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Making a list and checking it twice (how to make an effective “to organize” list)

Alright friends.  It’s time to get this party started!  The 2014 let’s get organized party.  That takes place right in the comfort of your own home.  Preferably in pajamas if you’re a late night organizer like me.  :)   This is the year!  It’s time to get our homes and our lives in order.  I have to admit that right now I’m feeling very overwhelmed.  This year is different for me because I don’t just have a handful of spaces that need to be spruced up and organized.  I have a whole house that needs to be organized.  Along with lots of new routines and systems to put into place.  Every single drawer and cupboard in my new house are a mess.  We moved during the holidays and things were crazy to say the least.  My goal was just to get us out of boxes and all of our stuff in the right room/location.  So I did that.  But now I’m left with a lot of cupboards that look like this…


And a room or two that still looks like this…

Even bigger shudder.  This is our catch all “I have no idea where to put this stuff” room that I still need to sort through.  And the last of the boxes.

See what I mean?  I decided that instead of hyperventilating I’d take my own advice and make a list.  I mention this in my tips for getting and staying organized.  The first step for me is always to make a list.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  If you are like me and have a lot of work to do to organize your home we will have to take it one space at a time.  And breathe.  Lots of breathing.  :)

My best tip to make your “to-organize” list really effective is to break down each room and get very specific about what you want to accomplish in the space.  My written list is several pages.  Here is an example:

– pantry (snack drawer, lunch making station)
– drawers the kids can access
– silverware drawer
– “junk” drawers
– dish cupboards
– cooking utensil drawer

–  toy closet
– pullout drawers
– create a better system for DVD’s

– space/system for scrapbooking
– gift wrapping station
– kids’ cupboard
– homework system
– organize files
– organize kids’ school work
– organize greeting cards
– place to store camera equipment
– small office supplies
– organize magazines and kids’ workbooks

– bin for too small clothes
– make things more accessible for them
– books/toys out
– bins/baskets for extras

– hair bows/headbands
– drawers
– bath toys

Having a specific list that is broken down this way not only outlines exactly what I need to be working on, but also makes it easy to feel success quickly.  I may not have organized the whole kitchen, but I can at least check “silverware drawer” off my list.  Being able to check things off of your list is a powerful thing!  It gives you that feeling of success and satisfaction that motivates you to keep going.

Often it makes the most sense for me to tackle one room at a time and work on it until it’s completed.  Then I don’t get half started projects going all over the place that never get finished.  Time is tight for us all so it’s best to decide an amount of time you are able to dedicate to organizing each day.  Even if it’s just 15 minutes.  15 – 20 minutes a day adds up and you will be surprised at how much you can get done.

If you have started to organize spaces in your home and are looking for a little inspiration I just put together a Pinterest page of the organized spaces in my previous home.  You can check it out here and find it all in one place.  You can also check out my organization board FULL of inspiration I’ve found on-line.  I’ll be turning to this board a lot this year!  Oh Pinterest.  My love for you is unmatched.

Have you made your 2014 to-organize list?  If not, get on it!  And let’s start this party together.  I need all the support I can get!


xoxo, Erin
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20 thoughts on “Making a list and checking it twice (how to make an effective “to organize” list)

  1. Wow that is quite a list! I love the idea of breaking it down and getting to cross that little thing off instead of waiting until a whole room is done. Cassie from Hi Sugarplum has a great way to organize DVD’s with CD sleeves in a little box. I’m thinking of doing it! We took ours out of the cases but we were left with huge bulky books that the kids can’t really handle well and it never stays in order. Just a thought! Have a great day organizing.

  2. Thanks for the great tips! We moved just over two years ago (across country, and when I was 8 months pregnant), so I completely understand the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of work to do. But, of course, it will get done, one drawer at a time.

    I noticed that you have a “organize DVDs” bullet on your list (or something like that). We (I) finally decided to put our DVDs into binders–one for kids, one for adults. We have saved so much space, and there is no more DVD clutter. I can’t wait to see what you decide to do with your DVDs!

    ps. your new house is gorgeous.

  3. Love it. We recently moved into a bigger house and I have no idea how to organize our office/craft space . There is
    A closet with deep shelves. That I thought would be so useful but still struggling with how to organize them. Can’t wait to see your ideas especially for the playroom and office/craft and homework area since these are the ares I still need to work on.

  4. Wohoo!! Can’t wait to see more of these spaces come together! I am organizing here too – tackled the huge project of the mudroom/entry closet/pantry/laundry – all of these are located in our garage/home entryway, not ideal. Made such a difference and I’m feeling pretty accomplished. I thought it would take me about an 1.5 but it took me more like 5 hours, oh well it was worth it! And like you said, one space at a time.

    My kids have had the last two days off school because of extreme -20 temps in Mpls, so I had to do something before I went crazy!

    A couple years back, we took our DVD’s out of the cases, except for about 10 collectors cases I wanted to keep. I then separated them into small (100 disk I think) slim cases, one for little boy movies, one for little girl movies and one for adults. This makes it easy to flip thru and find a movie we are looking for. Also, I thought if I had more than that, it was time to toss some because we can’t watch that many movies. It has worked really well for us and takes up the space of one little drawer by our TV – not even. I also can just carry the case into the van for trips – 100 (or 300) movies at our disposal!

    You promised me a mudroom tour in December – just sayin’… :)

  5. Hi Erin! Happy New Year!

    A new year, and new organized spaces… I love it!!!
    Thanks for sharing your organization board. I just re pinned lots of ideas. Can’t wait to get to it. The DVDs in a basket is genius.

  6. yeah so excited to seeing you posting again. Can’t wait to see what you come up with in your new spaces. Lastly, are these areas driving you insane???? I know myself and it would drive me crazy just itching to get working on it.

  7. Moving is SO MUCH WORK! And all I’ve been telling my husband for the last 3 years is I am ready to move. I tend to forget how much work moving is. Haven’t done it in 11 yrs. One bite at a time, Erin. You’re doing great! Good list ideas!

    Now, if I were a “real life” friend of yours, I’d watch your kids for you, or shuttle them to school, or make your family a meal so you can work away.

    Take it easy. :)


  8. Thanks everyone! So fun hearing from you all today!

    Kristen – I’ve seen what Cassie did! So smart! I’m doing something similar for sure.

    Thank you Wilma! Moving cross country 8 months pregnant!? You are my hero!

    Lynnsey – Ahh! I know! Mudroom coming at some point.. :) Sorry! I just haven’t taken the time to photograph it!

    So glad these tips helped Hanna!

    Colleen – yes and yes! Driving me totally crazy. Especially since I’m DYING to organize them and just haven’t had the time.

    Andrea – oh you are a sweetheart! I’d have you over so fast your head would spin! :) And not just to watch my kids… although that sounds heavenly.

  9. Ready to get this organizing party started! Organizing our home is one of my top goals for 2014. And I already have my LONG list written out {I think from the last long post you wrote about organizing your home that I clearly never got totally around to!!} It was so totally wonderful running in to you today, at The Container Store of all places, and to “officially” meet you! Seriously, it made my week :) ~gina

  10. We moved into a new house 3 months ago. I am FINALLY getting around to completely organizing each room. It feels so good to clean and organize and purge! These are great lists!

  11. Erin, I follow your blog because you are so REAL- thank you!!! I have a huge favor to ask. I would really love another fashion post…please, pretty please. I sort of put together outfits after looking at your pics and I am in a slump and need some more pics from you :) I love how you dress, and I am a mom of 3 also :) Thanks so much and also cant wait to see decor pics from the new house- no pressure- ha!

  12. Erin, can you please give us a current schedule of your day to day routines and when you fit in your workouts? Thanks a bunch!

  13. Gina! You have no idea how happy that made me to run into you shopping yesterday! In the most beloved store ever! :) I was smiling all day. Can’t wait to get together soon!

    Tondra – Thanks for all the great tips and inspiration! Loved it all!

    Anonymous – Thank you! I really appreciate that! Definitely real around here. :) Yes! I will try to post a Fashion Friday soon. I miss them too! I will also share a daily routine at some point. Things are finally starting to feel more like normal around here. :)

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