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Top three things to keep organized

You all know how much I love to feel organized.  Nothing makes me happier than perfectly lined up towels in a linen closet, toys in their properly labeled cubbies, and a smooth running schedule.  BUT.  Staying on top of everything all of the time is unrealistic.  Especially if you have little ones underfoot.  Or a husband who doesn’t quite share the joy of perfectly lined up towels in a linen closet.  (How could he not!?)  In my quest to stay organized (especially when I’m having an off week – or two or three) there are a few things I make sure to stay on top of.  I’ve found that for me, if I can keep these three things under control I feel like I’m organized and am better able to face the busy day.  
The number one thing I have to keep organized is my purse.  It can become a dumping ground quickly if I’m not careful.  I clean out my purse at least once every other day.  There is always 5 minutes when I am waiting for an appointment to start, waiting in the carpool lane at pick up, etc.  That is when I take a minute to toss trash, write down receipts, and get my purse back in order.  

I always keep two things in my purse that especially help me keep it organized.  
One is my Martha Stewart accordion file. 

You can see I have a place for coupons, gift cards, stamp cards, reward cards, business cards, random pic/notes, and receipts I want to hang on to.  This system has worked well for me for years!
Folds up nice and slim to fit in my purse!  

Another Martha Stewart favorite I keep in my purse is this little zipper pouch.  Perfect for all of those loose ends that can get lost.  (I bought both of these items at Staples but obviously any file and small pouch would work!)

I always keep lots of lip gloss and chap stick with me.  Along with floss or toothpicks, mini scissors and nail clippers.  Can’t begin to tell you how handy these things have been!  With my kids I’m always needing to snip or clip something and I love having floss or toothpicks when I’m running from place to place after lunch.  The best part is that when I need one of these things it’s so easy to reach for the pouch vs. trying to hunt for my lip gloss in a big bottomless purse.


The other thing I strive to stay on top of is my inbox.  I start to feel overwhelmed quickly when my inbox is flooded with e-mails.  Then I forget to RSVP to a birthday party or to answer a question someone is waiting on or to put an important date on my calendar.  No good comes from a flooded inbox!  I finally came up with a folder system that has worked so well for me and I’m happy to say that I have been able to stay on top of my e-mails.  (You can read about my 3 steps for getting my inbox under control here.)   

My house may be in complete disarray but as long as I keep my kitchen counters clear I feel like my home is organized.  If my counters are a mess my brain doesn’t function as well.  Every night (and several times throughout the day) I completely clean my kitchen counters. 
I try to keep dishes loaded in the dishwasher, food put away in the fridge/pantry, and everything that shouldn’t be on the counters OFF the counters!  This is no easy task!  We all know what a dumping ground kitchen counters can become.  Having a set place for the kids’ toys, backpacks, homework supplies, etc. helps so that I can keep the counters clean.  When my kitchen counters are clear so is my head!  I can think so much better and am able to focus on my daily to-do’s without feeling scattered.  (Side note  **Clean kitchen counters are essential for me because I’m a stay home mom.  When I taught school I worked hard to keep my desk clean.)  

So that’s it!  My top three things I strive daily to keep organized.  If I can keep my purse organized, my inbox under control, and my kitchen counters clean each day I feel like I’m on top of things.

Even when I most certainly am not. 

xoxo, Erin
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18 thoughts on “Top three things to keep organized

  1. I just got done wiping down my counters. I agree. I have to have clean the kitchen counters. The weird thing about me is..I do it again as soon as I get up in the morning. I don’t know why?? It’s not like people are in my kitchen in the middle of the night…lol. Just weird quirks I guess :)

  2. Great tips Erin! For me it’s my kitchen counters, my living room table, and my front hallway. I can’t believe how much less stressed I feel when those areas are not cluttered! I need to work on my purse though :)

  3. I feel the same way Erin! It was helpful for me to hear that if I just stayed on top of the the essential things, I will feel better and everything else will eventually fall into place (maybe?!) So my big question is: How do you like having two islands in your kitchen? We’ll be building in the next few years and your house is full of ideas for me. :)

  4. Too funny Cathy! Glad I’m not the only one obsessed with clean counters. :)

    Anonymous – Thanks! My backsplash is marble – countertops are quartz. They are Caeserstone – The islands are Organic White and the grey/black around the perimeter is Raven.

    Kristen I really love having the two islands! It’s so nice to keep the food prep away from where the kids are sitting. They often have homework spread out or other things and it’s nice to have a separate space for them away from where I’m cooking. I think one island is great too – I would just want it deep enough to have some space between the food prep/sitting area but then if it’s too deep you are walking around it all day so this is a nice compromise! Fun to be in the planning stage of building! I loved just gathering ideas. :)

  5. Erin,
    I love the small file folder idea – I am forever misplacing gift cards and coupons, and then when I find myself in that store…I miss getting the discount or credit that I KNOW I put *somewhere! Frustrating!

    We are going to redo our kitchen very soon, and I always just assumed that we would do granite counters. Can I ask what made you choose quartz over granite? Would love to hear your thoughts on that. Thanks :)

  6. Love your organizing tips. Could you tell me what color your backsplash is? And what company it is from? Love it. Thanks, Stephaine

  7. I was just wondering where you keep all your small appliances like toaster, coffee maker etc?
    Do you have a special place that you put all your mail? I always have papers lying on the countertops. Do you ever have your extra dishes drying by the sink or do you put them away right away ? I love everything about your house. I wish I had that much storage space. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

  8. Loved this post! I would add to it (being a mom, too) that I need to check my kids’ backpacks and pencil cases every day, to look for school notices, calendars, or other items. My sons are supposed to do it themselves, but they *tend* to overlook important stuff! Knowing what they’re supposed to take to school the next day helps me feel on top of things.

  9. Great tips! I will definitely have to try them out? What brand of white did you use on your cabinets? Frazee, Benjamin Moore, Behr…? Would love to know the color. Thanks for sharing, Liza

  10. Hi Katrina! So exciting you’re re-doing your kitchen! Granite is great – I had that in my previous house. I chose quartz this time mostly because of the look. I wanted something that had more of a clean look without a pattern/various color variations – a little more modern. Quartz counters are usually one solid color or really light veining – less busy than granite. It all depends on the look you want but both are great as far as durability!

    Thanks Stephanie! Our kitchen backsplash is Carrara marble subway tiles. You can find them at any tile store. :)

    Anonymous – thank you! I do have an appliance cupboards. I will share them in a post at some point! My mail immediately gets sorted and then put in my office or Kenny’s office (office posts will come at some point too). I often have dishes drying by my sink. I leave them for an hour or so and then I finish drying them and put them away.

    Ximena – I agree! Something that FOR SURE needs to be done every day to feel organized!

    Hi Liza! I don’t know the exact paint color that we used on our cabinets! I just picked it out of several samples my cabinet guy showed me. But it is almost identical to the white we used for all of our trim and molding and that is all painted in Frazee’s “Arothane white” 001.

  11. Yep, I agree with this. I would add that for me, my car is usually what becomes a total disaster if I don’t really keep up with it. It feels great when its clean and organized.

  12. Not ONLY do I have a doorstop thanks to YOU, but I am going to get a Martha Stewart accordion file for my purse TONIGHT! LOVE keeping the gift cards, etc in that instead of having a fatty wallet! #Erinthegenius

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