Photo: James Bombales
The start of Daylight Savings guarantees two things: one, that you’ll be groggy on Monday morning, and two, the time-honored tradition of spring cleaning looms (*gulp*). If you’re looking to get a head start on your cleaning checklist, consider tackling an organization project that takes just one or two days.
“Shorter projects often spark something in us that encourages us to move onto organizing the rest of the house,” explains Stephanie Butler, Owner and Senior Consultant at Serenity Organizing Solutions. Here are five feasible organization projects that she says can be completed over the course of a weekend.
1. The entryway
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“It’s really important to get your entryway organized because it is the central hub of the home,” says Butler. “Every member of your family should have their own little space where they can dump their backpack, coats, mittens, etc.” Whether you’re working with a hall closet, mudroom or just a smidgen of wall space, it’s important to add storage solutions to keep clutter in check. “If you don’t, it just becomes a nightmare,” confirms Butler. “It’s a family command center and it needs to be organized so that everybody is on the same page.”
2. Paper documents
Photo: James Bombales
“Paper is most people’s nemesis,” says Butler. “You need to tame that beast, and it takes a weekend, or even just one full day of sorting it into piles.” Butler uses a tried-and-true organizing system when sorting through her clients’ paper documents. “I tell folks to have one spot in their home where all the paper goes, that’s including mail, and have a three-tray system.”
Butler suggests storing paper in a home office or kitchen command center. “The first tray is labeled Action/Current, meaning these are things you still need to take action on. It could be a signature on a permission slip or an incorrect invoice that you need to deal with over the phone,” says Butler. “Your second tray is labeled To File, these are papers you’re finished with that need to be put away. The last tray is To Shred, because we don’t need important personal information getting out there.”
Butler tells her clients to spend two mornings a week organizing their paperwork. “Take an hour to work on the Action/Current papers, spend 15 minutes filing, and then shred whatever you don’t need.”
3. The kitchen pantry
Photo: James Bombales
“Invest in stackable clear bins or containers,” notes Butler. “I recommend labeling everything, but you don’t need to use a fancy label maker. You can print labels off your computer, or write them out by hand. Clear containers allow you to see the contents, but some things look similar, so it’s always best to label them.” Once you’ve got that squared away, Butler suggests organizing the containers in a way that works for you. “It could be alphabetical, by category, or just keep what you use most often at the front, and store lesser-needed items at the back.”
Butler is an advocate of meal planning, which saves shoppers time and money. “I think we live in a society where we hoard food — people have extra freezers. Why? The grocery store is never running out of food,” says Butler. While stocking up on boneless chicken breasts at Costco may be tempting, Butler recommends taking inventory of the ingredients you already have on hand, and then supplementing that with a weekly trip to the grocery store.
4. The laundry room
Photo: James Bombales, design by Lisa Canning Interiors
“People treat their laundry room like a cave,” notes Butler. “Often it’s this horrible room that nobody wants to enter. I encourage my clients to paint their laundry room a beautiful color that inspires them, that feels welcoming.” She recommends getting rid of all the clutter that does not belong there, save for your detergent, stain remover, fabric softener and ironing supplies.
“Put up artwork, put up pictures of your family, put up things you want to see,” she says. Transforming your laundry room into a space where you actually enjoy spending time will make the chore a little less bothersome.
5. Holiday decorations
Photo: Emily May/Flickr
“The best time to organize your decorations is right after the holidays. When you’re putting them away, keep track of all the items you didn’t put on display this year,” says Butler. “Ask yourself, ‘Did I like how the decor looked? Was anything over-the-top?’ Be really honest and brutal about your choices.”
Again, Butler suggests using clear plastic bins with labels. “Put like items with like. Outdoor lights, ornaments, tabletop decor, etc.” Be realistic about what you do and do not need — holiday decor is subject to fads, so those wooden Santas you bought in ‘89 may not fit with your home’s ultra-modern aesthetic. “It can get overwhelming and take over way too much space. To me, every storage space in your home is prime real estate. Ask yourself, ‘Do I really want 10 huge totes of Christmas decorations? Or do I want to have more space for other things?’