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Blog: Organize This!
Unclutter to Uncomplicate: Organizing in the Dark! Part 2.

Hello Organizing Fans, Welcome to 'Organize This!' I'm your blogger, Vali Heist, professional organizer for homeowners and businesses.

My latest rumination about CRAP (Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure) occurred when I was navigating my home in the dark. Today's blog is part two of that rumination and how easy is it to maneuver in, navigate through and find things in our home…even in the dark. Navigating your home should be easy, not complicated. You shouldn't have to unearth your stuff, move stuff aside, or go through five steps to get to what you want and need. If you can find things in the dark, then it's going to be a snap when the lights are on! So, let's continue to go through my home and see how easy it is to find what I need.

Kitchen-Let's continue in the kitchen because after I get dressed in the morning, that's my next stop. Obviously, you won't be cooking in the dark, but think about how easy or difficult it is to find what you need in your kitchen.

--Most folks prepare a beverage in the morning so I have a beverage area set up in one place.
--I could literally make my coffee in the dark: filter, measuring cup for water, coffee in fridge (only two bags to choose from-regular and decaf), measure out coffee (measuring cup is in the coffee bag), sugar is in a shaker and presto!
--If I'm having tea, all the bags are in one crock on the counter. In fact, I make ice tea constantly, probably every other day, so I keep those tea bags in a separate glass jar on the counter. I don't want to have to dig for these bags amongst all the other tea bags in the crock. I definitely could make my ice tea in the dark.
--When I help a client set up a kitchen, we talk a lot about what the clients uses and doesn't use. A good chef doesn't have a lot of gadgets; he or she has a few good items that work well. Gadgets just take up room.  
--Rachael Ray says: Keep five basics at hand: a good sharp knife, huge cutting board with rubber feet, big deep sided skillet, good wooden spoon, bowl for garbage by the cutting board. 
--Sharpen knives that don't cut and keep in one drawer or on the counter.
--Keep cup measure inside the flour or sugar or dog food.
--Keep things you use daily on top of the counter in a nice container so you don't have to open cabinets to get to it.
Cups and mugs-How many do you really need? Use small paper cups to take pills so you don't dirty a cup each time.
--You really should be able to find a mug or a cup in the dark. Try to have one shelf for each type.
--Place wine glasses and beer mugs on a separate shelf up higher if you don't use them as much.
--If you buy a new mug or cup, give one up. If you pack your glasses too full or pile them on top of each other, they will chip.
--Don't forget to use the "good stuff" when you drink tea or wine, treat yourself!
Plastic food containers-Now here is a place where many folks couldn't find the right container and matching lid in the dark. If you open the plastic food container drawer and an avalanche falls out, you have too many containers.
--Keep similar sizes-store separately according to lids and bottoms so they are easier to find.
--Resist the urge to have every size and every color of Tupperware.
--Also, resist the urge to keep every take-out container you bring home. Keep a few that are the same size and recycle the rest; this is something I recycle often.
Pots and Pans-keep only what you use
--We all have our favorite pans and sizes of pans.
--I cook a lot and I have 3 skillets and 3 pots.
--Keep only what you use so you aren't unearthing your favorite cookware every time you want to cook.
Home Office-The next room I want to explore is the home office or where you pay your bills/keep your desk, etc.
--Office supplies are very important to me to have on hand, so I could definitely find my office supplies in the dark, especially since I have a home-based business.
--Top drawer of the desk should have at least one scissors, ruler, pens, tape, etc. and placed in dividers so they aren't jumbled together.
--One place I break the 'one home for everything' rule is keeping a small "office" in bedroom or kitchen (pad, pen, scissors, tape).
--Each home office should have a 'Quick Sorting Station'. This is where you use baskets or drawers to sort your mail right away. This process should be automatic because mail is the #1 culprit of clutter!!
--Tear credit card offers and junk mail in half and throw away. Keep recycling box, shredder, or trash can close by.
-- If you must shred, keep the shredder close by the sorting station and shred only things with current account #'s and SS#. 
--Bills to pay-place them where you pay them.
--Important papers to keep and file later (i.e. annuity statements)-place in a basket or drawer to file later (I hate to file so I do it every 3 months!).
--Catalogs-store in one open basket sized to hold them all, store alphabetically and when the new issue comes, replace it with the old one.
--Dated items in one place-invitations, papers with deadlines (not bills), phone calls to make asap.
Memorabilia-These are memories from places you visit, pictures that come in the mail from friends, and children's art, etc.
--Display these things on cork, magnetic strips, or those holders with spokes that come up. Cycle these things with the seasons. 
--Put them away in one container and go through once a year because you don't want to make sentimental decisions to keep or throw away on a daily basis.
--Pictures can be placed in albums or boxes once a year.  
Medicine Cabinet
--The medicine cabinet is one thing we didn't cover in the bathroom and sometimes we have two of these in our homes.
--This is one of biggest areas where you should be able to identify a certain medication at a glance or in the dark.
--I don't know about you, but typically I'm very sleepy and it's dark when I'm taking meds.  
--I keep my ibuprofen separate from the anti-diarrhea medication because the bottles look very similar (!). I also keep the Tylenol PM on another shelf because the pills are similar in size to the regular Tylenol.
--Now that I have to wear glasses to read fine print, I also mark the bottles as to how many pills I should take. Different brands of cold medication vary as to whether you take one or two. I will mark the bottle with a 1 or a 2 so I don't have to get my glasses out or guess (It sounds anal, but it makes life easier for me!). 
--Throw away expired medications, medications that don't work, suntan lotions that are years old, or any toiletries that didn't live up to your expectations. Only keep the stuff you really use (Emergency shelters will take lightly used toiletries or those small bottles).

Children's Rooms-The simpler your kids rooms are, the more likely your kids will clean up. And simple means they could almost do it in the dark!

--Use baskets and bins without lids for toys and a bookshelf for books.    
--When it comes to toys: less is more. Kids can get over-stimulated with too much to choose from.
--I used to go through my son's toys after each birthday and holiday because it was easier for him to give up the old stuff and donate it.
--He got in the habit early and he actually looked forward to purging to make room for the new stuff. My son would call it 'toys for boys who have no toys'. He still does this as a college student.
--Clothing-go through clothing at the end of the summer and the winter.
--Donate clothing that is too small or give to a neighbor or friend.
--If you can, keep a box in their room in the closet to put in toys or clothes they no longer want. When it's full, donate it.
So, what do you think? Could you navigate your home in the dark?
--Take a walk through the house, turn off the lights and see if it's easy to identify where things are.
--Do you have to lift things up or move lots of stuff to find what you need?
--If you have to unearth what you want, consider downsizing a few items so you can get to your stuff easily.
--Make navigating your home a pleasure, not a burden.
Let's close today with a quote from a 19th century designer, William Morris, who said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." Remember if it's not useful or beautiful or we don't love it, it's CRAP!
Thank you for reading 'Organize This'! Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Have a great day! 

posted on: 12/19/2009 2:30:00 PM by Vali Heist
category: General Organizing Tips

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Organize This!

by Vali Heist

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About Vali:

Vali Heist is a Certified Professional Organizer, the owner of The Clutter Crew for homeowners, and a Certified GO System Trainer for businesses. She is the author of "Organize This! Practical Tips, Green Ideas, and Ruminations about your CRAP. CRAP stands for Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure! She writes a monthly column for the Reading Eagle called "Organize This!". Vali's bachelor's degree is in Business Administration from Shippensburg University and her Master's Degree is in Higher Education from Kutztown University. Vali has an extensive background of 24 years in Higher Education including training, administration, project management, writing, and editorial production. Her passion has always been organization and how it relates to the simplification of work and personal life in order to enjoy both to the fullest. Her ultimate goal is to continue finding simple, easy to implement ideas that work in the real world and pass them on to her clients.

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