Organization tips from Laura Forbis St. Clair.
When it comes to creating a well-functioning household, good organization can go a long way toward increasing efficiency, decreasing stress, and allowing more time to do the things you love.
“A home should be lived in, but there’s lived in and there’s can’t function in. When people get to the point where it’s no longer overwhelming, they gain control and they start to be able to do other things,” says Managed Chaos owner and professional organizer Laura Forbis St. Clair.
Luckily, organization doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Laura suggests three main places to start when tackling your clutter:
Twice a year, at the end of the cold season and at the end of the hot season, go back through your clothes and get rid of anything you haven’t worn in two years.
“When working one-on-one with my clients, I find that the problem is that they have too much stuff,” Laura says.
Get rid of anything that is too big. (However, keeping the next size up for growing children can save you some money in the future.)
Laura also suggests keeping a few basic items that are too small. You’re going to need items like a good pair of jeans or a black skirt.
Once you’ve selected what to get rid of, donate what you can.
Arrange your closet by type (tops, sweaters, jackets, pants, and shorts) and by color. This will allow you to see new outfits you can make out of what you have.
Keep all of your clothing out year-round to take note of what needs to be replaced for next year. Then, shop the after-season sales while making sure you’re buying what you actually need.
“One of my rules about organizing is ‘out of sight, out of mind,’” Laura says.
A good way to begin organizing the kitchen is by checking all of your seasonings and canned goods for expiration dates and throwing out anything that has expired to free up some cabinet space. It may also be helpful to alphabetize your seasonings to easily see which ones are getting low.
Laura suggests rotating your canned goods so that you’re always using the older things first.
Haven’t cleaned your refrigerator in a while? It may be a good time to give your refrigerator the wipe down and re-inventory what you have in your freezer.
The Storage Areas
“For garages or storage areas, I like to set up zones,” Laura says.
In one zone, which Laura describes as the “home zone,” try keeping items such as your light bulbs, paint, and things you use to repair the inside of the house.
Another area you can create is a garden zone, storing fertilizer, potting soil, pots, and like items. A tool zone is also a popular choice. While organizing your tools, check to see if anything has rusted and needs to be cleaned up or replaced.
For your seasonal decorations, you’ll want to rotate them as you put things away so that your next season is always on top.
“I strongly recommend using clear bins with labels on the end so you can see what’s in them and remember what’s there,” Laura says.
As you’re putting things away, don’t hesitate to be brutal with purging.
“If you haven’t used it in two years and you’re not going to be decorating a new space, then let it go,” Laura says.
Managing Your Chaos
You don’t have to get everything done at once.
“What I often tell my clients, especially when I give them some homework, is to set your timer and work for 10 minutes, then set your timer for 15 minutes and go do something that feeds your spirit,” Laura says. “Whether it’s read a book, play piano, go for a run, walk your dog, do something that makes you feel good. It de-stresses your brain, and then you can come back and do another ten minutes.”
After cleaning, your focus should shift to keeping clutter at bay. Having a space such as a launchpad (where you can hang your coats and bags) can be a great benefit for families who are always on the go, but learning better habits to keeping your spaces clean is key.
“Sometimes it requires re-teaching yourself to not just drop things,” Laura says. “Whether it’s before you go to work or before you go to bed, if you walk through your house and do a quick pick-up of anything that did get dropped then cleaning your house should only involve dusting, picking up, and that’s it.”