organize: interview with an organizer

Lately I have been working hard to simplify my home before the cold weather and holidays hit. I have finished my master bathroom and the kids’ bathroom. Currently working on the kids’ bedrooms and the kitchen. It feels so good to start preparing now for what I hope is a calmer season of business. 🙂

In that regards I reached out to my friend and professional organizer, Lisa Macdonald of All Organized to answer some questions for me on organizing this time of year.

ME: I am very motivated to start organizing my house now for the cold weather, are there different times of the year (besides the obvious New Years) when people tend to look more towards simplifying and organizing?

Interview with an Organizer - All Organized - the ordinary life of jannybeanLISA: I’m so glad you’re in the mood to get organized! Even the most organized individuals need to keep working actively toward maintaining the level of organization in our homes & lives.

When I started All Organized I thought exactly the same thing as you, that New Year’s (with all the associated resolutions) would be the busiest time of year. Oddly, not so. Summer is the busiest time for client calls for assistance.

But there is never a bad time to start getting organized. Whenever you are ready is the best time!


ME: Do you have annual habits for preparing this time of year for the colder weather in terms of simplifying and organizing?

LISA: You can never start too early to get ready for winter and the holidays. Being prepared makes the Christmas season so much more relaxing and less stressful!

You can start by:

  • Cleaning out your freezersMake room for the inevitable festive goodies & groceries
  • Sort through all your winter clothesPurge & donate what you didn’t wear last year, there are so many people who could make good use of your warm clothing
  • Prepare your winter clothes before the big snowfallDry-clean your coats; Make repairs if required, sewing a button or weatherproofing a pair of boots might get you another year out of your items. Get it ready early and there will be less panic trying to get your kids out the door to school when you’re not rushing around looking for a needle & thread!
  • Get the vehicles readyI always Rust Check my vehicles in November. Cars last longer with fewer expensive repairs, they are protected against our harsh weather & salt. Put your scraper & an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk. Make an appointment to get your snow tires or studded tires put on for November 15th.
  • Create your Launch PadYou must have an area for each family member to ‘launch’ out of the house every morning. Especially now with hats, mittens, scarves, boots, skates, etc. there has to be a spot allocated to each person so items like keys, lunches, cell phones, homework, etc. are not forgotten in the crazy rush out the door.

Interview with an Organizer - All Organized - the ordinary life of jannybean


ME: How far ahead of the season do you recommend that people start to organize for the winter and/or holidays?

LISA: It is never too early to get organized for the holidays!

  • Keep a ‘Recipes to Try’ folder year-roundSo you’re not frantically searching for that Peanut Brittle recipe you wanted to try on the night before the cookie exchange!
  • Purge your closets now!If you know there will be clothing under the tree, make room for it early on rather than stuffing it into a full-to-capacity closet/dresser the day you take the tree down. Clothing should hang freely in a closet. You should be able to see what you have & access it easily.
  • Make a list for the grandparents of items the kids needIf you let Grandma know in October that the kids need mitts, she might have time to knit them. If the kids have outgrown skates, skis & winter helmets – these are great gift ideas and the benefits of physical activity will last longer than the latest toy.
  • Designate an area in your home year-round for gifting & re-giftingIf you see something on sale in March that would make a great Christmas gift for a friend, buy it! This is a natural way to budget – your spending is spread throughout the year. Holiday shopping is less stressful, less time consuming and you end up giving more thoughtful gifts – no more grabbing last minute gift cards or gift baskets at the drug store!

Interview with an Organizer - All Organized - the ordinary life of jannybean


ME: What one piece of advice would you give a client who tends to get overwhelmed with the idea of the amount of “stuff” that we deal with over the holidays?

LISA: I am really into the concept of living minimally. There is a fabulous book out called Everything that Remains by The Minimalists and it is a life-changer. The concept is simple… the less we have, the happier we are.

Try adopting some of the simple ideas suggested in the book:

  • Don’t give gifts this Christmas – give memoriesFor example, tickets to a concert, the theatre or a festival.
  • Make a donation to someone’s favourite charity
  • Make time your giftInstead of exchanging gifts with a friend, make a date for a night out together at a nice restaurant and really enjoy each other’s company.


ME: And lastly, what is your favourite organizing tip?

LISA: The most important tip I give clients and during seminars is… if you want to be more organized you MUST meal plan. This means you must write down what you and your family are going to eat for the upcoming week.

I sit down with the flyers the night before I go grocery shopping and I plan exactly what I am going to cook for the following week.

The benefits of this are:

  • This saves tons of money & time!No more impulse buying at the grocery store, no more last-minute desperate calls for take-out. Or last minute trips to the corner store to buy forgotten items.
  • Enlists more helpAny family members can help with prep if they get home first because they know what has been planned.
  • Leftovers can be managedBy planning roast beef one night and beef fried rice the next, food wastage can be minimized.
  • Planning for companyKids’ friends can have a look at the menu & book themselves in for their favourites!
  • More variety & better nutritionIf you’d like to incorporate a meatless meal once a week – this is how you do it. Planning more meal variance and planned vegetables allows for better nutrition as well.
  • Less stress!!You can be prepared for busy nights of activities by planning easier meals on those nights.

This is just a few of the benefits of meal planning. Trust me, try it for a month and you’ll never look back!

Interview with an Organizer - All Organized - the ordinary life of jannybean

Thanks Lisa for all these awesome tips. I will definitely be remembering these as I work over the next couple months to get myself organized before my hibernation ;).

Are there any other tips you use and find helpful organizing this time of year?

Note: For those of you who live in the Halifax, NS area and are interested in hiring Lisa at All Organized for your organizing needs, you can call her at 902-430-6548.