Thursday, January 21, 2016

5 Reasons to Spring Clean All Year Round

This post was originally sent to when I (Katrina) was asked to share my opinion on spring cleaning.

As the name implies, spring cleaning is historically conducted once a year in spring. It used to be the way to clear out the winter clutter and refresh your home in preparation for warmer weather. In the past, winter was a time when people slept a lot more, stayed indoors as much as possible, relied on a fire to stay warm, and tended to let things get pretty dirty. Airing out the house meant letting out all the warm air and risking cold and financial hardship. You can imagine that spring cleaning was not just for fun, but an absolute necessity.

Maybe you’ve noticed? The urge to conduct a massive spring cleaning is practically genetic at this point.

But today we have central heating, consistent lighting, and our schedules are much less linked to the weather and seasons. The reality is that spring cleaning today means something different from what it used to. And there’s no excuse to avoid staying tidy year round. So what can you do to incorporate the beneficial and refreshing effects of spring cleaning, even when it’s not spring?

1. Spread Out the Time

A major spring cleaning is usually a big undertaking that can last for days. Who has the time to take a week and do it properly? You can make the job easier if you take steps throughout the year to do major cleaning and organizing jobs that don’t have to happen often. How often do you clean your refrigerator? Using the fridge will be quicker and easier if it’s organized and you do it at least once a month.

Spring cleaning is also usually a time of getting rid of all the old stuff that’s piling up in the garage, closets, and attic. This kind of de-clutter can be conducted on a more regular basis than once a year, and it’ll make keeping the house clean and organized easier on a day-to-day basis.

2. Every Season Deserves a Cleaning 

Each time the seasons change, you’ll want to organize your life around the coming weather, from seasonal fashion shifts to practicalities like back-to-school or pulling out your cozy flannel bedsheets.
Make a list of organizing priorities at the beginning of each month that precipitates a change of season (September, December, March, and June). By putting away things that belong to the previous season and taking out things you’ll need for the coming season, you can avoid unnecessary clutter. Store with care the things worth keeping, and get rid of anything you wouldn’t bother to care for. I advocate that fall cleaning should be a thing, and that’s just one step in the right direction.

3. Waiting for a Big Clean Is NOT Better

When you leave the big jobs for spring, you end up putting off the cleaning for much longer than is really beneficial. Carpets should be regularly vacuumed and cleaned for longevity. Window washing once a year is just not often enough. There are plenty of bigger jobs that should be done quarterly, at least, in order to ensure you’re not working against yourself all year. Avoiding deep cleans does damage to things like drapes, carpeting, and furniture.

4. A Consistent Plan is More Realistic 

Even if you do conduct a once-a-year spring clean, it’s not realistic to assume you’ll actually clean everything that needs cleaning. Instead, make a consistent cleaning plan that you can implement all year round. The real way to stay tidy and organized is to turn cleaning and organizing into regular habits, not something you do only for special occasions.

5. Save Money

There are many reasons why being organized saves you money. If you get rid of seasonal stuff before it takes up space in your attic for 9 months, it might be worth selling online or donating for the tax break. When you stay organized on a regular basis, you won’t lose things that are still around. How many pairs of sunglasses do you really need? Do you buy a new pair because you ‘lost’ one, only to find it under that pile of magazines weeks later? And people who clean up their messes often find money under and in their junk!

Your life can be better organized and your home will be cleaner if you do what needs to be done on a regular basis. If you make the job easier by breaking it into smaller jobs, you’ll find ways to be totally organized all year round. There’s even the case against spring cleaning, which argues that by relegating this task to once a year, you do more damage than good. Start today, not months from now when it’s time for ‘spring cleaning’.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

You Can Become Organized!

Being organized isn’t just a physical process, it’s also a psychological process and it brings psychological benefits. When your home is clutter-free, your brain will feel clutter-free. You’ll find it easier to relax when things are always in their place and you are living with less. Want to feel better about your life? Then it’s time to get organized! Before you start, read through the common mistakes and misconceptions you may be making. You will find my simple tips helpful in getting you back on track. 

Misconception: You’re either naturally organized or naturally disorganized. 

While not all of us were born with a label maker in hand, nearly all of us have the ability to become better organized. You can be taught! And even better: you can teach yourself to keep up easy habits that will turn you into an organized person. Don’t tell yourself that there’s no hope for you, because there is! All it takes is a shift in attitude, some research, and a bit of new habit-forming.
Misconception: I’ll do it later.

Being organized saves time in the long run. Don’t procrastinate. Schedule a time for each organizing project you want to accomplish; breaking each goal down into realistic expectations within a set time. Use a calendar, make appointments with yourself, and then actually show up to your own appointment!

Misconception: I can organize my entire home this weekend!

If you try to accomplish an organizing revolution in your entire home during one weekend, you’ll find that you have to abandon it midway through due to burn out. This will cause feelings of disappointment, failure, and frustration. Of course you won’t want to organize your home if past attempts have made you feel disappointed and frustrated. 

Instead of tackling everything at once, break the job down. Identify smaller tasks that you can accomplish in the time you’ve got, like organizing your medicine cabinet or refrigerator for an hour. Each small success will build your confidence and make you excited about getting more spaces organized. This will contribute to your motivation and therefore your success. It will spark ideas of what you could organize next: your purse, your pantry, even your desk.

Focus on cultivating small organizational successes so that each new project is an exciting opportunity, not something you dread or fear. You want to give yourself achievable goals so you get a sense of accomplishment from organizing. Don’t over-do it at first and push yourself or your partner too hard. You’ll find a balance that is satisfying, saves time and energy in the long run, and makes your home look beautiful and feel like the calming haven you want it to be.

Remember you can do this! It is all just learned behavior.

-Katrina Teeple

Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Six Tips for {HOLIDAY} Planning Makes Perect

The holidays can be magical and stress free with some organizing.  If you put in a little planning this year, you will reap the benefits for years to come.  Here are my six tips for planning makes perfect!
Happy Decorating,
Katrina Teeple

Tip One
Before your guests arrive, take a photo of your holiday table setting and save it to your computer in a folder called "Holidays".  This way, you can delegate the job of setting the table to another family member easily on the day you entertain.  

Tip Two
When you are packing up your holiday table decor, designate one basket to keep all reusable items in for next year.  Even place-cards can be reused if you invite the same guests repeatedly.

Tip Three
Take a photo of your decorated mantel.  Save it to your "Holidays" folder on your computer to jog your memory of what you liked for next year.  Then, pack everything you loved using into one bin for organized storage.

Tip Four
Labeling holiday decor by area can be a holiday time saver.  No more stress looking through miscellaneous decoration boxes, trying to locate what you want to use in a particular area of your home!

Tip Five
Create your own ribbon station with a Mug Tree (found in kitchen stores).  You can also use a paper towel holder the same way.  Doing this keeps your holiday ribbons accessible and tangle-free.

Tip Six
Make use of an old travel cosmetic case.  The dividers are perfect for all of your holiday wrapping accessories!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"I Do" Want to Get Organized!

Congrats to all the couples out there!  With "I do" can come clutter, merging households and, most importantly, a great opportunity to create the home you want to share with your love. 

Good news! Last year I was invited to comment on how best to freshen up your home, particularly in the context of being newlyweds. These days plenty of people live together before getting married, but sometimes it takes getting hitched to jump into action.  Check out my DIY tips within the article to add some coziness to your home.

Long Island Bride & Groom quotes some of my ideas in an article in their February 2014 print issue. I thought it was fitting to post during the month of love. 

A digital version of the entire issue is available for free here. The article is entitled 'Create a Home Fit for a Newlywed' and can be found on pages 104-105. Additionally, a PDF of the article is available to download here.

So, if this little post has put you in the mood... check out 



Katrina Teeple

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Common Organizing Mistakes: Tips that can curb your clutter tendencies!

Feeling cluttered? Here are some quick tips for around the house that will inspire you to take action!

Bedroom Organizing Tips

Make your bed, even if you live alone or you’ve been married for 20 years. It’s a visual and physical cue that will help you keep the rest of the room tidy. Tackling a small task such as making your bed daily gets you into a tidying rhythm that can last the whole day.

Do you try on more than one outfit before choosing what you’ll wear? Designate a place where you’ll put clean-but-tried-on clothing before you rush out the door - perhaps a set of wall hooks. Later on you can avoid the extra step of sorting clean from dirty before you put things away.

Don’t underestimate the power of matching clothes hangers in your closet. Uniform hangers make it easier to see your clothes, are aesthetically pleasing, and save space.

Wooden hanger are classy, but do take up more room in your closet. So, if space is at a premium, then check out these slim felt hangers that come in a variety of colors.

Bathroom Organizing Tips

Although it’s called the “medicine cabinet”, it’s actually a better place for frequently used items, like Q-tips, toothbrushes, facial cleansers, and deodorant. Anything you only use once in a while, like Band-Aids or cough syrup, are better stored in a container under the sink. Also most medicine cabinets have a magnetic door. Use this area for important information you want to keep posted close by.

Contain clutter. If you’re the type whose vanity looks like the make-up counter at Bloomies, use a decorative tray to display your favorite beauty products.  Other frequently used items can find a home using bamboo drawer organizers or up-cycled box lids.

Kitchen Organizing Tips

Clear your countertops. You don’t have to display all of your appliances. Really think about which ones you actually use everyday.  Chances are you have some gadgets still out that you rarely use taking up prime kitchen real estate.

Invest in drawer dividers or make your own with box lids to separate kitchen miscellany. Your kitchen utensils should be categorized within each drawer making everything easier to find.

Don’t mix office with kitchen. If you bring in the mail, walk it directly to your home office (if you have one) or create an office nook that is out of sight for your important paperwork. A little paper station can be made on the inside of a cabinet or by emptying out a “junk drawer”. Your paper does not belong on the kitchen counter or dining table.

Photo courtesy of Houzz.

If you need to have some items on hand in the kitchen, make sure they are pleasing to the eye and match the decor of your space. I love containers with lids so that potential clutter can be concealed.

My Favorite Organizing Tip

What I have learned from being a professional organizer for almost ten years is that you don't need to over think a project before you get started.  Often, clients will become more exhausted from the amount of mental stress they have placed on any given "to-do" that is weighing on them that they become too overwhelmed to begin.  My advice is to have a quick brainstorm about the area you want to focus on and then dive in!  Starting a project will always make you more likely to finish it, than never starting at all.  Start falling in love with the feeling of completing things.  Become the finisher in your family. I promise it will give you a huge sense of accomplish that will manifest in other areas of your life as well.

I hope this post has inspired you to rethink some of the problem areas around you home and get started.

And remember...

"The secret to getting ahead is getting started" - Mark Twain

Friday, March 14, 2014

2013 Press Wrap-Up

OpOrg is Proud to Have Had Quite a Media Presence Last Year

Operation Organization took the plunge and starting accepting press opportunities for guest blogging and articles for online magazines late last year and it yielded some pretty fun stuff. We had some exciting mentions on TV, too. 

I love to share tips about organizing, so I was happy to have a few “assignments” - mostly requests for specific advice on problem areas. While I did my best to post these on Facebook, if you haven’t liked my Facebook page, you might not have had access to these articles. So here’s the list in case you missed it!

And we got a couple of exciting mentions from clients:

Emmy and SAG Award nominee Mayim Bialik, most recently of The Big Bang Theory (left), wrote a sweet blog post, talking about her newly organized home - thanks to Operation Organization. She also gave us a nice shout out on The Queen Latifah Show, but it’s a bit hard to find a clip that includes the mention. The show aired on Oct. 2, 2013. Her post about her experience chatting with Queen Latifah is here. Thanks Mayim!

Jaylen Moore (right), Hunger Games actor and OpOrg client also gave us a nice mention on The Girl Spot. "Giving the gift of organization for the new year!" Nice one, Jaylen. We appreciate it.

There’s a lot of info in the links about getting and staying organized. More to come this year! We'll start posting as they become available so the tips are as timely as possible. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Organizing a Nursery, Part 1

The Prequel

In just a few days, my husband and I are having our first child. We are truly thrilled about becoming parents and we’ve tried to prepare as much as possible. I’m putting my organizing skills to the test in a brand new way, by planning to have an organized nursery and a home that incorporates a new baby without introducing a lot of clutter.

Here I am at 38 weeks! This photo was taken by Hylah Hedgepeth who is an incredible natural light photographer.

There’s plenty that I don’t know about what the coming months will bring, so I’m calling this post The Prequel. I’ll post an update in a couple months or so, to let you know how my organizing ideas worked out when tested against new-parenthood. But here’s a glimpse into what I am hoping will be a successfully organized nursery.

Nursery Floor Plan

We’ve got a 2-bedroom condo, with loft space that I have transformed into a home office and is where my incredible Office Manager Anna and I run Operation Organization. The second bedroom is now going to be the nursery.

The biggest space maker would have been to remove the guest bed, but we opted to keep it. I plan to spend late nights in the nursery with the baby. And we do expect to have guests in the future.  It’ll be easy to put a small crib in our master bedroom when needed. 

But that means less furniture for storage of toys, books, diapers, clothing... everything.

We chose to keep the room simple and not overly decorated.  My husband and I like a modern look and neutral colors...can you tell?  We want our room to grow with our child and his style, so we will add to it as he gets bigger.  For now, we have a few decorative things to start us off.

The prints I got from Etsy.
I made some easy art by framing a page out of a favorite childhood book.

This little car I found at T.J.Maxx.

This is my hubby when he was a baby!

Gift Management

First of all, thanks to everyone who sent us gifts! Second, what are we going to do with this stuff!? Some people were thoughtful and sent us slightly larger clothing, which will come in handy later on but needs to be stored for now in a way that ensures I won’t forget about it. We’ve got lots of things we’ll use every day, and some things we will only need every once in a while.

Clothing - Newborn sized onesies and pajamas are handy, just below the diaper drawer in the dresser we’ll use as the changing table. To make best use of the nice big closet, I divided it into sections that work for baby clothing. The hanging baby clothing is organized in order of size, with labeled dividers so we can see sizes at a glance. Other things, like shoes, hats, and baby blankets, are sorted into baskets. The baskets are labelled so I’m not tempted to shove things in the wrong places. Labels keep me honest!

                       Onesies organized by size.

I got these these baby clothing dividers from Amazon.
The hangers are no-slip baby hangers by Closet Complete.

Water Hyacinth baskets from Container Store fit perfectly on baby's closet shelf.

Diapering - I didn't want to invest in a traditional changing table because a dresser will be so useful down the road.  I also don't enjoy looking at diaper creams and wipes out in the open.  Call me crazy, but for now, I am saying "no" to a wipes warmer (against the suggestion of my new mommy friends). Instead, I dedicated the top drawer of the dresser to all of baby Teeple's bottom booty!  I will let you know how this works out.

Books - We don’t have a ton of floor space in our guest-bedroom-turned-nursery for extra furniture, so I put in a number of floating bookshelves to maximize the usefulness of wall space.  The books sit right above the rocker in the "story-time" nook for easy access.

These Umbra floating bookshelves are a steal from Container Store!

Toys - I don’t like the look of toys everywhere, because of my general clutter-phobia.  I’ve used bins on the floor for toys. I’ll have one toy basket in the living room, but I’m going to try to keep the majority of kid things in kid space.

In the bathroom, I’ve organized the medicine cabinet so baby medicines, creams, and powder will be handy. On the inside of the medicine cabinet door I’ve taped up an info sheet with details about what’s safe to give to a baby.  I left the bottom two shelves with toiletries for our house guests.

I wanted to make sure I have access to baby washcloths during bath-time, so I repurposed this three tier storage basket from Pier 1 Imports.  I also installed a white hook for drying hooded towels.

A Major Life Transformation

Everyone says having a baby is going to be an unpredictable life transformation and will really mess with my organized life-style. No matter how much we plan and prepare, we know that the feelings will be new and the exhaustion potentially unprecedented. But I’m resisting the urge to transform the whole house.

Incorporating a Baby Into the Everyday

Life is going to continue. I’m fortunate enough to like my work, so depending on how it goes, I’ll be back to work at least part-time about a month after the birth. That may only mean I’ll be spending nap time in the home office, so I’ve got a spare crib behind my desk.

We’ll have baby stations of varying sizes around the house so the things we need will always be within reach. We’ve also been able to use otherwise dead space, like the space under our spiral staircase, in novel ways like for storing our stroller and baby swing.

I’ve also got this great mommy-baby basket from my Doula (Emma Goodman-DaSilva) that I can easily bring from room to room. It’s got the essentials, like a few spare diapers, wipes, burp cloths, and a changing blanket, as well as a few things for me, like snacks, a book, lotion, and tea bags.  She says if I’m happy, it’ll be easier to keep the baby happy.

Are We Ready?

As ready as we’ll ever be. Maybe we’ll realize that with a real baby around, some of the systems we put into place won’t work the way we thought. It’s highly likely that we’ll have to adjust for reality. But a big part of being organized is trying things out and seeing what works.  For me, when I feel prepared, I feel positive and that is how I am entering into motherhood.

More experienced parents, maybe you have some ideas to contribute? Tell me about it in the comments - I’m open to all the help I can get!

~Katrina Teeple
Founder of Operation Organization

Photo by Hylah Hedgepeth