“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Failing to prepare, procrastinating, putting off until tomorrow what should be done today…

These are all strategies for disorganization, chaos, waste and heartache- outcomes that few seek.  So why do we do the very things that sabotage success we crave? The answer is at least in part-we’re human and we’re creatures of habit.  In our busy lives and fast-paced world, there always seems to be more to do than time to do it.  Putting things off is a coping mechanism.

But preparation skills can be learned, practiced and habit-forming.  And in the process, life becomes calmer, simpler and happier.

As summer gives way to fall, school and work schedules intensify.  Consider these possibilities for success through preparation.

In the kitchen:

Plans meals and keep a grocery list (easier than ever with technology) rather than impulse buying and not having anything that constitutes a meal.  Shop less often but more intentionally.

Prep groceries when you unpack them.  This means rotating your pantry stock, washing greens and cleaning veggies, unwrapping or unsealing the bottle or jar before you put it in the fridge.  Spending a bit of time on the front end pays off handsomely on the back end.

In the laundry room:

Sort clothes and check pockets before tossing them in the hamper.  No more towel lint on your yoga pants or ink pens ruining the load!  Empty the dryer as soon as the cycle is complete and fold or hang clothes to minimize wrinkles.  If something needs ironing, don’t wait until you’re late for the event where the garment was to be worn.  Ditto, missing buttons- sew them on before the button is lost!

In the closet:

Hang things rather than letting them pile up on a hook, doorknob or the floor.  Take care of cleaning or mending as soon as the need arises.  Hang or stack like items together.  Consider purging the roughly eighty percent of what’s in your closet that you never wear.  Know what you like and what flatters your body and shop carefully.  Use the one in- one out rule.  For every new thing that comes in, a similar one must go.

In your tech world:

Deal with your email rather than “checking your email”. This is like the rule of paper management- handle things only once. The delete button is your friend.  How many links to dancing cats do you really need? Keep address books and calendars up to date.  It’s much easier to enter a new address or phone number right in your device than to scrawl it on a scrap of paper to languish on the counter or the bottom of your purse.

In your paper world:

Establish files as soon as they are needed.  Don’t let papers stack up for lack of a system.  For example, a tax file for the new year should be available on January 1.  When a new insurance policy or financial statement arrives, make sure the numbers mesh with the previous one and then shred the old document.  The new magazine, newspaper or catalogue’s arrival triggers recycling of the old one.

In your social world:

Respond to things that require a response as soon as possible. If you know you cannot attend, let the host know immediately.  When a thank you note or call is appropriate (and when is it not?), do it sooner rather than later.  Better late than never might be true, but better now than later is certainly true.

Getting things done feels good.  Preparation will make everything you do easier and more successful.  Remember, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Go forth and succeed!





Even a Professional Organizer Needs Help!


Hi, I’m Betsy and I am a hoarder – of food. Although my family had joked about this for some time, I finally realized the extent of my “food” hoarding at a Simplicity Lunch and Learn last year. My refrigerator, freezer and pantry were stuffed to the brim with items I had bought and forgotten, just in case I ever needed them.


At the time, my daughter, a fellow Simplicity Organizer, staged an intervention to help me purge my pantry and create a list of meals to prepare to use up the extra food.  This solution worked for several months, but I continued to struggle with keeping it organized and pared down because my pantry shelves were too deep to see what I had. In addition, my husband had a desk in the pantry that was constantly out of order. As clutter became a magnet for more clutter, I lost my resolve.


I had struggled with this pantry space for the 15 years we have lived in our home and I knew the only way to conquer my problem was to combine organizing with a re-designed pantry space. The deep shelves made it too easy for me to hoard miscellaneous food items and that my husband needed a more structured desk to keep his space maintained. It was time for a pantry re-do.


After contacting three closet companies in Charlotte for estimates, I helped design a pantry with open shelving 14 inches deep so that I would be able to see each item clearly.  Where the previously deep shelves had been on the right, we designed a desktop at counter height, with bookshelves above and deep drawers below.  I was able to keep costs down and utilize the existing deep shelves in the corner, which are perfect for housing large entertaining items.

Pantry redo




Now, when I walk into the pantry I see food and beverages straight ahead, which encourages me to “shop” from my pantry instead of purchasing more food that I don’t need. My husband’s desktop is now fully outfitted with the shelves, drawers and counter space that he needs and is out of my immediate view.


My pantry now has 3 distinct functions: a food pantry, a place for entertaining items, and a communication center for my husband.  And if the next homeowner doesn’t need the communication center it can easily be converted into a coffee bar. While this design suits my needs perfectly, I’m always thinking of resale. My pantry went from a recipe for disaster to one of my favorite rooms in the house!



Pantry After

It can be very helpful to have an outsider’s perspective on paring down and rethinking how to use a particular space. If you have a nagging problem area in your home, we would love to help you come up with creative solutions within your budget to tackle those spaces!