Packing & Unpacking Strategies That Won’t Stress You Out!

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Getting Organized, Organized Home


Today’s post comes from one of our SBO Partners, Jenna Nelson, founder of Top Shelf Organizing In Nashville, TN

Moving. Ugh. Doesn’t that word just make you cringe? I’ve moved 8 times since graduating from college in 2006 and 6 of those moves were to different states. At this point in my life I feel like a packing pro which is a skill that has come in handy with my organizing business. I love helping my clients get organized, and that includes people moving from one home to another.

I know packing can seem overwhelming when you look at your house as a whole, and if that’s how you approach it, it will be overwhelming. So don’t do that. Instead, look at one space at a time, even if it’s just a drawer in the bathroom, a shelf in the pantry or a section of your closet. Typically when moving you can’t pack up each room completely because there are always certain items you need to use as long as you are living in the home, but I guarantee there’s a lot you DON’T need during that time.

Here’s a list of items you can pack up immediately without affecting your daily life:

  • Out of season clothes and shoes
  • Extra bath towels and sheets
  • Rarely used bathroom items
  • Memorabilia
  • Personalized items such as pictures and diplomas
  • Handmade arts and craft items
  • Rarely used kitchen tools and appliances
  • Rarely used kitchen dishes, plates, utensils, glassware
  • Rarely used cooking and baking dishes
  • Extra kitchen hand towels and washcloths
  • Books and dvds that won’t be read or watched
  • “Guest” items stored in closets
  • Paperwork you don’t need access to

Listen to Jenna’s interview on This ORGANIZED Life

Another simple tip when moving – this is the BEST time to purge. When else are you going to have the chance to go through every space in your house? When are you going to MAKE time to go through every area of your house? Take advantage of packing and do a total purge/clean out of each space, getting rid of items you don’t need or want anymore. Why should they take up space in the moving boxes if you no longer use them? Bonus, and I know this sounds obvious, but the more you get rid of the less you have to pack and unpack.

When you pick up an item you aren’t sure you really need, ask yourself, “Do I want to find a place for this in my new home?” If you do, keep it. If you don’t, get rid of it. Don’t ask yourself, “Do I want to pack this item?” because there are some items that really aren’t fun to pack (I’m looking at you KitchenAid mixer) but you need them/use them, so getting rid of them isn’t an option.I know moving can seem completely overwhelming but hopefully these simple tips will help make the process a little easier.

For more organizing tips and inspiration, follow Top Shelf Organizing on Facebook at Top Shelf Organizing, Instagram at @topshelforganizing, and on twitter at @TSorganizing or visit her website

WFMZ Segment: Must Have Products to Ease Spring Cleaning

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Favorite Products, Garage Storage, Getting Organized, Media, Organized Home

Spring cleaning is like the New Year’s Resolution of organizing. The hardest part for most people is getting started. I had the pleasure of spending the morning with one of my favorite peeps, Eve Russo from WFMZ, where we talked about some tips and products to help ease the overwhelm.

You can watch the clip HERE   

1. Standing Bike Racks:


I love have everything off the floor as much as the next person, but I’m also realistic. Ceiling or wall mount bike racks are great storage options for the off-season, but you need an easy grab-and-go option during peak times. This inexpensive expandable bike rack will keep you from tripping as you enter the garage and is simple enough that a child can do it themselves.

Available at




2.  Wire Locker Baskets:

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, these baskets!  I have them in every color and use them both indoors for hats& gloves, as well as in the garage to store cleaning supplies, bottles of spray paint and other odds-and-ends. They are so versatile and inexpensive (I think I bought mine for around $14.99 each). Believe it or not, I found them at my local gardening supply store, but I’ve seen them online as well. As much as I love a lidded bin, there’s something to be said about the convenience of grab-and-go open storage.



3.  Sterilite Storage Tote:


Normaly you’ll hear me talk about the value of clear storage bins (which still holds true), but these are my new obsession!  I came across these adorable bins when I was re-doing a playroom for a client of mine. They come in 3 sizes (the smallest is not shown in the pic), but what makes these so great are the plastic snap on labels that come in 4 colors (blue and pink not shown).  They are awesome for all those little toys like shopkins, littlest petshop, barbie clothes, and of course legos! Write directly on the labels with a dry erase marker and easily edit as the contents change.

Available at



One little organizing tip:  schedule a donation pick up  so you have a commitment to get it done by a certain date, plus the donations will not be left in your garage/house indefinitely!

Leave us a comment to let us know some of your favorite organizing tips and you may be featured in an upcoming blog post.

Happy Organizing!



Resolve to Get Organized

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Getting Organized

How many of you ever made a New Year’s Resolution?  I know I have.  They have ranged anywhere from vowing to work out, to taking up a hobby and a bunch of things in between.  If breaking up with clutter is on your resolution list for 2017, you are not alone.
Getting Organized is right up there next to losing weight and saving money as one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions. So much so, that January has been deemed: National Get Organized Month!

As with any resolution, most people start strong, but by mid-February are slipping back into their old habits. Why do so many resolutions fail? De-motivation and frustration.
If you are committed to getting organized, you’ve come to the right place. Below are 5 tips to keep you on the “Organizing Bandwagon”.
  • Prioritize.  If I asked you what area of your home you want to declutter, you may want to respond “all of it”! But Rome wasn’t built in a day and your clutter didn’t accumulate overnight, so slow your roll sister. As much as I applaud your attempt to dive right in, the best advice I can give you is to prioritize the areas that are the biggest pain point for you and go from there.
  • Incorporate into your routine. I have news for you, getting organized isn’t a “one and done” thing.  It’s an investment in time and discipline. Whether it’s putting your keys in the same spot each day, working with your kids to put their toys away, or trying to train your husband to put his clothes in the hamper, it all boils down to one word-discipline. Establishing a routine that you stick to is a game changer.
  • Change the way you think.  Clutter is the end result of X (lack of time, too much stuff, poor systems).  How many times have you organized your closet only to find it a hot mess 3 months later? Anyone can get organized, the catch is learning how to stay organized.  The key to success is changing the behavior that allowed clutter to accumulate in the first place.
  • Keep it Simple.  The one thing I can tell you from years of experience is simple always wins. The more complicated the system the less likely you are to stick with it. Think about other areas of your life: recipes, doing your hair, taking off make-up…the more steps it has, the more work it becomes to maintain. Life is already filled with enough things on our to-do list, which is exactly why simplifying the way we find food in our pantry, tools in the garage, or clothes in our closet is invaluable.
  • Set Realistic Expectations.  If you were going to run a marathon you wouldn’t just wake up one day and run 26 miles. You would have a plan, a strategy and small benchmarks along the way helping you get closer to reaching your goal.  Organizing your space or time is no different. Whether you have 20 minutes or 2-hours, do what you can-the key is consistency. 

If you are committed to making 2017 the year you said goodbye to clutter, I’m here to help. Subscribe to our NEW weekly podcast, This Organized Life where you’ll get a first-hand glimpse into my world of kids, clients and organizing strategies that work for people who have little time, a lot of stuff, but don’t have a clue of what to do with it. If there are topics you want us to talk about, please leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!



Are you Functioning on Autopilot?

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Getting Organized, Organized Home, Simplify, Uncategorized, Women

Busy schedule

Yesterday, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I stayed home to play catch up.  Since I spend most days on-site with clients and most evenings running from activity to activity, my own to-do list often takes a backseat.  

Whether you’re stressed with a demanding job, busy taking care of your kids all day or helping with aging parents, we often spend days, even weeks, running on autopilot. The trouble is that functioning in survival mode can only last for so long.

Sound familiar?

There are certain things (like writing this article for one) that requires thought and uninterrupted time; A novel concept for most of us.

So how do you get ahead when you spend every day catering to everyone else?

1. Just Say No. Have you ever noticed that it’s always the same group of people who volunteer at Church, school, or extracurricular activities? The more you do, the more people ask of you. There is only so much time you have to spare, so it’s ok to be selective. Don’t feel compelled to say “yes” to everyone who asks, especially if it comes at the expense of your sanity.

2. Schedule a day to catch up (and I don’t mean taking a vacation). Vacations are great, but they don’t address the root of the problem.  Getting away is a nice distraction, but eventually when you come home, you’re walking into the same chaos as when you left. The only way to truly breathe a sigh of relief is to schedule a day to play catch up in your home.

3. Lead by example.  If you want your kids to make their beds every morning, make sure that you make yours.  If you want them to put their backpacks away, don’t leave your purse on the table.  If you want your kids to pick up their toys, don’t leave piles of clutter around the house. You see where I am going with this?  Kids mimic the behavior they see. The best thing you can do for your family is to empower them to pitch in and help out.

Life is like a roller coaster, and it isn’t going to slow down for you. Sometimes it’s best to sit out the ride until you get your bearings.

Happy Organizing!


Packing for Vacation

Written by Laurie Palau. Posted in BLOG: A Life More Organized, Getting Organized, Quick Tips, Summer Organization


Summer’s here!  As relaxing as vacations can be, packing is a source of stress for many people; but it doesn’t have to be. Below are 6 organizing tips to help you have a stress free vacation:

1.   MAKE A LIST.   Between work, kids, and whatever random thoughts are running through your brain, there is no way to remember every last detail unless it is written down.
don't forget
*TIP: I write every list in Evernote or Wunderlist so it’s always with me.  

2.   DON’T OVERPACK. If your vacation involves relaxing at the beach don’t waste valuable space packing dressy items that you most likely won’t wear. You also want to leave room for any add-ons you may pick up while you’re gone.

*TIP: If you’ll have access to a washer/dryer, only pack for ½ the days you will be gone.

 3.   CORRAL YOUR CHARGERS. Between cell phones, laptops, and whatever other electronic devices are in your arsenal remembering your chargers is crucial.
cord storage
*Tip: pack a small power strip so you can charge multiple items in one central location.

 4.   GET THE KIDS INVOLVED. Depending on the ages of your children, allow them be responsible for packing whatever they can.
boys packing list
*Tip: We love this one from

 5.  PACK SNACKS. Save time and money by packing a cooler filled with bottles of water, cut up fruit, and bagged snacks to keep from having to stop as frequently. 
*Tip: keep your snack bag or cooler within reach to avoid additional stops. 

 6.  PACK A GARBAGE BAG. Separate your dirty clothes from clean ones by using a garbage bag as a hamper. Not only does this make things more organized, it makes packing to go home a lot easier.
garbage bag
*Tip: As soon as you get home empty your dirty clothes into the washing machine.

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Hopefully these tips will relieve some of your stress the next time you go to pack. On that note, I am heading on vacation tomorrow. Peace out peeps!

Happy Organizing,