Organize Any Space: A Six Step Process

Today, let’s get back to basics. Spring is coming, I can tell because there is less ice and more puddles (but still a lot of snow – ugh). When spring rolls around we start thinking about all the ways we can clean, re-organize and de-clutter our homes for the coming warm months. So to help you get your spring cleaning on, here’s a tried and true six-step process for organizing any space.

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1. Figure out your budget and due date

It’s important to figure out not only how much money you have to spend on the project, but also the amount of time you have to dedicate to it. If you don’t set a due date, the project might to sit unfinished for days, weeks, months or even years. Set reachable goals for yourself at the onset so that once you reach them, you can use that momentum to organize more spaces!

2. Take everything out

Yup–everything. Every last thing needs to come out of the closet, off of the desk, out of the drawer, the pantry–you name it, it’s gotta go. Take this time to clean the space if it’s accumulated some nastiness (you know what I’m talking about). This will help you see the space clearly in order to put things back where they make the most sense. It also helps speed up the process of grouping, rearranging and squeezing value out of every last inch.

3. Purge

The hardest part, yet most essential part of the organizing process. Think really hard about the things you’re putting back. Do you still have use for them? Have you used the item in the las six months to a year? If not, it’s probably time to get rid of it so you can make more room for things you actually need and use.

4. Sort whatever is left into piles or groups

There is no sure-fire way to process things into groups, because it’s about what makes the most sense in your head and fits your needs. You are the one who has to live in the space everyday, so go with what you feel to be best and most efficient for you. It’s important to not think about how your groups are going to fit into the space just yet. Your primary focus should simply be to sort and pile.

5. Gather your supplies while keeping your budget in mind

Take a look at the groups of things you’ve just made. What resources do you already have that help organize the space? Do you need bins, baskets, boxes, pockets, folders or cups? Go out and get the things you need–but don’t break your budget! There are , stores that carry organizing products at low prices, The Dollar Store, Target and Walmart to name a few. You may even need to get a little crafty and inventive with what you use to organize your space. There are a lot of DIY organizing projects out there just waiting for you to try out!

The key here is to make sure you take measurements of your space before you go purchasing or creating all kinds of things. The last thing you want is to try and put it in the space and realize it doesn’t fit or isn’t right. I’ve learned that heartbreak the hard way.

6. Put it all back in like you’re solving a puzzle

Is there anything better than coming home with new organizing products in tow? I can’t really think of anything that brings me more joy. Use whatever you found, made, invented or bought to put all of your stuff back into your space. When you’re putting things back, think of it like a puzzle. How can you make all these pieces and elements fit together in the best way possible to maximize space? Arrange and rearrange until you get it just right. This step might be the longest part of the process, and is certainly one of the most challenging, but the rewards are worth it.

Organizing takes time, more time than a lot of us are willing to take out of our day (especially the weekend), but taking two hours to organize a space now, can save you a lot of time later. Being organized makes our lives more efficient, even if it only saves us two seconds here, or a minute there, it all adds up to a more productive life overall. Just don’t forget to maintain and put things back where they belong

Spring has almost sprung! Go out there and organize your life, so that when summer rolls around, you’re not digging and searching for something you need and you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the sunshine–I know I will be! Is anyone else sure excited to turn the clocks ahead this weekend? I can’t wait for extra hours of daylight after work!

I hope you found this six step process helpful and use it for your upcoming organizing projects. Is there anything I left out? How are you organizing your space? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @qqquimby016. See you soon!

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For photos of organized spaces and places, fun organizing finds, and weekly planner updates, follow me on Instagram @LifeInOrder.

Organizing Make-up in a Small Space

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I’ve got to be honest. I wouldn’t really call my current apartment “tiny” by any means. We’ve gotten quite the upgrade since our first 750 square foot shoe box. However, the one thing (the only thing) that was downgrade from our last place is the bathroom. It’s smaller and there is far less storage options in the actual bathroom itself. So, I’ve had to get a little bit creative with how I store my make-up and the process I use for my morning routine.

Here’s what I came up with:

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This little beauty regimen box hangs on the wall in my bathroom where I do my makeup each morning. Although it’s not exactly within arms reach, I keep things corralled in one small acrylic make-up organizer and a glass container (I used to use it for pencils on my desk growing up – I think it was a candle at one point). Having everything on only two containers makes everything easy to get down from this shelf, and easy to put away. If I had everything loose, I would have to reach up a bunch of times to put each item away and that would get annoying. So annoying, in fact, that I probably wouldn’t get much use out of my make-up.

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I love the way my brushes look in this tinted class cup with floral beads that I got from Michaels. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Michaels. It’s a creative organizers playground.

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Behind/next to my brushes I have my Naked 3 palette, it was kind of hard to find a place for, but it fits perfectly vertical behind my brushes and since I don’t use it every single day, I figured it wasn’t a big deal.

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I got this acrylic organizer from Joanne fabrics a few years back when they were harder to find. It was in the dollar area, like the bins that are near the register. But you can find these things everywhere now. I actually saw some larger versions at Target today. Find one that fits your make-up best.

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I keep my toners, lotions, creams, etc. in this little section. If I don’t keep them out where I can see them and grab them quickly, they’ll go unused and ultimately, my skin will suffer. It’s so important when you’re organizing to think about where you can put things that will be easy to access and use. It might not look Pinterest perfect, but organizing first and foremost is about efficiency. If it’s too difficult to see something, grab it, and put it back, then you’re defeating the whole purpose.

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So, you’ve probably been thinking that I don’t have that much make-up and I wish that were true. I actually keep the make-up that I don’t use everyday, back-ups, etc. in the linen closet just outside my bathroom. It hangs on the inside of the door in a jewelry organizer.

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These little pockets are really for organizing jewelry, but I found that it didn’t work well as a jewelry organizer for me. The visual clutter was a little overwhelming and honestly, it still is. The pattern is cute and everything, but it’s a lot to look at everyday. That being said, it perfectly fits on the back of the closet door, maximizes space, and I don’t necessarily have to use these items everyday, so I really can’t complain.

Make-up is one of those thing you’ll use everyday. Typically, it’s part of a morning routine, meaning that if you don’t organize it perfectly to meet your needs and habits, it can throw off your whole day. Remember, in addition to it being easy for you to access everyday, it’s also important to be easy to put back when you’re done. It’s not fun to come home to a counter, dresser or vanity with make-up everywhere. Be sure you’re building systems that are orderly and realistic.

I hope this post has helped give you ideas on how to organize your make-up if you’re living in a small apartment. If you have anything to add, leave me a comment below or tweet me @qqquimby016. Don’t forget to subscribe for weekly organizing tips!Signature

How to organize your medicine cabinet

Hey there!

I’m back again with more tips for you to organize your teeny tiny apartment. Today I want to talk about the medicine cabinet. It might seem like a pretty ridiculous place to have to “organize” but I’ve seen some that are pretty neglected.

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The medicine cabinet is the place where you should put everything you’re going to use daily. It’s one of the most accessible places in your bathroom, and I highly recommend that it becomes the place to store everyday items, not just medicine.

Actually, the only medicine I keep in my medicine cabinet is Matt’s daily vitamins and my daily vitamins. Also, the only real “organizer” I use, is this:

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I got this organizer from Joanne’s in the sale section for I think around $3. I use this to corral all of the small stuff that tends to float around or get lost in a medicine cabinet. I keep items such as nail clippers, tweezers, a nail file, eye drops, floss, toothpaste and my contact lens case. I have lots of extra compartments to keep more small items on hand if I need them. This small organizer is kept on the middle shelf of the middle section of my medicine cabinet because it holds items I use twice daily.

This is what the middle section looks like as a whole:

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Again, this is the one place where I keep the items that I use every. Single. Day. They are front and center and easy to put away and get back out. As you can see, I don’t use a lot of bins or organizers, but I do have everything inside the cabinet neatly put back, and I have a specific designated place for everything. I don’t label where things go, but if it would help you to put everything back in it’s place, then I highly recommend putting label tape directly onto the shelf so you know where everything goes.

The most important thing about organizing a space that you’re accessing everyday is to leave breathing room between each item.

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If you’re constantly taking things out and putting them back, you want it to be easy. If it’s cramped and you have to move another item to put something back or you are jamming something into the space, or every time you open the door things are falling out, you will be less likely to put it back. This will cause all types of items to accumulate on your bathroom counter, which creates clutter. Clutter is bad. Do not make your bathroom cluttered. Make sure everything has room to breathe and your life and organizational habits will improve. I promise!

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This is the right side of my medicine cabinet where I keep items that I use less frequently like a lint roller (Lint accumulates EVERYWHERE in my bathroom–it’s where our washer and dryer are. Does anyone else have this problem? Help me!), some wipes, prescription cream, and body spray.

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The right side is mainly for Matt’s things that he accesses less frequently. Also, our vitamins (the only medicine we actually keep in our medicine cabinet) are on the bottom. His and hers (awwwwwwwwwww). Yep and they’re Walmart brand.

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Luckily, all of the different sections of the cabinet are connected, so that frees up some space between the doors for some overlap. I wouldn’t recommend putting everyday items behind the door hinges, because again, you’re going to be less likely to put it back.

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Side Note: If you’re wondering how I can afford Clinique, but I’m taking Walmart brand vitamins and constantly preaching budget-friendly organizing, the truth is, I can’t. All nice things I own I owe to my sister, Michelle, who is a manager at Macy’s. I’ve already told her that she’s never allowed to quit. Ever.

Anyways, I hope I have given you guys some ideas on how you can organize your medicine cabinet and keep it orderly. In really small spaces such as this, you really don’t need bins or organizers, all you need is some breathing room to get stuff in and out.

How do you organize your medicine cabinet? Do you use bins or organizers in yours? Please, please, please leave a comment below and let me know. I love looking at other people’s spaces to get some ideas for myself.

Next week I’m going to show you how I organize my dresser drawers! Talk to you next time.

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Small Space Organization Series: Under the Bathroom Sink

Hi there!

I’m so excited about how many views I got on the start of my small space organization series! I also got some really awesome messages from friends and family about how I was inspiring you guys to get more organized and that makes me beyond motivated to keep sharing and keep writing about how I organize!

Today, I’ll be sharing with you one of my FAVORITE spaces of my home: under my bathroom sink. Like I said before, I live in 750 square feet of space and I don’t have a linen closet or anything that works for holding toiletries, toilet paper, cosmetics, extra things for showering, etc. So, I have had to take the space under my bathroom sink and make it into what would be like a bathroom closet. Here’s what I’m working with:

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The first tip I have for keeping your small bathroom organized is:

Keep the bare minimum on the counter.

The only things I like to have on the counter are functional things, nothing decorative. The reason for this is to cut down the amount of items I have to move when I wipe it down or deep clean it. One of my favorite professional organizers, Alejandra Costello, says you should take time every night before bed to clear everything off your bathroom sink and wipe it down. I try my absolute best to follow this rule, even though I can sometimes fall off the wagon. Having a clean bathroom sink, especially in a small space, really makes the space look bigger and less cluttered.

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As you can see, I only keep our toothbrush holder, hand soap, a hand towel, and my favorite q-tip and make-up remover pad container.

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Okay, let’s get to the good stuff now. I’m going to start from left to right and then show you the two drawers that are on either side of the sink and above the cabinets.

But first, I have another tip:

Think Vertical

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I use these stackable bins on either end of the space under my bathroom sink. They help take storage upward, without having to pull boxes out every time I want to access something. These organizers are from Joanne’s. I got them on sale in the seasonal section for back to college. I think they were three dollars for a pack of three, however I have also seen similar products at the Dollar Tree! What a steal!

I keep all the things I use frequently in these organizers. On the bottom I keep extra razors, Matt’s extra soap and extra contacts. In the middle bin, I keep tampons and only tampons. Which leads me to my third tip

Take everything out of its box.

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This one small middle “shelf” can hold almost two boxes of tampons and takes up about 1/2 to 1/3 of the space as if I stored my tampons in their original boxes.

Up top I keep a bunch of miscellaneous things, like a box of extra q-tips, an extra soap bar holder, some wet ones, and a small first aid kit.

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Sorry these pictures are so dark, the lighting under the sink is obviously non-existent.

To the left of the blue shelves, I keep shoe boxes for extra things that I access very infrequently. For all of these items, I keep one of each thing out at a time and when that runs out, I go into these boxes and get a new one. I’m only accessing these things about once a month or once every couple of months. Even though I’m accessing these things infrequently, I still like to know where I can find them when the time comes. Which is why I recommend that you

label everything.

I use my label maker to label all the boxes, shelves and organizers I keep under the sink. It helps me know where everything goes if I run out, it helps Matt know where to put things and it keeps me from putting things away in a place other than the place they belong.

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On top of the three shoe boxes, I keep a three compartment snap organizer that I got when I went to college. In it I keep nail polish, nail polish remover, and cotton balls. When it’s time to do my nails, I just pull it right out and everything I need is in one place.

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In some spaces, like this one for example, you can’t think vertical and have to work with what you’ve got. Working around the J pipe under the sink can be a challenge if you’re trying to “think vertical.”

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I keep all of my hot tools in a basket with the cords wrapped (kinda) around themselves. As you can see here, not all the cords of all of my hair tools are wrapped perfectly, but like I said in the first post of this series, having a home for things is more important than having everything look pretty. If I’m blow drying or straightening my hair in a rush, it’s so easy to just dump the things I’m done using back in this basket and be on my way, which helps me keep a more organized and orderly bathroom because it takes little effort to put things back in their place.

It’s more important to have a place to quickly drop something than it is for your space to be and look perfect.

I cannot stress this enough. I’m not the kind of organized that is “Pinterest worthy,” but I am organized because I know that when I’m in a hurry, I want to drop things and go. I do not spend extra time to make things look nice. The more time it takes, the less likely I am to put it all away.

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Directly underneath the J pipe, I keep a cosmetics bag with some make-up I only use for special occasions, not daily. Which reminds me,

Keep things you don’t use every day tucked away.

It really pays to keep the prime real estate space for things you are accessing every single day or multiple times a day and keep the things you don’t in other areas that are harder to access. While you’re still using space that would otherwise be empty, you’re also maximizing the much-needed “everyday space,” like in your medicine cabinet or vanity drawers for example.

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Next to the make-up bag, I keep some extra bathroom items that I got good deals on coupling, or we just have extra of. Usually, it’s an extra shampoo, conditioner, clear care, and saline solution. Which reminds me:

always leave room for growth.

You’re eventually gonna have more stuff, so leave room for it! Right now my growth space is all being used, but when I need the things that are currently occupying the space, I’ll have room for extra items.

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Yup that’s all my toilet paper. I have nowhere else to store it! But doesn’t it look pretty in this blue faux woven basket? I think so! I got the basket at Joanne’s during the same back to college sale for around five dollars. It keeps the toilet paper from sliding and rolling so that other rolls sit on top perfectly. This takes me back to the “taking everything out of the box” tip. If you take the toilet paper out of the terrible plastic casing, it not only looks better, but allows you to manipulate the shape they take to fit your space instead of having to make sacrifices for how the store chooses to package them.

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I turned the flash on for this picture, which is why it’s so harsh. Bare with me while I get used to this whole “photography” thing.

These are the same stackable bins that were on the right hand side of the cabinet, but they hold different things. Again, these are frequently used items, but not things I need on a daily basis. I like to keep them easy to access, but out of the way.

The cosmetic bag in the middle holds a microdermabrasion tool and pads to go with it. There are also some pore strips in that bin somewhere. (I took them out of the box because I like to follow my own rules.) The top cosmetic bag holds a bunch of extra headbands, hair ties, claws, etc.

Let’s move on to the drawers above all the spaces I just showed you. We have two drawers. One is Matt’s and one is mine. Mine is on the right hand side of the sink and it looks like this:

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One of the absolute best things I ever did for organization and cleanliness is keeping all my makeup in bins in this drawer.

For as long as I have worn make-up I have struggled with putting it back in it’s place and leaving it all over the bathroom counter. I’ve been on a quest for the longest time to find something that worked for me. I tried using a small pull-out drawer organizer, I tried using a cosmetic bag, I tried using a compartment snap organizer. I’ve tried it all, and my attempts to keep all my make-up off the counter and in it’s place have all failed, until now. When we moved here I knew that this drawer was destined to hold all of my make-up.

When I’m putting on my face, I open this drawer and leave it open. I put on my foundation, throw it back in the drawer. I put on my bronzer, throw it back in the drawer. I put on my eyeliner, throw it back in the drawer. I put everything back in the drawer because all I have to do is drop it back in. It is a one step process, which works for me. The most important step in organizing is to:

find a system that works for you.

Everyone’s habits are different. Therefore, the way one person organizes will not work the same as her neighbor. You need to figure out how to organize for your habits. If you struggle with always leaving one particular item out on the counter, devise a system–like this one–that makes not putting it away harder than putting it away.

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In the back I keep the case for my glasses, my headband for washing my face, and a drawer organizer with bobby pins, hair ties, and my most worn headbands.

I also gave Matt his very own drawer! Wasn’t that nice of me? Haha just kidding, we like to share our space evenly, even though I am a diva. It looks like this:

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I’m not exactly sure what all of this stuff is, but it’s manly and it’s his. He keeps things in this drawer pretty neat and orderly and organized in a way that meets his needs. What a lucky lady I am to have a guy who’s just as tidy as me!

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I still need to make a few adjustments to this system, but so far it’s working out great! I have extra storage above the sink inside my medicine cabinet, but hat’s a whole other post for a whole other day.

I hope you guys have gotten some good tips for how to organize your small space! Storing things underneath the bathroom sink isn’t always ideal, but when you’re living in close quarters, you have to make do with the space available. Keep an eye out for a post next week on the inside of my medicine cabinet! See you guys next time!

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