Adjust Your Organizing Systems

Recently, I’ve made a couple of changes in what I cook for my family. I’m feeling good about serving better food and enjoying my return to a long-dormant hobby. But these changes have had a cascade effect: cooking new things means I’m using different equipment, so I’ve had to rethink how I organize my kitchen.

The changes I made weren’t big, but they’re a good reminder that organizing is a process, and that organizing systems are not static. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you might remember that Aby wrote a comprehensive post about the phases of organizing: the original organizing (purging, sorting, and re-storing), then the process of creating the habits needed to use the new system, and finally maintenance and adjustment. She used clothes and papers as examples.

But back to my kitchen, and my own phase-three adjustments. Till recently, I’d been happy with how my kitchen was arranged. But then I started making more homemade foods so I can better control the ingredients my family eats. I’m making my own salad dressings, for instance, and tomato sauce. And I’m (mostly) making the cookies we all love to eat.

Preparing all those batches of cookies had a surprising effect: it rekindled my love of baking. I had once been an avid, serious baker, but a few years ago I got tired of it. Recently, though, I found myself longing to bake bread again, in addition to our sweets. These days, I’m happily baking a lot.

With my new cooking habits, I found myself reaching for tools I’d used infrequently in the past. For instance, I like to use an immersion blender to make my tomato sauce smoother. And after years of relying on my big stand mixer exclusively, I’m finding my handheld mixer more convenient for many smaller tasks. Both items were in a bin on a high shelf. It didn’t take long for me to get tired of standing on a kitchen chair to reach them.

I didn’t have an obvious spot to move these items. So I examined a bin on a lower, easy-to-reach shelf. It was designed to hold items I used frequently—that’s why I gave it such a good location—but I realized I had stopped using some of those items much. Bingo! Time for a switcheroo: I moved most of those things to the high shelf and put the mixer and blender in their place. And one item I didn’t switch at all. I had completely forgotten about a lemon juicer I had, because I now use a different tool. So it went out of my kitchen and into my donation bin.

I followed a similar process in the cabinet where I kept my baking pans. I had bought a new item (a popover pan) and moved another one up from the basement (a ceramic loaf pan). But—you guessed it—they didn’t fit into the cabinet. In this case, I was able to rearrange all the equipment in a way to keep it together.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that these were not dramatic changes. And it’s true, I could have continued to climb on a chair to reach my blender and mixer, or walk down to my basement for the baking pans. But I’m glad I took the time to adjust how I stored these items, because it will make my cooking easier and more efficient.

I also know that over time, if I don’t make these kinds of periodic adjustments, I could wind up with a seriously disorganized space, rather than one that is just inconvenient or annoying to use.

Have you tweaked any organization systems to accommodate changes in your habits?


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Nancy Vorsanger loves how her organized home makes her family’s life easier. She opened her own organizing business to help other families get—and stay—organized, with practical, no-fuss strategies tailored to their own needs and lifestyles. Nancy also loves coffee, word games, blogs, her husband, and her children—not in that order. She lives in central New Jersey.

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