Chaos To Order, Sustainable Room By Room Organization

Today I wanted to share with you how I keep our home organized room by room! There are several different organization tools that are helpful in keeping your home organized. But, there are also some everyday practices that will help in keeping your home organized.

The first thing I wanted to talk about is decluttering. I won’t be-labor this point as I know I have several blog posts about the value in decluttering. When getting a space organized, there is no sense in organizing items that you no longer love or are no longer useful to you. I’m sure by now you have all heard of Marie Kondo’s Konmari method of decluttering. I don’t necessarily like everything about her methodology, however I do like the idea of decluttering by category. Some people get overwhelmed by pulling everything out in one category, so I suggest working one room or space at a time as well. Start with items that are easier to declutter – like kitchen items, which don’t have sentimental value and work your way up to sentimental items. Generally, the process of decluttering gets easier as you gain momentum. Also, it’s important to note that each room or space in your home will need to be revisited. Unfortunately, decluttering is typically not a one time event but rather a process as most homes continually accumulate items.

I wanted to talk a little bit about a system I learned many years ago from the book The Fly Lady. She has lots of great advice in her book, but the thing I have implemented into my routine is creating “zones” coordinating with different spaces or rooms in your home, and each week choosing one zone to deep clean and declutter. I have 12 zones in my home, and by choosing one zone per week my entire house gets deep cleaned and decluttered every three months. It’s not only important to stay on top of decluttering, it’s also important to stay on top of your organization systems as things can get misplaced or in disarray over time.

My number one advice for client’s is to have a place for everything. When each item in your home has a place, it makes cleaning up and putting things away more efficient and easy. I love to use bins, baskets, and lazy susans throughout my home to house items which are alike. For many of these bins, I use labels, making it easy for everyone in my family to know where things are and where they belong.

The first space I want to talk about is your entryway – whether it’s at your front door, back door, or both! Typically this is a “drop zone” – a place where everyone sets down their everyday items and takes off their shoes. You want to have organization tools which will accommodate this. Hooks for purses and backpacks, a shoe rack or baskets for shoes, a key holder for keys, and bins to hold things like hats, scarves, and gloves. Having a space for each type of item works well, or perhaps you can have a bin and or hook for each family member. These are items that are notorious for getting lost, however if you have a place for these items, each family member will know where they go and where to find their items.

The next location I wanted to talk about is the living room/family room. In this space, it’s important to have functional furniture to store different items that belong in the room, such as game consoles, video games CDs, movies, remotes, and blankets. Once again, if items have a place, everyone will know where to find them. Blankets can be stored in an aesthetically pleasing way such as in a basket, on a blanket ladder, or draped across the sofa. If you’re like me and like to have a variety of throw pillows, you can choose to purchase pillow covers when possible, making it easier to store when not in use. In addition to this, if you like using different decor for different times of the year, find creative ways to store these items. I have a dresser in my office where I store all my extra decor that is not in season. I do have two large bins storing my Christmas specific decor, which I store in the attic. A trick I like is to use dual purpose decor. I use wood bead strings around my Christmas tree as garland, but when it is not Christmas season I use the beads as decor in other areas of my home. Also, you can find a lot of versatile “Christmas decor” that will transition into the winter season.

TV Console with space for Living Room items.
I store extra pillow cases in our side tables in the living room.
I store my extra home decor in a dresser in my office.

The next space I will talk about is the kitchen. This might be one of the most important places in the home to find an organization system that works well for you as it allows you to be more efficient in meal planning, getting groceries, putting away the groceries, and meal prepping. It’s helpful to have your kitchen organized in a functional way. Store items where you use them. I have a corner of my kitchen where I do most of the meal prepping, and that is where all of my utensils and dishes are stored. Organizing your pantry and refrigerator/freezer space by category helps to keep everything contained and easy to find. I have chosen a variety of bins, boxes, and jars to store items in my pantry. Taking pantry items out of their packaging and decanting items into streamline jars and bins is a more efficient use of space. Using labels will make it easy to put things away, and allow family members to know where items go. It also just looks more appealing! In the refrigerator and freezer, you can use bins to keep things in order, and again using labels so everyone knows where things belong. This also keeps your refrigerator more clean, so if anything spills or leaks, it is contained in the bin. Lastly, using drawer organizers helps to keep drawers neat and easy to maintain.

I also wanted to talk about the office. This is probably one of the most difficult spots to keep organized, primarily because often offices become overrun with papers. Again, organization systems help to keep everything in its place. If you have drawers in your desk, invest in drawer organizers, which can be fairly inexpensive. Having little compartments in your desk drawers to store all the little office type items will help to keep your desktop clean of clutter. Dealing with paper clutter can be time consuming and overwhelming! Definitely invest in some sort of filing system for important documents, whether that’s a filing cabinet built into your desk drawer, or some sort of external accordion style filing folder. Additionally, you can use an app like Adobe Scan, a document scanning app, to keep digital records of your paperwork, eliminating a lot of the paper clutter! In my opinion, it’s so much easier to get work done in a organized and tidy space!

A couple of other spaces that often need organization systems are the laundry room and the bathroom linen closet. Having bins to house like items is definitely helpful in these spaces. I store all of our medicine in three separate bins which are labeled, making it easy for family members to find which type of medication they are looking for. Folding your sheets and towels in a uniform way will also help to keep your linen closet in order. I have a YouTube video where I show you the way I fold sheets so they will look neat in your cabinet! This might not work for everyone, but we own two bath towels per person, two hand towels per hand towel hook, and two sets of sheets per bed in our home. One for in use and one for in the laundry or in the cabinet. Having a system like this will cut back on clutter in this space.

The final space I wanted to discuss is the closet and/or dresser. This is another space that can be hard to stay on top of as we often have a constant flow of items coming in. Again, it’s important to make it a habit of going through your clothing items and donating anything you no longer wear or love, anything that is too small or too big, or anything that has a hole or stain. One of the easiest ways to make your closet look more organized is to invest in uniform hangers. It’s up to you to decide how many! Everyone is different in the amount of clothing they have space for and want to own. Also, finding storage systems for shoes, off season clothing items, and anything else you store in your closet is important. As far as the dresser goes, I want to mention the Konmari method again. I have found using the Konmari folding method to be the most efficient way by far to store clothing. More clothing fits in the space when folded this way, it’s easier to find what you are looking for, and once you learn to fold in this way it is very efficient to get your clothing folded. Once again, I have a tutorial YouTube video on how to fold Konmari style!

I hope this gave you some ideas or information on how you can get your home organized and functioning efficiently today!

Real Life Organizing | You Can Be Organized!

Sometimes while talking to clients or friends they either allude to or say outright that their space can’t be organized. Recently one of my friends hired me to help with her pantry. She came over to my house to see how I had organized my own pantry, hoping for inspiration or maybe to gain some trust that I could in fact get her pantry organized? She said that I seemed to be more of a methodical cook than her, and she wasn’t so sure her pantry could function like my pantry. She still reluctantly hired me as I encouraged her that I was up for the challenge! In the end she was surprised that she did in fact have distinct categories in her pantry! Several weeks after I was finished with her pantry, she let me know how much easier it was to order and put away groceries now that her pantry had a system. She was shocked and surprised that there was a sustainable organization system that worked for this space!

This is my pantry

I share this story because I think people often think that their space (or spaces) cannot be organized. I told my friend that is why she needed to hire me! I had a vision that she couldn’t even imagine. We all have gifts and talents, and my brain just processes things in light of order. Organizing projects can feel overwhelming at first. Even for me, sometimes I feel overwhelmed before starting a project, but I know you just have to take things one step at a time no matter how big or small the project is!

Here is my friend’s before pantry picture

The first step to getting any space organized is always to declutter. You don’t want to organize items that you no longer need, use, or love. 

The next step is to identify categories in the space. The best way to efficiently organize a space is by category. This is why I am a big fan of bins. This will help contain items for each category, making it quick and easy to put items away in the future.

After you have decluttered and identified your categories, you will need to measure your space and then go on a hunt for bins, boxes, baskets, or lazy susans that will fit the space and your style. This can be tricky at times. When we were looking for bins for my friend’s pantry, we were balancing a multitude of specifications. We were looking for bins of a certain size, style, and price point. You have to balance all of these specs and give weight to the importance of each. Just know that this can take time! You may have to scour the internet as well as stores in your local area. It’s not always a one stop trip! Don’t forget your labels too!

Next is the fun part!! Or at least for me!! You will need to remove everything from the space, and I always like to give it a good clean while the space is empty. Then you can begin organizing things into categories. Label each box making it easy to find homes for each of the items.

Organizing a space is certainly not a one size fits all, and it can’t always be done as quickly as a Home Edit Netflix episode. Be realistic, and have your expectations set so that you are not disappointed in how long this process can take.

If it all feels too overwhelming and you can’t hire a professional organizer, enlist a friend to help! Oftentimes it helps just to have accountability even if they are just as clueless as you!

Here is what her pantry looked like after!
Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post

Laundry Tips & Tricks, Sharing My Laundry Routine

I’m not really sure why, but laundry is my favorite chore to do. Maybe it’s the same reason I like organizing, because it turns chaos – a big pile of dirty, stinky clothes, into order – everything neatly folded, put away, and smelling clean! I have a laundry routine that works well for me and I have been doing it for years! I’ve been married 24 years, and we have three children – one just graduated from college, one in college, and one in high school. I have been doing this same laundry routine for as long as I can remember. From the multiple outfits of toddlerhood to everyone having sports clothes! I wash our clothes once a week! I wanted to share with you some laundry tips. Some of these relate to doing laundry only once a week, but they could apply to however often you prefer to do laundry.

Here is the video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you want to check it out!

 My first tip is to separate clothing. I know, I know… I sound like your mom, right? This does prevent clothes colors from bleeding onto lighter clothing, and it also helps so you can choose the appropriate washer settings. I like to do four types of loads: darks (usually two loads a week, we got down to one load while my two older kids were in college and doing laundry on their own), lights (one load per week), load of dark towels/socks/underwear, and a load of light towels/socks/underwear (sometimes I push this load off until later in the week when I wash my sheets if it’s not big enough). I know this may not work for everyone to separate their laundry, particularly if you are someone who does laundry every day.

Wash socks, underwear, towels, and sheets together on hot. I like to wash all of these items on hot to be sure that they are disinfected as well as cleaned. 

Pre-treat stained items. Since I only do laundry once a week, I like to treat stained items immediately and just let the stain treatment set until the laundry day. This could be done no matter how often you do your laundry!

Own at least two sets of sheets per bed and two towels per person so you can replace them immediately. I find that two sets of sheets per bed and two towels per person is sufficient. One set for on the bed/on the towel rack, and one set for in the linen closet or in the laundry.

Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. They are reusable, and so environmentally friendly, and they don’t have chemicals like some dryer sheets do. You can add essential oil to the balls for a fresh scent. I like to store my dryer balls in a glass jar on a shelf about my washer and dryer as they also double as great laundry room decor!

Check your pockets before washing any items! I learned this the hard way after washing a pen with my laundry one time. Since then, I have not done a perfect job at this and have washed all kinds of things including our key fob one time! But not to worry, it actually still worked!

Do an entire load, start to finish so you don’t forget it. This also helps reduce wrinkles if you take the laundry out of the dryer immediately and hang it up so less likely to have iron clothes.

Hang dry items that are wet or sweaty before putting them in your laundry basket. This may be an obvious tip! I have found that the one drawback to only doing laundry once per week is the laundry getting moldy/musty smelling. It does help that we have a laundry shoot in both bathrooms, so our laundry is concealed. If we do have something that is wet – like a bathing suit or workout clothes we hang those up to dry before putting them in the basket.

Be sure to read the labels on your clothes, not only to determine what temperature is ideal to wash the garment, but also to line dry anything that should not be put in the dryer. I also like using a lingerie bag for any bras or bathing suits that could get tangled in the wash.

Keep laundry baskets where people take their clothes off. We keep a laundry basket in each bathroom and then one in the laundry room. I have a rule that if it’s not in the laundry basket by Monday (laundry day), then it won’t get washed.

Well, I hope this gave you some tips that you have never thought of doing! Please let me know of any tips you have that I missed!

10 Habits of An Organized Person

I think most people would say they would like to be more organized, or they would like to be an organized person. Friends and family often ask me how I stay organized. They may even comment that I’m so lucky to just be naturally organized. People who seem naturally organized really just implement habits in their lives that lead to an organized life. Today I wanted to share with you 10 habits of people who are organized.

The first habit is that they have a place for everything. The number one advice I give to people who want to get organized is to have a place for everything. When everything has a place, over time you don’t even have to think about putting things away. Your brain makes neural pathways as you repetitively put the items away in the same location. Eventually you do it as second nature. Also, if something does not have a home, it just continues to float around your house and every time you use that item, you must think about where to put it down when you’re finished using it.

In addition to having a place for everything, organized people actually put things away in their place after they are done using it. I call this the “one touch rule.” When they are done with an item, they immediately put it back where it belongs. They don’t drop the towel on the bathroom floor, or kick off their shoes wherever they want to take them off. A great example – and a problem place for many people – is the mail creating paper clutter in that dreaded drop zone where everything seems to pile up in your house. Someone who is organized has a habit of immediately dealing with the mail. They make it a habit to get the mail when they have the time to go through and discard junk mail, pay bills, and file papers that come through the mail.

In order to be able to deal with things like mail, functional systems must be set up and used. An organized person has these systems, which they continue to tweek until it works well for them. They have a paper filing system, a place for shoes, hooks for backpacks and jackets, a location where dirty laundry goes (and family members know this as well), and any other organizing bins for everyday used items.

Along with functional systems, organized people have daily routines set up. Having routines will allow you to get things done almost without thinking about it. Not only general routines like exercise, daily Bible reading or meditation, and getting up and going to bed at approximately the same time each day; but also cleaning, decluttering, and organizing habits. We all have a fairly consistent inflow of things into our homes, whether it’s junk mail, kids artwork, or gifts. Having routines set up to deal with the inflow and the organic daily messes that are created, help to keep you organized.

Another habit of an organized person is that they are constantly decluttering. Like I just mentioned, we all have a constant inflow of items into our homes. No matter how minimalist someone appears to be, there is still a need to declutter items from the home.

To help make the decluttering process a bit easier, another habit of an organized person is that they are intentional about what comes into their homes. Some things we don’t have control over – mail sent to us or what our family members bring into our home is out of our control. However, an organized person closely evaluates their purchases to decide if the items will add value, particularly in the long run.

Along those same lines, organized people only own what they use and what they love and declutter the rest. The less stuff we have, the less stuff we have to organize. The less stuff we have to organize, the easier it is to be and stay organized.

Another habit of an organized person is that they keep lists. Keeping lists for different aspects of life help to keep things organized. If you get ideas or to dos out of your head and onto paper (or digitally if that is your thing), your head is clear and you won’t worry about forgetting anything. It’s great to keep separate lists for different aspects of life – a work to do list, a daily to do list, a long term to do list, and an ideas list to name a few.

Organized people create deadlines for themselves. Oftentimes we organically have deadlines – whether that’s for work, school, or things that must get done related to our children or our personal lives (like appointments, preparation for events, etc.) When an organized person doesn’t have a set deadline – like with home projects or cleaning, they make deadlines for themselves. Having a deadline helps motivate you to get tasks and projects done. Of course there is always room for grace when unexpected things come up!

Lastly, organized people don’t procrastinate. Oftentimes people put off decluttering, putting things away, or everyday tasks. People who are organized, deal with things immediately, and then tasks don’t pile up and get to the point where they are overwhelming. It’s easier to stay on top of things when we don’t procrastinate.

I hope this gave you some practical tips on how you can become a more organized person. It’s never too late to make changes in your habits!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

How To Keep A Tidy Home

Keeping a tidy home can be a difficult endeavor. Life is busy, and filled with responsibilities other than just housekeeping. I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stay on top of household duties in order to keep a tidy home.

One of the main things I do in order to keep my home tidy is to deal with things immediately when I can. A perfect example is our mail. I don’t get the mail until I am ready to deal with it – sift through and throw away all junk mail, then immediately pay bills or deal with mail. If it is something I can’t deal with immediately, I hang it on our magnetic calendar dry erase board, which is located in a prominent place in our kitchen. I will see it every time I’m in the kitchen as a reminder to take care of it. Another way to deal with things immediately, is when you get home from somewhere – put everything away in its place. If I have some trash and/or a glass of water by my bed from the night before, I bring it downstairs with me when I get up in the morning and throw away the trash and put the glass in the sink with the dishes on deck for the dishwasher. If I see a mess, I will take the extra 2-3 minutes to clean it up right away.

Another tip is to have a schedule. I have a schedule for all of my household chores. I choose one or two chores per day to get done, making it less overwhelming. In addition to this, each week I choose one room to deep clean and declutter. Sometimes I do it all on one day, and other times I spread it out throughout the week depending on what my schedule is like for that week. 

This is a screen shot of my Google Sheets document with my schedule.

If you’re interested in learning more about deep cleaning one room per week, check out my blog post on zone cleaning!

Another thing that can help keep your home tidy is to enlist the help of others. Our kids had consistent chores by the time they were in upper elementary school. We can teach our kids not only about helping out as part of a family through consistent chores, but taking care of their own things. This can help tremendously in keeping things from getting out of control. If your partner doesn’t have this bent to naturally put his/her things away, then you can communicate your desire to have him/her take care of their own things.

It is much easier to keep your home tidy if everything has a place. When everything has a place, you and your family members will know where things go. You will be much more efficient in putting items away if everything has a place. If certain items don’t have a home, you will waste time and brain power deciding where it should go temporarily. Ultimately, you are less likely to put items away if they don’t have a home. Having organization systems in place will help with this issue.

Lastly, just don’t own a lot of stuff! I’ve said this many times before. The less stuff we own, the less we have to take care of. I know there are certainly areas where I could do a better job at owning less, but each day I work on only owning that which is useful, or that which brings me joy.

I hope this inspired you to stay on top of keeping your home tidy!

Here is my YouTube video with this information if you’re interested!

10 Reasons To Hire A Professional Organizer

Getting organized can be difficult and stressful for some people. I wanted to share with you 10 reasons why you might want to hire a professional organizer. I also have a YouTube video with this content if you’d like to check that out!

{{ONE}} You want to declutter, but you feel overwhelmed. Many people feel overwhelmed when thinking about organizing a space. It can be difficult to know where to start. A professional organizer can help you break these big projects into smaller tasks, making it a bit more manageable. We don’t have to stay with you the whole time. We can give you advice and homework to do while we are not there.

{{TWO}} You need accountability. Many people have good intentions but no follow through. Life can get in the way and before you know it, your good intentions get covered by the day-to-day busyness. Hiring a professional organizer will give you that accountability to push through and get a project done. Often times when we organize one space in our home, it gives us momentum to continue with other spaces.

{{THREE}} Another set of eyes for organization ideas. It can be really helpful to have another person looking at your space and giving you ideas of how to organize it, or ideas of organizing tools which would work well in the space. We may have things to share with you that you have never thought of for the space.

{{FOUR}} Someone to talk you through getting rid of things, especially the difficult things. We often get wrapped up in our emotional connection to items when trying to purge things on our own. We can also be blinded by the fact that we spent money on items, making it difficult to let go. Having someone else there to talk you through the costs and benefits of letting go of an item can be very helpful.

{{FIVE}} We keep you on task – it can be hard to stay focused. When working on decluttering and getting a space organized, it can be easy to get side tracked. Having someone there to keep you focused on the task at hand can make the process of decluttering and organizing more efficient and effective.

{{SIX}} Our expertise. Whether it’s from education, experience, or just a natural bent, a professional organizer has expertise that you may not have. This expertise can be very beneficial if you want to get a space organized efficiently.

{{SEVEN}} You don’t have time to organize your space. Life can be busy, especially if you have a full time job and/or kids. Managing your schedule, your kids’ schedules and other responsibilities can be time consuming.

{{EIGHT}} It’s worth it for your mental health to have organization systems that work well for you and your family. It can be challenging to find organization systems or tools that help to keep your spaces organized. A professional can organize your spaces in a logical way. It’s worth it for your mental health to have spaces that are organized and prevent you from feeling more anxious and overwhelmed.

{{NINE}} You’re moving. Moving can be a very stressful and crazy time in life. If you don’t have the skills to efficiently pack things in an organized way, it can be helpful to hire a professional. This will make packing up your old home easier, and then the unpacking process when you arrive at your new home a more smooth process.

{{TEN}} It’s more fun to purge and organize with someone rather than by yourself! I have had so much fun helping clients organize their spaces. It has been fun to hear their stories and to share my own stories as well. We get to know each other in this process, which is fun!

If you live in the Austin, Texas area and need help with organizing a space in your home, I would love for you to connect with me!

8 Ways To Organize Your Spices

For a long while now I have been unhappy with how my spice drawer is functioning for me. I decant all my spices into matching containers, so it looks nice. My spice jars are made of stainless steel and several of them have become corroded, making it challenging to open them. The last thing I want while cooking dinner is to fight with my spice jars! So, I decided to do an overhaul on my spice drawer! If you’re interested in seeing the YouTube video I made sharing that process, I would love for you to check it out!

It can be difficult to figure out how to organize a space to make it function to its full potential. Everyone is different and has different needs and spaces in their kitchen when it comes to organizing and storing their spices. I have used a spice drawer for many, many years. I thought I would share with you 8 ways you can get your spices organized! I love the way uniform containers look, and Amazon has a lot of reasonably priced options for uniform spice jars. However, you don’t need to have uniform spice jars to have an organized space for your spices!

ONE 

I’ll start with the way I just organized my spices, and that is to decant them into small jars and store them in a drawer. You can purchase small jars for a fairly reasonable price. I purchased these from Amazon. There were too many in this package for me, but I can use the extra jars as food storage, add something to them to give away as a party favor, or share them with a friend who wants to organize her spices this way! Another idea is to save and wash out baby food jars to use instead of purchasing some. You could spray paint the lids to make them look sleek.

TWO

You could also use magnetic spice containers. I used these for many years. I put them in a drawer, but this is a great option for small spaces as you can store them on the side of your refrigerator, the microwave, or attach a metal piece to your back splash to store near your stove top.

THREE

Using a tiered drawer spice rack is another great idea. I opted not to use this because you need a lot of drawer space to have enough spices to round out your collection. A typical rack will hold somewhere between 15-18 spice jars. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of spices, or can spare a couple of drawers to organize your spices, then this is a great option! I really love how this looks! 

This is from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lynk-Professional-430411DS-Organizer-Metallic/dp/B07PGQL462

FOUR

Another great way to store spices is to use a wall rack. I’ve seen a really great cost effective option at IKEA for this. You could get uniform jars to make an extra special display, or just use the jars the spices came in!

These spice racks are from IKEA: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/bekvaem-spice-rack-birch-40070185/

FIVE

A recent product I found to store spices in a creative way is spice grippers. They attach to the back of your cabinet door, making this option another great space saving idea.

This item is from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spice-spice-gripper-Strips-Cabinet/dp/B075QZL8RS/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=spice+gripper&qid=1580774078&s=home-garden&sr=1-6

SIX

Another idea is to use a lazy Susan inside of a cabinet. I love to use lazy Susans to organize spaces. It’s a great way to efficiently use your space. Having spices on a turntable like this allows you to easily find the spice you are looking for!

SEVEN

Another idea for storing spices in the cabinet, is to get a three tier organizer. You will be able to easily see and assess which spices you have. This is a great option for someone who doesn’t want to invest in uniform jars, because this will be behind closed cabinet doors.

EIGHT

Lastly, the good old fashioned revolving counter top rack. I registered for one of these for my wedding, so the first several years of marriage it is what I used to store my spices. This is a great option, particularly if you are someone who doesn’t mind storing items on your counter top.

I hope this inspired you to organize a space in your home that isn’t functioning the way you would like. Are your spices organized? If not, I hope this gave you some ideas and inspiration to organize your spices!

How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

We are just a few weeks into the new year. This is usually the time people begin to drop off on their New Year’s resolutions. It can be challenging to make life-long changes overnight. People often set goals at the new year: to lose weight, to eat healthy, to get organized, to name a few. Often, people use the new year as an incentive to muster up enough willpower to make the changes they want to make. But somewhere mid January or early February, the willpower isn’t enough and slowly the goals that had been set begin to go by the wayside.

To make lasting changes, I propose that instead of setting goals or making resolutions, you should focus on your habits. When we practice small, repetitive actions day in and day out, this can more effectively lead us to our goals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against goal setting or making resolutions. That process is fun and exciting because we get to imagine and dream what life could be like. Resolutions are future oriented – making it easier for us to come up with lofty goals, because it is our future self that will have to have the follow through! One of my favorite sayings from the tv show, How I Met Your Mother, that I like to use when I’m procrastinating is “I’ll let future Joy worry about that.” And that’s exactly what we are doing – creating perhaps unattainable goals, and hoping our future selves will have follow through. This is often why year after year nothing actually changes.

I would like to share with you 6 things you can do in order to actually attain your goals.

{ONE} Put it on your to-do list. Habits happen by making something a part of your routine. Whatever you want to achieve, put it on your to-do list and then don’t make excuses and just do it! You want to exercise three times a week? Schedule it in. You want to spend more time with friends? Plan a standing weekly or monthly get together and have it on your calendar. You want to drink more water? Put timers on your phone to remind you to fill up. Want to get organized? Put it on your calendar each week to spend time purging and organizing a space in your home. Over time, these practices just become part of who you are.

{TWO} Choose the “basic solution” over the “quick fix.” Often times, along with resolutions, people buy in to “quick fix” solutions. Whether it’s a special herbal tea, a protein shake, or vitamins and supplements, these things can’t replace what will truly make a lasting change. Making it worse, marketers play into this desire we have to find a quick fix. These quick fix solutions nor our will power can replace making changes in our habits. If we focus on basic solutions and make those a part of our habits, we are more likely to succeed. A basic solution to the goal to “get healthy” might be to get 7-8 hours of sleep at night, to drink 8 glasses of water a day, to exercise a certain number of times per week, instead of taking pills or drinking teas or shakes.. We all know, there are really no shortcuts. People want some magical or secret solution, but the truth is that change happens through small, repetitive actions everyday. 

{THREE} Let your habit connect to a priority in your life. If we want change, we must make these stepping stones to our goal a priority. If you value exercise, friendships, health, organization, then your habits must follow. The good thing about a priority leading your habit and not a goal leading it, is that you can change the habit if it’s not working for you. With a goal, if you “fail” once you feel like you have to start all over and this can be daunting. Say you make it a goal to exercise three times per week. Well, in February you get sick, and it derails this goal. At this point it could be easy to just give up. Habits are easier to “start over.” If exercise is a habit, then when you miss a week of it because of illness, you start over next week! You don’t have this feeling of guilt when you “failed.” Goals are great platforms to make changes in your life, but priorities ultimately dictate our behavior.

{FOUR} Reward yourself. It’s important to have small rewards along the way. This reinforces the behavior. Whether it’s external rewards – like having a soda or beer on Friday night after drinking your 8 glasses of water each day that week, or internal rewards – acknowledging how good you feel after a workout to remind yourself that it’s worth it!

{FIVE} Create an environment or systems to help you succeed. Often times we fail because we don’t have the needed systems in place to foster success. In the example of wanting to drink more water – buy a new water bottle, or have a water bottle out and ready to fill up in the morning, or set timers throughout the day to remind you. Visual cues will remind you to do what you set out to do.

{SIX} Don’t expect perfection. As I mentioned previously, it can be hard to keep chugging along after failure. If you miss a day of exercise, or eat a cheeseburger instead of a salad one day, THAT’S OKAY… start over the next day. It’s difficult to perfectly stick to good habits. Illness, travel, and special celebrations can get in the way of keeping our routines. It’s important to just keep moving forward with your habit.

I hope this encourages you that you CAN succeed in your resolutions this year. Focus on habits instead of goals. Habits are DAILY DECISIONS that can help you achieve your goals!

12 Days to an Organized Christmas

The holiday season is a busy time. We often have extra responsibilities during this season, which can cause stress and feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to share 12 things you can do, one each day, to prepare for the holidays and make your holiday season run a little more smoothly. As of today (December 13th), we are 12 days away from Christmas!

{{DAY 1}}

Create a holiday to-do list. Writing out everything that needs to be done – whether with a pen and paper, or in a list app on your phone – begins the process of getting everything organized. From decorating, baking, and purchasing gifts; to wrapping gifts, sending holiday cards, and planning for parties, it can all be very overwhelming. Start by listing all the tasks that need to get done.

{{DAY 2}}

Allocate tasks to each day leading up to the holiday. It can be daunting to look at that list you just made. But, as you begin to plug in tasks to different time slots on your calendar, you begin to feel less stressed as you make a concise plan to get tasks done.

{{DAY 3}}

Clean up and organize your family drop zone. Everyone has a “drop zone” in their home – you know, that place where your family members seem to organically DROP all of their things when they return home? It could be a kitchen desk, mudroom, or entryway. Get this area into shape so that it functions well. Add labeled baskets, a file sorter for kids school work, or a bin for mail. This area of our home can cause a lot of stress if it is chaotic, and our stress level is already high during the holidays.

{{DAY 4}}

Keep a list of inventory. It’s important to keep track of everything you have purchased and need to purchase. You can write this down on a notepad, or use an app on your phone. Keep track of the gifts you have and need to purchase and how much you have spent to stay on budget. Also keep track of what you need to purchase for baking, special meals, or items for parties. Be sure to assess what you already have – check what holiday paper and ribbon you have leftover from last year to determine what you need to purchase. See what you already have in your pantry or refrigerator/freezer to determine what items you need to get for baking and holiday parties.

TIME TO DECLUTTER!

{{DAY 5}}

Holiday decor. After you have decorated your house for the holiday season is a great time to assess what you did not use this year. The chances of you using something next year that you did not use this year is very slim. This is an easy declutter process as it happened naturally just from you decorating! Purge what is leftover!

{{DAY 6}}

Pantry and refrigerator/freezer. Right before the holidays is a great time to declutter unused or expired food from your pantry and refrigerator/freezer. At this time, you can assess what needs to be replenished. We always need special items which we don’t tend to buy throughout the year for the holiday season – especially baking items.

{{DAY 7}}

Kids toys! This is a great time to assess what toys are broken and can be thrown away and what toys your children aren’t playing with. Include your children in this process. Remind them of the boundaries in your home with regard to toys and that you need to make room for the new toys that will arrive on Christmas morning. Encourage them to be generous, as it is a season of giving, and have them choose toys that you all could take to a women’s shelter or children’s home to bless those less fortunate. Not only are you teaching them about boundaries and decluttering, you are also teaching them about how this season is about giving.

{{DAY 8}}

Coats and blankets. This is a great time of year (at least for those of us living in the northern hemisphere!) to gather coats and blankets that you are not using. Again, get your family involved to declutter their items as well and take your extra coats and blankets to a homeless shelter.

{{DAY 9}}

Last on the decluttering list is mugs. Mugs seem to be an item that many people accumulate. Many of us are regularly using mugs during this season to enjoy hot drinks. Choose your favorites, and donate the rest!

{{DAY 10}}

Prioritize what is important to your family this holiday season. There are a lot of opportunities to spend time together with family and friends. There are parties, extended family gatherings, traditions, and more. It’s okay to say “no” to things in this season. Do what works best for your family, and the life phase your family is in. Maybe there is a tradition that worked well and was fun when your kids were really young, but now as they are getting older it’s just annoying to them. Find something else that will be meaningful and memorable to do together!

{{DAY 11}} 

Prepare for guests arrival. This won’t pertain to everyone, but many of us have guests in town for the holidays. Inflate the blow up mattress, wash the guest room sheets and towels, prepare a basket full of necessities – like an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. for in case your guests forgot something. You could also include extra things like water bottles and snacks to make your guests comfortable. Another idea is to display a picture frame with the wifi network and password. Or go all out and provide slippers and/or a robe for your guests!

{{DAY 12}}

Leave margin for rest! As I mentioned before, the holiday season can be a very stressful time of year. Plan into your schedule time for rest – to get a manicure or massage, or maybe it’s just leaving room for the things that you do all year long to recharge – reading a book, journaling, or exercising. If you organize your schedule and have a plan, then it’s much easier to include time to relax!

I hope you are inspired to start making a plan for this holiday season! The 12 day countdown to Christmas is on!!

An Organized Holiday, 5 Tips to Prep for Thanksgiving

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year, where we get to celebrate and enjoy slower, intentional  time with family and/or friends. But, this time of year can also be very stressful and overwhelming. I wanted to share five tips to help you prepare for the holidays. Having an organized schedule and being prepared will help your holiday season go smoothly so you can enjoy the beautiful parts of this season. 

{{ONE}} Make a list of all that needs to get done, then allocate tasks leading up to the holiday. There is always so much extra to do around the holidays. Extra cleaning that needs to get done, extra cooking, and extra shopping. Plan ahead and allocate different extra tasks to different days. Maybe you want to get some deep cleaning done prior to guests coming into town. You could plan to do that a week or even two weeks out. Then, you will just need to do last minute cleaning before their arrival. If there is any shopping – food or gifts – that needs to get done, do it in advance. Having a plan to get things done ahead of time will prevent that feeling of “scrambling” to get things done.

{{TWO}} Prepare food in advance. In conjunction with allocating tasks ahead of time, plan to prepare some of the holiday food ahead of time. Are there any dishes you could make a week or two out and freeze? Is there any prep work you can do in advance to make preparing the dish easier closer to the holiday?

{{THREE}} Plan to make easy meals right before and after the holiday. You could make some meals ahead of time and freeze them to have leading up to the holidays. Alternatively, maybe this is a good time to check out meal plan services. Many of these companies that send you meal kits to your front door offer very simple meal options that might be worth investing in just for the holidays. Crockpot or Instant Pot meals are another great easy option as there are many all-in-one meals you can throw together very easily. 

{{FOUR}} Enlist help.I have ordered the pre-made Thanksgiving meals from our local organic grocery store for the last several years – taking the task of most of the food prep off my to-do list. Perhaps plan a potluck meal for Thanksgiving or other holiday get-togethers, taking some of the food prep off of your to-do list. Have your kids help with the cooking and cleaning. It might not be perfect, but the work gets done and it teaches your kids some of the elements of hospitality. If you don’t have kids, maybe some friends can come over on a Saturday morning to help you get your house clean or food prepped. More hands = work getting done faster, and I have always found it way more fun to cook and clean with friends! 

{{FIVE}} Lower your expectations. I am giving this advice as a “recovering perfectionist.” I know we all like things to be perfect at the holidays, but likely your guests won’t even notice the cobwebs in the corners of your house, or dusty baseboards. And if so, WHO CARES! The holidays are about gathering family. Most family members are much less critical of our housekeeping and cooking skills than we think. I know I would not want family members to be stressed out trying to make things perfect for my arrival!

I hope this gave you some ideas of how you can get your schedule organized prior to the holidays. Doing a little extra work in advance each day will take some of the stress off leading up to the holidays. Remember, even if everything doesn’t get done, the important part of the holidays is celebrating and spending time with family! Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you’d like to check it out!