Special Guest Contributor

By Amy Schoen, Professional Organizer
I was not organized for most of my life. At a recent dinner with a childhood friend, she recalled a memory of opening the closet in my bedroom and immediately getting buried by a waterfall of clothes, stuffed animals, paint supplies and games. I was a creative, social and impatient kid. Cleaning and organizing my room seemed like a waste of time. If I could stuff everything in the closet and get the door closed, it worked for me. If things didn’t fit in the closet or under the bed, my ‘system’ of random piles took over.
Fast forward to married life in the Bay Area with 2 kids and a full time job. The harsh reality of the fact that my ‘stuff and shut’ (in a closet, drawer, etc..) and ‘toss and go’( into a random pile) way of life no longer worked. I found that coming home was exhausting and overwhelming. Stuff seemed to be everywhere but what I needed was never in the right place.
I knew there had to be a better way. I needed to get organized and develop systems that worked for our hectic life. So, I made it my mission to study all I could about organizing. During my research, I found that I had some bad habits. But, with a few changes and a little effort, I could set up our home to run more efficiently.
Heading into fall is a good time to start some new organizing habits. It’s time to pack up the summer vacation toys and supplies. It is also the time when lazy summer mornings are a thing of the past and getting everyone out the door is the first hurdle of the day.
Here are some organizing tips for packing up summer supplies:

  • Where do these things live? Designate a spot in the garage, basement, somewhat out of the way, if possible.
  • Containers – I am a fan of clear plastic bins with labels. 
  • Are there supplies that you did not use and could live without? If it can go straight to donation, super. If not, designate a bin for unused items or put a piece of colored tape with the date on it. If you still haven’t used this item in 2 years, it’s time to say goodbye.
  • Does it need to be cleaned, fixed or restocked? Put this in a project bin so you know it needs attention before you store it for next season.
  • Pay attention to what your kid(s) will want to use next season. 

Will they grow out of an item? If you have hard time saying goodbye, have them play with it on a warm weekend, take a picture and then pass it onto donation. Make space for new memories.
Here are some organizing tips for getting out the door in the morning:

  • What are your systems? Come up with your family Launch Plan to ‘Get out the door’
  • Do lunches need to be made?
  • Do backpacks and/or diaper bags need to be stocked and ready to go?
  • Do coats, shoes, hats, need to be packed?
  • These are all questions that you need to ask. Once your systems are defined, it’s time to map out where your systems belong and the steps involved to get them done. 
  • Who is responsible for the systems? While the entire family is responsible for understanding the systems, it is important to share system responsibilities amongst family members. 
  • Once kids are old enough, this is a good time to hang low hooks for backpacks and coats. Also, show them how to empty their lunch box at the end of the day.
  • Think about: Where is this system set up in your home? Are all of the lunch supplies in one place? Is there a place where the backpacks, diaper bag, coats, etc. are put away? 
  • Try to minimize the steps in your systems.
  • Keep needed supplies in a convenient place. 
  • Include restocking supplies the night before or once a week.

Remember, the collective goal is ‘Getting out the door’. If your system doesn’t work, change it.
There are no hard and fast rules here. Be creative and come up with systems that work for your family.

Amy Schoen is a Professional Organizer in the East Bay. Owner of Spaces By Amy. Feel free to contact her with your organizing questions at amy@spacesbyamy.com


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