7 Steps For Creating an Efficient Toy or Sports Closet

Use this 7 step process to organize and create a toy closet within your hall closet. Even if you don’t have kids, you can use the same process for whatever you decide to do with your spare closet.

1. Gather It All Together

Gather all of the toys or sports equipment that you wish to store in this area. Sort these items into categories. Pile like items with like, give or throw away all of items that your children no longer play with and then take stock of what you need to store.

2. Determine What Storage to Use

For toys with multiple parts like Lego bricks, consider buying plastic bins with lids that children can easily remove and put back on. Place all Lego items into one bin, with a little room to spare to serve as a guide for when your children request more Lego parts.

3. Sort Like with Like

Make sure that board games are intact and stack these boxes together. A large rubber band around each box will save you hours of frustration sorting spilled boxes. Stuffed animals are best stored together in their own bin or deep basket. Once all toys are gathered, you will have a better idea of what type of storage containers you need. For instance, if the collection is mainly board games and stuffed animals, then you will need a small shelf unit and a large basket to hold the toys. If you discover that you have multiple loose items, you might want to incorporate a drawer unit into the closet.

 4. Choose the Proper Containers

There are many cost effective and efficient plastic storage units on the market. These plastic solutions will help organize your closet without requiring a construction worker. One of the most versatile units is the rolling drawer bin. These white and clear plastic units feature three to four drawers and they can be stacked if you need more room. You should be able to fit one of these into the closet with room to spare on one side for other containers. For instance, you can stack two to three bins on top of each other on the floor beside this unit.

If you need to store many sports related items, tall kitchen trashcans make super containers for bats, gloves, balls, etc.

5. Make Use of the Side Walls

On the side walls you can install hooks at “kid height” to hold bags for separate projects. These hooks could also be a landing zone for backpacks when your children return from school. Keep things at their level so small children can hang up their coats and grab their backpacks. Install these hanging rods and hooks about 2 1/2 to 3 feet high.

6. Consider Adding a Shelf

Another option is to buy a small shelf unit that will fit inside your closet. There are numerous shapes and sizes available to accommodate almost any size closet. Most are kits that you can easily assemble yourself. Buy the tallest one available to optimize the vertical space within your closet. Stack plastic bins on the shelves to organize loose items. Usually the shelves are only 12 inches deep. This means you will have floor space in front and off to the sides for small trashcans to hold larger loose toys.

 7. Develop Good Habits

Once this closet is reconfigured, teach your children that this is their own special closet, built just for them. Because it is their special place, they are the ones responsible for returning toys there at the end of playtime.

Even if a kid’s toy closet is not your final outcome, it pays to get everyone in the house on board with what ever the new improved closet is designed for. This way, you will hopefully never again find strange unrelated items stuffed into this space.

There is no one perfect closet design. If you are designing a toy closet, your storage needs depend on the age of your children and their interests. If you are simply designing a sports closet for the entire family, you will need flexibility because interests like sports come and go like the wind! Keep in mind that as your interests change, you can easily redesign the space with different plastic storage configurations. With plastic containers and a little creativity, you can create effective holding zones for almost any item.




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Tips to Help You Get Your Garage Organized

As with any other space within your home, a well-organized garage always has a premeditated layout and design. Unfortunately, most people don’t give much thought about what goes into their garage and it frequently ends up becoming a dumping zone for all things unwanted, unused or loved.

In order to begin getting your garage in order, you need to determine what activities will take place in your garage. As with every other area in your home, you have to know what your end goals are before you begin to plan the layout. Perhaps you, like many others will have a laundry area, but will it also store sports equipment, garden supplies and holiday décor? Will it feature a workout or workshop area?

Take a walk through your garage. Check out what goodies have ended up there and then begin to visualize what items truly are goodies instead of things that are simply old, unloved and abandoned.


Once you have decided what items you will keep in your garage, you can create a practical plan for each zone you need to create within your space. For instance, if your washer and dryer are located in your garage. it makes sense to position the laundry area closest to the interior door. Gardening supplies and the lawnmower should be towards the front and side of the garage to keep the dirt toward the outer perimeter and away from the laundry zone. I will talk more about your laundry zone in a bit.

Every well- designed garage will include some type of storage. Does your garage have pre-existing shelving or cabinets? The ideal strategy is to use one entire wall for storage. The wall on the left side of the garage is typically good for shelves because you can set the perimeter to allow for your car door to open. Cabinets/shelves are typically 20-24 inches deep and should fit easily along the wall where you will park the car. Using this wall for storage will keep lawnmowers etc from banging into your car door. And yes – I am suggesting that you put your car back into the garage even if it hasn’t ever seen the inside of your garage! Your car is one of your largest investments, so it makes sense to give it a home within your home.

Open shelves on the wall closest to your home entrance will conveniently store household supplies bought in bulk.

Make sure to use every inch of vertical space, floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Buy the tallest available cabinets or shelves to totally optimize the space along your wall. If you still have overhead space after installing these cabinets, consider running another shelf above to hold holiday boxes or tax archives.

When you think your plan is complete, look again at the space above each zone. You can never have too much storage. Consider adding more shelving in the areas that have empty wall space or above the garage door. Holiday decorations should be grouped together and stored high and out of the way. There are companies that specialize in overhead garage door storage units. This storage area works well for large items like skis, extra lumber and building supplies. If you are a ‘do-it-yourselfer’, most home improvement stores sell kits for overhead storage shelving.

Garden supplies can be stacked neatly in two rows of large plastic bins with lids. Extra potting soil, mixes and pots can be stored in the two bottom bins. Tools, seeds and bulbs can be stored neatly within the top bins. Sectionalize your smaller items within the larger bins with ziplock baggies and smaller shoebox size bins. If you don’t have an existing potting station, keep an empty plastic bin on top of this stack to use for potting plants. By the time you have stacked three of these bins on top of each other, you have a convenient waist-high workstation.

Almost every garage needs a tool zone. Even if we are not that handy, we all need the occasional hammer and nail. Being a fan of organized spaces, even as a child, one of my favorite organizing solutions was when my Dad nailed the lids of old baby food jars to the underside of his tool cabinet. He used these jars to store his nails, screws and small parts within. When he needed a nail, he simply unscrewed the lid and removed the jar from it’s hanging space. I thought he was brilliant and I loved that solution so much that I always offered to help him screw the bottles back onto their lids.

So, think about what you want to accomplish within your garage and get going!

If you get stuck and want a jump start for getting your entire home organized, check out my online do-it-yourself course ~ Home Organizing Made Simple


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Do You Need to Get Your Garage Organized?

Why do people park $30,000-50,000 cars in their driveway – exposed to all the elements 24/7?

What I have discovered over the years is it is because their garages are often filled with junk they can’t bear to part with. And while this may sound a bit silly it’s sadly the truth for the majority of us.

Okay, so maybe your car isn’t worth $50,000. But then all the accumulated junk in your garage isn’t worth nearly half of what your car is. So just where is the logic of keeping all of the junk in there?

You can see what’s coming next, can’t you? Here’s a yardstick to measure the ‘toss or not toss’ question. If it’s been sitting in your garage, attic, basement for three years without being used, please don’t even think about it one more time and let it go. Donate it to charity, sell it at a yard sale or simply put it out with the garbage, depending on what “it” is and what “it’s” condition is.

I work one on one with clients full time and the question that I hear most often is ‘where did that come from?’ If you hear yourself saying that to yourself throughout this project, this is a good indicator that you don’t need it and NOW is the perfect time to let it go.

If you feel intimidated, really want to get your car back into the garage and need a jump start to get going, call Kathi @ 760.436.4266. Your garage can be free and clear in one day and your car will have a new tidy home!


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Where Did That Come From?! Consuming Less Helps You Become Better Organized

Many people acquire possessions without thought. During private consultations, my clients often exclaim, “where did that come from?” This is so common and how we, as a modern day consumers, often operate. We are blitzed by the media to buy, buy, buy! So much so that we often wind up being remote controlled by advertising when we walk into stores.

Perhaps this is your normal modus operandi, maybe it is not. I simply want you to become more aware of what you buy, when you buy and how you buy it. It might shed some light on how you can sustain your organized home once it is finally organized.

My goal for you is that you will be able to create sustainable systems of organization in all areas of your life. Your home, your car, your schedule, your vacation time. This sometimes requires a change in your possession consumption habits.

Just saying . . .

Remember to be kind to yourself as you look at your spending habits.
You are the one who can change your reality because you can manifest anything you set your mind to with perseverance!

If you want to get your home in order, check out Home Organizing Made Simple, my online do-it-yourself home organizing course. You will learn tips and tricks from a Board Certified Professional Organizer who will help you clear the clutter in your home and create a life with less stress and more freedom!

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Want to get motivated to get your life organized? Listen to this statistic:

About 80% of the clutter in your home is a result of disorganization, not lack of space. Getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40 percent of the housework in the average home.

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How Long to Keep Taxes

One question that my clients frequently ask me is, “How long do I need to keep my tax documents?”

In this situation in 2013, this client has taxes going back 30 years- from 1982.

You do not need to keep tax returns this long. According to the IRS, typically you need to keep your taxes for 3 years, and in some cases 7 years. What I advise my clients is to keep tax documents for 10 years. This is a conservative amount of time that should keep you covered for any situation. This also makes it easier to know what to purge each year- if it’s 2015 you can easily subtract 10 to know that it’s time to get rid of 2005 files.

More information can be found at

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Tired of Being Buried Under Paperwork?

Hi Kathi,

I enjoyed your presentation at the Women’s SCORE breakfast at Morgan Run about two years ago. I was fascinated with your ideas and have read your book.

I like your advice to skip over the chapters that don’t apply. The clothes closet one didn’t apply to me, but I read the chapter anyway. My closet is organized by color first, and by season second. (My best organization starts upstream at the store.)

Where I struggle is with the pieces of paper. The action pile is the problem. All of the other categories are organized very well. My manuals are on the bottom left of my lateral filing cabinet. When an iron breaks and I buy a new one, I pull out the old directions and put the new directions in the file folder. All the retirement information is in one place. My file cabinets are very organized. Just like my spices turntables – all in alphabetical order.

So, I think there’s hope for me. Four of the five categories of paper are organized well. And have been for 40 years.

But the action papers. I don’t know what to keep and what to throw away. I’ve learned to throw more away sooner because, as you point out, the history is available on the Internet. I do purge my statements folders once each year. And thanks to your presentation, I toss some receipts or statements immediately.

Have you written a new chapter, or are there websites you can recommend, to help me with this final bit of mastering my muck? Here are examples: Do I need to keep paystub statements? How much medical paperwork should I keep? The dental office has my records. The medical clinic has my records. I use Quicken, so as soon as I’ve downloaded the transactions, I verify things and toss the receipt (unless it’s a big purchase and I need to keep the receipt).

I’ve told many friends and colleagues about your presentation and your book. I look forward to hearing back from you about new ways to think.


Hope Campbell
MA in Educational Technology
Instructional Designer
Technical Writer
and tired of being buried under paper

Hi Hope,

Thanks so much for reaching out with your questions. You are not alone and I commend you for the great work you have done so far. Here are a few tips for each of your specific questions:

Do I need to keep paystub statements?

You do not need to keep your pay stubs if you trust that your employer is deducting the right amount and that you will receive an accurate year end document, ie W2 or 1099. If you are on commission, you might want to save each pay stub until you have been fully compensated for your wrok. After this is verfied, you can shred them.

If you receive a regular salary from a reputable company, you can toss or shred your stubs as soon as they arrive. If your pay is automatically deposited, you can also request that you no longer receive a pay stub.

How much medical paperwork should I keep? The dental office has my records. The medical clinic has my records.

You need to keep your medical bills until they are reimbursed or paid.

If you are on an HSA plan, you can use your HSA funds for many expenses not covered by your health insurance plan. Dental and vision care expenditures are common examples. Keep these receipts for these items and then organize and total them each year and file with your tax return receipts. Keeping 2 files will serve you well and keep your expenses separated for tax time, one for odd year, another for even.

There are many points of view about which medical records you should personally keep such as test results and x-rays. Many people feel that they want to keep and track their complete medical history. If this is your case, create a permanent file folder and save only your test results etc. Do not keep bills or other papers here, only test results. If you get an x ray, ask for it to be given to you on a disc so that it will also fit within this file. I personally keep my annual wellness results and also any blood work results and let my doctor save the other documents and x rays. Do whatever falls within your comfort zone.

I use Quicken, so as soon as I’ve downloaded the transactions, I verify things and toss the receipt (unless it’s a big purchase and I need to keep the receipt). 

Keep receipts for every expenditure over $75 that appears on your tax return. If you are an employee as opposed to an home-based business. you dont need to keep many receipts as your tax return is simple: medical (as of this date, you can deduct eligible medical expenses to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income), tax docs such as W2 and earned interest and charitable donations are typically the only items that you record to the IRS.  These will be the only receipts that you need to keep and archive with your tax return.

All other receipts can be tossed as soon as they are input into Quicken. As an aside, I keep an envelope in my purse for purchases that I might possibly need to return. I toss the grocery receipts into the grocery trashcan as I leave the store or sometimes even tell the check out person to toss them for me! Once a month or so, I go through that envelope and get rid of the receipts for the merchandise that I am satisfied with. This way, I dont bring receipts and extra papers into my house or office that are not relevant to my tax return.

You might also want to watch this quick news braodcast where I provided more tips for managing and eliminating your paperwork.

I hope that this helps you finish your organizing process. Keep up the good work and feel free to connect again if you have more questions!

PS, I love the use of turntables and organizing your spices in alphabetical order, Yay!



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Recycle Old Toothbrushes

When you come across old toothbrushes, do not put these into the trash. They also, can be recycled. Although they seem small and irrelevant, there are over 50 million pounds of toothbrushes are tossed into landfills every year.

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Conserve Ink and Print Faster

I just discovered a way to conserve ink in my printer. I use an HP officejet all-in-one which is the best printer I have ever owned. It is a true workhorse. I stumbled upon a new setting that I had noticed under print presets: Plain paper, fast draft , black and white which I now use as my default setting. Not only does it convert everything into black and white, it spits out my print jobs so quickly, they fly out of the feeder and I have to catch them on the way out! This setting will save me a boatload of time and ink and reduce my impact on the environment.

I also use a 3 tray paper cabinet under my printer so that I can recycle old printed paper to reuse later. The top tray has new paper, middle specialty paper and the bottom recycled.

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What to do with Laptop & Cellphone Batteries

Laptop, Cell phone and MP3 batteries should be recycled.These types of batteries contain potentially toxic heavy metals sealed up inside, and if thrown out with the regular garbage can jeopardize the environmental integrity of both landfills and incinerator emissions.  Some Goodwill locations will accept these items.  Find your closest Goodwill recycle station here

Call2Recycle provides recycling for these old batteries and more. To find a collection location in your community, visit and enter your zip code.


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