MeMo Tetris Organization part 2

Tetris & Organization PART 2

Welcome to part two of organizing! If you missed last week’s post, make sure go and check in out HERE.

This week I cover my Top 5 Tips for organizing:

  1. Everything needs a home.
  2. Start small.
  3. Location: Things should make sense.
  4. Elsa THAT! (Let it go!) Purge
  5. Baskets! Rectangles & Squares Only!

1. Everything Needs a Home

When household items aren’t put away, they create visual clutter which can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. In contrast, the clean simplicity of a hotel room is visually and emotionally calming. Everything has a home. When you begin to think about where things should go in your home, break it into smaller pieces and think about one item or small area at a time. For example: silverware and dishes might go near the dishwasher. After you figure out what location your items might go near, figure out how to organize the items within each category. For example: do your shoes need a shelf or a bin to go in? Pinterest is full of ideas for kitchens, shoes, and more.

If you find a particular countertop or area has become a “drop zone” of random clutter, consider adding an organizer or additional storage nearby. Entryways are frequently problem areas. Pinterest is full of ideas for command stations as well as creative entryway solutions. Sometimes a simple basket or bin for gloves and keys make the whole space more functional. My favorite entryway tip is to get an over the door shoe organizer. These can store seasonal items easily such as summertime flip flops, then easily transition to winter items like gloves and hats. That way, no matter what season it is, there’s a home for everything and everyone knows where to find the items. Another great shoe storage solution is the Ikea Trone for everything from shoes to mittens.

2. Start small

Rather than overwhelming yourself by tackling the whole house at once, consider beginning with a bathroom. Bathrooms are a great place to start because it’s a small space and used daily. I listened to The Minimalists Podcast who shared their 20/20 Rule: if it can be replaced in 20 minutes for $20 or less (and you don’t use it often), you probably don’t need it. For example, five extra tubes of toothpaste are probably more than you need in a month or two. You probably only NEED one extra and can donate the rest. When you learn to minimize the STUFF, you can begin to feel the visual calm that comes from less clutter. Complete one cabinet at a time, then celebrate the win! It is SO important to take a moment to reflect on your success after improving a space or completing a project. (Stay tuned for NEXT WEEK’S blog topic of celebrating the wins.)

3. Location: Things should make sense

Your coffee pot should probably NOT go in the bathroom, but in a place that you’re going to make coffee, along with the coffee making materials. They are all “friends” (as I call them) because they are all coffee related, and should be in the same location such as a coffee basket, bin, or cupboard. If it’s not working, change it! You aren’t married to it, you’re dating it. Once you love it, you can marry it.

Ask the people in your household for help. On more than one occasion, my kiddos have given me ideas that work much better than anything I have come up with when I’m at a point of decision fatigue and cannot figure out where something should go.

Key questions to ask yourself when organizing a space:

  • How often do I use the item?
  • Is the current location convenient?
  • Is there room for all the related items and accessories to store with it?
  • Who needs access to this item? (Kids or just me?)
    • If it’s something the kiddos need, it should be in a location and height that they can reach it.

If you find yourself frustrated with finding or getting an item, it is likely the item is not in a functional location for your family. For example, we store socks by the door where the shoes are located. This prevents the running back to the bedroom to locate socks before returning to the door to put on shoes.

4. Elsa THAT! (Let it go!) Purge

I once heard this quote: “That which takes up your space, takes up your time.”

It’s OK to let go of things that are not working or that you don’t love in order to make space for things that you DO love.

Ask yourself: Are you honoring your space and the item? If you aren’t, donate or give it to a friend that might appreciate the item. For example: I had a beautiful Corning ware dish that I did not want to take in the RV for fulltime travel. I didn’t want to store the dish because it was not something I used often. I asked a friend who was delighted to have it and uses it almost every week. She would honor that piece better than I would and gave the beautiful dish a new home. She thinks of me when she uses it and the dish is out of my cabinet. Win, win.


I recently helped a friend downsize her eight-year-old daughter’s clothing for full-time RV living. Both mother and daughter were nervous. I encouraged them, saying we all have to downsize our clothing for this lifestyle, so I would just be asking some questions to help her decide what items she wanted to take with her, versus making her feel like she had to get rid of all her things. See the video she made on this link of her YouTube Channel: The Now Pursuit. (It’s only 11:34, so it’s a quick watch!)

We separated out clothing by categories: jammies, socks, undies, shorts, pants, dresses, long and short-sleeved shirts. After the piles were sorted by category, we went through each of the piles. I told the young lady: “Ok, I want you to pick out your FAVORTIES in this pile. If you like it or love it, let’s put those items in one pile. You can have a “pause pile” of things you aren’t sure if you want to keep or not. You can also have a “leave it” pile of items that no longer fit you or that you don’t wear. We only want things we LOVE in our wardrobe. Ideally, we only need about ten days’ worth of items, but we can see how many we have once we go through each item.”

When we were done with each pile, the young lady had narrowed down her piles to roughly ten items naturally, without a fight because she KNEW the items fit her and she loved. We went from eight bins FULL of items to two neatly folded bins. When we were complete with this purge, the young lady was SO excited and LOVED that she had only her favorite clothes. I didn’t have to talk her out of things or tell her she couldn’t have them; she made the decision on her own of things she liked to wear. She was empowered that SHE made the choices and she chose what to purge and what to keep. She did phenomenal. This also helped empower her to trust her gut instinct and be confident in her own choices. These skills will help her in many phases of life. (It’s not just about organizing, it’s about decision making and managing things in your life. When you start small with decisions like clothing, it’s easy to take that decision making to other areas of your life as well. When you feel confident in what you wear, it shows outwardly in your daily life and you shine a little brighter because you feel good about how you look and feel in your clothes.)


For tips and tricks on folding, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s folding techniques. My three children (ages 11 and under) all fold and put away their own clothing weekly. I am all about encouraging independence and teaching the children how to organize, put away, and care for their things. We began with the basic Marie Kondo method. Now, the children have modified the original technique they learned and adjusted it to make folding easier for themselves. Their method involves folding the shirt in half length-wise (versus thirds like Marie), then folding the sleeves in, followed by folding the shirt in half length-wise and half again. The children stack their shirts and other clothes neatly in their clothing bin each week independently.

5. Baskets! Rectangles & Squares Only!

My husband and I joke that I’m a basket case. My constant love of organizing and tidying has overrun our house in a good way. Early on in our marriage, my husband had a few things he needed before he departed for work: keys, wallet, sunglasses, and work badge. He never put them in the same place, which drove me nuts! Thus began my basket obsession. I bought my first three-compartment basket to place essentials like keys and his wallet in. Those items then had a home, and therefore should not be lost if they made it to their home, as planned.

As we have moved from place to place and now on the road full-time in the RV, let me share a few wins in our home with basket organization. I typically purchase my baskets or bins from Target or Walmart, as these stores are prevalent across the US. I prefer the plastic Target baskets for their durability and availability. Walmart also has plenty of great options for bins, but it really depends on your space and needs.


We homeschool and need access to pens, highlighters, pencils, markers, etc. We have a caddy for these items the children can grab easily and go do their school work. You could use a basket and place cups in it, including items you need such as colored pencils, markers, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc. That way, if a kiddo needs to grab the colored pencils, they can take the desired cup and go work, while another child has the other items they need in a different location. These caddies may be found in the kitchen section such as a silverware caddy, or maybe the bathroom or art section at the stores like Target or Walmart. (Likewise, a caddy like this is great to use to store utensils, plates, and napkins for grabbing and going outside to eat on a nice day at the campsite.)

Basket types: Rectangles and Squares ONLY!

In an RV, especially, the type of basket is critical. Circles don’t fit well, so I automatically purge those whenever possible. Squares and rectangles fit well into boxy cabinet without leaving wasted space, so it is critical to consider this. I typically find baskets work well for deep cabinets. Example: I have a basket above my stove for storing flour and sugar in containers. I pull the basket down, measure the ingredients from their containers, and put the basket back. This also prevents me from dropping things as I pull them down from a tall cabinet. One of our most convenient baskets is for s’mores, which stores all the essentials to grab and go to the campfire quickly.

Kitchen tips:

  1. Drawer Dividers: These divider containers can be found at Target and Walmart, usually in the kitchen section. I find dividers essential to keep kitchen drawers tidy. You can use individual trays for putting silverware in a narrow drawer, as well as organizing frequently used items such as scissors, flashlights, or screwdrivers.
  2. Fruit baskets: One of my favorite Pinterest finds is using a desk file holder organizer from Target or Walmart. They are rectangular shaped, fitting in a cabinet or on a counter nicely. They have an angled top, which allows for easily reaching in and grabbing fruit such as apples and oranges.
  3. Snacks: My favorite containers are the Oxo pop top storage containers found at a variety of locations such as Target, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. These pop top containers are easy for young children to get into, scoop out snacks such as goldfish crackers or pretzels, and replace the lid on the container. They can be stored in a designated snack drawer or cabinet that is easily accessed by family members.
  4. Baking Ingredients: I have two favorite container suggestions. One container is the brand Better Homes and Gardens from Walmart, which are rectangular or square and great for cereal as well as storing flour and other baking ingredients. The other is Oxo pop top containers (1.5L or 1.7L), which I use for items frequently used items such as flour, sugar, oats, and rice. The excess that does not fit in my Oxo containers go in an auxiliary location (like auxiliary fuel tank in an airplane stores extra fuel.) Then, my excess baking items are easily pulled down from the bin to refill my daily use containers. I put the Oxo containers inside a basket which is easily accessible for daily cooking.
  5. Tall Cabinets: Our current home has tall, deep cabinets. I have found my favorite baskets (from Target) are long and narrow, fitting side by side in the cabinet and allow easy access to items on a high shelf. It is simple to grab the basket down, get the desired item, then return the basket to the shelf. Some cabinets are tricky because they are tall in height, leaving unused vertical space in a cabinet. You can look for shelf risers (I call them “shelfy things”), which allow you to take advantage of tall cabinets and use the vertical space efficiently. Consider using these shelf risers for dishes, as well as baskets, cups, or mugs. These can be found at both Target and Walmart and many other stores.
  6. Vertical Space: Doors! Many people underestimate the vertical space of a door. Ask yourself: could I put an over the door shoe rack here and use this space more efficiently? I have helped friends organize their kitchens and brought an over the door shoe organizer to put in their pantry or other space to assist with organizing. I have used these for organizing spices, snacks, drink cups, etc. Currently, we have one on the back of our bathroom door to keep our kiddos’ small things tidy in the bunk room. I prefer the solid-colored ones myself to keep the visual calm in the room, versus the clear pocket ones. It really just depends on your space and who needs access to what. If you’re using this in a classroom, you might want to have cups with crayons or markers in the little shoe spots to pull out and use easily and put back. In a kitchen, you might also want a clear one to see what’s in each pocket.

In summary remember, “that which takes up your space, takes up your time.” It takes time to master a space. I didn’t master organization overnight. I’m constantly improving and shifting. Take one space and decision at a time and then live with it for a bit. If you decide it’s not working, change it.

A first step one might consider is to take a few minutes at the end of the day and tidy up. Maybe you set a ten-minute timer after dinner and rally the troops and say, “OK kiddos, for ten minutes, we are going to pick up shoes, toys, etc. and put them away. After the timer goes off, we are done.” In my case, when I started this technique, I had the kiddo’s put everything in an empty laundry basket. Then if the timer went off, at least the floor was picked up and we could start with putting things away from the laundry basket in the morning. If you spend even just ten minutes a day tidying up a space, you might be surprised at how easy it is to keep things orderly. If it’s in constant chaos, you’ll know this space is one that may need some improvement.

What area of your home are you thrilled with your organization?

What area of your home might need improvement?

Signing off,
-BG Barnstormer

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