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Woman with cluttered clothes closet

The Great Closet Edit

Clothes Closets, especially walk-in closets, are a problem area in many homes. If this is you, help is on the way!

Even though I am a professional organizer, I admit, purging my own clothes can be hard!

The problem with closets is they are out of sight, out of mind. No one else sees the master bedroom closet but you, your family, and maybe your cleaning person.

It’s all too easy to let clothes and accessories accumulate over time in your walk-in closet. And before you know it, you are having to shove the hangers in because your clothes are packed as tight as sardines!

One common result of this is that you cannot see or remember what you have.

So, you end up buying duplicate items because you cannot find what you’re looking for.

Which means you’re spending hard-earned money to buy duplicate items! This is especially true for people who have more than one closet where they store clothes and accessories–they forget what they have in the other clothes closet.

And yes, I have had several organizing clients who have 2 or even 3 closets or a room full of clothes!

Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you even get started, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of the WHY, why are you doing this?

(That way, you’ll be in the right mindset to let go.) Next, let’s look at this important  question:

What is your WHY?

What motivates you to organize your closet?

  • I want to get ready faster.
  • I am tired of not being able to find what I need.
  • I know half the stuff in there doesn’t fit.
  • I’d like to feel calm, not stressed, when I walk into my closet.
  • I want it to look pretty!

You are not alone! Thousands of women and men in the US want these things too. Did you know that clutter has a “negative impact on our subjective well-being”? It’s true.

messy walk-in closet

Did you know, messy homes leave us feeling anxious and overwhelmed?

Also, messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed, according to a recent Huffington Post article.

If you’d like to feel better, purging and organizing your packed walk-in closet is the way to go!

The Great Closet Edit: Motivation

It’s time to dig deep and find the strength to let go. Purging your own clothes is hard! So, get yourself into a tough mindset by using the questions in the last section.

In addition, a loving heart can motivate you to purge your clothes. Here’s how.

I promise you’ll have an easier time giving away clothes by visualizing the look of joyful surprise on the face of the person who finds just what they needed at a thrift store (thanks to your generous clothing donation.)

Professional Organizer Jenny Morin with black coat from a thrift store, 1990

This is me on my mission, shoveling snow & wearing my warm thrift store find!

Circa 1990.

      I remember when I was a poor college student in Provo, Utah. I needed a warm dress coat for my upcoming mission. I browsed at TJ Maxx and the coats didn’t look very warm, so I decided to search some thrift stores to find a warm coat. (I had plenty of time, just not much money back then, so I didn’t mind combing the city for a coat!)

          I ended up finding a super-warm dress coat that buttoned all the way up and covered my neck—I was so happy! (Most women’s dress coats have a V-neck.) It was constructed of thick black wool, lined with thick black satin, and lasted many years!

So, it will help to picture all the poor or low-income working people who can use some of the clothes you never wear—especially if that motivates you to let go.

The Great Closet Edit: The Purging Phase

The purging phase is the most important part of the closet edit.

I’ve come up with some questions for you to make the process easier. My hope is these questions will help you make good decisions you’ll be happy with.

One caution: Do this when you are in a tough, not a lenient state of mind. If you under-purge, you’ll regret it because you’ll have to do this again in 6 months or live with a packed closet.

Helpful questions to ask as you purge your closet:

One: Does this fit?

That’s a simple yes or no. If it doesn’t fit right now, let it go. In some cases, I do allow a client to keep 1 small box of clothes which are too small. I call it the “skinny pants” box. 🙂

Two: Does it look good on me?

Definitely have a full-length mirror and some good lighting while you try clothing on! There will be some no-brainers here, but some clothes you are going to need to try on. Don’t be daunted. Do it!

Last time I did this with a client, she tried on a whole walk-in closet full of clothes in just two hours, with my help.

Don’t skip this step!

Piles of clothes during closet organization

A woman is never sexier than when she is comfortable in her clothes.” ~Vera Wang

Three: This _______ has a past with me, does it have a future?

You may have had some great times wearing that sequined dress, but if all your kids have married and you don’t go to swanky New Year’s parties, are you really going to wear it again?

Four: If I saw this in the store today, would I buy it?

If the answer is an emphatic YES, then keep it. If you’re waffling, or rationalizing why you should keep it, let it go, that’s a nope!

Five: Am I letting the original cost of this item get in the way of letting it go?

Be sure not to let the cost of the item keep you from letting it go. It won’t do you any good to let that fur coat sit in your walk-in closet taking up prime real estate for the next 10 years.

Sell it if that makes you feel better, but DO take it out of your closet and say goodbye!

The best thing to do, which takes the least amount of time, is to just let go.

boxes for decluttering and donating

I recommend just giving things away so you can move on.

Here’s a caution, though, take care not to make the donation process too difficult, or you won’t do it. For example, some people have 5 bags of stuff going to different friends. That is too complicated, too much work! Much better to take it to one thrift store so those bags don’t clutter up your house for months.

Make it easy on yourself and you’re much more likely to do it.

Six: Am I being honest about wearing this ____ again?

Be careful not to make up big, unrealistic scenarios for when you might use an item in the future. Example: “I’ll wear this one-piece hot-pink and yellow snowsuit from the 80s if I ever ski again.” See how silly that sounds?

Be brutally honest with yourself in this process of purging and organizing your closet.

As I like to say: be ruthless, not reckless when you purge.


Purging is a MUST to have the pretty, organized closet you desire.

And just think; once you purge all the stuff you never wear, it’s going to be so much easier to find what you want and get ready every morning. Not to mention, much faster!

Best of all, you can dress for work (or play) with a feeling of confidence now that you know everything in your closet makes you look and feel good.


“Why Clutter Can be So Bad for People With Anxiety (And What To Do About It,” Huffington Post, 4/8/2021

The dark side of home: Assessing possession ‘clutter’ on subjective well-being. March 2016, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 46.

woman on the phone

Working at Home During Covid and Rockin’ it! 10 tips to get more done in your home office

Has setting up your home office during COVID-19 virus been a headache? If productivity has been an issue for you, I’ll share some organizing and time management hacks that will make a huge impact on your work.

What people working at home don’t realize: everyone has an inner productivity circle.

In fact, if you think about your home office as a series of circles radiating away from you (like the parallel ripples that radiate out when you drop a rock into a still pool of water), you’ll realize that what you keep close to you is important.

Concentric Productivity Circles

I first learned about this concept from my organizing mentor, Porter Knight. She talks about it in her book, Organized to Last. In it, she coined the term ‘concentric circles’.

I recently taught this productivity principle at a lunch and learn for a large local company. Several people were blown away by this principle; the idea that your work output increases when you only keep frequently used items within arms’ reach.

It makes total sense to me, if you spend less time getting up to use tools in the office, your workday will be more efficient. I will illustrate.

Circle 1: For me, the tools I use every day several times a day need to be in my inmost work circle of my home office. I should not have to roll my chair or even swivel it to get the items I use more than twice a day.

Items in my inner productivity circle: computer, mouse, planner or to-do list, pens, Post-its, stapler, tape, tool drawer, timer, hand lotion, drawer of important files, and trash can.

You may need additional tools like a 10-key, calculator, or specialized items for the work you do.

Circle 2: The next layer for efficient work at home would contain tools and resources you might use once a day. For example: file drawers, your tissue box, projects file, business card binder, cork board or whiteboard, speakers, etc.

Circle 3: The Third layer, the one farthest from you, would have things like resource books, archived files, office supply storage, camera equipment, supplies you travel to clients with, a briefcase or bag for networking events, etc. This layer holds supplies or archives used occasionally or rarely.

When I work with a client, we concentrate on creating open space around them in their home office, The problem with most work spaces is they have TOO MUCH STUFF cluttering their inner circle. this is true for many who are working at home.

Stuff that clutters up our desks: papers that need to be filed, projects, ideas, mail, Post-its, business cards, books, food, and personal items unrelated to your work or comfort are some of the clutter.

Did you know that clutter actually distracts from your work? Visual clutter, like stacks of paper, magazines, or too much in your inbox contribute to a state of low-level anxiety for some people.

Watch what happens when you clear off all the clutter from your desk and floor in your home office. I know every time I put all my papers away in files or project binders, I feel a rush of energy and am motivated to tackle the most important task of the day. Try it, you’ll like it!

Some people I’ve worked with are comfortable with one pile of work on their desk or a large inbox, and that’s fine. The important thing is to find what works best for you.

Everyone has their clutter threshold.

To help you even more, I’ll share a list of tips for staying productive while working at home. Time management tips like these are sorely needed in these unprecedented times when all the kids are home attending virtual classes because of COVID.

10 Secrets to Get More Done in Your Home Office

Tip 1: Focus Time

Figure out what your best focus time is. Do the work that requires the most brainpower then. If you’d like to pinpoint the time of day, email me and I will send you a quiz that will show you when you do your best work!

Tip 2: Limit Distractions

If your spouse or kids are home during work hours, make sure they know not to disturb you. Close the doors if you need to.  Put on headphones with some music that helps you focus. This has a dual job: to let people know you don’t want to be disturbed, and it keeps you from hearing background noise.

Ambient sounds, especially with words, occupy about 5-10% of your intellectual bandwidth.  By wearing ear protectors, you acoustically isolate yourself.  This freed up bandwidth can now be focused on the desired task.

It’s a great deal.  Just put on some earmuffs and you become 5-10% smarter.”

~ Peter Rogers, Straight A Stanford and on to Harvard

Tip 3: Plan

To be effective, make a plan for your week and then break it down by the day. I I start out with a ‘dump list’ then transfer the tasks to my planner, which uses a funnel-down system to help me choose which day to put each task. I use my planner for my to-do list, but a notebook or a sticky note works well to identify the most important daily tasks. For most people, having a daily purpose is a huge motivator. It’s satisfying to check those items off when they’re finished! I would be lost without my to do list. Most professionals who excel at time management use some form of a to-do list, whether electronic or paper. *I use the Planner Pad Organizer.

Tip 4: File Emails

With emails, you can take one of 3 actions: File, respond, or delete. Try not to think about it too much!  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  The general rule of thumb: if it takes 2 minutes, do it now.  (From Getting Things Done by David Allen)

Also, have folders for emails or email categories. Organize them by topic, project, or individual names. A person wastes 6 weeks annually searching for lost documents or because of unorganized folders for the one project they need. Be consistent about filing them. It helps so much when you need that information later!

Tip 5: Clear your inbox

Have an inbox for paper, and clear it daily.

Tip 6: Prioritize projects

Have a “hot spot” for today’s most urgent project.  Personally, I prefer a clear file folder standing up in a vertical file sorter.  My home office file sorter holds 5 files.  Also, put your to-do list in plain sight and review it each morning before you start.

Definitely prioritize projects based on their ROI and on the deadline or due date!

Tip 7: Set a timer

If you tend to distract yourself:  ahem… yes I do that!  I find that setting a timer is very helpful.  This works well if you are easily distracted by “bright and shiny” new emails.  Say your purpose for opening your email is to write one necessary email and then close the email so you can focus on a project.  Set a timer for 15 minutes before you open your inbox to avoid getting “sucked in” by your email.  This really works! (I keep my timer within arm’s reach in my home office.)

One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.” ~ Daniel Goleman

Tip 8: Turn off alerts

If texts, incoming emails, Zoom pop-up, or calendar notifications have alerts that distract you when you are trying to focus in your home office, make sure to turn off those alerts for the hour or 90 minutes when your project needs your full attention.  (Before you do this, check your calendar to make sure you don’t have a meeting or scheduled phone call.) If you are not sure how to do this, ask a tech-savvy friends!  Or link to the article I provide at the end of this post.

Tip 9: Delegate

Delegate email deletion and unsubscribing from sites to your kids or grandkids (it works great!).  Also, make sure to limit spam by having good firewalls in place to limit what gets to your inbox. 

My daughter Kate creates a time management map for a client.

Tip 10: Scan

For information you want or need to keep, have it scanned by someone you can delegate to (an assistant, tech-savvy son/daughter, grandchild, high school student) and file or organize it into files. Make sure and have the helpers to do it at a time when you’re doing something low-focus, like responding to emails. That way the interruptions with questions won’t affect your productivity in your home office.

Use these 10 tips to achieve more and reach your business goals!

Related posts: 5 ways to keep distractions at bay:

New Habits: you can do anything for 30 minutes:

How to get an extra hour of productivity daily:

How to turn off distracting notifications:

How to Organize Food Storage – So Nothing goes to Waste!

 5 Food Storage Basics

“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing.” *

The point of food storage is to have food storage in place BEFORE an emergency strikes.

I just made a trip to a warehouse (owned by my church) to purchase a bunch of staples like flour, sugar, wheat, salt, etc. Back in February, I had the thought: I need to beef up our food storage! Organizing your food storage is so important for peace of mind when disaster strikes.

The reason: partly inspiration, partly because we had used a lot of flour and sugar last December. My son Jacob and I had baked and sold cookies to raise money for a school trip. So, I thought we were running low. (Turns out, we still had enough flour for 6 months in our storage.)

That brings me to the first step in organizing your food storage.

One: Know what you have.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and bought ketchup because you thought you were almost out, only to find you have 3 bottles of ketchup in your pantry?

It’s crucial to know what you already have stored. Not taking an inventory before you go to the store or get online leads to waste, because your family won’t be able to consume it before it spoils.

On the other hand, when you DO take an inventory of how much flour, sugar, yeast, oil, milk powder, salt, etc. you have stored, you won’t end up with waaay too much of one item. Or too little of another staple food. You might be surprised how fast you’ve used up the flour, for example.

Here’s what I do when I purchase food to put in storage: I put the date of purchase on the container. It’s helpful to keep records and to inventory your storage at least once a year.

Two: Track how fast you consume the food.

If you want to know how fast your family uses up 10 pounds of flour, for example, there is an easy way to figure that out.  Simply label the container with an “open date,” which is the date you started consuming the flour. A piece of masking tape or white duct tape works well.

Then, when you use the last of it, note the date on the tape. It’s a great trick. Just make sure to plan for extra usage during holidays like Christmas, when you’ll do a lot more baking.

Three: Figure out what your gaps are.

What do you still need to “round out” your food storage?  Do you have everything you need to make bread, for example? What about soup? How many different meals could you make with the food you already have on hand? If you only have the ingredients for 3 different meals during an emergency, you will get mighty tired of eating those 3 meals!

One thing we like to do for variety: purchase hiking meals and MREs. It provides us great choices without having to purchase a bunch of perishable ingredients for our food storage. And they last about 10 years! They are packaged in a pouch and quite light, especially the hiking meals. Everything you need to cook the meal is inside. Super efficient!

6 Month Food Storage Supply

Four: Research how much food and water to store. 

 “If you are prepared you shall not fear”. *

Being prepared will save you from fear, because you will rest easy knowing you have enough food, water and fuel to provide for your family.

I have not worried about food, or even toilet paper, since this pandemic struck the world. Why? Because I had prepared for a disaster. I was surprised it came this soon, but that didn’t matter. The essential matter is to be ready for anything.

If an emergency like the Covid-19 virus comes around again, plan for married children returning home to wait it out with you.  Currently, we have 2 adult children home with us, plus one teenager. And we have plenty because we have enough food storage to feed 5 people that will last 6 months.

Definitely plan for the worst-case scenario. Purchase the food that will fill in your gaps. You can do this bit by bit, purchasing some supplies every month. Or you can buy it all at once.

Five: Finally, prepare in advance.

You saw what happened during the COVID-19 scare when everyone tried to get their food storage at the same time. It’s chaotic and a bit scary. Stores started running out of many items like toilet paper, paper towels, bleach, flour, sugar, survival foods and foods with a long shelf-life.

Q: When is the time to get your food storage together?

A: Gather food storage BEFORE disaster strikes—not after!

Be part of the solution, instead of part of the panicking masses.


President Gordon B. Hinckley, “If ye are Prepared ye Shall Not Fear,” Oct. 2005.

*Doctrine and Covenants 109:8  D&C 109:8

**Doctrine and Covenants 38:30,

Building a 6-month Food Storage Supply (with table listing foods and amounts)

1 Year food Supply for a Family of 4

10 Quick Steps for Organizing your Pantry

Hello! I’m Emily Morin, I’m writing these pantry organizing tips for my Mom. She’s had me clean and organize our pantry several times, so I know the how-to pretty well. Follow these quick pantry organizing ideas, and your shelves will be shining with glory in no time! And you’ll be able to find what you need quickly and easily with much less wasted food.

  1. Take all the food off the shelves one shelf at a time, starting with the top shelf.
  2. Check all the food for expiration dates and throw out the expired food. Place a trash can just outside the pantry door to make this easier.
  3. With a cotton cloth, wipe all crumbs and dust off the shelf.
  4. If there’s mildew on the shelf, use a 50-50 mixture of water and vinegar to wash it off.
  5. Dry the shelf completely.
  6. Label parts of the shelf with tape or a labeler if you have one, designating parts of the shelf for certain foods (e.g. pasta, soup, crackers, bulk). Put the label on the edge of the shelf so you can see it easily.
  7. On the top shelf, put the food or appliances you rarely use. Keep the frequently-used items at eye-level.
  8. Put the food back on the shelf which corresponds to the labels you just added. Make them organized, but you can be creative with the setup to make it look neater.
  9. Repeat all these steps for the rest of the shelves, going from the top down.
  10. After you finish all the shelves, sweep out the pantry and glory in the beautifully organized pantry you just finished!

I hope these quick pantry organizing ideas help you next time you purge and organize your pantry!

~ Emily Morin 🙂

How to Train Your Kids to Work. Yes, Really!

“Your kids are like a well-oiled machine!” Michelle Wilber.

Our sitter told me this after Frank and I came back from a multi-day trip. Apparently, after dinner, our kids got up, did the dishes and put the food away. They cleaned the bathrooms and their rooms on Saturday, as was our routine. This impressed her so much, but honestly I hadn’t thought much of it before then. Doesn’t every family pitch in work together? They should, at least this is what I believe. And it works.

So, I’d like to give some tips for how we’ve gotten to this point in our home.

What I do

  1. Make helping an expectation but keep it FUN!

Pitching in is expected in our home. My mother delegated work to me when I was young on our small farm in Maine, and I do the same with my kids. Some of my jobs included weeding the garden, mopping the wood floors, and cleaning bathrooms.

Her philosophy went something like this: I am not a slave. All joking aside, why shouldn’t kids work to make their home a more inviting place? The Mom and Dad cannot do it all.

I have a friend who was an example of trying to do all the work. She never sat down. I remember visiting her once, and I think she was able to sit down all of 5 minutes in a 2 –hour period. That’s just crazy!

I read some great ideas for making housework fun when the kids were smaller. One idea that works great for competitive families; Have a housework Olympics, and see how fast (and how well) you can complete the Saturday jobs!! The fastest, most complete cleaners win. (Mom inspects each job site.)

  1. Train children from the time they are young

This includes SHOWING them how to do it first. Some easy jobs for younger children include emptying the dishwasher and cleaning toilets (we use a non-toxic cleaner, NOT bleach).

“If you are willing to spend the time with children to train them, to show them how to clean or stack wood, they will come to enjoy it. When the kids are young, they want to be like Mommy and Daddy. They see us doing dishes or using the vacuum, and they want to try it. Let them! Show them how to do simple jobs when their interest is piqued.” From the blog 10 Tips for better Family Time.

Patience is required for training. They are not going to get it perfect, and it will not be up to your standards. Just remember their coordination and level of detail is not the same as yours!

Teach them to take pride in a sparkling-clean sink and spicket. Point out how good it looks when it’s clean.

I firmly believe that teaching children to work bolsters their confidence and self-esteem. They see they can do a job, do it well, and make a difference in the way their home looks and functions. This method is more effective than constant compliments.

  1. Lower the bar

As my organizing mentor Porter Knight used to say in one of her speeches: lower the bar. Set your expectations lower than you would for an older teen or adult.

Porter had her sons clean the bathrooms. Were they perfect? No. But they were the best her 11-yr old son could do, so it was good enough. Don’t be too picky of they will be discouraged and not want to help next time.

Instead, praise each child’s effort and bite your tongue!

  1. Encourage them

Note: I didn’t say PRAISE; I said encourage. First off, don’t be patronizing if they are older, be sincere and find something you liked about their work. If something needs to be re-done, use the sandwich technique.

I liked how you ——, could you scrub the orange ring by the sink drain a bit more? I am sure you can do it  if you put a little more time in.

But if you sense they are not giving it their full effort or doing their best, definitely ask them to try again. If they still aren’t’getting it, see if they understand what you asked them to do, and provide some more patient training.

Don’t bribe them, but definitely give them a reward or incentive. I have some special chocolate truffles I give the teens when they complete jobs they dislike. They also get paid each month for the work they do, but an immediate reward is quite effective. Everybody in my house likes chocolate. One time we motivated the kids for a big job of spreading mulch on all the flower beds by telling them we’d go to DQ afterward. My kids will do almost anything for ice cream!

  1. My kids are teens, is it too late?

When our kids were young, we lived in Vermont and heard about an amazing parenting program. It is called Parenting On Track by Vicki Hoefle. She insists you can still train teens to work.

“They might whine and complain for the first few minutes, but sit them down and explain:

“Your father and I have done you a disservice. We have been doing everything for you up until now. But if we continue like this, you won’t know what to do when you get on your own in __ years. It’s time to learn how to ______  and ______ so you aren’t helpless when you get your first apartment/ go to college/ get married.

Plus, is it really OK for the Mom or even both parents to do the lion’s share of work in the home? Parents today have less time than ever. It’s important to get the kids involved in keeping the home clean, the family fed, and the yard maintained. It’s the way life works. I don’t know any employers who would react well to the statement: “I’ve never done that, can you do it for me?” (from an earlier blog 10 Tips for Better Family Time.)

Vicki also has a great list of things kids need to be able to do on their own by the time they are 18. One night, when we went through that list with our kids, we realized one of our daughters had never mowed the lawn!  We soon started training her to do that. She was on board.

Also, one great thing about having older children who know how to work is: they can train their younger sibs to do certain jobs (if they have the right temperament and the two kids get along well). Otherwise, you may need to train the younger kids to make it a positive experience.

  1. Pick your battles

This is true for many things in parenting. If a child really doesn’t want to do a job, compromise and assign them a different job whenever possible. If it is something they have to do, like cleaning their room, find out what the issue is. Sometimes they may have no idea where to start, like many of my organizing clients. Just helping them with some ideas or talking about it can stave off a grumpy attitude.

  1. Keep their strengths and interests in mind when assigning tasks.

For example, my daughter Kate loves to polish wood. So she washes the cabinets with soapy water, then dries and polishes the kitchen cabinets with orange oil. Kate takes great pride in doing this job well and seeing the wood gleam when she is done. Some well-earned recognition from me goes a long way, too!

I discovered my daughter Emily likes dusting. This is a job I hate, so when I realized she liked it, she became my main duster! I got her a feather duster, which is fun, and she happily dusts furniture, bookshelves, etc.

Kyle likes to vacuum the stairs, and Jacob loves to clean the pool and do yardwork as long as he has company. We all have our strengths. Of course, my favorite job is organizing drawers, cabinets, the pantry and clearing off counters. J

The best advice I can give: start where you are. If your kids are older and you need help, start training them to do work they are suited to. If they are young, see what they are interested in helping you with, and let them (with supervision). This is a great investment in their future. You will never regret teaching your kids to work. They will contribute to your home, family AND become productive, independent adults.

     And that is important because everyone likes to feel needed.

Resources for parents:

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Kline and Jim Fay


Is an Organized Garage Possible?

Plus, 11 easy things to Purge RIGHT NOW

The right side of the garage, full of tripping hazards.

The left side of the cluttered garage.

It’s that time of year again, when people get the urge to organize their garage. The weather cooperates and it’s easy to get to the dump or the recycling centers. I’ve been working in garages for years. There’s one I am particularly proud of.

The man I worked for, Steve, did not care if his house was organized; he spent most of his retirement time in his garage. Junk and projects had piled up and he was in a pickle, so he called me in.

Soon, we had everything sorted—literally! Metal went to the trailer to get hauled away, all his small tools had a home, and he could now get to his large tools without tripping or having to move a bunch of other large tools which were in the way.

This organized Garage brought to you by Efficient Spaces organizing!

See how easy it is to get to the large tools now.

How did we do this?

Step by step.

First step: Start in one corner of the garage and work your way around.

If the entire garage is full and there is not enough room to move, it is time to call me, by the way.

Second step: As you work, sort like items into piles.

For example, small power tools like drills and sanders can go into a box, or onto the top of a workbench until you find a “home” for them.

Third Step: Purge. 11 things to purge NOW:

  • Unopened moving boxes (check inside first for valuables)
  • duplicate tools
  • old paint and painting supplies
  • empty cardboard boxes
  • expired food
  • seldom-used sports equipment
  • baskets
  • donations
  • stuff you’ve been meaning to sell
  • damaged camping equipment
  • Broken tools

Last summer, I moved an elderly man who, I bet, never made a trip to the hazardous waste drop-offs in his life. This made it MUCH harder for us to clean out his garage. Luckily, I had organized an office in a local paint shop, Drake’s Paints, and the owner let me drop off all of the old latex paints and stains. They disposed of them properly.

Tip: You can dispose of latex paint yourself. If there is a little paint left in the can, put some kitty litter in to absorb the moisture, then dump that into the trash. Use the sun to dry out the inside of the can, and throw it away.

Fourth Step: Find a home for your stuff.

Chances are you still have a lot of stuff left. Now it’s time to figure out where it all goes. That is one of my specialties! If you are DIYer, though, just make sure it is clear to everyone in the house where the new spot for everything is. Some “homes” are going to be the same because wherever you stored the gardening supplies really worked well.

Fifth step: Labels are a beautiful thing!

I don’t know if under-labeling is possible when dealing with teenagers. . . or forgetful adults . . . .

And speaking of teenagers: Involve every able-bodied member of the household in the cleanup. It will help them feel invested and less likely to “junk” it up again.

Most of us use our garage to store the things we don’t want to keep in our house, right? Just don’t let it become the dumping ground!

Remember: Maintenance is the KEY to keeping it clean!

A little bit of maintenance every season change is a great idea, and will save you from doing a HUGE clean-out later.

Happy Organizing!


Help for your Kitchen: Ideas to Use Now

Does your kitchen need help?

Not a helper to chop veggies or a sous chef—I’m talking organizational help. Looking for kitchen ideas? You’re not alone. In the past couple weeks, several friends have mentioned their kitchen needs work. Well, that’s what I DO, so I’m here to help in the kitchen. Think about the issues in your kitchen. What piles up, and where? Are your cabinets crammed with precarious stacks of bowls, pots and pans, and airtight containers?

As I see it, people have two storage challenges with their kitchen. One, it’s a small kitchen and there isn’t enough space.

OR It’s spread out and has many cabinets, so time is wasted looking for things.

Many people have a small kitchen that doesn’t seem to have enough storage. Apartments, starter homes, and older homes tend to have small kitchens with woefully inadequate cabinet space. In my very first kitchen, I could barely open the oven without hitting our small table! At that time, I did not have many dishes or tools, so it wasn’t an issue.

When I moved into my current house, I had the opposite challenge: too many cabinets. Imagine! After I unpacked my entire kitchen, I discovered I still had a double cabinet standing empty on the fringes. This is a good ‘problem’ to have. I ended up putting clear containers for the kids’ school keepers and art there.

With either situation, here is the best solution: establish a ‘home’ for everything in your kitchen.

Find a safe ‘HOME’ for kitchen stuff.

Appliances, dishes and tools can be tricky.

Ask yourself:

  1. Where am I going to use this item? Take the manual food chopper, for example. I love this tool and use it to chop onions often. But it is an odd size. It doesn’t fit in my large utensil drawer and I don’t want it in with my glasses and mugs. I needed it accessible, so I put it on an open corner shelf meant for knick-knacks near the kitchen sink. It makes sense because I generally chop onions about 1 step away from where it is stored. And as a bonus, the kids—who I regularly assign to chop onions—can see it, so they always put it back in the right place.
  2. How often am I going to use this item? A vegetable peeler needs to be handy, within arms’ length of where you use it, whereas a party platter can ‘live’ far from the hub of the kitchen, in one of the ‘fringe’ cupboards or a hard-to-reach area.
  3. Is this a seasonal item? Some things mainly get used in the summer or the winter. I hardly use my blender in the winter, for example, because I have a food processor and a stand mixer. So I put it away in the winter. Items used for summer parties, like popsicle molds, plastic platters and water-dispensing pitchers get put up high during the winter months. With a small kitchen, these items can be boxed in a clear plastic tote, labeled, and put in the garage or basement until their season arrives.

Eliminate these 5 easy tosses:

  1. Airtight food containers with no lids.
  2. Pots and pans or any item that you’ve replaced, holding onto the old one ‘just in case’ or for camping. Hint: Put it with camping stuff!
  3. Any appliance taking up space on the counter that you rarely use.
  4. Duplicates:  Like platters, large bowls, pitchers.
  5. Any item that is cracked or damaged.

Small kitchen storage ideas

If your stuff is overflowing with dishes, tools and appliances, it’s time to purge. Here is some advice.

First:  Take a hard look at what you have.

Do you use this? Is it really worth the space it’s using up? Is there an appliance you keep because you USED to us it, or one received as a wedding gift and feel guilty giving it away? Let it GO!

Second: Purge the items you don’t use or love.

Take them out of the kitchen. Put them into the garage or, better yet, the trunk of the car to get donated. Place them as close to their ultimate destination as possible.

Third: Put like with like.

Put all the small lids (ex.: canning jar lids) together in a small drawer or container. All airtight food containers go together. I store lids in a separate drawer, contained by a few clear boxes to make them easy to find.

Fourth: Do as much stacking as possible.

Mixing bowls, and even glass 13×9 pans can be stacked with a rubbery mat to keep them from chipping.

Fifth: Stand stuff like pot lids and platters up.

Look at my Pinterest page for creative ideas here. It’s much easier to retrieve platters which are standing up and separated by dowels or a partition.

Sixth: A ceiling-mounted pot rack will hold a multitude of pots and pans!

I used one in Vermont, and I loved it. If you need more storage space, look around. Is there an empty bit of wall to install a few hooks?

Seventh: Look inside.

Many people install small baskets inside cabinet doors to hold spices or essential oils. If you don’t want to drill into your cabinets, try sticky hooks. They are very strong and easily removable.

I hope these kitchen ideas help you!

Liked this post? Please share it on your social media of choice! Copy and paste this to share:

As always, if you need more help, check out my book on Amazon: Get Organized Quick. It has a chapter on keeping counters clear. With over 100 tips on organizing, it is a goldmine of ideas!

Click here for my book: 

Resources: Photo credit for galley kitchen image.

Pot rack image courtesy Bed Bath and Beyond.

Halloween pumpkins carved

Scary Spaces

Scary Spaces

Do you have a frighteningly disorganized space in your house, business or garage? A kid’s bedroom, the laundry room, the fridge? Have you ever opened the door of a room, cringed, then quietly closed the door and snuck away? Many people have a “junk” room in their house, which becomes a dumping ground for anything they don’t know what to do with. And let’s face it—there’s a lot of stuff that fits that description. Scary.

A frightening room

A recent organizing client of mine has just such a scary room. She wants to have her brother come visit her, but the spare room is a junk room, with piles about 3 feet high and a tiny “goat path” which allows one to walk about halfway into the room. She is embarrassed by the mess and called me in to make it orderly again. That’s what I do—I take spaces from scary and chaotic to calm and orderly.

I’ve seen a lot of scary spaces over the years and the first thing I tell my clients is: I’ve seen worse. Then I encourage them, tell them I know how to make the piles disappear. It’s not magic, but the method I use works. We work together on the piles, purging and sorting until the room is organized!

See this cool slideshow I put together of scary spaces that I transformed!

[metaslider id=1757]

So, there is Hope, and that’s why I created this acronym for you this month.

How to prevent scary spaces: (This works to fix scary spaces too.)

Have H.O.P.E.

H is for Home:

Everything needs a home. Assign a “home” to everything you use. Whether it be seasonal dishes, food, craft supplies, decorations, wrapping supplies, cards, mementos, etc. they all need a home. This means a place where that item “lives.” For a clean look, choose a spot that’s out of sight unless you use it every day.

O is for Orderly:

Take time to put things away in an orderly fashion. This can be done daily or even weekly, depending on the area. An organized house doesn’t just happen. After the initial burst of energetic organizing, maintenance is the key to an orderly space. Constant Vigilance!

 P is for Procrastination:

Stop procrastinating any purging and organizing you need to do. If you have piles, tackle them ruthlessly! Remember to be ruthless, not reckless when you purge. Then quickly get those things out of the house and to a thrift store or the trash. I’ve noticed sometimes things that have been discarded end up back in the house. This is why I take all donation items with me when I leave each client’s home or office.

E is for Evaluate:

Be cautious and evaluate where something will fit in your home before you even buy it. Clothing, kitchen appliances, or other toys apply. Thinking about buying a large piece of equipment? Will it fit in your garage or could you rent it instead, or borrow your friend’s? Offer to help them with a project or bring them some homemade bread or get them a gift card as a thank you.

Last tip: Labeling is a good idea if you share the space with your family or roommates. Once you’ve created a home for everything, take a labeler or some sticky tape and a marker, then go label happy! It doesn’t have to be a beautiful, perfect labeling system like you see on Pinterest, as long as you can read it, that’s all you need.

If you’re daunted by a scary space in your home, remember to apply HOPE to your life. The chaos will become order. It’s not magic, but sometimes it seems miraculous when you enjoy the final result: an organized home with everything in its place. Now you can rest in peace.

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