Thursday, July 2, 2015

5 UHeart Organizing: Take Away Organized Travel

Summer is the prime time to travel.  And being knee deep in organizing our closet I would love to just toss half of my clothes into a suitcase and run off to a far away land....

But since I am not going anywhere at the moment, I have invited the lovely duo from DIY Playbook blog to share their travel tips instead.  They have really simple yet effective solutions to keeping your travels less about stressing out and worrying and more about enjoying your destination.  I can't wait to give some of these ideas a try in the next few weeks!  Thank you ladies!

We must preface this by saying we certainly are not world travelers. But, we have done our fair share of visiting many cities in the good ol’ US of A. Traveling to a new place is so exciting, but it can also be a bit stressful. To us, being organized while on vacation helps keep these stress levels in check and often times makes the vacay that much more enjoyable. Less time digging through that suitcase = more time enjoying the sights of your destination!

Here are 9 tips to help you stay organized on your next vacation.


Before you bid your home farewell, we recommend taking 15 minutes to whip up a sheet with all of the important information about your trip. On this document you can include the following…

  • Airline Information: Confirmation codes & flight times
  • Rental Car Details
  • Hotel Address & phone number
  • List of Places To See/Eat along with their Addresses
  • Travel Routes
  • List of Key Contacts
  • Travel Agent Contact Information

We know we live in 2015 and everyone can look up these things on their phone in about 30 seconds. But having a physical, tangible, piece of paper with all of your important info on it can make things a heck of a lot less stressful (especially when you can’t seem to get a wifi signal). We also recommend sharing a copy of this document with someone at home. That way someone has details in case they need to find you while you’re away on vacay!


Along with that important piece of paper chock full of your travel info, there is bound to be other important papers you collect along the way. We’re talking boarding passes, receipts, ticket stubs, and just about any other piece of paper that can get crumpled up and stuck at the bottom of your suitcase. Create a plan before you even leave for vacation that addresses how you will keep track of these items. Perhaps it’s as simple as bringing along an extra Ziploc baggie for receipts. Or maybe you prefer to bring a file folder for all of the important documents or sneak a labeled envelope in your bag. No matter which method you prefer, it’s always best to go in with a plan of action.


It’s fairly easy to forget your your cell phone charger or headphones when you’re going on vacation. Heck, we’ve had to run to the Apple store more than once to get a charger while on vacay #oops. But organizing your cords and keeping them in a designated area is the best way to keep those important cords on hand when you’re on vacation. We recommend buying a large pencil case to hold all of your chargers/cords.

Then to prevent the pencil case from becoming a disorganized, tangled mess, we use binder clips and washi tape to keep those cords in check. Wrap your devices in a certain color washi tape, label it, and then use the clothespin to neatly fold up the cord. This also works out great if your travel buddy borrows your charger. Because of the colored washi tape, you’ll know which one is yours when it’s time to pack up and head home!


Living out of a suitcase is never fun. But choosing what to wear and not knowing if it’s clean or dirty is even worse! Make sure you keep your clean clothing & dirty clothing separate. We recommend a small mesh intimates bag for dirty socks & undies. It’s compact and you can toss the entire thing into the wash when you get home.


When your travel group heads home, it can be a nightmare to track down all of the vacation photos everyone took on the trip. We recommend setting up a photo sharing system before you even arrive at your destination. If you’re taking pics on your iPhone, we recommend creating a photo stream and inviting everyone in the group to share their travel photos. If a DSLR camera is more your style, set up a Dropbox folder ahead of time and invite all of your travel companions to join in. Everyone can dump their photos into one common place (almost immediately with a photo stream) so you all can enjoy the memories throughout the trip and well beyond!


This one is pretty self explanatory. Because no one wants to open up their suitcase and see their shampoo exploded all over their vacation wardrobe. For extra credit, throw a few more Ziploc bags into your suitcase... just in case. #bettertobesafethansorry


We’re 2 self-admitted “overpackers”, so this tip is one we can both improve upon. Packing 10 outfits for a simple weekend trip isn’t going to do you any favors while on vacay. Instead do your best to only pack what you need, and you’ll be far less likely to have a chaotic suitcase during your vacation.


When it comes to organization, STAYING organized is half the battle. Take a few minutes (you’re on keep this brief!) to maintain your organization system. Perhaps that means clearing out your wallet and adding that collection of receipts to a baggie. Or maybe it means adding yesterday’s photos to the group’s photo stream when you have a few minutes to yourself. Take some time now, to combat chaos later.


As much as you prepare and plan ahead, you’ll probably forget something during your trip or your suitcase may get a bit disheveled. That’s a-okay! Enjoy your time away and make the most of your precious vacation days. And if you’re still struggling to stay organized while on vacay, our advice to you would be -- practice makes perfect!! Happy Travels!

PS. Finding products that work for you while traveling is half the battle of staying organized. Check out our travel essentials here!


"Hey There! We're Bridget and Casey, the best friends, Chicago gals, and editors behind The DIY Playbook. Even though we consider ourselves busy girls with full-time jobs, husbands, and never ending to-do lists, we believe there is always time to add personality to our homes. On our blog, we strive to inspire our readers to inject their sparkling personalities into their own spaces with affordable and attainable solutions. We heart Instagram, can't turn down a cup of coffee, have no clue what we're doing in the kitchen, and are beyond excited to be part of the IHeart Organizing team!"

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

45 Four Week "Wait-No-More" Organizing Challenge! Week 4 - Master Closet Organization Plan

Welcome to the final week of our big  "Wait-No-More" Organizing Challenge. To recap, I am focusing on four main areas of our life that need a lot of organizational help. Instead of biting off more than I can chew all at once (and subsequently becoming quite overwhelmed), I am tackling one space each week.  We took so much time focusing on the kitchen/living room for the first half of the year, that the rest of our home began to suffer severely.  Having certain areas of our lives on the fritz has added to a little renovation burnout.  So, I told my hubby to take a little break and I have been working hard to take back neglected bits of our home and life!

And many of you are joining in and working on a few of your own spaces, which I totally love! For this week's organizational challenge, I am focusing on our master bedroom closet.  Here is my inspiration....

If that room looks familiar, it is because that is our master bedroom closet.  The awkward layout of our lower level didn't allow the space to be considered a bedroom (due to lack of a window), so we turned it into a large dressing room.  We could have done a giant wall-to-wall closet, but A) it would have cost us a fortune and B) we just don't have that much to store, nor do we want that much to store.  Since we initially divided our belongings between two armoires, a dresser and some open shelving, we have been very happy with our current situation.  Boy-oh-boy, it sure does clean up nicely!  This week I hope to get it back to that fabulous condition.

Although the room fits all of our belongings, and functions well in general, we have done a poor job keeping it tidy and have lost control of the space.  Well, I guess I can take credit for most of this one too... What happens behind Bryan's closet doors, stays behind Bryan's closet doors.  That is one of my favorite benefits of having two separate armories; I have no clue how organized or unorganized his closet is. #happywife

But an organized system only works if I work to maintain it.  Of course, the goal is to create easy-to-maintain set-ups, but sometimes lack of time, effort and motivation get in the way.

I have quite a few problem areas happening around the room.  First, the typical unused clothing problem.  It has been over a year since I have done a good closet purge, and inevitably I have some work to do in that department.  But this time, I really want to go the less is more route.  I hope to come up with a variety of outfit creations that I love, using a few key favorite pieces, and really simplify the amount of clothes that I own.  Having too many items to select from causes me to become overwhelmed and I end up wearing the same things anyway.  And the other half of the items become ignored/forgotten.

How much one should have or keep can become a touchy subject.  There is no right or wrong amount of clothing to own.  We all live different lifestyles and have different passions and if you love clothes, I say hooray!  I have no judgement towards those who live out of a giant walk-in closet filled with the latest and greatest trends or someone who has their wardrobe narrowed down to a single drawer.  You are the only one who can decide how much it makes sense for you to have.  That really goes with anything in life right?

When it comes to purging and letting go, I don't typically have too hard of a time saying goodbye to unused things that take up space or that no longer make me happy, because I know the end benefit is worth it.  Occasionally, I can even sell items and come out ahead.  But I tend to struggle more with clothing (just as I did with certain types of toiletries).  Some articles of clothing can be expensive, so even though they ended up being ill fitting or have gone out of style or have become damaged at some point, I am pretty good about making excuses to hold on to something.  In fact, during this process I found multiple shirts that I forgot I owned as well as a shirt and a dress that I have been making excuses to keep for about 3 years (yet still haven't worn).  Selling clothing can be time consuming, tedious and hard to reap much reward.  I prefer to donate, but that is when I become a bit more strict about pieces I let go of.  And although it may sound weird, I don't like not knowing where that donated clothing is going.  I would like to know that someone in need is benefiting from it, or that it is truly being passed on and receiving new life.  The unfortunate fact is that many common donation facilities only use about 10% of the clothing that is donated and the remainder becomes extra work, waste and has alternative impacts to the process.

That said, I am going to sort ruthlessly and not worry right away about what the outcome of the clothing will be.  I am just going to ask myself important questions and make decisions accordingly:
  • Does the item still fit?
  • Is the item comfortable?
  • Is the item damaged?
  • How often is the item worn?
  • How versatile is the item/How many outfits can I create with the item?
  • Do I have the space to store the item?

 I am not going to ask myself:
  • How much did this item initially cost me?
  • Does the item have a sentimental attachment?
  • What am I going to do with this item once I let go of it?
  • Will there be a need for this item three years from now?
  • Will the item fit better if I change my exercise and diet routine?

Because at the end of the day, those last five questions are all ways to make excuses to hold on to something that I no longer need.  Once I have my keep pile narrowed down, then I will decide how to handle the items that didn't make the cut:

  • Sell on eBay
  • Sell on local garage sale websites/Craigslist
  • Sell at a garage sale
  • Sell to a consignment shop
  • Sell to Thred-Up or Poshmark
  • Use damaged items as cleaning rags
  • Use damaged items as stuffing for pet bedding
  • Donate to charity
  • Donate to a shelter, church or crisis center
  • Donate to Dress for Success
  • Pass on to friends/family who wear similar sizes
  • Have a clothing swap party

Feel free to leave additional suggestions in the comments below as well.

Every time I go through these sorting and purging sessions, I become that much more aware of any purchasing mistakes I have made and it helps me become better with my intentional shopping.

A reader previously joked about her "chairdrobe", and I loved it so much that I designated this pile in our closet my "benchdrobe".

Because I knew I had a closet clean-out lingering in the near future, I started tossing my clean clothes into piles on my bench vs. hanging them up.  It was helpful in me realizing what I don't wear very often (the items still hanging in my closet), but has been a nightmare to find anything I am looking for each day.  Time to get my closet back in order.

Other areas that need some love are my jewelry nook....

My makeup vanity...

And my travel/toiletry drawer.

OK, fiiiiine.  All of my drawers....

So, let's take a quick look at my plan of attack.

There are some things we have implemented that are working:

  • The amount of available storage
  • Jewelry display/holders (I just need to actually use them)
  • Drawer dividers in vanity
  • A hook for setting out outfits
  • Sweater storage boxes
  • Shoe storage shelves
  • Accessory storage (belts, swimwear, handbags, tall boots, etc...)

And a few things that are not:

  • Outfit planning/selection process
  • Make-up bag
  • Vanity set-up
  • Travel/toiletry drawer
  • Clothing drawers
  • Scarf storage
  • Too many articles of clothing
  • Laziness - I have not been great about putting things back where they belong

I took my jewelry off of the jewelry board to test it out in the kitchen, and the necklaces became a tangled ball and I never took the time to re-hang them.  I rarely use my vanity any longer because of poor lighting, the wrong mirror setup, storage and access to it after I am done in our bathroom.  My makeup has since been tossed around and broken in a cosmetic bag while other items are still in the drawer.  I love adding scarves to my outfits and have outgrown our previous drawer divider system.  My travel/toiletry drawer is just a random dumping ground and no longer speeds up my packing process.  And again, I need to streamline my morning outfit selecting process and pare down my closet in general.  Quite a few little problems have all equated to one big master bedroom closet disaster.  And being that the closet is the first space I see in the morning and one of the last I lay eyes on in the evening, it is time for a change.

Just like all of my organizing projects, all surfaces that were problematic were given a blank slate.

Everything was wiped down and vacuumed and ready for a re-do.

Majority of this project will be about letting go and making the most of the items we already have.  No painting this time around either, although, I do hope to update the vanity area using this as inspiration.


However, instead of lamps I am leaning toward some sconces with adequate lighting.  I also found a mirror on Craigslist I am hoping to score to keep the budget down, and if I can sell mine, then I may even break even or come out ahead.

Because we use both our master closet and bathroom for getting ready in the morning and at bedtime, we also plan to install a door connecting the two spaces (creating a true ensuite).

Here is our door inspiration:

( 1 | 2 )

We also have a door to install for our coat closet upstairs and hope to get them done at the same time.  With two door installations on the agenda, I am not sure this piece of the project will make my Friday reveal, but it is just around the corner and I simply can't wait for the impact that change will make.

With the upcoming holiday weekend, our week has also become jam packed with entertaining and activities.  That means this challenge has me on an extremely tight deadline.  And I have a feeling that I have hours upon hours of clothing sorting ahead of me, because each article is getting touched assessed and noted.  Time to start a new Netflix series.  Any suggestions?

You can find all of the challenge details in this post here, and also download some FREE project planning printables to help you get started!
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