<![CDATA[The Orderly Life - Blog]]>Mon, 19 Aug 2019 11:48:03 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Healthy Kitchen Organizing]]>Tue, 23 Jul 2019 13:01:58 GMThttp://theorderlylife.com/blog/healthy-kitchen-organizing
 Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash
While there are many benefits to organizing, one of the most compelling to me has always been the positive impact on our health. Many research studies have shown a correlation of home organization to both stress levels (which can be a major contributor to health issues) and to the decisions that we make (i.e. food choices, whether we exercise or not). 
For instance, when working in a neat workspace versus a cluttered one, participants were twice as likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar as a snack (study reported in the Journal of Psychological Science). Numerous studies have also shown that people tend to eat what they see. A 2015 Cornell study reported that women that kept fresh fruit on their countertop “tended to be at a normal weight compared to peers” while those that kept "snacks like cereal and soda readily accessible" weighed, on average, 20 pounds more than peers. We eat what we see and is convenient - not a big surprise with today’s busy pace of life.

Convenience plays a vital role in many of our choices (fast food vs cooking, driving vs biking/walking, sleeping in vs going to the gym). 
So how can we use this information to our advantage? Here are five ways to start in your kitchen:

  1. Make healthy food options easily accessible and place where you will see them. Obviously this assumes you will buy healthier options first! Seeing the healthy options is a visual reminder of what we want to do. If they are up high, down low or in the back of the pantry, we can forget about them.​
    • Place a bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop
    • Store fruits and veggies up front (in clear bins if needed) in the refrigerator at eye level
    • Place healthy snacks up front in cabinets/pantry
    • Put the treats in the back of cabinets or up high where they’re out of sight and less convenient
  2. Create a recipe book of quick, healthy recipes. Sometimes trying to figure out what to make takes the most time if I don’t have a plan. On these days, I use one of several go-to recipes that I know I can make quickly (under 30 minutes) and for which I always have the ingredients.  This may take some time upfront to think through, but having these as a resource when you just don’t feel like making one more decision is a great deterrent for ordering out, which is often less healthy than what you will make.  
  3. Declutter your kitchen. An overcrowded and/or disorganized kitchen can be stressful, both to look at and to cook in given the extra time needed to find things. Many kitchens have gadgets and food items that are never used. Sorting what is actually used versus what is not needed can make using the kitchen more appealing. If space is tight in the kitchen, consider putting items you only use once or twice a year in a nearby room if possible. 
  4. Set up your kitchen so that the items you use most frequently are easy to get out of cabinets (or are on your counter if you have space and prefer). For instance, if you want to eat steamed vegetables more often but you have to pull out several items to get to the steamer, you probably won’t use it much. Want to make instapot meals more frequently? Then don’t keep the instapot in the basement. Consciously thinking through where things are placed in the kitchen can dictate what you eat. Think about what you need to make your go-to recipes.  
  5. Create a pantry of healthy essentials that you will always have on hand to make a quick meal.  Some of my favorites:
  • Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, lentils, pasta)
  • Nuts / seeds / beans
  • Jarred sauces (marinara, curry, hot sauce, salsa) 
  • Frozen vegetables / fruit (for smoothies or when I’m out of fresh produce)
  • Spices 
Some people find decanting dry goods into clear or labeled canisters makes them more accessible. If you do this, tape the cooking instructions to the underside of the lid for things like rice and quinoa if you’re not used to cooking them.  
Do you have any kitchen organizing tips that have helped you eat healthier?
<![CDATA[What does "Getting Organized" look like for YOU?]]>Wed, 01 May 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://theorderlylife.com/blog/what-does-getting-organized-look-like-for-you

What does "Getting Organized" look like for YOU? - The Orderly Life

Woman with daily planner
These days, it seems like everyone is talking about “organization.” There is no shortage of instructional resources on the topic and, admittedly, as a professional organizer, I love hearing new viewpoints, seeing creativity in addressing different organizing challenges and viewing photos of chaotic spaces made beautiful (so cathartic!). 
If you’re reading this, I assume that you have at least some interest in getting organized and recognize that there are a lot of benefits to doing so. However, have you ever stopped to ask, “What exactly does it mean to be organized? How will I know when I’m there?” Do you have to fold your clothes a certain way or arrange all of your food in clear, labeled containers to be considered “an organized person”? Of course not!
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how truly personalized organizing can be. There are definitely common principles that can help anyone organize pretty much anything (topic for later!). However, we all have different life situations, routines, and preferences that we need to think about when setting our organizing goals. 
For example, I love to cook/bake and adore seeing photos of pretty walk-in pantries. But my kitchen does not have a walk-in pantry. Instead, I have a narrow but deep pantry cabinet which is well-stocked given how much I cook and the fact that we buy frequently used items in bulk to save time and money. However, it’s well-organized, stores everything I need, and I can find everything quickly which is key. So "my organized kitchen” will never look like some of my favorite pins, but I don't expect it to!
At a basic level, I consider “being organized” to mean the following:
  • Your space contains only items that you use or serve a specific purpose (i.e. a fire extinguisher)
  • Every item has a home that you can remember & makes sense for your life 
  • You have routines to maintain order & complete daily routines efficiently and…this is key…you follow them!
The best solutions, however, will not be one-size-fits-all. Fight the temptation to compare your home or life to someone else’s (not always easy, I know!).  There’s no magical level of organization that you must achieve to say, “I’m an organized person”, and we all have weeks when things get a little out of order. But with a home for everything and good routines, getting it back in order will not take long. 
As you progress on your organization journey, consider the three points in the basic definition to identify areas that still need attention. For instance, do you technically have a home for everything but constantly struggle to put items back? If you feel the items are in spots that make sense for you, then you need to consider your routines and systems for maintaining order. Perhaps you need a different system or haven’t put in the work to create the habit yet. 
Finally, also consider the following to personalize your organizing solutions:
  • Other People: Who else uses the space or are part of the routine?
  • Personal Preferences: For instance, do you prefer: Open or closed storage? Soothing neutrals or happy patterns? Labels or No Labels? Uniform storage bins or a coordinated mix? Technological vs traditional solutions? 
  • Budget:If you have a small budget, look at what you own and get creative. 
  • Frequency of Use:How often do you use items? Create easy access to thing you use often. 
If you’re struggling with any area of the organizing process, I hope this has been productive food for thought! Stay tuned for more articles on one of my favorite topics. 
Have a blessed day!