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Life Organized

Organizational expert Karen Wright of Life Simplified shares advice on getting organized and living well

We asked organizational expert Karen Wright, founder of Life Simplified, for tips on how we can get and stay organized in the new year.

1. What are your favorite containers to use for organizing different items: i.e. toiletries; silverware; towels; undergarments; accessories; etc.

Our favorite products are clear bins, drawer dividers, and turntable organizers. Each of these products are versatile and can be used in many spaces around a home depending on the need. 

Clear bins are available in multiple different sizes, allowing you to incorporate containment and order into any space. For example, large bins are great to hold cleaning supplies in a laundry room cabinet or closet, medium-sized bins can be incorporated into a pantry to hold various categories of food, and small bins can be inserted into bathroom drawers to contain personal care items. We find clear bins most effective, as they allow you to easily see what is in each bin, helping to ensure you can always find what you're looking for and prevent you from buying duplicate items.

Drawer dividers maximize the space in your drawers by providing structure through compartmentalization. For example, most people have many utensils for various needs in a kitchen. Often times, these utensils can get lost as they shift around when a drawer is opened and closed. Implementing dividers helps keep each category together for easy access. You can open the drawer and see all baking utensils, cooking utensils, and serving utensils grouped together.

Turntable organizers are perfect for making awkward or hard to reach spaces functional. Utilizing them in a corner cabinet or under a sink helps provide structure to areas where items may usually get lost or where space is wasted. We recommend turntable organizers that have a tall edge to help ensure items do not shift.

2. What advice do you give on letting things go? Do you have questions you ask yourself before you let something go?

When thinking about letting go of items, we encourage people to reflect on the two following questions: "Is this item useful to you?" and "Is it worth the prime real estate it is taking up in your home to store it?"

We understand these decisions can be hard, and we never want someone to feel overwhelmed or rushed when letting items go. When sorting through items, we encourage people to create four sections: keep, maybe, donate, and trash. Do a quick sort, putting items into each of the previously listed categories. If you find yourself unsure of an item, place it in the maybe section. Once you're done with a portion of your home, reflect back on your "maybes" and work to eliminate items. Having these items grouped together will help you be able to compare and make decisions. Only allow yourself to hold on to a handful of "maybes" that you can reevaluate at a later date. If you've been thinking about a specific item during this time period, pull it out to keep. If you'd forgotten an item was even there, it's time to part with it.

We also find that clothing can be a real pain point for a lot of people. Our biggest piece of advice is to make sure you feel good in what you're wearing. If you don't love it when you try it on in the store, don't buy it, because you won't love it at home either. If you're struggling to make decisions about clothes in your closet, we suggest turning each hanger in reverse on the rack. As you wear an item, turn the hanger the correct direction when you put it back. At the end of each season, evaluate the items still hanging backward. You can let go of the items and be at peace knowing they'll be able to be worn by someone else.

3. What are 3 DIY tricks you use in home organizing?

  1. Use pool noodles as boot shapers! They're cost-effective, can be cut to whatever size fits your needs, and will help your boots keep their shape and last longer.
  2. Store your folded sheets sets inside one pillowcase from the set. This helps you to keep all of a set together and better see each set you own!
  3. File folding is a game changer! It helps your clothes and linens stay upright and allows you to see everything you own in a single glance.

4. Your favorite hangers to use in a closet?

Personally, we love to use wooden hangers to help give the space a "boutique feel". For someone needing to maximize the space in their closet, we suggest slim silicone or velvet hangers to give you more hanging space.

5. Where do you begin organizing/cleaning out your closet?

Begin organizing your closet by clearing the floor. Most closets we work in are not even accessible to walk in. We start by opening up the floor space to allow us to access the rest of the closet. Chances are, most of the items on the floor have been forgotten about or are unwanted and can be relocated or donated to create space in the closet. After clearing the floor, assess the space by category or section. For example, group seasonal clothes together for a sort. As you begin sorting your clothes, remove the clothes from the space so you can better view each item and assess what you own. We use portable rolling racks to stage clothes on to aid in decision making. Breaking down the space into sections will help you avoid decision fatigue and feeling overwhelmed.

6. Tips on staying organized.

  1. Create systems by incorporating customizable products that best fit your needs to help contain clutter and maximize space.
  2. Ensure everything in your space has a "home"... a specific place that you've chosen for the item to exist.
  3. Incorporate labels to equip everyone in your household to be able to help maintain organization by putting items back where they belong.
  4. Establish routines to maintain the organization you've created in your home.
  • Create the routine of setting a timer for ten minutes of uninterrupted time to do a walkthrough of your home, putting items back where they need to go. Even if you don't finish a space, remember that small progress is still progress!
  • Create the routine for you and your spouse to put on a song or podcast and spend the entirety of it picking up items that may have gotten out of place over the course of the day. Alternate who gets to choose what plays while you declutter.
  • Create a family routine to have your kids put their toys up before they go to bed. Make a game out of it, and reward the person who finishes first with getting to pick the bedtime story for that night.

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