Getting the Band Together
Hello, hello friends. Welcome back, or welcome if you are new here. I hope, as always, that we all had a wonderful week.
This week, I want to shine a light on the wonderful people who I get to spend my workday with. My incredible 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 OG Organizing Partner, Leah. When I was a brand new “baby” organizer, 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 Partner 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.
Then along came my sweet friend, Gabby. Gabby and I met when we were both working at our office jobs at the same company. She had left a few months before I did to pursue her Master’s degree. Summer quickly rolled around and she was looking for something to fill her time and make a little side money. I asked her to work with me and it was truly a dream. She has such a big heart full of compassion and I am so blessed to have her by my side.
My newest team member is 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 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.
The Ketchup Drawer
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.
Friends, my 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.
A Time to Declutter
This weekend is an unusual weekend… It is the first time in a very long time that I am 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. I am decluttering my own house, of course. Believe me when I say that it’s been a while and is overdue. 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’m 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 Professional Home Organizers have that one item that we might not be ready to turn the page on.
Creating Space for Becoming
January is in full swing, work and school are back in session, and routines are picking up right where we left them. Same stuff, different year. Sometimes it can feel that way in your home, too. Same piece of art hung on the same wall for the last 15 years. That same piece of art that I really didn’t like when I bought it but needed something to fill wall space.
When you look around your home, what do you see? What objects are the first to catch your eye when you walk into a room? How long have those objects been stagnant in that spot? I once had a decorative bowl with decorative balls that sat on my dining room table without thought or purpose for at least a decade. I didn’t even see it there anymore, it was just part of the table.
When I was first dating my now husband, we would visit his mother and younger siblings a few times a year. Every time we would go, furniture would be rearranged, a new paint color would appear, there would have been a bedroom switch-a-roo…so much excitement in the few months between our visits. At the time, I didn’t get it. I used to think “why would someone keep changing their home?” Of course, at the time, we also lived in a tiny starter house that had one wall long enough for the basic-beige couch to be pushed up against without a thought.
After 15 years in my basic beige world, change came to our home. I knew it was coming, but things snowballed very quickly. My husband had been looking for a new career opportunity and before we knew it, the moving boxes were packed up, the SOLD sign was in the yard, and we pulled the U Haul out of our old driveway in Virginia in the blink of an eye.
On move- in day in Winston-Salem, I unlocked the door to a blank slate and began to unpack our old life into our new home. I found places for our belongings, and I let go of the things that no longer felt like they had a purpose in our new chapter. And that painting that I bought to fill space but never really liked… it did not make the move. Goodbye, useless mediocre “art”.
This week, I would like to challenge you to take a little time to really look around your home. What items truly make you smile and bring you joy, and which items are taking up space and are just clutter? How can we breathe fresh air in our space to make room for who we are becoming this year?
It’s time to refresh, renew, & rejuvenate your home.
Do. The. Thing.
So, I have a confession to make. I’ve been avoiding doing a certain task and it’s finally come to a head. That task is, get ready to be shocked- organizing my car. My car is my home away from home; it’s my office, my billboard, daily donation hauler, inventory picker-upper, my favorite lunch spot, dog taxi, it is the heartbeat of my days. And to say things have gotten a little out of control lately is an understatement.
Recently, I’ve been finding small items that have come loose from donation bags. Everything from Barbie shoes, and a stray LEGO, a pair of sunglasses, a shirt. All the things that I’ve had to re-bag and drop off at the donation center. My on-hand inventory is a mess, my tools are in three different bags, my new label maker needs a DESIGNATED spot, the rolls of garbage bags need to be in their home.. Its a mess. Even organized people have that place that just escapes them.
So today is the day, friends. Today is the day that I am going to tackle the task that I’ve been avoiding for weeks too long. Today is the day that my car becomes a peaceful place for me to call my second home again.
What task have you been putting off doing around your house? Do you have plans to take care of this task? I’d love to hear about the things that you have on your to-do lists and give you a little inspiration or motivation to get them done. And if you need any help, you can find me in my garage, organizing my car.
For the Love of All Things Pantry
Welcome back, or welcome if you are new here. I hope, as always, that we all had a wonderful week. This week was such a fun week- I got to break out my drill, TWICE, to install new pantries for two awesome families! Pantries come in all shapes, styles, and sizes; but some things are similar- including my favorite pantry storage enhancements.
Pantry storage containers are all the rage on social media platforms like TikTok and Pinterest. You can often see perfectly organized pantries full of aesthetically pleasing canisters holding dry goods. Have you been wondering how to imitate the look in your own home while staying on a budget? If so, you’re in the perfect place because I’ve done the research for you!
Here are my top 5 favorite & inexpensive storage containers to keep your pantry tidy:
Product #1: OXO POP Containers
OXOs have been a favorite in my home long before I became a Professional Home Organizer (I used to do boring office work before I became a certified organizer). Not only are they on trend, but they’re also airtight. An airtight seal is an important feature for keeping all your dry-goods fresh over time. Another great feature: they’re easily stackable! Being able to stack them makes this set perfect for apartments and homes with smaller kitchens.
Product #2: Water Hyacinth Baskets
It’s very likely that you have items in your pantry that aren’t dry goods or not designed to fill a container like the previous set. These baskets are perfect for miscellaneous snacks, chips, baked goods, fruits, and vegetables. Most basket options also come with handles and are deep enough to hold all your various odds and ends, as well as backstock items.
Product #3: Can Risers
Storing canned goods is always a hassle. They can take up a whole shelf in your pantry even when double stacked. A can riser is a great solution! These risers can hold cans of various sizes and you can organize your cans by the purpose and their contents.
Product #4: Adjustable Door Racks
One way to increase your pantry space is by hanging the rack to the inside of your pantry door or by mounting it to a wall within a walk-in pantry space. These racks can hold anything from bottles of wine to baking supplies. They’re one of the only ways to truly increase your space!
Product #5: Stackable Plastic Bins
What’s great about stackable bins is their versatility. You can store an array of items in these bins such as individually wrapped snacks and like items. Also these bins are available in deep sizes as well, which can help you keep miscellaneous pantry items up off the floor.
It’s not always easy to maximize the space you have in your kitchen pantry. Luckily, these storage products can assist you in doing just that while also allowing you to organize all your pantry items. Get yourself some of these great storage options today to stay on budget and on trend.
Later is the Best Friend of Clutter
Welcome back, or welcome if you are new here. I hope, as always, that we all had a wonderful week. Did we all survive the Valentine’s Day sugar rush and say goodbye to all the little plastic thingies that made their way into our homes? No time like the present (after you finish reading this email, of course).
“Later”, you’re thinking. “I’ll do it later.” I have a saying that I share with just about every client who I’ve worked with, who assures me that they’ll look through “that pile” later. I always tell them, “Later is the best friend of clutter”.
What would happen if we decided to let the Sweethearts stay at the back of the pantry until later? Later becomes Saint Patrick’s Day, becomes Mother’s Day, becomes the Fourth of July, and so on and the Sweethearts remain sad and abandoned in the back of the pantry.
I’ve been guilty of the “I’ll do it later”s. I’ll update my website… later. I’ll fill out my planner… later. I’ll do zumba… later. And, as I’ve said before, sometimes later becomes never. Today’s laters pile on to the end of tomorrow’s list of nows. (Did your eyes go crossed reading that last sentence… mine, too)
So many times when we put things off for later, the task we were dreading accomplishing ends up taking just a few moments of time and it isn’t nearly as bad as we anticipated. This week’s challenge is to go take a peek at that later pile and see if you can knock it out in a few minutes.
If you need any help, you know where I’ll be; tackling my laters now.
Over the Banister & Back Again
Last week, we learned two fun facts about me; the first was that my own home was overdue for a good decluttering, and the second that I had one object (my bicycle) that I was torn over whether to let go or not. I wanted to share an update, and of course, segue into my topic for this week. Spoiler alert, I’m going to chat about communication.
But first, yes, I decluttered (most) of my home last week and breathed a sigh of relief. No, I did not make it to the garage to make the pivotal bicycle decision. What we did instead after dutifully loading my car up to the gills with donations, was decide that it was time to do one of my mother-in-law’s favorite activities- rearrange furniture in the house.
When we moved into our home here in Winston-Salem, we replaced an old beat up sofa with a nifty new one equipped with motorized recliners. This thing is heavy as heck. And we decided that it needed to be moved upstairs. So we devised a plan, and after about 45 minutes, this beast of a couch was happily upstairs. Not before almost tipping backwards over the banister and denting the wall at the top of the stairs, but it’s upstairs where it will remain for the rest of the time we live in this house.
This couch hoisting would not have been possible without effective communication. This is one of the things that I encounter frequently with clients. I often hear “My spouse would be mad if this was donated.” or “My sister’s cousin’s dog sitter’s neighbor gave this to me and I feel bad getting rid of it”. And we always have the same (similar sounding) conversations. I ask questions such as “have you discussed this particular item with your loved ones? Do you like/use/enjoy/want to maintain and care for this item? Does it bring you joy or frustration, possibly feelings of guilt? Just because someone gave you something, it is not your burden to have to take care of forever. Especially if the item was given to you because the giver didn’t want to feel guilty getting rid of said item, thus transitioning the feeling of guilt onto you to wrestle with.
When you decide that you want to declutter an area of your home, communicate with your loved ones. Involve them in the decision making process. Make decisions together. Whether they live in your home or not, if you think that an item is important to someone else, ask THEM if they want to maintain an item or if they’ve completely forgotten about the “thing” YEARS ago. This is especially important for empty nesters. If your kids are grown and have their own homes, their memorabilia is no longer yours to maintain and catalog. Give your kids their 3rd grade report cards.. I can almost guarantee that most of those will end up in the recycling bin. I find that more often than not, neither party wants an item or has even given it a moment of thought.
So communicate, let the broken thing that hasn’t been fixed for 10 years go, and use caution when rearranging your house.
Shred It & Forget It
I don’t know about you, but here at chez Organized Jill, we are busy, busy getting things prepared for tax season. We have been going through old files and statements and taming the paper monster. Thankfully, our current important documents (since we moved to Winston-Salem in 2019) are digital. Because of the constant influx of paperwork into everyone’s home, one of the hardest parts of the house to keep organized, is the home office.
Documents and paperwork can easily stack up in all corners of the office and ultimately go untouched for months at a time. You already know it’s important to shred sensitive pieces of information like credit card statements and papers related to taxes. However, one of the best ways to keep your home office clean is to shred everyday documents and ultimately recycle the scraps. And, as I advise all of my clients, GO PAPERLESS as much as possible and stop the paperwork from coming in the first place. Did you know that 80% of what is filed is NEVER looked at again…. that’s a lot of clutter, friends. And a LOT of unnecessary time & energy spent filing.
Until you have made the switch to paperless, here’s my list of 3 everyday documents you should shred to keep your home office clean:
Item #1: Junk Mail
A majority of people get junk mail every day. The reason you should shred it instead of simply throwing it away, is because many companies include your personal data in their mailers and credit card offers. Shredding it will keep your data private while minimizing a daily source of clutter. (Either way, deal with the junk mail AS IT COMES IN on a daily basis.) It’s a win win!
Item #2: Travel Documents
Travel documents, such as itineraries and boarding passes, can hold a lot of sensitive information you may not realize. Aside from contact information, any rewards information can be used to gain access to monetary accounts through rebooking previous accommodations. Boarding passes specifically can have QR codes that contain more personal information than other documents. Identity thieves can leverage sensitive data.
Item #3: Old Bank Documents
Any old bank documents should be shredded. While many banks have moved to digital statements and digital formats for cancelled checks, it’s likely that you have old documents laying around. Like the previously mentioned documents, these types of papers also hold a great amount of sensitive personal information. Prevent the threat of stolen identity, and clutter, by shredding these documents asap.
When in doubt, the safest bet is to shred it. Not only from a safety standpoint, but also a clutter standpoint. Plus, free confetti. And who doesn’t love that.
Summer Is Coming… Duck & Cover
Summer is right around the corner, and you know what that means. Your kids and the entire neighborhood are coming over to play. The pantry is about to be ransacked, wrappers left astray, toys in every path and room, closets invaded and torn apart. All the wonders of childhood that kids should absolutely be enjoying. But this summer, perhaps a few ground rules would help everyone stay sane until school starts again in the fall.
I often hear from my clients, “My kid has destroyed their room. Again. What can be done about it?” There are a few answers that I give on a regular basis that I would love to share with everyone.
- Declutter. Kids do not need every toy under the sun. If you’re overwhelmed by toys, the kids are also overwhelmed by the toys. Let go of the outgrown, unloved, broken, or just plain annoying toys that drive you nuts. Send the kids outside to use their imagination. It’s good for them and it builds character.
- Designate a home for their belongings. Outdoor toys in an outdoor storage solution. Indoor toys in sturdy storage containers. Use labels to help items stay in place so toys can be put away easily.
- Model the behavior you want them to do. If you want them to pick up their toys, you should pick up your “toys”. Put your things back where they belong, put the dishes in the dishwasher, put the laundry away, throw clothing tags in the trash. Teaching tidiness while kids are young pays off in the long run when you have tidy(er) teens.
- Work together. Keeping a home tidy is everyone’s responsibility, not just mom. Put in to practice a daily 10-Minute Tidy Time Routine to keep up with the ongoing pace of life.
- Give yourself GRACE. Clutter doesn’t happen overnight and it won’t be gone overnight either. Breathe and remember that in 10 short weeks, they’ll be back at school all day again.
And if all else fails, there’s always sleep-away camp.
Taking Deep Breaths of Fluffy Towels
I don’t know about y’all, but Sunday is one of my favorite days. It’s the day of the week that I change the sheets & towels. Everything gets washed, dried, folded, and put away all fluffy and fresh. An organized linen closet makes me happy, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips that you can implement in your linen closet for a happy space.
Tip #1: Utilize the inside of the door
The inside of the door is such an overlooked area of storage opportunity. Some of my favorite products for maximizing that space are the clear acrylic adhesive backed bins from MDesign and the Wall & Door rack from The Container Store. Utilize as much of the height of the door to create categories that can be easily tracked for replenishment.
Tip #2: Maximize Shelf Space
Use shelf dividers or clear bins to keep shelves neat, and inventory stored by category. Keep larger comforters at the top, working downwards with towels, followed below with sheets and more frequently used items at eye level. Lower shelves can be used for extra paper products.
Tip #3: Stash Sheets in Pillow Cases
If you didn’t know this fun trick already, storing sheet sets in their respective pillow cases is a great way to stay organized. This trick also allows you to easily stack your sheet sets in your closet in a more uniform way.
Tip #4: Keep Track of What’s Inside
It can be hard to stay on top of what supplies you have around the house. To combat this, try adding a dry erase board to an interior wall of the linen closet. When you’re running low on something, add it to the list so you don’t forget.
Tip #5: Label Everything
Designate each shelf for a different category of supplies and be sure to add a label. This is especially helpful if you keep your items in bins. Labeling will make things look more organized while simultaneously being a helpful reminder of what’s stored where.
I hope you enjoyed these fun tips that you can implement in your linen closets! If you are overwhelmed by this project and need help, you can always reach out to me for help.
Taming Invisible Clutter
This week was a really fun week. One of the projects this week that my team and I had the privilege of organizing was a home office. This space is where our homeowner spends the majority of her time as she works from home, and it is also the first room you see when you enter the home. Our objective besides decluttering & organizing was to also really make this room feel bright, airy, and welcoming. We rearranged books and furniture & interspersed decor into the space to bring it to life.
One of the tasks of the day was cord management. I know. It’s 2022; where’s this wireless future we were promised? But as I sat on the floor dutifully untangling & bundling cords & cables, I thought a lot about digital clutter. Just because you can’t touch it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. So I came up with this list of digital clutter items that have got to go:
- Promotional emails from stores you stopped shopping at. Do I really need a daily reminder from Bath & Body Works that I signed up for in high school? Definitely not. This email goes to an email account that I made when I was 15. It’s an AOL account. Yea, I definitely need to both unsubscribe and also close my AOL account. Because it’s 2022.
- Playlist. In my life before Professional Home Organizing, I had a very boring office job. So naturally, I sat there adding random songs to my playlist. Trending songs from Instagram reels. Songs that I kind of liked. Songs I heard once on the radio that were catchy. This led to a hot mess playlist of songs that don’t make any sense at all together. Delete.
- YouTube “Watch Later” list. If I haven’t watched it in 3 months, it’s never going to happen. Goodbye old videos that clearly couldn’t grab my attention, even with clickbait titles.
- Pinterest boards. Who has the time to actually make all these lovely pinned items? Not me. Maybe someday. But today is not that day.
- Unused apps. Again, why are they taking up space on my screen.
- Digital receipts. I mean, I’m glad that I was eco-conscious in the moment of my purchase and chose a digital receipt, but I don’t need to keep it forever.
It is past time to say goodbye to digital clutter so it’s not staring at us every time we’re staring at our phones.
The (Metaphorical) Elephant in the Room
I would like to discuss a very hot topic that has been circulating the internet & the Professional Organizing world with all kinds of comments, likes, & criticisms; I am referring to the latest Kardashian pantry that is #pantrygoals for some people and #cringe for others. If you haven’t seen the images yet, here is one picture for you to check out. This is one section of a much (much, much) larger pantry.
As a Professional Home Organizer, I love and appreciate a good “glamor” pantry. I appreciate the hours of planning, the aesthetics of the product selection, and the final layout of all the inventory. When I organize a pantry for my clients, whether the homeowner chooses to have me add organizing products or not, the pantry will always end up categorized, decluttered, zoned, organized, labeled when appropriate, and have color coded soda cans (because I’m extra like that).
But all that inventory…This is where things go awry. I help a LOT of families with lots of children who frequent Costco and the grocery store weekly, and none of them keep this much inventory on hand. This is enough food for a small army.
I know this is a weird time that we are living in where sometimes our favorite foods aren’t available in the grocery store. But 90 cans of soup is too much soup. That’s enough soup for a very long time. If you can’t eat that much soup before it expires, it is not a “great deal”.
I have removed more dusty forgotten cans of food that expired YEARS ago when cleaning out pantries than I would like to admit. “But, Jill, its canned food… it’s fine”, you might be thinking. Here’s my logic on that; if a can of soup sat in your pantry for several years collecting dust before it expired and you didn’t eat it then, and then sat in the pantry for another few years still uneaten, it is highly unlikely that you are going to eat the 10 year old soup now.
As much as I love the aesthetics of this pantry, I don’t like the wasteful message that it promotes. The hundreds of meticulously aligned cookies, the copious amount of cake stands that would make a bakery blush, and product just for the sake of product.
Friends, there is a lovely area that rests between Pinterest-perfect & practical where the two ideas should meet in harmony. And that is going to look different for every single person reading this email because everyone’s lives are different, their schedules are different, the amount of time they want to spend maintaining a pantry is different. And that is OK.
Let me know your thoughts~ I would love to hear what you think about the Kardashian pantry, or chat pantries in general. Because I love all pantries, big or small, and all things organizing pantries.
The 10-Minute Tidy
Does anyone else get stressed out first thing in the morning, right from the get-go? The morning can be one of the most stressful times of the day. Between getting yourself ready, getting the kids ready, and making sure everybody gets out the door on time dressed & fed, it can be quite the whirlwind. Then when you get home at night, you’re left with the aftermath of the flurry of morning activity.
This can leave you feeling stressed for the rest of the night, torn between needing to relax and feeling like you need to clean. But with implementing the right morning routine, you can begin to eliminate stress and feel more organized from the time you wake up until it’s time to turn in for the night.
What’s great is you don’t need to make a huge change to make this routine successful. All you need is ten minutes in the morning to shift your day for the better. Check out the list below to better understand how your mornings will look when you implement these simple steps:
- Once you get out of bed and take care of your morning self care routine, be sure to make your bed. This will make the end of the night more restful.
- When you make it down to the kitchen, take a minute to pick up anything that was left on the counters. You can even do this task at the end of the day to save time in the mornings.
- If you ran the dishwasher last night, go ahead and put the dishes away. This will save you time when you get home for whomever is tasked with cooking dinner. It also helps you make sure that there are clean dishes to cook with.
- If you notice clutter in any of the main living spaces, take the time to put things away. You can also fluff pillows, clear all surfaces, etc.
Essentially, this ten minute tidy routine will allow you to reset your home so you can walk into a calm space at the end of the day. If getting started with this routine all at once feels overwhelming, you can always break it down into chunks and build the tasks into your morning routine over time.
The Clerty Chair
One of the places that I notice in many homes where clutter likes to gather, is a place called “The Clerty Chair”. What’s a clerty chair, you ask; it’s the chair in the bedroom where the clothes that aren’t all the way clean, but aren’t quite dirty yet seem to land. The in-between zone called the clerty chair. You know when you put on a cute sweater to go to Target, but only wear it for an hour, but don’t want to put it back with the clean clothes – that’s clerty. Not clean, but not dirty.
But here’s where the problem begins… one clerty Target-run shirt is quickly joined by one clerty pair of jeans and before you know it, no more chair, just clerty clothes. It’s a vicious cycle, friends.
It wasn’t until recently that I even had a chair in my bedroom to become a clerty chair. If you read my email last week, then you were introduced to my wonderful furniture rearranging mother-in-law. The same wonderful woman also likes to purchase high quality Amish wood furniture to pass to her children. For many years, I had my eye on a pair of Amish rockers that had been in her home, then went to the second eldest when they were rocking their twins to sleep, then to her youngest offspring while they were in their university apartments, and then finally to my husband and I. One of the chairs went right into the bedroom in the perfect sized corner for the rocker & footrest.
I love this chair; even after almost 20 years, it is in mint condition, it is so comfortable, and I love to sit in it while I’m having long conversations with friends on the phone. It’s a good chair. So you can imagine my frustration with myself when I realized how long I had left my Stitchfix jeans that needed to be hemmed in the chair a bit too long. Sidenote, if you’ve ever ordered jeans from Stitchfix, you know that there is some traveling pants magic that their jeans always fit perfectly in the waist. In this case however, all 5 pairs were too long and needed to be hemmed. And yes, you can specifically request just jeans from them if you ask nicely 🙂
“Enough!” I declared to no one but myself and the dog since my husband was at the office. “I will not have my cozy rocker that I waited 20 years to have in my home become a clerty chair!”. I scooped up the jeans, headed to the sewing table, and shortly thereafter, they were hemmed.
This week, I challenge you to clear off your clerty chair, or clerty treadmill, or clerty desk that you have in your bedroom. Go through the items that are in the pile and determine if they still belong in your home or if they are ready to be passed on to the donation center. And then sit down & enjoy a moment in your no-longer clerty chair.
The Dumbest Organizing Product I’ve Ever Seen
I would like to discuss organizing products, specifically, the dumbest organizing product that I have ever seen. Every week, I recommend hundreds of items to new & existing clients for kitchens, pantries, closets, playrooms, offices, garages, and every nook & cranny you can think of. It’s safe to say that I have spent many, many hours seeing, using, and researching organizing products.
There are some items that I will always recommend that are tried and true and I prefer not to organize without, such as slimline velvet hangers, or lazy Susans. Everyday, my social feeds are inundated with images of organizing product (because the algorithm knows), and people selling the latest, shiniest thing that is going to solve all of your organizing problems once and for all.
One product however, sticks out every time I see it appear on my screen that I can’t help thinking “this is the absolutely dumbest product I have ever seen. I would never use this item in my own home, and I certainly would never recommend this to any of my clients because it would immediately become unused clutter.
The product, friends, is a round black disc that you are supposed to put on top of a mug to create a second layer for another mug to perch on. WHAT? Why… absolutely not. If you have a lot of mugs that you need another layer for mugs, a mug shelf does the job just fine and SO much easier & quicker than having to adjust a stupid disc every time you want to use either top or bottom mug.
Y’all, if you are going to spend money on organizing products, first of all, consult your favorite Professional Home Organizer, yours truly, before spending your hard earned money. Second of all, if a product is called a “hack”, RUN the other way as soon as possible. Choose wisely, friends, and organize smartly.
The Reusable Tote Conundrum
I had something interesting happen to me that I see frequently when working in my clients’ homes. If you’re anything like me, you enjoy a good, useful, quality bag and this week I was drawn to Vera Bradley for a sling-style bag. I thought it would be perfect for an upcoming trip- hands-free, lightweight, large enough for a snack and a small shawl, lots of pockets.. Absolutely what I was looking for.
To the store I went, I made my selection, and the sales clerk put my new bag in a pretty, vinyl Vera Bradley shopping bag. In hindsight, I should have said “no, thank you” to the sales clerk when she was completing my transaction, “I don’t need a bag for my bag”.
When I returned home, I put my purchase with my travel bags, and then, in a BRIEF moment of pause, I thought to myself, “This is a pretty bag that my purchase came in, maybe I’ll have a use for it someday.”
Someday. I have yet to find someday on the calendar, but nonetheless.
Then I remembered that I have a collection of actual bags (including the one I just purchased) for that “someday”. Bags of all shapes and sizes, bags for planes, trains, & automobiles. Did I really need to keep that store shopping bag for someday?
No. That’s where clutter comes from. From the multitude of pretty shopping bags, and sturdy boxes, that we have good intentions to reuse, but just end up forgotten about at the back of the closet. I know that for me personally, the delusion of “someday” really means never. I am never going to head out the door, stop myself to grab a reusable vinyl shopping bag, fill it with the day’s sundries, and go about my day. Because I already have my actual, useful, sturdy, quality bag that I specifically chose for the activities in my life.
So, friends, I encourage you to let go of those someday bags and boxes, and make room for what you’d actually like to enjoy in your space. Space is a finite thing, and it should be used wisely.
The Top 5 Items a Professional Home Organizer would Declutter
Do you ever wonder what if a Professional Home Organizer, like myself, showed up at your house right now there’s a handful of things they’d immediately throw out without a second thought. Interested in what those things are? Keep reading!
Item #1: Flimsy Kitchen Utensils
You know what I’m talking about. That spatula you bought from IKEA when you moved into your first apartment. Promotional mugs. The cheap wine openers you’ve collected from holiday parties. The knife you got at Target that bends every time you try to slice an apple. If the utensil doesn’t serve its purpose…then it no longer serves you. Time to go!
Item #2: Clothes that don’t fit
Like everyone on the planet, I have been many different sizes in my life. If my team and I have organized your closet, then you know that we call these clothes “bullies”. We always ask our clients, “why would you want bullies in your closet? I want my wardrobe to make me feel good about the way I look today.” Even if I get to some magic number someday, it’s going to look different. Because time & gravity.
Item #3: Items that have never been fixed
Have you ever had the intention to fix a broken toy, mend a garment, fix an appliance and then life gets in the way? Before you know it, 6 months have gone by. The item is either long forgotten about, or has been replaced by now effectively making it “clutter”. Let it go and move forward.
Item #4: Long Ago Expired Items
The expiration umbrella has a lot of items under it. I’m talking food in the fridge, spices in the cabinet, medications in the bathroom, even makeup on your vanity. If it’s expired, or you didn’t even like the product, toss it. If not for the sake of decluttering, then for the sake of bacteria.
Item #5: Paperwork & cards
We live in a magical time where we can stop paperwork from flooding our kitchen counters. Sign up for electronic billing, statements, news. Any time you have the paperless option, take it!
Go through your file cabinet and toss (or shred) expired policies, long ago paid bills, and even greeting cards that are just signed “from Bob”. Listen… if Bob couldn’t be bothered to write a meaningful message about how special you are to him, it’s ok to let that greeting card go. Keep the ones with meaningful messages in a memory box. If there are cards from people who are no longer in your life, it’s ok to let the card go to the wayside.
It can be daunting when you start the huge task of decluttering your home. However, there are some things that can be tossed (or recycled) on sight. If you need additional assistance with decluttering your home, we’re here to help. Happy decluttering!
A life well labelled- My love/hate relationship with Cricut Joy
I didn’t want to love my Cricut Joy. I didn’t even want to BUY the thing in the first place. As a traditional stamps, ink, and paper crafter for 15+ years, the thought of introducing that kind of technology into my craft room was enough to make me cringe. If you’ve met me, you know how much technology just thrills me. I’m a bit old fashioned. I get my news from an actual newspaper delivered on my doorstep.
“The cost!”, I thought. “The wasted material!”, I whined. And yet, low and behold, here I sit in my craft room typing this blog post with my Cricut Joy sitting next to me, smiling smugly at me on my desk in a place of honor. It is, of course, labelled Organized Jill. Of course. Why wouldn’t it be. I am a self-proclaimed Cricut cynic turned Cricut booster, shouting from the rooftops in FB professional organizer groups about how I can’t imagine life without this precious machine.
And so it began. My love affair with all things vinyl labels. One label quickly became three. Three labels became eleven. And eleven labels became thirty seven labels… Even my dog has 3 personalized containers that proudly state that they are his treats and his doggie overnight-camp food in bold, vinyl lettering.
The weekend that this glorious creature arrived on my doorstep from Amazon, my mother-in-law was visiting. The two of us settled in for an afternoon of laughing, loving, and labelling. A lifelong seamstress, she too had oodles of bits, buttons, and bobs that cried out to be labelled. Of course, I sent her home with a very long sheet of custom vinyl labels to bring locational happiness to her sewing studio.
So why the change of heart. As someone who genuinely feels that not everything needs a label to know what’s inside (ooo that was deep…), I have to say that the presence of the vinyl wording has been a soothing and welcoming addition to my pantry as well as to clients’ pantries. Its that little extra something that makes me appreciate and truly value the items that are in my pantry and recognize the nourishment.
The Ugly Truth About Organizing
I can’t begin to tell you how many of my clients have absolutely DREADED their organizing sessions. The fear, the anxiety, the guilt, the embarrassment. You name the feeling, I’ve heard it from my clients. Stick with me though, I promise this story is full of happy endings.
I’ll even give you a few spoilers of some of my favorite reactions before digging in to the ugly truth. Here are some of the things that my clients have said during their sessions:
“It feels so much better in here mentally.”
“That was like marriage counseling!”
“That was like therapy, but now my closet is also organized.”
OK, now to the nitty gritty truth. Getting organized is NOT like the shows you see on tv where the beautifully made up organizer who never gets sweaty hauling heavy items out of your closet shows up at your house with three medium sized bins labelled DONATE, TRASH, RECYCLE. You would be surprised how many times I’ve been asked if I bring my magic bins to organizing sessions. And my answer is always the same. No. I bring trash bags. Lots and lots of trash bags. Trash bags for trash. Trash bags for donations. Airplane size mini trash bags for hyperventilating…
In all seriousness though, going through a lifetime of belongings is an emotional process. It can be filled with challenges and unexpected emotions as you uncover items that may have been long ago forgotten. Digging out a mountain of belongings to get to the back and bottom of the pile can be both scary and therapeutic at the same time. There are going to be conflicting emotions at play.
But, and here’s the happy part of the story, the results are always the same. Relief. Joy. Feelings of freedom. Letting go of the physical clutter has released the mental clutter that was attached to it and provided incredible feelings of empowerment and strength where negative feelings once resided.
Somewhere in the Vortex between Simplicity & Productivity
Let me start off with a little spoiler. I am someone who finds abundance in simplicity. There are so many pressures today to keep up, to be productive, to look like you’re being productive, to give and give and give of yourself… it can be exhausting!
In Professional Home Organization, there are incredible organizers who specialize in Productivity. I am not one of them. That is not my core personal value system nor is it something that I buy in to. I honor and cherish simplicity over productivity every day. Now, is this to say that I am sitting around being lazy and hoping for the best results? Absolutely not. What it means is I don’t get lost in the minutiae of the idea that being busy all the time is important. That kind of burden can be so harmful for your mental health.
When I hear about people working 18 hour days, losing the safe boundary between work life and home life when the two have been thrown together due to the period of great unpleasantness (I am referring to COVID-19, just in case you are reading this much, much later than I’m posting it), and feeling stress and anxiety as the chaos in their homes builds up around them, it breaks my heart.
I understand that we all have responsibilities. We have to go to work, we have to pay the bills, do laundry, cook dinner, get the kids to soccer. But, there is so much more to life and living than the “have to’s” of the world. What if there was something that could be done to reduce all the “have to’s”? If figuring out how to navigate life during a pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need to make time and space for what truly matters most.
What are some of the have-to’s that you can live without? Who decides how we should spend our precious “free” time? Who wouldn’t gladly trade dusting, storing, and caring for items that we don’t use or love for more free time? How can we use the blessing of technology and automation to help streamline some of the day-to-day operations of a household? How can simplified spaces, reduced clutter, and reduced decision fatigue impact your daily activities?
Am I telling everyone to get on the minimalist train going full speed ahead? Absolutely not. I am not one for extremes. I am about finding a balance in your home that is right for you. (I could talk ad-nauseum about my opinions on minimalism, but I’ll save that for another blog post)
So what is the abundance in simplicity that I referenced at the beginning of this blog post about? This is different for everyone. For me, my balance came when I realized that I was only wearing 8 of my 15 sweaters and the remainder hadn’t seen the light of day in a very long time. I asked myself what the likelihood of me choosing a sweater that I hadn’t chosen in two winter seasons would be, and the answer was zero. I dutifully bagged up the unloved sweaters, donated them to a nearby charity organization, and removed the burden of having to care for, store, and dig through the excess sweaters. Less daily choices also helped to reduce my decision fatigue. All day long, we make decisions that can impact our days or even have longterm effects. For me, having a few less sweaters to choose from was one less thing that I had to stress over.
Think about what you can do to create a little more simplicity in your space, in your home, and in your life. What can you do today to make that change? Small steps make a big difference if you just put one foot in front of the other.
A House is Like a Garden
With the spring planting season soon upon us, you’ve no doubt spent some time outside preparing your flower beds and gardens: removing leaves, clearing out fallen branches, and pulling weeds. But just as our plants need an ordered space to thrive, so too do we as people need an organized home. Spring
offers the opportunity to not only clean your cottage, but a chance to clear your clutter.
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify where that clutter is. Take for instance the junk drawer.
Somewhere along the line, we collectively decided that all kitchens should have what is affectionately referred to as the “junk drawer”. But why do we insist on keeping items that we’ve deemed as “junk”? Why not use the space productively to store items that we need to have within convenient reach? Do the kids like to color in the kitchen? You can easily turn the junk drawer into a small art supply space for
crayons and markers. Now, expand that concept beyond the junk drawer. What other spaces in your
home could serve a better purpose instead of being filled with items we don’t care for or need.
Throw out the rules when it comes to what should live where and instead set up your home in a way
that works for you and your family. Reduce the distance from the storage area of an item to the usage
area for the item. For example, one of my clients exits her home on a daily basis through the basement
out to the garage. Everyday, she was carrying her shoes up two flights of stairs to be stored in her
bedroom closet just to bring the same pair of shoes back down the two flights of stairs the next day to
head back out to her office. By relocating her shoe storage system to a freshly decluttered closet in the
basement, she reduced the amount of time spent each day moving the shoes up and down throughout
the house. A conveniently placed hook nearby the shoe storage created a simple “drop zone” for her
purse and jacket.
So how can you get started today? Think about the amount of time spent each day looking for an item,
how many items have to be moved out of the way to access the one item in need, and how many of
those moved items you can probably live without. Imagine how easy it would be to flow throughout your
home if it was simplified and decluttered.
One tip that I share with my clients is to start small. For instance, instead of decluttering the entire
bathroom, declutter the shower. Remove empty product bottles, dull razors, unraveling loofahs, old
toothbrushes, and forgotten bath toys. Making a big impact on a small area can often inspire you to
continue the decluttering process.
If you’re not sure where to begin, or how to go about the sorting, decluttering, and organizing process,
or need an extra pair of hands and a fresh perspective, a professional home organizer can be an
invaluable investment that will pay dividends for years to come as you enjoy a soothing, simplified space.
I hope your spring will be a wonderful time spent enjoying your home, and your garden, without the
stress of weeds and clutter.
Meet Leah & Jill- Stunning Design Meets Smart Organization
Leah Mims, BA, EPS, RESA, COS
Hi, my name is Leah and I am passionate about all things having to do with the home! As a child, I watched my father design and build our first home. I learned from my mother the love of making a house a home where all were invited and lots of memories were made. I have always been more of a homebody. Even though I enjoy working and traveling outside of the home, I love returning home and feeling comforted and surrounded by beauty and things that I love. I believe that all people deserve a luxurious home. Luxury is what makes you happy not about how much something costs.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and did several counseling jobs prior to getting married and having children. I was fortunate to marry a handy and skilled husband who makes all my home design ideas a reality. For the past 16 years, our family has moved more times than we had ever planned. As a result, we got good at buying houses within our budget that we remodeled to fit our needs and lifestyle. As a creative person who has always been able to see past ugly and envision how something could be transformed, I learned that not all people have this skill. For years I had been helping friends and family with their homes, and they encouraged me to follow my passion and start a business. I got formal training and took certification courses in redesign, home staging, paint color, and most recently home organization. I founded Tailored for You Interiors, LLC in 2017 and have loved helping hundreds of clients transform their homes. I have a talent of shopping a client’s home for items they already own, bringing in a few needed items, and creating new and inspiring spaces.
In my spare time, I enjoy working on my own home, spending time with family, shopping at local antique markets, and reading books and magazines about interior design.
Jill Moore, AIOP
If we haven’t met in person yet, my name is Jill and I love to organize houses. So much so that I started my own home organization business. When I’m not organizing, thinking about organizing, or talking about organizing, I make greeting cards for my nearest and dearest, do Zumba, and spend time with my husband and dog. That’s me in a nutshell. (Help, I’m in a nutshell) Also, I make corny Austin Powers’ references.
I fondly remember the first time I had the urge to become organized. It was in high school after being unceremoniously dumped between class periods that lit a creative fire that manifested itself as the “great bedroom cleanout” of 1998. That passion for organization followed me from my childhood home to my dorm rooms at Ohio University, into my first apartment, and to the subsequently larger spaces I’ve called home with my husband of 16 years and our beloved dogs.
After spending 15 years in Virginia Beach, we decided it was time for a new adventure which is what brought us to the Triad. Almost immediately upon arrival here, I heard that inner creative fire calling to me again. I knew that it was time to take the skills and lessons that I had learned and honed for over 20 years of nesting and organizing for countless friends and family and launch my home organization business.
Now I’m here, chasing my dreams, organizing the Triad, sharing the love of home organization, & living the organized life.