Posts by Jen Jones
Technology plays a large role in many of our daily lives, and the best part is that it can be used to streamline our routines and make life a bit easier. Aside from the endless number of organizational applications for phones and tablets, there are a few fun gizmos that offer time, stress and money saving properties.
1. The Tile App uses bluetooth technology and allows you to track and locate an endless number of items that easily become lost or misplaced. Just place the waterproof Tile on/in anything from your keys to your wallet, and your phone can track down the whereabouts of the object should it go missing. As the bluetooth signal draws you closer, the Tile’s melody will play until your lost item is back in hand.
2. Charging stations have been around for many years now, however, with the number of devices that any single person or family may acquire, it is wonderful when you can find one capable of managing them all no matter the shape or size.
3. Devices and cords go together like peanut butter and jelly. Cord clips and wraps are a quick and easy way to prevent the cords from becoming a tangled mess while stored inside of your bag or a junk drawer.
4. There is nothing more frustrating than having your phone battery dwindle while out on a day trip; especially during work events or travel days where access to a power source is limited. Stay charged up with a portable power pack, which provides your battery with a boost of power at a moment’s notice.
5. Many of us make resolutions each year to exercise more, eat healthier and sleep better. Keep track of all of that and more with the help of a Fitbit. Whether you clip it on or wear it around your wrist, Fitbit tracks more than just your steps and heart rate. It allows you to pair it with your mobile device and enter your food intake, manage your sleeping patterns and track your exercises; really allowing you to analyze your daily fitness with specific detail.
6. There are many options that allow you to partner with technology to create a more efficient home, and one of the easiest ways to get started is with the Nest thermostat. Not only does it allow you to manage your home’s climate remotely from your phone, the Nest has the ability to sense when you’ve left and adjusts the temperature to avoid over heating or cooling an empty abode.
7. 2014 was declared the year of the selfie, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon. In fact, more than ever folks are using their devices to take and manage photos on a daily basis. The problem is that the photos then sit on our computers and phones and never make it into albums on the coffee table. The Canon Selphy is a wireless photo printer that allows you to send your images to be printed via WiFi within the convenience of your own home. Now that glowing grin can be seen online and inside of a pretty frame on the wall.
8. The Neatdesk Scanner is a classic, but it continuously makes my list due to the hot topic of paper clutter headaches. Even if you take all of the necessary steps to become as paperless as possible, it is inevitable that some will need to be filed away for the future. The Neatdesk is a super speedy scanner that reads and identifies key properties of each receipt or document, and indexes it away electronically. Once scanned, you can recycle the paper piles and quickly use keyword searches to locate your important documents online. With this smart scanner you can even kick the bulky file cabinet to the curb!
9. Introducing the most beautiful gadget on the market; the Ringly allows you to disconnect from your phone during the day, and notifies you when you have an important call, text or meeting that requires your attention. This is a sweet way to keep your phone tucked away during a dinner date or at the office, while keeping you connected should something come up.
10. Prop power brings the power directly to you. With the ability to wrap and form around objects, this flexible outlet allows you to set up a charging station at your desk or easily work with power tools while up on a ladder.
What gadgets have made a positive impact on your day-to-day routine?
It seems that each year I make a resolution to simplify our laundry routine. With a family of five, laundry piles tend form in the blink of an eye. However, there are a few things we have done that have really streamlined our process. For example, our dirty clothes go straight to the washer each day, we only sort out linens and delicate pieces. Over-sorting was causing multiple piles that needed attention at once and quickly cluttered our laundry zone. Another step that has helped us is to always keep extra hangers in the laundry room so we can fold and place items on hangers the moment they come out of the dryer. And finally, each member of the family has a small stackable basket that remains next to our dryer, so once the clothing comes out and is folded, it can be placed into each member’s basket to be put away.
Although over-sized laundry rooms are dreamy, there are many ways to organize and maximize a small laundry nook or closet to make it just as functional as a larger space.
The laundry alcove above is only a few feet wide, yet the storage is truly maximized to create an ultra-functional place to wash and fold laundry. Let’s take a closer look at some super simple ways to make the most of a small laundry space.
1. The optimal solution for maximizing storage is to go vertical. Consider adding rows of shelving that span all the way to the ceiling. Cabinets are a great alternative if the goal is to conceal visual clutter.
2. Create a stain removal tray. Research solutions for removing common household stains such as grass stains, wine spills, wax spots, makeup, etc… Put together a small bin or tray with a stain removal reference guide and correlating cleaners and store above the washer and dryer. This will allow you to treat the stain on the spot and increases the odds of saving your clothing, upholstery and carpets.
3. Install a hanging valet for your clothing. Whether hanging a delicate item to be washed separately or providing a place to air dry a blouse, a simple retractable rod saves space while adding hanging functionality.
4. A benefit of open shelving is that you can quickly see and access your items. Selecting wire baskets or clear bins to corral smaller products, will also take away from the guessing game.
5. Create a cleaning caddy for your home. By using a single bin or tote to transport your cleaning supplies from room to room, you cut down on the number of trips back to the cleaning cabinet.
6. Install a space saving ironing board holder on a nearby wall or over the laundry room door. Many of the amazing options also come with added storage for spray starch and distilled water.
7. Add a decorative basket to the top of the washer/dryer area for delicate items that must be washed separately.
8. Install a counter across the washer and dryer to provide a solid surface for storage and folding items straight out of the dryer.
Bonus tip: Decant your laundry detergents and cleaners into decorative storage containers to create a streamlined, clean look. Manufacturer’s product labels and colors quickly create visual clutter that take away from the esthetics of the space.
Be more organized is one of the most common resolutions that individuals jot down on their lists as they ring in the new year. Of course, the timing is perfect as we are coming down from holiday stress and influx of belongings received, however, being too generic with your organizational intentions may do more harm than good.
The idea of having every aspect of our lives tidy and organized is a beautiful thought, but not necessarily realistic. Organizing is an evolving and on-going process. It can’t be achieved over night, it must be sustained over time. So if you are looking to become more organized in 2015, here are my tips for helping you achieve organizational goals.
Being too broad with your organizational goals will only cause a frustration and a lack of direction. You may quickly find yourself feeling overwhelmed and biting off more than you can chew at once. It is important to take a look at your day-to-day routine, and focus on the items that slow you down or cause you to feel the most flustered. Make a list of the items that cause you the biggest headaches, and prioritize them based on what they are costing you financially, emotionally and time wise. For example, if your guest room closet is cluttered but you only access it a few times a month, then that area is less of a priority than your entryway drop zone, which is most likely used on a daily basis. Select the top items to focus on over the course of the year (be realistic about your achievable number of projects), and only take on one project at a time.
PLAN YOUR ATTACK
Now that you know what you are going to tackle, it is time to plan how you are going to tackle it. I like to jot down notes with specifics regarding the project; such as my end goal, a few key steps to get there, project budget, storage needs, etc… This gives me a clear picture of what I am truly attempting to accomplish and allows me to manage my money and time throughout the process. It is really important to think about your habits and problem solve how you can work the new system into your daily routine.
Some people really love to organize! For everyone else, it is important to find something to keep you excited about the upcoming project. To ignite the flame, reach for inspirational magazines (cough, BHG, cough), search ideas on Pinterest or check out your favorite organizing blog. Also, find ways to incorporate something you enjoy into the organizing process. Reach for a hammer and build new storage, paint the interior of the closet, create labels/tags out of craft materials, listen to your favorite book on tape or put in your favorite movie. Finding ways to pass the time and to integrate a little fun is a sure way to stay motivated and get things done.
Now that you know the projects you need to work on, have a plan and have found inspiration, I always recommend completely clearing your space. Empty that drawer, clear out the closet, remove every last item from the pantry. By starting with a blank slate, you will have the opportunity to touch each item and make an assessment whether it should stay or go. Clearing the project area also provides a fresh perspective of how to best utilize the area moving forward.
CREATE A HOLDING CELL
As you are sorting down the contents of your space, each item should be placed within a keep, donate or trash pile. If you are struggling making a decision on a specific item, place it in the donate box and store that box in a temporary holding zone for a month or two. If you forget about the item or don’t find yourself reaching for it while it is tucked away, off it goes for good.
LESS IS MORE
Having fewer items and less clutter typically results in more time, more space, more money and more freedom. That is why we love to organize right? The same idea applies to the storage you are utilizing to organize your items. While problem solving storage solutions for your project, it is best to think simple. The more complex the storage solution, the more challenging it will be to maintain the space once the project is complete. Select solutions that allow you to put things away in a single swift motion. If your solution requires you to go downstairs, open a drawer, open a bin and sift through a pile of folders just to file away a receipt, I would be willing to bet that the receipt would end up in a pile outside of that drawer instead due to the abundance of steps it takes to put away a single item. The goal is not to aim for perfection, it is to aim for simplicity and set yourself up for future success.
SAVE VS. SPLURGE
Now that you know what items require storage, it is time to go shopping! However, don’t head out to your favorite department store just yet. Start by shopping your home. Look for empty shoe boxes, crates, trays, bowls and baskets. There are so many ways to reinvent unused items from around the home as storage, you may be surprised. Once you have used what you already have on hand, create a quick list of what is remaining. While sourcing and shopping, it is a good idea to invest in items that will remain timeless and relevant for years to come. Woven or wire baskets, acrylic drawer dividers and decorative storage boxes will always find a new place to land should your organizational needs change down the road. For bigger projects, lean towards furniture pieces that are also versatile. Dressers, credenzas, bookcases and armoires are my favorite pieces of furniture due to their limitless storage options.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN
As I mentioned above, organizing is an on-going process. As our routines, lives and family structures change, how we use our homes will also change. It is important to stay open minded and excited that there will always be projects waiting for you down the road. And if one of your first systems doesn’t work out the first time around, it is always OK to revisit it, tweak it and try again. No matter how much you plan, you will never really know how it will go until you use it for a few weeks.
Now that you know my tips for prioritizing your organizing projects throughout the year, below you will find my “go to” organizing products. These are items I find myself reaching for over and over again due to their versatility and reliability.
What one space are you most excited to get organized this coming year?
Even though it is chilly outside, I am giving the month of December a nice, warm welcome.
This month can quickly become overwhelming and busy with all of the holiday hustle and bustle, however, a little organization and forward thinking will ensure you have time to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. Here are five super simple tips to prepare you for the magical season ahead.
1. Make a Plan
It seems as though there is always something going on during the month of December; holiday parties, volunteer time, shopping trips and school musicals just to name a few. The beginning of the month is the perfect time to take a few extra minutes and make a plan. Pin up a calendar in a central location and jot down every obligation for the entire month. Once you can see everything at a glance, really determine the importance of each commitment. People tend to over-schedule themselves during the holiday season, which takes away from the overall enjoyment factor. Try to prioritize the events (and maybe even axe a few from the lineup), while also blocking out days for rest and relaxation. A calendar is also a great place to keep track of your holiday to-do lists as well as your cleaning plan for the month.
2. Speaking of Cleaning Plan…
My next tip is to put together cleaning caddies to store within the most commonly used areas of the home. Because December is already so busy, there is no sense in adding the stress of constant cleaning. However, with the amount of parties and people stopping by to mingle, you will most likely want your home to remain visitor ready. By keeping cleaning supplies easy to access in the bathroom and kitchen, a quick cleanup each day will prevent things from getting out of control over the course of the month. Bonus points for adding peppermint essential oil to your homemade cleaners, or picking up a pine scented all purpose cleaner at the store. Another tip is to set aside a total of 5-10 minutes each day for a quick de-cluttering. Simple steps such as putting away shoes, tossing mail into a basket, cleaning the kitchen counters and straightening seating areas, will make a dramatic impact to the main areas of the home.
3. Drink Up!
I personally love to create a small holiday-ready beverage station each year. I fill a tray with necessities to whip up seasonal drinks; everything from marshmallows to candy canes to cocoa powder and even a little Irish Cream. It is great to have a “go-to” spot when a neighbor stops by to chat or mom pops in with a bag of goodies for the kids.
4. That’s a Wrap!
With the number of holiday parties, gift exchanges and school events that arise throughout the month, it is extremely handy to have a fully stocked gift wrap station. I also prefer to leave small treats and gifts to individuals in the service industry, so a gift wrap station saves the day at a moment’s notice. Whether you add an organizer to the back of the door, fill a drawer in your office or store everything in a storage container under your bed, corralling rolls of gift wrap, gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons and some blank cards will be a December smile saver more than once.
5. Be the Hostess with the Mostess
My final tip for making your home holiday ready, is to make your home guest ready. Spend a few minutes to make up the bed with fresh linens, set out a stack of laundered towels and fill a basket with toiletries, bottled water and snacks. This will ensure that should a guest decide to stay in town at the last minute, you can welcome them with open arms.
Proper pantry organization can impact the functionality of the entire kitchen. The pantry is important for storing our daily nutrients, and keeping it organized will ensure meal time goes off without a hitch. Organizing the pantry can also assist with meal planning and grocery shopping, proper food storage and quick access to the items used most frequently.
What is better than an organized pantry? An organized pantry on a budget! The pantry above is quite effective, and many of the items purchased or used were found on the cheap. Let’s take a closer look.
- Use cork tiles on the inside of the pantry door to pin up favorite recipes.
- Store dry goods in clear, air-tight storage containers to extend the food’s life and freshness factor.
- Shelf risers allow you to double your shelving space.
- Tiered shelf risers are great for allowing you to see jars, cans and spices that are stored towards the back of the pantry.
- Attaching a clipboard to the inside of the pantry door provides a space for a grocery list. When something runs out, just pop it on the list and always be ready for shopping day!
- Simple clothespins work great as bag clips.
- Installing drawers in a pantry is always a great solution for ensuring nothing is lost in the back. However, custom wooden options can be quite pricey. Inexpensive storage bins can act as a sliding drawer, allowing you to store like items together, while still offering the pull out functionality that we all love.
- Lazy susans are fantastic for corralling smaller jars and bottles. A quick spin and you can see all of your products in a jif!
- Shelf baskets clip onto shelves, giving you extra vertical storage where there once was none.
- Clear cereal containers allow you to quickly see what is remaining before heading to the grocery store, while preserving the freshness of the cereal for longer periods of time.
And a few bonus budget busting tips:
When it comes to wire pantry shelves, cut foam board (found at the dollar store) to the size of your shelves and cover it with shelf liner. This is an inexpensive way to ensure nothing falls through those wire grates and provides a streamlined appearance.
Use mason jars as inexpensive food storage. And you can never go wrong with making your own labels!
Magazine files work great for corralling recipes, magazines and cookbooks.
I know that some of you may already be thinking ahead to the holiday season, but I am just not ready to play that game yet. The air is just starting to get crisp, the leaves have fallen and crunch underfoot and hot apple cider is constantly flowing. There is something so magical about the current time of the year, and so much to appreciate and enjoy. Simple pleasures include curling up in front of the fire with a cozy throw and a favorite book, or baking up a warm fall treat.
Often times, as the seasons shift, so does the interior of our home. Just as I may add vibrant floral pillows to our sofa in the spring, I also love to add subtle fall textures and finishes during autumn and winter months. Flannel blankets, faux fur pillows, scented candles and woven baskets all make an appearance within the walls of our home.
This year gold will continue to shine, however, copper will also strive to share the spotlight. Additional autumn inspired finishes include flannel, felt and wool, worn leather, soft linen, raw wood, mercury glass and aged brass.
Feeling inspired by the textures and finishes that we use to decorate our home this time of the year, I thought I would pull together my favorite autumn inspired storage solutions that will look fabulous year round.