10 Hardworking Organization Tools You Already Have


By: Laura Gaskill

In our quest for fresh, beginning-of-a-new-year, organized perfection, it’s easy to get a bit carried away in the organizing or office supply store. While specialized sorters and doodads surely have their purpose, more often than not they just add more clutter to our homes. Commit to getting it right this year (and saving a bit of cash in the process) by sticking with these 10 hardworking but often overlooked helpers that are probably sitting in your home right now.


1. One mobile calendar. It doesn’t really matter whether you prefer a paper or digital version; the important thing is that you stick with one calendar system, preferably for everyone in the house. Google Calendar is a great, flexible, mobile option you can access from home or on the road.

Washi Masking Tape by mt, 5 pieces
2. Washi tape. Never before has such a humble item (tape!) inspired quite the same level of obsession as this colorful Japanese paper tape. It is easy to tear, removes cleanly from most surfaces, and comes in the most gorgeous hues. Use it to label everything from glasses at a party to files, pantry jars, storage bins and more. And when you are done labeling, use it to wrap a gift, tape photos to your inspiration board or make your own wall art.


3. A magnetic knife strip. A wall-mounted knife rack can do so much more than keep your knives neat and out of the way (though it’s great for that, too). Use it to organize spices in the kitchen, tools in the garage, keys by the front door and scissors and other necessities near your desk or crafts area.

Instax Mini 7s and Mini 25 Instant Cameras
4. Your camera. Snap photos of the contents of storage boxes and kids’ toy bins and tape them to the fronts as visual labels. Photos are also ideal for documenting oversize art projects, so you can let go of the original in good conscience.


5. Tote bags. The humble tote bag can work just as hard as a basket or storage box, but with the added advantage of being portable and lightweight. Use totes to sort things you store temporarily, like library books, work materials and workout clothes.


6. Binder clips. Using these tiny workhorses only for their intended use would be missing out — you can also hang art, corral cables, keep packaged goods fresh in the kitchen and keep rolls of ribbon and wrapping paper from unfurling. For extra credit, upgrade your binder clips with small lengths of washi tape (see number 2) and label away.

7. Zip-top bags. One of the most versatile (and cheap!) organizing tools around, baggies can be used to store hardware pieces all together, sort items in your junk drawer, keep toiletries neat in your suitcase, freeze soup flat or even pipe frosting.

Bright Stockholm Binder
8. Basic binders. Paperwork gets lost easily when piled up in baskets or stacks. Use three-ring or portfolio-style binders (with plastic sleeve inserts) instead to file away instruction manuals, magazine clippings and more.


9. A smaller filing cabinet. Have a giant filing system? You are probably saving too many papers. Make things easier on yourself by going paperless whenever you can and making sure that you really need to save each paper item that you file. Most of us can get away with one or two well-tended drawers.

10. A donations bin. It’s one thing to get organized — staying organized is another matter altogether. One tool that has the potential to keep your home neat and clutter free is a permanent bin dedicated to giveaways. Keep it in a central spot where you can toss things in whenever you think of it. When the bin is full, empty it at your favorite charity shop; repeat.

Related Links:
Label the Bathroom Cabinets for Optimal Organization
Dedicate a Hamper as a Donations Bin
More Ways to Organize the Living Room

How to Work With a Professional Organizer


By: Alison Hogdson
 
My friend Jane is one of those peculiar people who gets energy from pulling order out of chaos. She owns and runs a bed-and-breakfast in her home, a hundred-year-old Georgian mansion. Her kitchen is a wonder of organization; even her label maker is labeled. After we completely remodeled our kitchen, I told her I would love her expert help in organizing it, but it was only years later, after my epiphany about decluttering, that we actually made it happen.
 
My kitchen wasn’t even in terrible shape. The counters were clear, there wasn’t a ton of clutter, and I actually had some systems in place, but I knew Jane would help me maximize the space. Eleven hours later, the kitchen was completely reorganized, as was the tiny pantry and small linen closet down the hall as well as my bathroom vanity, because this led to that and that and that.
 
At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but I knew I never wanted to even consider organizing a room without Jane leading the charge. She was a force of nature, but effective. After that we went room by room, every few weeks or so, decluttering and reorganizing until the day my house burned down.
 
Jane and I couldn’t be any different if we tried, but we worked well together for a variety of reasons. Here are the qualities I recommend looking for in a gifted friend or professional organizer.
 

The organizer “gets” you. Jane is a reader and has a huge personal library, so I knew she wouldn’t fight me about my books. Her butler’s pantry is larger than many kitchens and is filled with crystal, glass and china. She loves antiques and understands sentimental attachment to things, so there again I knew she wouldn’t pressure me to get rid of everything, but help me to prioritize and organize.
 
Indefatigable energy. Decluttering is exhausting work, physically and mentally. As I said before, some people get energy from pulling order out of chaos, and this is a nonnegotiable. There will be moments (hours!) when you want to crawl into the fetal position because the job is so overwhelming, but this is just when a naturally organized person is getting fired up and gaining momentum.
 
A sense of humor. This is for all parties involved. If there is ever a time you need to be able to laugh, it’s when you are knee deep in bags and boxes and the end of it all is nowhere in sight.
 
Creativity and flexibility. Jane’s passion is “systems,” which are personal routines that establish and maintain order. We had to find compromises between her suggestions for an ideal world and our day-to-day living as a family with several members not naturally organized — one of whom is me!
 
Basic respect and kindness. To put it delicately, Jane is not a social worker, and her attitude is often, “What is wrong with you?” — which isn’t always helpful. I came into decluttering with a healthy self image; I knew I was bringing many things to the table, but organizing was not one of them. I also knew that Jane cared about me and thought a lot of me in general. Mutual respect overall is imperative.
 

Just as important as finding a good fit with a friend or professional is making sure you’re ready. Ask yourself a couple of questions:
 
Am I willing to try something new? If you meet every suggestion with, “That won’t work,” you aren’t going to benefit from the other person’s wisdom. You may think you’re being practical, but it’s really a form of defensiveness. “Try it on,” as the life coaches say. Before you reject a new way of doing something, try to imagine how it could work and then refine it for you and your family if necessary.
 
Am I willing to get rid of a lot of stuff? Of course there are exceptions to this; you know who you are, and please carry on. But by and large, most of us have too much junk. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it or how priceless it is, sentimentally speaking. If it’s covered with dust and stacked in a pile — and you are overwhelmed — you need to get rid of it or a lot of other things to create adequate space.
 
If you can’t emphatically answer yes to both these questions, it’s a sign you aren’t quite ready to get outside help. It is what it is; just don’t expect someone to help you rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s OK to be nervous and not quite sure you’re going to be able to get it all done. That’s normal. Recognizing you need help and being willing to ask for it is an enormous step.
 
In the beginning it may be stressful. You’ll be making a lot of decisions and may be feeling ashamed of the condition of things. This should pass. As you gain momentum you should feel hopeful, more confident and even excited. If the tension is only increasing, this is a sign that the person helping you isn’t a good fit or, again, you just aren’t ready yet.
 

Special tip: if you can possibly avoid it, pick a helper other than a person to whom you gave birth or who gave birth to you. The dynamic between parent and child when one is neat and organized and one is … not can be very trying.
 
Hire a professional or call on a friend and, unless it’s a dire emergency, leave your parents or your children out of it, other than to put dibs on family heirlooms.
 
Related Links:
Organize the Clutter With New Storage Cabinets

Don’t Forget to Clear the Pantry
Get Started With Professional Organizers Today

11 Tips for Organizing Your Kitchen


By: Hannah Young
 
Give your kitchen a detox and declutter with some ideas that can be implemented annually, as well as habits that will help you out every day.
 

1. Clear your surfaces. Move everything off of your countertops and give them a thorough clean — then step back and enjoy the result. With this in mind, clean each item you’ve removed and think carefully about whether it deserves a place on display. Ideally, you will put back only items that are used on a daily basis.
 

2. Banish the paper. Do you struggle to find your bar counter when it’s time for before-dinner drinks? The mail, newspapers and magazines often land on the nearest flat surface and clutter up the space. A good solution is to hang magazine racks on a wall or to install a small basket nearby to keep everything contained. Try to book a weekly date in your calendar to sort, discard and respond.
 
3. Investigate the depths. Do you know what’s in your fridge and freezer, and how long it has been there? How about making this the year you use up all that extra food? Get into the habit of checking what you already have before you put together a meal plan for the week. Then, when you go shopping, you’ll know exactly what you need and be less likely to buy on impulse.
 
4. Give it away. Let’s be honest: Most of us have received a gift or two that we don’t really want. If it’s a seasonal item of food or drink, avoid letting it hang around and go stale, and instead give it to someone who will appreciate it more. Don’t be shy about regifting, as long as you make sure it’s into a different circle of friends!
 
5. Do the dishes daily. The humble dishwasher can make or break your day. Get into the habit of fully loading it in the evening and running it overnight. In the morning, you’ll be ready to go, as clean bowls and spoons can be put right on the table for breakfast.
 
Allocate cabinets near the dishwasher for dishes and glasses so that it’s easy to put everything away quickly. By clearing the dishwasher in the morning, you’ll have an empty area in which to put everything as you use it, ready for the next evening cycle.
 

 6. Plan a place for everything. This kitchen is pretty extreme in its stark lack of clutter, but there’s a lot to be said for precise planning when thinking about new cabinets. If you have a home for everything in a drawer or pullout, then there’s really no reason to leave much on the counter. Flat fronts and no handles also make this kitchen pretty quick to clean.

7. Make use of glass. Open shelves look great in a kitchen — it’s nice both aesthetically and practically to be able to see what you have. However, many people are put off by the dust and grease floating around. So why not consider installing cabinets with glass doors to give you the best of both worlds? This may even inspire you to declutter so that you can display the mugs and plates you love in a pleasing way, rather than cramming everything in.
 

8. Let it go. How many mugs do you have? If, like most of us, you have more than you’ll use at any one time, give yourself permission to get rid of some. It’s easy to fall into the trap of hanging on to an item too long just because it has become part of the kitchen.
 
Try to be objective as you look through your collections and send those you don’t need, don’t like or think are unsuitable to your local thrift shop. If you’re having trouble doing it on your own, enlist the help of a friend or find a professional.
 

9. Dig out the gadgets. Now is a great time to inspect those kitchen appliances lurking at the back of your cabinets and drawers. If you don’t think you’re going to use one, send it to a thrift shop or sell it on websites like eBay and Craigslist.
 
Gadgets you want to keep should be easy to access, so find a place for them on the counter or consider some nifty storage solutions. An appliance garage with outlets will keep things neatly behind closed doors and ready to go when needed.

10. Organize your cabinets. A top organizing tip for any space is to keep similar items in the same place. Arrange your pantry cabinets so that you have savory items (canned goods, pasta, grains) in one and sweet items (baking ingredients, cookies) in another. Maximize storage by outfitting cabinets with small shelves for items such as spices, and using shallow drawers or containers that can be pulled out from the back of deep cabinets.
 
11. Store items next to their point of use. Keep things where you use them. Think about all the items you require for a task. If you’re making a cup of tea, for example, how far do you move around your kitchen to gather together a mug, teabag, kettle, milk and teaspoon?
 
Try to think of your kitchen layout in terms of “stations” where you complete different tasks, then store the relevant items near each one. You’re more likely to put things away — and less likely to drop them — if they’re nearby.
 
 
Related Links:
Get Your Countertops Sparkling Clean
Bring a Small Mailbox Indoors to Organize Your Papers
Start Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets Today

Get the Most Out of Your Kitchen


Get the Most Out of Your Kitchen

 

Organization, decor, and storage seem to be the hallmarks of beautiful and functional kitchens. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you know that pleasing aesthetics and the right organization make all the difference in the world. If you’re still trying to achieve the perfect balance of beauty and function in your kitchen we’ve got three great links to share with you.

 

Check out this list of 23 Kitchen Organization and Storage Tips. From under the sink storage to pantry organization, this list is the ultimate guide no matter what size or type of kitchen you have. Our favorite? The fabulous in-drawer organization that is tip #9.

 

If you’re lacking shelf space in your kitchen or pantry, see this easy step-by-step for DIY Floating Shelves. The guide is for a laundry room, but we think it would be perfect for almost any area where you need a little extra shelf space.

 

We love all the ideas in this piece for 10 Unexpected Ways to Add Color to Your Kitchen. There’s so much to be inspired by in the kitchen, so why not make your decor one of them? With these ideas you’ll add pops of color and give your kitchen a breath of fresh air that might just inspire you to whip up some new favorite dishes.