If you follow me on social media, then you know this article has quite the saga. I drafted it up last week, a busier week than usual, and the one time I wrote it directly in the blogging application instead of where I usually do (where it autosaves multiple times in multiple places)...you guessed it. My computer glitched and the entire thing was deleted moments before I was about to hit publish. I’m honestly still having nightmares just thinking about it now.
BUT, back to the topic at hand. After that incident, you are probably wondering, “Is this woman really qualified to be giving advice on organizing your life?”. I totally get it. Experience, however, has been the best qualifier in the world for me when it comes to organization. Those moments of trying to run out the door and not knowing where something is, or reaching for something in the fridge to find it expired because I couldn’t see it clearly-- they taught me the value of organizing everyday things to make them extraordinary.
I binged “Get Organized with The Home Edit” in a number of days. I love watching chaos become clarity, and it was touching to see how moved people were when their spaces were transformed. Joanna and Clea did a great job, but when it comes to food there were a couple of clarifying points I wanted to make. Their tips coupled with my advice, which accounts for aspects of healthy eating behaviors and food safety, can help you create something special out of a space that may stress you out right now. Remember, organization is a process, so unless you hire someone professional it’s going to take more than a few hours to do. However, the following take-home messages can help you find and keep up a system that works for you.
Read on to find out my Top 5 Take-Home Messages from Netflix’s “Get Organized with The Home Edit”.
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Even small spaces can be optimized, it just takes some simple strategy. It helps to ask yourself the following questions:
What is the goal for this space?
What do I need within reach?
Are there items that I regularly grab in a hurry that need to be “to-go”?
Are there items that kids can get to that need to be easy/kid-friendly to access?
What needs to be out of reach (i.e. for food safety reasons, hazardous or sharp)?
Is there anything behind a child-lock that should be moved to a more accessible area?
What is on the counters?
Is what is on the counters making it difficult to utilize the counter space?
Are there any awkwardly shaped/spaced cabinets or drawers? Can I rearrange the contents to maximize the space?
The goal of organizing your kitchen, pantry, or dining space should be that you can better access your items.
If you can’t see it, you won’t maintain it.
I’ve already covered why open shelving and clear bins are a good option, but it’s important to understand the principle behind it. With open shelving, your items seem like a more visible fixture in your space. This acts as a double edged sword. If your items are poorly organized, the clutter becomes the focal point. Open shelving units or see-through bins are fantastic options, but you have to be willing to understand the function behind them in order for them to work and organize the space. If you’ve watched the show, you know Joanna loves a good “baby bin”, which is basically a small bin that can fit inside another bin if needed (to further organize the items inside). Free standing, similar items are absolutely fine. But don’t be afraid of using baby bins every now and then if it helps you to micromanage a potential mess area.
It’s okay to add some personality to the process.
Everyone is different and has different needs when it comes to their spaces and places they live in. Your system should serve you and your needs. That being said, organization is not a cookie-cutter business. The Home Edit loves incorporating rainbows and color systems into their clients’ rooms, but they also make sure their clients preferences, lives, and routines are reflected in the way those rooms are organized.
In the kitchen, dining area, or pantry, it is okay to incorporate your personality! Just because I like clear bins and think they work great doesn’t mean all your bins need to be clear. I love a good decorative basket every now and again to rejuvenate a space. A fun, patterned wallpaper in your pantry or dining space could do a great job accenting your otherwise minimal dishware and décor. Think about the things that bring you genuine joy when it comes to food and eating, and incorporate those details into the places where you dine.
A note on organizing “junk” food
One of the things I wish the show had approached differently was how food was described as “junk” food versus “healthy” food, and then organized accordingly. What we eat quite literally becomes part of us, so if we are viewing what we eat as “junk” it follows that on some level when we consume that food we know that the “junk” is now part of us. A recent study showed that Instagram “junk” food ads followed a trend of preying on emotions rather than presenting information about the product. While this is a pretty common marketing tactic, it’s disturbing that companies are using emotion to manipulate consumers into purchasing their product(1).
Eating can be a very emotional process, especially if you are currently going through nutritional counseling and/or therapy. Just like anything else in life, emotions that have to do with eating need an appropriate outlet. Organizing can support healthy and productive views about food when we use organization to develop zones or categories of food that are not based on nutritional value, but rather that are rooted in the versions of ourselves that are healthy and well. If you are familiar with intuitive eating, you might even call this intuitive organizing -- organizing that is mindful in the way it presents food. A system that serves our hunger and satiety cues in a positive way rather than making us a slave to a system of organization ranked by value. It may seem a subtle change at the moment but it can be a very powerful shift that can help your internal mind reflect positively onto your behavior and surrounding.
“Encouraging a mindful eating approach would seem to be a positive message to be included in general weight management advice to the public.” (2)
A growing body of research supports that shame and guilt prompt binge eating and unhealthy behaviors while intuitive eating promotes healthy eating and weight management (3). I personally believe our organized spaces should reflect this sort of approach -- a mindful attention to how our spaces are categorized in order to serve our healthiest self and support intuitive eating habits.
Color- it really is a system.
Did you know that categorizing foods, especially fruits and vegetables by color, is an effective nutrition education tool for all ages? Studies show that involving color in education tends to improve fruit and vegetable consumption in both children and older adults (4,5). Beyond that, it’s just pretty to look at! Especially for visual learners, organizing items by color can help them be more accessible. Using color as a tool for organization makes for more efficient cooking in the kitchen, and is so simple a system that even children can put things back in their proper places.
Color of the food itself can also serve as a decoration! Clear cans or transparent canisters offer both a see-through solution as well as an inventive way to add color to your kitchen. Play around with different color categories to see what complements your space.
Your own Home Edit
If you’ve watched the show, you probably have the urge to organize everything now! Totally normal response. Just remember, these people are professionals and they literally make a living from making sense of other people’s messes. They wrote a book on it! So don’t beat yourself up if it takes longer than an afternoon. And if you need help, that is okay! I’m here to help with all your kitchen, pantry, and dining organizing needs. If you need some help, that’s okay! Book online with me now and get 25% off my organizing services, for less stress and more space for the things that matter. Don’t forget to tag me in your pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn -- Use "#organizewithanni" so I can see what creative solutions you come up with! :)