How to live with less - and LOVE it!

Raise your hand if you are guilty of letting papers or clothes pile up somewhere in your home. Ever feel like there is just so much to keep track of but you have no clue where to start? Since we're all stuck at home, we may as well make the best of it, right?? I sat down with professional organizer and self-proclaimed "clutter curator", Sarah Parisi to set us straight. Time to Marie Kondo your home!!

DE-CLUTTERING TIP #1: This is not a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Know this may take some time to create the new habits but it will be well worth it in the end!

- Start small. Pick one drawer or a room to organize and maintain. Trying to tackle your entire home at once is not sustainable and you’ll most like become defeated before getting to the finish line.

- Focus on editing out items you don’t need before organizing.

- Make it fun with music and set a 30 minute timer to ensure you are staying on task.

DE-CLUTTERING TIP #2: Don’t let clutter come close to your home. This means being mindful while shopping, while leaving a conference and while saying “yes” to friends that are always offloading their clutter on to you.

- After 24 hours, toss the conference swag, Do you really need that triangle highlighter? Better yet leave it at the conference and let them use it for the next event. 

- Receive birthday & holiday gifts that aren’t your style? Exchange them for something you really want or donate it.

- Don’t keep anything (gifts, mementos, etc.) that make you feel guilty. We have enough stress in our lives, we don’t need things in our homes holding us back.

DE-CLUTTERING TIP #3: Do a home sweep once a week. Start from one end of your home with a bin to collect anything that belongs elsewhere. As you walk from one space to the next, place items in the correct zone or room. This way everything is in its zone when you start to organize each space, allowing you to see everything that needs to be stored. This also helps when you are making decisions on what stays and what goes.

- Making this a weekly event ensures that it’s a quick to do.

- Do a deeper dive every season, looking through closets and cabinets to remove any clutter that has accumulated. This is an activity to remove unneeded items and to relocate items to their correct space. Organizing each space happens after this process.


KITCHEN: Make sure you “reset” this space after using it. Holding yourself accountable is key. Put on some upbeat music, pour yourself your favorite drink and GET IT DONE.

Countertops: Place cooking utensils in a drawer rather than on your countertop is one simple way to open up space.Store blenders and toasters in a cabinet if they aren’t used daily. I love using my kitchen island to store non-everyday items.Keep like items together. Place mugs right above the coffee marking so you don’t have to run in circles to start each morning.

Pantry: Work to eat through your pantry and freezer every 3-6 months. Make sure you are only storing food that you enjoy and will eat.Organize your pantry like a grocery store to allow you to shop in your own pantry. Placing baking all together, grains and carbs, can goods and snacks in labeled zones making it easy for you to find. Also, you can take a quick glance before running to the store to see what you are running low on.Open up space by donating food that you no longer like or is not part of your diet. While working with clients we focus on removing any food that is not supporting their overall health. I allow myself a treat here and there but never bring it into my home…that’s my safe space from temptation.Use bins for snacks or small loose items that take up extra space in your pantry.

Specialty tools and appliances: If you have a slow cooker, Instant pot and rice maker think about where you can downsize. Kitchen real estate is so valuable, make sure you aren’t storing anything that does not hold its weight.Items that are used once a year should be stored elsewhere if possible or in the top section of your cabinets. This will open up the usable and easy to reach space in your kitchen.Small appliances and tools should be stored in one area of your kitchen. This way all the electronic tools are in one spot easy to find.

Mail: The key is simple, go through it every day. It will take a few short moments and you’ll be avoiding hours of pain.Toss flyers and offers that you do not need, leaving you with the few pieces of mail that you actually want to look at.Either go through the mail that you need to read at that time or put it to the side to look through before the end of the week.Look to see what can be paperless. Ask yourself if you actually review certain bills and make notes on the paper copy, if not change them to paperless and review online.Put actionable items in one place with dates marked on them. Some clients find it helpful to add notes in their calendar to make sure key payments are not forgotten.

ENTRYWAY: An entryway is prime real estate and can give visitors a first impression of your home. Edit it ruthlessly, only including season appropriate items and using a storage piece to manage what can be a chaotic space in your home.The key here is to have a piece of furniture that works for you and will hold all the items you need in this area. Using either bins or drawers sorted by category (hats, gloves, umbrellas).Having a surface right at the entry way gives you a place to drop your handbag and set down your mail. Its also a great spot to leave items you need to bring with you the following day.Resetting this space weekly is very important. You don’t want to be greeted with a mess the moment you walk into your home.

BEDROOMS: This is the holiest of holy spaces in your home. Yet so many of my clients have work, bills, clothes from high school and so much more filling their space. Since this is where you start and end each day, you need it to be light and clean.Removing clutter from surfaces such as bed side tables will change your mood and overall morning and nightly routine.Let go of clothes that are out of style, you no longer fit into, or simply never choose to wear. The amount of worth we put on items that don’t serve us is exhausting. It’s just a piece of cloth that can bring someone else happiness since it clearly isn’t bringing you any joy. Tackle closet clutter by organizing by clothing category and color coding if you are really up for the task.Reduce the amount of books and magazines on your night stand to only a month’s worth of reading materials. You want to enjoy your reading time and not feel like you are falling behind in your internal goal to read it all. Remember that living with less is not a fad diet, it is  a lifestyle change. It will take some time and you will undoubtedly have some setbacks.

Remember the goal is to own less, so you can organize less, which opens up space for all the good stuff life has to offer.

Well, if this doesn't make you want to organize everything down to your pens and socks then I don't know what will. Please excuse me while I go to The Container Store buy endless bins and labels.



Hi, I'm Courtney, and I'm the founder of Courtney Schrank Design Studio. I help high-powered female executives maintain their identity and well-being while working for someone else. Read more about my services here!

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