Destination Organization Blog

Time for the Great Seasonal Clothes Rotation!

Posted by Jamie on October 16th, 2017

Each spring and fall, Chicago weather gets a little schizophrenic. You never know if you’re going to wake up to snow or 80 degrees! How do we handle the kids’ wardrobes during this time of transition?  Below are a few simple steps.  Keep in mind that most of these steps can apply to your wardrobe as well!  And remember to rotate coats too.

I suggest keeping the bare minimum of winter, fall and light spring coats readily available during the transition month then…We can do a full-scale wardrobe rotation and purge.

  • Grab several large plastic bags for donations
  • Sort through every seasonal item (fall/winter if it’s spring, spring/summer if it’s fall), including coats, hats, boots and shoes and create piles for the following:
    1. In poor condition (garbage)
    2. Does not fit/will not fit next season/child doesn’t like it
    3. Will fit a sibling in future. Further sort by sex and size
    4. Will fit same child in fall and is in style. Further sort these by child
  • Donate “2” to those who truly NEED more clothes
  • Pack away “3” and “4”. Be sure to label the container by child, size and season and store them in a non-prime real estate area. Some options are: basement storage, attic, top shelf of a closet and under beds. While you’re at it, if the sports in your house rotate seasonally also, take time to donate the items that no longer fit or for sports nobody is playing anymore. Store the remaining seasonal sports items in a labeled container
  • Have your kids pick a couple off season items to have handy in case of a sudden unseasonable day
  • Bring out the next season clothes and organize them in the dressers and closets

I highly suggest getting your kids involved in the process. They need to learn how to manage their things and getting hands-on experience is the best way! They will learn the process of how to organize anything and will learn that people cannot hold on to everything they ever owned for the rest of their lives.  Not only that, but you’ll get more buy-in from them if they take part in the decision-making process and less resentment for ditching their stuff.

If you’re struggling with getting started, make a commitment to yourself by writing an appointment on your calendar to tackle this project.  I also suggest getting some motivating music going or asking a friend to join you so you have companionship.  In addition, I always recommend to my clients to reward themselves for reaching a goal or crossing something off the task list.  Once you get through the project, what will be your reward?

Make the most your bedroom storage using products like these:

Maximize under bed storage

This container has wheels and opens on both ends for quick access. $22.99

Hike the bed up using these risers. $12.99


Consider using double hanging to maximize space and provide accessibility to the “littles”.  $12.99

Add a drawer unit or a shelving unit to your closet to make use of vertical space. Use something you have for a FREE option!


Photo Organizing 101

Posted by Jamie on April 12th, 2017

Organizing photos can be a wonderful trip down memory lane, but there’s a lot more photo organizingto it than just sitting down and trying to put them in order. Here are a few tips on how to organize photos from Caroline Guntur, Certified Photo Organizer.

Invest in Quality Photo Storage

Organizing your photos is a big undertaking, so if you can’t get to that part just yet, try to at least store your photos correctly to prevent further damage to them, i.e. in a dry environment where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much. This is a good first step to take that doesn’t require too much time or effort.


Purchase a sturdy, archival-quality storage box or album that will help you stay organized. I highly recommend the Legacy Box from the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO). It comes in several different sizes, and has been tested to meet the most rigorous standards. Plastic storage containers are fine for sorting photos, but you want to avoid them for long term storage because they trap moisture, which speeds up the deterioration of your photos.


Utilize a digital photo hub (dph), meaning a reliable storage place where your digital digital photo organizingphotos can live.  This can be a folder on your computer or an external hard drive. Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular, but isn’t yet reliable enough to use as a dph, though a cloud backup is fine. You want something with enough space to keep all of your photos together in one place, so plan on having at least 1TB worth of digital storage space available so you don’t run out before you’re done organizing.

Organize Digital Photos First

Your instinct may tell you to organize of your prints first, but I always recommend starting with your digital photos (unless prints are all that you have). We deal with digital first because you need a system going forward. The past is the past and won’t change, but if you have a system in place for dealing with the images you will take in the coming years, you won’t get buried further under a mountain of new photos. Life isn’t going to slow down just because you’re not ready for it, so develop a system you can maintain from now on, and then address the backlog little by little.

Start by importing all of your digital photos from your devices to your digital photo hub (dph), so that you can start organizing them. Where should you be looking for your photos? In every place you can think of, including:

  • Smartphones (including old ones laying around)
  • Digital cameras (the internal memory)
  • Memory cards (including those from obsolete cameras)
  • External hard drives
  • Flash drives
  • Non-commercial CDs and DVDs
  • Computers (including older ones)

Don’t feel that you have to transfer everything in one day. You can complete this step over a few days or a few weeks even. This gathering process is the most time consuming, and the time it takes will depend entirely on the number of storage devices you have, your past system, and the time you have available to set aside for this project.

Sort Your Photos

Once you have everything in one place, it’s a good idea to decide on how you would like to sort your photos. There are many ways to do this, but the two best ways are chronologically and thematically. Chronological sorting is self-explanatory. With this system, you organize your photos based on when they were taken, for example by decade, year, or month. Thematic sorting means that you divide your photos based on a theme or category, such as birthday celebrations, graduations, or vacations. It’s up to you which works best for your collection.

Sort chronologically if you:

  • Like facts & dates
  • Have a good memory
  • Want to organize in detail

Sort thematically if you:

  • Care more about the events rather than the dates
  • Don’t have many details about your photos
  • Want to organize your collection quickly

Edit Your Photos 

In digital photography, it’s easy to have many similar shots or ‘mistakes’ that don’t need to end up in your final selection. Not all photos need to be saved. You can easily cut down on the number of photos you need to store by getting rid of:

  • Blurry shots
  • Bad angles
  • Duplicates
  • Photos without a story

Maintenance is a Must

All types of organizing requires ongoing maintenance, and photo organizing isn’t any different. Once you have your collection under control, set aside time regularly to import, sort, edit, and organize your photos so you can continue to enjoy your memories without stress.

For more on the ins and outs of photo organizing, come visit me over at

Caroline Guntur is a Certified Photo Organizer, Family Historian, and Genealogist. A native of Ystad, Sweden, Caroline now resides just outside of Chicago, IL, where she runs The Swedish Organizer, LLC., a company that helps people sort, digitize, and preserve their family histories. She is a member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO), the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), the Association of Personal Historians (APH), and the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) 


Taming Toys – How to Take Back Your House!

Posted by Jamie on March 10th, 2017

Do you cringe when you walk into your kids’ messy bedrooms?  Does your family roomBedroom organization before 2 resemble a disaster zone toy store?  Well, believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be that way!  Organizing toys is fairly easy – teaching the kids how to keep them organized is the hard part.

Additionally, I bet you’re feeling even more overwhelmed after a holiday or birthday because many fun toys were left behind for your little ones to enjoy.  But they already had enough toys before the holiday, didn’t they?

I highly recommend involving your kids in the organizing process as much as they can, depending on their age.  If they are involved, they will have more buy-in for the end result and maintaining the newly organized spaces.  If you don’t involve them, they may resent your efforts, or the system may not work that well for them because their personalities and preferences were not considered.

The Process

Let’s take a look at how to tame all those toys.  There is a basic process I follow for almost all organizing projects. 

  • Assessment – Assess what’s working and what’s not working. I know you probably think NOTHING is working!  However, if you look around, you may just see a few systems in place that do work for you and your kids.  Make note of these key points so you can circle back to them later.
  • Goals – Determine what your goals are for the area where the kids play with their toys. Do you want everything to be put away and/or can some things be in plain sight?  Do you want your kids to put away their toys daily, weekly?
  • Sort – Sort like items into labeled boxes or bags. Use sorting categories that make sense to your child and the way they play with their toys.  You’ll also need sorting boxes for donations, recycling, garbage and items that go somewhere else in the house.  Donate, recycle or toss if there are broken or missing parts, it has been more than a year since you have seen it or used it or the kids have outgrown the toy.  I know that letting go of toys can be challenging for kids, although you may be surprised by how easily they let go versus how the adults let go!  For more on how to get the kids involved in the sorting/purging process, read this post: Helping Kids Let Go.

Below are some examples of toy categories:

  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Action figures
  • Legos
  • Dress up
  • Musical toys
  • Cars
  • Dolls
  • Video games
  • Zones – Now that you’ve sorted things out, you will need to determine where the kids like to play with the various toys so you can make new homes for them in those areas. Reference back to your assessment and see if you can utilize something that was working well before.  I like to keep items close to where people naturally use them because this facilitates using them and putting them away.  Some examples of this are crafts in the kitchen, books in the bedroom, big toys in the basement or outside and board and video games in the family room.  Next, you’ll need to move your sorted boxes to the zones you have assigned.
  • Containerize – This is the fun part you’ve been waiting for! I bet you didn’t know there was so much that happens BEFORE the container part.  Here’s my checklist of container ideas:
    • Keep it simple
    • Easy Access – Low & light!
    • Motor problems? – Easy open containers, handles
    • Label everything – Can’t read? Use pictures!
    • Baskets are great for holding small items so they won’t fall over or roll away


Here are some fabulous container ideas to get your juices flowing!

Customizable Storage From IKEA

IKEA toy storage IKEA Toy Storage













Craft Supplies

coloring book storage

Magazine files work well for coloring books and construction paper

Excellent for keeping paper and drawing supplies handy

pencil boxes 












craft storage












Legos are a challenge to organize.  I suggest not overthinking this.  Typically, the kids don’t really care if their Legos are sorted in some meaningful way.  It’s the adults who want them sorted and are annoyed with Legos laying around everywhere!  If the bricks are not kits or are kits that are now taken apart, I suggest shallow containers that make it easier to sift through to find a specific size or shape of brick.  Any organization further than that is usually an exercise in futility!










Video Games and DVDs

dvd cd wallet









Stuffed Animals or Big Blocks

stuffed animal blocks storage










ball storage








Clean Your Room!

Now that everything is organized, how do we keep it that way?  We, as parents, need to say more than, “go pick up your toys!”  Kids don’t always have the skills to visualize what picking up and cleaning means.  We need to teach them what it means for a room to be organized and picked up.  A few ideas I like are:chore chart

  • Be clear about how frequently you expect toys to be put away
  • Make putting away toys a part of their chore chart
  • Provide them a step-by-step task list or provide them with picture visuals of the steps, which may work better than words and will teach them the valuable skill of visualizing project steps
  • Hang a photo or two of the “clean room”


4 toys sm

Remember this disaster room?  Feel better?

Bedroom organization before 2

Bedroom organization after 2






What’s your biggest toy organization challenge or your greatest solution?


Standing Desk-Find the Best One For You!

Posted by Jamie on February 1st, 2017

Courtesy of Custom Made

A couple of years ago, I had a client in search of a standing desk.  When I researched back then, I didn’t find many options, but the idea of a standing desk was intriguing so I kept my eyes on the subject.

Fast forward a few years and there’s a standing desk revolution.  There are many kinds of desks and options to choose from, unlike what I saw when first researched these desks!  The current desks have variable heights that can be adjusted any time by pushing a button or using a crank.  I love this idea as you can readily move from standing to sitting anytime without much time wasted adjusting.

There are studies coming out that show the detriments of sitting for so many hours a day so I think this concept is worthy of a look.  In fact, the ability to move from standing to sitting and back again seems to be the best of both worlds in regards to your health.  Before you buy a standing desk, learn about the features of these desks and the health benefits and other considerations for standing while working by taking a look at this in-depth review by

Regardless of which kind of desk you use for standing or sitting, always ensure you have proper ergonomics with your posture, keyboard, monitor and any other desktop items that you reach for frequently.  You will undo all the positive effects of the stand/sit option if you end up with carpal tunnel syndrome and a kink in your neck!

Have you tried a standing desk yet?  What are your recommendations for the best way to make standing work well?  Has a standing desk improved your productivity?


Time Suckers at Work: Meetings

Posted by Jamie on November 29th, 2016

In my last corporate job, I spent an inordinate amount of time in meetings.  I literally had to play defense on my Outlook calendar in order to try to ward off people scheduling me for more meetings.  I would go into my calendar and block time for me to do my actual work in hopes that would deter meeting schedulers!

Attending meetings isn’t all bad but, when the meetings are not productive, it is a time sucker.  I felt that most of the time the person holding the meeting was just doing so to make the team feel like they were involved in the decisions that were being made.  The managers didn’t seem to actually be interested in the team input.  Therefore, the meeting was a waste of our time.

Quill has come up with some wonderful ways to improve the quality of your business meetings.  I particularly like their points on having a meeting agenda and specific follow up steps from the meeting.  Which tip will you take to work?

From Quill:

Meetings are a necessary evil. While they can and do accomplish plenty, meetings aren’t always productive. And they’re costly too: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that unnecessary meetings cost $37 billion every year. But by defining the type of meeting you’re having, establishing ground rules, and inviting only who you need to, meetings can accomplish what they’re intended to. Don’t assume all is said and done when the team leaves the conference room either. Following up and analyzing results will help save time, too. Check out the infographic below to identify more meeting mistakes and learn how to hold more effective, successful meetings.



How to Reduce Paper Piles

Posted by Jamie on August 26th, 2016

Do you have paper clutter bringing you down?  Let me show you what paper needs to be kept and how to store it!  But not only that, I’ll also teach you how to kick the paper habit.

If you dislike paper,  you’re in luckDisorganized Paper. I have strategies for processing the paper that comes into your home or office and ways to reduce the amount of paper that comes into your life.  You can kick the paper habit.

The 4 stages of paper:

  1. New
  2. Active
  3. Archive/Reference
  4. Dead

New Paper

This is what comes in the mail or from other sources, such as events you attend, work, meetings, friends and school.  What are you supposed to do with all this paper??  Keep it moving!  Here’s how:

  • Sort mail daily while standing over the recycling bin. Purge all junk mail, envelopes and inserts. Shred sensitive documents
  • Employ RAFT method: Read, Act, File, Toss
  • Any mail that can be handled in 2 minutes or less, do immediately; then toss or file the paper
  • Don’t forget receipts!  Many of our clients have mountains of receipts. Ask yourself why you are hanging onto them.  If you can’t think of a good reason, you may not need them.  In addition, many stores can access the receipt by using your credit card. I recommend only keeping receipts for items that qualify for inclusion in your tax records, items you might return or that are for big ticket purchases that have a warranty. Your receipt is your proof of purchase date for warranty purposes.  Personally, I’ve stopped taking receipts for most of my day to day purchases due to the accessibility of real-time, online banking

Active Paper

New papers that make it through the initial sort-and-purge become active paper.  This is often where the piles start forming.  So what’s next?

  • Set up a desktop hanging file system or wall hanging sorter to sort the remaining mail.  Use categories like “bills,” “future events,” “read,” “to do” and “file.”  Remember that no papers are intended to LIVE in these containers forever!  The papers are temporary guests
  • Keep your chosen system near where you prefer to process paper: home office, kitchen, family room, etc.  The more convenient it is to process, the more likely you are to do it!
  • If you don’t have much mail to sort out, simply create an in-box for him and her

paper sort expanding filepaper sort wall






paper sort desktop box paper sort bamboo box









Now that the active paper is sorted, we have to keep it moving!

  • Pick a day of the week to take care of the “to do” items.  Write a reminder on yomagazine basketur calendar until it becomes a habit
  • Store magazines and catalogs where you would actually like to read them. Use the container as a LIMIT
  • Cancel all magazine and catalog subscriptions you don’t read by calling the number on the back of the catalog



















Active Paper – Filing Basics

  • Store ACTIVE papers in an accessible area
  • Store ARCHIVE papers in a less accessible area
  • Store VITAL records in a fire proof safe or safety deposit box (birth certificates, marriage & divorce records, adoption, titles, will, social security records)

When creating files, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Keep in mind that at least 80% of what we file we never look at again
  • Consider color coding the broad categories

    hanging files

    Tabs in a row are visually pleasing. When you add a new file, there is no issue with alignment either! Courtesy of Smead

  • Label files “general to specific” – Bank: Chase
    1. Taxes- Current Year
    2. Credit cards
    3. Loans
    4. Insurance
    5. Home Improvement Receipts
    6. Manuals/warranties
    7. Hobbies
    8. If these kind of categories don’t speak to you, use what makes sense to you!
  • Place all hanging file tabs in same position
  • Alphabetize, or group then alphabetize
  • There are many ways to do this, so be open to what seems right to your brain
  • Keep up on your filing so it doesn’t become a huge burden
  • Purge active files regularly: try every time you open the file or yearly
  • Paper that isn’t active or dead needs to be archived

Archive Paper

Papers that do not need to be accessed, but do need to be kept, are archive papers.  I find the best time to archive is January.  Examples of archive paper are past tax records, property closing documents, appraisals, or vital records.

Store archive paper in a box labeled by year or a transfer the file system you had it in when it was active to another location.  Keep archive papers in non-prime real estate such at the back of a closet or in the basement.  For business, archives maybe kept off-site at a document storage facility.

Dead Paper

Paper is dead if:

Always shred personally identifiable information. If you have a bulk of paper to shred, hire a shredding company to pick it up, take it to an office supply store for shredding or find a free, local shredding event.

How Do You Reduce the Influx of Paper?

When it comes to reducing paper, technology is your friend!

  • Scan records– This can be a serious undertaking. I generally don’t recommend this, but suggest going electronic from this date forward rather than spending time scanning paper that you will never look at again.
  • Rely on websites for access to documents:Landfill Picture
    1. Bank statements
    2. Credit card statements
    3. Manuals
    4. Hobby information
    5. Utility bills
  • Get and pay your bills electronically
  • Get all statements electronically– health insurance explanation of benefits, bank, investment
  • Remove your name from direct marketers’ mailing lists. Visit to opt out.
  • Restrict the use of your information (Respond to privacy statements from credit cards and other companies you do business with)
  • Recipe websites
  • Use smartphone apps to replace things you are tracking on paper. There is likely an app for it already on the market and apps are infinitely more searchable than piles of paper!
    1. Grocery lists – Grocery iQ
    2. General notes: Evernote- ideas, business cards, links, expenses. The ways to use this are only limited by your imagination. I keep a note of interesting things my kid says because I know I won’t be able to remember them all and sometimes they are hilarious or insightful
    3. Mileage tracker – Milog
    4. Movie lists – Flixster
    5. Wine lists – Vivino
    6. Task managers – Outlook, Gmail, Remember the Milk, Epic Win

What’s your favorite app for reducing paper in your life?  Which of my strategies will you implement today? Comment to let me know! I would love to hear from you.


The Art of Keeping Up With Yesterday – 12 Procrastination-Beating Tips!

Posted by Jamie on June 28th, 2016

procrastination, to do listI’m so glad that you didn’t procrastinate on reading this blog post! While National Procrastination Week is in March, we all know that the pesky habit can creep up during any time of the year.

Procrastination is the Enemy!

The biggest difference between a neat home or office and a messy one is the amount of time between task identification and task completion. Most of us will eventually pick up, put away and do most the tasks required around the home or office. But many procrastinate so much so that the process turns into a huge undertaking. This causes more procrastination! The best way to tackle the hassle? Stop putting things off!

Beat Procrastination Today —

  • If you took it out, put it away.
  • Put things away as you go along, BEFORE moving on to the next thing. (This is a great one to teach kids regarding their toys. I recall my grandmother was a stickler on this one!  Although I’m not sure why she was so disciplined about the toys because her dining room table was always piled up with paper!  Hmm…)
  • 30 second rule – If it takes less than 30 seconds to do, DO IT NOW
  • Forget perfectionism – Good and DONE is better than none
  • Eat the frog first – Tackle the worst task first and get it over with!


    Courtesy of Vitolefat

  • Rethink what you think – What’s the consequence of the procrastination behavior; dispute your own irrational thinking; effect (desired effect/get it done)
  • Take responsibility for that which you have ownership. Forget about everyone else’s stuff. You cannot control their behavior, only yours
  • Develop a compulsion-to-closure attitude! Find the joy in crossing a task off your to-do list  (I’m sure you won’t be surprised, but crossing items off my task list makes me extremely satisfied!  I can’t wait to cross off “write blog post on procrastination”)
  • Make it fun! Be creative, find a partner, add music and rewards

Tips from (Other) Pros

In ADD Crusher’s article on “Procrastination Brain Hacks,” three experts on the issue weigh in and give their advice for people who can’t kick the habit of putting things off. Sound like you?  Take it from me, these guys know what they’re talking about.  I’ve seen the ADD Crusher, Alan Brown, and psychologist Ari Tuckman speak at the NAPO conference and they know their subject matter inside and out.

Re-Frame the Task: When you look at a task to be completed, you can likely think of a hundred other things you would rather be doing. To beat this roadblock, psychologist Ari Tuckman suggests that you consider the task differently. Instead of thinking about what you would rather be doing, think about what “10 pm you” will be thinking if the task isn’t completed.

Understand What is Boring: If you recognize what it is about the task that bores you, you will be one step closer to getting it finished. Eric Tivers recommends setting time aside to “process” the boring parts of the task. By assigning a specific time to work on these parts of the task, you can tough it out and be better assured that you can and will complete it.

Recognize Why It isn’t Getting Done: Have you ever become frustrated that you’ve worked for two or three hours, but nothing seems to have gotten done? If this happens to you, take time to evaluate what about the task is so difficult. Attention coach Jeff Copper suggests that by simply considering what is so difficult about the task, you can “work different” rather than “work harder,” and therefore make the task easier for yourself.

What’s your number one way to stop procrastinating?  Please share!

Call me today, not tomorrow, if you can use assistance with managing your time more effectively!


Kitchen Organizing – Storage Optimization

Posted by Jamie on March 24th, 2016

If you haven’t read my first kitchen organizing post, please go read that one first.  The first post explains how to reduce kitchen clutter and set up work zones.  This post picks up where that one left off: where and how to store the remaining kitchen items.

pantry organizing

Pantry Disaster!

Now that you have purged the unnecessary items and determined what area you would like to keep each category of kitchen items in, we are ready to do everyone’s favorite part.  It’s time to containerize all that kitchen gear!

There are several goals for containerizing categories:  Keep like items together, make finding items easier, make clean up easier, make small items visible, make items accessible.

Drawers and roll-out shelves are the most accessible type of storage in the kitchen.  If you have an abundance of these, you may not need many storage devices and containers.  If you do not have lots of these, as most of you likely do not, then here’s the low-down on kitchen storage options.

When shopping for containers (either from your vast pile of now empty containers, or from a store), remember that square and rectangle containers are the most space efficient.  Not sure what are the best types of things to put in containers?  Read on!  You should keep the categories that you created during the sorting process containerized in some way.

  • Spices
  • Vitamins, medicine and supplements
  • Tea bags or coffee pods

    spice organizer

    Place short spices on lower tier

  • Snack cups or packets
  • Granola bars
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Plastic drink cups or baby bottles
  • Container or pot lids
  • Cooking gadgets
  • Candy
  • Flour, sugars
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Homework supplies
  • Mail and paper tasks that you prefer to do in the kitchen
  • Baking supplies (chocolate chips, sprinkles, icing tubes, cupcake liners, cookie cutters)
  • Water bottles (They are so top heavy that having them in a container keeps them from tipping)

Take a look at all these options to get ideas of what container is best for your items.  Often times, a simple plastic basket is the best option.  I love that there are many sizes and materials available.

School supply container from IKEA

School supply container from IKEA

Snacks and oatmeal packages are stored in simple containers. Snacks are stored in rectangular containers that the kids can open and CLOSE!

Bars and oatmeal packages are stored in simple containers. Snacks are stored in rectangular containers that the kids can open and CLOSE easily!

Kitchen paperwork is contained!

Kitchen paperwork is contained!

Custom Drawer Dividers

Custom drawer divider for this awesome deep drawer!






Top shelf utilizes handled basket for easy reach. Spices contained for access to items in back.

Top shelf utilizes handled basket for easy reach. Spices contained for access to items in back.

Inexpensive Drawer Dividers

Inexpensive Drawer Dividers


Kitchen gadget crock

Keep a LARGE crock by the stove for frequently used cooking tools

If you need more space in your kitchen still, go vertical!  The walls, back splash and doors all make excellent options for finding additional storage space.  You can also stack baskets, use wire shelves to add space above a cabinet shelf or use vertical storage devices on shelves to make use of the vertical space.

Easy to install over-the-door storage

Divider makes access easy. No lifting required!

Pan divider makes access easy. No lifting required! No installation required

Stackable baskets from Sterilite add a second layer of storage








Simple wire accessories to double the storage

Simple wire accessories to double the storage

Can be used vertically or horizontally. Courtesy of The Container Store

Can be used vertically or horizontally. Courtesy of The Container Store

There are many ways to make the items in your kitchen more accessible.  And the more accessible they are, the more likely you are to use them and return them to where they belong!  Take a look at these custom and retrofit options.

kitchen cabinet organizer

Retrofit roll out that works around the plumbing

Retrofit option from Shelf Genie

Retrofit any cabinet with Shelf Genie to make items in back easy to reach









custom kitchen cabinet organizer

Custom blind corner cabinet configuration is accessible and makes more efficient use of space than a lazy Susan

Roll out pantry cabinets

Roll out pantry cabinets are accessible from both sides










Remember the pantry photo from the top?  Check out how this pantry turned out!



Pantry AFTER

Pantry AFTER


Kitchen Organizing – Clearing the Clutter

Posted by Jamie on July 7th, 2015


Does this look familiar?

Crowded kitchen?  Getting rid of excess household clutter will eliminate 40% of the housework in the average home!*  Who wants to clean the kitchen when there is all that clutter laying around?  It is so overwhelming.

Does your kitchen seem to take forever to clean up due to piles and appliances on the counters?  Or do you just eat out instead of trying to cook in there?!  Make the most out of the space in your cabinets and you will notice that clean up is simple, not dreaded, and you will want to cook!

When organizing a kitchen with a client, we always start with sorting like items together.  We sort into categories such as these:

  • Prep
  • Baking
  • Pots and pans
  • Food storage/pantry items
  • Cleaning
  • Lunch items
  • Household paperwork
  • Kid’s snacks or dishes
  • Homework supplies
  • Supplements and medicine

As we sort, we are looking for items to let go of.  What could you possibly let go of, you ask?  Oh, there are so many options!

  • Duplicate items
  • Broken tools or appliances
  • Expired food and medicine (In every kitchen I organize, there are bags full of this!)
  • Never used food (You know, for the cool Asian recipe or specialty cocktail you were going to try!)
  • Uni-taskers -strawberry huller, egg slicer, grapefruit spoons, egg cooker, sandwich maker…The list goes on.  I used to work at Sunbeam-Oster and we sold many of these uni-tasking appliances that suck up all your counter space.  Milkshake machine, anyone?
  • Specialty drink glasses (For all the parties you never actually have.)
  • Serving pieces
  • Food storage containers that are missing lids
  • Things that belong somewhere else in the house

Do you know what the least used kitchen items are?  How many of these are lurking in your home?

  • Fondue pot, bread maker, crepe maker, ice cream maker, veggie juicer, crock pot, waffle iron, propane torch, cookie press, banana-ripening rack, pizza stone, apple corer, pizza cutter**  

Please donate all the working items, of course.  Some other family will be overjoyed to have your extra kitchen gear.  Many food pantries will take your unopened but recently expired foods.

Now that you’ve eliminated the unnecessary items, take a look at your categories.  Decide where is the best place to store those items by considering where you prefer to do or store the following:

  • Prep/chopping/shredding
  • Baking/mixing
  • Food/pantry items
  • Paperwork, if it applies to you
  • Lunch prep
  • Homework
  • Household paperwork processing

Set up a zone for each of the major categories in your kitchen.  Within each zone, keep most often used items in “prime real estate” because the easier it is to put it away, the more likely it WILL be put away.  Putting things away is the goal so we don’t end up with stuff all over the counters again.

Kitchen Prime Real Estate:

  • Easy to access
  • Lower shelves
  • Fronts of shelves
  • Drawers
My Kitchen Overflow Storage

My Kitchen Overflow Storage

Place items related to the zones in the new zone storing most frequently used items in prime real estate.  If you find there still isn’t enough space, another round of purging may be in order.  Another consideration is storing infrequently used items such as china, serving dishes and large appliances in another area of the home.  Sometimes a top shelf of a closet or a storage area in the basement can double as kitchen overflow storage.

What’s your biggest kitchen disaster or success?

If you’d like to know more about kitchen organization and what kinds of containers and storage options can further optimize your kitchen, check back soon for my next kitchen organizing post!  Get inspired by more kitchen before and after photos here.

Want to know what happened to that kitchen counter at the top of the post?  We purged, created a flow for the paperwork that came to the kitchen so it wouldn’t stay there forever and had shelves and an outlet put in under the desk to house some of the supplies, dust buster and the printer.




AFTER-New shelving and outlet


AFTER-New printer shelf

*Source: The National Soap and Detergent Association

**Source: It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh


Time Management Issues: How to Revamp Your Work Schedule

Posted by Jamie on June 3rd, 2015


In a recent survey, 56% of working peoplestated that time management is an organizational issue for them.  Forty-six percent stated that email management is a problem and 16% said managing their schedule is a problem. (Survey conducted by National Association of Professional Organizers.)  to do list

Do you have a “crazy” schedule that has you running from dawn until midnight?  Do you often wonder why you’re doing these tasks or attending these meetings?  You’re not alone! 

My clients often find themselves being run ragged by other people’s priorities.  They have lost their own goals and priorities in the shuffle of a busy life.  They don’t realize they have chosen to be THIS BUSY. (Read this post on Saying NO and Setting Boundaries.)

Start revamping your work schedule by following these steps:

  • Create a time-blocked view of your work week in order to understand how you are spending your time and how you’d like to spend time85854eed-df63-431b-abf4-5b1c29d4ffb6
  • Print a blank weekly calendar and block out times for travel, lunch (yes, don’t forget to include it!!), regular meetings, weekly planning
  • Block 2-3 times a day where you triage and respond to email. (I know this sounds impossible but others will adapt to your new process.)
  • Add blocks of time where you can actually work on YOUR PROJECTS, not someone else’s  priority
  • Consider your peak performance times when blocking
    • If you travel regularly for work or have random meetings, you may need to complete this exercise weekly in order to adapt

Sixty percent of respondents in the survey stated they could save 16-60 minutes PER DAY if they were more organized.  Sixty-two percent said they felt LESS STRESSED after working with a professional organizer.  If this sounds appealing to you, contact us.  We can provide a fresh look at your life and guide you through the chaos.

Are you up for the challenge?  What can you do today to save yourself precious time?