Sharing the Idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”

I had the privilege of speaking to a wonderful group in Merillville, IN last night about downsizing.

We covered a lot in our 60 minutes together: clearing clutter, determining the value of our stuff, how long to keep certain types of papers.  One idea that I shared with the group was the idea of “20 Minutes or 20 Dollars”.  A couple of people made a point to tell me that they really liked the idea, so I thought I would share.

I wish I could say that this genius idea was my own, but I can’t!  The idea comes from The Minimalists, in their essay, Getting Rid of Just-In-Case Items: 20 Minutes, 20 Dollars.   The premise is that if you are debating whether to keep or get rid of an item, remind yourself that almost anything can be replaced within $20 minutes or for $20 dollars.  And because we can easily replace most things, we don’t have to keep a million items for JUST IN CASE!

For Example:

20 Minutes:  
At last night’s presentation, I referenced the set of siblings that I’ve organized, each with a full set of chafing dishes.  Awesome but big, awkward, and only occasionally useful chafing dishes.  Apparently, these siblings had a very nice Great Aunt Somebody who always bought newlyweds a set of chafing dishes.  Here’s the thing – surely these siblings could SHARE a set, and just move the set around from family event to family event, instead of each of them having to keep their full set.  As they were all trying to de-clutter, it seemed that a quick phone call to each other and a 20 minute errand to pick up the shared set was more reasonable than keeping all the sets.

20 Minutes:
Last summer a friend hosted a big group of teens at her home for a weekend.  Instead of buying 20 air mattresses, she asked Facebook friends if she could borrow air mattresses.  In 20 minutes, she had dozens of offers for what she needed.

20 Dollars:
You know that box of cords?  Yes, THAT box.  The one that drives you crazy?  Most of us have at least one.  The black spaghetti mess of unmatched, unlabeled and unclaimed charging cords from ancient phones or digital cameras gone by?  Look around.  If what you use regularly already has a cord attached, you could probably purge all of those unclaimed cords and spend $20 someday on a replacement in the very remote chance you actually needed one of those random cords.  Clear up a whole lot of space, and bank on the fact you don’t need what is in that THAT box!

20 Minutes and 20 Dollars:
Sombreros (or similar items, you get the idea!).  Sombreros are big.  Awkward to store.  Not a commonly used items, let’s face it.  If you EVER had a need for a sombrero – party, costume, school presentation – you could either spend the $20 to buy one at a party store or on-line, or better yet, ask 10 friends if anyone has a sombrero, and I bet someone does!

This week, look around your house and at your clutter.  Ask yourself if you are keeping things for JUST IN CASE that could easily be replaced for $20 and / or within 20 minutes!  If so, let it go!

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.

I have an article half written for publication this week regarding great questions a client asked about menu planning.  But that is not the point of this post.

Fact is, my thoughts on the menu-planning article were pushed away this morning by the recurring mantra “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes”.  (I googled this quote, to give it and it’s author proper credit, but it is unclear as to who actually coined the phrase.)

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

This phrase has been rolling around in my head since last night when I co-taught a class with my friend Mark at the Oak Lawn Public Library on Bullet Journaling.  Bullet Journaling is a great productivity tool, and I promised some of the class participants that I would publish more about it soon.  But that is not the point of this post.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

People don’t attend classes because they want everything in their lives to stay exactly the same. People choose to learn about new things because they want to think or do things differently.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

So, what do you want to change about your life, and what are you willing to do differently to create that change?  Some times, change happens to us from the outside.  Sometimes we are the catalyst for change from inside.  In this instance, I am asking YOU what YOU want to change or make better.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

Last Fall, I was asked to make a really big change, to take on a responsibility that would help my community.  One of my very wise sons asked me 3 questions:

  • “What will change, from day to day, if you take this on?”
    • The answer was “I will have to make room in my schedule for these new responsibilities, but I can and am willing to do make the necessary modifications, to let go of a few roles and responsibilities to make room for this new one.”
  • “What GOOD can you do?”
    • This was the more important question for me.  Yes, this big responsibility might be time consuming and a little intimidating, but the idea of the GOOD that could come from the change was enough to inspire me to act.
  • And, “What did Dad (my husband) say when you told him?”  That one made us both laugh!

Change is exciting and motivating and energizing.  It can also be occasionally terrifying, uncomfortable and paralyzing.  Change can be difficult.

What if the change is the wrong change?

Yes, but what if it’s the right one?

What if change is awkward or hard or uncomfortable?

Yes, but what if it’s not?

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

There is an old adage that I read recently, “There are 7 frogs on a log, and one decided to jump. How many are frogs are on the log?”

The answer, of course, is 7.  Until that one frog actually jumps, there are still 7 frogs on the log.  Decision making is important, of course, but real change only comes from Action.

“If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

So, think your thoughts, dream your dreams and make your plans. Then act.

Take that single small first step towards change on your own terms.  Jump off that log.  Because “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

First Step of Shopping? Check Your Inventory.

A thought occurred to me very soon after I posted last week’s blog article, “Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”.

It’s the obvious first step, although a little too obvious for me, as I forget to mention it.  That obvious but not-so-obvious first step to shopping should be make your list and then “Check What You Have On Hand”.

It’s always better, from both a financial and clutter clearing standpoint, to use up what you have on hand before you purchase anything more.  This will help you:

  • Save Money;
  • Use items before they expire;
  • Eliminate duplicates; and
  • Clear Clutter!

Here are 5 examples of how this first step has helped me, just in the last week.

When we prepared to go to Office Depot last week…

We first checked our stash of school supplies – lots of pens, mechanical pencils and folders on hand.  We had depleted much of our stash getting the younger son ready a few weeks ago, but we still started our shopping at home, in our own cabinet.

Menu Planning.

Shopping your inventory may be a little more obvious when it comes to making dinner.  Driving home from a double client day yesterday, I was pondering what to make for dinner since I have not been to the grocery yet (and I was tired and really didn’t want to go!).  I remembered my son asked for home-made chicken noodle soup the other day, and as I mentally inventoried my cabinets and freezer while I drove, I realized I had what I needed to make soup for dinner.  And it was good!

Shop Your Home for Home Decor.

I spent a fun few hours organizing and staging space with a client over the weekend.  I assembled new storage units for her office, and then we set up her office space.  What was really awesome was looking around her home and borrowing from other rooms a lamp here, some art there and a potted plant from the old house that hadn’t found a home yet.  The finished space made her so happy, and cost only our time and the price of the new storage cubes.

It’s time to paint my son’s bedroom.  

Our first step is to check and see what paint we have already, especially considering we just painted the kitchen and office. We will also look for any supplies, like paint brushes and rollers, etc., before we head to Home Depot to buy paint and supplies.

The Magic Pants Bin in my basement.

The age of our Magic Bin in the basement has passed, but I will still share the idea.  With three sons, we always had current-sized clothes for the boys plus the in-between sizes that someone would soon grow out of or into.  For years, we always checked the off-size bins of clothes for the next size of clothing before we hit the stores, and like Magic, we could usually find a lot of what we needed in the Magic Bins.  The youngest son is now the tallest, though, so hand-me-downs and the Magic Bin have been retired.  But the idea is still valid!

Before you buy more stuff, always consider this very important first step – Check What You Have On Hand!

 

“Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”

I was pondering tonight’s article topic this evening as I made dinner.  After his first day of classes today, I asked my high school senior (in jest) if there were any really important, hard-hitting organizational questions he would like to ask.

His response?  “Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”

Uh, well, sure.  That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, topic-wise, or how I planned to spend my evening, but sure, we can head to Office Max/Depot.

As we stood in the very long line (I love my son very much), I was still ruminating on how to craft our experience into a meaningful blog post (doesn’t everyone use their waiting-in-line time to mentally write articles?).  I asked him what organizational tips we could learn from our experiences. Here is what we came up with :

  1. Do Not Go Shopping at 6 pm Monday evening when 2 or more local schools started back to school that day.  (um, yeah, that…)
  2. ALWAYS Use a list. Mentally walk through your schedule, or make a copy of the schedule and jot down next to each class the items needed.
  3. If your school doesn’t provide a list, don’t shop until you have been to class.
  4. If your school does provide a list (like our district’s elementary  and middle schools), shop as as soon as its published, and early in the day.  Why would you wait?!?!
  5. Use coupons.
  6. Bring an umbrella.
  7. Eat dinner first, since you don’t know how long this adventure may take.
  8. Don’t even bother losing your cool.  I apparently used the word “peeved” as we stood in the very long line (did I mention it was a very long line?!).  My son and I then discussed “peeved”, with my explanation being “I just can’t be bothered with actual anger.  What is the point?  No one benefits, it serves no purpose.” And he agreed.  There was a toddler losing his mind at the front of the store, and I’m sure perhaps a few of us in line wanted to throw a tantrum at one time or another. But again, what’s the point?  Instead…
  9. Use your wait time constructively.  Breathe deep, scroll FB on your phone, chat with the folks around you, mentally write articles or sing songs in your head.
  10. The line at Office Max/Depot is not the place to buy Swedish fish or cherry sours.  No matter how good they look.

On the way home, I realized that next year, this son will be doing his own back-to-school shopping away at college. I am totally okay with that, this is not (yet) one of those weepy “my baby is growing up” posts, though I sense those could be coming.  But I am even more glad we had the chance to talk it out!

This is about as close to a guest blogger as I’m doing to get, so I dedicate this to D.

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Clothes Check: Yes, No, Not Today? Or Not Gonna Happen?

It’s that time of year again – for the age old back-to-school tradition (that works for everyone, and not just students!) of reviewing your clothes and closet to get ready for the new school year or season.

I know this activity can seem overwhelming, but here are a few suggestions to make it go more smoothly and reap better results!

Enlist Aid.  Phone A Friend.  Ask for Help.

Here is the thing – the minute we touch an item, we are more likely to keep it even if we don’t need it.  Ask for help – your friend / partner / confidant is there to hold up each item for your review.  Then you can make your decision about the item: Yes / Not Today  / Not Gonna Happen (See below).  And YOU are that friend / partner / confidant for your kids, if you’re tackling this project with them.

If you’re flying solo for this project, grab your clothes by the hanger and not the fabric.  It will help you make more objective decisions.

Set a timer.

We all need deadlines.  Many of us work better with external motivation, so set a timer for an hour or two and jump in.  We and our kids also need a “Hard Stop” – an end time – to know that this (occasionally unsavory) task will soon end, and then we can go do something else. Deadlines and hard stops increase motivation and focus.

 

Ok, not THIS kind of filter…

Set Your Filters:

Come up with your filters.  Get ready to ask yourself the same question over and over again. Make your filters easy and specific and maybe even funny, and ask them for every item of clothing.   For example, hold up (or have someone hold up for you) every item in your closet and ask yourself something like:

  • Every Day?
  • Yes, but Not Right Now (off season or dressy)?
  • Yes, But It’s a Keepsake (keep in a keepsake bin NOT in your closet)?
  • Never Gonna Happen / What Was I Thinking? / Where Did That Even Come From? etc.

Determine your decision-making filters ahead of time, and the process goes more smoothly!

You can set up size filters, too – for example, reviewing your kid’s clothes, and deciding that any item smaller than a size ???? (6T, adult small, insert your child’s current size here) needs to leave the closet and be passed on / sold / donated.  The size filters can be applied by you or a helper or a child to take the emotion out of the process!

I walked a college-bound young man through this process a few weeks ago.  We sorted his clothes into:

  • Yes: the clothes he wears every day that he will pack for college;
  • Yes, but not today: the clothes he will take to school in a few months, when the weather cools off;
  • Yes, but way back in the back of the closet: the clothes that he doesn’t wear but he would still like to keep, like his Grandfather’s hunting jacket; and
  • Not Gonna Happen: the clothes that he will never wear (either too small or doesn’t like) that can be bagged up, passed on or donated.
  • Maybe (this should be a VERY SMALL PILE!): Try it on, get it fixed, or just suck it up and Let It Go.  If you hesitate to keep an item, that should be your first and strongest indicator that it is really a Not Gonna Happen and should go.

With this young college man, each category of clothes hung in a different area of his closet, so packing will be really easy when it comes time to head to school.

So, ask for help, set a timer and use your filters as you spend some quality time with your clothes this week!  And for more info on the subject, here are more articles on this same topic!

 

Conquer Your (kid’s?) Clothes and Closet: Summer Project #1

 

Back To School: First Things First – Clothes!

A Better Way to Hang, for National Get Organized Month!

That age-old Ritual: Back To School Clothes Shopping!

No, The First Step of Organizing is Not “Go Shopping”

Very often when we get the urge to organize, we start first with the urge to go and get more stuff!  “I need better containers!  New hangers!  Different bookshelves!  Cool new coat hooks, boxes, office supplies…”  well, the list goes on and on.  Lots of people go out and buy more stuff before they start actually organizing.
I understand this compulsion, friends.  I do.    Why do we want to shop first?
  • When faced with a cluttered space, of course it is more fun to think about the shiny new things in our “finished” space than to start with the hard choices, the heavy boxes, the dirty stuff!
  • Buying new things can lead to tangible improvement, something we can touch and point to and say “Look at how much better this space is now that we have xxxxx (fill in the blank).”
  • We may not know how to tackle our project, but we certainly know how to purchase things, either in a store or on-line.
  • If we already have clutter, it’s possible that “let’s go buy something new” is our usual response to a problem.
I recently worked with a lovely client in her laundry room. As we got started, she mentioned some great product ideas for shelving units and wall hooks for cleaning supplies, and I was all set to google those ideas on my phone, too, because Yes! That sounds waaaaaayyy more fun than tackling a pile of laundry!  HOWEVER… that is not how Organizing works.
 Here’s something to remember:  almost every organizing project requires at least some purging, some “letting go” of stuff.
The right organizing solution is almost never “Let’s bring more things into the space before we part with stuff!”
Instead:
  • Commit to the hard work, with a clear vision of how awesome your space will be when it’s organized!
  • Sort what you have.  Make decisions about what you want to keep and what needs to go away.  Actually bag up and get rid of the “go away” stuff.  Then figure out how to store what you have kept.  THEN you may want to shop.  However…
  • WAIT!! Get used to your newly organized space and stuff before you purchase something else!
  • Shop in your own stuff first – it’s very likely that you have what you need already.  As we organize, we may come across unused containers that we can re-purpose for our current project.   Or there are containers elsewhere in the house we can use.
  • Do your research, so you don’t end up contributing to your clutter.  Invest in good quality items, only as many as you need.  Keep receipts so that you can return items that don’t work in your space.
  • Do NOT buy new things that take up more space than the discarded items, or you will end up back in the same cluttered space you started in.
  • Look around your own space, or talk to friends and family before you spend the money!
  • If you like to shop, save the shopping as a perk for getting the hard work of sorting and purging done.
  • Keep a list of items you want to purchase or obtain.  Take the list with you when you shop, and stick with it!

 

So, let me be the little voice in your ear, your Jiminy Cricket encouraging you to do the right thing.   Do NOT shop first!  Do the hard work, then decide if you need to bring more stuff in to corral your stuff!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Truth Bombs About Socks

I worked with a new client this morning.  She is awesome.  All my clients are awesome. 

This client, whom I will refer to as Client (all names are changed to protect the innocent), and I worked on her tween daughter’s room.  Client sorted her daughter’s  clothes into “keep” and “donate” piles while I worked on the physical space in the room.

As is often the case, the topic of Socks came up. And I capitalized “Socks” because Socks are a big issue.  More specifically, the topic of the big pile / basket / bag of unmatched, unloved and slightly scary Socks came up.

Come on, you know the basket.  The one that lurks in shadows, ready to take on more cast offs, silently judging you and draining your mental energy day in and day out?  Yes, that one.

Let me share with you some truths that I shared with Client this morning:

  • Some of us judge ourselves far more harshly than we deserve.
  • Just because friends don’t talk about this on Facebook doesn’t mean that others aren’t fighting the same struggle. You are not alone. Lots of people have too many Socks (and other things).
  • MORE IMPORTANTLY,
    • Possession of all these Socks does not make you a bad, lazy or crazy person.
    • Possession of all these Socks causes negative self-talk as we choose yet again to go about our day of Family and Work and Volunteering and finally Bed (all very important things!!) instead of dealing with those cursed Socks (not nearly as important).
    • You are awesome, and the quality of your character is not determined by a basket of Socks.

And, for your peace of mind, if you want to conquer Sock Mountain, try these:

  • Wash the Socks.  Check under beds and couches, and wash them all.  One nasty soccer sock really can ruin the whole basket.
  • Once clean, collect them all.  Yes, All.  Check the sock drawers for rogue lone rangers.
  • Enlist Aid.  All of these Socks are not yours (probably). This project will go more quickly with more hands.
  • At least try.  Some clients have suggested chucking all the Socks and starting over, but this is terribly wasteful and we won’t learn anything from that strategy.
  • Change your location.  If the laundry room is not well lit or cheerful, move the basket to your bedroom or the kitchen counter, or somewhere else that will inspire and motivate you.
  • Line the unmatched Socks up by size and dominant color, to make matching them up easier.
  • Luckily, these days, especially in the world of tween girls, unmatched Socks are cool and fun!
  • Set a lower limit and an upper limit.  Many times a session with my clients, I will ask “How much is enough?” and “How many is too many?”  For example, set your Enough for 30 (or some other number) pairs. Pick your favorite 30 and pair them up.  Now you can look at little more critically at the leftovers.
  • Recognize that those Socks, at least some of them, ended up in the basket for a reason, and may no longer be needed and useful.
  • Set a timer.  We can do anything, even if we don’t like to, for a short period of time.  Watching a show? Great.  Grab the basket, dump it out, and get to it until the buzzer rings.  Then put away the matched Socks, and donate the rest.

So, be nice to yourself this week about your Socks and anything else, be honest with others, and spend a little time and tackle this common problem!

When Our Morning Doesn’t Start As Planned…

I slept late this morning.  I woke early, as usual, but with a raging headache, not usual.  So I opted to stay in bed instead of taking a walk. I got another hour of sleep but woke up discombobulated.

We all may oversleep, or run late, or wake to find out that our 9 am meeting has been moved to 8 am instead.  And suddenly we need to get out the door as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Here are a couple of strategies to try:

Read this post quickly and then put down the phone.
Or step away from the tablet, computer or TV.  Seriously.  You’re in a rush, why in the world are you looking at your screens? There is not time for that today.  Put down the tech (and make sure it’s charging if needed) and get moving.

For next time…
Use your technology for the tool it is.  Set alarms on your tech to ensure you wake up on time. Make sure your tech is charging before you hit the pillow.  Find apps for morning meditation or motivation, and create play lists to improve your morning routine.

Focus on NEEDS, not WANTS.
Focus on Survival tasks, not maintenance or progress.  Clothing, food, hygiene, shelter, safety.
Do you usually work out, exfoliate, meditate or phone a friend?  Nope, not today. Your choices flew out the window with your wake-up time. Catch up later, if your schedule allows, but for now, focus on Needs.  You need a shower, clothing, food.  Focus on those, then see what time you have left before you need to leave.

More importantly, for next time:
Pare down your morning routine so whether you’re on time or not, or its a work day or weekend, you don’t waste time or steps.  Take care of your needs (and your kids’, if applicable) first, and then move on to maintenance or progress steps.  Shower first, get dressed and grab some breakfast, THEN start a load of laundry or check your email.

Rely on a Uniform.
For the mornings when you’re in a rush, reach for a tried-and-true favorite.  Save creativity for another day when you’re not in a rush.  We pay more attention to what we wear than anyone else does anyway (except for that one co-worker….), so reach for an ensemble that you know works.

For next time…
Establish a handful of go-to  outfits.  Professionally speaking, I have an informal uniform for client appointments and some dressier ensembles for meetings and presentations.  If time allows, I stretch the fashion boundaries, but if I’m in a hurry, I know what works.

A client referred to her summer wardrobe as “The Uniform”.  I thought she was referring to her profession, but she said “The Mom Uniform – neutral shorts or skorts, a v-neck t-shirt in a range of colors, cute sandals or sneaks… you know, the mom uniform”.  I inspected my own dresser drawers and I realized she was right.  Looking around at a soccer game a few days later, sure enough – mom uniforms.  I consider this a good thing. I have found clothes that work and are fun, are easy to pick out every day and pack for a trip.  Find that combination for yourself and run with it.

A few more tips:

  • Select a go-to group of accessories, too.  I have a dish on my desk with my watch, standard earrings and a few favorite bracelets.  Which leads me to:
  • Have just one place for your essentials (phone, keys, wallet, etc.), and make a habit around keeping them there.
  • Stock up on healthy and portable breakfasts.
  • Keep your gas tank filled, to keep your morning commute moving.  Make your own coffee, for the same reason.

Don’t make a habit of these rushed mornings, but if you find yourself in a hurry, give these strategies a try!

Organize Your Car This Week (a.k.a. What’s That Smell?)

This is not my car. But it looks nice, doesn’t it?

Mobile office, changing room, dining room, way-to-get-from-here-to-there, home away from home … our car.

My van ticked over 94,000 miles today.

I spend lots of time in my van.  For work and clients, sure, but also for life.  We do a lot of interstate traveling, and have no problem with a 3-hour drive for an overnight visit or lunch with the family.

With lots of time spent in our cars, they can get a little cluttered… and grubby… and… well, smelly.  Our family joke was that when we decided to buy our current van, my youngest said “Good, because this one smells like french fries”.  Old beverage containers, fast food wrappers, dirty laundry, sports equipment – Who knows what is rolling around back there?!

The first thing that people do when they see my “Professional Organizer” magnets on my van is peek in my windows to see if my car is organized (of course it is).  Our cars are an extension of our homes and of ourselves, which means we can reap benefits from organizing our car and travels.  Luckily, the process is the same, whether we ‘re organizing a kitchen or hard drive or pile of mail or car.

Here is what to do:

  • Take out all the stuff out of your car.  Throw away the obvious garbage.
  • While it’s cleaned out, take your car to the car wash and splurge on the interior cleaning and vacuum, too.
  • Now that it’s clean, Do NOT just put everything back in your car!  Take a good look at the stuff that came out!
  • Grab another garbage bag and a notebook.
  • Sort the pile into categories: Car maintenance (wipes, oil); Car repair (tools, jumper cables); Important car related papers (manual, registration and proof of insurance); safety / first aid (first aid kit, blanket, non perishable snacks, water bottles); personal convenience (umbrella, lint brush, hand wipes, car pillow); or perhaps work related items (I have my briefcase and step stool in my van all the time).
  • A note on safety: Whatever you choose to keep in your car needs to be strapped in.  Any time we slam on the brakes, stuff can shift or fly, becoming a dangerous projectile.  Strap it down and keep it safe!
  • Contain your categories together (for example, a tote in the trunk for tools?), and stow them safely in your car.
  • And, if you have 10 minutes or 2 days, check Pinterest for more “car organizing” ideas – wow!!!

What should not be in the car:

  • important papers, like your mail or pay stubs with personal info;
  • VISIBLE VALUABLES or MONEY!;
  • your car title and maintenance records (keep these safely at home);
  • dead electronics (old phone chargers, random mystery cords);
  • school papers / text books / other books;
  • items to drop off to others / returns / recycling – add the errands to your to-do list, and make an effort to get that stuff dropped off.

Your car is an extension of you and your home, give it some love, attention and organizing this week!

How High Are Your Eyes? (a.k.a. Where to keep the canned tuna?)

Last week, I unloaded boxes of nonperishable food into my new cabinets and helped some friends settle into their new home.

I was reminded of a rule of thumb for cabinet storage, and I want to share it with you.  Before I  get ahead of myself,  though, I need to tell you that I’m short.

For anyone reading this who knows me, this is not news.  In my above- average-height family, I am definitely the runt.  I blame / attribute this to my 5’1″ grandmothers.  But I digress.

Being short means that I make strategic decisions about how to utilize my cabinet space, maximizing the shelves I CAN reach.  When my kids were younger, I thought I was keeping our most used items low in the cabinets for their sake, but now I’m shortest in the house again, so it’s all about me.  🙂

If you would like to maximize your cabinet space, too:

Consider the lowest shelf of the upper cabinet your highly coveted beach-front property. Dedicate this prime real estate to the items that you use all the time every day.  When we were putting things away last week, my son asked if we could make more room on the bottom shelf for snacks and things (the every day items for him) – brilliant!  To make room on the bottom shelf, I put the canned tuna (used much less often, and only by me) up a shelf or two.

Move up from there.  If you have three shelves, use the “every day (1st shelf) / every week (2nd) / every month (3rd)” guide to help you make decisions.  We now have 4 shelves – yes our cabinets now go all the way to the ceiling and I am giddy about this! – so we may use the use the “every day (1st shelf) / every week (2nd) / every month (3rd) / every year (4th)” to make our decisions about where to store our items.

As my very organized friend put away her dishes in her new kitchen last week, she knew to put the special occasion dishes on the highest shelf, and keep the everyday dishes at eye level.  It is so obvious in that context, and we can use that lesson in every cabinet.  Even if you are not short like me, grouping your cabinet items, whether food or dishes, around how often you use them may help you access and maintain your stuff more readily.

A final tip, when you store items on your upper shelves, contain small items in baskets or bins so they don’t get lost in the back of the cabinet.   For example, think water bottles and lids and straws, or seasonal baking items like small bottles of extract or sprinkles.

Look at your kitchen with new eyes, keeping your most used items at eye level and moving onward and upward from there!