Image of beautifully organized pantry shelving. Snacks are decanted in clear, labelled containers. Produce is in black metal baskets by type, there are complementary white stacking bins and open baskets.
24
Jan

What Does it Mean to be “Organized?”

Have you ever wondered how a professional organizer organizes her home? You’re not alone! Today, I’m talking about what I believe “organized” means and sharing how I organize one of my home’s most heavily used spaces: my pantry.  

 

“Your Home Must be SUPER Organized.” 

Mee Kitchen Cupboard - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

A typical comment after people learn I’m a professional organizer is, “Your home must be SUPER organized.” While it seems like a straightforward question, it’s difficult to answer with either “yes” or “no.” 

 

It’s difficult because what’s “organized” is a very individual concept and varies from person to person, family to family, and space to space.

 

If they mean do I have everything rainbow sorted and decanted in all matching bins, and everything is always in its place, then the answer is a big fat NO! My home is NOT this.

 

But I suspect this is what many people mean when they make this comment or think about what a “super organized” space is. So, before getting into the specifics of my pantry organization, I’d like to take a minute to discuss what “organized” means (and doesn’t mean) to me.

What “Organized” Means (& Doesn’t Mean) To Me

Meaning - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

When people ask how organized my home is, my answer is always: it’s as organized as it needs to be for my family to get things done efficiently and keep our lives running smoothly.  

Being organized isn’t about Pinterest-perfect or Instagram-worthy spaces. It doesn’t require colour-coding, expensive matching bins or fancy labels.

 

And it’s definitely not about everything always being in its place and the space always looking perfect. If you’re living in your home (which, of course, we all are), that’s an unrealistic goal that will exhaust anyone trying to achieve it.  

 

Aesthetics can be, and often are, a component of organizing projects, but function always comes first: organization isn’t about how a space looks; it’s about how a space works. Specifically, how it works to make life easier

Organization Is About Making Life EASIER

 

Photo 1 - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

I don’t just mean organization makes it easier to find your keys in the morning, although that’s part of it.  

 

It makes EVERY SINGLE DAY easier. 

 

When you edit out the unnecessary and excess things in your space, create systems, and give everything a home based on you, your family, and your lifestyle, you experience less stress and frustration, save time and money, and lessen your mental load.

 

You stop living in “catch-up mode” each day and are better equipped to deal with life’s daily challenges. And when life gets particularly hectic (which it inevitably does), you can respond quicker to restore order.

 

Most importantly, you have more time, energy, and space, physically and mentally, for what really matters to you.

 

All of this is what organization means to me. 

 

With this understanding, let’s take a look at my pantry organization. 

My Pantry Organization

 

Pantry - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

Undoubtedly, some people would find my home “super” organized. I’m also sure others would find areas of my house they don’t consider very “organized” (especially for a professional organizer).  Let’s use my pantry (pictured above) to see what you think.

 

It’s a small walk-in pantry and probably the most heavily used space in my home by everyone in my family. My husband loves to cook and makes most of our meals from scratch, while my daughter is his very keen sous chef and a budding baker. So, our pantry needs systems that work for ALL of us.

Pantry Organization Breakdown

You’ll see we decant baking supplies, but not grains and rice, which are contained in their original packing, in simple white plastic baskets (from the dollar store) labelled “Pasta” and “Rice, Beans & Lentils.” Why? 

Pasta and Grains - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

We got through these food items much faster and I know we wouldn’t keep up with the constant decanting required.

 

You’ll also notice some containers aren’t labelled. Why? 

No Labels - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

We need a flexible system to work with the influx of new ingredients and changing snack preferences. The unlabeled containers are clear, so it’s still easy to identify what’s inside, even without a label.

 

 

Next, while most of our snacks are decanted, they’re stored in our individual snack bins instead of all together. Why? 

Snack baskets - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

We have different snack preferences, so this is what our snack “like with like” looks like.  It makes it easier to find what each of us wants, to keep track of what snacks are running low, and some of us (I’m not going to name names) tend to leave a lot of crumbs and empty wrappers in the snack bin. Individual bins mean it doesn’t impact (re: frustrate) others (as much). 

 

 Finally, there are at four different types of airtight storage containers. Why?

Air Tight Containers - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

Because they were on sale and looked similar enough!

Is My Pantry “SUPER” Organized?

 

yes or no 1 - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

Despite the mismatched bins, unlabeled containers and some original packaging, all food items are categorized; the categories are in designated zones and are contained in those zones instead of randomly spread out and loose on the shelves. 

 

Most importantly, it’s fast and easy for us to find and grab what we need, clean up spills and crumbs (which are plentiful), stay on top of what we’re running low on in a glance, and minimize food waste and overbuying.

 

So, is it a “super” organized space?  

 

I return to my original answer: it’s as organized as needed for my family to get things done efficiently and keep our lives running smoothly. The reality is it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It only matters that it works for my family to make our daily lives easier.

Conclusion

Conclusion - What Does it Mean to be "Organized?"

Organizing is not a one-size-fits-all process. Don’t get caught up in what you think “organized spaces” should be or look like or how other people organize things. If it makes getting things done faster and easier in your life, then it’s organized; dare I say, it’s “super” organized!  

 

If you’re looking to tackle your pantry, check out this post for 5 Easy Pantry Organization Tips. And if you liked this post, please share it!

Happy Organizing!