By Shira Gill
Summer is winding down and the kids are heading back to school soon. Here are some simple tips that will help you streamline your space and simplify your life one project at a time.
Set Up An Entry Station
The entry area is generally the first area I tackle with clients because it will pack a major punch in your everyday life. Generally when things get dumped all over, it’s because they don’t have a clear or intuitive home. Start this project by making a list of all of the things your family needs a “home” for in your entry area. A typical list includes storage for bags and backpacks, coats, dog leashes, shoes, mail, keys and cell phones. Next it’s time to set up an assigned place near the front door for each item on your list. Sturdy hooks work well for coats, dog leashes and bags. Make sure the hooks are mounted at arm’s reach for kid backpacks and jackets so they can be responsible for their own things. Shoe shelves, cubbies or labeled bins or baskets will do the trick for shoes. A pretty ceramic dish is great for tossing keys, cell phones and loose change. For mail and magazine storage I love wall mounted wall pockets or a large pretty basket on your entry table.
Create An Outbox
When I am helping clients edit and organize their belongings, inevitably we will stumble upon things that don’t have a clear home – a library book that needs to be returned, a birthday present for a party next week, clothing that needs to be given back to a friend. I suggest setting up a large bin or basket for this purpose and storing it in a convenient location near your entry closet or front door. A sturdy tote will do the trick and can be easily tossed into your trunk when you are on the go. I call it the “Outbox” since it contains items that need to go out of your home. It will make a world of difference not to have all of those random items floating around your house!
Storing Important Belongings
Ever panicked because you can’t remember where you stowed the key to your safe deposit box or your child’s birth certificate? Take the guesswork out by creating an “important document holder” and storing it in a safe place in your home or in a safe deposit box at your bank. You can use a sturdy folder in your file cabinet or a zip pouch or large labeled envelope. Mine has everything from family passports to treasured photos and my original wedding DVD. Any time I need to locate one of these crucial items, I know just where to find it.
First, toss anything that has expired or gone bad. Next, ditch the junk food and replace it with healthful alternatives. Skip the soda and make “spa water” by filling a few glass pitchers with water, lemon and cucumber slices or fresh herbs. Instead of buying TV dinners loaded with salt and preservatives, try making a lasagna or turkey meatloaf that can be frozen in individual portions. Store nuts, veggies and fresh fruit in grab-and-go containers so you’ll have healthy snacks for you and the kids when you’re on the move.
Do you find you buy the same things again and again because it’s hard to even see what you’ve got in your overstocked pantry? Grab a garbage bag and get to work! Ditch the expired items and create a box of donations if you have a lot of non-perishables your family just doesn’t use. Now, organize the keepers by category. I prefer broad categories like “Pasta, Canned Goods, Oils and Condiments” to keep organization easy for all. Take an inventory of how many categories you have and buy matching bins that you can label and wipe down easily in case of spills. It’s always great to include a bin of kid-friendly snacks handy for packing lunches or snacking on the go!
Streamline Your Linen Closet
Balled up old sheets and unraveling towels are, well…sad. Review your sheets and towels and donate the duds to your local animal shelter. It’s worth it to invest in a few sets of crisp high quality sheets and towels. I recommend two sets per bed in high thread count cotton and neutral colors. Once you have stocked up, it’s time to organize your linen closet. Wipe down the shelves and place the sheets in stacks organized by room or bed size – e.g., kid’s room, master, guest room. Separate with acrylic dividers (found at the Container Store) and affix some pretty labels so everyone in your household can easily find the right sheets for the right bed. Voila!
The Weekly Plan
This may sound like a drag but it will make your life soooo much easier! Avoid the weekly frenzy and set aside one day a week to plan ahead and tackle your to-do list. I recommend using Sunday to pay bills, do laundry, tidy up, select clothing for Monday morning, plan meals for the week and purchase groceries and any necessary household supplies. Sticking to this simple plan will make your entire week run so much more smoothly and eliminate the need to run errands and attend to chores all week long.
If you have any questions for Shira on home organizing put them in the comments section on Facebook and she will answer them for you.
Shira is the founder of Shira Gill Home and loves helping clients create a “well edited life” filled with fewer, better things. Since founding her business, she has transformed hundreds of homes. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. For information, please visit: www.shiragill.com. Follow Shira on Instagram @shiragill for weekly tips and inspiration.
Photo Credit: Vivian Johnson Photography .