by Kathy Martin
There is something about beginning a new year that inspires organization. Listed below is a top 10 list of tips and favorite organizing tools I have found useful. Hopefully you can glean one or two that will benefit you as well.
Create a specific list of the what you would like to organize – This identifies what you hope to accomplish and is a tool to keep you on task and minimize distractions. A list is also a bonus for those of us that find enjoyment in checking off items as they are complete.
Start Small – It’s easier to start organizing one drawer or cupboard at a time, rather than your entire kitchen in one day. Small successes can motivate taking on larger projects.
Maximize the use of vertical space – Install shelves up the side(s) of your closet to maximize the use of vertical space. Add a hanging shelf basket or 2 in spots where there is currently open, unusable space. There is a lot of wasted vertical space under many kitchen and bathroom sinks. My latest find is 2 tiered pull out drawer organizers for under sinks to maximize storage.
Repurpose what you have – A plastic crate is creative storage for flip flops and other sandals. It’s amazing how many pairs of shoes can be stored upright. Small fishing tackle boxes are perfect for jewelry storage and convenient for storing small items in a suitcase for travel. We kept clipboards that had built in storage underneath in our car for storing paper, crayons, and other activities to keep the kids entertained on car trips and our car clean from clutter.
Label, Label, Label – When you open items that need to be refrigerated, use a sharpie to add the date to the lid or label to record when you opened the item. We used to wonder how long items had been opened until we implemented this system. It is a time saver when you clean out the fridge. If you store items in totes or bins, attach a label on the outside of the tote facing out so you can see at a glance what is in that tote. I attached clear plastic name tag holders to these bins to add labels noting what was inside each bin.
Implement the one in, one out rule when possible – If you add a clothing item to your closet, remove a clothing item. If your kids get a new game or toy, remove one to donate or sell. Honestly, I still struggle with this one at times. Don’t even ask me how many puzzles I have.
Observe how other people organize – Why reinvent the wheel? If you visit someone’s home that appears to have solved a certain organization dilemma, ask them what their secret is. We discovered a new way to store our baking pans while on vacation a couple years ago; our prior space had vertical dividers that we replaced with an easier to use pull-out drawer solution.
These last 3 tips are more specific ones that have saved me space and/or time:
Roll clothing, when possible – Using a combination of folding and then rolling allows for more clothing to fit into drawers (and luggage) versus the fold and stack method. This works especially well for undergarments, socks, t-shirts, and leggings.
Create a Spice List – I store my spices in a wooden bread box on my kitchen counter. This provides a dark yet easily accessible place to find most of my spices. Inside the door of the box, I keep a typed alphabetized list of all my spices including when I purchased them and when they expire. I add handwritten notes as I use up old or purchase new and then update the list a couple times a year. This list is handy to see at a glance to verify you have all the spices you need when preparing a new dish. This list could also be stored inside a cabinet door or a favorite cookbook.
Receipt Folders – Yes, they have apps for organizing your shopping receipts but if you are like me, I keep the paper copies. Create 4 folders. Label one for the current month and the other 3 for the last 3 months (i.e., January 2023, December 2022, November 2022, and October 2022) and keep your receipts sorted in these folders by the purchase dates. Most stores allow up to 90 days on returns, so after 90 days the receipts in the oldest folder can be tossed. Exceptions to this include higher priced items such as appliances that you may want to keep longer.
Kathy Martin is married to Wes and the mother of two college students, Amanda and Josh. She manages the database and assists with the website at Calvary.