Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Our Kitchen Pantry

Yikes! Our pantry has gotten out of hand recently. I knew it was time to tackle this project again, but I admit I'd been putting it off. I wasn't discouraged so much that it had once again become disorganized. I've learned that being organized doesn't mean you never have to re-organize. I've come to accept that there's maintenance that goes along with it. It was just one of those "have-tos" on the bottom of my list. At first glance the pantry may not appear to be in too bad of shape, but I couldn't find anything and was constantly moving things from side to side trying to see behind taller items. So it wasn't working for me any longer.

Lucky for me, just as with any organization project, I knew right where to start. My SOS Method: Sort, Omit and Store.

After assessing the situation I figured it would be best to work from top to bottom. I began removing items and placing them into groups on my countertop. (I wish I would have thought to snap a picture of this stage...sorry!) Thinking in terms of the way I would use the items in cooking helped me to know what categories to SORT them into. I began removing and grouping baking items, drink mixes, sauces and condiments, canned goods and so on until the shelves were clear.

The next stage was to OMIT things I didn't need. For some of you this may mean expired items or food of questionable freshness. I usually keep up on this pretty well, so I didn't have anything too old to throw out. I did have some things I could combine, like pouring the new bag of sugar into the caniseter to save space.

A couple things I decided were better off moved to another location. Like the foil and plastic baggies found a new home in a nearby drawer with our paper plates. It's funny, I've always kept my foil and baggies in that exact spot in the pantry for over 15 years. It just never occured to me before today that they made more sense a few feet away. Be on the look out for those sort of things. Many times we get stuck in the same pattern and overlook more convenient storage options. If you're not sure, try it for a few weeks and if you don't like it there, move it back.

Next, I needed to STORE the things I intended to keep. I took a look at my different groups and mentally divided my shelves to come up with "zones" for each group. I decided I also wanted to try some plastic baskets to try to help keep things in the groups I'd worked so hard at sorting. I had a couple on hand that I had taken out of a previous re-organizing project. So, I began placing items back onto the shelves, placing some of the smaller items into the baskets.

I did end up purchasing two new baskets in a larger size for some of our sauces and baking items. But it was easy picking those out at the store because I knew what I needed when I got there. I knew from using my 3-step process, how many more baskets I needed and what size. I didn't hit the store without a plan only to come home with too many or not enough of the right kind of storage product.

One important thing you should know about this project: I only got rid of or removed a total of 4 items. This reorganization project was accomplished by utilizing the space (even as small as it is) to its best potential. I spent right around $5 on the two baskets and about 3o minutes total on the project. That's it! I finished off by adding some labels to the baskets with my label maker. Take a look around your home and see what you can tackle using the SOS Method. I'd love to see your success stories here! Please leave us a comment! I've also added a Mr. Linky if you want to post to your own blog. If you haven't registered for my SOS drawing, visit my initial post to find out more!

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Desk Needs Help

I cannot believe I'm showing the world what my desk looks looked like just a few days ago. This is our computer desk. Everyone in my family uses this desk so it sees ALOT of stuff. Bills, banking, two home based businesses, school reports, occasional kid clutter (you know, misc. toys and hair accessories, that sort of thing), get the idea. Stuff goes on here.

Let's go on a little tour, shall we? You'll notice a myriad of papers, my "Polar Pop" addiction indulgence (in my defense, I really have cut back), computer, keyboard, etc. You can't really see from the picture, but there's also some things that don't belong in the "office" area. Even the area under the desk did not escape, as it had been used as storage space during our recent home improvement project, where anything and everything got "stuffed" under it and had not yet been relocated.

Using my SOS Method I began to Sort items into groups. Papers to be gone through, filed, discarded, receipts to be entered into our checking program, coupons that I'd clipped and my recipe project (putting favorites on the computer) all got sorted into piles. Anything that I came across that did not belong went into the shoe box over to the right. Things that already had a home on the desk (pens, paperclips, etc.) got put back to rights. Pictures that somehow made their way to the desk, but never to the wall were put in a pile to be hung once the project was complete. This is important, I DID NOT let my guilt take over and stop work during the sorting process to hang up photos that have been sitting there for weeks. Many times we make the mistake of getting side tracked during organization. This is how projects don't get finished.

Next was the Omit stage. Now, I've become accustomed to omitting during the sort and as a separate step. You'll get more used to this as you become comfortable with the process. So, if you find things during the sort that you definitely want to get rid of, put them in the appropriate place (trash, recycle, pile, etc.) But it's always a good idea to look through your keep piles after you're done sorting to try to omit more. I usually work with a trash can, recycle pile, donate pile and shredder depending on the job.

After omitting everything that I was going to be able to, I began storing the remaining items into their appropriate or new homes. I was lucky in that I already had all of the storage items I needed, it was just a matter of putting things in them. This would be the point though if I was lacking anything, that I would begin making a list of things I needed like drawer organizers, storage totes, file folders, etc.

Storing things always comes last. Don't try to determine what you need at the start of your project. You're apt to either keep more stuff than you normally would because you just bought the jumbo size tote or make extra trips to the store because you underestimated your needs. Here are some things that I use to help keep my desk space organized. Don't let the before pictures fool you...these things really do work when you haven't spent the last few weeks being lazy!

My desk doesn't have drawer space, other than a filing drawer, so I have to be creative with the storage space. I found a small drawer divider insert for under a dollar that fits perfect into this wicker basket. I liked the basket because it concealed the plastic, but you could just get a divder and call it a day. It all slides under the space below my computer monitor and holds paper clips, staples and all the little odds and ends.

A canvas bin takes the place of another drawer and holds computer cd's, cables and such.

A literature sorter helps me use the vertical space to the best potential. I can store printer paper, special paper, even a calculator, paper trimmer and extra business cards, which proves you don't always have to use things to store what they were intended.

And the finished product....

How can you use the SOS Method to spruce up your space? Try it on your next organizing project and let us know the results. You can post comments, or link to your own post on your blog using Mr. Linky. Don't forget the prize drawing. Read about it here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sendin' Out an SOS

If you haven't read my initial post on this new series I'm doing here, catch up on the details in the first post here. While you're there you'll want to be sure to register for the upcoming drawing by linking on the Mr. Linky on that post. (This is the only way you'll be registered in the drawing!)

One thing I found when helping people get organized was that most of the time, they had no idea where to start. That's when I came up with an easy to remember acronym. It's what I call my SOS Method and it stands for Sort, Omit and Store. And this simple, easy to remember approach can be used when beginning any organizing project. Over the next few weeks I'm going to show you how I use the SOS Method in my own home, step by step. I'll post project updates from small (drawers and shelves), medium (like closets) to large areas (whole rooms) so you can see how this method works with any type of organizing project. You're welcome to comment and/or link up to your own blog with your own SOS projects as we go along.

Here's a breakdown of the steps I use:

1. Sort. Whether you're facing the unknown contents of your junk drawer or the entire mountain of clutter in the spare room, you're going to start with sorting. Sort your items into categories; like with like, similar use with similar and so on. You should be able to find easy to recognize categories for all of your items. While you're doing this keep your eyes peeled for anything that you're sure will be going in the trash or passed along to donation or another area of your home and set those aside.

2. Omit. Go back through all of your items and further remove anything that doesn't fit into the plan of your newly organized space. You may choose to omit items by donating, selling, throwing out, recycling, relocating or passing on to someone else who you know would want the item. Please check with them first before deciding that you are just going to show up at their door with your cast-offs! Sometimes we have the best intentions, but our idea of a treasure is not always someone else's.

3. Store. The items that you've decided are keepers need stored. Sometimes you have all of the storage products you might need. Other times you have to improvise or head to the store to purchase something more fitting and functional. Before you make a trip to the store, make sure you take any measurements you might need. For example, take measurements of your drawer for a new drawer divider, or the shelf height for storage bins.

Keep your specific types of storage needs in mind, like; CD storage, magazines, office supplies, clothing, etc, so that you're not just shopping blindly. Have a purpose in mind and a plan. The internet is a great way to get a good idea of all of the organizational products available without spending a lot of time at the store.

Once you've used the SOS Method, you'll never be at a loss as to where to start or what to do next when you're organizing. Sort, omit, store...remember it, use it and get organized!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ready to Take on Bigger and Better Things?

We've been working on Take 5 Friday projects for awhile now, I thought it would be a good time to throw in some bigger organizing projects. Plus, I'm doing some major overhauls in some areas of my house, so it's a good time for a little show and tell. I'm baring it all over the next few weeks, so to speak. Yep, even I have areas that get chaotic and cluttered. Didn't I tell ya, I'm not perfect?! So, it's time to reorganize, and guess what? You're coming with me!

We'll be putting Take 5 Fridays on hold for just the next few weeks until I get through my projects. But, by all means, if you're up to doing both, you can always do some Take 5's too or work back through some of the past weeks if you joined in late.

But, I don't want to do this alone. I have to have some of my friends with me! If you're up to taking on some of what I'm calling SOS Organizing (more on why in a later post), leave a link below. Those who have signed up here will be in the drawing for a prize (haven't decided what yet) at the end (haven't decided when yet)...Don't you just love how decisive I am?

Remember: You have to leave a Mr. Linky at least on THIS post for the drawing because it will drive me crazy trying to account for everyone at the end if you all link on different posts. You don't have to commit to weekly posts or links unless you want to, but I would like to have your comments on any project you've accomplished when I post mine. If for nothing else but so I know you're out there! I'll try to remember to add a Mr. Linky to each project for those who want to link to their own blog post.

There you go, I'm sending out my SOS! Who's in it with me?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Take 5 Friday - The Monsters Under the Bed

Welcome to Take 5 Friday (even though it's Saturday). Sorry, I'm a day late in putting this up. If you took me up on the challenge for this week, I hope you made it out safe and sound from under the deep, dark depths underneath your bed. Did you find any monsters hiding under there or some over grown dust bunnies?
My bed was absolutely empty...honest! But, I have to admit, the only reason is because we just got a new bed a few weeks ago and I swore I wouldn't be putting the under-the-bed storage totes back. I'm going with this whole new feng shui thing and stuff under the bed promotes restless sleeping. So, it's totally clean under there!
Now, my youngest daughter's bed is another story. There's the kids' disassembled baby crib and an under-the-bed storage container full of clothes to grow into. I also found some of those pesky socks. Maybe this is why she wakes up grouchy...she doesn't sleep well. Hmm....maybe there's something to this feng shui. Which brings me to my oldest daughter's bed. Clearing out this one has me stumped because the only thing under her bed is her little sister (bunkbeds)!
How did you do this week?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Great Giveaway

Lara, my friend over at The Lazy Organizer is giving away two sets of Organizing Bags on her site. These come in various sizes so you get to try the whole variety. I'm so excited to be able to share this giveaway with my readers because I love these bags! And I've never found anything like them in the stores. So, this is a great opportunity for you to try them out. I've found all kinds of uses for them at my house...everywhere from the car to my purse. They're even great for helping the kids get organized, and anything that can do that gets my vote.

All you have to do is visit her site, leave a comment on her post and you're registered, that's it! Here's the catch: Lara is expecting her fourth baby and is down to the wire, ready to go at any time pregnant. So, time's running out and the contest will be over this Friday (unless she's too busy having a baby or something sort of important like that). Good luck!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Take 5 Friday Challenge

I hope you're prepared...brace yourselves. This week I want you to brave the unthinkable. I want you to venture into long forgotten territory. Yep. You got it. I'm challenging you to clear the clutter from under your BED! Or your kid's bed. Whichever you feel brave enough to tackle.

Don't be scared. Just remember you DON"T have to commit to a long, grueling organizing session. Take 5 Friday is all about quick, 5 or 10 minute projects. So take a few minutes to see what you've got hiding under there (precaution should be used when looking under kid's beds!) Toss out what you immediately see is trash. See what you can find that belongs elsewhere; those long-forgotten dishes from your teenage son's midnight snacking, your daughter's "I dont' have a thing to wear" clothes, that stack of magazines from your last "sick day".

See how much you can get done when you "take 5" and report back here on Friday. Pictures are optional, but please post a warning statement if they're too scary!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Take 5 Friday - Your Big Give

This week's Take 5 Friday followed on the heels of finally dumping some of that extra trash and challenged us to get together at least one bag or box to go to your charity of choice. I'm anxious to see how you all did with this challenge. Was it difficult to come up with one bag or did you find yourself doing even more?

How did you rate? Please feel free to post your comments and/or link to your own post.

Copyright 2007, Christine Rice

You are welcome to use any of the information or articles from my blog for your own newsletters or ezines, just be sure to add the following copyright notation:

Christine Rice, Professional Organizer and owner of Organize It Today helps people discover "organizational enlightenment" with the help of her newest book, A Life Less Cluttered: Expert Secrets to Your Own Organizing Epiphany. Visit her website at to find out more about her services and products.