Getting organized is always on both my do and New Year’s resolution lists. One thing about being organized is it’s saves you money. I can’t remember how many times I’ve lost something under a pile of papers on my desk, rushed out to buy another one, and then found the original one the next day. Disorganized yes, budget smart, no. I try my best, but sometimes it’s the price of all those fancy organizers that hinder my progress. So I turned to expert help. Laura Leist CPO, CRTS, is a Seattle based professional organizer and also founder and president of Eliminate Chaos www.eliminatechaos.com. Her book Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life has been one of the top five organizing books on Amazon.com for the last three years in a row.
Budget Smart Girl (BSG)-Where’s the best place to buy bargain organizing supplies?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos- The best place to look first is in your home to see what you already have on hand from previous purchases. In our 10-step process, as documented in Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home and Life, shopping is step 8, not step one. One of the biggest mistakes people make when organizing is that they want to shop first, which usually results in wasted time and money. If you follow our process, you will have a concrete idea of what you ‘need’ to shop for because you will know exactly how much space you have and what you will be trying to contain in that space or product.
BSG-What’s the biggest waste of money when you’re buying organizing supplies?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos-See above.
BSG-And what’s a must have buy?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos-The answer to this question depends on what room of your home you are organizing. Product is specific to projects you’re working.
BSG-What are your tips for organizing a pantry?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos – Use plastic bins or baskets to contain open bags of chips and crackers. This will keep crumbs from getting all over the shelves and will allow every family member to quickly find the snacks. Use ‘can risers’ to store canned goods on so you can easily see the label of each can. Use turntables for excess items, such as salad dressings, oils, vinegars, etc…so you can easily find the item. This keeps your back up items easy to find without getting shoved to the back of the shelf.
Take a close look at what’s in the pantry and how long it’s been in there. Do you have expired food? If so, let it go. If you have food you know you’re never going to eat, donate it to a food bank. This is a great first step in getting your pantry organized.
Use the middle shelves for those items that you use most often – they are easier to see because they are at eye level.
BSG-Most people’s biggest headache is organizing their closet, sweaters that tumble on your head when you pull one out, shoes shattered on the floor. Any easy solutions, any inexpensive products you can recommend using in the closet?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos If your closet has a wire shelf in it, you can purchase a shelf divider that attaches to your shelf and holds stacks of sweaters, jeans or workout clothes in place. You could also use a hanging sweater bag and store several sweaters in each component. To maximize the space in the sweater bag, store 2 or 3 sweaters per section and place a sweater divider between each so it’s easy to remove a sweater without the other two landing on the floor.
BSG-Are there any items that readers might have sitting around their house that might work as organizing equipment?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos Ice cube trays can be used for organizing earrings, beads or nails. Boxes from checks can be used for organizing supplies in a desk drawer. Strips of wood the width of canned goods can be used to create your own ‘can risers.’ Ziploc bags work great to store lots of different items in.
BSG-What mistakes do most people make when they attempt DIY organizing?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos The three most common mistakes made are: 1. Shopping first. 2. Losing Focus. 3. Trying to accomplish too much in not enough time.
BSG-I’m sure lots of readers are just like me, I get everything organized and then within the month, I’m back to my bad habits. Any tips for breaking the cycle, or is organizing just on ongoing task?
Laura Leist – Eliminate Chaos-Organizing is a ‘lifestyle’ you choose. If you want to live an organized life, it must be a priority. You will make time in your life for those things that are a priority. Organizing is a ‘process’ NOT and event. Organization is about creating and ‘maintaining’ systems that work for you that you will make the time to maintain on a regular basis. Getting organized is like getting in shape. You don’t go to the gym with the idea that you’re going to lose weight and get in shape and then once you lose the weight, not keep up the exercise. If you don’t keep it up, the pounds will come back. Think of clutter as excess pounds for your home.
If you’re interested in purchasing Laura’s book, visit the Eliminate Chaos Web site and you’ll be able to order an autographed copy.