cleaning

10 Tips on Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

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Have you ever walked in your home and something was just out of whack?  A stench takes your breath away when you walk into a room. You know what we are talking about … your home just stinks! Keeping your home smelling fresh can be simple with a few tips.

Flowers

Open Your Windows

That’s right, start by opening your windows to let the fresh air in. A good cleaning out of the house with fresh air is the perfect step to removing odors.

Add Fresh Flowers

If you do not have allergies and do have a few extra dollars, practice what some European countries practice. Get yourself some fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can brighten up a room but they also make a room smell so beautiful. Choose your favorite scented flower and keep in your favorite room. Lilacs and roses are great flowers that have vibrant scents.

Change Your Air Filters

Fresh air starts with the air flowing through your ventilation system. To have clean air and to keep your home healthy, remember to regularly change your air filters. Depending on the type of air filters you have, you will change them every 2 – 6 months. We recommend changing them at least four times in the year.

Add Scented Fragrances

Adding candles or plug ins or some other scented item to your home can step up and remove the stink from your abode. There are so many scented items to make your home smell good. Try using oils and reeds. Even natural fragrances like gently simmering herbs and cinnamon on stovetop with some water can make a home smell homey.

Clean Your Trash Cans

We quickly throw out trash and use bags to store it, thinking that these bags can protect the cans they cover. But our cans carry odors from our coffee grounds, left over foods, boxes and containers from yogurt and milk. These items carry odors that stay with the trash cans. Take the time and wash out the trash cans regularly, and practice using baking soda in your bags to limit the odors.

Run a Cleaning Solution in Your Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals naturally crush food to allow the flow of water in your sinks. But food creates odors. And therefore, your sinks can smell like a trash can. Using a disposal cleaner that you buy in the store is simple to run in your garbage disposal. Also using some white vinegar or ¼ of a whole lemon to clean the disposal is a good thing. To sharpen the disposal blades, add a few ice cubes to the disposal and run the disposal.

Clean your Washer

Fine smelling clothes can smell good on our bodies and in our closets. But foul, musty, and mildew scents can exist if you have a washing machine that has not been cleaned. Simply running some vinegar in a washing cycle without any clothes can clean any odors from the washer that can cause mildew like scents.

Run a solution through Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are another area of the homes that have lingering odors from caked on food and dirty dishes. You can buy specific dishwasher cleaners from your store and run per the directions. Or like with the washing machine, use vinegar in the dishwasher to run a full empty cycle. Once you have run the cycle, you will have a fresh clean smelling dishwasher ready to take on any grime.

Clean Your Microwave

Like dishwashers, microwaves can carry ongoing smells from food. Food can also splatter on the walls of the microwave. So time to wipe down the inside of the microwave. Using a bowl of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar, place it in the microwave. Turn the microwave on high for 4 – 6 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the oven. Now a fresh smelling microwave.

Give your Pets a Bath

We love our pets and they are family. But our pets have fur and dander and pets do not take showers and baths regularly like we do. They go outside in the rain and sun to play in the grass. All fun things for our pets, but our pets then come in our homes and our homes can smell like a wet dog. Giving our pets baths regularly and brushing their fur will help keep our homes fresh and clean.

 

Posted on HomeZada

The Ultimate Guide to Funky Home Smells

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Tim Platt/Getty Images

There are two definitions of funky: 1) something that’s cool, and 2) something that smells bad. For our purposes, we’ll be talking about the latter—and the tragic consequences if this stench is emanating from your home.

The problem is, you may be so accustomed to your home’s smell that you don’t even notice when your guests are knocked off their feet when they enter your home. And whether you’re just entertaining or are hoping to sell your home, off-putting smells can be a huge turnoff, even if your home is immaculate otherwise. To help, here’s your ultimate guide to all the odors that can assail your home and how to get rid of them once and for all.

Rotten food

Cause: Your refrigerator and garbage disposal are basically burping up decaying food.

What to do: Purge your refrigerator on a regular basis, and clean the shelves and drawers to remove rotten spilled liquid. Yes, this is gross. Do it.

“Use distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and a microfiber cloth,” says cleaning expert Leslie Reichert. To rid your sink of stink, clear rotting food from the blades of your garbage disposal by putting ice cubes down it with some salt and frozen lemon peels.

Animal odors

Cause: The most common nose-crinkling smells in a home are caused by the furry friends that live with us, usually because they don’t always relieve themselves where they should. Odors can also be due to a lingering stench on animal fur, says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

What to do: If a cat or dog uses a carpet as a toilet, use a pet enzyme removal product such as Resolve on the offending area to remove all trace of the scent and find an effective way to deter your pet from a repeat performance in a spot it may consider its own.

For litter boxes, sprinkling a bit of baking soda can work wonders. If shedding is your nemesis, vacuuming the fur (off the floor and furniture) and spot-deodorizing should do the trick.

If all of the above do not work, removal of the offending furniture or rug is often the only way to resolve the issue, says Lesh.

Smelly carpets

Cause: Think of carpets as large sponges that absorb all the smells in your home—from pet odors to sweaty feet to pungent cooking, and beyond.

What to do: For large olfactory challenges, call in a steam cleaner. For smaller yet troublesome areas, put some cheap vodka in a spray bottle and lightly mist the carpeting.

“When the vodka evaporates, it will take the smells with it,” Reichert says.

Stinky AC

Cause: Your air conditioner dehumidifies the air as it cools, but stagnant water can collect in an AC unit, allowing mold and mildew to grow in the lingering moisture. This can result in a smell similar to sweaty extremities wafting from air vents, says Richard Ciresi, a multiple-unit franchisee of Aire Serv in Louisville, KY. And, in addition, if someone in your home smokes, the fumes can get pulled into the condenser coil and recycled into your home every time you run the AC, says Ciresi.

What to do: A quick cleaning and repair to help excess water drain properly should remedy a mildew issue. Since a dirty filter can also harbor mold growth, replace filters regularly. To banish  lingering smoke smells, clean the coil.

Mustiness

Cause: Water’s the culprit! “Basement smell” can severely affect the structural integrity of your home as well as your health. Although water can accumulate anywhere, areas where dampness tends to hide include the attic, basement, and bathrooms.

“If you have a water leak behind a wall or under a floor, wood rot may occur along with mold and mildew odors,” says Lesh.

What to do: Finding small leaks early can help prevent serious water damage and offending stenches.

“I recommend looking at the underside of the attic roof at least twice a year or after heavy rain/snowfall in the spring,” says Lesh. In a basement or crawl space, water accumulation is often caused by poor drainage from the roof. Keep your gutters clean and the downspouts flowing away from the foundation. And always dry out damp areas with a humidifier.

Burnt … something

Cause: You may smell a truly weird odor the first time you fire up your furnace in the fall. But relax, it’s typically from the accumulated dirt that falls into the floor ducts, says Lesh. This scent may permeate the entire house for a while when the debris first heats up.

What to do: Simple—clean the ducts before you turn your heat on each year.

A general stale scent

Cause: Stagnant air holds on to dust, dander, and dust mites.

“This usually happens in the summer and winter as we all keep our homes closed up because of air conditioning and heating,” says Reichert.

What to do: You can battle stale air just by opening a few windows once a week to increase air flow.

“Your home needs to have the air exchanged; and if you open some windows, you allow fresh air into the house and remove those stale odors,” says Reichert.

 

Posted by Margaret Heidenry on realtor.com

5 Spring Cleaning Tips that Everyone Can Do in a Weekend

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We love spring with all the blooms and warm weather that gets us outside. And we love that we are now opening our windows with some wonderful clean fresh scents from outside. As we have been cooped up for months in our homes, we now have the opportunity to get our homes sparkling. We have five simple spring cleaning tips that any homeowner can do this weekend. Let’s take a look at what these tips are and how you can get a sparkling house in just one weekend. 

Change out your winter bedding for spring bedding

Getting a good night’s sleep is oh so important. Your body temperature directly affects your ability for a good night’s sleep. When you remove your winter bedding and add those fresh crisp sheets, you have a luxurious bed to fall a sleep in. Throw the winter bedding in the wash, pack them away for next winter.

Launder your Bath Mats

Walk around your bathrooms, pick up any bath mats or bath rugs and throw them in the wash. Use a little scented detergent to add a little zest to your mats. These mats will feel good on your feet and smell great to boot in your bathrooms.

Vacuum your Draperies and Wipe Down Your Blinds

Quickly and gently use a vacuum extension and vacuum your draperies. Before you take this step, use a lint brush to first remove any lint and dust on the draperies. Once you have taken these two steps, you will see a fresh new set of draperies ready for clean sparkling windows.

Because you are at your windows, also wipe down or vacuum your blinds. Refer back to your manufacturers care instructions depending on the types of blinds you have installed. Some blinds like shutters, can be wiped down, while other blinds may need a vacuum or a blower on low heat to clean them.

Wipe Down your Baseboards, Doorways and Moldings

You may have baseboards, crown molding, and door molding that could use a wipe down after collecting dust all winter. Use a gentle disinfectant by spraying it on a rag and wipe down the molding areas in your home. You maybe on ladders, so be careful. And on floors, so watch your knees. But once these areas of your house are clean, you will have removed dust and grime that has accumulated throughout the winter.

Wipe down Light Switches, Doorknobs and Remote Controls

Each of these areas in your home, have hands that switch them on and off and open and close rooms. Hands that are dirty, oily and potentially full of bacteria. Spring is a great time to get rid of any germs that may have lingered from the winter to avoid any more illnesses that could come in the home.

With these simple spring cleaning tips, you can get your home in tip top shape, smelling fresh and happy!

 

Posted by HomeZada

Declutter Like A Boss: 15 Secrets From Professional Organizers

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Experts share their top clutter-smashing strategies, so you never have to let clutter take up space in your home, budget, or mind ever again!

Most of us have it, but none of us want it. Clutter can overwhelm our lives if we let it — even our wallets can take a hit. According to the National Organization of Professional Organizers, unnecessary spending related to disorganization eats up as much as 20% of our annual budgets. Excess stuff, no matter what form it takes, can really take a mental toll, even making you less productive and more irritable.

The good news? Kicking off a full-on clean sweep isn’t as hard as you think. If you ask professional organizer Maria Gracia, founder of Get Organized Now!, spring is the perfect time to tackle clutter once and for all. “I prefer spring cleaning to involve the purging of anything that’s weighing heavy on you, whether it’s a cluttered garage, an overclogged to-do list, a bursting email inbox, or an ongoing argument with a loved one,” she says.

Are you ready to declutter your home? Follow these time-tested tips from organization experts.

  1. Follow the one-in, three-out rule. To declutter like a pro, first you have to think like one. That means throwing out the old “one in, one out” system, which “doesn’t do a thing to declutter your home — it basically just evens things out!” says Gracia. She instead sticks to a “one in, three out” policy: When you bring in anything new, three items in the same category (clothes, jewelry, toys, etc.) must be donated, recycled, or trashed.
  2. Don’t store beyond your space. A good rule of thumb to ward off clutter from the get-go is to purge all items you don’t reasonably have room to store. “If you own a house with wall-to-wall shelving in the den, you’ll have a lot of space for books,” says Jodie Watson, founder of Supreme Organization. “But try to keep a library’s worth of books in a studio apartment, and you’ll run into clutter issues pretty quickly.” The same idea applies to kitchen appliances, dishes, shoes, you name it — keep this in mind especially if you’re moving to a studio apartment for rent in Austin, TX, and closet space is limited.
  3. Color-code your closets. While you’re in the closet, arrange garments by color. “This will help you see if you have been accumulating black T-shirts over time or have an excessive amount of pink tanks,” says Ashley Murphy, co-founder of Neat Method. “You really won’t know until they’re all grouped together, and it makes the purging process much easier.”
  4. Sort the fridge. Similarly, Murphy suggests grouping like foods — such as sweet treats, salty snacks, and fresh fruits — in baskets in your fridge or pantry. That way, you can see exactly what you have. “It forces you to not overbuy. If it doesn’t fit in the designated basket, you don’t need it,” she says.
  5. Put hard-to-reach storage to work. Murphy advises clients to commit all of the out-of-reach spaces in a closet (the highest shelf, back corners, etc.) to special-occasion pieces. For example, you might stash dress shoes if you do most of your day-to-day work in a casual setting, or swimsuits if you live in a climate that’s typically cold. Then keep the heavy-rotation wardrobe items within easy reach.
  6. “File” everyday shoes. Closet on the small side? Consider loading flats, flip-flops, and sneakers vertically in a basket. “It takes up such a small amount of space but holds a ton of shoes,” says Murphy.
  7. Ditch packaging ASAP. As soon as you bring a product home (or as soon as something comes in the mail), take everything out and recycle the box or package immediately — and instantly reclaim that space. “Unless you plan on returning the item soon, there’s no reason to hold on to it,” says Julie Naylon of No Wire Hangers. “If something goes wrong, most companies won’t require the original packaging anyway.”
  8. Opt for paperless manuals. Yep, go ahead and recycle that product manual too. Steal this trick from Naylon before the paper piles up: “Whenever I buy a new product, I go online, type the model number into Google, and download a PDF of the manual onto my computer.”
  9. Organize first, then declutter. To make organizing and tossing easier, Watson suggests separating paperwork into categories first. “It’s much easier to address a smaller stack that’s either medical, financial, or home-related than to mentally jump back and forth and make decisions on each document pulled from a random pile,” she says.
  10. Toss excess office supplies. “There’s not one house I’ve been in that didn’t have an overflow of office supplies,” says Naylon. “If you can’t part with of some of your pens or paper clips, pack them up and keep them in back stock. You don’t need every pen you own cluttering up drawers.” This goes double for any freebie promotional pens that you rarely use.
  11. Purge idle projects. We all bite off more than we can chew at different times in our lives. If neglected projects (a half-knit sweater, a travel scrapbook you never got around to putting together) have been sucking up visible space around the house, it’s time to move on. “Be realistic about the projects you’ve been planning to do. Decide not to do two or three of them and let go of any items you’ve been keeping around ‘just in case,’” says Watson.
  12. Make things visible. “If kids can’t see what’s in a storage bin, they’ll never put things away properly,” says Murphy, who recommends see-through or mesh bins for toys and other kids’ stuff. Her pick: colorful locker bins from The Land of Nod, because they look great and “let little ones see that games go in one, dolls in another, and so on.”
  13. Use the right-sized containers. An overstuffed bin isn’t useful to anyone — you’ll never want to dig through it to get what you need. “If an entire group of items can’t fit inside one container, find a bigger one or break it up into two,” says Watson. On the flip side, don’t keep too few items in a larger container. That just wastes precious space.
  14. Conquer your inbox. Digital clutter weighs just as heavily as the tangible kind. To keep it from spiraling out of control, Gracia suggests making a standing daily date to deal with it. “Give yourself a set amount of time, like 15 minutes, to delete or respond at the same time every day. Set a timer and keep going until it sounds,” she says. On lighter days, take a few minutes to unsubscribe from newsletters and companies you’re no longer interested in, set spam filters, or sign up for a service like unroll.me. If things have gotten really dire, consider deleting all of it. Highlight everything and press “Delete” or change email services. “Then contact those in your address book, asking anyone awaiting a response to resend their question,” says Gracia.
  15. Use the rule of four. There’s nothing more intimidating than an overloaded to-do list. That’s where Gracia’s “rule of four” hack comes in: “Keep two lists: one master list for everything, and one called ‘To Do Today.’ Move only four items from the master list to the ‘today’ list, and only focus on those four until they’re done. At that point, you can move four more over. Every time you complete a set, reward yourself!”

 

Posted by Jill Russell on Trulia

5 Home Repairs to Make Before You Host a Holiday Gathering

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This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration.

Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.

Chances are, you’re busy enough just preparing for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.

Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters, or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.

Light the way

The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit.

Courtesy of Bill Fry

If you have a large front yard, try to focus on just the front entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights, or replace the bulbs on existing lighting. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.

On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.

Pro tip: The easiest possible way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!

Take care of the bottom line

Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.

Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, you will certainly want to make sure that all floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.

Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair to make sure they have dried fully.

Brighten up your bathroom

If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That’s it!

Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations, or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.
Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Pro tip: Instantly de-clog a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs — all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.

Tune up kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a full family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.

Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven’t done that for a while.

Clean out the refrigerator, and make sure that both the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.

Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.

Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.

Make your space kid-friendly

If you make your home welcoming for children, you will ensure that their parents have a great time as well.

If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, consider adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable, and alleviate kid boredom.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
  • Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons, and some comfy pillows or throws.
  • One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.

Pro tip: If you don’t already have children, or if yours are older, don’t forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable, or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.

Hopefully these ideas will take some of the worry out of holiday entertaining, and ensure that you and your guests can relax and enjoy each other’s company this season.

Posted by See Jane Drill on Zillow

5 Organizing Secrets Only the Pros Know

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Dorothy the Organizer spills the beans on how home organization professionals clean up your mess.

We professional organizers have many secret tools and tips. They’re what make us very successful.

When our clients pay close attention and ask us questions, they obtain the magical key to unlock their clutter dilemma.

Many people who opt not to work with a professional set out with the best of intentions. They dive into a project after seeing an idea in a magazine or on Pinterest. They run to the store for organizing products they haven’t completely considered. Suddenly, they find themselves at home opening their latest purchase and realizing this new gimmick isn’t going to solve their organizing problem, either!

Does this sound familiar? Now you can avoid these clutter curve balls with five organizing secrets only the pros know.

Create the vision before you organize

How many times have you said to yourself “I’m going to organize my closet,” only to be left frustrated by the experience before you are halfway through?

The solution here is to create your vision first, then organize. Visioning is a bit like planning. It’s when you take the time to think things through before you begin doing the work.

Plan what you want the space to be before you start. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Using the example of visioning for a closet, spend that time asking yourself some questions:

  • How do I want to use this space in my closet?
  • Will I store just this season’s clothes here, or just those that fit me currently? Or will I use half for clothing and half for memorabilia storage?
  • How’s the lighting?
  • Do I need a step stool to reach the shelves?
  • Do I want to keep my hamper in the closet or move it to the bathroom?

Take the time to write down your vision first and then — here’s the secret bonus — get someone to help you.

Having someone assist you is a secret the pros know well. Human behavior studies have shown that when two people (rather than one) are working on a project it gets done faster — not just because of the extra pair of hands, but because of the synergy between the two people. There’s a flash of motivation that bounces off one person onto the other that gets us through these projects much more quickly.

Play hooky

No, not the skipping-work kind.

Professional organizers know that getting organized doesn’t necessarily mean having custom shelves built to clear the over-cluttered corners. We look for practical solutions with an aesthetic flair first. It’s not necessary to answer the organizing dilemma with an expensive or time-consuming project.

My secret tip? I happen to love using hooks as my first line of defense. Here are a few places hooks come in handy, and common items they can hold:

  • Bathrooms: blow dryers and curling irons
  • Kitchens: brooms, aprons, and towels
  • Bedrooms: large hooks for backpacks and purses, small hooks for necklaces or belts
  • Home office: cords, headsets, and chargers

Use really simple math

It’s called the “subtraction method.” You’ve heard of dividing your stuff into keep, sell, and giveaway bins, but when the clutter seems overwhelming, I favor an easier approach with just one master box, which is what I call the “somewhere else” bin.

With your intention set toward subtracting items from a particular room (rather than having to dust them and organize them again), start with one spot — say, the dining room table — and remove items that don’t belong there, placing them into your bin.

The pros use this secret strategy to help reduce both the clutter and overall overwhelm. It’s a great way to begin organizing a certain area, and you can return to the box later when you’re ready to deliver items back to their proper locations.

Create “drop zones”

Every member of your household should have his or her own drop zone. For example, you can set up a table right inside the garage as your son’s drop zone. When you pull into the garage, he’ll know to go directly to the table and drop off his football uniform and backpack before entering the house.

A drop zone is a secret tip we use to allow each family member to have a place where they manage the intense number of incoming items into the house without the stuff being strewn from backseat to bedroom.

Drop zones keep clutter from migrating all over the house. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

In this case, the dirty football uniform is already in the garage near the washer and dryer, and, when he’s ready, your son can come out to the garage and triage his backpack: Pull out the empty food containers from lunch, water bottles from practice, homework to take to his room, and field trip signature forms to give to you.

Do this for yourself for your own briefcase and gym bag, too.

Shut down the distractions

One of the biggest reasons why my clients don’t trust themselves to get organized is because of the distractions they face. As a professional organizer, I can uphold the secrets to getting organized for my clients when they cannot do it for themselves.

If you can learn to master these distraction devils on your own, you are well on your way to making your organizing projects a super-simple and easy experience. Here are my secrets:

  • Ignore interruptions. When in the midst of an organizing project, ignore the dings and rings that alert you to text or voicemail messages. One exciting text can derail an entire morning reserved for organizing the kitchen cabinets.
  • Avoid diversions. Flipping through a book you meant to read; rereading a poem your daughter wrote for you; trying on a blouse to see if it still fits; researching a vacation destination on the Internet when you come across the brochure — it all sends you down another path. If your intention is to organize, you must stay on task.
  • Dabble with discipline. The biggest complaint that we organizing pros hear from our clients is paper pileup. The reason we seem to have so much paper around is because it’s a reminder that we want to read, write, pay, respond, or sign up for something. Paper (especially lists of things we wanted to do) can really send us into a tail spin. Remember when tackling paper, we are justorganizing it (that is, sorting it) not acting on it. These are two very different actions. Your job is to collect like items together to make paying bills easier, or sitting down to read more peaceful.
  • Eliminate the little pieces. You know, the basket on the counter? The one with some pennies, one bracelet, two blank birthday cards, a charging cord, paper clips, lip balm, cough drops, a gift card, batteries, one pen cap, a small tissue pack, vitamins, a whistle, and Lego pieces? We’ve all got some version of this. When it comes to organizing — especially if you’re looking to make some major progress — remember this mantra: Little pieces = big time waster; big pieces = little time waster. To translate, when you deal with smaller items, it always feels like you do less. If you need to make some real organization headway, try starting with the larger items, such as furniture, suitcases, boxes, and appliances.
  • Outsmart the temptation. We all have a natural inclination to match up the missing sock, reunite the pen cap with its pen, attach the backing to an earring that has none, or dig through the pantry to match the lid to its rightful water bottle. Trying to match up these long lost companions will sabotage your momentum when it comes to organizing. Avoid the temptation to fall into the matchmaking process, and instead toss items into a clear bag and label it with a black marker. Store all the bags together in a “missing parts and pieces” box and move on. They are likely to be reunited down the road.

Posted by DorothyTheOrganizer on Zillow

5 Steps to a More Organized Home for Back to School

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This A+ plan will have your family ready to greet the first day of school with a smile.

As if summer isn’t crazy enough, the transition to school can make home life even busier and messier. Schedules are a mix of school activities and the last-hurrah-of-summer, and the house is strewn with important school papers and wet beach towels. Here are a few tips to help you organize the chaos this year.

Clean the fridge out (and off) and restock

Shutterstock ID 266450780;
Shutterstock ID 266450780;

Clearing the front of the fridge of summer camp art projects and already-happened wedding invitations will signal a new season and leave room for important phone numbers and all those A+ papers your young scholars bring home.

Then, clean out the refrigerator, tossing all those picnic leftovers, and get it ready for quick breakfasts, packed lunches and after-school snacks. Anything grab-and-go is sure to be appreciated, especially during the first few weeks of school while your family is still getting used to the new schedule. A basket of fresh fruit by the door is also handy.

Take stock of closets and clothes

Courtesy of California Closets.

A new first-day-of-school outfit is a childhood ritual. But before you add to your child’s wardrobe, take stock of what they’ve outgrown during the summer months. And don’t forget the weather will probably be changing soon. See if your kids will be needing any new warmer clothes for the coming season.

A clean and organized closet and dresser will make getting out the door in the morning easier for everyone.

Similarly, catching up with laundry and creating a laundry system if you don’t already have one will keep your life running more smoothly.

Create a scheduling center

This is Mission Control for the family, so it should be in a central place in your home, such as the kitchen or entryway. You’ll want to keep a calendar, filing system, address book, notepads for taking phone messages, and plenty of pens, since they always seem to go missing.

This is also where paperwork should go to be sorted and put away, or signed and sent back to school. Create a system for paperwork and scheduling the family so Dad isn’t slated to tee off with his co-workers at the same time he’s supposed to chaperone a field trip.

Make mealtime easy

Meal-planning will save you time and money — not to mention protect your sanity when you’re running home from work and PTA meetings.

To keep the grownups fueled, set up a coffee station in your kitchen where they can grab a to-go mug easily.

Create a menu, and make a master shopping list to prep for the week. That way, you’ll know exactly what to make when everyone’s hungry, and you won’t waste ingredients.

Shutterstock ID 117974122
Shutterstock ID 117974122

Keep a list on your fridge to remind you of the week’s menu. And when inquiring minds ask what’s for dinner, you can direct them to the menu.

Prepping a few extra meals to throw in the freezer now will ease the busy first few weeks of school, too.

Tackle the mudroom and entryway

School brings with it a lot of paraphernalia: backpacks, lunch bags, gym bags, artwork, and library books. The mudroom or entryway will be the drop-off point and can quickly become a disaster without a system.

Courtesy of California Closets.

Are shoes taken off here? If so, make sure everyone has a designated spot for their shoes. Same with coats and backpacks.

Lunch bags should go in a specific place, or back to the kitchen to be cleaned out for the next day.

Establishing these routines at the beginning of the school year will help them become engrained so by the time winter, with its extra layers, and spring, with its muddy boots, come along, you won’t be pulling your hair out.

While the transition will take some getting used to, having solid systems in place in your home can help you ease the stress, and focus on the enjoyment of an exciting new school year.

Get more home design ideas to keep you inspired.

Posted by Natalie Wise on Zillow