As founder and president of Supreme Organization, Jodie Watson is a great believer in the idea that clutter can hold a person back from becoming all that they can be and living the life they really want to live. She is passionate about helping people regain balance, harmony, and well-being through greater organization and time management.
We sat down with Jodie to find out the basics of home organization and mistakes that lead to a cluttered household.
To cut down on dishes, place a bin on the counter to hold glasses, mugs, and sippy cups that are refilled repeatedly. At the end of the day, place them in the dishwasher.
MHI: Can you suggest three tools to help us get organized -- in the kitchen, the garage, or the office?
JW: Sliding shelves allow you to use the far reaches of the kitchen cabinets, making it easier to see and retrieve items. And these shelves maximize available space for anything -- pots and pans, dishes and bowls, food and cleaning supplies.
For pantry organizing, some of my favorite tools are OXO Good Grips POP containers. They are airtight, see-through, and stackable, giving a uniform, clean look to the pantry. These containers work just as well in garages, offices, and playrooms for corralling small items like nails and game pieces -- but still keeping them visible.
For any office or home, the one organizing tool I definitely wouldn’t want to be without is a filing cabinet! The only way to avoid piles of paper accumulating around your home is to have a home for your papers.
Finally, I’d recommend a handheld label maker. You can get as many containers, bins, and baskets as you want, but what good are they if you can’t tell what’s inside? Be specific when creating your labels. Instead of “Papers” write “2007 Tax Papers” so you know exactly what is inside each container.
MHI: How can I keep my entry from becoming a dumping ground for mail, keys, papers, and shoes?
JW: Have a designated space in your entryway for things and get in the habit of always putting items there as soon as you walk through the door.
A few things to consider:
MHI: Once I’m organized, how do I keep it that way?
JW: One of the best ways to stay organized is to put things away after you use them. Do this as you go, and you will save yourself so much work later. In addition, before you go to sleep each night, take 10 to 15 minutes to straighten up and prepare for the next day. Put stray toys back into their containers, wash or put dirty dishes into the dishwasher, and pick up clothes, books, and magazines.
A great goal is to clear the surfaces (the floor, tables and desktops, countertops) of your home before you go to bed. Waking up to an orderly, stress-free situation can set the tone for your entire day.
MHI: How should I organize important documents: bank statements, paid bills, insurance documents?
JW: Keep important paperwork in a 13-pocket accordion folder or filing box. Label one tab for each month of the year. Reserve the last slot for the year’s tax return. As you pay your monthly bills, file them under the appropriate month. Add bank statements and credit card receipts. When you complete your tax return, drop that in, too.
Another idea: Organize and categorize your business contacts by scanning business cards into your computer and discarding the original. This is a great way to keep down the bulky paper clutter that business cards produce as well as enable you to locate the contact with ease when you need it. NeatReceipts is a scanner and software program that is great not only for receipts, but also for business cards.
MHI: What should go in the attic? The basement?
JW: Keep as little as possible in your attic or basement. Bear in mind that the more storage space you have, the more stuff you will keep. That said, attics and basements can be great places to keep holiday decorations and seasonal items, memorabilia, or photos. However, these spaces aren’t always climate controlled, so be sure to use proper storage containers and only store items there that won’t perish or suffer due to changes in temperature.
Also, avoid keeping large piles of paper in attics as they could become a fire hazard. Regularly purge these areas so you aren’t keeping things you no longer want. And keep an inventory of what you store there and refer to it when you want to retrieve an item. This will help you avoid pulling out boxes and going through them just to find that what you were looking for isn’t there. Attic Trac is a great storage system to help you easily access your stored items in the attic, basement, or other awkward crawl spaces.
MHI: My closet is a disaster area! Where do I start?
JW: Set aside a day to organize your closet or, if that seems too overwhelming, break it down into manageable chunks over a few days.