Your Home, Organized: Pottery Barn Recap

Like many of you, I wear many of hats throughout a day. Between being a mom, running a full-time business and managing my team, plus keeping my house and personal well-being in check it feels like there never is enough time. We are always searching for time to add to our day. Clients always tell me that if they had more time they could do XYZ and I get it. I know that I can’t change how many hours are in a day but I can change what I do in the environment where I spend my days. There are things that I can do throughout the day and week that can get me--and you, too--more in control so that when the kids get home and I lay my head down on the pillow, my mind isn’t full of any clutter due to the physical clutter around me.

In January I flew down to Charleston, South Carolina to discuss home organization with a wonderful group of working mothers who were in town for a conference. I hosted the event at one of my favorite home design stores, Pottery Barn, to discuss organizing tips that require minimal effort and the home and organizing products that can be used to create a beautifully organized home.

As I’ve previously shown you here and here, I love getting the opportunity to speak directly in a store where I can pull examples directly off of the shelves and provide a bit more of a demo to support the tips that I share. Having a visual aid can help you envision how you could use the products in your own home, or how to repurpose the items that you already have in your home to better serve your needs.


Throughout my speech I touched on everything from the impact that physical clutter can have on your productivity, time saving tips, and how to organize the most frequently accessed areas of your home. Again, the main focus was on providing easy-to-replicate tips because I know that time is always limited (and to be honest, who wants to spend more time on these type of things than they need to?).

Here are my top 5 tips for you to remember when you’re organizing your own home:

  1. Manage the physical clutter.  Even as a professional organizer I’ve had to figure out what systems work best for my family, which has been through trial and error in some cases, and these systems have worked for us over the years because they are flexible and adaptable, which is perfect for kids because their skills, interests, and independence are constantly expanding. In order to create a system that will be successful for you and your family it is important to think about your needs, identify how you and your children use the spaces in your home, and figure out what how you want those areas to function and how you want for them to look.

  2. Clear your cluttered mind. A recent study out of UCLA found that clutter can raise cortisol levels within the body, which can ultimately impact your well-being. I’ve found the adage, “a cluttered home is a cluttered mind,” to be spot on when describing what life can be like for most busy households. The reverse holds true, though, too. When your mind is scattered, the thought of keeping any sort of organization in your home is nearly impossible. Take time to jot down your to-dos, get your calendar in order, and dedicate time in your schedule (even 5 minutes!) to map out what’s coming up so that you can feel prepared.

  3. Set up a command center. The command center is a way to take stock of what we have going on in our lives so that we know the fundamentals of who, what, when, where, why, and how. I have one designated go-to spot for everything. Setting up a command center is easy and you can use the same basic organizational principles throughout any area of your home. Putting it all down in one spot means fewer surprises and less likelihood of over-scheduling myself, especially as holiday party invitations start coming in. I can formulate my plan of attack for who needs to be where, who’s going to cover pick-ups and drop-offs, and what I need to do to get ready - whether that means getting gifts or finding the right outfit. I promise you that setting up a family calendar and maintaining it together for your everyday life will make a world of difference in helping to keep your sanity.

  4. Give meal planning a shot.  Because I have my schedule mapped out in my command center, I can see when we’ll be having family meals at home, when we’ll be going to an event, and when I’ll need to prepare a dish to share. I’m not thrown for a loop or forced to make surprise trips to the grocery store. Who has time for that? A low-tech meal-planning solution can be as simple as grabbing a sheet of paper and setting aside a block for each day of the week, or grab one of our LIFE | DESIGNED Menu Planning pads*.

  5. Contain the paperwork. When it comes to papers, I subscribe to the “touch-once” principle, which means that each incoming item is dealt with as it comes in. I try not to let papers pile up without taking action, whether that be signing, filing, or recycling. The idea is to avoid holding onto things that you don’t need. A great way to keep control of the incoming paper is use to use an open top file box with vertical hanging file folders that you can label based on specific categories. I prefer vertical hanging options so that papers don’t get lost at the bottom of the pile. Make sure that your file box doesn’t have a lid, that way it’ll be much easier to transfer things in and out. Here’s how I keep up with all the paper coming into our home: I assign them to a specific category:

    • The “To-Do” category is for things like recital forms, party RSVPs, gift requests, or thank you notes that I need to respond to and send back. They’re time sensitive and important to act on quickly.

    • The “To Read” category pertains to items like cards or catalogs that I want to look over but that don’t require immediate action.

    • The “To File” category is for things that I need to hold onto for the time being, like holiday keepsakes or special notes. Once the folder gets full, I do a once-over to make sure I still want to keep what I’ve included inside the folder, and then I transfer the contents over to our “Save” boxes.

*PS: use the code MARCH2018 to get 10% off of the LIFE | DESIGNED Menu Planning pads!