Wednesday, January 10, 2018

65 My Five Favorite Ways to Organize Room-by-Room

Well, you guys! You did it! You made me cry the happiest tears I have cried in a very long time. I am so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support you all showed me after my last post. I am still making my way through all of the emails and comments and letting every word soak in. So. Much. Good. And so many new ideas and thoughts that spurred from our conversations in the comment section! I looooved it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Today I was invited to host a blog hop surrounding my favorite subject of all time: ORGANIZING! I mentioned I wanted to do more connecting and sharing this year, and this was the perfect way to dive right in!



I am joining a group of lovely ladies, and each of us was asked to share our favorite organizing tip for five different rooms in our homes. I absolutely can't wait to check out all of the other blogs and pick up a few new ideas for myself! You all can follow along with my fellow friends below:



I will admit, I had a hard time narrowing each room down to one tip, but this was a really good exercise for me and really got me thinking. So, I picked what I thought were ideas that made a big impact on my day-to-day life, were easy enough that most anyone could implement and were budget friendly. Some of these might look familiar, or seem obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be spoken.


This was the hardest room for me to narrow down. I could have talked about how to date pantry items and leftovers or how to best layout your kitchen or why I think lazy susans are amazing or what to store under your kitchen sink or how I meal plan. I had so many ideas it inspired another post or two for the near future. That said, I decided to focus on a product I use in almost every area of my kitchen (and home). My number one tip for organizing in the kitchen is to use my absolute all-time favorite bins, the multi-purpose bin, to organize everything.


I have bragged about these bins to the moon and back and I still pick up a couple more every time I visit The Container Store. I love their price, but more importantly, their versatility, especially in the kitchen. These bins come in a variety of widths, are easy to clean, are translucent, are lightweight and have handles. Here are a few ways you can use these bins to whip your kitchen into organized shape:

  • In the fridge to create zones and kits. Think breakfast items and yogurts, lunch making supplies, produce, snacks, baggies containing treats and leftovers. 
  • In the pantry for dividing out produce, breads, spreads, chips, wraps...
  • In a cabinet to hold paper products.
  • Under the kitchen sink to corral cleaning supplies.
  • In a cabinet to hold clean rags and dish towels.
  • In a cabinet to store medications and vitamins. 
  • In deep drawers to file and divide specific gadgets, utensils, and lids.
  • On a nearby counter or shelf to corral daily mail and papers.






This is one that may seem obvious to most when I say, "create an inbox!". But friends, you really need an inbox!


Not all inboxes are created equal and it also helps to have a plan that correlates with your bin. The plan is just as important as the inbox itself.

I placed an oversized paper tray on my desk. I love this particular option because it is a little longer and wider than traditional letter trays. It also has stacking components as you can see above, so I can keep a few other desk goodies nearby without taking up all of my usable workspace. Lastly, I keep it in the most accessible location in my office, so I can easily add things to it throughout the week and also quickly work on it when the time comes.

As the week goes on, anything that enters the house that requires my attention or an action goes into my inbox. That might include a catalog I want to look at, a form I need to sign, scan and email, an address I need to log into my address book, Christmas cards I need to file away, receipts I need to expense, return labels I have printed, dates I need to add to my planner, etc... A lot of times these things are thrown at me and I can't give them my immediate attention, but I want them in a single place so if I need them at any point during the week, I know where to look.


The reason why the width of the tray is important is that it also fits a standard file folder. That allows me to add a specific place to put any bills or invoices that need to be paid. I like to keep those items separate as Bryan and I do our budget together and I never want to misplace any of our financial documents.

So, part one is to have a single drop zone place for all of the things to do. Part two is to actually do those things! I block 30 minutes on my calendar each week to go through my inbox and clear it out. It is a reminder that chimes on my phone and also a reoccurring task on my weekly list. I don't typically need that much time but I like to have it blocked just in case.



This one is easy peasy. Do you ever go to grab a set of sheets and part of the set is missing? Do you struggle with nicely folding those awful fitted sheets? Or have piles of sheets toppling over in your linen closet?


You know those inexpensive mesh laundry sacks generally intended for washing delicate clothes? Well, they also work great for corralling your individual sets of sheets. Just fold the sheets the best you can, tuck them inside a zippered sack and add a lavender dryer or sachet sheet for good measure. It keeps all of the set pieces together and smelling nice.

Also, people ask me all of the time why our "linen" or hallways closet doesn't actually have many linens stored in it. The answer is because I store most of our linens in the actual room they belong in. Each bedroom has two sets of sheets, one on the bed and a backup set. Same for bathrooms, one clean towel on the hook, one back-up. The mesh sacks store nicely in a bedroom drawer, in a bin or up on a closet shelf.



No surprise, my favorite bin is making another appearance!


In the bathroom, I always recommend adding a cleaning kit under the sink. Bathrooms are gross, germy, grimy places, and no one wants to run all the way to the kitchen for cleaners on a frequent basis; keeping some essentials in each bathroom encourages frequent wipe downs.


Under each of our bathroom sinks I have added a couple of bins to hold the following:

  • Lidded toilet brush
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Multi-surface cleaning spray (homemade recipe found here)
  • Shower scrub brush with cleaner added to the handle (homemade recipe found here)
  • Sink & grout brush
  • Trash can bags
  • Magic erasers
  • Cleaning rags

I try my best to quickly wipe down each bathroom each day. A quick pass over the mirror, down to the faucet and then around the counter (all with the same spray). The scrub brush quickly removes any makeup or toothpaste from the sink. I also try to use the shower scrubber on the walls of the shower every day or two to prevent soap build-up.


I add enough clean rags to the bin each week to get me through seven days of wipe downs, and after each cleaning, the dirty rag is tossed into a separate bin until wash day. I purchased the rags in bulk so I can do this for each bathroom, and at the end of the week they are all washed together in their own load. 



Speaking of washing laundry, let's chat about that next! I made a rule for the family awhile back that I wouldn't allow any dirty clothes to be left in the laundry room, with the exception of special wash items. Each bedroom has a hamper and each person has a specific day of the week to do their own wash. Sundays are for rags, delicate items and linens. 


On their specific day, a family member will take their hamper of dirty clothes and any empty hangers to the laundry room and do their laundry. Clothes are folded and put on hangers directly from the washer or dryer and brought right back to their rooms.

Taking away community hampers was an instant win for us! No more mixed socks or arguments over who should do laundry and when. Or what clothes belong to which kid. No more finger pointing at one another over shrinking sweaters and mixing colors. I will never say that I love doing laundry, but these quick tips have really helped us all with sanity and accountability! 

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Thanks again everyone! I hope one or some of these tips are helpful and easy enough for you to give a whirl. Don't forget to check out the other posts below for even more around-the-house organizational tips:









65 comments:

  1. Such great tips and, as always, your pictures are amazing! Have a great week!
    www.fromheretozehr.blogspot.com

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  2. Brilliant tips Jen, thank you! XO

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  3. Your "store linens in the rooms they are used" transformed my linen closet a few years ago. I think a first quarter goal this year is to 1. teach my boys how to do their own laundry (they can sew and cook, but I haven't tackled laundry yet!) and separate laundry baskets. Thanks for another great idea!

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  4. Those bins look like something I need to try!

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  5. Jen I love all these ideas and as I suspected would happen, now I have 5 things to add to my to-do list, starting with buying those bins from the Container Store that you use in your kitchen and bathrooms! The rag idea with a bin for dirty rags is so smart too.....and the lidded toilet brush. So many great tips! Thank you so much for hosting with us today, so fun!

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  6. Great quick tips! I love the idea of having a cleaning bin in each bathroom. Definitely going to try that. Curious where you got the clear container for the dirty rags that fit so nicely in the all purpose bin?

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    1. Also the Container Store, it was an extra that we were no longer using in our pantry. ☺

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  7. Such a fun post! How do towels factor into the laundry routine? I feel like I'm always washing them.

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    1. Hi Nichole,
      Each person has two towels and uses each towel for about three days and then they are all washed on Sunday on a sanitary cycle along with any hand towels. (I do store a few extra towels in a linen closet just in case or for guests). We have a small flip out hamper in our bath where they can go until wash day.

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  8. Great tips! Thanks for the reminder about the all purpose bins. I am on a kitchen organizing binge this week so it was very timely. Love the idea about the mesh bag and dryer sheet for bed linens. I think your idea involving the family to do their own laundry chores is brilliant. If only I had instituted that a long time ago...

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  9. Love the tip for corralling sheet sets,so smart! Thank you!!

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  10. I've always stored sets of sheets in one of the pillow cases. Same principle, but eliminates the need to buy mesh bags. I love the idea of assigning everyone a day to do their laundry!

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    1. I was going to say this. Sort of. We buy the zippered pillow cases so that the pillows don't get yucky looking and they can be washed easier than a pillow can! I tried replacing the pillows (not all at once!) but my fiancé and I BOTH would get too attached to the worst looking pillow and not want to give it up. Then we had like 10 pillows!? I bought the zippered cases, don't have to look at the yucky pillows as often now AND since it has a zipper the sheets and decorative pillow cases can store inside of them and not fall out, lol. Plus when we moved into an apartment last year, I've been able to throw out some of the pillows. Just don't tell the fiancé. He has no clue now since they all look alike inside the generic looking cases!

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  11. Great post, thank you. Does anyone know where I can find these bins in Australia?

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  12. Love it! Baby on the way and looking forward to laundry systems..using these tips asap!! Towel hamper, two towels per person, rag hamper, wash all on a separate laundry day weekly, and separate clothing laundry baskets each done on a different day. Love it.

    Also, how often do you wash sheets? And anyone have a source for those mesh bags to store sheets, maybe on Amazon? Thank you!!

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    1. Hi Katelyn! I aim to wash sheets every week but sometimes we go two weeks if our weekends are super busy (Sundays are linen days here).

      And the mesh laundry bags can be found almost anywhere (dollar stores, target, Walmart, etc...) They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These on Amazon look like a solid option also: http://amzn.to/2DgllOW.

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  13. Thank you so much for these tips!! I always find it so inspiring how others master their day to day life. I think I will add a few to ours:-)
    Hab’s a nice week!!
    Xx, Kirsten

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  14. Thank you. I have not gotten around to comment your last post, but want to tell you here that i absolutely looove your blog, content and pictures. I read and enjoy it immensely. In between post please post some Instagram pics to keep us going :-)
    Best regards from Zurich Switzerland
    Debs

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  15. Gorgeous pics, and great tips! I wish The Container Store didn’t charge $45 to ship to Canada... 😭 I hope I can find something similar here that could become my go-to without breaking the bank!

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    1. Hi Amanda! That shipping price is definitely too much! I am not sure what is available to Canada, so I am going to link a few other options I sourced below:

      Amazon: http://amzn.to/2Dk12QA
      Wayfair: http://bit.ly/2CT9YM5 & http://bit.ly/2DkwQoG
      Target: http://bit.ly/2CT6Z5Z

      The multi purpose bins are also a type of file bin, so I tend to look for pantry and desktop file containers when shopping for similar options.

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  16. Hey dolly! I absolutely adore these ideas! I have read your blog for years and years. I believe the first post that I read was about organizing kids hand-me-downs, and you used one of those plastic chests of drawers that we all have. You had clip art labels and the whole thing was just, POSSIBLE. It's the POSSIBLE aspect that has kept me coming back all these years. It's the uncanny knack you have for taking the mundane, but necessary tasks and making them shine.. It is not an exaggeration to write that every single corner of my home, from under my kitchen sink, to my guest bathroom has been inspired and influenced by you. I have three kids as well and I work from home. Not only can it get a bit lonely, but the monotony of it kicks my ass sometimes. It is those times (ahem, everyday) that I know I can find camaraderie, purpose even, here on your blog. You help make my little world more fun. Thank you for that. I'm sorry I haven't commented before, because if nothing else we should all tell you thank you ;-) So.. thank you again, Jen.
    With gratitude,
    Erin

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    1. Thank YOU Erin! I love that you remember those bins! ♥ I appreciate your comment and encouragement and completely understand the working from home feelings! Cheers to a bright 2018!

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  17. No problem getting the laundry done here, hubby was well trained as a boy in the domestic arts of cooking and laundry. The putting away of clean laundry (or anything else for that matter) is an entirely different story. I nearly always have at least 3 -5 baskets full of clean laundry lying around the house just waiting to be put away, usually tipped out somewhere so we can use the basket to put more clean clothes in from the latest wash....

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  18. I love your posts and am so happy you’re back!!!

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  19. Great tips, Jen! I remember your tips on linen storage from way back but have yet to implement it. I think I definitely need to since it would cut down on linen closet clutter and we always use the same sheets in each room anyway! I just read this post and your last post recently, I too like to step away from technology and take a week (or more) long break here and there so I absolutely understand your need to step back occasionally. I will say that no matter how often or what you post, yours has and always will be my very favorite blog! I discovered it about 6 years ago and have never missed a post. I still check every weekday to see if a new post is up!! The quality of your posts is unmatched and I appreciate all posts whenever they may come up. In the past you did reader posts and UHeart Organizing posts to lighten your load a bit. Have you thought about bringing those back to help? Sending love xx

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    1. Thank you Kaitlin! I think tech breaks here and there are amazingly healthy - I found that I was doing things I have had on my lists for years (and not just to-do tasks, but more reading and playing with the kids, etc...) and actually sleeping a bit better.

      And I am definitely thinking of ways to bring back reader posts and also have fellow bloggers contribute again, but with a different/fresh approach.

      Thank you again!

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  20. Jen, can I just say . . . Your posts make me soooo HAPPY! I always learn something 💗

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  21. Love your ideas! I am always ready for new ideas on how to make something "work" in our home. I have found that various stages in our life require different systems. What may work for a time may not work the next year depending on our life activities and schedules so thank you!

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  22. These are definitely posts I love! And I appreciate that you don't mind repeating yourself with organization tools and tips because I had totally forgotten about those container store multi-purpose tubs, but we just renovated our kitchen, and now I need all new tubs! So it was fantastic to be reminded of this great tool! Thanks again. :)

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  23. I really like your tip about scheduling time to go through your inbox weekly. I always think I'm going to get to it sometime but it can sit for ages before I really do. I would love a post on scheduling time but still having balance in life -- so elusive!

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    1. It's always a battle managing life and work time but I will say setting timers for daily tasks and blocking time on my calendar are huge helpers!

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  24. Love all these suggestions...I don’t think my 16 month old can take care of her own laundry yet (hahaha!) but I love the idea of storing one set of sheets in each space and one extra towel. So much better than taking up linen closet space which I’d like to use for other storage. Also I really need to get some of the multi purpose bins, I ogle them every time I see them on your page!

    Thanks, Melissa

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  25. Hello Jen! Could you perhaps share what size the bins are that you have pictured from your kitchen/fridge. I think they are great and would like to get some but it would be helpful to know exactly what sizes you have shown so I could order the same. Thanks so much!

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    1. The majority of the bins I purchase are in the medium size but occasionally the large also (I used both medium and large in our pantry drawer pictured above, and only medium in the fridge and under the bathroom sink).

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    2. Great! Thanks so much ... off theThe Container Store :-)

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  26. Jen! I was checking for a post for the last couple months, and was happy to see two today! I have missed reading your posts and I totally get taking a break. You have a hard position, as a online blogger and having your own personal life. I know the struggles of health issues that pop up with a kid or two (both of my kids were sick during the whole two weeks of Christmas break, on top of that!), and I really admire you taking time for yourself. You don't owe anyone an explanation but I am glad you shared your story. I started reading your blog after I found a pin about lego storage, a LONG time ago, and loved every post you create. Like you said, sometimes the obvious needed to be pointed out, and you did so perfectly in this post. Blocking out time each week to work on to do tasks in an inbox is GENIUS. Thank you for being real, and I am excited to see your upcoming posts. Happy 2018!

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    1. Thank you so much Stephanie! I hope you are all on the mend and I appreciate your comment. Happy 2018 to you as well!

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  27. Enjoyed this post and feel like these are things I should definitely do- you are the queen of organizing! I would love to see pics of where you stash the hampers in each bedroom. Also, gross question, but do you clean your toilet brushes, and if so, how?

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    1. I usually pick up decorative lidded baskets from HomeGoods so they can just sit out in our rooms and still look nice. :) I don't want to actually see the dirty laundry and we don't have super-sized closets.

      I do keep a bit of vinegar and tea tree oil in the base of each toilet brush holder that I change out on occasion which helps keep the brushes fairly clean until they need to be replaced.

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  28. Everything looks so organized, I love it! Thanks for sharing <3

    https://www.myblackcloset.com/

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  29. I have 3 boys like you, and laundry is a never-ending job. I stay fairly on top of it and have a few systems that help, but I can’t wait until they can do their own laundry. They “help” now, but at what age were your boys truly able to tackle it on their own? Thanks!!!!

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    1. I think every kid is different. I had my kiddos helping with aspects of their laundry at very young ages and slowly transitioned all of the steps to them as they grew older. They sort out their sweaters but beyond that just wash all of their clothes on the same settings every time to keep it easy. Best of luck Victoria!

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  30. Love the idea of putting 1 extra set of sheets in the room where they would be used! That would help my husband so much when he happens to be the parent taking care of those emergency-middle-of-the-night bedding changes and trying to decide which bedding to choose! What about mattress covers? Where/how many/how do you store those? With 4 kids ranging from age 4 to 17, I do need to have a couple extras. Plus, we host guests for Christmas and I need come up with 4 extra beds with bedding at those times. Do you store guest bedding in a different way?

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    1. Hi Libbe,

      I only have one mattress cover per mattress at the moment. But you could definitely store them in the mesh along with the set of sheets?

      For guests, they use the second set of sheets that we have on hand for our own beds (we typically only have guests for a single night or two at a time). Our kids have a sleepover storage bench they grab from (you can see that here: http://www.iheartorganizing.com/2016/03/our-teen-boys-bedroom-is-finished.html) And I keep extra blankets in a spare dresser drawer in our bedroom, but they could also be stored in linen bags under beds or up on closet shelves (if they are only used on occasion, space saving bags could also be used if space is a major concern).

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  31. Hi Jennifer,
    Your tip about keeping cleaning products in the bathroom is spot on! I just did that in our house and it makes a big difference. The bathroom stays cleaner just by having everything within reach. Now if only I could get the kids to use those supplies more often!

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  32. Thank you so much for these suggestions! I especially love the different ideas for the multi-purpose bins! These bins have definitely been a game changer for my freezer. I am curious about your linen/rag/delicate laundry day...about how many loads do you normally have to do that day? Also, do you do multiple rag loads (separating kitchen & bathroom rags or separating cotton kitchen towels and microfiber cloths)?

    Thanks!
    Dayla

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    1. Hi Dayla,
      I wash all of the cleaning rags in their own load (minus any kitchen rags). Then I wash our towels, kitchen rags and hand towels together. Then sheets and any other blankets/linens. All on a sanitary or high heat cycle. So three loads but I find they are the easiest to do and put away. :) I wash delicates as needed, typically once every couple of weeks.

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  33. I love those bins as well! I have a few in my pantry (per your suggestion) and we use the small ones in my classroom as book bins for each student. They've held up well over the past 5 years with lots of use and abuse from 1st graders! These suggestions are beautiful and so inspiring!

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  34. Those bins are so great. I wanted some ever since I’d seen them in your posts. Pretty hard to find over here in the UK so when I was in New York on a long weekend I picked some up. Came back with 3 squeezed in my hand luggage! We use them in the office and in the pantry. They are as good as you say. Thanks for all your great recommendations Jen.

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  35. Hi Jen, thanks for your post! I have gotten a lot more organized through the years but I still struggle with the tops of dressers. How do you keep yours so free from clutter? Between my family ours have banks, jewelry/watch boxes, mirrors, porcelain dolls, clocks, baskets with gift/store/business cards, etc., etc., etc.

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    1. That's a great question. My quick answer is that I try to be sure that any top-of-the-dresser accessory doubles as decorative storage that I can nicely style. Everything else is stored elsewhere, whether in dresser drawers or nearby shelves/cabinets. I love decorative boxes and dishes because they can store those small things like jewelry and loose change, and still look pretty at the same time.

      I would begin by clearing the surface completely and only put back what you love and use daily. Then try to pare down and relocate the rest.

      xo!

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    2. Thank you! I’ll give that a try today!

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  36. These are great tips! I am intrigued by your kitchen intro though. You said you may post about why you love your lazy susan please post about this! I have two of them now that we have been in this house for two years and I still hate them. What do you put in them, how do you keep them organized, how do you get other people to close them? Please help me!!!!

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    1. Hi Sonja! I should definitely clarify that - I wasn't referencing the large corner lazy susans typically installed in deep corner cabinets, as I agree, those can be a huge challenge! I have recently spotted these although I can't personally testify to how well they work: http://amzn.to/2B2jrPl.

      I do love the smaller turntables that you can pick up at most home retailers, as they are amazing for deep cupboards and cabinets, under the sink and even in the fridge. They can be used in a variety of ways in a variety of rooms, and I think it would be fun to do a post with a few examples.

      Jen

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  37. I love these tips! Two I hope to implement soon are the inbox (and scheduled time to go through it each week) and the refillable shower scrubber (thanks for linking back to the recipe for that!). Thank you for these ideas on how to make daily life simpler and more organized! So glad you are back to posting! I'm glad you were able to take a break, but I did miss you. ♡

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  38. You found so many uses for those multi purpose bins! I have three of them for my wrapping supplies: one for tissue paper, two for gift bags (large and small). It works so well! Now, I'm starting to think I should get a few more for other spots around the house...

    The sheet set in bag (or my less fancy version: in a pillowcase) was such a game changer! My fight against the unfoldable fitted sheets is over! (and let's be honest, the sheet won more often than I did)

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  39. Enjoyed reading this. Easy and useful tips to follow. Going to try to implement some.

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  40. What a fun post and invitation to hop on over to other blogs to check out their inspiration as well! One of my favorite ways to organize a room is something you taught me -- using the bottom of a cereal or cracker box (or any kind of box really) to create drawer organizers! My house really isn't all that organized right now (as I alluded to in my comment the other day on your welcome 2018 post, Jen), but even seeing just one organized drawer/closet/etc can be a lovely, breath of fresh air. I appreciated your comment when talking about the mesh laundry bag that you don't store a lot of linens in your linen closet as I don't have a linen closet at all. I'm not kidding. Creative ideas on how and where to store items typically stored in a linen closet would be a post I would love to see on the blog. As always, thanks for the inspiration!

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  41. These recs come at the perfect time, with the organizing challenges and spring cleanings starting everywhere! The bins are awsome, I'll have to look for a good substitute here in Germany. And yes inboxes are everything! If only the rest of my family besides my mom knew that too. And the Washing schedule is great, I'll take a note for when I have kids :)

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  42. Hi Jen! I started reading your blog when my now 5 year old was 1...or maybe he was 2. I haven't stopped by to read what was new at IHeart in awhile, and I'm sad to say that I'm one of those who never comments. I rarely post on my Facebook. That's how I am. So why has it been awhile? Well, we were blessed with triplet girls in August of 2016. ❤❤❤ I had my home organized with so many ideas from you. Even my mom would ask questions like "Where did you come up with that battery storage idea?" And before I could answer, she would say "Oh, the I Heart organizing lady, I bet." LOL ;) Well, living in northern Illinois (4 hours away from family) we needed help. So we moved 6 months ago to my hometown in southern Illinois and live 8 blocks from my mom now. I've been so spoiled and now we are 2 hours away from a Target, Container Store, and all my other favorite shops. So, I thought I would stop back by like I did BT (Before Triplets) and see what ideas I could come up with for our new house and how to organize my kindergartener's school work. (I remembered that post and was looking for it...thank you!) I rarely have a minute to myself because I teach full-time and my life is like the movie Groundhog Day. Cleaning three high chairs over and over and over. There never seems to be any time to get things organized like they used to be. Luckily we've had a couple of snow days because of the weather this week and I did get my tree down! I also ordered some more of the beloved multi-purpose bins and other items from The Container Store. And I am loving your idea of having each person with their own laundry day. Once my girls are old enough, I will implement that!

    When I stopped in to see what was new in December, I saw that your last post was Thanksgiving. I was hoping that all was ok, and that you were taking time to enjoy the Christmas season. I was excited when I saw that you had a new 2018 post and I have to say, I did tear up. I was glad to read that you took some time to focus on family. Family IS the most important thing...even if they are 2 hours from a Target! ;)

    So along with my resolution of getting this new home organized, I will also stop by more often and I will make sure to comment on your fabulous posts. Even if it is something small. I'm sure that this post has made up for all the years that I have not commented. Thanks again for all of the wonderful ideas! ❤

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Thanks again my lovely friends! XO!