Thursday, June 13, 2013

22 You Asked: WE Heart Answering!

You may recall that a few months back I put on my crazy pants, and decided to start a once per quarter "You Asked: WE Heart Answering" post.  You can find the kick-off post here, so many great questions and answers, be prepared to get sucked in!

Last month we focused on specific spaces around the home, but this month, I opened it up to anything goes general organizing questions.  I polled my IHeart Facebook friends, and y'all had all sorts of fantabuous questions for the IHeart Team!

I compiled all the questions and looked for trends and items that would be specific to a majority of people.  And since eleven brains are stronger than one, I asked my fabulous contributors to share their smartness, creativeness, ideas, and suggestions and we have got ourselves one heck of grab-a-cup-of-coffee-and-stay-awhile post!

Here is the lovely crew now!  We have:

Are you ready for this?  Here we go!

What are your favorite organizing items?

"One: The Ikea Expedit is my all time favorite piece. We have way too many, but they really can't be beat.   Two:  Binders! I am a huge lover of binders. I have one for packing, parties, and presents. I also have one for house related items as well as one for all of our health records. I find that keeping things in binders keeps things neat, tidy and easy to access.  Three: The portfolios for artwork. These have saved us when it comes to the endless amount of artwork that gets produced by sweet little ones. I have chatted about how I manage it all right here but couldn't imagine not having the black portfolios to use."  -Courtney {A Thoughtful {Place}

"One:label makerTwo: Small rope baskets from Target.  Three:  3M Command HooksFour:  Martha Stewart bookplate labels."
-Ashley {7th House on the Left}

 "Lately, my go-to organizers are these modular drawer systems. They are inexpensive, and allow you to build them to fit the odd-shaped spaces under sinks and counters. So far I've used them in both the Master Bathroom, and Kids/Guest Bathroom, and they've been fabulous!"  -Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}

"One:  I really like plastic bins with drawers. I have them scattered throughout my house: craft room, laundry room, bathroom closets, mail living area. While I have various sizes, my preferred size has three drawers that are each about 12 inches long and 3 inches tall. These are big enough to hold some fairly large objects or a good amount of stuff without really requiring any interior organizing. Since I like solutions that are organized but easy to maintain and use, this works great for me. I simply categorize by drawer and label the outside, so everything has its proper place and it’s easy to put my hands on. For example, in my craft room, I have one bin that has a drawer for adhesives, a drawer for pens & markers and a drawer for scissors. 

Two:  I also really like the 12X12 Itso bins, which I purchase at Target. The sturdy canvas exterior makes that durable for storing all kinds of things. I don’t even know how many uses these things have within my home: corralling papers to be filed; storing craft paper in hanging file folders; housing travel items in between trips; holding PJs and “play clothes” in my closet when they’re not in use. 

Three:  I really like magazine files. I use them to hold magazines, obviously, but they actually work really well for stashing all the paper I accumulate until I have time to do something with it. For example, I might use one to hold all the resources and notes I’m accumulating for a writing project, so everything I come across gets put in the same spot and it’s easy to put my hands on everything I need when I’m ready to start working. And just the other day, I went through a pile of papers that I need to be organized. I recycled about 75% of the stuff {love that feeling!}, but that ones that need further organization got put in a paper file, until I have time to resume the task. I have a couple of decorative ones that I purchased from The Container Store, but most of them are the cardboard ones from Ikea. They’re inexpensive, and if they’re going to be out in plain site, I can decorate them to match my space."  -Sarah

"One: Baskets - you can use them for organizing anything, big or small.  Two: Drawer dividers and containers - great for keeping things in drawers in their place and creating a system for where certain items go.  Three: Jars-- perfect for organizing little things, from washi tape to cotton balls."
-Chelsea {two twenty one}

"One: I'm a huge fan of the clear drawer containers at The Container Store.  They come in all sizes and are really durable.  Two: I used a large select-a-size organizer for the wetbar drawerThree:  I used a small acrylic storage box with drawers to organize the "little things" in our house."  -Megan {Honey We're Home

"One: Vintage Baskets - Woven or straw baskets are my go-to for nearly every storage solution.  You can get inexpensive versions at IKEA, Target etc; and can dress them up by dip dying or painting them. Whether they store toys, blankets, flip-flops etc they are durable, easy to clean, and fit nearly every room in every style of home.  Two: Washi Tape - The inexpensive removable tape has a million and one uses and also brightens up your home as it comes in countless colors and designs.  Three: Planner Notepads - I love pre-printed notepads for specific tasks - such as meal planning, to-do lists or weekly chores. Whether you print your own {love the IHeart Organizing printables!} or use store bought versions {my favourites are from Kikki K}, these planners keep you perfectly organised!"  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}


 "My pots and Pans organizer from Lowes, An in box on my office desk all of my paperwork goes straight into my inbox and gets dealt with once a week, and lastly . . . plastic tubes that keep my boots upright in my closet, floppy boots are much harder to store!"  -Ashli {Mini Manor Blog}

 "One: Velcro zip ties are SO versatile.They're easy to use, cheap, strong, flexible, and quick! I use them for everything from organizing power cords to attaching storage baskets in the awkward space under my kitchen sink!  Two: Binder clips. I'm sure you've seen the Pinterest pins about them! I use 'em as chip clips, toothpaste tube squeezers, miniature clamps during craft/diy projects, ribbon holders, and clothesline wind-proofersThree: Removeable Hooks & Clips. Living in a small space is like being in a never-ending slide puzzle; we are constantly rearranging things in an attempt to maximize every available inch! This means that I like solutions that don't require a lot of effort when we inevitably have to switch things around again. Depending on the surface, space, and storage needs, my favorite types of removable hooks and clips are either Command-style removable adhesives, magnetic, or nanosuction.  I use them for EVERYTHING: storing oven mitts, discreetly drying delicate laundry, and adding storage to awkward, previously wasted spaces."  -Casey {Pretty Organized}  

 "When looking around our home at what we actually use, I'd have to say that we're a pretty big fan of wicker baskets in all sizes. They are just so versatile and go with our style of decor. On a smaller scale, clear plastic containers have been a life saver for bathroom drawers, the "junk" drawer, and all of those smaller items that are needed but can get out of hand quickly."  -Anneke {This, That & Life}

"One:  Expedit bookcases, there really isn't anything that can't hold.  I use them to flank my workspace, for storage in our laundry room and as benches in the playroomTwo:  Labels.  Whether they are made with a printer, a Silhouette, a label maker, or a Post-It, labels are key to keeping everyone in the home on the same page.  Three:  Woven baskets.  Seriously, the best thing since sliced bread.  There is nothing a basket can't corral, from sandals by the front door to papers on the counter, they are the most versatile form of storage I know of.  Four:  Drawer Dividers.  I can't stand rummaging through messy drawers, and drawer dividers ensure that I don't toss unnecessary items into places they don't belong."  -Jen

How do you organize children's art supplies so they are simple to access?

"We are really big on having an art caddy that the kids can grab whenever the urge strikes. I acutally used a utensil caddy like Jen did and it works great. It hosts the paints, glue, scissors, and markers. Crayons are used on such a daily basis that I gave up the idea of having them tucked away. They literally stay on our sideboard in our dining area. My daughter uses them constantly and actually arranged them in clear cups all by herself. I have them on a dollar store silver tray! They look pretty and are part of our lives so I figured they should be out and on display. I am actually dreading the day when they no longer need crayons out all of the time."
 -Courtney {A Thoughtful Place}

"We don't have kids, but I love repurposing things like utensil caddies for art supplies. I used one to stash Sharpies and colored pencils in my office." 
-Ashley {7th House on the Left}

 "My daughter loves to draw and paint, so I dedicated an entire corner of her room to creating. All the pencils and markers are kept in hanging buckets, the chalkboard is mounted on the wall, and baskets hold her paper and books. I also keep a small tote bag packed with paper, notebooks and colors, and hang it in the Mudroom so we can easily grab it when heading out the door. It keeps me from having to store stuff in my purse, and keeps her busy when we're out-and-about."
-Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}

"Well, I don’t have kids {tons of art supplies, though}, but I have come across some great ideas in my quest for great crafting storage. For example, things they can use on their own should be stored at kid height in containers they can open and close themselves. Clearly labeling the containers – either with words for the older kids or visual labels for the younger – will help them not only find what they’re looking but also make it easy for them to help with the clean up. 

Another great idea I came across was creating a kid-friendly space in your office or craft area. That way you can spend time together while working on your own projects and it makes kids feel special to have their own area. Providing them with their own little table and storage containers – separate from mom or dad’s supplies – will help keep things tidy."  -Sarah

"I keep them on a large tray that I hide inside our media cabinet.  The tray has handles which makes it easy to remove and I keep coloring books, paper, and art supplies on it.  A plastic caddy keeps the crayons and markers organized.  I created a colorful label with my computer and laminating machine for the tray too."
-Megan {Honey We're Home}  

 "Our oldest daughter, who is seven, is responsible for all of her own art supplies. Our younger two kiddos can find supplies in the playroom in plastic containers with lids, plastic containers with drawers, etc. which are designated for things such as construction paper, markers, crayons, glue, and so on."
-Anneke {This, That & Life}

 "Art caddies for the win!  Seems to be a popular answer, and I know that ours definitely travels all over our home.  We created one from a utensil caddy and it's been working great for color pencils, markers, scissors, glue and crayons.  For all of the other supplies {paints, specialty items and bulk paper}, we keep them stored in stackable bins in woven ottomans in our living room.  They are still accessible for daily crafting and tuck nicely away when art time is over."  -Jen

Do you have an cleaning/organizing routine?  What simple tips do you have to keep your home tidy throughout the week??

"I am really big on cleaning up a little each night so that the house does not spin out of control. My kiddos have a chore chart and part of the going to bed routine is making sure their chores have been completed. One of those is picking up the toys in their room. They each have Ikea Expedits in their rooms to house most of their toys. The baskets or bins make it really easy to put away their toys.  We also make sure our family room toys are put back into the cabinet. The playroom we do not pick up each day. Often they have set up elaborate forts or train tracks. I have learned to embrace the mess of the playroom. Once a week, it hits a tipping point and the two children are in charge of cleaning in all up. "   -Courtney {A Thoughtful Place}

"Every night before we go to bed, Greg and I do what we call "Flight of the Bumble Bee cleaning". That basically consists of 10-15 minutes of straightening the pillows on the sofa, wiping down the kitchen countertops, starting the dishwasher and taking out the trash. It makes waking up the next morning so much more enjoyable." -Ashley {7th House on the Left}

"The first one is have a designated place for everything when you come into the house: coats, shoes, purses, bags, mail, purchases, keys, etc. This does not mean that everything will be “processed” as soon as you walk in the door, like the mail or your purchases. It simply means it has a set location until you have time to get to it, which not only helps keep the house looking tidy but also ensures that when you have time to tackle a task, like the mail, you know exactly where to go to find it. This requires constantly re-evaluating how things are going. If you find that something has changed and suddenly you have a new kind of pile, it’s time to make adjustments. This happened to my husband and I when we got dogs. Suddenly there was all this STUFF sitting around that had no home, so had to make some changes to fit with our new {furry-friendly} routine.

The second one is that I have a basket that sits by the stairs – one on each level - where I place everything that needs to be returned to its home. That way I’m not running up and down the stairs all the time but everything is kept tidy until it’s time to return it to its home. This is one of the simplest but best systems in my house."  -Sarah

"The biggest issue we have with keeping the house clean throughout the week is the kitchen mess after dinner and all the toys in the living room.  The simple solution for both is to do a daily 20-minute kitchen clean-up and a 10-minute living room clean-up before bed. Using baskets with toy labels helps my 3-year old know where his toys belong."  -Megan {Honey We're Home

"I’ve found the easiest way to keep a house clean on a daily basis is to have less stuff. For me, less stuff on the floor, countertops etc makes cleaning much quicker without having to clean around multiple items. So to start, a good declutter always helps.

I split my time into 5 minute whip arounds on a daily basis and one dedicated cleaning session a week. One of my favorite things to do is double up on my chores – I’ll pop in a hair mask while I’m cleaning my shower, I’ll clean up my desk space while downloading files etc.

When picking up after others, I've implemented personal baskets in our home. Each member of the family is assigned a basket, so if they leave items throughout the house, when I do a 5 minute daily clean up I simply pop their items in their basket for them to put away. This makes clean up much quicker and easier, and also makes household cleaning a family responsibility."

-Serena {Pretty Fluffy}  

 "I do have a fairly simple cleaning routine . . . 
Monday: Clean up from weekend and grocery shop/ run errands. (I do the bare minimum of cleaning on the weekends . . . and there's never time to run errands.) 

Tuesday: Main floor clean . . . the entire main floor.

Wednesday: Laundry, baking and monthly cleaning tasks for example washing windows etc. . .

Thursday: Upstairs and bedrooms. I have all the clean laundry to put away and I wash sheets on this day. Vacuum the carpet . . . bathrooms etc.

Friday: Get ready for weekend . . . or catch up if on one of the other days I skipped my tasks to go out with a girlfriend or if life got in the way of that days task." -Ashli {Mini Manor Blog}

 "Simplify wherever you can! I keep my routines short & sweet and try to plan them out in the most effective order. As someone who is not naturally organized, I actually had to sit down and think about the flow of my day, streamlining & connecting tasks in a way that made sense in relation to the layout of my home. 

For example, I start my laundry in the morning & the laundry room is right next to the bathroom, so I bring any dirty laundry downstairs with me when I leave my bedroom, tossing the dirty clothes into the washer on my way to the loo. 

As part of my afternoon/after work routine, I put away the clean laundry & choose my outfit for the next day while I'm already at my closet. Picking out my outfit in advance is a HUGE time-saver the next morning, but if I had to set aside a separate time during the day to do that extra step, it wouldn't happen. It's MUCH easier (and more likely to happen) if I plan tomorrow's outfit when I'm already there. 

My evening routine includes washing dishes immediately after dinner & taking ten minutes to tidy up the house before bed. One trick that helps keep our kitchen cleaner: eating at our island/dinner table instead of sitting in front of the tv. It forces me to clear that surface so we can eat, and then we're also WAY more likely to clean up after dinner if we're already in the kitchen vs. getting sucked into a tv show or other work."  -Casey {Pretty Organized} 

 "To be honest, we're still working on it. I have a typed up "schedule" so my husband and I can reference it, but we are in the middle of tweaking it. My advice would be to not give up! I've realized it's better to spread the timeline out a little longer if I need to and then reevaluate if we need to clean things more frequently. We are increasingly big on "family work" and it has definitely changed the kid's attitudes in helping out and feeling like an important part of the family. My #1 tip is that a little bit everyday is way easier and efficient than procrastinating....and I'm saying that from a lot of experience on the procrastinating end!" -Anneke {This, That & Life}

"My biggest tip is to do what you can to do a quick sweep of the home each day {15 minutes top} to pick up random pillows, toys, dishes, paper piles, etc...  that accumulate each day.  That way, you are waking up to a fresh, clutter free home each day.  We also use a cleaning routine for the scrubbing part of it all, just posted about that last month here"  -Jen

How do you handle laundry so it doesn't become out of control?  Any tips for organizing your routine and/or laundry space??

"Ah. Laundry! It just never goes away does it?! I am one of those people who can't let it pile up. I have friends who dedicate one day a week to laundry and it works so well for them. I start to get hives if it piles up! So for me, I do one load a day. Sometimes two. I have resigned myself to washing mainly on cold which means I can toss a lot of things in together. I normally fold the laundry right after dinner while my hubby is doing the dishes {yes. . lucky that he does that}. Then I loudly announce, "Laundry pick up!" We try to make it as fun as possible. Both kids are then asked to grab their piles and put them away in their drawers. Do they do it perfectly? Absolutely not. But in time, it has gotten better and I despise putting laundry away so this is helpful for everyone!"  -Courtney {A Thoughtful {Place}

"I loathe doing laundry but it feels so good once it's all finished. Luckily, the Mr helps me out and we've developed a little tag team system that works well for us. To help the process go a bit smoother, we leave notes for each other on the dryer with a dry erase marker. For instance, if I put a load in and there's a shirt that needs to be hung instead of put in the dryer, I just leave a note for Greg on the washer. The washer and dryer are basically big box-shaped wipe-off boards, so why not?"   -Ashley {7th House on the Left}

"I have a three-section laundry sorter, purchased a target a million years ago, that I keep in our bedroom closet. It has a section for whites, darks and delicates {i.e. items that have to be air dried}. I’m only doing laundry for my husband and me, so I don’t have the volume that those of you with kiddos undoubtedly wrestle with, though my husband does go through a lot of shirts and socks in a week! The nice thing about the sorter is that when I’m ready to do laundry, I just dump the contents of one section into a laundry basket and then dump that in the washer. No additional sorting needed. I personally only do laundry once a week, on the weekends. As I take loads out of the dryer, I lay everything out on the bed in their respective piles: shirts, socks, underwear, etc. However, I don’t put anything away until I’ve done this to all the loads. That was I’m only folding, hanging and putting away one time. It’s a small thing, but it makes much more efficient use of my time."  -Sarah

"Since it's just my husband and me our laundry doesn't get out of control very often.  And I'm one of those people who will wash the white towels when I have enough towels to make a full load.  A while back I shared my laundry drying tips on IHeart Organizing.  I also have a laundry binder that I keep on our laundry room shelf, which contains stain removal guides, drying organizer, and a laundry symbol decoder."  -Chelsea {two twenty one}

"One of the biggest time savers is a washer/dryer combo. It is an investment, but was one of the best home purchases I've made and is great for loads of towels etc. I simply pop in the washing before I go to work and come home to freshly washed and dry laundry.  I also keep a separate 'dry clean' bag on the side of my laundry hamper so it's there ready to go whenever I walk out the door.  Lastly, I always keep extra bottles of laundry detergent, fabric softener, etc. on hand. I stack them in the cupboard just like a supermarket shelf and stock up whenever I finish a bottle. That way I never run out of supplies on laundry day."  -Serena {Pretty Fluffy}

 "I Do it every Wednesday! I make sure we all have enough socks. . . underwear . . . and other clothes to get through 7 days (plus a few spares). I know some people rather do a load or two a day but I'm a do it all at once . . . pop in a good movie and fold it, kind of gal."  -Ashli {Mini Manor Blog}

"Channel your "Most Interesting Man in the World" voice: I don't always sort laundry, but when I do, I do this: toss clothes into the open washer & bras in a lingerie bag while walking past the laundry room (I bring my dirty laundry downstairs with me in the morning to save the extra trip). Anything that needs extra attention goes into the hamper by the washer. Boom.

I wash one load a day, maybe two if I'm feeling particularly domestic.  We try to buy low-maintenance fabrics that don't require special care, and we wash everything on cold so that we don't have to sort as much. We also avoid eating foods that could potentially stain our clothes: ketchup, red wine, meatball subs, etc. Just kidding -- we're naturally graceful and never stain anything. EVER. (Still kidding.)

I try to hang & fold everything as soon as it's done to avoid dryer wrinkles. If I'm line drying fabric, I use these handy tips. I also created a nifty little flow chart to help save time on ironing -- works like a charm!"  -Casey {Pretty Organized}

"With three kids and a ton of laundry we have been experimenting A LOT.  Currently, getting laundry done 2-3 times each week is feasible. I wash, dry, and fold/hang our kiddos clothes and they each have a basket to put away. Sometimes we make a race out of it too. I'll hang clothes and then they put them away as I hang the next item. I've found the following products to be very helpful in our laundry routine: hanger holder, instahanger system and hanging sweater dryer"  -Anneke {This, That & Life}

"I always find that our piles are the worst after a long vacation or even a weekend away.  That's because with five of us, it can quickly build and if we don't stay on top of it, it instantly becomes overwhelming.  We try and do a load per day, each day we empty our hampers right into the wash, separating only whites.  We also wash linens on Fridays.  We get the kids to join in and help by putting their clothes on hangers for them right out of the dryer, and sorting them into their individual bins."  -Jen

What tips can you offer for counter clutter?  What type of systems do you have for all of that "stuff" that inevitably gets dropped on the counter each day?

"This is a huge one for me. I have tried so many different techniques. While it isn't 100% perfect, the system I use right now is detailed here. The papers are sorted through and put into files for each family member. Normally, they are all for me so I set those into my own file. If there are school papers or artwork the kiddos have brought home they go straight into their hanging folders in the mudroom. I can then sort through them later. We get too relaxed sometimes, but on average, we also go through the mail the second it comes into our home instead of piling it on the counter. Things get tossed or sorted immediately. I have learned that taking three or four minutes to sort things each day is so much better than dealing with a huge pile at the end of the week. It also eliminates things getting lost in the shuffle."  -Courtney {A Thoughtful {Place}

"We have a tray by the back door to corral keys, change and incoming/outgoing mail. This definitely helps cut down on the everyday clutter." 
-Ashley {7th House on the Left}

 "We don't have a large Kitchen, so counter space is a hot commodity! So I took advantage of an unused corner in our Breakfast Room to create a Family Command Center. It has a cork board, and magnetic dry-erase board to hold important invitations and write reminders, a shelf with a DIY Charging Station, and wall shelves with slots for bills, taxes, and each member of the family. We've had it for over a year and has worked like a charm!"  -Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!}

"My husband and I each have a cubby that sits on the counter, where we each place our keys and sunglasses when we return home and where we stick things like envelopes that need to be mailed, so we don’t miss them as we head out the door.

For mail, we have a hanging wall sorter with three sections: one for my unopened mail, one for my husband’s unopened mail and one for opened mail that requires action. This serves a number of helpful purposes. One, it keeps the mail from piling up on the counter or getting lost under a pile of something else, which is what was happening before. Two, the amount of space is finite, which requires that the mail be processed in a timely manner, which is good for me, since I have notorious as waiting a really long time to open my mail, which drives my husband crazy {his bin is almost always empty}.

While we typically enter through our back door from the garage, our front door gets used daily for dog walks. After a couple of years of trying different things and still having the dog-walking paraphernalia piled on the counter, I finally came up with a system that works really well for us. I purchased a 5X1 Expedit bookshelf from Ikea for our front entry. The bottom three shelves got 12X12 Itso bins from Target {I’m telling you, I love these things!} One bin is for everyday tennis shoes and sandals {my good one live in our bedroom closet}, one bin is for my outside clothes {we get a lot of variety in Minnesota, so having this large bin means I never have to make a trip back upstairs to grab something warmer or cooler}, and one bin is for my husband’s outside clothes. We then have a Itso tray where we keep the dog’s harnesses, collars and leashes. We chose a shallow tray for this section because it’s easier to pull out and bring to where we get the dogs ready. The top section is left open, and that’s where I stick my work bag and anything else I need to bring with me to the office on a daily basis. I completed the look by adding two stylish command hooks to the side, so I can hang a sweatshirt or hat that I might be using more regularly."  -Sarah

"Oh, boy, this is something I struggle with.  I blame it on our 6x3 foot kitchen island.  There's just so much counter space to set things on.  I try to keep it tidy by putting things in their place at the end of the day.  My hidden kitchen organizer has helped get important mail and other documents off the counter (and fridge)."
-Chelsea {two twenty one}

"Counter clutter is the worst and drives my crazy!  Everyday, we inevitably end up dumping mail, random paper, and other clutter on our kitchen counter.  I usually take five minutes to sort the mail, immediately tossing/recycling the trash, pulling out the magazines, and taking bills into our office.  If I don't do this daily it can quickly get out of control and have to deal with it on the weekend.

Magazines go in a basket and warranties, documents to keep, receipts, and coupons go into accordion organizers."  -Megan {Honey We're Home}  

"The first step to conquering counter clutter is to assign everything a place. For me, I cleaned everything off my counter tops and found homes for all objects in cupboards or drawers (does that blender you use twice a month really need counter space?). Remember to think outside the box and look to store objects in new spaces. For example, our shopping list and pen are magnetized and live on our fridge door. They don't take up counter space and live in the perfect spot for whenever I want to write a shopping list.

Next, I created a designated spot for daily items - a place where phones can charge, a tray for incoming mail and a dish for keys. Martha Stewart makes a great caddy for this. I also added a piggy bank (my husband would ALWAYS leave loose change around the house).

The final and crucial step, was starting a daily habit of putting each item in its spot every time I wasn’t using it. That way everything stayed in its place and my counters stayed clean. It sounds simple, but 'a place for everything and everything in its place' still stands the test of time."

-Serena {Pretty Fluffy}

"Inbox on a desk or designated space controls all the paper clutter. But mostly I think it's a matter of everything having a space set aside. Like a spot for you cutting board so it doesn't end up on the counter . . . And lastly, if it can be store in a drawer store it there . . . like if you buy a knife organizer that fits in your drawer there's no need for a knife block on your counter "  -Ashli {Mini Manor Blog}

"Have a dedicated home for items you always have when you enter/leave. Make sure that the spot you have designated is easily accessible & within one or two steps from the door. We keep a bread box in our entry for keys, sunglasses, and all of the other little odds & ends related to coming & going.

Look at what is consistently left on the counter & ask why (talk with your family members, too!). Is it because the items don't have a home yet, or is the home for the item difficult to access? For example, if they leave cereal boxes on the counter because the cereal shelf difficult for them to reach, then it might help to move the breakfast foods to a more accessible spot (like I did for my smoothie station). If your counters are cluttered because you don't have space in your cabinets, then you could also try giving a few of these storage tips a whirl!

Take 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to clear the space. Personally, I have to clear it every day or it escalates QUICKLY! In our house, clear counters will stay clear for a little while, but as soon as one or two items are left out, it's over. Once there's stuff on the counter, it becomes a magnet for more clutter -- not cool."  -Casey {Pretty Organized}

"Counter clutter is for real people! Wow. I've learned that it needs to be dealt with every day. Dealing with that little bit every day and going to bed with a clear counter is worth the effort. However, with our family schedule, I had to give myself {and my kids!} some grace during the daytime. Sometimes life means a little clutter on the counter during the day. Life isn't a photo shoot. If I can't deal with the clutter right away, it goes in a nice stack and gets dealt with by the evening. I try to go through the mail right away and recycle papers or move bills to their place. Kid's papers from school get looked at and then recycled or hung up on our cork board by the garage. Sometimes these things can seem more overwhelming than they really are {like the laundry pile}, but they really only take a short amount of time to take care of once you get started."  -Anneke {This, That & Life}

"Counter clutter and I don't get along.  It instantly makes our home feel smaller and I can't focus on anything else.  Using the drawers whenever possible has helped corral kitchen items.  Nearby wall bins give each family member a place for their papers and mail that accumulate throughout the week.  At the end of the week, I take a couple of minutes to file bills into our budget binder, schoolwork into the kid's school boxes and log appointments into my planner.  By giving the kid's school cubbies and myself a special bin in the closet for returns, we have reduced the chances of piles forming on the counters."  -Jen

I can't thank the contributors enough for being here weekly to offer up their time, ideas and suggestions.  They always seem to think of things that I never would have thought of, and put are so great at putting their own unique spin on every project they take on.  They are a bunch of super smart cookies and I Heart them each to pieces!

Now it's your turn!  What do you have to add to any of these commonly asked questions?  Do you have a favorite organizing item?  A magical solution to counter clutter?  How about ways to make laundry a bit more tolerable?


  1. What an awesome post! So many great ideas and tips in one place. Thank you!!

  2. Hi,
    I want to say A BIG THANK YOU to ALL of you for answering most of my question without asking....I just love you all ladies!

    1. Thank YOU for stopping by to check it out! :) It is a fun series to put together!


  3. Love, love, love Ashley's {7th House on the Left} suggest about using the top of the washer as a dry erase board for laundry notes. You just solved real world marital fights right there!

  4. This was such a wonderful post! Love all the tips. Counter clutter gets out of control in my house. Mainly because my husband works from home and puts nothing away! No matter how many systems we try, even when they are his idea, he still doesn't follow them. If you have advice on husband training, I'm all ears!

    1. Yikes, such a tough one, as I am with you! I try to have my hubby pick systems that work best for him or follow his habits and try to problem solve around them vs. trying to get him to change his ways. I would say I have about a 60% success rate, haha! :)


  5. My favorite organizing item is hooks from

    I have these by my back door for an great landing zone for backpacks, dog leash, and reusable grocery bags!

    1. Ohh, I will have to take a look. I love vintage inspired hardware! :)


  6. Love reading your posts !!! Sooo inspiring ! :) thanks to all of you!

  7. I am already addicted to this blog and I just came across it a few minutes ago! WONDERFUL, CLEAVER, and WITTY ways for all kinds of everyday struggles with keeping a clean and organized home. My only problem is.. My Hubby HATES wicker! HATES IT! So baskets aren't really in the cards for me, but I've found that the plastic bins and containers you can find most anywhere work just as well without making him sick to his stomach! I think maybe a wicker chair must have come to life and tried to eat him as a child because that's the only thing that could keep me away from those baskets! Well that and the Hubby! Thank you all SO MUCH for these WONDERFUL ideas. I'm fixing to put some into action TONIGHT!!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. If you are referring to scheduling and planning here is a great post that was written last month about synchronizing schedules and how to use a gmail calendar to your best advantage I'm an avid reader & your comment made me remember that post! :)

    2. Thanks Lyndsey! I was gonna point to the same post! :) I love Anneke's explanation of how the system has worked so well for their family!


  9. What a great round-up! Counter clutter is the worst - thanks for the great tips to help keep never-ending paper from taking over the house!

  10. I love this feature, Jen! It's so great to see how you all deal with the same problems in different ways.

    What works for laundry for me right now is to do a different kind of laundry each day: diapers Sunday, adult clothes Monday, baby stuff Tuesday, diapers again Wednesday, specials (linens or delicates or whatever) Thursday, and towels Friday. And Saturday off! That way I don't have to think about it. I always know exactly what I have to do that day, we always have clean clothes and towels, and no matter what else is going on I can usually manage to do one measly load of laundry!

    I used to let it pile up and only wash everything once a month (I know), but realized that wasn't going to work with the baby. This way is a lot less stressful! So that's my advice, too: even if you've always done something one way and you don't think you're one of those people who does it the other way... try it out for a week or two. Then you'll know you're using the system that works best for you and not just the one you've fallen into a rut with. :-)

    1. So so true! And thank you for pointing that out! It's always good to give things a try and be OK if they don't work and try again. Organizing and time management is all about problem solving. :)


  11. Love, love this post! Thank you!

  12. Wow! SO MUCH fantastic info!!! Thank you so much for this!!!

    Kristen from The Road to Domestication
    www.theroad to

  13. What an awesome round-up of questions and answers from your lovely contributors and yourself! I just wanted to say I am absolutely addicted to your blog, and I love taking some of your home organization tips and implementing them into my room. I'm only 16, so there isn't a ton of freedom I have within my house to do all your wonderful organization things, but this blog makes me so excited to go off to college next year and continue using your awesome DIY and organizing stuff!
    -Jacque G

    1. That is so amazing to hear Jacque! I adore that this blog reaches readers of so many ages and situations.


  14. Another great post from you. Our clean-up routine and a general rule around the house to stay organized is to get things done right away. Sometimes it gets put away for another time, but more often than not it is immediately. That way the workload and pressure of staying organized becomes much less for us.

  15. I love label markers. I can find anything as long as there is a label to it. I think that the little jars for craft storage is the best idea. Thank you for posting this post full of inspirational ideas.


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