized, you will have to do only the last two, which is definitely achievable. If you have a system in place already, you will only have to maintain. And that is the easiest of all.

When working with clients, I focus on all three parts and I love to give them little tips and tricks to make it easier to maintain with a quick pick up. That five minutes every night means saving an hour on the weekend. Time I’d rather be spending with my family. Time I’d rather be spending with my friends. Time I’d rather be relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine.

Every time I leave a room, I glance around to see if there is anything that needs to go with me. Every night before bed, I walk around the house and get everything put away from the night and set up for the morning. It feels never ending. However, I never feel overwhelmed by my house and I can always find exactly what I need when I need it.

Let’s be real: it’s hard work. At the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do is pick up a bunch of toys or wash dishes, but I do it anyways. Because organizing is an ongoing process and it’s always easier to keep up than it is to catch up.

If you need help catching up on those tasks that have been piling up, contact me today!

My Simple Organizing Philosophy

Organizing CU's organizing philosophy: reduce, arrange, maintain

When it comes to my organization style, I have a pretty simple philosophy: reduce, arrange, maintain. The first step is to reduce the amount of stuff you have. Start by taking everything out of the area that you are working on. Every. Single. Thing. (I like to take this opportunity to clean off the surface since it’s one of the few occasions that everything is off there!) Grouping things is a great way to see what you have. If you’re doing a kitchen, group by type of dish. If you’re doing a linen closet, group by use of item (shaving, hair, hand towels, etc) Take a look at each item and determine its fate:

  • Do I really need or want it?
  • Do I even like it?
  • Have I used this in the last year?
  • Would I buy it today? If it broke, would I immediately replace it?
  • Is this a quality item?
  • Would I keep it if it were originally free?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of it?
  • Am I only keeping it “in case” I need it someday? (Think about if you can borrow one or buy a new one in 20 minutes for under $20)
  • Is it a duplicate?
  • Is this the best place for it?
  • When will I use it again? And will I remember I have it?

Next, you need to arrange how everything is going to go back into the space. I group everything by putting like with like. In my kitchen, my most often used utensils are grouped together in a drawer. In the playroom, the kid’s favorite books are grouped in the bookcase. In my linen closet, all of our teeth stuff is in one bin. This makes it easy to see what you have, what you’re low on, and what you don’t use!

The last step is sometimes the hardest one and that is the maintain part. You need to have a system in place in order to keep the organization. Labels are obviously a great way to ensure that everyone in your home knows exactly where things need to go. When I first bought our three hampers for our ‘new’ laundry system of sorting while putting dirty clothes away, I put 3×5 index cards on each one so everyone knew which was for towels, darks, and whites. It looked silly and completely unprofessional, but guess what? It worked. When the cat destroyed two of the cards about a month in, I didn’t even need to replace them because everyone had a routine and habit of knowing which item when into which basket.

What’s great about this system is that sometimes you don’t need to do all three of them at the same time. You can do it piecemeal. If you have recently gone through all of your under-sink items, think about whether you could group them better for easier access. If you just redid your pantry, think about why it constantly falls to chaos and what type of maintenance it might take to keep it looking the way you want.

Take a look around your house and see if there are any areas that could use some reducing, arranging, and maintaining. Contact me if you find any spaces that need some additional help!

The Easiest Meal Prepping System

Easy meal prepping

Planning your meals will save you time by cutting down on the grocery trips and mental energy as to what you’re having for dinner. Now that we have a little one and I have Organizing CU, which includes adult things like business meetings and organizing sessions, weeknights can get busy in our house. Every Thursday night, my husband and I go through our upcoming schedules and discuss what is going on over the weekend and following week (such as date nights, guests, tailgating) as we decide how many meals we need to plan.

To make it easier, we have the same basic routine for our meals: brunch on Sunday morning, a bigger Sunday dinner, two simple meals during the week, and leftovers in between. He digs through the recipes and chooses some options. I keep notes in the upper corner of my recipes that let him know if it’s a weekend, weekday, or Crock Pot recipe so he can choose accordingly.

After picking the recipes, I check the pantry and make my grocery lists. My husband and I divide and conquer: he gets anything from the Co-Op in Urbana after work on Fridays while I will hit the regular grocery store for everything else whenever my schedule allows.

Sunday mornings are usually reserved for cooking. In addition to prepping my two Sunday meals, I also take care of my lunches and the breakfasts for my husband and daughter: an 8×10 baked egg dish with a variety of ingredients (broccoli and goat cheese; mozzarella and tomato; green chiles and cheddar). Each weekday morning, they get a hot, home cooked meal that I only have to heat up during the busy morning.

Meal prepping takes some time and effort when you first get into it. But eventually, you reach the spot where you’re not worrying about dinner at 3 pm and you have something simple ready to go. If your family likes leftovers, maybe you only cook two meals a week, but double it and freeze half for later. Maybe you end up with a themed week: Meatless Monday, Italian Tuesdays, Pizza Fridays. But I’ve found that a basic routine and some organization and preparation will make your entire menu much easier.

If you need some help with your meal prep, contact me today!