I heard someone the other day say in passing that “there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” and it got me thinking about the process of organizing. What’s cool about organizing is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Being organized is a highly personal and customized process that taps equally into our creative, analytical and rational abilities. When organizing actual objects, some people need to see everything laid out in front of them and have lots of visual cues, while others prefer that everything be neatly hidden behind closed doors when not in use. Some people like storage bins and baskets with bright colors, while others prefer a more relaxed color palate. With that being said, and despite your personal style and habits, I think it’s safe to say that there are a few foundational rules to live by that are important in the process of organizing our stuff.
Things serve us better when grouped into categories based on what they are and how they are used. It’s a good idea to keep like-with-like where it makes sense. For instance, keeping all your cooking spices together in the same cabinet and not spread out across multiple locations saves time and effort in finding the right spice for your recipes. Sheets should probably be kept together and maybe separated in different baskets by bed size or family member. DVDs probably belong together in one place for easy reference.
Once grouped, consider the items’ functions and arrange them in a way that makes them easily accessible right in the places where they will likely be used. Most of us would not store silverware in the bathroom or socks in the garage for example. Storing the right things close to where they will be used also saves time and the effort to locate everything when needed for the task at hand.
Going a step further, it’s helpful to think about the zones of operation within each space. These are the areas within reach when performing routine activities, like doing laundry, paying bills and making coffee. If I am in the kitchen making a cup of coffee, my zone of operation should ideally contain all the things needed to make that cup of coffee within arm’s reach. This means the mugs, coffee and coffee maker should be near each other. If I must walk completely across the kitchen to grab a mug, back across to the opposite corner to open the refrigerator and grab the creamer, and then back to the other side again to brew my coffee, I end up with a lot of wasted time and effort and am now potentially bumping into family members as I go.
If we can remember these 3 simple, foundational rules to 1) group things into categories, 2) arrange by use for easy accessibility, and 3) store in zones by routine activity, the rest is really left to the eyes of the beholder. Whether you like wire baskets or clear plastic bins, drawers or open shelving, there really is more than one way to skin that cat when getting organized. Meow!
There is a common misconception that I hear a lot when it comes to being organized. Thanks to beautiful magazine spreads and Martha Stewart-like Pinterest posts, most of us envision the perfectly organized home as being super clean, tidy, new, fresh and perfect. We often envision something that is far outside of our budget, capability and reach.
As a professional organizer myself, I want to be the first to dispel this myth. I have 2 kids, 2 dogs and 4 guinea pigs in my home. It is NOT perfect most of the time. It doesn’t always look orderly, and the laundry is usually piled a bit higher than I would like. It is not uncommon for my kids to pitch objects that they no longer want into the hallway outside of their bedrooms. I find wrappers stuffed in the couch and escaped Cheerios in places where they should not be. It’s not always pretty! Our homes need to be comfortable and functional, and living in one that resembles a museum is not achievable for most of us.
While it is important to have organizing strategies that reduce stress and enable you to bring your home back to “normal” when the mess gets too overwhelming, you will drive yourself crazy trying to achieve and maintain what society envisions as perfectly organized. Fellow professional Organizer and Author, Anne Blumer, said it best in her book “Get Rich Organizing.” She said “organization is not neatness. In my experience, stress does not come from clutter. It comes from not knowing where to put the clutter away.” She went on to also admit that her own home gets messy at times, so I urge you to give yourself a break and instead follow these simple rules to get and maintain a realistic balance of organization in your home:
Getting and staying organized is an ongoing process that will likely need to be revisited and tweaked over time. Once you find a routine that works for you and the others in your household, remember to keep it going, but to maintain perspective. Remember that life is not experienced to its fullest if we are constantly stressing over a little clutter. It’s okay to step over that pile in the hallway and go play with your kids if you know that cleaning it up will be a cinch when time allows.
What's in a name anyway?
I find that as I get older, I get my greatest joy from seeing others being empowered and excited for their own lives. I have learned that every word, action and sentiment creates a small ripple effect across our community. It feels immensely good to stand in the presence of someone else’s success, pinnacle moments and triumphs.
That is why I named this business AMPLO Organizing. Amplo in Latin means to amplify; to exalt; to lift up. That’s what we should all be baking into every one of our mission statements: to lift up others and amplify their lives.
As a side note, I have a weird and nerdy fascination with putting things in order and solving household problems, like were to put the mountain of orphan socks that keep appearing in my laundry room. So, I figured, why not put the two passions together and create this business? Why not fulfill my own obsession with getting organized, and at the same time, change the lives of others in small and positive ways?
Feeling inundated by the high volume of paper that enters your home each week? If you are like most of us, especially if you have school-aged children, it's possible that your kitchen island, office desk or dining room table might be overrun or entirely lost under heaps of bills, homework and flyers. Keeping track of due dates and reminders is nearly impossible unless you implement a better system to manage your paper clutter.
Complex filing or super beautiful solutions can often end up being disregarded because there are too many steps involved in keeping up with the process. We suggest a simple and easy to use filing system that can be staged on an unused corner of the kitchen counter or in another easily accessible location within your home.
First you will need to purchase (or find within your own stash) a basic, smaller-scale file box or basket. Grab a handful of hanging file folders and labels. Label the folders as follows:
You can get creative and add other folders if there are additional categories of paper that are specific to your family or lifestyle but remember that less is best when implementing a system that will be used consistently over time.
Once established, practice this maintenance routine each week to keep your filing system fresh and tidy:
- Review other documents in the ‘This Week’ folder to pull and throw away anything that is no longer relevant.
- Review the documents in the 'Next Week +' folder and transfer any bills or documents to the 'This Week'
folder if they need to be addressed in the coming week.
2. Once a month, review the contents of the 'To File' folder and transfer the documents that are still considered critical
to your more permanent filing system. Throw away any documents that are no longer considered critical for filing.
3. Once annually, remove all documents from the ‘Taxes’ folder and use them to prepare your tax filings. Once
prepared, transfer these documents to your permanent filing system for safe keeping. In most cases, the IRS
suggests that you keep records relating to previous tax returns for 3 years after the date of filing.
Developing this simple system will take about 20 minutes of your time, but save you a lifetime of stress, confusion and missed obligations if followed correctly.
By this time, most of us are getting back into the full swing of life in this new year. We have cleaned the house and put away the Christmas decorations. We have set, and maybe already slipped in our resolutions. Now is the perfect time to revisit and set intentions for those resolutions that will help us to succeed and maintain momentum. Whether you resolve to lose 5 pounds, quit smoking or finally clean out the hallway closet, I have found that setting a clear path forward and revisiting those intentions every morning is critical to success.
What is an intention you ask? This part is simple. Think about what you most desire (remember those 5 pounds?) and build yourself a simple mantra that you can repeat out loud each morning, maybe while staring into the mirror if that’s your thing. Something like “I have the strength and discipline to shape my body into its best form and I will lose 5 pounds with ease and grace” might work. That part is personal and completely up to you. There is no wrong intention if the focus is on a positive outcome.
I personally write my intentions down and store them in a mason jar that I keep on my desk. This jar was a gift I received as part of a recent women’s retreat, and the process has proven to resonate best for me personally over time. I open the jar and pull out each piece of paper every morning, reading my individual intentions out loud. The process takes maybe 2 minutes but goes a long way towards helping me to get grounded and reset my focus for the day. Give this a try and I promise you won't be disappointed!
Happy New Year from Amplo Organizing! We hope that Santa was good to all of you and that you are as glad as we are to once again hear the squeaky brakes of the school buses. Christmas can be hectic in our house, and with new gifts come an overabundance of wrapping, boxes and clutter. Although I am not a fan of new year's resolutions, I do recognize that there's no time like the present to make improvements and de-clutter our environments. Now that the holidays are over and we are getting into the swing of the new year we are in the perfect season to make these resolutions happen. Lucky for us, January is the National Association of Productivity and Organization's (NAPO) 'Get Organized & Be Productive' (GO) month. Check out some of the great tips and information that NAPO has to offer by visiting their website at www.napo.net/page/NAPOGOMonth19. It's time for us to reclaim our schedules, money and spaces, pull everything back into working order and start 2019 in the driver's seat as our best selves! Visit our website today at www.amploorganizing.com to explore how we might help in the process.