Category Archives: Organizing tips for the home


land of nod

Ever try to walk out the door with an arm full of stuff to put in the car? Like library books to return, a tote for work, your gym bag, lunchbox, mail for the post office, etc? How do you get out the door with all your stuff or better yet, remember to even take what you need with you?

Well, even I surprise myself sometimes with my ideas and this one goes on top of “My All Time Greatest Moments!“  I created an Out-the-Door-Box a few years back.  Here’s how it works:


Using any container, place it by the door you most often use to come into and out of the house.  This container is meant to come in and out with you, so make sure you can carry it easily and it fits in the front seat of your car. Personally, I use a Thirty-One tote like this one.

Every time you think of something you need to take with you in the car, put it in the container.  It’s that simple.

So, say you are shampooing your hair and remember that Suzy asked to borrow your slow cooker.  As soon as you get to the kitchen, put the slow cooker in the Out-the-Door-Box. Need to take pants to the dry cleaner? Put them in the Out-the-Door-Box.  Add snacks to it, coupons you’ll need for the day, etc. Get the idea?

Then, when you are actually leaving the house, grab the whole box and place it in the front seat next to you. It’s magical, really.  You will have all those things with you that you needed.

When you return home, take the empty box back into the house to its designated spot, where it waits to be filled up again.

The out-the-door-box is such a simple solution to corralling all that daily stuff of life and will help you to corral all the little things that are coming in and out of the house everyday. It’s not a bad idea to an out-the-door box for each person of the family!


Bento Box by Rubbermaid

Bento Box by Rubbermaid

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How to Declutter & Organize Books

genre of books

Genre of books

This is an oldie, but goodie. I just went through my books AGAIN and purged about 20 from my shelves. Spring is a great time of year to donate anything, but get rid of books now to make room for summer reads this year! What’s on your current reading list? I’m reading “You Were Born for This” by Bruce Wilkerson and “Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart” by Kyle Idleman.

I love books and it seems like a lot of you all do too since the question of “How to Declutter and Organize a Bookshelf” recently came up.

I especially love books with paper and not the digital kind as much, which is why I still buy and keep too many (according to my husband).  But still, if you are going to keep books around you need a place to store them and stacks on the floor is not the solution!

So, before we talk about organizing a bookshelf, we have to go back to the basics of Organizing 101: get rid of stuff!  Getting rid of books is really hard for me, but the truth is there is a finite amount of space in every house and books can take up a lot of space.  I use these guidelines to help me decide what books to keep or donate.

1.  Would I pass it on or recommend this to someone?

2.  Was this book a life changer or just a good read?

3.  What’s the likely hood that I will ever read it again?

bedroom bookshelf

This is the bookshelf in my bedroom. These are all personal books, resources, and books I am currently going through.

Be honest with yourself.  Most of us never re-read books again even though we tell ourselves we will!  For me, if I wouldn’t recommend it or it wasn’t life changing (or helpful) than I donate it!  And a note on text books-no one wants them from you and you will never use them again!

Once you have decluttered your book collection you can organize the shelves.

My friend Jen over at Bella Home Staging has done an awesome two-part blog on styling bookshelves.  It’s a definite read because she comes at it from a visual and decorative angle.

Here’s the organizing angle.

1.  Organize books by genre, author, or topic (like business books with business books or Max Lucado books together or all books about parenting together etc.)

2.  Then within your categories, organize them by height for a clean, uncluttered look (see first photo).

3.  If you have soft sided books that don’t stand up well, use decorative magazine holders.

4.  Paper back books are not pretty to display, but if you have a lot of them and want to keep them, put them on a low shelf.

5.  Use baskets or decorative containers for tiny books, especially kids books.

6.  Remove paper jacket from hard back books for a clean library look

7.  Break up books on a shelf by adding decor pieces.  It’s much prettier to look at that way!

playroom bookshelf

bookshelf in Teen hang out room. Note baskets on bottom for video game stuff and movies

office bookshelf

Bookshelves in my home office. Note basket for magazines & magazine holders for soft sided books and papers

basket of books

Basket for small and soft books

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The Three P’s of Spring Organizing {video}

With Spring officially here it’s easy to want to do a lot of cleaning and organizing in your home after a long winter. You might look around and think of a dozen things that need to be done, but the reality is that you probably have the time and energy for 2-3 projects.

In this segment of Organize Your Life, I will help you get started with The Three P’s of Spring Organizing. Watch and see what they are and decide which project you will start with!

 1. Pick ONE Project:

 The most overwhelming part of starting to get organized is deciding what to do first.  It’s easy to look around at all that needs to be done and go into shut down mode!

  ·        Make a list of 5-10 organizing projects you would like to do OR

 ·        On index cards, write ONE idea per card or ONE thing you need a place for (see cards)

 Pick ONE of these to start and make a plan for this ONE thing only!

 2.  Plan it Out:

  ·        What do you need to make this happen?  What supplies? What kind of time (remember that it always takes longer than you think)?

 ·        Break it down into small chunks of time~30 minutes, 1hour, etc.

 ·        Will you need outside help like a handyman, painter, professional help?

  3.  Purge like Crazy!

 ·       Don’t try to organize clutter.  Purge first and then organize what is left. 

 ·        Get real with yourself…do you have room for this stuff?  Do you love this stuff?  What is the worst thing that could happen if you got rid of this stuff?What do you really use?

 ·        Remember that you can keep anything you want, but what you keep you need a home for it and need to be able to manage it. 


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6 Everyday Uses for Clothespins

6 everyday uses for clothespins.jpg

Forget all the fancy gadgets out there for organizing small things. All hail the clothespin! By nature, I’m not that crafty, so if you’re with me, here are 6 everyday uses for clothespins for the ordinary person (AKA the non-crafter). While these 6 everyday uses hardly cover then endless uses of clothespins, they are actually things I use them for! For one inexpensive bag of clothespins, you will probably have over 100 uses!

1. Hanging lost socks-

sock and clothespins.jpg

What do you do with the single sock while you wait for it’s mate to show up? If you put it in a drawer, you’re likely to forget about it. If you leave it in the hamper, same thing.

Just get a hanger and clip the abandoned socks to it. Hang the hanger somewhere in the laundry area and wait. Someday soon the other one will come clean and show up. (*snicker, snicker*)

2. A bookmark-

clothespin bookmark.jpg

Seriously, clothespins make the BEST bookmarks!

3. Cord clip-

clothespin cord clip.jpg

I absolutely LOVE using clothespins to keep my cords together. You can use them for all kinds of cords that need to be coiled up and organized. This fits great into my work bag and is easy to find with the clothespin. Works great with earphones, lamp cords, chargers, and blow dryer cords when you are traveling!

4. Memo clips-

clothespin memo clip.jpg

This is such an easy way to remember things as you walk out the door. Attach a piece of magnet onto the back the clothespin and stick it to any metal object. My door happens to be metal so that makes it even easier, but if you don’t have that, get a piece of galvanized steel from any home improvement store and nail to a wall. For around $5 you have a message center and you can use your clothespin with magnets.

I use this to remind myself and my kids of things we need to take with us on the way out the door-lunch money, notes, and other reminders.

5.  Food clip-

clothespin food clip.jpg

Don’t waste anymore money on other food clips. You know, the things that hold chip bags, bread bags, and cereal bags shut after they’re opened. Clothespins are awesome for this and so inexpensive!

6. Coupon and Bill clip-

clothespin coupon clip.jpg

One of my favorite uses for clothespins are for keeping papers together. I mostly use them for keeping coupons together when I go into a store, but I also love to use them to clip bills together. Clip a stack of bills together that you are going to pay on a certain date or just use them to hold all the bills together.

Easy to throw into your purse or tote bag and easy to find also because the papers won’t be scattered everywhere!

These are 6 of my favorite ways to use clothespins, but the reality is is that there are endless amounts of uses for a really inexpensive bag of them! I didn’t even touch on the multiple uses for craft projects. If that’s you, I would love to see what you do with them! Please share.


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Half Hour Organizing Project #1:Organizing Tax Files

half hour organizing projects revisited.jpg

Most of you have done your taxes already, but there are a few stragglers like me that are still pulling it together! In 2013 I did a series of Half Hour Organizing Projects and the very first one was on taxes!

Since April is almost here and that always means tax time, I thought we would revisit the idea of organizing for taxes! This short video will show you how to get it together now so you can get your taxes done and that next years taxes will be a snap!

Click here if Video not displaying

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Spring Organizing Tips

spring organizing tips.jpg

They say it’s spring time. By “they”, I mean the calendar people, but it surely doesn’t feel that way around these parts. Still, I can’t ignore the winter clutter that has made it’s way into my house and I’m ready to do some spring cleaning and organizing!

We often avoid spring cleaning and organizing because we simply don’t have hours and hours to dedicate to a project. So, year after year we let areas of our home go untouched. Here I share will 5 Spring Organizing Tips that will help you no matter how busy you are!

These 5 areas can be tackled and organized by the time summer hits and it won’t take you more than 30 minutes at a time to do it!

1. Paper-

Take all paper older than 1 month (with the exception of bills and really important documents) and toss into a box. Tape it shut and write the date on it.

Store it until the end of the year. If you haven’t needed it all year, toss or shred contents.

2. Email-

Take all emails that are older than 2 weeks and move into a “holding” folder in your email.

Give yourself 2-3 months to see if you have needed any of them. If not, then take the plunge and delete them! Try the new unsubscribe program, to help you get rid of some of your newsletter and advertising emails.

*The next 3 projects need a timer set for 30 minutes*

email clutter

3. Refrigerator & Freezer(s)-

Toss out anything old, expired, & rarely used. If the timer goes off after 30 minutes, quit and schedule another 30 minutes to finish in your calendar.page1image12592 page1image12752page1image12912

In your next 30 minutes, clean refrigerator shelves and drawers with a warm soapy dish towel.

In another 30 minutes, do the same in the freezer.


4. Garage-

Start by tossing out old paint, old chemicals, and anything you can see that is obvious trash to you.

In another 30 minutes, pick one corner to continue the purge and toss process. When your timer goes off, quit! Keep repeating this 30 minute process until the whole garage has been gone through.

5. Closets-

Grab a paper grocery bag or small laundry basket.
For 30 minutes toss anything you don’t want into the bag.

Repeat this process until you have gone through the whole closet. Don’t bounce between different closets-stick to ONE closet until it’s complete.

Once you have finished ONE closet, donate the bags.

You are now ready to organize what’s left! Buy containers, hooks, & shelves and organize it.

Don’t feel pressured to do ALL these things. Pick one or two and start there. And don’t forget to get your family involved.

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Wonder Hanger Review {video}


Ever wonder if the As-Seen-on-TV products really work? I tested out the Wonder Hanger and their claim that it “triples closet space.” Take at look at what I thought about it and if it’s worth spending your money on! This Wonder Hanger Review will help you decide!

I think the Wonder Hanger set is great for small spaces, but my two concerns would be:

1) They can only hold lighter weight clothing like shirts, pants (not denim), and definitely children’s clothing. Heavy clothing will cause the hangers to sag and break quickly.

2) Over time, the plastic may dry, crack and break.

Each box comes with 8 hangers, but it would take several boxes to do a full closet. Still, it does save some space along the rod of a closet and can be a benefit if you have a tiny closet. Let me know your thoughts and if you have ever used the Wonder Hanger in your home!

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Tiny Tip Thursday-The Brain Dump

tiny tip organizing

As many of you know, I have ADD. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 30′s and so I spent most of those years finding ways to not forget information. I just thought I was very forgetful (which I am!), but the good that came of not knowing I had ADD was that I developed ways to manage lots of information and tasks that suited my brain. This is where the brain dump came from and I share it with you today on Tiny Tip Thursday!

Once I knew I had ADD, I kept using these “systems”, if you will, because I knew they worked! This simple brain dump keeps my day not only organized, but helps me to not forget all kinds of important details throughout the day, like registering kids for camps, returning phone calls, and dropping off the dog to the groomer!

I’d love to hear how you keep track of your day and all the important details that go into it! Please share your ideas below so we all can learn from each other!

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5 Ways to Keep a Cluttered House Cluttered

a real room in a real house

Ever wonder how a cluttered house stays cluttered? I often see some really basic habits of my clients and their children when it comes to clutter and messes.  These are habits that us parents don’t even recognize and if we do, we don’t know how to fix them.  So, I will probably step on your toes and maybe even offend you, but my purpose is to help you Live Better.  Here are 5 ways to keep a cluttered house cluttered.

1.  Don’t pick up after yourself and don’t make your kids pick up either

This is a sure fire way create messes that then get layered with clutter.  Things get lost, buried, and ruined and causes frustration when you can’t find things.  Plus, kids never learn the value of stuff.

2.  Buy too much stuff just because it’s “on sale”

My brother once said to me, “not every moment is a Kodak moment, Amy” in regards to my immense framed photo collection.  He was right and I went to rehab for it.  The same principle is true when it comes to sales.  Not every sale is reason to buy.

3.  Never create a system for dealing with the daily mail

This is probably the number one issue with every single home I enter.  The mail comes in, but it never goes out.  Paper clutter will kill you and it replicates faster than…well, it just replicates really fast!

4.  Save every catalog and magazine that you’ve ever had…just in case!

How many catalogs can you really look at?  Fear not. Six more will come this week and if you really, really want to buy something, I’m guessing you could go online to find it.  Same for magazines.  Cut your subscriptions down to one or two at the most and get rid of last years.  Seriously, you need to purge the magazines.

5.  Decide that your home makes a nicer storage unit than say, a shed

My mantra is this: “Your home is not a storage unit“!  It is meant to be lived in, meaning every room is meant to be used and have purpose.  Having entire rooms that have stuff in them that isn’t being used and hasn’t seen the light of day in three years, is not living with purpose.  Everything in your home should be loved, needed, or used.

messy room-organizing

If you recognize yourself in any of these habits, decide today which ONE you will change and help your family change to. You don’t have to change everything at once, but picking one habit to change will move you in the right direction!

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How to Organize the Laundry Room {video}

Since March kicked off our Laundry Organizing Challenge, I thought it would be helpful to actually know how to organize the laundry room or space where all the laundry get’s done!

In this segment of Organize Your Life, I take you through 5 steps to creating a functional, pretty, and cost-effective laundry room!

1. Once you have pulled everything out and cleaned, SORT through the stuff that was in there. Decide what NEED your laundry room to have in it and what you WANT to have in it. No matter the size of the laundry room, create zones or areas for different types of stuff you will have to store and organize.

cleaning supplies

utility supplies like batteries, lightbulbs, tools, etc

pet supplies


stain removal


extra household items

ironing supplies

2. Create “kits” or bins for each of these categories.

Using small and large containers, organize supplies and label clearly.

3. Use wall space- 

Hang shallow baskets, storage bins

Buy a small tower of shelving and use containers

Install cabinets or shelving above washer/dryer all the way to the ceiling

Consider a wall-mounted ironing board to save space

4. Install a hanging bar

Tension rod across a small space

Rolling cart station

Brackets with bar

Retractable clothes line

5. Decorate it!

We spend so much of our week doing the task of laundry, so make your space pretty and enjoyable to be in. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to do it.

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