Entryway coat closets in small homes can be tricky beasts. They can go from clean to chaotic with the simple addition of a few hard-to-store items – before you know it you’re shutting the door just so you don’t have to look at it any more.
Take a deep breath, and open the door. Let’s work our way from the top down…
As you know, we love everything to have its own place, and often times that place is a bin. Getting organized doesn’t have to be rocket science, sometimes it’s as simple as assigning shelf space to containers of various sizes, like these Open Canvas Storage Bins, and letting them be home to the things that would otherwise crowd your shelves and floors. We love that these have labels on both the horizontal and vertical walls so even if the bin is stored up high, you can read the contents before bringing it down. We’ve used them here for hats (each person in the household has their very own bin) and winter gear. They bring that minimalist-chic style without breaking the bank ($7.99 to $11.99 per bin). Available in grey or cream and three different sizes.
It frees up all your floor space for alternative storage and the pockets are deep enough that both men’s and women’s shoes fit easily. Bonus: it’s made from 65% recycled plastic bottles, turning something harmful (plastic) into something constructive (environmentally friendly storage). You will find it in grey or beige and start creating more open floor space now.
Tip: If you don’t want the conventional steel hooks peaking out when the door is closed we like to use damage free Command Hooks as a way to mount the bag inside the door.
Alternatively placing a large basket near the front door is a great way to corral unruly shoes and cut down on dirt and energy being tracked in from outside. The one featured here was found on a whim at Home Goods. I’m consistently surprised by their vast selection of hand-crafted artisan bins.
Last but not least, we love to use these Fashion Cube Storage Bins in closets because they look sleek and their rigid sides are great for storing taller items from yoga mats to wrapping paper.
Outside of the closet these hold more compact belongings beautifully and can even be proudly displayed on a storage bookshelf unit like the Kallax from Ikea, another favorite of ours!
Go forth and conquer your small entry way coat closet, but FIRST don’t forget to let go of all the things that are: broken, haven’t been used or worn in the past year, have rips or tears and you know you’re never going to fix them, you get the point. Let all the excess go and make space for what makes your life, happier, easier and more organized.
Ever notice how when you’re day starts off with a misfortunate occurrence, it seems like everything bad that could possibly happen, well, happens? You hear me talk about energy all the time. I wouldn’t talk about it if I didn’t see the effects of energy and mindset not only on myself but with my clients as well.
Energy attracts energy – period. This is some real “The Secret” circa 2007 (if you haven’t seen the movie put it on your list for THIS weekend PLEASE) stuff, but it is still relevant. When you start the day off with a negative thought you’re going to have to catch yourself quickly. If you reframe a negative thought to a positive one in the heat of the moment, you’ll probably have a much better life experience. It’s so easy to go into the story of “woe is me,” so you’re going to have to discipline your mind on a very regular basis if you want to change your mindset for good.
Pema Chodron, author of “When Things Fall Apart” says, “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it’s always with us.” I love her words of wisdom because she is very down to earth and simply says it like it is. There is always choice on the part of us spiritual beings having a human experience. We have the profound ability to either become weighed down by negative thoughts or rise, rise, rise above the drama in our mind.
So if the “bad karma” monster has been chasing you away from your organizing goals, here a couple of ways to get back on track.
Tend to it
Remember that your home is just like your physical body. It needs to be tended to on a daily basis. Do your best to not let things pile up, instead work on them little by little each day. It might be a bit painful to start organizing initially, but like anything, over time you will build momentum and muscle. You may even find yourself creating new healthy habits that you can’t stop doing!
Stop negative self-talk
When a negative voice rears it’s ugly head try to laugh it off; thank it for being there and continue to do what you need to do to stay organized. You are the only one who has the power to change. You are the only one in control of your thoughts. If you can create them, you can change them.
Create a mantra
When you feel those old urges to stray from the organizing path, simply choose a phrase to get your brain back on track. Here are a few examples:
“I am organized.”
“Organization flows through me easily and effortlessly.”
“It is easy for me to stick to my goals.”
“Organizing is a fun process that helps me stay happy and feeling grounded.”
Try repeating an empowering phrase up to 20 times in one sitting. You can say it silently to yourself or aloud. If you’re really up for a challenge, try looking at yourself in the mirror while you repeat the mantra. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
ALWAYS schedule in a celebratory something once you complete a task. I often take small breaks throughout the day when I work from home to break up the activities and to recognize what has been accomplished. It’s so easy to forget to pat ourselves on the back and put ourselves down. Celebrate your victories no matter how small. They are very important!
Remember to have FUN
You only get one life this go around. The more you can laugh at your mistakes and your silly habits the more joy you can bring to your life and your home.
Summer is almost over, and you haven’t taken break. So, in the spur of the moment you hopped online, caught a deal, and booked a last minute vacation (insert high five). Excited to escape the hustle and bustle of life, you toss your clothes into a suitcase and dash for the door. When you arrive at your destination, ready to hit the pool, you realize – you packed everything except your bathing suit.
Avoid an emergency shopping trip and outrageous tourism prices with these essential summer getaway packing tips.
There’s something about packing for vacation that makes me think I’ll be changing outfits three times a day. In reality, I know I’ll be spending the entire trip waist deep in 80 degree water. Think honestly about your vacation style. Will you really be dressing up every night for a night out, or is room service in your robe a tastier option? Are you going to kickstart that new workout regime or recover those precious Z’s every chance you get? Take some time to assess your habits realistically and save the valuable suitcase real estate.
2. Don’t overpack
If I bring three outfits per day, I’ll most likely spend more time figuring out what to wear and less time lounging poolside. Try packing a few basics that can mix and match with each other. A plain cotton t-shirt can be dressed up with a statement necklace and a skirt or down with a pair of shorts. Still want to bring a bold statement piece? Go ahead – but aim to have that piece make an appearance again in another outfit to avoid overpacking
3. Pack smarter
As lovely as it would be to bring all your shoes on vacation, it’s not always feasible. Try to pack basic, neutral shoes that pair well with the various outfits in your wardrobe. I limit myself to packing one pair of formal, casual, and athletic shoes and wear the bulkiest of the three while I’m on the plane. Can’t decide which shoes to bring? Consider the more practical option. Instead of bringing your running sneakers and your walking shoes, bring a pair that can handle both running and walking.
When you’ve decided which shoes to bring, pack small items into shoes, like socks, underwear, belts, toiletries, or fragile items like sunglasses to maximize space.Further maximize space by wrapping each shoe in separate bags, like these reusable shopping bags made from recycled plastic drink bottles. For more tips on packing shoes, check out The Travel Channel’s video on shoe packing tips!
4. Pack consciously
I deeply care about purchasing sustainable and ethical products whenever possible. Here are a few of my favorite finds:
These refillable tubes are BPA and PC-free as well as food safe! They are not only perfect for traveling with all of your eco friendly chemical free toiletry products, you can use them for things such as salad dressing, almond butter and tinctures. There is even a sweet little space for a label too! The Bay area based company gives back to their local community on a regular basis and consistently strives to create non-toxic products with the environment in mind.
Every product made by the Krochet Kids is hand-signed by the woman who made it. The company encourages consumers to visit the profile of the woman who made their product, so they can learn her story and how she is being empowered – they even encourage consumers to write to the artists! Their goal is to holistically equip people living in poverty with the skills, education, and resources to create a path toward independence.
These hand-loomed bath and beach towels use traditional craftsmanship and the highest quality GOTS certified organic cotton and dyes. Each towel is slowly woven by hand on old shuttle-looms in a family-run workshop in Turkey, keeping with traditional methods including hand-tied fringing and tassels with no factory involvement.
This startup provides products handcrafted from sustainable materials including FSC-certified wood, cotton-based acetate, recycled aluminum, and repurposed skateboard decks. They’ve partnered with organizations like the Nature Conservancy in Idaho and Boarding for Breast Cancer to provide funds that directly benefit the people and places in their community. The company has donated over 12% of annual profits to their Do Good Program, believing that even a small amount can dramatically shift the trajectory of people’s lives.
Taking a little time to realistically plan and prepare for your last minute getaway can help you maximize your relaxation. Additionally, you’ll have space in your luggage to bring back one-of-a-kind treasures as well as the extra mental capacity for beautiful vacation memories!
Last month we kicked off our three part 90 day minimalism challenge introducing the ideology of minimalism as well as the manipulative marketing tactics that can lead to aggressive consumerism. It is important to understand both sides of the spectrum in order to appreciate a simplified style of living. Let’s embark upon phase 2 of the journey: letting go of life’s excess aka editing.
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” – Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist
Get the ball rolling
The idea of going minimal is appealing to many, however, the implementation can be a bit intimidating to put it mildly. The challenge can feel even greater if you share your home with more than one or two people. For very large families, the idea of minimalism can feel downright terrifying. But then again, it may be the most liberating choice out there!
The question, “where do I begin?” paralyzes most human beings not only in organizing but in almost any life scenario. As we all know taking the first step is the most challenging. Energy feeds on energy. Once you get the balling rolling though you may not be able to stop the momentum you’ve created.
Eliminating excess doesn’t have to be an unpleasant process. The fear we create in our mind is usually much bigger than our reality. Once you have made the decision, remember to stay connected to the intention you set in part 1. As a gentle reminder, your intention should focus on how you’d like your home to FEEL? Decluttering is often a cathartic process, healing countless emotional struggles as you feel and integrate the benefits of lightening your load physically, mentally, energetically and emotionally.
But, How do I Get the Ball Rolling?
Start Small Please do not think that you need to edit your home in one session or all in one day. That would overwhelm even the most skilled professional organizer out there! Attempting to take on too much will lead to loss of motivation.
Pick one category to start with and make it an area you know you have time to complete. Ideally, the choice is low on the emotional charge scale, meaning you have the least attachment. A few suggestions: a purse that has been neglected, an overflowing junk drawer, the trunk of your car or your reusable tote bag collection.
Every now and again your ego is going to try and keep you “safe.” It’s going to convince you that your old ways of doing things are better and all of this evaluating and letting go is just way too hard. Use yourintention as an anchor when distractions or fear start to set in. Staying connected to your WHY will be like having your best friend right there holding your hand.
Build a Support System When we begin a new project or journey, surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals has proven to help maintain accountability. Besides, no one really likes to be the lone wolf 24/7, right? Going it alone is necessary in certain situations but their is nothing that compares to the support from a like-minded tribe.
Consider challenging your neighbors, friends or spouse to join the minimalist path and have a multi-family yard sale. Profits can be invested in fun conscious adventures or to cut down on single use products and wisely purchase items that can be used in more than one way. Hint: coconut oil, amset of chef’s knives, mason jars or socks that hold a lifetime guarantee. When you buy sustainable items you set yourself up to connect with a huge support system. Mother Nature also notices when you support her by making conscious decisions that help the environment.
Memorabilia and Sentimental Pieces Remember when I said editing might be challenging and you were going to have to have an anchor to keep your head on straight? The memorabilia category is the most emotionally charged, therefore it is generally speaking the most challenging and the most time consuming to edit. Most truly sentimental items are irreplaceable and that’s the rub. How do we let go of something we know we may never be able to replace?
The easiest solution is to take a photo of the item and create photo albums accompanied by journal entries. This way, the memory has been recorded and the photo album is much smaller and easier to store. Ideally, the “album” is a digital creation that lives on an external hard drive eliminating even more clutter. Think about all your kids art projects taking up space in a bin in the garage that could easily be photographed, categorized, noted and then responsibly recycled. It won’t be easy with each sentimental item so follow your gut. Recognize when something truly sparks joy and when you are holding on for less productive reasons.
Let go of Guilt and put Your Needs First Quite often people have a hard time letting go things that were gifted to them. There is an underlying fear that the gift giver will be upset if the receiver discards the gift. Let’s be honest here. Guilt is self induced. No one can make you feel anything.
Gifts are lovely sentiments but they don’t always match where we are with our lifestyle. And that is OK! Honor the intentions you set for yourself and let go of items that you don’t deeply love or feel have a purpose in your life. Once you understand that you are in complete control of your emotions, letting go of what’s weighing you down gets a whole lot easier.
“The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank if for the joy it gave you when you first received it.” -Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Ground Rules for Editing
Now that you’ve been pumped up and are feeling motivated, you are ready to roll up your sleeves and hit the ground running. For the most part, the rules for editing in each area of your home will be the same, the way you go about it may vary based on the types of items in each space.
Designate a Sorting Area You’re going to need to set aside an open space for sorting. Create clearly marked bags or bins with the following signs: TRASH, RECYCLE, DONATE, REPAIR, SELL, RELOCATE, BELONGS TO OTHER PEOPLE, ETC.
Like with Like Next, choose the category or category you plan to work on. For example, if you plan to organize your pantry take all the food out and begin grouping all the pasta together, all the canned items together, all the cereals together and so on. Some categories make sense to group together such as dried fruit and nuts, oil with vinegar, etc.
Evaluate Start with these basic questions as you look at each and every item in your possession.
Is the item still in good condition and functioning? Are there holes, rips, tears, cracks, chips, etc. If food, check the expiration date and notice if there are any bugs inside of open packages. We see this quite, often so please make sure to look through any and all open food products very thoroughly.
When was the last time you used the item? Unless it’s a specific holiday item that only gets used once a year, the likelihood of you using something you haven’t used in over a year is pretty slim. We tend to gravitate toward the new, the now and what’s right in front of us.
How versatile it the item in question? If it is overly specific (ie avocado pit remover or pineapple corer) there is a good chance that a simpler solution exists. Consider letting go of things that only serve a single purpose and invest in multipurpose tools. A black or tan pair of shoes go a lot further than a turquoise or hot pink pair. You catch my drift?
Do you love it? Or in the words of Marie Kondo, “Does it spark joy?” Yes, even your cutting board and hiking shoes should spark joy!
Sort After you evaluate each item, place it into one of the designated categories outlined above. Exceptions would be large or very bulky items that may not fit into a bag or bin. You may want to tag donations with blue painters tape so that they are easily identifiable once you make the call for a donation pick up. At the end of your session, you’ll need to set aside time to responsibly discard, relocate and drop off the piles that you can easily manage.
Remove the Discards on the Same Day Once you’ve decided what is trash, recycling, donatable or belongs to other people, I can’t stress enough how important it is to follow through on the same day! Take the garbage and recycling out to the bins, drop off any repairs to the appropriate vendors, take what you can to consignment shops or donation facilities. This step is vital in your minimalist commitment. If you leave the items in your possession you may start to have second thoughts and the bags or bins create the kind of clutter you are working toward reducing and hopefully eliminating altogether.
The following charitable organizations offer free pick-up services but make sure to schedule accordingly as it can often take a few weeks:
If you have the cash to spare, another great option we’ve been utilizing are on-demand pick-up services:Buddytruk and Pikkup. They are well worth the investment at $1 mile and $1 a minute to pick up your heavier items and drop them at your nearest donation facility.
References and Challenges to Enhance Your Journey
One of the best parts about undertaking this life-changing transition is the community of people who are going through or have already gone through the same process. There is an explosion of resources and assistance available nowadays that can aid you in achieving your best. A few of our personal favorites:
Project 333 is designed to help you reduce your wardrobe. Choose 33 items out of your closet to sustain you for 3 months, and pack the rest away. Exceptions include: loungewear, underwear, athletic clothing, wedding rings and holiday themed pieces (depending on the time of year). There are so many individuals documenting their project 333 journeys online, which can help for inspiration and support! For help getting started, try this article by Joshua Becker:A Practical Guide To Owning Fewer Clothes.
The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
While many people are obsessed with Marie Kondo’s immaculately file folded drawers, others find her tactics a little too intense. We fall somewhere in the middle. We stick by Kondo’s philosophy of only keeping the items that “spark joy” or only what we truly love, but her military style tactics don’t set well with us. We love to treat our items with care but we don’t do high pressure rules. Just as each person is unique, the amount of “stuff” and how they process it will be unique.
You will find great tips, advice and practice guides within the pages of her book
Between the success of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tiding Up and the well-documented journey of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus AKA “The Minimalists,” de-cluttering and streamlining your life has recently caught on like wildfire. Many people come to us with ideas and images of minimally stocked closets, kitchens, pantries and more….but often times, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of purging, they struggle to let go. Read more
So many people want to do it all: keep a clean home, cook healthy meals, work out, tackle their seemingly infinite to-do list, spend time with friends, and thrive at work – biting off more than they can chew. For some, the automatic response to a busy schedule is to leave any cleaning and organizing for “later” – you know, when things calm down. You may know how clutter can make you feel, but do you know how clutter affects your mind? Read more
Watching a loved one suffer is heartbreaking; it’s natural to feel compelled to help. Many people believe helping someone means sharing their burdens, which can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining. I’m sharing a few of my life preserving energy tips when the need to set boundaries arises. Read more
I have a dirty little secret – I hate washing dishes! I’ll meal prep weekly to save time in the kitchen, but cleaning up almost negates that purpose! Trying to keep a clean home while balancing work and life can be a huge burden on a person. It’s time to assess – what can I delegate? Read more
The Effortless Closet shares how she created a more versatile and efficient wardrobe by cleaning out closet clutter.
Guest post by Randi of The Effortless Closet.
I’m so honored to be sharing a little bit of my story here. The ideas Clutter Healing focuses on of living with clarity and efficiency really resonate with me.
I used to be overwhelmed with a closet full of clothes, but somehow I never had anything to wear. I didn’t feel comfortable or confident in the outfits I put together, so I filled the void by buying even more clothes. It was a vicious cycle that just wasn’t working for me anymore. So I started paring down my closet and that’s when I realized that less truly is more. Read more
When it comes to identifying the things holding us back from being the best possible versions of ourselves, everyone’s process is different; but one thing is almost always the same – clutter. Having a lot of clutter means you’re not making space for what really matters, you’re not leaving any room for yourself to move or grow – all the available space is already occupied. There is a literal, physical clutter between you and your dreams. Read more