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From moving wine glasses to consolidating plastics to clearing that counter, Andrea of Simple Organized Living shared a ton of ideas with me in our short session on Monday.
This is my own rendition of some of her best tips that anyone can use:
Take everything off your counter (especially if you’re feeling unmotivated). Put it on the table. Now your family can’t eat until you put everything away (properly). Incentive!
I kind of wanted to be realistic and tell Andrea that in my house, I’d run out of time to finish (or even properly start) the job, and my family would end up either (a) eating in the living room, or (b) moving everything on the table to another random surface in the house – or back to the counter – so that we could eat. I’m trying not to be completely obstinate, though, so I just smiled and nodded.
The counter is not "away." Nothing should "belong" on the counter. Find another place for everything – if you don’t have space, maybe you have too many things. What can you let go of?
If you have deep or tall cupboards, you need to break them up into smaller areas.
Deep: Use shoeboxes or baskets at the front so you can pull the whole thing out to access the back.
Tall: Use those coated wire half-shelf thingys to make two shelves where there was just one. A huge stack of stuff is always a recipe for disaster and messiness. (And sometimes avalanche.)
In drawers, use small baskets and boxes to separate the space and make it feel more organized. Again, if you don’t have enough room, maybe you have too much stuff. (I really did learn this when we moved – I pulled half my kitchen utensils…okay, maybe a fourth of them…to "stage" our tiny house to sell, and I never missed them. Many things hit the garage sale pile after that.)
It’s not about having the perfect organization tools or supplies. You don’t have to go out and spend $100 on a zillion organizers. Visit a good dollar store, cut the top off a clamshell container from berries, use a shoebox without a lid, collect baskets at garage sales. Shoot, use all those plastic containers you’re not really using anymore to organize small things! I can’t tell you how many times Andrea would explain a helpful item she thought I should use and I sheepishly said, "I have one in the basement…"
If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it – especially if it wouldn’t be expensive to just replace if you change your mind. (My George Foreman is the example – still not sure if I’ll completely let it go, but it’s at least relegated to the basement until next garage sale season when I’ll make the call. I will get rid of all my potholders except two wooden trivets, freeing up a whole shelf. I was surprised when Andrea asked how often the potholders get used – it’s hardly ever, considering I use my old glass cutting boards as trivets!)
Evaluate your cabinets. What should go somewhere else because it matches a different category? What is really too far from where you use it? What never gets put away because that’s too complicated? What doesn’t get used very often that could easily go in a totally different place?
Even if you have to take four steps across the kitchen to get something you need, it’s better than having it (a) on the counter or (b) difficult to access in a cupboard.
Success breeds success! Take this from someone who cleared most of her counter last night and then felt compelled to put things away when I really just wanted to leave the kitchen after doing dishes and packing lunches tonight. Once it’s clean, you’ll want it to stay that way. If you saw Monday’s video, you’re applauding for me, right? I promise I didn’t just move everything to the other counter.
If you have a small space, think creatively. Is there room on top of your cupboards for things you don’t use often (that wouldn’t be an eyesore)? Can you make a "pantry" out of a closet in another part of the house, or even store bulk goods in under the bed boxes if necessary? (Thanks to ‘Becca for some of the small kitchens advice.
I also guest posted years back on my petite kitchen and some strategies I used to keep things sane (maybe not off the counter, but purposeful!).
JUST DO IT. Andrea has 5 good reasons to organize your kitchen, ending with a challenge to set your timer for 15 minutes and see what happens. I know the biggest obstacle for ME to doing any organizing is lack of time.
The first day after the visit, I did 15 minutes, and because I had thought through a few changes I wanted to make, I didn’t feel like I had to "do it all at once."
One counter looks better. The other has new "stuff" on it so I can organize, see?
And next is to put this:
An empty drawer! It only had phone books in it. Six of them. Talk about underused space!
I think I can do this job in 15 minutes, too, but I should quit writing about organizing and get off my duff and into the kitchen…
Want to see me start organizing on accident while trying to do part of my "kitchen tour" video? Here you go – the "baking system" of Kitchen Stewardship:
If you can’t see the video, click HERE to view on You Tube.
If you’re loving this series, take some time the next few days to put these strategies in action.
The Healthy Breakfast Book is here! 60+ real food recipes, sample meal plans including allergy restrictions, a grain-free holiday brunch that will surprise your guests, and tips to help you make every breakfast full of real food and less stress. MORE HERE.
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I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.
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