There’s something about Fall that makes us want to get our life in order. The lazy days of summer are a not too distant memory and the back-to-school season is in full swing. With kids (and parents’) schedules filling up and the holidays fast approaching (yes, believe it!), it’s time to get serious about de-cluttering our environments and making our day-to-day lives just a little less stressful. After all, we all know stress is not good for our skin either! Here are some easy tips and tricks to give the 5 key areas of your life a “NEAT-lift.”
Closet: No Wire Hangers!
Besides the obvious activity of going through your clothes and purging items that are unworn, unwanted, and UNWORTHY of valuable real estate in your closet, there are some additional steps you can take to make getting ready each morning a more enjoyable, and dare I say fun, experience.
- After the purging process, consider consigning some of those nicer items that are hard to part with. There are several online options including Thred Up or The Real Real.
- Color coding may seem over the top to some, but trust me, it’s imperative to a well-organized closet. It makes putting an outfit together a breeze and quickly lets you see where you have excess (i.e. 10 black t-shirts). Remember, you won’t wear what you can’t see, so the goal is to make everything easily visible when you shop your closet.
- One easy tip that gives you the most bang for your buck is to invest in matching slim-line velvet hangers like these. They save valuable inches of space and instantly bring that boutique feel to your space. (Hint: I buy them at Costco for cheap!). So, channel your inner Mommy Dearest and banish those wire hangers for good!
Kitchen & Pantry: Bin It To Win It!
Whether you are packing the kiddos’ lunches or trying to eat healthier yourself, an organized kitchen and pantry is one key to success. Bin and label is your mantra here.
- Group like-items in baskets and label them accordingly. Kid-friendly snack baskets on low shelves are convenient for school-age children to help themselves.
- Plastic bins help keep the refrigerator neat and tidy as well, again keeping the healthy snacks and fruit visible and easily accessible.
- Be gentle with yourself and try not to set unrealistic expectations. Even if that picture you found on Pinterest showcases a gorgeous walk-in pantry with lots of pretty containers, ask yourself if it is realistic for you to take everything out of its original packaging and put it in said containers every time you grocery shop. Maybe it is, but be honest with yourself before spending a small fortune on canisters.
- A few bins and baskets go a long way. This is also a great time to check expiration dates on dry goods like spices.
Bathroom: When In Doubt Toss It Out!
As you might be changing your skincare and make-up routines in preparation for the winter months, now is a great time to go through your cosmetics and purge any expired items.
- Yes, cosmetics expire, too, (see the nifty guide below) and that expensive beauty serum you bought 6 years ago is probably not going to make good on its promises if it expired in 2013; in fact, it may do more harm than good.
- This also holds true for all medicines and supplements. It’s time to part ways with any old products or near empty bottles cluttering up your bathroom vanity.
- While we’re at it, let’s address all those samples and/or hotel products we’ve all been hoarding. Limit yourself to one small plastic bin of travel size products for packing and toss the rest!
- If you happen to have an excessive amount of unopened products consider donating to your local women’s shelter or food pantry.
Back To School: Put A Label On It!
Corralling the kids’ school supplies, artwork, and endless papers can be a daunting task for even the most organized individual. Again, I can’t stress labeling enough.
- Attaching a label to something gives that item a permanent home and lets everyone in the house know where that home is. It helps kids find items and definitely increases the chances that the item will find its home when it’s not in use. Create a system early on that everyone can follow.
- Don’t make it too complicated. Simplicity is key! Use a file box or tote to save ONLY the best of the best schoolwork and arts and crafts samples and, of course, label it by year and subject.
- If you are finding it difficult to only save the Picassos and Monets and actually throw away the rest of your child’s masterpieces, consider snapping a picture of these items and creating a photo book. This album will be much easier to display and actually glance through from time to time than a box full of old papers stuffed in the back of their closet.
The Drop Zone: Create A Family Launch Pad
One of the most important areas of a home is the family launch and landing pad. It’s the first place family members stop when they get home and the last area they hit before walking out the door. And no, this should not be your kitchen table, island or countertop; but unfortunately that is many people’s reality.
- The drop zone should include at least these 4 key components: an inbox/outbox for each family member including children, a place for keys, a recycling bin for immediate discarding of junk mail, and a place for important reminders, notes and events.
- This launch pad can be created a variety of ways, whether it’s as simple as a divided tabletop file system, a wall mounted system, or a custom made solution like the one below. There are no wrong answers as long as it is located near the door, intentional and purposeful.
Remember, organization is about consistency not perfection. Even just tackling one of these areas and implementing a few of the strategies listed will have you feeling more efficient, less stressed, and wanting to do more. Before long, your household will be running like a well-oiled machine!
By Julia Purdy
Julia Purdy owns Neat Method Columbus, a luxury residential organizing company with locations in 18 cities across the US. She and her team help clients across the Buckeye State turn chaos into calm. She lives in German Village with her husband and two adorable fur babies, Greta and June. Interested in living the NEAT life? Find out more at www.neatmethod.com and follow her on Instagram @juliabpurdy.