Five Ways to Feel More Organized in Less Than an Hour

Go through your mail

  • Look around your house and find all those piles of mail. 
  • Gather it all in one place to sort.
  • Create categories: bills, papers to file, catalogs, etc. And of course, recycling and trash. 
  • Put everything where it goes; trash or recycle the rest. 

Create a mail center system

  • Create a system for the categories above.
  • Use file folders and a desktop file box, a wall mounted basket, or a file cabinet.
  • Label each file folder with a category that works for you: bills, school, social, file, kids, receipts, etc.
  • When sorting your mail, just put things into the appropriate folder. 

Write out meals for the next week and a grocery list

  • Grab a paper and pen and take a look at what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
  • Make a list of 5-7 dinners you want to eat during the next week, as well as options for breakfasts and lunches.
  • Write down any groceries you need to buy for these meals.
  • Post the “menu choices” for the next week where everyone can see them. Family can vote on what they want to eat on what day, while you have a sense of control knowing you have everything on hand to make it (or delegate someone to do it!)

Pantry – quick cleanup and reorganization

  • Set a timer for 15 minutes. 
  • Check for old, expired food, and throw that away. 
  • Get rid of boxes that are half full by emptying the contents into clear plastic containers. (I love having labelled containers for food items I buy often, but you can also just use Tupperware that you already have to accomplish the same goal.)
  • Use baskets or bins to contain like items such as breakfast, snacks, bread, baking, etc.
  • Label! Even if it’s just sharpie on a white envelope label, it will help things stay where they need to be!

Clean out your car 

  • Grab a bag for trash and a basket or bin for items that don’t belong in your car.
  • First, get all the trash out of your car.
  • Now grab all the things that don’t belong in the car (legos, an abundance of pens, plastic cups, socks?). 
  • Evaluate what needs to go in your car and make a designated home for those important things (hand sanitizer, gum, masks, car documents). 
  • Vacuum and wipe down surfaces.
  • Even if your house feels like a disorganized mess, you will breathe a sigh of relief when you get into your peaceful haven on wheels. 

Bonus: Power hour

  • With my kids, I call this “Power Hour,” but really it can be any amount of time. Just get everyone involved.
  • Go through the house putting everything back in its home (or at least in the room where it lives). The key is to not get bogged down pulling everything out of a cabinet to reorganize the entire thing, or start taking trips down memory lane with each knick-knack. 
  • Go for the “low hanging fruit:” don’t hesitate, just throw those old magazines into the recycling bin, put all clothes on the floor directly into the hamper (or washer), put the toys in a basket, etc.
  • Just keep moving and putting things back in their homes!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just pick one of these tasks and start. I promise you will feel better in less than an hour!

This doesn’t spark joy — now what?

Some of my favorite places to send donations (in the Dallas/Ft Worth area)

So you finally tackled that closet and are feeling pretty proud of yourself for deciding to let go of all those things that don’t “spark joy.” The only problem is, now you’ve got a large pile of random clutter sitting in your garage (or mudroom, hallway, trunk of your car, whatever) and no idea what to do with it. 

Often, it can be quite a bummer to turn away from admiring your newly streamlined space only to see that pile of stuff you don’t want anymore. If you’re exhausted from the organizing project itself, you might find that you have no motivation to complete that last step, which is sending that stuff on to its new home. 

You don’t want to just throw things in the trash, contributing to overflowing landfills, and plus, this is good stuff!

Sometimes that little voice in the back of your head will whisper, “It’s just easier to keep it in the back of the closet than figure out what to do with it. Besides, I might (?) need it someday.” 

There are lots of places you may not know exist that are looking for your old stuff and would be overjoyed to receive it.

I myself find it so much easier to let go of things when I can envision where they are going, and especially if that place is really in need or something that really speaks to my heart.

I’ve put together a list of my favorite local places to donate organized by type of items they accept. If you’re looking for a new home for something in particular, hopefully this will make it easier for you to donate things you no longer need.

Party supplies, gift cards, new toys and gifts for kids

The Birthday Party Project – based in Addison, this organization throws birthday parties for homeless kids who are living in shelters. Watch their video and cry – then go clean out all your closets of unused party supplies. 

www.Thebirthdaypartyproject.org

Special occasion dresses, shoes, jewelry, accessories

Prom Dreams – run by University Christian Church in Fort Worth. 

They accept donations of gently worn fancy dresses, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories so that everyone has something special to wear to the prom. You can drop items off at the front desk any time.

Household items and clothing (they accept anything in good condition except pillows):

Berry Good Buys — benefits Safe Haven Women’s Shelter. 

1701 West Berry Street, Ft Worth

Presbyterian Night Shelter

2400 Cypress St, Fort Worth

Women’s suits and work clothes, accessories:

Attitudes and Attires
World Trade Center, 2050 North Stemmons Freeway, Suite 181, Dallas

http://www.attitudesandattire.org/how-to-help/donate-suits-accessories.html

The Ladder Alliance

1100 Hemphill St, Unit 302, Ft Worth

Men’s suits and coats:

Cornerstone Assistance Network

3500 Noble Avenue, Ft Worth, 76111

www.canetwork.org

Hats, costume jewelry, vases, magazines:

Memory care or nursing home facilities

Children’s toys, art supplies, games:

Hope Center for Autism

2751 Green Oaks Rd, Fort Worth, TX 

www.hopecenter4autism.com

Sports equipment

Play It Forward is “a program that collects, rejuvenates, and donates sporting equipment to youth in need.”

www.proplayersfoundation.net for more info and collection sites

Stuffed animals:

Fire stations (police stations give them to children in stressful situations)

Safe Haven (Berry Good Buys) will also take them

Halloween costumes

www.weendream.org – gives them to children who can’t afford costumes

Canned goods and food:

Donate to your favorite church or soup kitchen

I’m sure I’ve left out some great places, so comment below or send me a message if there’s someplace you’d like to add!

A Peek Inside My Own Closet

With my top 5 favorite closet organizing tips and tricks

Since I am a professional organizer, people are always curious about my closet. They say things like, “I bet your closet is immaculate,” or “your closet must be amazing.”

Ha. It’s a process for me just like everyone else. I have to discipline myself to put things away and not just leave my half-worn clothes on the chair like the rest of you!

There are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way. Having a place for everything makes it easier to maintain your closet, as well as customizing your space for your life. Create zones and put clothes that fit your life right now front and center. It still takes discipline to not throw your clothes on the chair, though!

Today, I want to give you a behind the scenes tour of my closet with my top 5 favorite organizing tips that I put into action myself. 

1. Use space saving, matching hangers

I love these (Premium Non-Slip Velvet hangers from The Container Store ) because they keep things from slipping off the hanger and they really do take up a lot less space. But whatever hanger you like best, just make sure you pick one or two styles and go with it.

I use the velvet hangers for my shirts and dresses, but I use the wooden ones for my jackets and sweaters. Just, whatever you do — do not use those wire ones or 10 different types of random hangers! And while you’re at it, get those empty hangers out of there too – that wastes a ton of space and looks so messy!! Okay, I promise I’m done yelling now.

Group your clothing by type, i.e. pants together, casual shirts together, work dresses together. I like to organize them by type, then sleeve length, then color. I know it might sound extreme, but it truly helps you see what you have, which can add variety to your daily outfits and guidance to your shopping trips. You may discover a certain color or type of shirt you don’t need to buy again for awhile!

2. Store seasonal and special occasion shoes

I was not blessed with a ton of shelf space in my closet, so I switch my shoes out seasonally. And as much as I love seeing those fun sparkly heels, it’s not really practical to have them out all the time. But because they’re clearly labeled and accessible, I know where they are when I need them. Honestly, I get so excited about the change of seasons that I actually enjoy putting winter shoes away and bringing out all my summer ones. It’s like seeing old friends again. . . get out of here, winter boots, and oh hey, sandals!

I use the clear plastic shoe boxes from The Container Store. They stack easily and you can personalize them with your own labels. (These boxes are actually great for any area of your home.) It’s a really easy system to follow, I just turn them around according to the seasons and it takes up so much less space than having them all out all year. Plus, these boxes are so budget friendly and easy to clean.

3. Hang your handbags

Hanging bags and totes really helps keep them organized. This way they are not just flopping over on a shelf or getting all tangled up in a pile. I use binder rings or shower curtain rings to do this, but you can also buy S-hooks that are specifically made for this (at The Container Store, of course).

It helps that I have extra hanging space in my closet, but I find this so useful that I would build it into any new closet design. You could even put it behind glass doors to make it look really beautiful and keep the dust off everything.

In my dream closet, I would have a glass cabinet with hanging handbags and shelves for the smaller bags. . . and cabinet lights and a chandelier and a laundry room next door . . . as long as we’re talking about my dream closet, right? Anyway. . .

4. Display your jewelry

Blank spaces in closets are storage gold. Seek them out, behind your door, in corners, above doors and below windows. (I also hang hats as often as I can.) Hanging long necklaces keeps them from getting tangled, but it also makes them more likely to get worn. “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true in your closet as well. 

I made this jewelry organizer from an old canvas I had lying around that just happened to be the perfect size for my empty wall. I covered it with fabric and added gold hooks. It was super easy project, but there are lots of stylish pre-made options out there. The acrylic command hooks work great, and you can create your own configuration.

This arrangement definitely makes me appreciate my jewelry more and remember to wear it. And I don’t have any more meltdowns over tangled necklaces.

5. Plate racks or mail sorters for small bags and clutches.

This is an excellent way to store evening bags and clutches so they don’t get lost on a shelf. Otherwise, these would fall over and be all jumbled up on my shelf, and I would never remember what I have. It also makes your closet look like a high-end boutique when you show off your cute bags this way.

I have a plain white one, but you could do a gold, acrylic, or wooden one for an upgraded look. This one is from The Container Store, but you can find them anywhere, even the dollar store. Maybe even your own kitchen!

Bonus: the closet coffee bar

Surprise! This is the bonus favorite item in my closet, and I bet you weren’t expecting it. Maybe not everyone has a use for a coffee bar in their closet, but the point is that you might have room for something that is useful, or just makes you happy when you walk in your closet each morning. Think outside the box!

This empty space under the window was the perfect place to put a tabletop coffee bar. The drawers and cabinets underneath hold K-cups, but also other non-coffee related items, so we still use the space efficiently.

This way I don’t have to go downstairs and wake up the dog and everyone else who demands my attention (you know what I’m talking about, Moms). I can just go in my closet, have a cup of coffee while I get dressed, and start my day in a more relaxed mood. It just made sense for the way I live, so I made the space for it.

I hope some of these ideas will inspire you in your own closet. Thank you for touring my closet with me!

Progress, Not Perfection

It’s easy to get paralyzed by the fear of trying to make your space look like the beautiful images on Pinterest. Overwhelmed by the mess, we can’t move forward because we want it to be perfect. We know that’s going to take a lot of work, or it might just be impossible. So we leave it one more day, and things continue to pile up. . .

But any progress is worth the effort. Once you start an organizing project — even the tiniest first step — things begin to fall into place. Think of how much stress that cluttered corner or pile of papers is causing you. Let go of the idea of perfection, and just start somewhere small.

So. .  . I have been guilty of this as well. I have been so worried about the perfect blog post that I haven’t posted any blog posts. I have been paralyzed by the fear of living up to my own expectations, which were created by obsessing over other people’s beautiful blogs and professional photographs. I wanted to start this blog so that I could do what I do best — geek out over organizing ideas and share those ideas with others. Time to practice what I preach.

 

Color coded Lego organization www.blueprintorganizing.com

 

As a testament to this, I’ve posted a picture of the “epic” results of my Lego organization project I posted on Instagram in September. I’ve procrastinated on posting this because I don’t consider this epic results. However, I have made progress and the perfection I aspire to (a built-in wall of shelves to hold all the Lego containers in rainbow order as well as neatly organized toys) is not in the cards right now. But considering these Legos were scattered randomly in bags and boxes all over the house. . .  for now this is definitely progress, although not perfection.

I hope that this inspires some of you to make some small steps towards progress without fear of perfection.

 

A New Life for Unused Party Supplies

I have a hard time letting of things myself sometimes. What makes it easier for me is to admit that it isn’t worth anything just sitting in my closet. Imagine the joy it could bring to someone who will wear it to an interview and land the job that will change their lives forever. Makes it easier to let it go, right?

This philosophy of passing things on to bring joy to others is a big part of my organizing process. I try to find local organizations that have a real need for items that I typically see a lot of when helping clients get organized.

As part of my services, I collect donations and deliver them to the drop-off site on your behalf. If I’m already organizing for you, there is no additional charge for this service.

One of my favorite local charities isThe Birthday Party Project based in Addison, Texas:

The Birthday Party Project!

The mission of this organization is to “bring joy to homeless children through the magic of birthdays.”

They host birthday parties for homeless children, donating their time and party supplies to give kids joy on their special day!

Their current wish list includes:

  • party supplies (hats, blowers, banners, birthday badges)
  • toys (all ages, $30 value)
  • plastic round and rectangular tablecloths
  • gift wrapping supplies and bags
  • gift cards (target, walmart, visa, toys r us)

I know some of you have these things lying around taking up space. Think of the happiness they can bring to a child if you let them go!

For more information, please check out their website at www.thebirthdaypartyproject.org. They also need volunteers to help host their parties. How fun, and what a worthy cause!