Organized Charm

Monday, November 5, 2018

5 Steps to Keep Your Closets Organized

Everything in my house is organized. Totally and completely organized. The bookcase in the office? Organized. The shelves in the laundry room? Organized. The kitchen cabinets? Yep, you can look there. They're organized (for now). 

But then there are *dun dun dun* the closets. 

Closets are a blessing and a curse at the same time. On one hand, they give us a place to store our stuff. On the other hand, they give us a place to store tons of stuff that we don't need and a place to hide it away so we never have to deal with it. 

My house is about a century old, and it only has four closets. One in each bedroom, and one in the laundry room. Out of those four, I only feel like one of them is functional. The other three? Traps for junk, like things I'm planning to donate or things that just don't have another home. 

Is this a problem for you, too? 



This post can show you how to organize your closets and keep them organized over time! Say hello to the CHARM system! 


The CHARM System:



C- Start with a Clear Goal
H- Adjust your Habits to align with your goal
A- Take Action
R- String your habits together into Routines
M- Have a Positive Mindset




Step #1: Envision a Clear Goal for Each Closet


On a piece of paper, write a heading for each closet in your house, even if you feel like it's already being used efficiently. Next, set a timer for a minute and write down how you envision each closet being used. If you need some help, just close your eyes and visualize your perfect life, where everything is clean and everyone is happy. You are totally efficient, look completely fabulous, and everyone in your life is happy. 

In that scenario, how do you envision yourself coming into your home? Where do you put your things? What do you see when you open each of those closets? Include any containers, shelving systems, etc. that you envision. Remember to include how often you see yourself cleaning out each closet in your perfect world :) 


Here are my goals for each closet:

Master Closet: Categorized by clothing type and category. Organized with a chronologically rotating system. Aligns with Stylebook App. 

Laundry Closet: Holds all cleaning supplies. Also holds unusual items- Halloween costumes, etc. in neat containers. Bin for items to be donated quarterly. 

Office Closet: Holds outdoorsy stuff, like the stroller, workout equipment. Everything is organized and in its place. Cleaned out every 6 months. 

My Son's Closet: Out of season clothes kept on the top rack. Shoes on the top rack. Blankets and toys stored on side shelves. Large toys at the bottom. 

(Want to create a minimalist wardrobe that reflects your personal style? This post will help you!)


Step #2: Form Good Habits


Now that you have that down on paper, think about what daily habits you would need to create to keep your goal a reality. I'm not talking about "Go to Home Depot and buy a shelving system." I'm talking about consistent things like putting your clothes away at the same time of day. Here are the habits I'll need to get into to keep my closets looking the way I want them.

Set your timer for one minute and write down how you see yourself "interacting" with each closet (it sounds crazy, but I promise it works!). 

Here are the habits I need to form to achieve the goal:

Master Closet: 
-Document everything in Stylebook every day. 
-When I come home each day, put clothes away immediately- behind other clothes in that category. 
-Every 3 months, re-evaluate items not worn. 

Laundry Closet:
-Put items to donate in "Donate" Bin as notice them. 
-Donate to Junior League every three months. 

Office Closet:
-Keep free of office clutter. This is not a home for old notebooks. 
-Identify the things you want to keep and create a new home for them. 

Cash's Closet: 
-Put big toys (activity table/balance bike) in here nightly. 
-Organize his smaller toys by type and in bins on shelves. 
-Switch out bins weekly. 


Step #3: Take Action


Now that you've identified your Clear Goal and Target Habits, it's time to take action. This is where you get to run to Home Depot and buy that shelving system! Think about what kinds of containers you want. Don't settle for the first containers you find either, look around and find EXACTLY what you want! The size, the color. What you want exists somewhere, and you won't feel happy with your closet if you use ill-fitting containers. 

Once you have everything you need, it's time to actually organize the closet! I am a big fan of this and I kind of look forward to doing it. Turn on all the lights in the room where you are working, get some water, play some music, and take every. single. thing. out of your closet. Everything.

Also Read: 5 Rules for Simplified Style: Get Your Closet Under Control!

We dread cleaning out closets because it's work. However, once we've taken everything out, putting things back into the closet becomes the work. You are far less likely to expend energy putting things you don't love back into the closet. You may even find that you only loved about 20% of the things in your closet, and you were just keeping the rest because you didn't want to go through the work of cleaning it out! 



So start with the things you love the most. If you were packing to leave town for a hurricane, and you knew there was a chance you might never see some of these things again, what would you choose to take with you? Think with that mentality. No excess. 

(Related: Creative Storage Solutions for Closets)

Once you've gotten those things hung back up in your closet, set a limit of some sort. It could be 20 hangers or everything you can fit in one bin. Be ruthless as you slowly decide which things to add back in. And once you've hit your limit, donate the excess that was hiding in your closet! This works for clothes, toys, books, blankets, whatever you're storing in your closets. 

Most closet organization posts would stop there. You've done the hard work. You've got a nice, clean closet. You're done, right? 

Well... organizing your closet and keeping your closet organized is kind of like losing weight and keeping it off. It's great if you do it all at once and it looks great afterward. But if you don't change your daily routines, it won't last. This is where Step # 4 comes in...


Step #4 comes in: Develop Consistent Routines


Look back at your habits. This is the time that you need to use a little discipline and set those habit into motion. One of my habits was to hang up my clothes as soon as I get home. When I get home from work, it's so easy to leave clothes on the floor for "just a few minutes" while I get water, or pick up my son. But when I do that, I'm not respecting the goal that I set for myself. 

If you tell yourself that you're going to do something, do it. If you let yourself slack off a little here and there, eventually, you'll find yourself right back where you started, being stressed about all the excess junk lurking in your closets. Focus on creating one habit for a month, then another one. Eventually, you'll be able to string your habits together into routines. The routines will keep you from having to have a "closet cleaning" day every year. 

It may seem silly to consciously think about closets, and create habits and routines for them. BUT every little thing we do throughout the day is made up of habits and routines. When we don't put a lot of thought into them, we fall into bad habits or unproductive routines. However, if you DO put thought and purpose into them, you are one step closer to living the dream life that you envisioned! 

Related: Closet Cleanout Checklist


Step #5: Keep a Positive Mindset


Get into the mindset that you are an organized person, your closets are organized, and you don't bring in clutter. One of the biggest ways we sabotage ourselves is by saying "I'm the most disorganized person ever," or "my house is always a mess." DON'T SAY THAT! When you get down on yourself and your messy house, guess how your house will stay? Messy! Find a relevant quote or two that you really like and think it to yourself when you're looking through your closets. 


Here are a few of my favorites:

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." -William Morris


"The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past." -Marie Kondo


"Life is too complicated not to be orderly." -Martha Stewart


Take the time to put everything back where it's supposed to go. Do it for your future self. Think about how much easier it will be to get ready for work in the morning if you don't have to dig through a dresser drawer for something that wasn't hung up correctly! According to Gresham's Law of Planning, every minute spent planning saves you about 10 minutes in the future. 



So, even though it may be difficult for me to let my son cry for a minute while I hang up my clothes correctly, that helps me have a more efficient morning (which will lead to me having about 10 minutes to play with him before work)! 

Keep things like this in mind throughout your day! It may be a tiny decision now, but it will help you have a smooth getting ready time in the morning. And isn't that totally worth it?! 

What systems have you tried to keep your closets clean and organized? How did they work? Share your experiences below! 


PS- This post was requested by a reader! You can request your own post here! :) 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Student Cubby Organization in My Classroom

Student cubbies can be a scary place. 

I always feel like my students’ stuff is slowly creeping out of the cubbies to clutter up the rest of the room. 



A couple of years ago, I was cleaning out my kids’ cubbies and found a moldy orange that had clearly been hidden under papers for months

MONTHS, Y'ALL!

“If there’s one thing I get together next year,” I told myself “it will be the cubbies!”. 

And I have tried. I have really tried. I’ve come up with some systems that are making a difference. And luckily, I didn’t find any mold in last year’s cubbies, so I say that’s progress! Something that I think is so funny is that my former students will come by the room and say, "Who has my old cubby?" The cubbies are their own little personal spaces. I want them to feel as much ownership and responsibility over their cubbies as possible!  


Here’s how the student cubbies are organized in my current classroom:


Names
Of course, each child’s name is in the cubby. I found this cute little panda face clipart through the magic of Google. Then I copy and pasted it to a Word document and typed each child’s name. The font is Hello Firstie Big Gulp, and I LOVE it! 

I cut out the panda faces with the name and then glued them to black construction paper. Then I cut that into a circle and laminated. Voila! Cute little pandas looking at us all day :) 



Item Labels
Inside the cubbies, each one is labeled to remind the children where each item should go. I copied clipart and typed the labels in a Word document. Then printed them and laminated them, and used hot glue to glue them into the cubbies. This shows where each items goes. We keep lunch boxes, backpacks, raincoats, and a towel in each cubby. 


Work Baskets
In the bottom of each cubby, the children have these colorful baskets. I originally purchased them from Really Good Stuff to use in the cubbies of my teacher shelf, but they were 1/4” too big. 1/4"! I was SO SAD, but I refused to return them. I knew I could use them for something! Finally, it hit me… they fit in the student cubbies and they could replace our current filing system. Now the kids put their work straight into their cubby basket. 


Filing System
Speaking of our Filing System, here’s how it works: Each child puts his or her work into the basket in their cubbies all week. On Thursdays, we send home a “Thursday Folder” with all of the work. I call “Pink Baskets” and the kids with pink baskets put their work into their folders, and their folders into their backpacks and sit back down. Then I call another color. The parents empty the folder and return it on Friday. Then we start the process over again. 


Baskets vs. Hanging Files
Last year, we used one of those metal hanging file cubes, and each child had a hanging file. It was a good system with two flaws: 

1. The amount of time wasted as the children stood in line and waited for their turn to file their work. 

2. The amount of time it took for a teacher to transfer the work from the files to the folder. 

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s wasting time! This system also freed up prime real estate on a classroom shelf!


Where to Find Baskets:

  • These baskets are super durable (and pretty!), but they can be pricy. 
  • Dollar Tree has some more affordable options (24 for $24, if you order in bulk from the website). 
  • ELFA also has a container that would work well for this system on The Container Store’s website. 
The colors aren’t as pretty as the ones from Really Good Stuff (all neutrals), but you could easily liven them up with cute tags or labels! I also wrote a post on the best places to find containers for your classroom... because I LOVE containers! 


Cubby Inspector
Even with all of these labels/systems, the cubbies still manage to get messy. So I came up with the Most Organized Cubby award. The Cubby Inspector changes each week (I just rotate through the class list, so everyone has a fair turn). They inspect each cubby for 

  1. Lunch items to be inside lunchbox 
  2. Backpack to be zipped up 
  3. All items to be in their designated locations with nothing hanging out of the cubby
Then they announce the Most Organized Cubby and give a Dojo point to the winner! Having them evaluate each other's cubbies is also a sneaky way of helping them learn how to keep their own cubbies clean :)

And that’s how we keep our classroom cubbies somewhat organized!

This is what they look like at the end of a real schoolday. They still aren't perfect (after all, it is Kindergarten), but everything is in its place, and that's what matters most!

My parents visited my classroom for Grandparents’ Day last year. When they walked in they asked, “What have y’all been doing today?”. One of my little boys replied (in an exhausted-sounding voice) “Organizing!” He gets it :) 

How do you keep your students’ cubbies organized (and prevent things from growing in them)? Any secret tips you would like to share? Post below so we can all benefit! 

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Classroom Tour

Some of you have expressed interest in seeing a tour of the classroom as a whole and how all of the systems and routines work together. Here we go…

Welcome to the Peppy Panda classroom! Let me show you around!


When each child arrives in the morning, they switch their attendance magnet in the hallway. 

Then they enter the room, greet the teacher, and begin their Sight Word Path. This is a sneaky way to monitor them as they review their Sight Words each day! After the Sight Word Path, they put their items in their cubbies (labeled to help them remember where to put everything!). 




Then they grab a journal page and sit down. (The writing checklists above are from One Sharp Bunch) After they finish their journal page, they clip it into their journals and sit down with a Library Book. 


When it’s time for Morning Meeting, we put the library books away and get started! If we do Morning Message (usually second semester), I simply tear off the giant sheet and post it to the bottom of the board using magnets. This still gives the children a chance to write on it, but it can be easily removed so we can use the board for other things, too!


During the first last Morning Meeting of the month, they "apply" for their new classroom job. They used to switch jobs each week, but it was difficult for them to remember who was the new Door Holder, or who needed to be turning out the lights? So they voted to keep the same job for a whole month. Now they fill out a monthly "job application" and get "paychecks" (Class Dojo Points) every Friday. 

On Friday mornings, they bring their Class Dojo hundreds charts to the carpet. I pull down the projector screen and display their Class Dojo points, and they fill them in. Then we talk about who earned what special privileges for the upcoming week!

Every day is a little different, but we usually do Morning Meeting, Calendar Math, and Everyday Math during this time. Then it’s time for snack and recess!


After recess, we start with a quick Open Court reading lesson and then jump into workshops. We post all of our current sight words and other skills on the whiteboard. At the end of the week, we move the sight word to our word wall on the cabinet doors. At the end of the month, we move our writing skill to our Writing Checklist near the student tables (where they write their journals every morning). 


When it’s time to explain workshops, the teacher helper and supply monitor take turns bringing the workshop buckets to the middle of the carpet. 


On the white board, we also have a turquoise pocket chart from Target where children can “sign up" to spend extra time working with the teacher. Believe it or not, they actually watch this board like hawks so they can add their names when a spot opens up!


The children then split up into their different workshop rotations, one of which is individualized instruction at my teacher table. You can read about that here. 


As each child finished his or her work, they either place it on the drying rack in the hallway, or in their “take home” basket in their cubbies. If they don't finish, they put in the Ketchup Basket. When a child adds something to the basket, he/she puts a name clip on the edge so it's easy to see who has catch up work!


On Thursdays, I hand out our weekly Parent Communication Folders to the children, and they go file their own work into the folders. Then they put it in their backpacks so it’s ready to go at dismissal! After workshops, we clean up our classroom and prepare for lunch, specials, rest, and second recess. 



Afternoon is usually the time we get last minute emails from parents about changes in transportation. We make sure that each child’s clothes pin is clipped onto the correct method of transportation. We also keep a schedule of our after school “enrichments” by the door, so we can keep up with who stays after school for what. 

That’s basically a tour of the Peppy Panda classroom and how everything is used! 

Let me know if you have any questions! 

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