Photo: Taste of Home/kkammphoto008
We all have the greatest intentions for clean, lean eating and an organized home. But sometimes approaching these goals is a challenge. That’s why I asked some of the neatest people I know—professional organizers—how they stay on top of things and prep for a busy week.
These professional organizers let me in on some tips for how they reset their homes each week so they’re ready to make meals and tackle what each day holds. Using the weekend to prep for the week ahead, they make life look easy. Check out some of their habits to learn how you can bring a little extra order to your life.
1. They prep like chefs
Looking forward to her jam-packed schedule, organizing coach Jill Annis sits down and figures out how many nights that week her family will be eating together. With recipes in hand, she looks through her fridge for the ingredients she has left from the previous week and creates a grocery list from there. Back from the grocery store, she washes and chops veggies, then sets ingredients aside in clear containers, emulating a chef getting ready for a dinner service. Cooking dinner isn’t so daunting when you have everything you need on hand and ready to go.
Anticipating the busiest nights of the week, Natalie Gallagher of Refined Rooms plans for slow cooker or one-pan meals (like these sheet pan recipes) that lessen the number of dishes to wash. While you’re planning meals, it’s a great time to set day-of reminders that you’ll likely forget: moving frozen chicken breasts to the fridge to thaw on Thursday when you’ll be making coconut curried chicken on Saturday. (Don’t make these chicken mistakes!) You can set alarms on your phone to remind you during your busy morning or write down reminders for the whole week so you won’t forget.
2. They create a clean workspace
Close your eyes and think about the kitchen of your dreams. The kitchen we want to cook in is clean, light-filled, well-stocked and organized. On your most rushed days, you won’t want to prep dinner in a hectic space. You’ll likely reach for your phone to order takeout. Anticipate the days when meetings run long, you miss the train home and still have a project deadline looming—make it as easy as possible to cook.
Faith Roberson, of Organize With Faith, does just that. It’s a part of her weekend ritual to slow down and give her beloved space a once-over. She refills her frequently used spice canisters with salt, pepper, curry, red pepper and paprika. She takes the time to regroup and put things where they belong—especially when she has had guests over. Follow her lead and during the week, you’ll know exactly where the whole-wheat pasta, rice, spices and oils are located.
3. They clean something that hasn’t been touched in a while
This is where we offer an official apology to the top of our refrigerator and the floor boards, because the last time we came face-to-face with these surfaces with an all-natural cleaner in hand, the band One Direction was still together (around the beginning of 2015 to be specific).
On days off whether it’s a weekday or weekend, Cynthia Kienzle—The Clutter Whisperer of NYC—arranges to clean her sink, backsplash, top of the stove, dish drainer or microwave oven plate. She also launders her dish cloths and kitchen towels so they’re ready to be used during the week. Doing a small bit every week will help you avoid going another year without scrubbing unseen surfaces—the top of your fridge thanks you!
Every weekend, you can also easily wash and sanitize the drip tray under your dish holder. It’s an item people frequently forget to sanitize, Roberson says. While you’re at it, remember to sanitize your countertops (with vinegar and water for an all-natural method), since you might regularly wipe those surfaces without disinfecting them.
4. They create more counter space
If you’re like us, your countertop space is scarce. Every week or two, you should consider how often you’re actually using the blender or food processor. Store the things you aren’t using as much. “They do not need to be front and center on the counter,” Kienzle says. In addition, preserve space in your cabinets and drawers by getting rid of duplicates. Too many fry pans, too many spatulas (some stained), too many salt ‘n’ pepper shakers? Eliminate your least favorites. While you’re at it, go through your drawers and throw away (or recycle) plastic containers, forks and spoons, chopsticks and the like. There’s no reason to keep them.
5. They make more room in the pantry
Step up your pantry game and ensure you can actually spot your favorite bags of hibiscus tea when the mood hits. “It’s amazing how much space you can recover when you get rid of unnecessary packaging,” Kienzle says. During her free time, she throws away whole boxes of cereal and tea leaves. Condense cereal in a plastic container and tea leaves into a clear plastic bag. Pour what’s remaining of the oatmeal into a smaller container and toss the huge canister. Use up the last of the yogurt with last week’s fruit in a smoothie, and get rid of the plastic container that’s been sitting in your fridge all week.
6. They care for their home
Make a list of tasks you need to complete during the week and tackle the to-dos on the weekends. Maeve Richmond, founder and Maeve’s Method coach, says the small things you can do for your home can make the biggest difference, starting with watering the plants, light dusting of shelves and putting things away.
“I’m all about slowing things down on the weekends and paying attention to the small things of home life that we gloss over during our busy weekdays,” she says. “I also firmly believe that taking time to slow down and care-take our homes goes a long way towards staying in harmony with the space as we tend to notice little things during that time, like a bulb that blew out or a piece of furniture that needs to be repaired or replaced.” Recently, she repaired a lamp with a broken knob and fixed the bath drain that wasn’t working quite right. Instead of worrying about these tasks for days to come, she got to work. You won’t believe the difference it’ll make to your stress levels on the week.
With these tips, I say bring on the weekend prep work and the weekday calm!