10 Tips for Staying Tidy

For many of us, getting organized is manageable but maintaining the organization is a challenge. Whether you spend your weekend binge organizing or outsource your organizing projects to a professional, the organization systems need to be maintained. As a busy mom of four, dog mom of two pooches, wife, and business owner, I want to share my 10 favorite personal tidy tips that help me keep sane when the day is hectic.

  1. Make Your Bed
    Make your bed right when you crawl out.
  1. Put Your Stuff Away, Right Away
    Remember how it takes time and resources to get organized? Now you need to put your things away to keep your home organized.
  1. Make the Rounds
    Make the rounds through your house to collect and put away miscellaneous items daily or twice daily.
  1. Run the Dishwasher
    Empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning. This will start your day with a clean slate in the kitchen. Load the dishwasher throughout the day with soiled dishes. Run the dishwasher nightly. Repeat this process every day to prevent a dirty dish pile-up.
  1. Clean-Up as You Go
    Wipe the countertops after each meal. Wipe the bathroom counter and faucet after you brush your teeth. Squidgy the shower walls and door after a shower. Wipe spills and splatters as they happen.
  1. Have a Schedule
    Have a day scheduled for larger tasks, even if you cannot dedicate a full day to these tasks. Focusing time on just one task will get it done more efficiently than juggling all the tasks unsuccessfully at one time.
    • Grocery day
    • Meal prep day
    • Laundry day
    • Cleaning day
    • Additionally, use a deep clean schedule to help rotate through deep cleaning areas of your home. Schedule one area per week.
  1. Think Tidy When You Walk Through the Door
    • Leave your shoes at the door
    • Put your bag on its hook
    • Keys go where they belong
  1. Leave Nothing on the Floor
    • Keep toys, papers, blankets, and dirty clothes off the floor
    • Hang up clothes you will re-wear right away
    • Place dirty clothes go into the hamper
    • Towels get hung on the hook
    • Toys get put away when not being used
  1. Take Out the Trash
    Take out the trash when you leave the house for the day. This will keep odors out of your house while you are gone. It will also feel good to see an empty garbage can when you get home from a busy day. Don’t forget garbage collection day. All trash and recycling need to go out on trash day.
  2. Deal with Mail Daily
    Collect, sort, purge, and file mail daily. Removing the junk mail daily will make your mail opening day more manageable. File important mail in one location so it is gathered together and ready when you need to open it. Open the mail when you are ready to address, pay, and file it.

Establishing and maintaining a routine will help your home stay tidy.  At Top Shelf Home Organizing, we love to help busy households get organized. If you are looking for guidance on getting your home or office organized, reach out to Jayme.

What to Expect When Working with a Top Shelf Professional Organizer

Welcome to Top Shelf Home Organizing. Are you ready to feel the freedom of an organized home and office? You deserve to have a home and office that is as organized and productive as it can be. You are busy, we understand. We are here to help you achieve, what you dream your space can be. It is time to stop sifting through the clutter to find what you need.

We can’t wait to work with you!

Professional organizing may be brand new to you. So we are sharing what the journey of hiring a professional organizer looks like. At Top Shelf Home Organizing, we take the time to get to know you, your space, your schedule, your lifestyle, and your personality before coming into your home or office. Our goals are to teach you simple solutions for your home, office, and life.

Here are the six steps to expect during your experience with Top Shelf Home Organizing. 

Intake form

The form will be emailed to you shortly after your initial contact with us. It is designed to give you a chance to think about your true organizing goals and challenges are. The intake form is a preliminary understanding of the extent of your organizing needs and the people involved. Once this form is complete and returned, we will set up a phone call.

Phone Call

A 30-minute casual phone call will further identify your organizing goals and help us to get to know each other. This call will determine the extent of your organizing project, materials that may be needed, the timeframe of the project, and the number of organizers needed to complete. We will go through the intake form in depth.

On-Site Consultation

An on-site consultation will give us the whole picture of your space and allow us to meet one-on-one with each other. On-site we will finetune the project scope and goals while getting familiar with your space. We will take measurements and photographs, and create a list of materials if products are required. The on-site consultation lets us understand what is behind the scenes to better address your goals.

On-Site Organizing Sessions

The on-site organizing sessions are where the physical work takes place. The five basic steps of organizing will happen. Some people like to work side-by-side with us. Others may prefer to direct us on what to do and remain hands-off. Many people choose to be available for questions and occasional decision-making but continue to go about their daily lives and work. Often, once a relationship is established, the organizers work independently in this phase.

The steps to organizing a project of any size include: 

  • Gather –  All items are removed from current storage. 
  • Sort – Items are sorted by category. 
  • Purge – Items no longer wanted, needed, and liked are donated, disposed and recycled.  
  • Organize – Items are organized into systems that fit and work for you.
  • Label – All items are clearly labeled for ease of locating and returning to storage.

Homework

There may be tasks you prefer to complete on your own, independent of help from the organizers. Some choose to do this to make the project more economical. Other times, people want to go through items that are more personal on their own or with their family. We create a detailed, but a simple list of items that you can complete on your own, in between sessions with the organizer.

Follow-Up

We love to know how the new organization is working for you. We will touch base within a few days of the on-site session to discuss how the organization is going. This time is designed for you to give feedback and ask any questions you may have. We will also check in on any homework you may be working on. This is a great time to schedule future sessions to keep you meeting your goals and maintain what has been organized.  

Top Shelf Home Organizing Policies

On-site consultations are $50. Reservation fees are $50. Both fees are credited to your service. Payment is due in full at the end of each on-site organizing session. 

A cancellation fee of $50 applies to all cancellations and reschedules with less than 24-hour notice. 

Refer someone to Top Shelf Home Organizing and receive 10% back in organizing services. Credits are earned for the first six months of services after referral. Credits are redeemed at a $75 per hour rate. 

Top Shelf Home Organizing, LLC
Simple. Life. Solutions.
Jayme Radomski, Owner
262-373-9416
Jayme@topshelfhomeorganizing.com
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Steps to Decluttering Your Home After the Pandemic

Getting your home back in order after a year-long pandemic is no light task. All items in your home will be identified as purge, store, or put away. Work your way through your home with a plan. Follow the system of gather, sort, purge, organize and label for each area of your home.

Here are some ideas to help make this daunting task more manageable.

1. Start with Storage

Start with your storage areas such as the basement, attic, and garage. Understanding what you have in storage can help determine where to store your items as you work your way through your home. This is also a good time to clear out the items that you no longer need or use. Break this project down into categories of items or areas of storage. Thoroughly go through each item and group it into topics.

2. Infrequently Used Spaces

The next area to tackle would be an area of your home that you do not use every day or will not impact your family’s day-to-day operations. These areas may include guest bedrooms, hall closets, recreation rooms, and the office. Break these areas down into very small, manageable projects. This may require organizing one small drawer or bin per day. Work through the area by area while staying focused. Since these areas are not used daily, it is OK to pause your organizing, close the door and resume tomorrow.

3. Everyday Spaces

The last areas to organize will be the areas you use every day such as the master bedroom, kitchen, and living room. These areas should be relatively easy as you have established what you have in storage and organized items that are not used daily. Rarely used items you will find in the areas you use every day and can be placed in the proper categories in storage. Remove items that you do not need or like (you have probably heard me say this many times). Clearing this clutter will help your home feel more functional and be more organized.

Create a Generous Schedule

Remember, organizing your home can be a daunting process after a year at home. Create a generous schedule working through your home as listed here. Stay focused, get help and allow yourself some grace. Life is getting back to normal and so will your home.

Top Shelf Home Organizing has helped dozens of households simplify, reduce, and get organized. If this process is overwhelming to you, we can help. Contact Jayme to see how Top Shelf Home Organizing can help you.

How to Know What to Keep, Donate and Toss

Deciding what to keep, donate, and toss through your organizing journey can help relieve the pressure of organizing. Identifying these three categories will depend on your personal needs and the time of your life. Your reason to get organized may be to keep your busy family functioning efficiently, to prepare to downsize and simplify your household or free up some space for the things you love. Everyone has a different “why” for their organizing journey.

Have a plan before beginning this process! Take an informal inventory of everything you have in your home. This inventory can be done with a simple pen, a legal pad of paper, and a walk-through of your home. Write down general categories of everything. While taking this informal inventory, make a preliminary note of where each item might go. You can also take note of what categories to start with. As this plan evolves, remember the goal is keeping what is really important and what you really love.

Top Shelf has prepared a guide to help you think through what to keep, donate, and toss.

The Keepers

Needs
The easy part of deciding what to keep is identifying what you need. These items are needed for daily life and are simple and basic. If you were to move into a camper or very small house, what items would you need to live? Basic cooking tools, a simple assortment of dishes, clothes, towels, and some toiletries are examples of items that are needed. In a larger family, there will be additional items that each family member needs to live and function.

Wants
Going beyond needs, there will be many other categories of items you would keep. The categories go on and on. We will touch on a sampling of these items such as heirlooms and memories, toys, household items, clothing, personal care, and hobbies. Wants is where we have balance practicality and excess. Your home is full of useful items, but if there are not being used, they are not useful to you at all.

Heirlooms and Memories

Heirlooms and memories are important to carry on your family legacy. These items should be just that, your legacy. Heirlooms and memories that have the strongest, happiest memories are what represent you. Items that do not represent your legacy and do not have the best memories can move into the donate or toss category. You might come across love letters, trophies and medals, a wedding dress, artwork, schoolwork, photos, and more photos. A sampling of these items that represent you and what you want others to remember is important.

You certainly would not want to burden your family with an excess of items that do not reveal your legacy or bring on sad and hurtful memories. For example, a medal from a marathon you actually didn’t complete, participation trophies, your 3rd-grade spelling test, love letters from an abusive partner, and repeat photos of the same event are items that don’t represent your legacy. Instead consider keeping your diplomas, a piece or two of artwork, taking photos of important trophies and metals, keeping important metals (military metals), and a love letter from your current spouse. Admittedly, heirlooms and memories are a tough category, but one that certainly needs to be addressed and organized.

Toys

Toys the children still engage in will remain on the keep list. Toys that no longer keep kids engaged or are damaged, might belong on another list. Saving toys for grandkids, and nieces and nephews may become a burden as toy safety is ever-changing. The size of the toys is another consideration. If it does not pack away nicely, the toy may not be worth saving.

Household Items

There are items that fall into the need category, but excess may need to move to the donate category. Think about items like dishes, linens, towels, makeup, self-care products, sporting goods, shoes, décor, etc. These are the areas you will want to think about how much of each item is reasonable to keep.

After you have determined what items are an absolute need, you can then determine a reasonable amount of wants in this category. This topic has been discussed over and over in the professional organizing world. This category ranges from the linen closet to the kitchen, to the china cabinet.

Make an informal list of all the categories within household items and place a quantity on a reasonable amount of each item you would like to keep. For example, you may want to keep two bath towels for each person in your household plus an additional four just for guests. Any excess towels are great candidates for donating to a charity that can utilize them. You may only need two or three pots of different sizes in your kitchen. Wine glasses may be reduced if you do not host large parties anymore.

Clothing

Clothing is a topic all on its own. We spend a lot of time and money on the purchase of clothing which makes it difficult to part with. Clothing that is worn and stained are candidates for textile recycling where the material itself is used to create new products. Clothing that does not fit, flatter, or function can be donated to a charity looking for clothing. Saving clothing of a previous size or two may cause you to stress trying to be a size you were in a different season of life. Love what you wear now, and reward yourself with something new when weight and fitness goals are reached. Be ruthless in this department. If you do not truly enjoy wearing an item, it is time to pass it on to someone who needs it.

Personal Care

Personal care items can quickly accumulate, especially if they are not organized and inventoried regularly. Once you gather and categorize the items, toss anything that is old, expired, and open, and not wanted. Unopened items that are not wanted can be donated to local shelters. Take note of what you have remaining.

Have a central storage location for these items for better inventorying. Understanding what you have will reduce over purchasing of these items. Additional information on organizing these items can be found in Simplify and Organize Your Linen Closet.

Hobbies

We have hobbies that we once enjoyed, hobbies we currently enjoy, and hobbies we aspire to pursue. All these hobbies require supplies and equipment. Focus on just keeping supplies for the hobby you are currently into and have time for and hobbies that are likely on hold. The supplies and equipment for past hobbies and aspirational hobbies might have a better life with someone else who has the time for them. They make great donations for resale.

Off to Donation

Donating items can be a simple as dropping off all items at a donation center, or you can carefully select what charity will put each item to its best use. Be realistic about how much time you spend deciding on what goes where. The goal is to put your useful stuff back in use by someone who needs it. Donation centers can be overwhelmed with items so be mindful of what you send their way.

What to Donate

Donate items that are in usable condition. Items that are missing parts, broken, stained, or torn can be recycled or sent to a landfill. Donation centers typically do not take electronics, certain baby items, mattresses, or furniture. Expired items should bypass donation and go right to the landfill.

Where to Donate

Different organizations need different items. If time allows, you can send different items to different organizations. For example, animal shelters can use linens and towels, hospitals can use clothing for patients to wear home when their clothing has been destroyed or is needed as evidence, shelters need toiletry products, and food pantries will take unperishable food that is not expired. This Donation Guideline published by Goodwill Industries is a great resource for general donation information.

Off to the Recycling Center or Landfill

When items are no longer useful or functional, they can be recycled or disposed of. The local refuse and recycling service publish what items can be picked up for curbside recycling and disposal. Understand what can be recycled through this service in your area. Additional items can often time be picked up for recycling for an additional fee. Other items may need to be brought to a specific recycling center. These items can include textiles and clothing, plastic gardening pots, plastic shopping bags, motor oil, and wood.

There are items such as oil-based paints, batteries, and hazardous materials that will need to be brought to a household hazardous waste drop off-center. Learning your municipality’s rules will help make decisions on what items can go where.

Have a Plan

There is no doubt going through personal and family items is emotional, exhausting, and can feel endless. A strategic plan to tackle this daunting task will help keep you on task. Start with easy items such as food and toiletries. Making some simple progress, in the beginning, will feel good and motivate you to keep going. It is not about getting rid of everything. It is about keeping what is really important.

Top Shelf Home Organizing has helped dozens of households simplify, reduce, and get organized. If this process is overwhelming to you, we can help. Contact Jayme to see how Top Shelf Home Organizing can help you.

14 Fast Winter Organizing Projects

Winters are long and hard in the Midwest. So how about tackling some quick and simple organizing projects on the long, cold days to beat the winter blues? We put together a quick list of projects you can have ready to blast through on the next snow day.

Simple organizing rules apply to anything you are organizing: gather, sort, purge, organize and label. Have a rag and cleaner ready to wipe down the area after it is emptied out before you organize and label. Sort by category to get a clear understanding of what you have and what you can purge. When organizing and labeling, use clear containers with labels and keep items in their categories. This will help keep the area organized and inventory under control.

1. Craft closet

Gather all craft items into one area. Sort the items by category. Purge items that are not useful (scraps, dried products, dull scissors). Organize the items and use fun labels to inspire creativity.

2. Game closet

Pull all games out of the area. Reassemble games with loose pieces and cards. Give a little TLC to damaged boxes with some strong packing tape. Sort games into age categories. Remove any games that no longer interest your family or games they have outgrown. Organize the games by category and include labels for simple replacement.

3. Pantry

This is a great project for any season. Remove all items from the pantry. Sort by category. Remove any old, spoiled, or expired food. Donate food that is unopened, not expired, but not wanted. Find a new home for any non-food and non-kitchen items. Keep all food in the same pantry or area of your kitchen. Categorize your food into grains, pasta, soup, fruit, vegetables, snacks, lunch items, etc. Utilize clear bins with labels to help keep food in their categories and help you identify items you are getting low on.

4. Storage Containers

Gather all storage containers and lids. Pair up the containers with lids. Recycle containers or lids that don’t have a partner. Organize containers by size and nest them together if possible. Keep a reasonable number of containers. Excess containers make staying organized a challenge. Place storage containers in an easy to reach location and label the shelves. Having to bend over or reach too high is an invitation for this category to become messy again.

5. Sock Drawer

Socks are a quick and satisfying project. Like any other category, you’ll gather all socks and put together pairs. Make sure you have your socks from the laundry hamper washed and included in this step. You may choose to fold or ball them together or roll them up. Remove the socks that don’t have a partner, have holes, have failed elastic or the socks that you don’t like to wear.

6. Refrigerator

Place all items from the refrigerator onto your countertop. Wipe down the shelves, drawers, gaskets, and door. Toss food that is expired, spoiled, and unwanted. Categorize the food into categories such as fruit, vegetable, dairy, condiments, lunch, leftovers, etc. Deep, clear bins with labels may help keep items in their categories. Place items back into the fridge in their categories. You may need to adjust some shelves based on the size of your items.

7. Freezer

Organizing the freezer is just like organizing your refrigerator. Empty the freezer and wipe down all the surfaces. You may need to complete a quick defrost. Categorize the food items from the freezer into categories such as vegetables, fruit, desserts, prepared meals, meat, etc. If you have a large freezer, you may want to write down an inventory. A formal inventory will help you with meal planning and inventory control. Toss any food items that are expired or have gone bad. Consider clear freezer bins for the loose items. When returning the food to the freezer, keep the older items closer to the front and new items to the back for first-in, first-out inventory control.

8. Winter gear

Gather and sort all winter gear by the person and then by category (glove, hats, scarves, face masks, etc.). Inspect for holes, tears, wear, and damage. Donate items that are still functional, but may no longer fit your size or your style. Use bins or an over-the-door, clear organizer to keep everyone’s gear organized by person and category.

9. Photos

Grab a box of photos from the basement or a file from your computer. Sort through the photos and place them into chronological order. Remove any photos or photo files that are duplicates or don’t display a picture you want to keep. Tag people in the photos for future reference. This can be done with a photo-friendly pen on the back of physical photos. Use index cards or subfolders to identify special events within the photo box or file folder. Clearly label the photo box or file folder with the date range of the photos and any major events that are included.

10. Books

There are so many ways to organize books. Keep this task simple by gathering all your books into one area. Categorize your books into categories that you would use to retrieve them (cookbooks, reference books, professional development books, mystery books, children’s books, etc.). Donate books that no longer interest you. Place books by category to an area where you use them or on a central bookshelf. Use labels, if it will help family members remember where to replace books when they are done reading them.

11. Spice cabinet

Gather all the spices from the spice cabinet and other areas of the kitchen. Categorize the spices by name. Toss spices that are old. Many spices now have an expiration date, or you can use the one-year rule of thumb. Place spices back into the cabinet in alphabetical order, reserving the front and center for the few spices (and seasonings) you use most frequently such as salt, pepper, cinnamon, etc. You may want to consider a riser or bins to help keep spices organized and visible. Labels can also help quickly identify if a spice is in stock.

12. Linen closet

Gather and sort all items of the linen closet into categories. Pair down and donate excess items. Remove items that are cluttering up space such as seasonal items and items with limited use (beach towels, humidifiers, extra hair dryers). Neatly fold items and use clear bins for toiletries and other loose items. Label shelves for easy retrieval and replacement.

13. Office supplies

Gather and sort all office and school supplies in one central area. Use clear bins and containers to organize items by category. Store all the items in one common area so family members know where to go for supplies, know where to replace them when done, and to keep a good inventory. Be sure to label all categories.

14. Media cabinet

Tackle your media cabinet by removing all items and wiping down all surfaces. Straighten and organize cords and cables. Categorize all movies and music CDs if you still have physical media. Gather gaming devices and gadgets, and place them into a bin. Place all categorized items back into the cabinet and label.

Refresh your mood and your home with these quick organizing projects. Just a little bit of organizing can take your mood a long way. Select projects that fit the time you have so you can feel accomplished and complete. Jayme at Top Shelf Home Organizing would love to guide you through your organizing journey. Let’s talk!

Inspiration Behind Top Shelf Home Organizing

I was recently asked by an organization I belong to, to share my inspiration to start a business. I then realized what a better audience than all of you to share that inspiration with, as well.

Top Shelf Home Organizing started in 2014 after having a discussion with friends about what our dream job would be if we could do anything. After watching all their jaws drop when I said I would organize people’s closets and basements, I knew there was a need. Since then, my business has been effectively helping people organize their homes and offices, simplify their routines, and clear their schedules. I am personally involved in all projects and have six wonderful ladies that help on various projects.

We help busy families with projects that range from pantry organizing projects to full-home, plus storage units. Some individuals just need the accountability to get through an organizing project, and others need full-service help where we handle the complete organizing project.

I have always had a bit of an entrepreneurial mind. Going back to babysitting jobs, waiting tables, and working as a consulting engineer, I always tracked the time I spent on a project, the revenue each project brought in, how my job could be done more efficiently, and what types of projects brought the most value. I treated projects like my own little business.

After 15 years of professional experience working in various leadership roles, I knew it was time to do something I was passionate about. My youngest of four kids was about six months old, and I was in the thick of balancing parenting and a career. So I knew my skill set would be valuable to other busy professionals.

My favorite part of Top Shelf Home Organizing is the clients. It can be a very personal thing helping them to organize their home, basement, or closet. I often hear stories from their childhood, past careers, current life struggles, and their aspirations. It is not uncommon to get a message from a client on a Sunday afternoon asking how my kids are, how big our puppy is, or asking for a recommendation on a carpenter, decorator, or just a simple hello. Clients become friends.

If you want to learn more about Top Shelf Home Organizing or just want to chat about an organizing project you have going, you can find me at:

Phone: 262-373-9416

Email:   jayme@topshelfhomeorganziing.com

Web:    topshelfhomeorganizing.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/topshelfhomeorganizing

Pinterest:    https://www.pinterest.com/TopShelfHomeOrg/

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/jaymeradomski