Monday, May 16, 2011

Project Organization: First, The Kitchen

I have always considered organization to be my strong suit. That is, until the littles came along. For some reason once the children came--like the cicadas--our house became a three-ring circus. All order disappeared. Toys here, diapers and wipes there, books scattered everywhere.

Inside I cringe because I can't stand the chaos!!! I feel lost in my own home because I can't locate my phone or even my car keys at times. That is why I am taking the summer to take back my house and rediscover my organizational skills.

I don't know who recommended the book to me, but I found and LOVE Regina Leeds' One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good. This book takes you through every room in your house and teaches you how to simplify life by getting rid of clutter and creating routines that will get you organized so you will stay organized. For me, the "staying organized" part has always been elusive. But Leeds' common sense ideas are easy to do and not overwhelming--something I can do in one day!

In addition to transforming your house, she helps you master time management, deal with finances, entertain with joy, make meal planning easy, and organize travel plans and photos, so that you can enjoy life more fully.

I must say that the kitchen is my favorite room in the house, and if I only clean one room a day, it is always the kitchen. So, I decided to start my home organization project here.

Here are just a few of the suggestions Leeds offers on how to get started organizing and reclaiming your kitchen. She calls it "Speed Elimination."
(1) Get rid of stained potholders and frayed dishrags (or use them as cleaning rags). Just doing this one task made me feel so much better! There's just something fresh and energizing about crisp new kitchen towels.

(2) Pack up or "Goodwill" dishes, mugs, pots and pans, and other kitchen appliances you do not use. I had already done a lot of this purging when my mom was staying with us after Cora's birth, so most of my "extras" have already been "Goodwilled." But I did find several extra coffee mugs and glasses that never get used, even with company, that I packed up and put in storage.

(3) Check to see that all the plastic storage containers have lids and toss the ones that don't. I don't know about you, but I am FOREVER looking in my storage drawer for matching lids and containers. For some reason I hold onto every lid and container thinking their match will miraculously appear one day, but they never do. So, I threw away about a dozen random lids and one container without a matching lid. Now we can find what we need! Awww...

(4) Toss gadgets in your cabinets and drawers that you never use or don't know what they do. If you don't know how to use them, then you might as well get rid of them; they're just taking up space. I had three funnels and only use one, so I packed up the other two and some other random gadgets that I plan to use one day.

(5) Identify areas of your kitchen that frustrate you: cluttered countertops, cabinets, drawers, etc. For me the biggest areas of frustration are under my sink and in my cabinets. First, I tackled the mess under the sink. I threw away several bottles of nearly-empty cleaners, "Goodwilled" some vases I will never use, and reorganized the caddy holding my cleaners, sponges, and dishwashing soaps and tools. Then, I worked on the cabinets containing our dishes, glasses and cooking tools. After decluttering and eliminating items we rarely if ever use, I was amazed at how much more space we have and how freeing it is to be able to see everything on each shelf instead of having to move stuff around to find what we need.

This week I plan to continue my work in the kitchen, working on the pantry and refrigerator as well as the drawers.

My goals are as follows:

(1) "Goodwill," pack up, or toss items we do not use.

(2) Toss expired and mystery foods in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

(3) Create pantry and freezer inventories so I will know what we have for meal planning.
I did this last year and LOVED it. I will try to find and post the spreadsheet I used if you are interested. Inventories really help me to keep track of what we're running low on, what I need to use up, and what ingredients I have on hand to cook with.

(4) Reorganize the foods in the pantry, fridge and freezer by category (baking, canned vegetables, soups, condiments, pastas and sauces, dried beans, rice, snack foods). I already have most of my foods organized fairly well but definitely need to do some work with my condiments and spices.

So, we're on the road to an organized kitchen and hopefully one day an organized house. I'm excited about the prospect of being able to find things again!

Do you struggle with keeping your home organized? Which room in your house is in most need of reorganizing and decluttering?

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