Tuesday, January 31, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 21


We have finally made it to the last day of the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge! Are you as excited as me? I sure hope so!

If you haven't finished all of the projects by now, don't worry. Keep working as hard and as often as you can until it gets done. I know organizing takes time and can be, well, difficult physically, mentally, and emotionally, especially when you are experiencing a significant change in your life. Don't give up. Keep working hard and you'll get there! I promise!

DAY 21: Staying Organized

Now that you have completely (or almost) organized your home, you need to stay organized. Just because you finished the hard work, doesn't mean you get to take a break. Organization takes practice and maintenance long after you have finished your initial organization. Here are 10 easy tips to keep you organized!

1. Utilize lists and your planner!

I didn't ask you to put together a planner for nothing! Use it! Make lists of everything you want and need to do and start planning times to do it. This will help you stay on top of clutter and up keep around your home because you have a designated time to do it!


2. Keep your planner updated.

Make sure ALL appointments, events, dates, and everything else is written down. This will help you schedule times to work on keeping up with your house and schedule time for you to reward yourself.

3. Menu plan.

I know I haven't touched on this before, but planning your menus for each day reduced MENTAL clutter. Mental clutter often manifests itself into physical clutter if not dealt with. Manage your mental clutter by planning meals and utilizing your planner and lists.

4. Never leave a room empty handed.

We tend to bring things into a room that doesn't belong there several times a day. When you leave a room, bring that item (or another) with you that doesn't belong and put it back. I make a pile at the end of the stairs for items that need to be returned upstairs and bring several items with me each time I go up.

5. Assign chores.

Don't have kids? It doesn't matter. Assign your husband or wife chores or anyone else living with you. The burden is not yours alone. The entire family needs to be involved in maintaining your organization.


6. Create a donation box.

Keep this box somewhere out of the way, but assessable. Every week place a couple items in the box. Sometimes we don't realize we don't need an item until we start utilizing new systems. Having a box allows you to remove the item from the original location and doesn't clutter other areas. Donate the items once a month or sell them.

7. Create a "Gone" box.

This box will be for items that need to leave the house immediately but is not trash. This will include items you need to return to a friend, mailed, or returned. Add items as needed.

8. Do a 10 minute pick up everyday.

Time doesn't matter, but the end of the day is best. Pick up and return items out of place for 10 minutes every day to maintain clutter.

9. Adjust your attitude.

Don't beat yourself up if things get a little out of control. Life happens! Its okay!

10. Reward yourself.

Need I say more?


I hope this series has been helpful. I know I have had fun doing it and I look forward to running the series again next year. If you have any comments, suggestions, or advice please send them my way. I would love to hear from my readers!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife


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Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1
My Planner
Day 6: Magazine Clutter
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge
Day 8: Finishing Off the Freezer
Day 9: An Organized Pantry
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 10: Decluttering Cabinets
Day 11 & 12: The Laundry Monster and the Bathroom Sink
Day 13 & 14: Bedrooms and Closets
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 3
Day 15: Your Living Space Clutter
Day 16 & 17: The Closet Monster
Day 18 & 19: The Monster Called a Garage
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 4 
Day 20: Organizing Your Basement 

Monday, January 30, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 20


Wow! Can you believe we are nearing the last two days of the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge?! I am so excited. For all of you that have participated, keep up the good work. You have one more major day of organizing before its all done! Isn't that a nice feeling?

So, did you finish your garage? If not, that's okay. Keep working on it. Remember to use that planner. Scheduling out times to organize will hold you accountable.

On to day 20!


DAY 20: Organizing Your Basement

source
This is another extensive project for most of you. However, it is no different than any other room in your house. The advice is exactly the same as it was for every other room. Start small. Try to focus on one area at a time. My mom always started in the back corner near the freezer in our old house. She would slowly work her way around the room, counter clockwise until she had finished everything.

Instead of dragging everything out, simply go through each item where it already is. Open a box, sort it, reorganize it, label it, and place it back on the shelf. where you got it I find using inventory sheets for each box works best when storing decorations and what not. That way I don't have to open every box to find the decorations I'm looking for since its on the outside for me to read!

Make sure you do go through every box. Unfortunately mice, rats, and other critters like to nest in boxes that aren't used more than 1 month out of the year. I remember my mother opening all her Easter decorations and finding them ruined because a mouse decided to start a family in them. This is a good time to check to see if there are mice nesting in your stuff and if they are, cleaning out your basement should help you find where they are coming in at. If not, set up humane traps to catch and release them across town.

MarthaStewart.com
This is also a great time to get rid of those cardboard boxes and switch to sturdy, waterproof, plastic tubs. This will not only keep the critters out, but also ensure your belongings don't experience other damages, such as mold and water.

Once you have gone through and labeled everything, you can reorganize where your boxes are. Put like items together. I know when we pack things up quickly, they often get separated. Now is the time to reunite items.

And have fun with it! Involve your family. Turn on some music and dance around as you sort and clean. There is no reason why this shouldn't be fun!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

 ------------------------------------

Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1
My Planner
Day 6: Magazine Clutter
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge
Day 8: Finishing Off the Freezer
Day 9: An Organized Pantry
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 10: Decluttering Cabinets
Day 11 & 12: The Laundry Monster and the Bathroom Sink
Day 13 & 14: Bedrooms and Closets
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 3
Day 15: Your Living Space Clutter
Day 16 & 17: The Closet Monster
Day 18 & 19: The Monster Called a Garage
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 4 

Friday, January 27, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 18 & 19


Welcome back to the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge. Did you clean out your closets? How did it go? Was it hard? I'm sure it was. If you haven't finished going through your closets, its okay. Keep working. Take your time. Don't stress yourself out.

Now on to Day 18 & 19!

DAY 18 & 19: The Monster Called a Garage

Now I do not personally have a garage...yet. I'm a little upset about this, but we live in a townhouse and we don't get a garage here. However, for a lot of you, a garage is a very normal part of your life and you use it for storage. However, it sometimes, and often, ends up being a catch all area for everything that doesn't have a home in your closet or house.

My dad is notorious for cluttering the garage with tools, scrap wood, and other things he picks up from jobs. It drives my mom nuts. In our old house, it got so bad my dad couldn't pull his truck into the garage.

I can't offer you any magical tips on how to clean out and organize your garage. Like every other room in your house, you need to take a critical eye to every item in your garage. Do exactly what you have done in your other rooms in your garage. Sort items, throw items away, give items away, etc, etc. Spend at least an hour going through your garage everyday for the next 3 days. Hopefully by Sunday you'll be done.

Utilize all your storage space in your garage. Overhead bins, shelving, and closets are a great way to organize and hide items.

I wish everyone the best of luck this weekend. If you don't have a garage like me, spend the weekend catching up on other projects.

Want more ideas on how to clean up your garage? Check out my Pinterest board labeled "Organization."

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife



 ------------------------------------

Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 
Day 8: Finishing Off the Freezer 
Day 9: An Organized Pantry
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 10: Decluttering Cabinets
Day 11 & 12: The Laundry Monster and the Bathroom Sink
Day 13 & 14: Bedrooms and Closets
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 3 
Day 15: Your Living Space Clutter 
Day 16 & 17: The Closet Monster  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 16 and 17


Welcome back to the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge! Did you manage to finish organizing and decluttering your living room today? I hope so. As I mentioned, there wasn't much for me to personally do. I'm going to throw away some old bottles tomorrow and hope to pick up a DVD binder sooner rather than later. Other than that, I have nothing to do in my living room. Shocking, I know. Haha!

But, on to the next two days!

DAY 16 & 17: The Closet Monster

This is a beast plaguing every home in the world. Unfortunately the only way to rid your home of this monster is to organize. It hates organization and cleaning and will run from your home crying like a baby with its tail tucked between its legs. I'm talking about the Closet Monster.

Closets end up being a catch all for all those items we can't find a home for in the rest of our house. Its honestly time to stop this and put a system in place to prevent it.

Over the next two days I want you to completely remove all the items from your closets. Like every other area of your home, sort each item into categories: keep, donate, trash, and file later. More often than not you are going to find items that don't belong in your closet; put them away after you have reorganized your closet.

Utilize storage containers. Decorative boxes and tubs that are labeled are a great way to organize and keep things organized. In areas where you can, organize shelves by categories, grouping like items together.

Utilize the door for storage if you are able to. Hanging storage bins provide lots of extra storage and allows you to better organize.

Once you have organized your closets and utilized all the space you can, work on maintaining your organization. Each month, go through and reorganize your closet if you have to. If you can stay on top of it, keep up with the organization every time you use the closet. Make sure your family understands your system and is willing to work with you to keep in organized in clean.

There isn't much more advice I can give you on closets since everyone has a different system. Organize your closet to suit your families needs.

Need more help? Check out my Pinterest board "Organization" for more ideas!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife


 ------------------------------------

Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 
Day 8: Finishing Off the Freezer 
Day 9: An Organized Pantry
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 10: Decluttering Cabinets
Day 11 & 12: The Laundry Monster and the Bathroom Sink
Day 13 & 14: Bedrooms and Closets
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 3 
Day 15: Your Living Space Clutter 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 15


Welcome back to the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge. I decided not to post yesterday simply to give you more time with your bedrooms and bedroom closets. I know for a lot of you, cleaning out those rooms will be worse than the garage and basement combined, and that's okay. That is why I gave you guys the extra day. If you finished over the weekend, well, congratulations and hope you enjoyed a day off.

Other than going through our clothes, our rooms and closets are done. It feels good to get rid of a lot of that stuff. Seriously...I did find that one of my action figures I have is not worth over $70. I decided I'm going to continue holding on to them and watch their value grow. I'd rather not jump the gun and lose out later. We don't need the money that bad.

On to day 15!

DAY 15: Your Living Space Clutter

bhg.com
 I know clearing clutter is trying for a lot of you, physically AND emotionally. Getting rid of things is hard on a lot of people, so today, after the bedroom ordeals, I want to give you an easier task. Sort through your living room.

Personally, there isn't clutter, at least not much, in our living room. The clutter that is here is neatly put away out of site. I already started on my living room when I decided to get rid of some books last week. I have a small shelf that has a small  collection and decided to pull only 3 books from it. I still have a dresser to go through and I would like to put all of our DVDs in a one case and store the cases (I am a collector so I won't get rid of them...just safely store them else where) to free up space in our entertainment center. I plan on "downsizing" our entertainment center and the 200 DVD cases aren't going to make it easier.

Your living room shouldn't be much harder to declutter than mine. If it is its because there are a lot of items that simply do NOT belong there taking up space. Your living room should be an expression of your family as a whole, not a war zone of toys, papers, dishes, trash, and nick knacks.

bhg.com
Today I would like you to sort through your living room clutter. I'd also like you to take a look at your decorations and ask yourself, "Are my decorations a reflection of my family as a whole?" If not, get rid of them. You can acquire new things that match your family better later. As Tess from Magical Housekeeping says, its okay to do with out for a time while you get rid of things that don't bring positive energy to your home. I know I hate our kitchen table....so I'm selling it. We won't have a kitchen table for a while, but that's okay. We can do with out. I want you to do the same thing. Donate, sell, or trash every items that doesn't reflect you or your family and doesn't bring positive energy into the home.

If an item makes you feel guilty, get rid of it. This means that ugly figurine your great grandmother gave you years ago that you just hate. Its okay to get rid of it. Someone else will give is a much better home than you would.

Today shouldn't be a hard day. So take your time and enjoy freeing yourself of needless clutter!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife


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Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 
Day 8: Finishing Off the Freezer 
Day 9: An Organized Pantry
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 10: Decluttering Cabinets
Day 11 & 12: The Laundry Monster and the Bathroom Sink
Day 13 & 14: Bedrooms and Closets
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 3 

Friday, January 20, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 13 & 14


So, did everyone have a nice break? As you saw on Wednesday, I also Blacked Out my page in protest of SOPA and PIPA. Many young bloggers, like myself, would be targeted by the entertainment industry simply for mentioning anything from a song lyric to a movie title. I do not support the government interfering with the fundamental structure of the internet, and I hope you agree with me. But back to the challenge.

Tuesday I asked you guys to go through your bathrooms and laundry rooms. How did it go? Guess who got caught up with other things and hasn't touched her bathroom yet! Me! I did the laundry room last night, but I need to do the bathroom today. However, I have a great excuse! Yesterday the Mortician and I worked on our spare bedroom and its closet, which, is sort of like our basement because its where we put everything that doesn't otherwise have a home. Pretty crazy, huh? We ended up getting rid of 4 boxes of stuff yesterday. I am currently trying to sell stuff I placed in a 5th box and will be listing the rest of the items for sale this weekend on Craigslist.com and eBay.

Now on to days 13 and 14!

DAY 13 & 14: Bedrooms and Closets

bhg.com
This is actually going to be a pretty big job for most of you, but we'll make it through this. I suggest you start in the closet. Do not work on any closets other than the bedroom closets. Do not work on any other rooms other than your bedroom. You will be tempted to organize other areas during the process, but please don't. Stick to your designated area.

So, start in the closet. Pull everything out if you must. Go through EVERY item. Do not skip an item because it is in a group. Touch every item and ask yourself if you really need it, use it, or whatever. You have 30 seconds to decide if an item is worth keeping. No more. If you can't justify keeping it, get rid of it. What qualifies as getting rid of? Items that no longer fit, that you don't feel good in, that you forgot you had, never use, are broken, damaged, or otherwise useless, and of course trash.

If you end up wanting to keep an item, you need to ask yourself where it belongs. If it doesn't belong in the closet then you need to place it in a box or bag to be filed later. I would say go find a home for it, but if you do, you'll get distracted, so file it for later.

bhg.com
Once you have finished your closets, and yes, I mean every bedroom closet, move on to other areas of the bedroom. Fortunately for us, our master bedroom is just a closet and a bed. We don't have any hidden areas where clutter can build up, so attacking our master is pretty easy. The office/spare room, however, had a ton of places. We went through everything yesterday, each of us picking a different area to tackle. Divide the room up by function. For example, the spare room has a desk for the Mortician, a book case for storing books and reading, and a game center for gaming and relaxing. We tackled each of these areas at different times since they are different areas of the room and have different functions. We managed to part with a great deal of stuff and find homes for items we hadn't unpacked yet. Use the same process you used in the closet.

I realize to some of you, getting rid of items is going to be hard, but you can do it. If you can't decide if you want an item after 30 seconds, its probably best you get rid of it. Something a dead relative gave you? Don't feel guilty for giving it away to a better home. You do not need to hold on to an item because you feel guilty. That will in fact make things worse for you mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you really don't want to throw something away that you can't decide on, put it in the "File Later" box and deal with it at another time.

Still finding this difficult? Bring an outside person into the mix. A close friend has no attachments to your stuff and will be able to unbiasedly help you get rid of or keep items.

Don't worry about doing this all in one day. Instead, spend an hour on one area and take a break. I know getting rid of stuff can be mentally and emotionally draining. I find it liberating, but the Mortician actually finds it destructive to his OCD habits. As he put it yesterday, if he had it his way, he would hold on to every bill, paper, game, and book he got his hands on. However, he realizes what I am doing is for the best, and reluctantly works with me when we clear clutter from his areas. Spread your organizing out over a couple of days. When you finish a closet and don't feel like moving on, go ahead and drop you items off at Goodwill or price them to sell. It'll make you feel better.

Good luck!
<3The Mortician's Wife


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All Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 
Day 8: Finishing Off the Freezer 
Day 9: An Organized Pantry
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 10: Decluttering Cabinets
Day 11 & 12: The Laundry Monster and the Bathroom Sink

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 11 & 12


Welcome back to "21 Days to a More Organized Home!" Did you manage to attack your cupboards yesterday? As I mentioned yesterday, I actually did mine in a fit of rage and depression over the weekend so I do not have any before pictures, but I do have after ones! These are not all of my cupboards, but just a few to show you what I did.

How did you organize your cupboards? Any pictures? I would love to see them, especially if you have before and after pictures.



Now on to days 11 and 12.

DAY 11 & 12: The Laundry Monster and the Bathroom Sink

Since I am a day behind, I decided to throw these two tasks together in one post. Your Laundry room and bathrooms tend to become neglected as we focus on more "important" rooms. However, they need just as much attention as your kitchen or living room does. You bathroom gets you started in the morning so if its cluttered, your day will feel the same way. Your laundry room sets you up for future success. If its so cluttered you can't find your detergent, count on your future being cluttered as well.

Most of the time we don't even realize this is occurring. However, subliminal cues are being sent to our minds constantly from our surroundings, changing our behaviors, patterns, and influencing our lives to a great extent. So today, I would like you to focus on cleaning these two areas up. It shouldn't take too long, unless you get distracted.

HGTV.com
Laundry rooms have a habit of being a catch all location for crap we don't know what to do with. Today, go through all the items in your laundry room and ask yourself if it belongs there. What should be in your laundry room?

1. Cleaners and treaters. DUH!

2. Old Towels and rags. Clean up messes, etc.

3. Drying rack.

4. Iron and Ironing boards (if you even use it.) A note on irons and ironing boards. If you don't use them at least once a month, get rid of it. You don't need it taking up space. Most people I know have these items and NEVER pull them out. I will be getting rid of ours today. Worried you might need it? Buy a dewrinkle spray! Works just as well. Furthermore, shirts never look as wrinkled on as they do on the hangers....at least in my case.

5. If needed, your cleaning supplies. My laundry room is a closet so I do not store my cleaning stuff here.

6. Laundry baskets and dirty laundry...if you have room. We store our dirty laundry in laundry baskets in our closets. I don't have room in my laundry room for this.

Anything else needs to go....NOW. There is no need in keeping excess junk in your laundry room. Furthermore, this is usually junk you NEVER use, so get rid of it.

What about bathrooms? Here are some Do's and Don'ts

MarthaStewart.com
Do....
       get rid of old makeup
       store care products you use on a daily basis
       get rid of stuff you are allergic too
       toss lotions, perfumes, and other "gifts" you got but never use
       store beauty products in a drier place
       change towels out often
       wash bath mats ever week
       cover tooth brushes or keep the toliet lid closed when you flush

MarthaStewart.com
Don't....
       store medicines or vitamins in the bathroom
       hang on to stuff because you feel guilty
       keep items that have a little bit in the bottom. If you haven't used it yet, you won't later
       store cleaning items near care products

Use baskets to neatly store items. Sort by type and category. Label make up with the date it was opened and toss regularly.

As I said, cleaning up these two areas should be pretty easy. At most, allot 2 hours of your time to these areas.

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife


 ------------------------------------

Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 
Day 8: Finishing off the Freezer 
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 9: An Organized Pantry 
Day 10: Decluttering Cabinets

Monday, January 16, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 10


Welcome back to the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge! How did organizing your pantry go? Did you inventory your stock, discard old items, and reorganize your system? I did!

I am currently still in the process of acquiring some more storage jars. However, until that point, my pantry is MUCH more organized than it was previously. Want to take a look! Well, here you go!


Of course there are some things you can't see that are behind the door on the right side. However, I restacked my cans in a tray and put my whole wheat flour in a jar as well. I couldn't get a great picture of the entire pantry because it is an awkward one, but that's okay!

On to Day 10!

DAY 10: Decluttering Cabinets

This is often an overlooked problem area that tends to sneak up on us. I can't give you a ton of advice on organizing your cabinets because each person likes things to be put away differently. However, I can give you tips on the best locations for things. You can get inspired by viewing my Pinterest Board labeled "Organization" to find some inspiration. However, I did post several great ideas in my Pin It! post, so you can look there as well.

So where to put things?

Glasses: Near the fridge or sink depending on what you use your glasses for the most. This way you can easily grab a glass, get a drink and go.

Plates: Near the stove/oven. This way, when you are cooking, you can easily grab out a plate when food cooks faster than anticpated!

Bakeware: Store together, but it doesn't have to be near the oven. Why? Because baking isn't something most of us do everyday and therefore the cabinet space should be reserved for other cooking items, like pots and pans.

Spices: Above the stove or in a nearby cupboard or drawer. This way you can quickly add the spices to your meals and put them away after use. This also aids in adding last minute spices.

Pots and Pans: Near the over/stove. This will allow you to easily prepare food without running around your kitchen.

Electronics (ie coffee pot, microwave, blender, etc): In an extra cupboard out of the way and preferably BELOW the counter instead of above it. This will help you free up counter space and won't use valuable space near your stove or fridge.

Utensils: Something you use often like a flipper? Store it neatly on your counter. Forks and knives? In a drawer near the plates.

Everything else? Store it out of the way. If it is something you use often, make sure it is as close to the area that you use it the most instead of far away. Group like items. Declutter and rearrange your cupboards often to prevent them getting out of control.

Simple as that!

Today I would like you to go through ALL of your cabinets. Get rid of items you haven't used in the past 3 months or don't plan on using. I got rid of bowls, a rice maker, fondu set, old pots, a Slap Chop, and extra knives and silverware we NEVER use. It freed up a lot of space for the new items we got for Christmas (a new glassware bake set). This shouldn't take you very long.

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife


 ------------------------------------

Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 
Day 8: Finishing off the Freezer 
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 2
Day 9: An Organized Pantry

Friday, January 13, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 9


Welcome back to the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge! Did you enjoy your day off yesterday? I sure did! Did you manage to organize your freezer and fridge? I would show you my freezer, but there is really nothing in it. It is barer than my fridge. I know that might sound crazy, but I don't buy a lot of frozen foods and when we do, we eat them quickly.

Today we will move on to other areas in the kitchen. Did you come up with a plan or ideal kitchen? Pick up anything to get started like canisters, trays, etc?

Well, how about we get started?

DAY 9: An Organized Pantry

The secret weapon of any kitchen is an organized pantry. A well planned and organized pantry says time, money, and stress. Your pantry should act as a reserve as well as a place to begin meal planning.

A beginners pantry should focus on convenience, but it should also contain back-up products. For each open item, you should have at least one unopened item, depending on the item of course. We don't keep an opened bag of cookies and an unopened one in reserve? Why? Because cookies are a luxury, not a staple. Only staple foods should have a back up. A good first goal for your pantry is to have a three-day supply of food for your family plus one. Of course if you have a stock pile, you can go above and beyond this beginners goal. We have enough food in our house to last us three extra days after our initial food runs out.

If you would like to expand your pantry, the next level is 2 weeks and contains substitues for fresh foods, such as dried fruits, canned vegetables, and powdered milk. More robust panties meet long-term food needs, such as a a couple months to over a year. I have seen pantries containing enough food to last a family over a year in case of job loss. I don't have room for that, but one day I hope I am able to secure a stock pile.


So what goes into your pantry? Anything that you buy, use, and can store. If you have young children, cold cereal, formula, and kid friendly snacks will be key items. Dedicated baker? Flour, sugar, powdered milk, etc will adorn your pantry. There is no comprehensive list on the market that will cater to your families need like you general grocery list. For us, I have rice, flour, potatoes, green beans, powdered mushroom gravies, pastas, sauces, and cereal stock piled. We are currently starting to run low on certain items, so I will be checking for sales to replenish our stock very soon.

The key to an organized pantry is not only having everything readily available when you need it, but also to know exactly what is in your pantry. I have a pretty good idea of what is in my pantry right now, but I know there are things in there that I am not aware of. I am notorious for not keeping an inventory of my pantry, which is something I plan on changing this year. Do you keep an inventory? If not, that is one of the first steps you need to take.

Before you begin organizing, pull EVERYTHING out of your pantry. Toss old foods, donate canned goods you never plan on using, and inventory everything you are keeping. I am currently using this free pantry inventory check list, but I am going to switch to this one as soon as I am able to print it. I like that the second one has divided categories. You can also create your own version on Excel or another like program. Whatever works best for you. Laminate your inventory and use dry erase markers for a greener option.


Next, group like items and these like items from back to front (newest products in the back and oldest in the front). Breakfast foods should be kept together, pastas with sauces, canned goods, flour and baking supplies, grains and beans, etc. You want to make sure each item is easily accessible as well. For example, I don't suggest stacking mixed canned goods. If you are going to stack, make sure they are like items, such as green beans on top of green beans.

The only exception to organzing by category is when you have complete pantry meals. Complete pantry meals would be like a family sized can of soup, oyster crackers, and a side. Storing these items together allows you to quickly put together the meal and by shelving together you know if you are out of an item needed for the meal. Check your pantry meals before your regular shopping trips.

 Want more tips?

1. Use clear storage containers. This frees up space, gets rid of bulky boxes and bags, will help food last longer, and allows you to see how much you have before you go shopping!


2. Label items. Storing in containers? Label them so you know what they are. Bread Flour and All Purpose Flour look VERY similar, but you don't want to accidently mix them up while baking.

3. Check your pantry before shopping. This is kind of a given. This will make sure you don't buy items you already have and allow you to stock your pantry accordingly. It also helps during meal planing.


Today I want you to spend an hour or so cleaning, inventorying, and organizing your pantry. You will be amazed at how much easier cooking, shopping, and meal planning will become. Tomorrow I will show you some before and after pictures of my pantry. Keep in mind that if you are placing boxes and bags with canisters that it may take some time. I have not been able to purchase all the canisters I want and need, but I have made a huge dent already! Good luck and have fun!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

 ------------------------------------

Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 
Day 8: Finishing off the Freezer

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 8


Welcome back to the challenge. Did you manage to organize your fridge yesterday? The good news is, mine was already organized! Why? As I mentioned before, this is something I take care of every time we buy groceries. Because we recently bought groceries, my fridge is organized!


I know. There is like nothing in there. Normally we have a fuller fridge, but since it is winter, we are eating a lot of potatoes and other root vegetables which aren't in the fridge. That plate above the drawer....that's spinach I washed last night. I didn't use all of it for dinner so I'm probably going to eat it has a snack. I love spinach.

After buying groceries, it takes about 5 minutes to purge my fridge of all the stuff that we aren't going to eat, that's old and expired, or about to expire. This saves me a lot of time and frustration later, especially during cooking. I know where everything is in my fridge, so I never have to search for my ingredients.

Do you have before and after pictures of your fridge? I'd love for you to share them with me. Seeing the transformations is probably the best part of organizing your home.

Now on to Day 8, which is building upon your organized fridge!

DAY 8: Finishing Off the Freezer

Since you have already organized your fridge, its time to crack down on your freezer. You may have already done this yesterday, and if so, good for you. If you didn't, you need to take care of it today.

It is a huge misconception that foods in the freezer never go bad. So untrue. It doesn't matter how you store it; food eventually goes bad. However, freezing food helps extend its shelf life because it slows down bacterial growth.

To avoid such behavior, label all your freezer food, whether you made it or bought it. I love Martha Stewart's Freezer Labels. You can either print them on sticky paper or regular paper and tape them on to your foods. I print on normal paper. Label each item as it enters your freezer with the date. This way you always know when you put the item in the freezer and how long it has been in there. Most foods will last around 3 months. However, it is best you check the label or research the food's shelf life.


Want more tips? Well, I have some more!

1. Organize by food type. Keep vegetables and fruits together. IF you have meats, keep them separate. Placing a rimmed plate or sheet underneath them is a good safely trick. You never know if you freezer will stop working. This will prevent cross contamination so some of your food may be salvageable.

2. Label all homemade items. Take away the guess work and you won't be frustrated later.

3. Use clear containers. Just like in your fridge, you should use clear containers so there are no surprises.

4. Do not put meat. ice cream, or fruits and vegetables in the door. Reserve this location for grains and nuts. The temperature fluctuates most in the door shelves. You want your food to last as long as possible, so use it wisely.

Today I challenge you to clean and reorganize your freezer. It should only take you about 30 minutes if you have a large freezer; 15 if it is smaller. Throw away old food or food you are unsure about. Label what you can and separate your items accordingly and have fun!

Friday we will begin attacking other problem areas in the kitchen. Tomorrow I would like you to start thinking about your ideal kitchen and the organization system it will use. Transforming your kitchen is going to take longer than the days designated for it. However, you will finish it and the rest of your house by the beginning of February. Start picking up the tools you will need for this transformation tomorrow. Don't worry about getting everything. I have been buying canisters 2 or 3 at a time for a week now. They are expensive and to buy them all at once would be impossible for me at the moment. But, by breaking it up, I can afford it and it makes organizing my kitchen easier because I can break it into chunks. I'll see you back here on Friday!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife


 ------------------------------------

All Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 
Day 7: Attacking your Fridge 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 7


Welcome back! How did managing your magazine clutter go? Are you still working on it? I am. I have 2 more magazines to rifle through before placing them in a binder. I should be done with it tonight and I will share my binder with everyone tomorrow. Trust me, its not going to be anything outrageously amazing. Haha!

On to day 7 of the challenge! I can't believe its been a week already!

DAY 7: Attacking your Fridge


source

This can be a huge problem area for many people if you don't stay on top of general care for your refrigerator. Same goes for the freezer, but we'll talk about that tomorrow. One step at a time!

The first thing you need to do is pull EVERYTHING out of your fridge. Toss all old food, condiments, empty containers, and anything you know your family isn't going to eat or use within the next couple of months. I know that last part sounds crazy, but we had miso paste in our fridge for almost a year and only used it once. I decided we will never use it again and since it is taking up valuable space and therefore acting as clutter, I decided to toss it. I do this every two weeks when I bring home new groceries. This allows me to free up valuable space and keep my fridge from being cluttered. No one likes a cluttered fridge.

Next, wipe down all the surfaces with a disinfectant. Make sure it is food safe though. You should clean out your fridge every 3 months to prevent viruses and bacteria from congregating in your food. Just because its cold doesn't mean there are nasty germs in there.

After cleaning your fridge, organize like the pros. Professional kitchens organize their fridges with food safety in mind, this means according to the food's cooking temperature.

Starting at the top, you will find prepared foods that are either served cold or will be reheated. Next, whole cuts of meat, then ground meats, and finally poultry at the bottom. Each shelf of food is cooked at a progressively higher temperature so if cross contamination occurs, it is taken care of during the cooking process.

You can adapt this same idea to your fridge. In my case, we don't keep meat in the house, so I don't have to worry about it so much. Store drinks, left overs, and ready to eat foods (such as cheese, yogurt, deli meats, etc) on the top shelves. Store raw ingredients on the lower shelves. You can put your condiments back into the door shelves.

Drawers, however, are a little more tricky since you run the risk of contamination. Drawers are made for fruits and vegetables since they allow you to control the humidity, but they are normally at the bottom of the fridge, underneath all that meat (if you have meat, that is). We put all of our produce, except fruits, in the bottom drawers because there is NO meat in our fridge. However,you need to be careful if you have meat in your fridge. If you have two drawers, store meat in one and vegetables in the other. If side by side, you needn't worry about which drawer is which. Just clean the meat drawer often. If they are stacked, put meat in the lowest drawer, again cleaning often.

If you HAVE to store meat above your produce, place it on a rimmed plate, cooking sheet, or another rimmed platter to catch any drips. This will help prevent cross contamination with your produce. Be careful when removing these from the fridge. You want to avoid spills at all costs.

These are of course general guidelines, not rules. In some refridgerators, the top ends up being the coldest and the bottom the warmest. To test, you can set up thermometers in each section and monitor the differences. Unfortunately I don't suggest storing meat in the top of your fridge, no matter how cold it is, because it can and will contaminate other foods. However, if your fridge is like mine and full of vegan foods, you needn't worry. You can rearrange your fridge from bottom to top or keep the top to bottom method.

Want some more tips? Well, I have a couple more for you!

1. Place Big Items in the Back. This will help you avoid losing smaller items.

2. Keep Like Items Together. This is kind of a given.

3.Use Clear Containers. This will allow you to see what is in the container, how much is left, etc. No surprises here!

source
4. Stack Items Properly. Do this when you bring home groceries. It will make your life so much easier in the long wrong and can prevent damaged foods.


5. Clean You Fridge Often! I do this every two weeks. I wipe mine down every 3-6 months.

Today I challenge you to clean out your fridge. It shouldn't take you longer than an hour, so do it all today. You will find it will make cooking so much easier and every time you open your fridge you will be greeted by a clean and organized fridge, which is honestly so relaxing, at least to me.

Need inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board labeled "Organization" or check back later this evening to see some organized refrigerators! 

Look Alive!
<3The Morticians Wife

 ------------------------------------

Previous Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1 
My Planner 
Day 6: Magazine Clutter 

Monday, January 9, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 6


Welcome back to the "21 Days to a More Organized Home" Challenge. I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend? Did you set up your mail center? Guess who didn't! Me! Why? The Mortician and I were not home together long enough this weekend to get anything done except watch one episode of a show and then go to bed. I personally have another extremely long week ahead of me. Luckily for the Mortician, this is his short week so he has the weekend off. I do not....again. I'm a little peeved they are making me come in on Saturday again, especially considering its his weekend off, but they are training new hosts so hopefully my schedule will even out again. In so doing, I hope this week we are able to sort our mail clutter, more specifically bill clutter, and make sure everything is taken care of.
On to day 6!

DAY 6: Magazine Clutter

I know everyone here is guilty of magazine clutter. For some reason, throwing out magazines feels like a crime. I don't know why we feel this way exactly, but whatever it is, the magazine companies are doing a great job of keeping us hooked!

However, magazines take up valuable space in our homes and can even make a room feel over crowded and loud. I know a woman who used to hoard magazines. When her children finally were able to remove some of the clutter from her house, they found magazines over 20 years old stuck under huge piles of other magazines, books, and junk. Pretty crazy, right? Not really. This is actually a very common item to hoard and not even realize you are doing it.

As of November, I started receiving 3 magazine subscriptions and I have a 4th on its way. The Mortician is also about to start receiving a magazine, National Geographic, which my mother got him for Christmas. Needless to say, in just a month we will end up with 5 different magazines. That is actually a lot of space. So how to do you deal with magazine clutter?

There are actually a couple great ways to do this.

1. File. If you MUST, and I mean absolutely must, hold onto a magazine, file is, by date, with the same back issues. Do not mix and match. Having a section in a filing cabinet, or on a shelf is appropriate. If displaying on a shelf, consider getting some nice magazine holders which will look wonderful on your display, hide the magazines, and allow you to label and properly store what you want to keep.

MarthaStewart.com
2. Scanning. Scan the pages you want and save them as PDF's on your computer. This works best if you are donating your magazines when you are done with them.

3. Clipping. This is personally what I will be doing tonight with my magazines. Clip out the pages, recipes, etc you like and place them in sheet protectors in a binder and labeled categories.

source
Of course these three options of storage are easy, but how do you start managing the clutter?

When you receive a magazine in the mail, immediately write on the cover the date in big bold letters (Sharpie is great) the magazine arrived. If you don't want to deface the magazine, place a sticky note on it. You can either file the magazine for later use or read it immediately. Mark the pages you believe you will want to keep or make a note that the entire magazine should be kept. Before the end of the month, scan or remove the pages you want or file the entire magazine. If by the end of the month you have not done this step or even read through the magazine, recycle it, no questions asked, or donate it to a doctor's office or retirement home. Make sure you remove your address label before doing so.

You don't need to feel guilty about getting rid of a magazine. Most of the information is also available for free online within a few weeks of the release date. This will take some time getting used to, but if you stay committed to reducing the clutter in your home and creating a more positive home for you and your family, you will find it becomes second nature. Stick with a system and a plan. Mark it in your planner the days you need to address your magazine clutter.

Today (and tomorrow if you need it), I challenge you to go through ALL of your magazine clutter. Check the dates on ALL the magazines you have and make a note how far back you have kept magazines. This date may shock you. Begin planning 1 day of the month, each month, to address magazine clutter. I suggest the middle of the month because this is usually the time the next issue is coming out so you won't have to deal with two issues at once. If you spend just 20 minutes going through your magazines, you'd be surprised how much you'll get done and how much clutter you will remove from your home.

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife
 ------------------------------------

All Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1

Sunday, January 8, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: My Planner


I apologize for this post being so late. I haven't been able to secure good pictures of my planner so I didn't want to post until I had them.


I picked my particular planner for its layout. It offers several sections for each week labeled "Mine," "Theirs" and "Meals." This is great because I can put my work schedule in, the Mortician's schedule and meetings, my blog posting schedule, and our meals for the week all in one spot. I couldn't be happier!

At the beginning of each month is a "Month at a Glace" page along with a To Do List and Projects list for the month. Nice to have these all in one spot.


To get started with my planner, I gave it a name. I decided it was a she because of the pink and flowers (I honestly hate pink) and it reminded me of Pepper Potts from Iron Man, so I named her Pepper. I love the name Pepper and I felt this worked wonderfully for my planner.

Next I color coded. Black is the Mortician, Green is my blog, Red is my personal stuff, and purple is my work schedule! If I need more colors, I will introduce them later on, but this works well for now.

What did you name your planner? Did you make it or buy it? I'd love to know!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife



 ------------------------------------

All Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
Day 5: Other Paper Clutter
Pin It! Organized Home Edition 1

Saturday, January 7, 2012

21 Days to a More Organized Home: Day 5


I hope setting up your "Paper Processing Center" is going well. As I mentioned in those posts, spend the weekend putting this filing system together. If you can't purchase anything new, at least go through and start organizing your mail and working towards sorting your mail as soon as it comes in.

Now, on to Day 5 of the challenge, sorting through general paper clutter.

DAY 5: Other Paper Clutter

Obviously there is other paper clutter filling out houses and overwhelming us. I have some tips and tricks on dealing with this clutter as well.

Like mail, you need to sort through paper clutter as it arrives. Filing is likely going to be the best option here because piling paper clutter doesn't get rid of the clutter. Since other paper clutter usually doesn't need immediate attention, you don't need to keep it out in the open to make sure it gets done. Sorry Pilers!

You need to deal with each paper type differently, so I've set up a nice chart!

Paper Type                                 Store It                                        Paperless

Articles to Read                      Document Envelope                       Bookmark on your computer
                                             you can carry with you

Inspiration/Reference               Accordian file folder w/                   Use Pinterest!
                                             labels on each tab

Coupons/Receipts                  Coupon wallet w/                            Get coupons on your
                                             dividers                                         smartphone

Kid's Art                                Lidded box                                     Take Photos!

Instruction Books/                  In the same room                           Download copy!
Warranties                            as the item. Magazine
                                            holder works.

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My challenge for you is to organize the rest of your paper clutter this weekend as well as setting up your mail center. This shouldn't take too terribly long and don't feel you have to do it ALL this weekend. Simply get started. In your planner, jot down how much time you would like to spend doing it and give yourself several days to complete the task. I will be working on this as well tomorrow. I have magazines I need to go through and some paper clutter tucked away in a closet. Weird, I know.

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife


 ------------------------------------

All Posts:
Day 1: Welcome
Day 2: Time Management 
Day 3: Using Your Planner 
Day 4, Part 1: Mail Clutter
Day 4, Part 2: An Action File
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