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     3 Steps to Your Organized Kitchen

Itís a space most of us use every single day, but few of us take time out to make our kitchens the efficient, organized spaces they could be. By taking a few simple steps, we can create efficient areas for storage, food prep, and we can even save money in the process!
Edit it all

Kitchens have a tendency to become storage areas for the unused and the unwanted, which can end up taking up valuable storage and food prep space. Sometimes, itís easier to simply push the things we donít use to the back of the shelf, rather than decide that we donít need them at all and then get rid of them. Because of this, itís a smart idea to take a detailed pass through every cupboard, cabinet and shelf in your kitchen and make sure that youíre keeping only the things you need, use and eat.
Helpful Questions

A few helpful questions to ask when editing through the items in your kitchen: Have I used this tool/gizmo in the past 6 months to a year? Is this food expired? Did I (or someone else in my home) like this food the last time we ate it? Does this food align with my current eating goals (lower cholesterol foods, healthy eating, etc.)? Kitchen gizmos in particular have a tendency to accumulate, so take a realistic look at these items and make sure you have used them recently - or have even opened them in the first place!
Keep it close

Once youíve edited through the food and food prep tools youíre currently storing in your kitchen, then itís time to reorganize things a bit to make them easier to use. At this point, youíll want to take everything out of your cabinets and start moving them to storage spaces that make more sense for how youíll actually be using your stuff. One of the basic tenets of organizing is to keep things close to where youíll be using them. In this case, youíll want to keep the food prep items and food that you use all the time in areas that are nearby where youíre likely to use them - for instance, your frequently used pots, pans, and utensils should be close to the stove and oven, and the ones you use less frequently should be stored a little further away.
Eat it up

When Iíve helped clients organize their kitchens in the past, we are often surprised at how much unused and uneaten food is filling up their storage. When we buy food at the store and then put it away after we get home, itís so easy to forget that we have it - the old ďout of sight, out of mindĒ syndrome. Especially when we are in a hurry, itís hard to remember that polenta that in the cupboard or the ground turkey in the back of the freezer - all of which we intended to eat, but simply just forgot about.
Check Before You Shop

Before you go shopping next time, take a pass through what you already have on the shelf - you may already have what you need, or you may just need to ďfill in the blanksĒ with produce or other fresh items. You can also try rotating the food thatís in the back of your shelves and bring those items to the front of the shelves, making it easier to see what you have. Studies have shown that if we actually ate all the food thatís in our storage, the average home could save hundreds of dollars a month over going out to buy new food at the store. What a bonus for getting organized!


Joshua Zerkel, Productivity Strategist, is a Certified Professional Organizer and the founder of Custom Living Solutions, the San Francisco Bay Areaís premier productivity and organizing consulting firm. Josh is also the 2008-2010 President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Josh specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses find easy ways to get control of their space, information, time, and technology so they can reduce stress and boost their productivity. Josh has been featured in various media, including CBS News, ABC News, the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Organize Magazine, Online Organizing, and many others, is a regular columnist on the Franklin Covey website, and co-hosts the ďThrive SolutionsĒ radio show on Thrive in Balance.

Josh is also a popular organizing instructor in the San Francisco business community, speaking to small and large companies about the different techniques they can use to optimize efficiency and productivity in their work environment so they can serve more clients and make more money. Although he doesnít consider himself freakishly organized, Josh does admit to spending some of his free time alphabetizing his comic books and fixing the tags on his MP3 collection.

For more of Joshís practical (and sometimes pithy!) organizing tips, sign up for the Custom Living Solutions newsletter at www.customlivingsolutions.com or call 415-830-6345.

Connect with Josh on:

Facebook: http://companies.to/customlivingsolutions

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuazerkel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshuazerkel

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