On Organizing

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Hello Smallishers! 😀 

I am SO SO excited to bring you a guest post from a dear friend of mine. Johanna and I went to college together, but it wasn’t until after she moved out of state that we realized how much we have in common! Jo lives in a smallish house with her husband and two young boys. She writes beautiful and challenging words on her blog, An Average Jo. Today she is going to blow your minds with organizing tips. 🙂

Many years ago, I sat in front of an interviewer who asked me what some of my strengths were.
The words just fell out of my nervous mouth; “Well, I am very organized.”

Wait, what?? I just lied. I am the very opposite of organized. Can I tell him it’s not actually true?? I don’t want to lie! Shoooot. Somehow, I got the job. And I am certain he wondered every.single.day why I told him I was organized.

Enter current life: 1600 square feet, 2 adults, 2 small kids, 1 puppy, 3 cats and complete closet mayhem. My lack of organizational skills was finally getting the best of me. I couldn’t find the pruning shears, the cold medicine or the dog brush. I felt agitated every time I walked through the laundry room, stepping over ALL the things. Finally, I thought of the most systematized person I knew, and I texted her this photo and said, “HELP.”


messy shelves


That weekend, I sheepishly walked my dear friend through my three biggest problem areas: the laundry room, the pantry, and the hall closet. It was evident that her categorizing mind was convulsing as she laid eyes on all of my piles and pointless bins. She immediately began texting me ideas, photos, and a goal that made me laugh. She said, “I think if you can properly organize your hall closet, the laundry room can be a peaceful space where you only have laundry room things.” I didn’t believe it. I thought I was going to be an organizational dropout. But, YOU GUYS. That disturbing laundry room wall I just showed you?? Boom.

organized wall


Without further ado, here are the tips I received that saved my sweet laundry room’s suffocated life.

(*Note: none of these tips came from my own brain. They are all from the brain of one, Diana Greene, of Charlotte, North Carolina. 😉 )

1. USE the space you have.

  •  If you have a closet with deep shelves, fill them with either deep bins, or stackable bins.
  •  These bins are $29 for 6 on Amazon. Win.
  • These stackables are only $0.94 each at Target. Double win.

    (Please love the earth before buying up aisles of new plastic. Shop your closets for useable bins before you purchase more.)

The embarrassing photo below (on the left) is what our hall closet looked like before I learned how to organize. Notice all of the wasted space. My friend, the closet wizard, said that I could fill it 2-3 times fuller. Once again, I did not believe her. And once again, I was wrong. Notice that each shelf is now completely filled with bins. All of that crazy stuff in our laundry room found its way into this hall closet! (Except for my husband’s tools which found their rightful place in his work shed.) I labeled the bins with chalk labels and a chalk pen, so that they can be wiped clean and relabeled when necessary.


messy closet


organized shelves


A shelf that’s half-full is only serving half of its purpose.

2. Eliminate the unnecessary space-fillers.

  • Things like paint cans, medicine boxes, and DVD cases are a waste of space. Once you start identifying your own unnecessary space-fillers, you will enjoy finding solutions to make them less invasive. Here are a few ideas, based on what I did with my top three killers of space:
    • Paint cans: Pour your unused paint into mason jars and label them. Voila. Now you have touch-up paint that you can either shove into the back of a kitchen cabinet, or display in your laundry room. Your empty paint cans can be dropped off at your local recycling center.
    • Medicine boxes: Pull medicine out of the boxes and store in Ziploc bags. I used a permanent marker on each bag to write the name of the medicine, as well as the dosage amount.
    • DVD cases: Since we don’t have cable, Netflix, or any other sort of fancy television watching technology, we have embraced our gobs of DVDs. And I do mean gobs. After purging two paper bags full, I put the rest into clear paper CD sleeves and alphabetized them.


stack of DVDs



Neatly organized space

3. Decide what is truly necessary.

While going through each space, I kept asking myself three questions:

  • Has it served a purpose in the past few months?
  • Would it be missed if it was gone?
  • Does it have a function that cannot be replaced by another item?

For instance, we did not really need the red hot water bottle and a microwaveable neck warmer; they can serve the same purpose. However, the space-killing-dragon-breathing-machine-thing-a-ma-bob was necessary to keep for our littlest man’s annual winter respiratory illnesses, because its function cannot be replaced by another item in our home.

 I undertook the The Great Organizational Project of 2016 one month ago.

My house feels neater, my heart feels lighter, and my closets feel so FREEEE. I can’t even explain how nice it is when my husband says, “hey where’s the cord to the whatcha-ma-callit?” And I can walk straight over to the “random cords” box and find it straightaway. Everything has a place. Blessings and amen. Also, I have noticed that I don’t dread laundry anymore. The laundry room is so…well…pretty, and I no longer get ulcers every time I walk in there.

Every time that I eliminate more excess, I hold my breath, waiting for one of us to miss something, but we haven’t yet.  I don’t imagine that we will (unless I get crazy and start purging TV remotes and Transformers).

Dear friend, if the hidden spaces in your home are causing you distress, it’s time to simplify.

Your closets and your heart will thank you.


clean shelves

I wish I had a “before” photo of these shelves above the washer and dryer, but you can use your imagination. A month ago, they were lined with old, rusty paint cans, soap of various kinds, and rags. After eliminating waste, consolidating “stuff”, and repurposing a few decorative items from other parts of the house, the shelves are now functional and cute. For free. 😀



Johanna&FamJo Mitchell makes her home in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, two boys (ages 3 & 5), 3 cats, and one giant puppy.  Some of her very favorite things are: 1) Early quiet mornings where she and her best pals, Jesus and Coffee, powwow before the noisy man-people awake. 2) Soaking up moments and creating memories with her family. 3) Creating cozy spaces in every available nook and cranny. 4) Educating her boys at home (because it’s sooo much more fun to learn the 2nd time around). You can follow her blog at anaveragejo.com


If you have a minute, please hop over to An Average Jo and tell her thanks for the tips. Then read my favorite post of hers, which is “On Neighboring.”  Or maybe it’s this one. 🙂

Oh yeah, and if you’re completely stoked about the whole closet organizing thing, then you can keep reading on the subject here. 🙂 And here.

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  • Katie McCleery
    July 7, 2016

    This was a super helpful post! I feel excited to implement the tips. Thanks Jo!

    • Jo
      July 7, 2016

      Thanks, Katie! Can’t wait to see your organization projects!!!

  • Dawn
    July 7, 2016

    VERY (very, very) inspiring!!! Before and after pics always encourage me to tackle projects I’ve been putting off…thank you!!!

  • Karen
    July 7, 2016

    Can we have links to the bins? Pretty please?

    • Evelyn
      July 7, 2016

      Hi Karen! Yes, sorry about that. I’ll get the links up ASAP> 🙂

  • Destiny
    July 8, 2016

    Hello! I love reading these posts. I am also a Jesus loving, smallish living person who loves an organized and de-cluttered space. An idea I have made use of many times is; instead of going out and buying new organizing boxes I get free cardboard boxes from a local business that are all the same size. I then resurface the front by modge podging cute fabric on the visible side.

    • Evelyn
      July 8, 2016

      Hey Destiny! Thanks for commenting and sharing your idea. I love it!

  • Erica
    July 10, 2016

    Can I just say I love this blog?? Like seriously, mini-vacation every time I open it 🙂 we are a family of 3,soon to be 4, in a 960 sq ft mobile home, which is way more space than we need, but alas, my grand piano must live somewhere … Anyway, thanks for the encouragement , ideas, and inspiration!

    • Evelyn
      July 14, 2016

      Hi Erica! Thanks so much for your encouragement. Your comment made me grin. 😀 Thanks for commenting, and congrats on that new baby soon! 🙂

  • Gail
    July 31, 2016

    Use the space – simple brilliance. Pls provide Stock # of 6/$29 bins from amazon – I can’t find

    • Evelyn
      August 11, 2016

      Hi Gail! I’m looking into it. 😉

  • Hannah | The Simple Things Blog
    August 18, 2016

    Brilliant Tips. I loved both the one for old paint tins and the box to keep spare cables in, My husband is in charge of cables, but I suspect he has at least 15 spare, ‘spares’, in case he looses a cable! Thank you for sharing x

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