Ask the Expert: How A Few Small Organizing Tips Can Make A Big Difference

How a few small organizing tips can make a big differenceAnyone else feeling the urge to be a bit more together and a little less cluttered this year? Here are a few small organizing tips for getting started and boosting your organization skills each and every day.

I used to believe I was an organized person—that is until I had kids. Motherhood is full of significant blessing, responsibility, and more STUFF than I could ever imagine! Even when doing my best to keep it to a minimum, this STUFF……..the schoolwork, arts, crafts, gifts, and more come in at a faster rate than I can manage. I have developed a new skill set for cramming items creatively into closets and balancing piles of paperwork and books sky high. I dance between throwing it all out (which is not the most eco-friendly option, I know) and hoarding nearly everything with a trace of sentimental value.

I am pretty sure I am not the only one with this organizational frustration, hence my decision to tap into an expert’s opinion for a few small organizing tips.

Jess Trott is the owner, lead consultant, driving force, and inspiration behind Organize with Jess, LLC. She has been passionate about organizing for as long as she can remember and began to share her skills professionally in 2011. Read on for an interview sure to inspire organization in the New Year!

Q1: The urge to spring clean will be here before we know it! Where do you recommend folks start? 

Start with the big hairy audacious area.  The one that is the worst, the one that causes the most stress, or the room you hate. We call it the Narnia closet or the room of requirement. It’s the place you dump all of the things you have no clue what to do with. Start there and go for it. Get rid of what can go and create space.  Afterward, give yourself a high five.  The rest of the house will seem easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Q2: What are a few simple habits you recommend individuals work on daily to stay organized? 

First, organize a little bit, all of the time so you never have to organize for long periods of time.  Grab the basket on the steps and actually bring it upstairs. Toss the reusable bags in your trunk. Set a timer and open mail for 11 minutes; afterward, move on. Try to wash the pot in the sink before your coffee brews.  Tiny efforts all the time do not feel like work and make a huge difference.

I also recommend clients think about their routine and set up the home in a way that flows for them.  For example, I walk in the door, kick off my shoes, toss my keys and drop my bag.  So in my home, we have a bin to catch the shoes, a bowl to corral the keys and a designated spot for my bag to go.  My house looks orderly and neat because it is designed around my behavior.  These simple systems will keep things maintained without much maintenance.

Related: What Your Messy House REALLY Says About You

Q3: From toys to artwork, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all! Please share your top tips for parents that wish to de-clutter!

  • Toys: For toys, LESS IS BEST! Donate some things and stop buying new ones.  Set up zones and create centers for each type of activity.  Allow for creativity and spontaneity by not owning more than you and your kids can manage.  We all crave more time and fewer tasks. Help your kids understand the freedom of less.
  • Artwork: I recommend having one bin, be it a dollar store container, an old cereal box or a custom hand-carved mahogany chest.  The bin doesn’t matter, the location and the consistency do. Create one space to corral all of the awesome.  Don’t keep everything and don’t feel guilty for recycling it either. Keep the best collection of your tiny tots’ artwork and the rest goes out. I say to clients, “When we flip through a collection of Picasso’s art we do not see every scribble or everything he ever did, we experience the best, keep the best and recycle the rest”
  • The Car: Invest in caddies! I recommend different caddies to group items together based on how you use them.  One idea is having an emergency kit with an ice scraper, jumper cables, emergency jackets, an umbrella, a first aid kit and spare clothes. In a bin on the back seat, you can keep items that you may need all the time for you or your little ones (toys, sippy cups, utensils….). I recommend keeping a tiny cookie sheet in the backseat to use as a lap tray for eating on the go or as a “desk.”
  • The Kitchen: Organizing kitchens is one of my favorite jobs as a functional kitchen is best! Every kitchen needs to accommodate the chef who works there.  We talk to clients about culinary tasks flow and how they utilize the kitchen.  We encourage you to toss most of the single-use items that cause clutter. For example, if you own a banana slicer, an avocado knife, strawberry huller and an apple corer, we can remove all of those items by purchasing a good paring knife.  Kitchens need to be functional first and foremost- coffee cups by the coffee machine, plates and bowls near the dishwasher, large heavy pans underneath, pots and pans we use all the time easy to get, oven mitts next to the oven… there are a thousand examples and it will differ depending on the cook.  We encourage clients to store storage containers with the lid on. We welcome debate on this and usually bring clients over to the dark side, lids on is better!

With a little purposed intention and purposed time, you can combine these tips from Jess to help you feel more organized and less cluttered. With small changes, you can make big differences, so don’t be afraid to start small.

Just start!

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