How to Maintain an Organized Space

Have you had your home professionally organized? You may be wondering, “How do I keep this magic alive?” During your organization session, you likely had systems implemented to keep the space in good shape. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, spaces become cluttered and disorganized over time. The reality is we actually live in our homes and use all our things, right? Maintaining the organized space will require an ongoing effort and a commitment to the cause. So how do we do that?

5 Ways to Maintain Your Organized Space

  1. Create a Routine
    • Establish a regular, consistent time to revisit and refresh the space. Some spaces, like your kitchen & pantry, may require daily attention.
  2. Designated Homes
    • Return items in your home to their proper places after each use.
  3. Declutter Regularly
    • Set aside time as needed to consistently declutter your spaces. This can be monthly or even seasonally.
  4. One In, One Out
    • For every new item that comes in, one must go out. Putting this rule into practice will help prevent clutter so you can spend less time decluttering. This is also the difference between getting organized and staying organized
  5. Review and Adjust
    • Life is ever changing so be flexible. Allow room for adjustments of your organizing systems needed.

– Pro-Tip from Organized Jill –

I like to “put the kitchen to bed” every day. In the evening, I make sure the dishwasher is loaded, the sinks are emptied and sanitized, the countertops are wiped clean, and any trash is disposed of. Having a clean slate to start the next morning fresh has such a calming effect.

Existing in an organized home environment is essential for productivity, mental clarity, and overall well-being. If you establish good habits and incorporate good strategies, you can be successful at maintaining your space. Stay focused on your goals and celebrate your progress along the way.

If you need a hand maintaining your organized space, we’re here to help! 
Are you local to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and surrounding areas?
Contact Organized Jill for a complimentary consultation.

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. After all, a house is like a garden.

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 with a few simple organizers. 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.

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 Elephant in the Room

I would like to discuss a very hot topic, the metaphorical elephant in the room, 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 a pantry like this before, here is one picture for you to check out. This is one section of a much (much, much) larger pantry. 

An organized kitchen pantry - Organized Jill, professional home organizing, Winston Salem North Carolina and surrounding areas.

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. (Here’s that elephant in the room again) 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. If you need help with your decluttering & organizing 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.

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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. If you need help with your decluttering & organizing 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.

Pantry Happiness

Professional Home Organizer Winston Salem

Sweet sunshine and pantry happiness! 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!

My Top 5 Favorite & Inexpensive Storage Containers to Achieve Pantry Happiness

Product #1OXO 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 #5Stackable 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. 

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It’s not always easy to maximize the space you have in your kitchen pantry. Luckily, the right storage products can assist you in doing just that while also allowing you to organize all your pantry items. If you need help getting your pantry organized, we would be happy to work with you! 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.

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.