O is for Organizing

A few weeks ago a friend of mine wrote a post on her blog asking if trading recipes made us officially old. I had that exact same thought the other day when some girl friends and I were sharing home organization advice. You know you’re getting old when your topics of conversation involve cooking and/or cleaning. Sorry to break the news.

As dorky as it is I’ve been in-love with The Container Store since I was in sixth grade. As much as I love to buy organizational contraptions I do have a bit of a problem keeping my things organized. This is why I love love love Unclutterer and Real Simple Home & Organizing. I need constant reminders, and it never fails I find something new that I’d never thought of. If you’ve never seen either of these sites you’re either a) living in a shoe box or b) living under a rock. I’m sorry but there really are no other explanations for missing out on such greatness. As if you couldn’t tell by the 3 loves I was elated when Erin, the Erin from Unclutter agreed to write O is for Organization. Now if only Erin would just live in my guest room and keep my house uncluttered.

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Erin Doland is Editor-in-Chief of the home and office organization website Unclutterer. You also can find her doling out organization advice twice a week on RealSimple.com.

My sister-in-law is 22 and graduates this May from college. We often talk about her plans after graduation and her anxieties associated with this life-changing event. Her parents, siblings, and friends appear to have a limitless supply of useful career and social advice. I don’t know a great deal about her profession or the city where she is moving, so I’m focusing my advice to her on the topic of organization. Specifically, I’m focusing the majority of that advice on her kitchen, because that is where my heart is.

Here are some of the tips I’ve recently shared with her:

  • When putting your kitchen together, arrange items in cabinets based on where you use them. Pots, pans, baking sheets, and oven mitts should be next to your stove. Glasses should either be next to your sink (if you’re a tap water drinker) or the refrigerator (if you prefer chilled beverages). Silverware and plates should be relatively close together since you most often use them together. Heavy items should be stored in lower cabinets, and mugs near your coffee pot.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for very specific, practical things for graduation gifts. Receiving a basket of plastic wrap, aluminum foil, zip-top baggies in varying sizes, wax paper, garbage bags, paper towels, and hand towels isn’t the world’s sexiest gift, but you’ll definitely appreciate it when you don’t have to buy these items before getting your first paycheck.
  • Consider re-purposing some of your college items for your kitchen needs. An old index card file is great for holding seasoning packets and soup mixes. An over-the-door pocket shoe organizer can hold pouches, cans, and mixes on the back of a pantry door. Milk crates you used as a bookshelf in your dorm room can become bins for recycling. Your shower caddy makes a nice organizer for cleaning supplies under your kitchen sink.
  • Have a list of essential kitchen tools and only focus on acquiring those items. You’re likely moving into a small space, and having something you won’t regularly use will only cause clutter. I spent most of my first years after college using nothing but one cast iron skillet for my pan set. It was cheap (under $20), and I could cook almost everything on it.
  • Don’t put your trash can under your sink. Get a relatively nice trash can with a lid that opens with a foot press. If the trash can is under your sink then you have to open the door and pull out the trash can every single time you want to throw something away. You won’t forget to take out the garbage if you can see that it needs to be emptied, and the likelihood that you’ll get critters is reduced since you’ll be taking out your garbage more often. Plus, you can move the trash can around the kitchen as you’re working.

{photo credit: flickr}

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About Erin Doland

Erin Doland is Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer and lives in the Washington, D.C.-area. She was once a pack rat who held on to objects like her third grade math assignments and every note she passed in high school. When she moved into an 850 sq. foot, one bedroom apartment with her husband, however, she realized that it was time to change her ways. Now, she borders on having a fanatical commitment to a more minimalist and simple lifestyle. She believes in buying quality over quantity, and experience has taught her that a clean, uncluttered home is an essential component of a less stressful life. You may have seen her book in stores, an appearance on the Rachael Ray Show, profiled in The New York Times, read her work in national publications like Real Simple Magazine, or heard her on Martha Stewart Living radio. View all posts by Erin Doland →

10 comments
JST Books
JST Books

One of the best organizers that you can get nowadays is an adjustable type 1-3 tired that has baskets that slide independently from each other. If you have an organizer with 2 or 3 tiers, you will save lots of space in your kitchen and also allow you to find your things that much faster. Many times all you need is pull a shelf to find all the items that are in the back come to your easy reach. kitchen organizer

Natalie
Natalie

I am a wanna-be organized person. At the start of my shift, I always put things on my table in an organized way. But as hours go by, my desk is such a chaos. My boss actually gave this to me as a challenge, I have to end my shift with a clean desk. I always fail. :-( Thanks for this post. I will probably start with my room and kitchen.

boxes_crates
boxes_crates

I'll post the same information to my blog, thanks for ideas and great article.

boxes_crates
boxes_crates

I'll post the same information to my blog, thanks for ideas and great article.

M.E. Williams
M.E. Williams

The depressing thing about The Container Store these days is that, past containers, it's full of the kind of Unitasker products that they're always mocking on Unclutterer. I love the place, but the last time I was there, a saleswoman was actually following me and my family around, so she could eavesdrop on my vaguely scathing "nobody NEEEEEEEEEEDS that" remarks about half of the little gadgets in the store. I was apparently cracking her up. Anyway, awesome post. :)

Mistyz23
Mistyz23

Ugh... Tanja, I have fallen victim to organization overkill lately. I know what you mean!

Nathan Snell
Nathan Snell

Strange, I went to bed last night and awoke in a shoe box this morning!

Tanja
Tanja

Ah, organizing....wonderful thing...but BE CAREFUL, because if you fall in love with it, you'll catch yourself spending all your time doing it.

suzy home-improver
suzy home-improver

Eek, I too am in love with the Container Store. I want to have its babies. It's good we don't have one in Oklahoma, or else I'd be broke and my house would be over-run with organizational porn.

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  1. [...] (a website which is now, officially, my best friend) recently wrote a guest post at Gen Pink on how to organize your first apartment. The view here is not to run out to the nearest Container Store and buy every colorful plastic box [...]

  2. [...] Elysa from GenPink’s earlier guest post on our site. Now, head on over to GenPink to read our guest post! Elysa is doing an amazing ABCs project (we’re “O” for “Organizing”) [...]

  3. [...] Elysa from GenPink’s earlier guest post on our site. Now, head on over to GenPink to read our guest post! Elysa is doing an amazing ABCs project (we’re “O” for “Organizing”) [...]