A Good Time to Declutter

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Do you ever just feel it in your bones… it’s a good time to declutter. This past weekend was an unusual weekend… It was the first time in a very long time that I was not working on Sunday. And what will I be doing on this day off, you might wonder. Perhaps sleeping late, or going to brunch. Maybe getting a long overdue mani/pedi?

None of the above. It’s a good time to declutter my own house, of course. Believe me when I say that it’s been a while and is overdue. Even as a Professional Home Organizer, sometimes time can get away from me. We’ve recently had to have a series of unwanted home repairs and in tending to these items, we’ve been forced to pull all the stuff out that had been lurking in the forgotten corners of my attic, garage, and trickling residually throughout other areas of my home. And now that a lovely pile of “stuff” is sitting in my guest room staring at me, I have no choice but to declutter it because before I know it, summer guests will be coming my way. 

As I was looking at the pile and thinking about how these items had been shoved in the corner totally forgotten about, I can hear myself in my head saying the same thing that I tell my clients on a daily basis…If it’s been sitting in a corner totally forgotten about, you probably don’t need it. Old storage bins from my college days, a mountain of bedding from when we used to have 15 friends come and stay with us all at the same time at the beach YEARS ago, all kinds of miscellany that I can absolutely live without, various travel bags that don’t fit our travel style anymore.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Although those things may be easy for me to say goodbye to, there is one item that has somehow escaped many, many decluttering sessions over the years. And that item, is my bicycle. That I haven’t been on since about 2009. Somehow it made the cut in the move from Virginia to North Carolina, and has been hanging dutifully from a hook in the rafter since. I’m not sure why this one item has survived all the decluttering. I’m not sure how much longer the bike is going to remain there. I know I should donate it to someone who enjoys riding bikes so it can have a little more love in its lifecycle. I see some soul searching in my near future to figure out what the right course of action is for me & my bicycle. And sometimes, even a Professional Home Organizer has that one item that we might not be ready to turn the page on.  

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If you need help with your decluttering journey, we’re here to help! Are you local to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and surrounding areas? Contact Organized Jill to schedule your complimentary consultation.

The Ketchup Drawer

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This week, it is time for a kitchen intervention. I would like to talk about kitchen drawers and a phenomenon that I see in 98% of homes that we organize. And that is the ketchup drawer. An entire drawer in kitchens that people across the Triad (and elsewhere, too, I suppose) have decided to dedicate exclusively to extra ketchup packets, soy sauce, and Chick-fil-A dipping sauce.

What has caused this to occur? Why have we all declared that ketchup packets deserve a place of honor in our limited kitchen drawer space? Do we not all have a perfectly happy bottle of ketchup in our refrigerators and a backup Costco sized ketchup in the pantry? Of course we do. And yet, the ketchup drawer exists. Believe it or not, I’ve been in homes where multiple kitchen drawers are dedicated to ketchup packets that remain untouched and unloved and totally forgotten about. 

In the world of limited kitchen drawers, how did ketchup merit an invite. I get it, we all hate to be wasteful and Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sunday for that chicken dipping happiness, but imagine the possibilities in a world where extra packets just end up in the trash. Gasp, I know.

What if by throwing out years worth of packets, we freed up space for kitchen tools we actually want to see & enjoy and have easy access to. What if we had a lovely spice drawer or coffee pod drawer. Maybe our foil rolls & ziplocks could be more accessible in that drawer. Perhaps our spatula collection could be spaced out and breathing. Truly, the possibilities are endless. 

Professional Home Organizer Winston Salem, The Ketchup Drawer

Friends, my home organizer challenge to you this week is to say GOODBYE to the ketchup drawer. Think about the things in your kitchen that bring you joy and what you’d like to enjoy in that coveted drawer instead. If you need help with your decluttering journey, we’re here to help! Are you local to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and surrounding areas? Contact Organized Jill to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Getting the Band Together

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Assembling a Professional Home Organization team is a lot like getting the band together. Everyone’s instrument has to be in tune with each other for successful outcomes for our clients. We have to work together in perfect harmony to stay on task and flow through our organization sessions. I want to shine a light on the wonderful people who I get to spend my workday with. My incredible Home Organizer team who I cannot live without. One of the most frequently asked questions that I get from my clients is “How did you start working together?” I think it’s time I shared the tale. 

Starting with my original team member, Leah. When I was a brand new “baby” organizer in November 2020, I had terrible imposter syndrome, horrible fear of failure, and inability to believe in my god-given gift of organizing. So, as you do when you are new to an industry, I trolled the internet joining all the Professional Home Organizer facebook groups across the country that I could find. Shortly thereafter, I saw a post from Leah. It said “I’m an Interior Designer in Winston-Salem and I’d love to team up with a Home Organizer in Winston-Salem”. I thought to myself, “well, I’m a Home Organizer in Winston-Salem”, so I sent her a message and the rest is history. 

A few months later, when I was still working my office job and moonlighting as an organizer, we came across a client who needed our help packing her home to move. Her sweet brother Jamie was there and I really liked the way that he worked with us to help his sister sort, declutter, and pack all of her important items. I handed him my phone and told him to put in his number. About 6 weeks later, I left my office job to organize homes full time and I sent him a message. Jamie is now my Custom Closet Installation Lead and truly my knight in shining armor. He even came to my rescue when I blew out a tire on the side of the interstate. 

Shortly thereafter, along came Ashley. Ashley and I were Insta-following each other and she sent me a message. Ashley is a full time Realtor and organizing is a way for her to relax. From the get-go, Ashley proved that she has natural abilities to see a space and make it function to its best potential. She is so driven and is such a hard worker. Her level headedness and keen eye for business has given me excellent guidance as my business has continued to grow and develop. 

I am so grateful and thankful for my home organizer team and I am so blessed to have them all in my life. I hope you all will have the opportunity to meet and work with them on projects in your homes soon. I know they will leave you with a space that you will love for a lifetime. Are you local to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and surrounding areas? Contact Organized Jill to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Back To School Organization

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It sometimes can seem that as soon as that last bell rings in June, it’s already time for back to school organization. Before you know it, you will be bombarded with all the new supply lists from teachers, and faced with the tasks of preparing your children’s rooms for the back to school shuffle. Summer just seems to go by more quickly each year. The back to school shuffle can throw anyone’s schedule and sense of normality into a tizzy. While creating morning routines and schedules – and easing into them a week or so before school – are great ways to prepare, they tend to be highly personalized to each family and household needs. But fear not! Here are some ideas and tips that can help make your back to school organization before the new school year a bit more seamless.

10 Organizing Tips for Back to School

1. Curate Your Entryway

Establishing a spot in your entryway for everything your kids need to get out the door is a great way to get organized. Not only does it keep everything in one spot to grab as you head out, it helps keep down clutter at the end of the day. Ideally you will want to create a spot to hang backpacks, coats, and lunchboxes. If space allows, using a bench and having a spot for shoes can really help cut down on clutter and the time (and effort) it takes to get the kids out the door each morning.

2. Create a Shared School Calendar

We are 100% in the digital age and many of us rely on our technology to schedule our weeks. Once your schools have published their academic calendar, look over it and put any notable dates in your phone’s calendar app. It often helps to create a new calendar and color-code it so you can see exactly what you need at a quick glance. Don’t forget to share the calendar with anyone else that helps you or your kids during the school year.

Pro Tip: Schedule notifications for the Sunday before the dates of picture days, early dismissals, and no-school days to keep you prepared.

3. Inventory Clothing

Without a doubt, your kid(s) have outgrown some of their clothing this summer. They’ve likely stained and worn out a few items as well. Before you go out and buy new items for the school year, sort through their closets and drawers to pull out what’s no longer useful. This will help make space for new items and allow you to take inventory of items that are needed.

4. Use Pantry Organizers in the Fridge 

Plastic organizers are a massive help in the pantry, but you can also put them to great use inside your fridge. It’s a great way to organize the various items you’ll put with daily lunches – cheese sticks, yogurts, etc.. This is also an easy way to separate these items to create a “don’t touch” area to help minimize those times when you try to pack a lunch and have magically run out of something. 

5. After School Routine Clock

The time after school can be a vacuum where plans seem to vanish and order turns to a chaotic free-for-all. Look over your after-school activities and evaluate how your family best operates in the afternoons. You’ll need to use a mechanical clock that you can take apart and replace the face. Once you have your clock apart, create a color coded face with each color representing a segmented time for a specific activity. If homework is something that is routinely assigned, make a segment of time just for that. If there’s no homework, keep the routine by making it a reading time. Other segments to consider are free time, dinner prep, prepping for the following day, and bedtime.

6. Homework Stations

If your home does not have the space to create a permanent desk for your kid(s) to do their homework at, then consider making a modular solution that can be setup anywhere – but creating a go-to spot would also be preferred to create a consistent environment. . Most of the time you’ll just need the basics like a flat surface for writing and a container for utensils. Gather the supplies your child will commonly need, then organize those things in something like a desk organizer. Keeping everything organized in containers will help your family setup and remove the work station with ease.

7. Meal Prep to Save Time

Use the weekend to your advantage and meal prep on Sundays. Having everything (or mostly everything) ready will help make the evenings a breeze. Additionally, having most of the meals prepped can make asking for help and adding dinner prep to a chore chart a lot less daunting for your family. You can apply this for school lunches as well.

8. Create a Supply Stash

What should you do with all the extra supplies that don’t need to go to school? Don’t put them in your kids’ craft area. You’ll likely need these supplies at some point in the school year and having them on-hand will save unplanned trips to the store for the random glue stick. Use an organization system that separates the supplies by type or by child and store them in a place that is out of the way.

9. Get Ready for First Day Photos

We all love first day photos. They’re a great way to commemorate a new stage of your child’s journey. Now is the perfect time to start scouring Pinterest for inspiration and start preparing any signs, props, hair styles, or anything else you would like to feature. 

10. Organize Lunch Boxes

Have you ever made your child’s lunch only to realize the lid for a very specific container has gone missing? I think we’ve all been there to some extent. Create an organization system that is specifically designed for lunch boxes and containers. Yes, it’s taking away some of your pantry or cabinet space, but having everything separated (that is, not with all the other reusable containers) will make those “off” mornings a lot easier.

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If you need help getting your home (and family) ready for the school year, we’re here to help! If you need help with your decluttering journey, we’re here to help! Are you local to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and surrounding areas? Contact Organized Jill to schedule your complimentary consultation.

The Land of Long Lost Leftovers

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Is your fridge the land of long lost leftovers? Does food often get shoved to the back and forgotten about? If so, this post is for you. If there is one thing that has been sweeping the social media feeds, it is videos of people meticulously organizing their refrigerators, served fresh with a side of ASMR for a little flare. Assorted fruit & vegetables in a rainbow of colors, the exact right amount of yogurt containers, neatly stacked cheese wheels and sticks, all aligned for show in lovely clear drawers that fit like a glove.  

As a Professional Home Organizer, I spend a lot of time in other people’s refrigerators and I promise you, even in the most lavish homes, I have yet to see any one’s fridge look like meal prep heaven straight out of a lifestyle magazine. Primarily, the refrigerator is full of half-full condiments and juices in the mis-matched bottles they were sold in, forgotten leftovers, and well-intended produce past its prime.

The refrigerator, although a space absolutely in need of organization, is not one of the places that I would typically invest in a lot of storage containers. There is so much weekly fluctuation in menu and meal prep that it is better to follow a few easy tips to keep your refrigerator from becoming the land of forgotten leftovers.

8 Refrigerator Decluttering & Organizing Tips

  1. Start fresh and take everything out of the old ice box. Clean the drawers, shelves, and door caddies to remove and debris, crumbs, and spills.
  2. Take inventory of what you have. Sort into categories- condiments, dairy, meats, produce. If you own a bottle of ketchup, now is the perfect time to let the fast food ketchup packets go to the trash.
  3. Check expiration dates and dispose of expired goods, shriveled produce, and other questionably scented items. Let go of the ingredients for that recipe that didn’t quite work out that you don’t intend to try again. Throw out the extra little packets from meal kit programs that only have half a handful of almonds left. Throw out last week’s restaurant leftovers and sad looking pizza.
  4. Check the settings on your refrigerator to make sure the temperatures are set correctly for the inventory that you primarily keep on hand.
  5. When reloading the refrigerator, keep like items together. Leave a designated space at eye level for left overs to be not just stored, but actually enjoyed.
  6. Remove excess packaging, so you can see how many items are left. One of the most often items that I see taking up space in refrigerators are cardboard soda boxes with only one can left inside.
  7. Lather, rinse, and repeat with the freezer. Say goodbye to anything covered in frost burn. Let go of the items lost long ago to the deepest corners of the freezer. Categorize and reorganize the freezer so you can see the contents.
  8. Designate a time every week to clear out the refrigerator to make space for new grocery purchases. Don’t push last week’s items to the back. Rotate the older items to the front so they will be enjoyed before they spoil.

As with any food storage, whether it be the pantry, fridge, or the drink fridge and meat freezer out in the garage, the most important thing to remember is that you need to be able to see your entire inventory. If you can’t see what you have, it gets forgotten about and expires. Evaluate your grocery store purchases. It may seem like a great deal to buy items from bulk warehouses, but unless your family can finish the item before it expires, it is not a good deal. It is better to have fresh ingredients and inventory rather than stocking up on bulk purchases of items that you are sure to be tired of long before they run out. 

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I hope these tips will help you keep your fridge fresh & fabulous all year long. For more tips, check out this article that I contributed to! If you need help with your decluttering journey, we’re here to help! Are you local to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and surrounding areas? Contact Organized Jill to schedule your complimentary consultation.

How to Declutter your Home in 30 Days

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I am going to share with you the one thing that I know you’ve all been waiting for,
direct from your favorite Home Organizer: How to Declutter your Home in 30 Days

Before You Start

Decluttering an entire house can easily feel overwhelming, but with a few considerations you can combat overwhelm and set yourself up for success. I happen to be a decluttering expert, so you are in the right place for tips!

Set Realistic Expectations

It’s important to have realistic expectations. Each room is a mini-project and comes with its own set of challenges, which becomes a bit easier to manage when you go systematically room-by-room. If you have kids or other people living with you, then you might feel like you can never keep up, but progress is always progress and each room you declutter will continue to become easier to reset.

Items Without Homes

There’s a simple rule in the world of decluttering, “If something doesn’t have a home, it’s clutter and needs to be removed so cleaning can happen.” This can be a hard rule to live by and the decisions this forces us into can be quite rough. One method to make this a bit easier is to use bins to help sort through your homeless items. Once you’ve gone through a room, revisit this bin and see if there are enough useful items that you could make a home for, but be careful not to simply create more clutter by keeping items you don’t really need. 

One takeaway in this section is to be ready to make hard decisions as you declutter.

Sorting Items

As mentioned above, it can be very useful to designate bins to categorize your items. Having these bins at the ready can help keep you in the flow of decluttering. Instead of taking that rogue toy to the playroom, just toss it in a designated bin and take those items to their home when you’re done decluttering the prioritized room.

Some good categories for your bins could be:

  • Keep – for items you’d like to keep, but can’t find the best home for just yet.
  • Move – for items that have a home, but need to be moved to another room.
  • Donate/Sell – for items that are still in good condition, but you haven’t used enough to justify keeping.
  • Trash or Recycle – any remaining items

Keep Momentum

Practice keeping your momentum by breaking each room into smaller segments. This can help you feel the progress you’re making and avoid discouragement when you don’t have time to complete a full room. As we all battle for time, set yourself up for easy wins by starting simple with a table top, a small cabinet, or a category (like shoes) that can be completed in a short amount of time. If you don’t have time to continue, then you still made some progress. If you have time to continue, then use the momentum you generated to keep going.

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If you need help with your decluttering journey, we’re here to help! Are you local to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and surrounding areas? Contact Organized Jill to schedule your complimentary consultation.