At the Ready: Organization for Everyday Items

Recently a friend staying with me shared an observation about my home: when she needed a pen, there it was…or a pair of scissors, exactly where she needed them. Her remark made me realize that I had organized my home for the little every day items that we need.

Where do I keep paper and pen?

  • Near the phone

  • In the kitchen (where a small drawer is filled with paper pads, sticky notes, pens and pencils)

  • Next to my bed; read more about organizing your bedside table

  • In the bathroom, for all those great ideas that you get in the shower

Where to keep other important items:

  • Scissors on every floor, near the paper and pens (having duplicates comes in handy)

  • Essential tools, like small screwdrivers, tape measure, flashlight in the kitchen in my “junk drawer

  • Keys near the back door

  • Chargers in the kitchen

These are small items, but it can be frustrating when we can’t find them when we need them. Try to organize the essential everyday items in your home and feel more in control.

Snowed in? Get Organized!

Home with a snow day today? Once the French toast is done, and the movies get old, try an organizing project to clear the clutter and make you feel better. 

Here are some of my favorite ideas to get you started:

 

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Perfectly Organized Pantry

What do you do when you go visit your best friend to see her new home? Organize her pantry of course!

The gorgeous customized pantry had deep shelves, which meant things got lost in the back. We took everything out, weeded out expired items, then grouped categories together on the shelves. After a quick trip to HomeGoods to purchase some baskets, we set up the new easy-to-use pantry.

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Backpack Storage

Problem: Your child's backpack ends up all over the house...in the kitchen, in the living room, near the shoes, but never in the same spot. 

Solution: Give the backpack a "home," a set storage place where it goes every day once it is unpacked. Yes, every day. This is a routine even young elementary school students can master. Even if you don't have a dedicated mudroom, you can find a place for the backpack. 

Backpack storage ideas:

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  • Give it a "drop spot" by using a basket placed on the floor. My 8th grader has been using this basket for her backpack since Kindergarten. Even when we were in the midst of a long home renovation project and the basket was relocated to a new spot, it was a visual cue for where to put her backpack.
  • Use a hook, at the correct height for your child to reach. 
  • Stash it in a cubby. Many homes have built-in cubbies, but make sure your child can reach it.

Easy Paper Organizing: Deal With and Done Boxes

This clever idea comes from a friend who recently moved. She set up this new paper management system near where she opens mail and pays her bills.

Here's how the simple system works: she opens her mail, weeds out all the junk, and then puts the paper in the appropriate box. "Deal With" means just that = paper that needs to be acted upon (bill to pay, form to fill out) and "Done" = file. When Done is overstuffed, she knows it's time to file the papers she wants to save. 

This is a great system for people who need visual reminders, and helps combat the creation of piles. The boxes can also be quickly tucked away if needed. 

Recipe Organization: There's an App for That!

We all love to cook in my house, so we have a good-size collection of cookbooks and a few favorite cooking magazines. I also have lots of paper recipes I've saved from websites and torn out of of magazines. My recommended method for keeping paper recipes is a binder system.

If you have folders or boxes of recipes and want to get rid of the paper, consider digital options:

  • Pinterest: While I wouldn't trade all my paper recipes for electronic versions, I have come around to using Pinterest. I've got all kinds of recipes pinned and categorized. I love how easy it is to use, and so visual. 
  • Paprkia Recipe Manager: This app works on all your platforms, and includes cool tools like built-in timers and the ability to cross off ingredients as you use them.
  • All Recipes Dinner Spinner: I often find recipes for a specific ingredient on the All Recipes website , so it makes sense that they offer an app. The app includes shopping lists and you can sort by favorite recipes or type of food. 
  • Your phone's scanner: You can also use your phone to take photos or scan paper recipes you want to save.

Cool and Clear Spice Organization

 

Always searching in your cabinet for the right spice container? This cool product makes spotting the spice you need even easier. 

SpiceBands are like headbands for your spice containers! Put them around the edge of the lid so you don't have to pick up the jar and read the label. If you have to store your spices in a cabinet, I still recommend a tiered shelf for spices, like I use in my kitchen. The colors and clear printing on the SpiceBands also help with visibility. 

And for more ideas on spice organization, read my previous post on creative spice organization

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Get Organized to Grill

Our family loves to grill and eat outside on our patio. My husband is the grill master, and is super organized when it comes to his grill things. Here's how he does it:

  • Dedicated spot for grill things: We have one small shelf in a kitchen cabinet that holds skewers, trays, a cutting board, plus the BBQ sauces, seasonings and rubs. It's all in one place and easy to find.
  • Prep: My husband follows the culinary practice of "mise en place:" getting all ingredients prepped ahead of time, in a bowl, and ready to go. This is especially important since our grill is a flight of stairs down from our kitchen. Having everything in it's place helps avoid running up and down the stairs.
  • Smart storage: My husband has re-purposed a small metal rolling cart we used to have in our kitchen to hold all the grill things in the basement: tools hang from clips on the side, grill accessories are in the bin, and charcoal is in it's own special container on top. 

Repurpose a Shoe Shelf

I have a beautiful original built-in china cabinet in my dining room, with storage on the bottom. I store place mats, some linens, vases, serving trays, and candles. It also functions as our bar cabinet. After the holidays I was putting away serving pieces and linens, and thought that my cabinet could use a little re-organization.

Things were piled up, and often fell over or got lost in the deep cabinet. I moved less-used linens to a dresser in our attic, and weeded out my vases, setting aside some for donation. As I was wishing I could have more shelves, I remembered that I had an old shoe shelf in the attic. After I re-did my closet, I didn't need the shelf but saved it thinking it might be useful at some point (yes, even professional organizers save things sometimes).

It was the perfect solution to add shelving in this cabinet! 

cabinet Before - Piles

cabinet Before - Piles

Cabinet After

Cabinet After

Cabinet after - shoe shelf adds storage!

Cabinet after - shoe shelf adds storage!