Susan from Organized 31: Ideas from a Military Mom
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Susan Santoro, owner of Organized 31, knows a thing or two about moving and organizing a new house. As a military wife and mom, she has moved into more than 25 houses in 12 states and 3 different countries. Read some of her genius time-saving organization tips.
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Susan Santoro – Organized 31
Meet Susan. She’s the Owner of Organized 31. It’s both a home organizing business and a very popular home organization blog full of helpful tips and ideas.
She grew up in the military and calls Hawaii her home state. She’s also a 15-year Air Force veteran, mother of 3, and her husband is currently on active duty in the military as well.
Through a hectic life constantly on the move, she grew to appreciate how staying organized brought peace and calm. And now she offers this service to others through virtual home organization consultations.
We are thrilled to share her years of experience with you. You are sure to learn something amazing!
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON QUESTION YOU ARE ASKED ABOUT ORGANIZING?
The question that I’m asked most often is how do to find time to declutter and organize.
My answer is that there are basically two ways to tackle decluttering and organizing – the marathon all-day/all-weekend method or the little bit every day/week method. You have to choose which is better for your life and your personality. Both methods have pros and cons and both work.
Thanks to transformational TV shows, many people think that organizing only is accomplished in one marathon session. But that doesn’t work for everyone. We’re not on TV, you are in control, you decide which way you want to tackle it.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE STORAGE HACKS?
I’m a big believer in living with new organization systems before you invest in organizing products. I repurpose many items in my clients’ homes to use as storage/organizing bins until we make final adjustments to the organization system.
Once we’ve fine-tuned the system, then we purchase organization products. I also use many repurposed items to organize my own home (I hate to throw away anything that can be repurposed). You can find 75 of my favorite repurposed organizing hacks here.
WHAT MADE YOU REALLY ENJOY ORGANIZING IN THE FIRST PLACE?
I grew up as a military child. I served in the military and am now married to an active duty military member. As a result, I’ve moved into 25 homes all around the world, thanks to the military.
My mother was a minimalist before it was popular. I’m a problem solver by nature. All three of those influences have combined to make organizing a passion and joy for me.
We’re not on TV, you are in control, you decide which way you want to tackle it.-Susan from Organized 31
WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
My mom is my inspiration. She was always organizing and finding hacks to make our many, often sub-standard, military quarters a home. We lived in homes 1-2 years and didn’t have the budget or time to create the adaptations she would have liked, so she found creative ways to repurpose items.
I remember the time she created a room divider to hide the dishwasher sitting in our dining room with a cardboard box and contact paper. She was so organized and creative and inspired me from a very young age.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO LABEL THINGS?
I don’t believe in over labeling. If you can see the item in the container, you probably don’t need a label. But my favorite way to label is with washi tape and my label maker. It’s pretty and functional, but also inexpensive so I can easily change it whenever I want or whenever the military moves us.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE “MUST-HAVE” STORAGE PRODUCTS?
Clear acrylic bins for organizing in the kitchen, the linen closet, the toy room and almost anywhere. I love the clear acrylic because they can be easily cleaned, you can see what’s inside and they are so versatile that you will be able to repurpose the bins in different areas as your needs change.
I also love expandable silverware and utensil trays. Since we move every few years, I need the trays to be able to fit in different sized drawers – the expandable trays are the perfect solution.
WHAT IS THE MOST POPULAR THING YOU ORGANIZE?
Kitchens. I thoroughly enjoy organizing kitchens because the impact is felt immediately in the client’s everyday life. I also enjoy it, because the decluttering process is usually less emotional and complicated.
Has anything funny or memorable happened to you when you were on a job?
I helped a client sort through 30 years of letters and cards (and there were a lot!). She’d kept them stored in 2 plastic bins. We took every item out and sorted them. It took us the entire 4-hour session, so when I left it looked like a mailbag had exploded in her room.
I felt badly because when we started everything was contained in 2 bins and when I left there was a big “mess”. The client wasn’t upset. She needed to go through every single letter and make the decisions on what to keep and what to let go.
Taking everything out and sorting them by sender and then by year helped her make her decisions. But I felt awful. As a professional organizer, you want the space to look better, not worse, when you leave.
WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE?
Take photos of sentimental items, create memory books and then let the items go. This works well for children’s artwork and memorabilia, with certificates and awards, with nostalgic clothing and with family keepsakes that you don’t really want, but have sentimental value.
THE BEST ARTICLES FROM susan’s BLOG
Spend some time browsing her blog. You will learn so much. She even has a free 17-page printable checklist that will help you prepare for all the end-of-life questions your family might have to face after you pass away.
These are her most popular posts. Go pin them and share them with your friends.
- How to Set Up Your Kitchen in Your New Home
- Dorm Move-In Tips
- Moving Tips and Advice
- 17-Page End of Life Checklist
- How to Purge Everything in 10 Minutes a Day
WHERE TO FIND Susan
Susan is constantly sharing helpful tips on social media too. Follow her accounts so you can start getting some refreshing bits of inspiration.
- Organized 31 Blog
- Instagram – @Organized31
- Twitter – @Organized31
- Facebook – Organized31 Blog
- Pinterest – Organized31
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INFLUENTIAL HOME ORGANIZATION EXPERTS
We are honored to be surrounded by so many amazing home organizing experts on Clutter Keeper®. It’s our goal to continue to share their expertise and knowledge with you.
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