3 Steps for Using a Pantry Inventory To Stay Organized

Inside: Save on grocery bills and reduce food waste by keeping track of the food you have on hand as well as the food you need to buy. I highly recommend creating a pantry inventory – here’s how.

When was the last time you pulled something out of your pantry only to find that it was (VERY) past its expiration date? 

How often do you run out of ingredients that you thought you had on hand only to find out (too late) that you don’t? Or you bought something you thought you needed only to find two of them in there when you got home?

Trust me, every one of those scenarios has happened to me too!

When left to its own devices, your pantry can quickly become an area that sucks up your time and money and causes stress rather than the glorious storage area it’s meant to be.

How do you change that? Well, I’m happy to report that it’s easier than it may seem! With just a little bit of organization and a pantry inventory list, you’ll soon be well on your way to knowing exactly what food you have on hand and what you (actually) need to purchase!

3 Steps To Getting (And Staying) Organized With A Pantry Inventory List

Do you know what you have in your pantry right now? If you (like many people) don’t, the good news is that you are not alone. The bad news…well, not knowing is costing you time, sanity, and money.

It’s time to change that with these 3 steps – they will change your life (sounds dramatic, but it’s true!).

Step 1: Clean Out Your Pantry With This Pantry Organization List

What is the pantry? Most people hear that word and think of a designated cabinet area in your kitchen that holds dry, shelf-stable items. 

For this post, I’m using the word “pantry” to refer not only to cabinet space but also to any other space where you store food: the refrigerator and freezer. The process I’m showing you today works for cabinet items as well as cold and frozen foods!

Clean Out Your Pantry 

In order to be able to take stock of what you have in your pantry, you first need to clean it out. Pull out every single item you have in your pantry and put them into 3 categories: 

  • Keep
  • Throw away
  • Donate

Decluttering expert Marie Kondo suggests only keeping items that “spark joy”. I think this is a great general concept for the home. However, for the pantry, I suggest adjusting that to only keep food items that “you will use”.

For example, if you have boxes of regular dried pasta in your pantry but don’t eat pasta anymore (or only eat gluten-free), get rid of the dried pasta you won’t use. Why keep it in there taking up space? 

disorganized food on pantry shelves

As you clean out and sort your pantry items into the three categories above, be sure to throw out any:

  • Expired items (here’s how to find out how long pantry food REALLY lasts
  • Rancid oils
  • Old or rancid nuts
  • Stale crackers, chips or bread
  • Old spices that have lost their flavor
  • Bottles or boxes that are essentially empty

Pro Tip: If you find two open containers of the same item (such as bags of the same kind of chips), try to combine them into one to save space and declutter. 

Declutter Your Pantry

As you pull out your pantry items, let the answers to these questions help guide your decision about whether to keep the food or not:

  • When was the last time you used this?
  • Could you make a meal with this today?
  • Do you enjoy eating this item?
  • Will you use this before it expires?

Pro Tip: Donate any unexpired food that you won’t eat to your local food bank. FYI, food banks and other donation collections will not accept expired items.

Step 2: Organize Pantry Items With A Pantry Inventory List

Whew – that was a huge step in the right direction!

Next, in order to help you stay organized and avoid going right back to that cluttered, disorganized pantry system you had before, it’s time to organize your pantry items.

I love this part of the process! This is where you get to create the organizational system that will make the biggest difference in knowing what items you have and what you don’t. 

It will also help you find the items you need quickly so that you aren’t digging through to the back of the pantry wondering where the canned tomatoes are. 🙂 

Create pantry “zones” to help you organize your pantry items and quickly find whatever you are looking for.

To do this, think about your family’s cooking and eating habits (after-school snacks, baking supplies, pasta, soups, etc) and designate an area for each category. 

Before and after photos of organizing a pantry

Examples Of Possible Pantry Zone Categories

*(adjust this list to fit your lifestyle)

  • Breakfast items
  • Snack items
  • Pasta & grains
  • Sauces and soups
  • Baking items
  • Canned goods (I like to break these up into categories: fruits, beans, veggies, etc)
  • Beans
  • Sweets
  • Beverages
  • Condiments

I have tried nearly every type of pantry inventory organization method there is, and the very best way that I have found to organize a pantry is to sort your items into zones as listed above and also use containers to keep things contained and neat. 

This works especially well if you buy items in bulk.

For example, we buy our oatmeal in bulk, and without a container to put our oatmeal into, my pantry gets cluttered with bags of oatmeal that I need to sort through before using to make sure that I have some oatmeal and that what I’m grabbing IS the oatmeal.

Ideas Of Different Types Of Containers You Can Use

  • Baskets
  • Buckets
  • Bins
  • Canisters
  • Cereal containers
  • Glass jars

Important Tips Regarding Your Pantry Containers

  • Use appropriate containers to help keep like items within your zones together while separating those zone items from items in a different zone.
  • Mix and match types of containers to find a system that works best for you. A bin or a basket works well for “collections” of items: snacks, small boxes, cans, etc.
  • Larger containers with lids (like cereal bins or canisters) work well for loose items like grains, pasta, flour, sugar, loose tea, nuts, etc.
  • Maximize your storage space by creating solutions that utilize vertical storage rather than pushings things towards the back to get lost and forgotten about with horizontal storage.

Pro Tip: If you really want to stay organized for the long term, label each pantry category so that family members can easily follow the system and put things where they belong to help keep it organized.

It may take just a little bit of time to set up your system and then fine-tune it so that it works just the way you want it to.

Then, it simply becomes a matter of living by the phrase: “A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place”!

Related Post: 5 Insanely Easy Steps to an Organized Pantry

woman standing in front of her organized pantry

Step 3: Use My Pantry Inventory Printable To Take Keep Track Of What You Have & Stay Organized

The third and final step for getting your pantry inventory under control is to grab my pantry inventory printable and use it to keep track of every item in your pantry. I designed it to be used regularly to help you not lose (or have to throw out expired) food anymore!

To use it most effectively, write down every single item you have and how many of each item you have. Keep it close to the pantry – or even hanging or velcroed inside – so that when someone takes an item out, they can mark it down.

Pro Tip: I highly recommend laminating the pantry inventory printable after you print it out. Use dry erase (or wet-erase) markers on it so that you don’t have to keep printing out new copies.

Click here for your free pantry inventory

Final Thought 

There you go! I hope these 3 simple steps help you get your pantry organization under control and eliminate your pantry inventory problem. Cleaning out your pantry will help you eliminate food waste and avoid spending money that you don’t need to.

Using a pantry inventory list will help you save time and feel like you really “have it together”(and who doesn’t want to feel that way?)!






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The Best Home Management Tips that are Actually Easy

Inside: Tired of always feeling tired, stretched too thin, and stressed out as you try to manage your home? These 7 powerhouse home management tips will help you create a custom home management system that eliminates stress and leaves you with a cleaner, more organized home!

Managing a home is a full-time job all by itself. Between cleaning, organizing, cooking, paying bills, running errands, and completing small repairs, all the tasks that are necessary for home management can easily consume the entire day.

And if you don’t have any systems in place, you’re probably overwhelmed with all of it. I would know because that’s exactly how I felt. Managing our house and raising our kids was much more difficult than my corporate job because I didn’t have the tools I needed to get the job done.

Home management tips being created on a printed sheet

Why You Should Use a Home Management System

In my corporate life, I know how to help teams of people prepare for their future. But, when I started to focus on raising our family, I didn’t know how to manage my own house. I was frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed, to say the least.

That’s because I didn’t have a home management system. I simply didn’t have a way to make sure that I was staying on track, instead of dropping all the balls.

7 Top Home Management Tips That Are Actually Easy and Effective

While my home management skills were less than ideal at first, I was determined to come up with systems to make it extremely manageable. After years of fine-tuning those systems, I am now sharing my top tips with you to help you hone yours!

1. Use To-Do Lists

One of the things I discovered early on when I began managing our home was I couldn’t make it work without to-do lists. There are just so many things that come up and need to be addressed but also get forgotten in the busyness of life.

Life happens. The washing machine needs to be repaired. The grass gets long and full of weeds. The heat won’t turn on. Your son needs his baseball uniform washed pronto.

When it comes to managing a household, let’s face it: the to-do list is extensive. That’s why it helps to get all the tasks out of your brain and on paper so that they aren’t using up precious memory space or energy just to remember them.

Make your to-do list a part of a home management binder so it’s always ready when you need it.

2. Cleaning Routine Checklist

Certain cleaning tasks must be done daily, while others need to be done regularly but less frequently (weekly, monthly, etc). Staying on top of these tasks is the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling like you’ve got everything under control. Make a list of chores and split them into what needs to be done daily, weekly, or monthly. 

Daily Chores

Here are a few examples of chores that need to be done daily in order to help you stay on top of them:

  • Make beds
  • Wiping down the kitchen after use
  • Sorting through the mail or papers from school that come home
  • A load of laundry
  • Put shoes and clothes away each day
  • Sweep the floors
  • Wash dishes

This was just a list of examples. If you have other daily chores, add them to the list!

Check out my 10 Minute Speed Cleaning Tasks to help you tackle those daily chores quickly so your house always feels clean.

Weekly Chores

This list might include things like:

  • Vacuuming
  • Mopping
  • Dusting
  • Cleaning the bathrooms
  • Changing bedsheets

 Again, feel free to modify this list based on how often you want certain chores done.

Monthly Chores

Some ideas of monthly chores (or tasks) might include:

  • Do a monthly clean cycle for your washing machine
  • Run a monthly clean cycle for your dishwasher
  • Change your furnace filter
  • Clean bedrooms
  • Dust blinds and ceiling fans

In other words, if you want to keep your home clean without spending all weekend long cleaning it, do a little at a time – consistently. The effort goes a long way and reduces those feelings of overwhelm that engulf you when you look around at a filthy house.

a desktop with a smartphone, a planner, and a woman's hand writing on a planner sheet

3. Calendar

Do you remember when your next dentist appointment is scheduled? How about when the A/C repair guy is coming? Your daughter’s orthodontist appointment? Or your husband’s work party?

Life flows at a breakneck speed these days, which means that you are often hearing about (or scheduling) events that your brain doesn’t retain as it’s also trying to remember 9,738 other things.

Keep a calendar handy. Whether you use a trusty paper version or a calendar on your smartphone, having an updated calendar always at your fingertips is huge for helping you keep track of all. the. things.

Tip: If you use a calendar in your smartphone, take advantage of the feature that allows you to set alerts. I always set alerts for my events. In fact, I sometimes set multiple alerts if I think I might forget about an event so that I am not too distracted and forget where I need to be!

4. Meal Plan & Prep

Meal planning is one of the easiest and most impactful home management tasks you can do. Really, it’s your secret weapon.

It literally shaves hours of work off your week and eliminates the daily frantic struggle to come up with a dinner plan (and get it made in time while also running soccer carpool and helping your daughter with her homework).

Here are some other benefits to meal planning:

  • It limits the number of trips (and time spent) going to the grocery store.
  • It saves money by eliminating aimless grocery shopping.
  • It’s healthier (and cheaper) for your family because you spend less on unplanned take out or drive through meals.

Learn how to do easy weekly meal planning and save yourself the headaches and stress of figuring out what’s for dinner each night. If not, I highly recommend you check out some of these menu planning services if that fits better into your schedule and lifestyle. 

The next time you hear the question that used to spark dread in your heart, you can answer what’s for dinner without any hesitation (or scrambling)!

5. Get Finances in Order

Part of managing a home is keeping track of finances and paying the bills. Having a clear picture of the money that comes into the household and where it flows is crucial for a smooth-running home.

Get your finances in order by setting a budget and sticking to it. You can find everything you need to get started by setting a budget and paying bills on time in my Home Management Binder.

6. Develop A System For Organization

If being organized doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s ok. There are certain things you can do to make your home more organized in a way that fits your personality. 

If you take a look at organizational systems that professional home organizers use, you can adapt them to your own home so that they work for you.

Here are a couple of gems to help you get started:

  • Designate a “home” for everything. When everything has a place where it belongs and is in that spot, there is no clutter. “A place for everything and everything in its place” as the saying goes.
  • Use baskets, bins, and other storage containers to create organized (and designated) places for everything. Label them to keep them organized.

organized playroom shelves with toys and storage boxes

7. Create Routines

People naturally crave routines, so build routines that fit your personality and help you stay on track. When you have a backbone for your day, it’s easier to stay on task and be productive than when you’re moving aimlessly from task to task.

Use your daily tasks, your frequent appointments, and other commitments to establish a daily routine that helps you.

Home Management: Final Thoughts

Adopting these 7 home management tips will help you implement a home management system that helps you stay organized and stress-free.

Need a little extra help? My Home Management Binder will help provide the structure you need. No more missed appointments or dinnertime frustrations!





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How to Finish Every Decluttering Project You Ever Start

Inside: If you’re tired of being overwhelmed or never finishing decluttering projects, check out this list of 7 tips that will help know exactly how to finish your decluttering project every time! 

It was a cold day in the mountains and all the campers have just left. We had a few hours before the new campers arrived. As part of the volunteer Summer work crew, one of my jobs was to change the sheets on the bunk beds throughout the camp.

This was a necessary but unglamorous job. At times the immature high-schooler in me did not want to do the job with excellence. Thankfully, I was paired with an older girl who had more wisdom than me. She said something that has stuck with me to this day. She said, “Anyone can start job well it’s how you finish it that matters.”

Many years later, I’ve taken that advice with me when I’ve ended professional jobs, moved to new to cities, or volunteered for organizations.

Despite my commitment to finishing jobs for others, it’s easy to let myself off the hook when it comes to personal matters.

Are you a serial starter?  How many times have you started decluttering only to get stalled in your tracks? Maybe you started a home organization project and got derailed. How many times have you started a diet and gave it up on Friday pizza night? Or maybe you set New Year’s resolutions only to abandon them before the end of January.

If I’m being candid, I’ve done ALL OF THESE!

I can so relate with my readers that share their struggle with finishing decluttering projects.  Recently, I have challenged myself to keep the commitments I make to me just as I would to others.

Let’s look at how you can keep your commitment to yourself by finishing what you started.  We’re going to dive into 7 tips to help you finish every decluttering project you ever start! (spoiler alert, you can apply these tips to more than just decluttering!)

1. Write down your goal

The first thing you should do is write down your goal.  You may not typically think about writing down a goal for decluttering, but writing things down has tremendous benefits!  Here are 7 to consider:

  • It makes you more committed
  • Helps clear your mind
  • Clarifies your goals and priorities
  • It makes you more efficient
  • Helps keep you motivated
  • Encourages consistent progress
  • Gives you a sense of achievement

close up of a woman's hand writing down her decluttering goals

2. Set timeframes and make commitments

In addition to writing down your goal be sure to include timeframes for finishing your decluttering project. You need to break the projects down into smaller tasks. For example, instead of saying I want to de-clutter the kitchen, break it into smaller steps like clean out the junk drawer, declutter under the sink, and organize the cleaning products. Once you break the project into smaller steps assign dates to each step.  These dates are your commitment to the timeframe. 

3. Prioritize

When you’ve broken your decluttering project into smaller steps you can then prioritize the steps even further.  Think about what motivates you. Maybe there’s an eyesore that bothers you every time you walk by. Put that project first on your list and imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel once it’s completed. Or maybe you’re having a hard time getting started… identify the smallest and easiest steps to help build your momentum. Prioritizing your action steps will help you finish your decluttering project every time.

4. Use time-blocking

Alright, let’s admit you’re guilty of multitasking.  Multitasking has been proven to actually make you less productive!  Gasp! How many times do you check your phone for text messages, emails, or Facebook updates?  I’m guilty too!  Time blocking is a simple tool you can use to help you focus your energy for a predetermined amount of time. 

What’s great about time blocking is you can make it work with almost any schedule. I know a woman who started a new business in the midst of running another business and having two young children. She decided she could work on the new business in 25-minute bursts of time. She listed her activities and then blocked off 25 minutes intervals at different points in the day.  Now she has a thriving new business that is significantly more successful than the previous.

To start using time blocking to help you finish your decluttering project, determine the amount that time you can dedicate on a daily or weekly basis. Block out the time on your calendar to commit to your decluttering project.

5. Identify the tradeoffs

Another helpful tip to finish your decluttering project is to recognize the trade-off in advance.

Recently a friend of mine decided to remove the carpet and tile and replace their flooring.  The husband had a 4-day weekend and this was their window of time to do it.  They watched a couple of YouTube videos but had no prior experience.  Four days later the entire family was still working on the demolition.  Their house was a  wreck and in total disorder and now they needed to go back to work so the project wouldn’t be finished until the next weekend.

In this case, identifying the tradeoffs would have looked something like this:

  • All 7 family members will need to be involved in this project which means they won’t be able to do other activities for these 4 days
  • The entire house is going to be in disarray, but it will look great when it’s finished
  • It may cost more money than you expect, so be sure to put aside some extra
  • In the end, it will all be worth it

Identify trade-offs before you start a project and you’ll be better prepared and more committed when things arise.

6. Practice achieving your goals

This is a real confidence booster. Do you know how many times you set yourself up for failure? You make a commitment to a goal so big that it’s highly unlikely you’d ever achieve it.

But big goals are not the only way to get things done. In fact, you’ll be more committed if you experience success if you take things on a little at a time.

Like I mentioned earlier, write down your goal. Make sure it’s a doable and achievable goal. In other words, make sure it’s realistic. If you’ve been burned by not completing projects in the past set out this time to start AND FINISH a small decluttering project. 

The more you see yourself being able to complete the decluttering project the more willing you’ll be to start and finish every decluttering project.

So how do you start small?… One drawer at the time, one shelf at a time, one small space at a time, or projects like cleaning out the bathroom drawer or the kid’s clothing drawer. Write down your goal (commitment), spend an hour or less to get it done, and see yourself achieve the goal.  This will build momentum and help you to finish every decluttering project you ever start! 

Decluterwomen's clothes hanging in an organized closet after she finished her decluttering project.

7. Manage your energy

There are natural points in the day when you have more energy.  Yes, it’s also true right after you have a cup of coffee that you’ll have more energy.  But you also have a natural circadian rhythm.  We have high energy points and low energy points in our day.  For most adults, between 1-3 p.m. is a low energy point.  THIS WOULD NOT BE THE TIME to start your decluttering project.

Maybe you’re an early bird or perhaps you like to stay up late to crank work out.  Think about when you have your burst of energy and schedule your decluttering project in that window of time.

You can also increase your energy by tapping into your internal motivation.  Remind yourself why this decluttering project is important to you.  How will it feel with you’ve completed it?  What benefits will you gain from it?  Will you save time, have less frustration, or just enjoy living in a decluttered space?

If you’re tired of getting stalled on your decluttering project and wondering how to finish every decluttering project you ever start, use these tips!  By writing down your goals, setting dates, and prioritizing your work, you’ll be more committed to the project.  Identifying trade-offs, practicing achieving your goals, and managing your energy will also help you cross the finish line.

So, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to get started (AND FINISH) your decluttering project!





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A smiling woman that is happy she finally finished her decluttering project

10 Ironclad Tips to Help You Get Started Decluttering

Inside: If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering, this list of tips will help you get unstuck. These decluttering strategies will help you take your first step and get started decluttering your home.

It surprised me again. How long had it been since I heard that once familiar sound? It snuck up on me, but I definitely heard a Robin happily chirping outside. The warm sun was pouring through the window and I was reminded that the winter would end soon. Spring would be here before I knew it. My heart lightened in anticipation.
Spring is one of the times when I am very motivated to get the house in order. That means decluttering, getting organized, and cleaning. It’s almost as natural as the Robin returning year after year.
But there are many times throughout the year when I struggle with motivation to clean. I know there’s work to be done and I’ll feel better when it’s complete, but oh the struggle to get started.
In these cases, I need a compelling reason to get started. Once I get started, it’s like a snowball effect. I make a little progress and get the itch to do more.
Do you struggle with how to get started decluttering? Check out these 10 actionable tips to help you get going.

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Woman starting to declutter her home with text 10 Ironclad Tips to help you get started decluttering.

1. Start with something easy

One of the biggest motivators is having a sense of accomplishment. Make a shortlist of your top 3-5 areas you want to declutter. Identify the easiest item on the list, hopefully, something that will only take an hour or less. If all your decluttering projects are on a larger scale, break them down into smaller parts. For example, instead of saying “declutter the kitchen.” List it as “declutter the junk drawer in the kitchen”.
To get started decluttering pick the easiest thing on your list, set the time for an hour, and get started. What you’ll find is, once you do something that’s important to you and that’s easy, you’ll be motivated to continue.

2. Start with a visible high traffic area

It’s one thing to declutter your chest of drawers, but if you don’t go there very often, you may forget the satisfaction you get when it’s clean and organized. By decluttering a high traffic area first you’ll see it frequently and reinforce the positive feelings associated with it. This will help you feel motivated to take on more decluttering projects in your home.

3. Reframe your thoughts

Decluttering can often be hard because it’s thought of as a chore. If you reframe your thoughts to focus on the benefits, it can be highly motivational.
So, how do you reframe your thoughts? There are a couple of ways. First, you can think about your vision for the space. Let’s say you have a room that isn’t currently used by your family and it’s become a bit of a catch-all. If you declutter and organize, you can use that space for some other purpose e.g. a craft room, office, or workout space.
Another way you can reframe is to list all the benefits you’ll experience by decluttering and getting organized. For example, if you decide to declutter your office papers, you’ll likely experience the following benefits. You’ll save time and frustration not having to look for items. You’ll no longer shuffle piles around. You’ll know where things are when you need them. The space will look neat and tidy.

4. Make it manageable…only commit to 30 minutes to an hour at a time

I hear from a lot of readers that you have difficulty getting started because it’s overwhelming. One way to resist feeling overwhelmed is to set time limits on your project. And like I mentioned in the first example, to break it down into smaller steps. So, set a timer for 30-60 minutes and declutter one thing at a time. Start with a drawer, a shelf, or a cabinet. Don’t tackle the entire space at once. If you need some ideas of where to get started decluttering, check out 15-minute decluttering tasks.

5. Declutter with a friend

As an extrovert, I’m very motivated to do things with others. This applies especially to anything hard e.g. exercising. Find a friend and commit with that partner what you want to do in a week’s time or a month. Set a deadline. If you want to make the deal even sweeter, determine a reward for when you finish the work. Like you’ll have a glass of wine together.

6. Do a garage sale so that you have a date to work towards

Externally imposed deadlines are another great motivator. Set a date for a garage sale or sign up to take part in a church or community sale. This date will help you be motivated to keep going and not give up on decluttering and getting things out of your house!

7. Invite people over

This is another magic bullet. If you’re like most, you probably want your home to look nice when you have people over. By inviting people over it will force you to pay more attention to the spaces you’ve been ignoring e.g. the mudroom, kitchen counter, pile of magazines in the living room.

Woman welcoming people to come inside her home after she got started decluttering.


8. Block out time on your calendar

Do you feel like something always comes up? It’s hard to get traction and make headway on your decluttering project? One of the challenges with decluttering is sticking with your personal commitment.
Make a promise to yourself and don’t break it. Block time out on your calendar to tackle your project. Think about it in advance. Look at the week ahead, consider your schedule and prior commitments. Then find the windows of time when you can work on your decluttering project. Commit to it like it’s an appointment with someone else.

9. Take a “Before” picture

This tip is helpful if you’re working on a space that needs a significant transformation. Take a before picture of the space. Think about your vision- what do you want this space to become, what challenges are you trying to address. Make note of them. Any time your motivation begins to slip, look at your before picture, and remind yourself of your vision.
Once you complete the space, take an “After” picture and save it to a folder of all your decluttering victories. As you do more, your folder will have increased testimonies to remind you that decluttering is doable and the sense of satisfaction you feel when it’s complete.

10. Have a plan to donate items

Last but not least, you may struggle with decluttering because you’re not sure where to donate the items. Some things are sentimental, like your great aunt’s china, and other things are like new, but you have no use for it. Make a list of the places where you could donate various items. Check out this post for a few ideas of place to donate.

Happy Home Happy Life

In a recent survey over 50% of my readers said the hardest part of a task is getting started. The reality is, we spend more time in our homes than anywhere else. And, by improving our homes we actually enjoy them more. The Happiness Research Institute did a study in 2018-2019 to look at the connection between happiness and home.
They found that “our homes are more important to our overall happiness than our income or jobs.”
Their report also shares that “73% of people who are happy at home are also happy in life.”

Lastly, their study found that

“Taking the time to improve our home

also has a positive impact on home happiness,

regardless of whether we enjoy the process itself.”

These 10 tips for helping you get started decluttering will help you improve your home and ultimately your happiness! Take a step now and determine the tips you’ll take and put in place this week!

10 Easy Decluttering Projects to do When You’re Stuck At Home

Inside: Don’t let cabin fever get to you. There are easy decluttering and home organization projects you can do that don’t require much time. If you’re stuck inside due to inclement weather or because of a health scare, check out these 10 easy decluttering projects to do when you’re stuck at home!

I woke up to ice and condensation on the INSIDE of our windows. It was another cold day…-19c to be exact. The skies were grey and snow was drifting across the street. The heat from the floor vents was warming my feet. Staying inside was definitely a better choice than going outside today.

I work from home and spend a lot of time in our house, but when you’re stuck at home…meaning it doesn’t feel like it’s a choice to be inside, you can become stir crazy!

Instead of sitting by idly, it’s helpful to keep busy and work on a project…queue decluttering. Remember that closet that you’ve been meaning to get to…or the pile of papers that frustrate you every time you need to find something. Well, this is the PERFECT time to tackle them.

Decluttered closet with sweaters neatly hung up with text 10 Easy Decluttering Projects to do when You're Stuck at Home

Decluttering Project Criteria

Whether you’re stuck inside for a day or weeks, make it your goal to take on small projects you can do with short bursts of energy. Don’t take on something that will be overwhelming or require a lot of time. Aim for projects you can complete in 60-90 minutes.

1. Organize Your Junk Drawer

It can be so satisfying to organize your junk. Seriously, when you see the transformation it is very rewarding. Picture unused birthday candles, coins, hair bands, pens, paperclips, and batteries. These are just a few of the things we found in our junk drawer.

Junk drawers are convenient and, in my opinion, necessary, but they need to be functional. If you can’t find anything in them or have no idea what they contain, then they are not helpful and will be frustrating at times.

So, how do you make it useful? Sort the items into ‘like’ categories. Discard broken items, garbage, and items that you will not use again e.g. a burnt birthday candle.

Use things you have around the house to help separate and organize your small items. E.g. an iPhone or other technology box, a mason jar, or an empty plastic food container.

2. Declutter Your Bathroom Vanity

Cleaning out under the bathroom sink, a drawer or a cabinet is another good area to organize when you’re quarantined.

Throw away any of the following items that are over a year old:
• Lotions
• Cosmetic samples
• Make up
• Expired medicines

Like the junk drawer organization process mentioned above, sort things into like categories and use containers to help separate.

3. Organize the Coat Closet

If you’re like me, you may not think of your coat closet until you have guests come over and they need to hang up their coats. Remove any coats that have collected there or that family members have outgrown.

Relocate items that shouldn’t be there e.g. sports equipment, hobby gear, games, whatever!

Organize things so that you can easily access space for coats when guests visit.

4. Clean out Your Deep Freeze

How many things get buried in the back of your freezer. If only you knew what was in there…you might be able to save some money on groceries. It takes surprisingly little time to clean out and organize your freezer.

Throw away any food with freezer burn and use the chart below to determine what other food should be discarded.


Lasts in the Freezer
Raw beef, veal, lamb, and pork4-12 months
Raw poultry9 months
Lean fish (flounder)6 months
Fatty fish (salmon)2-3 months
Wild game8-12 months
Ground meat3-4 months
Bacon, sausage, luncheon meat, or hotdogs1-2 months
Cooked meat2-3 months
Cheese6 months
Butter6-9 months
Milk3 months
Yogurt1-2 months
Cream, half-and-half4 months
Most fruits10-12 months
Most vegetables10-12 months
Casseroles2-3 months
Soups2-3 months
Pizza1-2 months
Cakes4-6 months
Cookie dough2 months
Fruit pies, baked2-4 months

Once you’ve discarded the expired food, make a list of the food that remains in your freezer. Then incorporate the items into your weekly meal plan and save money grocery shopping!

5. Organize the Pantry

Cleaning out your pantry is also a good thing to do when you’re trapped inside. Your pantry is likely larger than your freezer, so you may want to break down the work into smaller parts. For example, instead of cleaning out the entire pantry, just do one shelf or one area at a time. You want to keep busy, but not get overwhelmed! However, if you’re on a spring-cleaning streak and have the motivation…go for it!!!

Check out this post for details on how long pantry food lasts and this one for ideas on organizing your pantry!

6. Pair Mismatched Socks

If you’re like most modern families, you probably have a pile of mismatched socks sitting somewhere around your house. Well, here’s your chance to finally deal with them.

Put on your favorite show, place all of the socks in front of you and try to match them. If you can’t find a match, then it’s time to discard the pile!

7. Eliminate Paper Clutter

Do you have a stack of papers you’ve been shuffling around the house? How many times have you touched that pile in the last month? I’m willing to bet it’s been more than once.

Sort into the following categories:
• Shred
• Recycle
• Action required e.g. pay a bill
• File

The File category will need to be future sorted. The good news is, you don’t have to keep many papers on hand. Check out this post for the types of documents you need to keep and for how long you need to keep them.

Pile of papers - easy decluttering project

8. Organize Your Tupperware Drawer

Another easy project in your kitchen is decluttering your food storage containers. Remove any containers that don’t have their partner…the lid or the container. Organize lids vertically like a file folder. Stack containers by shape…square containers, rectangle, circle etc. from largest to smallest.

9. Declutter Your Book Shelf

How many books do you have on your shelf? Are you still interested in all of them? How frequently do you pick them up to read? If your bookshelves are overburdened with books, use this time to sort through and declutter.

Remove any books that no longer interest you or that you have electronic copies of. Remember most user manuals are online now, so you can recycle any that you have hard copies of.

If you have a hard time getting rid of books, set a goal of the number you want to get rid of. This will force your hand a bit and help you prioritize as you review the titles.

Pile of books that were easily decluttered

10. Organize Your Board Games

The last area you can declutter if you’re quarantined is your board games and puzzles. Discard any games that are broken or missing parts. If you have games you no longer use or your kids have outgrown, put them in a pile to donate.

Being stuck inside is a good time to bond with family or friends. You can organize your games, cards, and puzzles and pull out a couple to play together while you’re stuck inside.

Things to do when you’re Quarantined

Don’t let cabin fever get to you. There are easy decluttering and home organization projects you can do that don’t require much time. If you’re stuck inside due to inclement weather or because of a health scare, make a plan to become productive and tackle projects you’ve put off in the past.





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