July 25, 2012

I was sitting on an airplane last week for over two hours while we waited in line to get de-iced. My good books were in my suitcase because I figured the brief flight home from SLC to SFO wouldn’t warrant enough time for serious reading. I closed my eyes to try to get some sleep (I can never sleep on an airplane!) and started mapping out all of rooms in my house in my head, visualizing my clutter. Deep in thought, I had an epiphany:

I already knew this, but for some reason with nothing else to clutter my mind, I realized this is why I’ve been so annoyed with the lack of balance in my life. I HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF. To evaluate my goals, I started to make a list of what I want to accomplish this year. Can you believe with all of these posts that I do that I don’t have a concrete game plan of how I want to tackle the clutter & reorganize my life? For the past two months I’ve been running on this notion: I have the time to do this, what can I get done in this time and post about.

All of the projects I’ve tackled thus far have helped greatly, but there are soo many more to go! So this is my course of action for 2012. Let’s start with the BIG list.


  • clean out/organize the basement
  • clean out the inside of my car
  • scrub/clean/organize the fridge & freezer
  • clean out/organize my crafts (and get rid of what I don’t use!)
  • organize/purge kitchen cabinets
  • fancy up the laundry room so I will actually enjoy the space
  • sort through Cooper’s toys & clothes that he’s outgrown
  • figure out an efficient way to grocery shop and stick to it
  • manage my online life better (calendar, blog, information, ALL OF IT)
  • get rid of unnecessary files on my computer and tidy up my folders & desktop
  • go through my Aperture library and delete photos I don’t need (huge challenge!)
  • sort through the linen closet
  • get rid of books I don’t need anymore
  • get rid of unnecessary items in the bathroom & organize!
  • go through my closet and get rid of clothes I don’t wear


Then I realized that there are several things I can do on a daily basis to help reduce the stress I feel of being disorganized & clutter. So here they are:


  • spend 10 minutes before bed every night straightening up the house.
  • keep a list of things to pack & bring for work/preschool
  • clean out my purse more often
  • clean up my mess in the kitchen before starting something new
  • be smart with my time spent on the computer (only surf if I have the time to!)
  • make Cooper’s lunch the night before school. Even if I’m tired, I must do it.
  • don’t buy new things unless I’m ready to get rid of something I don’t need.
  • check the pantry before grocery shopping. Shopping smart means less waste.
  • hang up clothes immediately when I get home
  • take the time to sort things from the car so it doesn’t end up looking like another closet



One of the reasons why I love working on this High Straightenence column is that it holds me accountable each week. I have you watching my progress and it’s inspiring YOU to organize too.

A few of you readers/listeners have sent me twitter pics & emails of your organized cabinets & pantries and I want to say THANK YOU! Check out this post from Shana of Folks Gotta Eat!  Amazing, RIGHT?!!

I’d love to show your hard work to all of my readers. Leave a comment with any links or tweet me on twitter! (@shutterbean)


Let’s get organized together!




39 comments on “ORGANIZING GOALS FOR 2012

  1. YES. Totally. I’m on this right now. This week I went through a mega overhaul of my habits and routines and have been sticking to the new regime – my apartment looks and feels so much better, and I have so much more energy because I don’t feel bogged down by how much stuff I have “to do.”

    The 10 minutes of organizing before bed is KEY. I do this every night now. In fact, I set a timer. If my boyfriend is helping (and he usually does), I get to set it to 5 minutes and we work together.

    I learned this from Flylady, who seems a little insane, but has given me a few key ideas about organization. As have you, and the organizing plain & simple book, and the happiness project… etc etc. Anyways. Ultimately, my new organizational skills were seeded when I first discovered High Straightenance, so thanks!

    • Thank you Thank you! The 10 minutes thing is amazing! I MUST MUST MUST keep it up.

  2. I’ve been totally trying to clean up before bed. It’s so nice to wake up to a clean house! And I never check my pantry before shopping. I keep buying the same things! I have two bottles of olive oil, and tons of flour.

    Good tips, Tracey!

    • I’m totally going to bed with dishes that need to be done. I’m trying not to let it bother me!

  3. The BF and I love to chant “the things you own end up owning you.” But then we end up buying more crap anyways.

  4. Didn’t take a picture of it, but I totally organized my kitchen pantry (didn’t know I had so many random bars of unsweetened chocolate hiding in there) after reading your awesome inspirational post from last week. Next thing you know, I’ll be drinking in the shower….

    • ahhhh yeah! unsweetened chocolate hoarding! I’m not the only one!

      you should totally drink in the shower.

  5. Awhile back I started keeping a bag in the master bedroom closet as well as one in my son’s closet. As I come across things that are damaged or no longer fit I add them to the bag. Once I get a full bag I donate it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army & it hasn’t really taken any extra time to sort the closed since I’m adding a few things at a time as I find them.

    P.S. I started checking expiration dates in the pantry this morning. It’s taking everything I have NOT to go pull everything out of my pantry right now & start reorganizing. I must find some better storage options before I actually tackle that part. Thanks for inspiring me to continue to declutter my life.

    • i love the idea of keeping a bag in closets! It’s a constant reminder to get rid of things!

  6. I love your list Tracy! Your pantry project inspired me to tackle my fridge. I am a little embarrased to admit that although I clear it out weekly and get rid of old food, I haven’t scrubbed it out in over a year! It took me 3 hours, but it was sooo worth it!

    • I “tidy” up my fridge a lot but I haven’t done a deep cleaning IN A LONG TIME. That’s gonna change.

  7. Victoria Jan 25, 2012

    Go Tracy Go!

  8. Tracy, I ran out to the dollar store the day you posted this and bought a bunch of cheap plastic tubs. I then spent 90 minutes cleaning and dehoarding when I got home. Recycled, threw out and put stuff in bins. I’m still not entirely happy with how it looks, so today I bought a labelmaker and I’m going to get some big Mason jars and use your idea of shelf extenders (as most of my stuff is not of uniform size, so stacking without shelf extender isn’t really working). This project is becoming an all consuming obsession, but it will making my life so much easier. LOVE your column!

  9. Catherine Jan 25, 2012

    I think you were totally made for this blog. I used to notice on shutterbean that when you did before and after organizing it was some of your best posts! You really have a knack for creating visual appeal with organized areas- like how you stacked all your toiletries in your cabinet in an arrow shape. I would not have thought of doing it that way. It made that shelf 1,000 times better! This is what sets apart your pictures from others who know how to organize but now how to stack/arrange in ways that enhance the overall feel. I am excited that you have new goals for us to watch and follow.

    • WOW! Thank you Catherin! That’s so nice of you.
      I totally didn’t even realize I do arrow merchandising. Why do I do that?!

  10. Wow! Thanks for the shout out Tracy – I am honoured. I keep repeating to myself “be Cool Shana – just BE COOL” when really I want to gush on like a crazed fangirl about how much I love your site/photos/podcasts and how so many of your recipes have become part of our regular rotation at home.

    My other organizing jobs for 2012 include my tea cupboard (yes a whole cupboard for tea – I might have a problem) and our basement which will be multistep as it’s where all my seasonal decorations, craft and art supplies, preserves and empty jars, our dog supplies and grooming area is and where we store everything else we don’t have space for including off season clothes. I’d like to create separate zones for all those things. We also have a cantina down there as our house is in Toronto’s Corso Italia neighbourhood so I’d like to set up a real wine cellar and move my preserve projects in there. The previous owner left great shelves and everything and all that is there right now is our surplus wine and champagne glasses for parties.

    Excited to gt organized in 2012! Thanks again for linking!

    • You’re so sweet!

      Tea- I totally get it. I need to organize mine or I need to actually start drinking it!

      I can’t wait to see how this year turns out for you. Tackle those zones!

  11. Amanda Barkey Jan 25, 2012


  12. Petila Jan 25, 2012

    I can’t wait to see which project you work on first!
    My friend has a saying I think I’m going to implement in my life, “for every one thing you bring into the house, you have to give up two…”
    I’ll let you know how that goes! :)

    • I tried that…but it’s super hard for me. Especially when I find myself doing a little retail therapy damage 😉

  13. Becky Jan 25, 2012

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one with the same list (except for the child’s stuff)! Makes me feel normal ~ and hopeful~

  14. Amen!! I love this entire post – I love your podcasts – I love shutterbean – I love you!

    I am a new follower of all of the above and I just have to say thank you!

    I currently live in Madrid, Spain and listen to you and Joy as I walk the city – laughing out loud by myself with all of the strange glances it gets me.

    I moved here in the equivalent of 9 boxes and it my goal to move back with less! I am in transition back to the U.S. (with a new Spanish husband – woot woot!) and I am determined not to have STUFF anymore.

    Moving to a new country truly gave me perspective. If I didn’t/don’t love it enough to ship it around the world then I get rid of it! Try thinking that when you are tackling your upcoming project!

    Thanks for all of the smiles and inspiration!


      I keep looking at the stuff in my house and I always think…if I had to move would I really want to bring this with me??!! There are things sitting in my basement that I literally haven’t touched for 5 years. UGH.

      It’s so liberating only having the necessities, right? Keep it up!

      thank you for listening!! congrats on your marriage!!

  15. I always love to use down time on airplanes, public transit (when kids are not with me) etc. to make lists like this. Really calms me down. This is a great one! This year I managed to do a ton of organizing/purging before the holidays, and I am so glad I did. I recommend that to everyone!

    Also, Tracy, I think you live in the Bay Area, S.F. even. Do you know about Chloe’s Closet, the amazing kids consignment shop? I bring the clothes the kids have outgrown there, they donate some, sell some, and I’ve always got a running line of credit. The one in Bernal is the best. :)

    • Good to know! We were holding onto stuff because we thought we might have another child. We’re still on the fence about that decision…meanwhile we are getting inundated with stuff! If we save EVERYTHING we are gonna have no room soon!

  16. Adeline Jan 27, 2012

    I’m in! I feel swallowed up by clutter and it stresses me OUT. My plan this weekend is to clear my wardrobe and pantry, then tackle my work desk (and eeep! drawers! I fear opening them, which is never a good sign.)

  17. Darci Jan 28, 2012

    I love this column. I will have to send over the Before/After of my spice and baking cupboards. I just love the amount of air that is around everything now.

  18. Confession: I throw down my coat, scarf, and purse on a dining room chair when I walk in the door. I have to pass the hallway landing pad and coat hooks to do it. I can only hope following your progress inspires me to behave better!

    We finished a kitchen reorganization project a few days before 2012 — our kitchen is so small clutter literally piles up fast. Well, clutter and dishes. Our “storage unit” wasn’t cutting it so we bought a dresser at a thrift shop which tripled the counter space and hides the clutter nicely!

  19. It seems so doable when you lay it all out there like that. I am going to definitely adopt the 10 minute before bedtime rule. So good. And I have been wanting to tackle our laundry room. I avoid it like the plague. If it were a pretty calming color or all white and organized, I think I might actually love it. I could love it I think. Here’s to organizing. . .and getting my butt up to actually do it.

    If it ever gets done, I send you a link:)

  20. Right there with you! I would like to go through my home and make sure things are either useful or beautiful, everything else should go!

  21. First, I’m still amazed by your pantry. That was an excellent post. I have not tackled my tiny pantry yet, but I try and get rid of one thing that is cluttering my life every day – physical, mental, whatever. I also have committed to bringing less into my apartment and buying things only when I truly need them. I also consider how things will be thrown out/recycled/gotten rid of once I am done with them. If I can’t see myself using it for a long time, I won’t buy it.

    You might like this podcast about being “Wabi sabi”!

  22. Isabella (who wants to be like you when she grows up) Jan 31, 2012

    Just a tip, put all of your hangers backwards. At the end of the year donate everything that hasn’t been worn.
    I can’t wait to read about your amazing adventures!

  23. I’m looking forward to following along this year and getting some tips! I feel like the worst grocery shopper ever! There’s only 2 of us and I feel like my cart is as full as a family shopper. I like the idea of 10 minute clean ups… sounds way better than the multi-hour overhauls!

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