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10 ways to organize your pantry, foyer and media center

Erin Rooney Doland, author of "Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter," is dishing her tips for organizing your foyer, TV area and kitchen pantry in (gasp!) one minute or less.
/ Source: TODAY

Start those organizing engines!

Erin Rooney Doland, author of “Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter,” is dishing her tips for organizing your foyer, TV area and kitchen pantry. While her strategies will take about a few minutes to set up, they’ll help you stay organized with just a minute of work going forward.

Ready, set, go!


Keep receipts in order

Immediately pull all receipts out of purse/wallet/pocket and stab them on a receipt spike on top of your console table. (At end of month, when bank and credit card statements arrive, have all receipts in one location, already in date order, to easily reconcile all receipts with statements.)

Create a ‘mail room’ to sort mail and paperwork

Sort mail into junk mail and non-junk mail. Place a container beneath a bench that can be used for a trash can for junk mail. This keeps junk mail from being set on table or counter and creating a clutter pile.

Assign baskets to each family member

Keep leashes, gloves, scarves, hats or whatever you need each time you leave your home in a container (or containers). Take off gloves and simply drop them in the basket. You can label the containers if feeling especially creative. (Swap out items at end of season.)

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TV area

Get rid of non-essential clutter

I have seen a lot of media centers. It is the place where stuff goes to die. You'll see sunscreen sitting on the DVD machine… and it's the middle of January. You'll also see VCRs and other antiquated electronics — stuff you don't use anymore — still taking up precious shelf space. For such a small amount of space, it is probably gets the most traffic in the entire house. Get rid of what you don't need. You will feel good about it.

Toss duplicate cables

There's a cost involved with the following tip, but you might find it extremely helpful. Take 30 seconds to organize duplicate charging cables for your main electronics (phone and iPad, etc), especially if you travel or decide you want to work from your local coffee shop. Having more than one cable prevents having to continually shuffle cables between your house, car, and office (and possibly losing them in the process). You'll never be caught without the cable you need and you'll save yourself time unplugging and replugging in power cables at your desk.

Control the cable confusion

Mark both ends of a cable by writing directly onto the plug with a permanent marker. Use black on a white cable and silver on a black cable. (Fancy tags are pretty but they can fall off, cost money, and you have to take the time to go out and buy them each time you get a new cable. Using a marker is far more efficient and effective.)

Hide unwanted cords

If you think your power strip is ugly and you aren't strapped for cash, the BlueLounge Cable Box is a nice way to disguise the plugs. Bundle of cables feeds in one end, the power cable feeds out the other side. Take 30 seconds to order it online and then another 30 seconds to drop your power strip inside after it arrives. Just be sure to get the right size for your power strip.

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Kitchen pantry

Create a food-packing kit

If you pack lunches on a regular basis, or bring treats out for a movie night, create a kit for your pantry. In a tray, caddy, or basket, have all the materials (reusable bags, food storage containers, packaged food items) you use to make sack lunches. This might mean you have duplicates of some items in your kitchen, but for speed and efficiency this might be an exception to consider.

Keep food in bags for freshness

Fancy containers are pretty, but they're not a necessity. Since the purpose of dry food storage is to keep bugs out and food fresh, don't overthink effective solutions. A pound of sugar sealed in a zip-top gallon freezer bag is just as useful as a $30 ceramic container. Plus, you can write on freezer bags with a permanent marker and easily label contents.

Organize food in groups

Group like items together on shelving. You can label the lip of the shelf if you want to make it apparent where things belong. Groupings might be: pasta, flours, cereals, spices, snacks, reusable shopping bags, etc.

While sorting, keep a grocery sack (paper or plastic) or cardboard box in the pantry. Any food nearing its expiration/use-by date that is unopened but that you don't think you'll use before it goes bad, put in the sack/box. When a container is full, take it to a local food pantry.