Organizational Tips From A Pro: Learn How To Organize Like A Boss

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So here we are in another day of the safer at home order, and we may feel like NOW is the time to tackle that project of going through pictures, our kids school work, or possibly even purging / organizing every room in our house. Let me give you some tried and true advice on purging, organizing, and living life afterwards. Here are some organizational tips I’ve learned along the way.

Use What You Have First

I highly encourage people to use what they got first; then buy containers, labels, bins after the purging is done. Most of the time people have plenty of bins or containers, but they are not being filled properly. A bin is half full, another bin is half full, and another bin is three fourths full. If all three bins are filled with school work for the same child, dump out the contents from all three bins and then only fill one bin for that child.

Think About What You’re Keeping

While deciding what to keep and what to purge, think about why you are keeping that drawing or worksheet. Are you keeping it for a scrapbook – to make into a Senior book or collage? Or are you keeping that drawing or worksheet because you want your child to treasure that item and for them to take it with them when they move out or have their own family? Maybe you’re keeping that drawing or worksheet because they wrote their “r’s” backwards? I’ll admit what our child(ren) write is precious, but a whole page of the letter “S” is not as precious as that Mother’s Day card or that sweet note written to you when you were sick. Recycle the non-important items, and keep the treasures.

The Right Tools

Now you’ve gone through your items, how to label or store them. I personally like the HDX Black & Yellow Storage Bins for the garage, attics, and outdoor sheds. The plastic seems to be thicker to be able to withstand the elements of being in the heat and humidity. But, I don’t feel things like paper or pictures should be stored in the garage for the reason of heat and humidity. They also stack well on top of each other.

For the younger age group that hasn’t learned how to read writing the word “Blocks” or “Trains” on their toy bins. Those labels for the adults who are going to clean up their toys. But drawing a picture of a block or downloading an image of a block or train track/ train really helps your child(ren) understand where the blocks and trains goes. I really like these clear business card sized pockets that stick to boxes or bins and you can slide paper into it so you know what the contents are

It would be really easy to “over organize,” especially if you have child(ren) into Legos. I’ve seen parents put each color into its own bin, and then get upset that their 5 year old just dumped out all the Legos onto the floor. Or their child(ren) just shoved Legos into the empty bins, not paying attention to the color labels. Let’s be real here, organize based on your family and their ability to keep it maintained. Which is more important: your child(ren) playing with the Legos, or their ability to put it back the way you organized it?

I’ve seen pictures of beautiful pantries and then two weeks later it looks like a bomb went off. When I organize a pantry, I’ve done it several different ways. It is easier to see what you are running low on if your companion meals are together. If the pasta sauces and pasta are on the same shelf or in baskets next to each other, you’ll see that you have (2) sauce jars and (5) boxes of pasta. But if you put the sauces on another shelf, you might run out of sauce or worse it will expire (and you wont know it), because you didn’t know it was shoved in the back behind the canned red beans. Also, I’ve seen the grains all separated out into individual bins, on the same shelf. In some cases that is a lot of work to maintain that level of organization, unless the same person that shops, also puts away the groceries and is the cook for the family.

Break It Up

If you are not normally an organized person, being home now doesn’t mean you become “organized” overnight. Break up your organizing goals into smaller projects. Going room-by-room might be too much, so break up each room into smaller projects. Perhaps within the kitchen break it up into (4) projects and complete it over a period of a week.

  • For example:
    • Project 1: Kitchen Drawers (time period of 2 days)
    • Project 2: Kitchen Cabinets (time period of 3 days)
    • Project 3: Fridge & Freezer (time period of 1 day – I don’t recommend your food sitting out for long periods of time)
    • Project 4: Kitchen Pantry (time period of 1 day)

What to do with the items you are purging?

  • Most donation places such as Goodwill / Savers are closed because they are non-essential.
  • Be creative, can those extra coffee mugs be used to hold succulents? Or used to hold makeup? Try to use the items in other ways. Taller coffee mugs can hold pencils or makeup brushes.
  • Talk to your family members, you can put your items in your garage for family members to pick up after the safer at home order ends.
  • Post on local social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Nextdoor if you want to offer them as free and then leave the items on your driveway or sidewalk.
  • Contact a junk hauler (follow their directions for pickup).
  • Schedule a pick-up with Salvation Army or Pickupplease.org (follow their directions for pickup).
  • Throw it in the trash. (please do not put chemicals, pesticides, flammable items, batteries, paint or other hazardous items in your trash – find a hazardous waste facility or recycling center to dispose these items),

The purpose of organizing is to help you feel better, if you are having anxiety or fears about getting rid of items. Don’t feel pressured to do it because other people around you are doing it or pressuring you. Take your time, and seek help. Have a best friend that normally helps you? Contact her and do a FaceTime or Skype. She can pep talk you through tossing expired spices or that leather jacket with the fur attached. Turn on music and put down your phone. Take lots of breaks and don’t measure your success by how much you have left to do, look at how much you have bagged up and how much open space you have.

Allison Almond is home organizer specializing in being a full service home sale preparation and packing & unpacking moving specialist. She’s a divorced mom to a tween, and with her schedule, finding harmony between her demanding clients and kid is difficult at times. Born and raised in Orange County; she loves to read, garden, and use her Instant Pot. She has worn many career hats over the years, giving her the experience and ability to adjust to different situations. Making her a resource too many in her community. Fun fact: she likes to meet romance authors and go on vacation trips with them. For more information on Allison’s organizing services, more organizational tips or to set up a complementary consultation, visit Allisonalmond.com.