My Convertible Life

Monday, August 20, 2012

Guest Post: Organization for the Disorganized

When my online friend Evelyn over at Momsicle asked if she could guest blog about organization, I jumped at her offer -- then I realized she wouldn't be coming over to my house to demonstrate and I was a little disappointed (both because I could really use the help and because I'd love to meet her awesome self in person). 

So no, she will not be coming over to your house either. But she's got some great tips here and I'm looking forward to testing them out myself. Because I think we all know I could use the help. Then after you read her post here, be sure to click over to check out her lovely blog (all the way from the WEST COAST!).

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From Evelyn at Momsicle

I'm a disorganized mom with many neuroses coping mechanisms. My husband and I have moved with two young kids twice in 2012, so I've put my adaptive behaviors through the pants press of life a couple times--to crisp them up under high heat. If there's anything that tests your organizing skills it's dismantling your house and putting it back together.

For me, when the clutter is tamed it feels like my breathing calms down and I don't shudder every time I look around.

I shudder quite a bit, but after two moves and a lot of stress I've started to rely on a couple of tricks. Maybe you'll find something helpful, and then I'll be happy. Please share your own tips so that I can try them!

Momsicle's tips for improving the organization of a kid-filled house:

1. Label things. Labels bring the logic that lives in your head into the real world. I love labels on kids' bins, garage shelves, linen closets, really anywhere. When many people live in a house and many people come to visit, labels help everyone remember where things go. I did label the kitchen at our last house and my husband thought that went a little too far. I am in love with the removable, printable labels that 3M Post-It makes. Other brands like Avery also have them, and eBay seems to have great deals so you don't have to pay through the nose.

2. Purge. My mom's motto is "When in doubt, throw it out." Do I need ten vases? No. Do I need 8 sweatshirts? No. I probably need three or four. So we purged things in the last moves. And now I have a bin set up in the garage labeled "Goodwill." I can collect things as I come across them, rather than searching later for the things I've forgotten I wanted to give away.

3. Speaking of purging, send your old electronics to Best Buy. (Another idea from Krista.) We were keeping sooooo many old cords and defunct gadgets (not to mention a 6,000-pound stereo system from the '90s). The stuff the kids don't play with all went to Best Buy--including an old air conditioner. If it has a cord, they pretty much take it.

4. Keep some organizing bins handy to tame things that need to go in and out of the house. I have three near the front door for things that we need to discuss and take action on, things that need to be mailed, and things that need to be returned. This idea came from Krista Colvin (see below).

5. Shop at Goodwill for storage containers. I am addicted to storage bins. I haven't met one I can't find a use for, but when you search for organization advice online the first recommendation is DON'T go out and buy all kinds of bins and shelving helpers. C'mon!!! What does a disorganized girl have to live for if I can't at least get some motivational bins. They make me feel whole. But they are expensive and I shudder when paying full price for clear plastic. So head to Goodwill, and for $1-6 a pop, you're set. 

6. Visit Krista Colvin over at Organize the Whole Shebang.  She has great ideas for how to deal with the C word ("clutter"). I don't know her and she's not paying me. A friend saw her speak about family organization and when I stopped by her site I stayed and read five or six posts. That says a lot about a blog.

7. Tame your Tupperware area. You may be able to relate to having a section of your kitchen where plastic leftovers containers are having a permanent anarchy convention. Each time I thought I'd tamed the beast, this conversation would ensue... Husband: "Are you sure we have a lid for this?" Me: "Yes! Yes! Dig deeper!" So we purged all the random plastic containers and are sticking with only one brand that has interchangeable, stackable lids. Space-saving is up and fights are down.

8. Rework the layouts of your rooms to think about HOW you use a room first, then what looks best. We used to have our computer tucked away in an "office" space, but does a hair-brained parent ever sneak away to a sacred spot to work at home? Never. I'm always writing or responding to things while in the middle of feeding someone, burning cooking a meal, or supervising play time. The computer and office stuff are now next to the kitchen. Similarly the file cabinet is now near where I bring the mail in, rather than tucked away in a place where I will never bring things to file.


  1. Whoo hoo! I should follow these great tips! ;0) Actually I was just labeling more things last weekend, but some renegade tupperware is squatting in my cupboard...
    Thanks for the lovely introduction, and for being just a great e-friend!

    1. "Renegade tupperware" -- is there any other kind?

  2. Great tips! I just discovered the Best Buy thing, I hauled a bunch of stuff over there a couple of weeks ago! Oh and I can add that command hooks have been an organizing breakthrough!

    1. Agreed -- we have lots of command hooks around our house.


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