Mini Organizing Sessions at Home

Professional organizers use a number of tools to achieve the fundamentals of organization: Everything should have a home. Often used items should be easy to access and easy to put away. One of the tools I love, is often overlooked.

These days, many people are experiencing a wide range of emotions. We may be anxious about our health, worried about our friends and family, fearful of our finances or concerned about the state of the world in general. You may feel frustrated at being cooped up, annoyed with relatives we are seeing far too much of and missing those we don’t see at all. You may find happiness in the extra time you have for yourself or with your family.

You may feel all of these emotions at once or throughout the day…plus a whole lot more I haven’t mentioned.

You might need to put any organizing tasks on hold if they don’t feel right to you. BUT, if a little distraction, a little lightening of your clutter load and a great sense of accomplishment feel just right, then go ahead and try these mini-organizing sessions that pack a big pop!

Organize the Fridge

1. Remove all items from the fridge and use this time to give it a good deep clean.

2. Review all your items and see what has expired and what you haven’t used since you opened it…maybe it didn’t taste quite as good as you hoped or only had use in the one recipe you aren’t likely to make again. Toss those items.

3. Sort remaining items into like categories (sauces, dairy, drinks, fruit, veg etc)

4. Define an area of the fridge where each category will live. Many fridges have great compartments, drawers, door storage etc. Pick an area that is the right size for what you have and that provides the right level of access. Don’t put thing you use all the time in the back and something you never use in the door!

5. Don’t worry if your fridge isn’t color sorted to the rainbow. Those make for amazing photos but not necessary a great dinner

6. Enjoy your hard work and repeat for the freezer when you have energy. Freezer tip, place items standing up on their side like files so you can see everything you have in a glance.

Organize the Medicine Cabinet (or area)

1. Collect all the meds from around your home. Some people keep in multiple locations like the kitchen and baths. That is OK as we sometimes want easy access to certain things. But for the process of checking expiry dates and sorting, it helps to do it in one spot.

2. Check all of your expiration dates and toss anything that has expired. Remember to toss responsibly and drop off any controlled substances to the local police station – they usually have drop off area out front. Generally, it isn’t safe to use expired meds. They can be more or less potent and either can be a hazard. Plus, if you have had it long enough to expire, you either don’t use it or you bought another one and didn’t realize it.

3. Sort the remaining items by category (pain relief, stomach, cold, flu & allergy etc).

4. Determine which items are needed in each location in your home and then find right sized bins to contain them in those spaces. I like to label each bin so everyone in the home knows where to grab things and where to put them back. I also like clear, open topped bins so they are easy to see and put away.

Organize the DVD or CD Collection

1. Make this one easy and toss them all. OK, that might not be the right solution for everyone but really, are you watching ANY of those DVDs or listening to those CDs? If you aren’t doing it right now, in the middle of a pandemic where you can’t leave your home, you are NEVER going to do it. If, you are currently using them. Read on.

2. Grab the CDs and DVDs from every area of the home. You may want to get the whole family together for this project so they can help and offer their opinion.

3. Review each one to see If it actually lives in the case, do you love it and do you really need it? Then create a pile for keep, a pile for toss (empty cases or no cases) and a pile for donate.

4. Once you have your keep pile, determine how you would like these discs to live. They can remain in their cases and be put on a shelf, in a drawer or in a bin. They can be removed from their cases and put in specialized storage. They should live where you are most likely to use them.

5. Sit down, relax and have a listen/watch. Or if you followed my first suggestion, watch something on Netflix or listen on Pandora!

Organize Your Everyday Linens

1. Collect the linens from all areas where you keep them. Don’t forget that chest, that bench, that spare closet or perhaps the basket of blankets by the couch. Linens often get stored in many areas.

2. Sort linens by type and sets. Review each category and decide what you need. In general, I suggest having two sets of sheets for each bed (one for the bed and one to be in the laundry), a few spare blankets and a set of towels with bath mats and a spare set for each bath (same principle).

3. If you have more than that, ask yourself some questions:

a. Why are you keeping spare duvet covers, shams and bedding sets? Do you really think they are going to go back on the bed when you tire of the current one?

b. Why do you need so many extra pillow cases?

c. When are you going to actually use that quantity of any item?

d. You get the pattern here. Keep what you want and love but first take a moment to question why you are doing so. Don’t just do it out of habit or because you don’t want to make a decision.

4. Once you have determined what you are going to keep, define a home for each item. I recommend storing items close to where you are going to use them if possible. If there is only space in one location, keep all categories together. It can help to label the shelves if more than one person in the family will put items away.

Organize your Dining Linens

1. Collect the linens from all the areas your keep them. Remember holiday linens may be stored in a separate location. Don’t forget kitchen towels, we can go through these at the same time.

2. Sort by category (table cloths, place mats, kitchen towels, runners, napkins etc) You may need to sort separately by holiday as well.

3. Review each category and determine what you are no longer using, what you no longer like and what might have gotten stained or otherwise damaged.

4. Once you have determined what you want to keep, find the best storage location. If you can’t store them all together, or doing so makes that place so full its hard to access everyday items, you may want to store holiday items in a separate location.

Organize your Plastic Storage Containers, water bottles and travel drink containers

1. Collect these items into one location.

2. Put all the tops on the associated bottoms. HUGE gold star if you have a top for every bottom.

3. Toss any orphaned pieces.

4. Of the remaining pieces, sort by type/use or size.

5. Now that you have seen how many of any type or size you have, review to determine which ones you love and use and toss the rest. Unless these are pretty high quality or new, they likely aren’t worth donating.

6. Choose the best location to store based on the amount you have. The space should be large enough that you don’t have to rummage to get what you need.

7. I recommend storing all of these items with the tops on. It only takes a moment to reunite the top and bottom out of the dishwasher and it saves SO much time in searching when you want to use the item. If you don’t have enough space to store with the tops on, review one more time – do you have too many?

8. What to do with all those straws? Contain them. If you have height in your storage space, an extra cup or tall container is great. If you don’t, an extra-long drawer divider works well. I like the clear ones by Linus Interdesign at The Container Store.

9. Sit back, relax and have a drink in one of your cups to reward yourself for your efforts.

Organize your Desk Drawers

1. Remove everything from your desk drawers so they are totally empty.

2. Sort into categories. (Paper, post its, pens, markers, pencils, files etc)

3. Review each category and determine if you need all of those items. Then determine if they should live in the desk. Re-home any items that don’t belong.

4. For items that will remain in the desk, they need a more specific home. Linus Interdesign shallow or deep (depending on drawer depth) drawer dividers are perfect for this use. Give each category its own divider.

5. For very deep drawers, use tall bins of varying sizes depending on what is being stored.

6. Congratulate yourself on a job well done and look forward to being more productive the next time you sit at your desk to work.

Organize your Bedside Table

1. If you just organized your desk, this process will feel very familiar. Remove everything from your bedside table, drawers and flat surfaces so they are totally empty.

2. Sort into categories.

3. Review each category and determine if you need all of those items. Then determine if they should live in the bedside table. This is an area with a lot of creep as you use items as you are going to bed and they never get put away. Re-home any items that don’t belong.

4. For items that will remain, they need a more specific home. Linus Interdesign shallow or deep (depending on drawer depth) drawer dividers are perfect for this use. Give each category its own divider.

5. Congratulate yourself on a job well done and look forward to a restful night’s sleep.

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