In our third episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan chats with organizational guru, Lindsey Taylor. Organizing comes easily for Lindsey, so much so she is seriously considering it as a side hustle. Today, she shares some of the tools she uses to keep things straight and encourages us to try a few of her tips out for ourselves.
Where to find what Lindsey and I discussed
Container Store – Gift Wrap Organizers
Container Store – OXO Pop Containers
Container Store – Clear Plastic Shoe Boxes
Emily Ley – 30 Day Simplicity Challenge
Susan: Okay, Lindsey Taylor. I am so excited to have you on my podcast. I think it was you who pointed out to me not that long ago, that this month January, we will have known each other five years because our children met when your oldest—gosh, you have two now—when your oldest was three weeks old or was it two weeks old? I never remember.
Lindsey: She was three weeks to the day.
Susan: Three weeks to the day. And Will, mine, was, what? Six months? Four months?
Lindsey: Four months, I think.
Susan: You know these things better than I do. You know dates and you know numbers so much. You keep up with that stuff so much better than I do.
Lindsey: I know. But now you’re going to make me like tear up before we even start chatting about my love for you.
Susan: I’m just so excited to have you on this show to chat with us about something you are very good at or something you have a passion for. I would call it borderline obsession, and it is something I suck at. And it’s organization. But before I share everything that I know about you, the good, the bad and the ugly—I’m just kidding—I’m going to let you talk about yourself. So tell us a little bit about who you are and share a little bit of your passion with us.
Lindsey: Well, I’m Lindsey and I’m married to Scott. We have been married for almost eight years. It’ll be eight years in May. 10 years that we have been on this journey together. And we met through running. So in my past life, I was a marathoner. And that might be something I get back into in the future. But then my world changed like you said about five years ago, and I became a mama. So I have Caroline Grace, and she just turned five. She was our New Year’s Eve surprise baby. And from that moment on, things have been on her timing and she has shown her personality early but she is a delight and a joy and she’ll be going to Kindergarten in the Fall. And then we have our second miracle baby Jack and he just turned one right before Christmas. God has a sense of humor with my babies’ birthdays. And Jack is all boy. And as you’re coaching me, I’m learning about how to be a boy mom and to let go of some of my love of organization that he does not understand quite yet.
But yes, I have a passion for organizing. And we can talk about when that started, but I love it. I love all things, but I love making it accessible and easy depending on who the right person is.
Susan: So let’s chat about that. Where did this passion for organization come from? How did you get this gene and quite frankly, how did it skip me?
Lindsey: I will tell you that it is definitely not genetic. I love you Lolly if you’re listening right now, but I’m anxious to get my hands on to my mom’s house. So it’s not something that I watched, but I can definitely pinpoint and kind of look back at how I approach things and interacted with things. So I probably didn’t really play with my dolls like my American dolls, for example. I had a wonderful dollhouse that my grandfather built for me and my favorite thing to do was to take every single thing out of the doll house, clean the doll house, and then put everything back in its perfect spot, and kind of reorganize and redecorate. And I didn’t really understand what I was doing. But looking back as an adult, I realized I was organizing my doll house or I would organize my dolls things and that would kind of be my playing with them.
So I guess I would say that that’s where it started. And then some of it, I don’t realize that that’s what I’m doing and that I am organizing, that’s just kind of how my brain works and how my brain thinks. But there are other things that I definitely do not do as well. I shift a lot so when I’m in the process of organizing, I might move things from one room to another, in piles, as my husband calls them. And they were even in our wedding vows that I would work on my piles. So I definitely don’t want to give people and impression that just because you love organizing means that everything is always neat and perfect, because that is not how it looks in my house.
Susan: So you have a passion for organizing but maybe not taking pictures and posting all the pictures that you do have your organizing on Pinterest.
Lindsey: Correct. I use Pinterest sometimes as an example of things that I could do or to get ideas. But I think Pinterest can be a tricky place. So, I’m good at organizing so I could look at a picture of a closet and I could say “I could do that,” and I can use kind of Pinterest as my roadmap. However, something that is not necessarily my forte or my passion is arts and crafts. And so if I were to look at Pinterest and think that that was kind of the attainable goal, and it needed to look like that I would fail every time. So I think you have to be careful with Pinterest depending on what your strength is, are to recognize what your strengths are, to be able to truly see if that’s something that’s going to make you feel successful or not.
Susan: That’s a really good point because as a One that is something that I struggle with is I would see something on Pinterest and go, “Oh, it’s never going to look like that so thus, it’s never going to be good enough so why even bother trying. “
Lindsey: And I think that’s where organizing is kind of a four-letter word to people. And, you know I’m working with…We’ll talk about goals, I think later, but one of my goals for 2020 is to kind of turn this passion into a potential business or something where I could help others. And I think the one thing that I want to get across to friends that I’m helping or to future clients is that there is no right or wrong way to organize. And I think that just because your closet doesn’t look like the container store when you walk in, or just because you know, you can’t make your pantry look like that perfect Pinterest picture, doesn’t mean that it’s not organized. It just might mean that it’s not organized in that way.
I have been playing around with the idea of a beautiful mess because I think that, and maybe this is, you know, my love for my piles. But I think that messages aren’t bad, whether we think we ourselves are messes or you know, we’re looking at our closet and thinking that it’s a mess. I think you can make beauty from that. But you have to be open to making it work for what’s best for you and using the right tools for you, not the right tools because that’s what and society or that blogger that you love, or that beautiful home that you saw on the neighborhood home tour says you’re supposed to do.
Susan: That’s such a good point that inspiration doesn’t mean exactly. Does that make sense? Like it’s supposed to inspire you but you don’t need to replicate it to a T.
Susan: That’s really helpful.
Lindsey: And I think what trips people up is, you know, you kind of talked about how I have this gene and how I was born with it, I guess, and so some things just come naturally to me, and I’m learning as I’m researching more, and I’m talking to friends that not everybody thinks the way that I do. And so I have to really, I think, what’s a challenge and what makes me somebody that can really help someone is to figure out okay, what is that right system for you, Susan? Because even us being close friends, it may not be the right system for me.
And I think that in the world of organizing, people get caught up in, there’s only one right way. And here’s the road map. Here’s all the tools you’re going to buy and here’s all the money you’re going to spend, and it’s going to look like this. But if that’s not still kind of wired to how your brain is working, then you’re still going to fail. And it’s going to look nice for a few days and then it’s going to get messy again. And I don’t think that people need to continue to pay professionals to come back into their home. They may need somebody to help them at the start. But if you can figure out kind of the best tricks or if you can set smaller goals to help you, I think that in the long term, it will be longer lasting.
Susan: That makes sense. You think this is something people can do on their own. They don’t have to call in for help. Am I understanding your thought process on that well?
Lindsey: Yes and no. I definitely think that this is something that I encourage people to try. And it may be something as simple as trying to tackle a closet. I think that I am guilty of this. Especially as we start the New Year and the holiday decorations come down and it’s kind of a fresh start in your home and in your mind and so you want to tackle everything, or maybe it’s just the obsessive organizer in me. But that is not usually something that is a good idea. Because I think that focusing sort of on one room, or even one drawer is something that I think everybody can do by themselves. And I recently had a client that I helped and I was doing her kitchen and /or her pantry and she had a junk drawer and she was so embarrassed. “Oh, I have this junk drawer in my kitchen,” and I reassured her that everyone has a junk drawer in their kitchen because where else would you keep your post its and your breath mints, or, you know, for me, we have a lot of wine openers in our junk drawer.
And so I sent her a picture of what mine looked like. And before I went back to her home to finish the project, she had actually done the junk drawer by herself. And I had given her just some ideas and some tips of some tools that I use to kind of help hold my things in place. And like I said, a beautiful mess. And it still had “junk stuff” in it. But they all had their spot and their place to live. And she did it all by herself, and she was so proud of herself. And I almost think when you do it yourself, and you kind of put that hard work into it, it’s something that you want to keep that you have that pride behind it, and so you want to make it last longer.
Susan: I think you’re absolutely right on all of that. We all have a junk drawer, and we all have to go through it from time to time and I love that you’re junk drawers has junk in it and you just kind of make it, you make it work and you make it work for you. And that’s what’s important. It’s not about making it look pretty so you can post it on social media. It’s really about making your stuff and things in your home work for you. And I know that when I walk into a room, I can have a pile of books in the corner, and it’s not going to bother me because I know that those are books have trying to get through. But if I walk into a room, and there are Legos all over the floor, I’m like, “Oh, this isn’t working for me.”
Susan: So what are some of your favorite organizing tips and tricks that you feel could benefit some of us working moms or work from home moms? What are some of your favorite? Especially in the stage of life that you’re in right now, that I’m in right now. We have young children. What are some of your favorite organizing tips and tricks that have really worked for you?
Lindsey: I love clear plastic shoe boxes. Mine happened to be from The Container Store. But I hit it up a few years ago at their annual sale and I think got 40 for 50% off or something crazy like that but you can even find them at the Dollar Tree. You can find them at an Ikea if that is local to you. But plastic shoe boxes have so many different uses. So I use them obviously for their main use as I put shoes in them. And because they’re clear, my shoes are put away and they stay dust free. I live in an old charming house but it brings in a lot of dust and so they stay clean, but you can visualize them.
And so that’s also what I use in my kids playroom a lot is I organize everything into a clear plastic bin. Now, what’s inside the bin is not necessarily organized. So if we have a bin for all of her magnets, they’re just all dumped in there. Because she’s five and that’s not going to be long term for me to put all the magnets kind of into a different little compartment. But I do have a space that she knows, okay, these are where my magnets live. They’re easy for her little hands to pop the lid off and put them back in and then she can put the box back into the cabinet where we keep those things. I would say plastic bins are my number one favorite.
My second favorite organizing tool is I love drawer containers and or drawer organizers. And so when I say that, once again, it doesn’t have to be from you know, whatever fancy organizing store or brand you have online or in your town. The dollar store will have them or I love going to Home Goods or what Garden Ridge used to be. At Home Now, I think is what it’s called. And just simple usually they’re branded art is desk organizers, and I think you have to kind of get your head out of what if I don’t have a desk, and that’s okay. That’s what I have my wine openers in. That’s what I have my post its and my Kleenex, all the things in my junk drawer. I might even use them in my little girl’s bathroom drawer so she has a bin that just has all of her hair rubber bands in it and a bin where her hair brushes go and it’s not to make her kind of anal and OCD but it just helps her know when she needs a hair rubber band she knows where to find them. I’m trying to teach independence.
And I would say my third favorite, or kind of my third favorite thing to organize is probably pantries. And I love using myself as an example because I don’t have a pantry. In this old charming house, we have just simple cabinets and the cabinets are what serve as our pantry. And so as much as I look at and pin all this beautiful walk in pantries that I dream about, as long as I live in this home, I’m not going to have that. And so I’m finding tools to kind of help organize. I think Oxo containers are every mom’s best friend. I personally have the Oxo brand but I found them recently for a client as an off brand at Home Goods. And they are just simple plastic containers that you can put your Cheez-It’s in or your Yeggie Straws or Wheat Thins, Oreos you know, sorry for all my friends on Whole 30 right now, but put all those in you can see how much you have, and your kids can see what’s in there and it keeps things fresh longer.
Because as a mom, I don’t have time to go to the store all the time and I don’t have time or the money to waste by having food go bad. So I think good storage containers in your pantry and then having baskets in your pantry. Or you could go back and use those plastic shoe boxes that we talked about at the beginning, and having a shoe box that has all of your gummy snacks or all of your granola bars in it and kind of having a designated snack area for your kids and family. When you come home from the grocery store, one trick that I like to say is take everything out of the box. So you bought granola bars, you bought fruit snacks, recycle those boxes and put them somewhere where you can truly see how many you have. Otherwise you might be guilty and you know, I’ve been guilty of it before too. I buy five things of oatmeal because I can’t see how many I have. And so instead I just have five half open boxes versus being able to kind of see the quantities. Those would be my kind of favorite organizing tools.
Susan: You know, as we’re talking about this, that is definitely something I do in my pantry, but I’m thinking about a place that I could do this that I don’t do this, and that’s in my fridge. Do you do this in your refrigerator too?
Lindsey: I do. So I don’t use the shoe boxes I use…I found them at Bed Bath and Beyond. And that’s kind of a side note. So I’m kind of naming all of my favorite places to find things. And that’s where I think using a home organizer or using a friend that has a passion like I do, because if you’re already overwhelmed about organizing, then sometimes walking in to a Home Goods is not going to help you feel like you can tackle your bathroom cabinets that day. Because there’s a lot of digging and there is a lot of trying to find the match of what it belongs to. Versus, you know, if you really are wanting to do this on your own and kind of start by yourself then I do recommend a place like The Container Store you are going to pay more, but it’s going to be less overwhelming. And there’s going to be somebody there that can kind of help guide you and show you the right areas of what you can buy.
Susan: So walking into the Container Store is helpful, because there’s somebody there who can guide you but if you’ve already got that person who can guide you and /or you don’t feel overwhelmed, hitting up the Dollar Tree or a store like that would work perfectly as well.
Lindsey: Absolutely. And I think it depends. So if I was going to come and help you organize your home office, let’s say, one of my favorite tools—I have a lot so I couldn’t fit it into my top three, but I would say my number four favorite is kind of unique to the Container Store and it’s part of their Elfa system and it’s my beloved gift wrap drawer which you have seen and that is a tool that they utilize that helps you get all those bags and tissue paper and gift wrapping ribbon all in a neat and organized way. And I’ve not seen something like that at other places.
However, the shoe boxes, or I love to use the cloth kind of pop up storage boxes. You can find them at the dollar store, you can find them at Target, you can find them at IKEA. And obviously, where you choose to find them the quality may be a little different. So it depends on kind of what you’re using them for. If you’re using them like I have them in my guestroom closet from IKEA. And they’re flimsier, but they’re not used all the time. And they help kind of keep that closet clean. But in my kids rooms, I use sturdier ones from Target because we’re constantly every day, getting the handles and going in and out of those, and I need them to last.
So I think you kind of have to weigh quality versus pricing. But I would say a plastic shoe box is a plastic shoe box, no matter where you get it. And so to be smart about where you want to spend your money and spend that energy of looking. I think they go kind of hand in hand.
Susan: And I appreciate you really thinking through—and I know you do this personally, you’re much better at this than I am—thinking through what is worth spending dollars on when it comes to organizing and what isn’t. I think sometimes it’s just easy to go, “Oh, I’m just going to go get that off Amazon Prime,” or “Oh, I’m just going to run The Container Store because I know they have it,” and just not think twice. And sometimes it’s okay, because that’s what you have to do because you have a child who’s cranky or whatever, you just need to get the errand run. But then there are other times where you can take more time and be a little more cost efficient and effective. And I appreciate that you do that regularly. And I think that’s something else that you do really well.
Lindsey: Well, thank you. Or you can have somebody help you. So, a client that I had, I purchased all of her things from Home Goods, because I live in a big city where I have access to one in my neighborhood, which is good and bad, and then from the Dollar Tree. And so those were the two places like I said we were doing her pantry and we were doing her kitchen cabinets, and I was able to kind of fulfill everything we needed. And we did make a few Amazon purchases where I kind of wrote down and she wanted to be able to pick some things out and to kind of have her personal hand in that.
And I think something too…And once again, maybe it’s my love for organizing, but I tend sometimes to get into that instant gratification where I just have to do this closet now and I’ve got to have everything. And so I find myself going to that one stop shop, whether it’s Target or Walmart. And I feel like so many different places have stepped up their game in kind of the world of organizing. But if you can be patient and sort of make yourself that roadmap, then I think you will find it to be something that’s not as scary when it hits your checkbook if a budget is important to you. It depends on kind of who the customer is. At our house, it is, and so sometimes I have to kind of slow down and not be so ‘I want it now’ to make sure that I am finding the right price of things.
Susan: Well, I think having that ‘I might want it right now, but I don’t need it right now,’ I think that’s something we could all do a better job of incorporating into our lives. I mean, one of the things we keep hearing about with using Amazon constantly and hey, I’m not dogging Amazon, I am as guilty as using Amazon as anybody. I used it this morning. But it’s how that affects our environment as well. And I know that’s like a whole different tangent we could go down. But when we think about things, it’s not just your pocket book that’s affected, it’s the environment as well. So I think everybody should definitely look at this from one side or another, no matter…I mean, it affects all of us. What are some of the tools that you incorporated in 2019 that you’re going to be carrying with you into 2020? Because 2019 your life changed yet a little bit again. Well, no, it was in 2018, I guess when the little guy was born, but 2019 was kind of crazy.
Susan: So what are some things that you incorporated in 2019 that you’re carrying with you into 2020?
Lindsey: I think the two big things is, I would say, the courage to say no, and the courage to walk away and be okay with that. And that kind of goes into 2020. And I’m not usually somebody to have a word, but courage keeps kind of popping into my head, because I think those are both examples that might bring up negative connotations. But also, you know, to have the courage to start an organizing business or to have the courage to try something new, whatever that looks like, fill in the blank. But I would say kind of organizing my life, and I don’t mean through plastic shoe boxes and through a really fabulous planner, but I also highly recommend Erin Condren or Emily Ley’s life planners. I’m an old school pen and paper girl.
But I would say, organizing my feelings and my relationships. And so that’s where it came the courage to be able to say, “No, I’m not going to volunteer for that this year.” Or “no, I’m sorry, I can’t have that position at church or at my kids school.” And the courage to walk away from some friendships. I did that this year. And it’s scary and it’s hard, but I think that I needed to kind of reorganize my emotions, and that involved that.
Susan: That’s excellent.
Lindsey: And I think a lot of, you know, I used to think, when we talk about the Enneagram, I used to think that I was a One because I love to organize and well, the One is the perfectionist and so because you know, my shoe drawers are perfect or I am one of those people that my personal closet is color coded, and it makes me very happy to have a rainbow in front of me. But you look to the left where my husband’s clothes are and they’re not and he doesn’t even have all the same hangers and that really drives me crazy, but that’s okay because those aren’t my clothes. I don’t have to worry about that. And I’m certainly not going to color coordinate Caroline’s closet because It would last for about two seconds and would give me unneeded anxiety when I could focus that in other areas.
But part of my tools of having the courage to organize my life and my relationships and how I want them has helped me realize I am an Enneagram 2, and wanting to be liked and loved and needed. And that can be a really positive thing, like, it can help me in a business of helping people be organized. I just have to make sure I have the right motivation and intentions behind that.
Susan: That is such a good point, the right motivation and intention. It’s something that I struggle with as well, as an Enneagram one. Like, why am I trying to perfect this specific thing right now? Yeah, so I really appreciate that. And I love your word for the year that it’s courage. That’s a great word.
Lindsey: Well, and I think that you know, my heart for wanting to help people organize or you know, my hopes of somebody can listen to this and walk away and think, gosh, I can tackle that one drawer in my master bathroom. You know, it goes back to resolutions and goal setting, and I am somebody to say it’s okay to not have a new year’s resolution or it’s okay to not have a goal. I’m going to have to kind of look back at the last five years of my life and I’m, you know, I really resonated with your infertility podcast because that was a big part of my story and going through treatment and then ultimately having the baby and then going through postpartum depression and being treated for that. I would set myself these New Year’s resolutions that you know, when I fill in the blank or if I fill in the blank, whatever that looks like, then I’ll feel, be, look, etc, better or somehow feel whole. It can be a whole slew of things. And I’m not dogging resolutions at all, and I’m not dogging saying, hey, if your resolution is when I lose those 10 pounds or walk the 100 miles that I’ll feel better, because you probably will. There’s validity to that, but I see the kind of approach goals in the New Year similar to organizing and for me…
Susan: Don’t beat yourself up.
Lindsey: Well, becoming a new me or, you know, I think I saw a quote, and I’m going to butcher it about how tomorrow is January 1 and I can’t wait to meet all of these new friends of mine because everybody says, like, you know, I’m going to start this new year. And I’m becoming a new mean instantly on January 1 isn’t sustainable to my personality, just like I don’t want somebody to beat themselves up because they try to do that master bath drawer and it doesn’t work. That’s okay. Maybe that wasn’t the best place to start. Maybe go organize your china cabinet and your dining room that you use once a year. And so you can fix that cabinet, it can be perfectly organized and you’re not going to touch it again for 12 months, but hey, it stayed organized. And that should be something that you’re proud of.
So I think that having your whole house or your whole life or all of a sudden using a paper planner, when you’ve never used one before, “Oh, you forgot to write that doctor’s appointment down, paper planners aren’t for me.” Give yourself grace. Because if somebody were to tell me that I had to 100% use a digital calendar, I would have a complete heart attack, and I could not do that. And that’s okay. We’re all different and we’re all wired differently. And so like we talked about the beginning, organizing is going to look different for everyone, but I think it can be a really freeing and a really liberating thing w you kind of do, let some of that stuff go. And that doesn’t means that your house has to look like Marie Kondo says it does.
Susan: I love that. And I love everything that you just said,.That is fantastic and so helpful. And just the way you said it was so peaceful and so kind, because I think as women, we’re so bad, just about beating ourselves up all the time, that nothing that we’re doing is enough. And just the way you said that just gave me such peace of mind going into this year, because it can be so stressful.
Lindsey: Absolutely. Well, and I think people might be laughing at me that I might compare organizing to a scale. But as somebody who has kind of been through a whirlwind of five years, you know, to me, it’s like you don’t make that one gym class, or you can’t lose those last five pounds and you might get into your head, and this might be a little enneagram one in me, “Okay, I’m never going to be in shape again.” So just because you can’t keep your shoes organized doesn’t mean that you can’t have an organized life. That just might be not the right place for now. I know shoes are a silly example. I probably as a mom, I want all the moms kind of to hear that where you are in this stage of life, like, yes, my daughter knows that the magnets go in the shoe box. But if you were to look at my house, at the end of day, I work from my home and so my kids are with me a lot and things go everywhere. But because we have an organized system, then when my husband and I do attempt to tackle the mess after bedtime, it’s easier to pick up because we know where things are supposed to go. But that doesn’t mean that my kids don’t make messes or that things don’t get out of hand. And I have to decide like, hey, at one point, I had all of her Barbie shoes together and they’re not anymore. And I’ve got to let that go. That might have to do with my word of courage, is deciding where to pick my battles. But I think just taking baby steps and organizing. And maybe it is hiring that professional to help kind of get you a kickstart just like people might hire a nutritionist, that nutritionist isn’t going to eat every meal with you but they’re going to help give you the right tools that hopefully when you are making lunch or dinner or choosing a snack at the store, that you know the right ones to choose. That’s how I see kind of personal organizing.
Susan: That’s awesome. I’m going to ask you one more question, and it can be as short or as long as you want it to be before I let you go.
Susan: And that is, what are you reading right now? And what are some books that should be on our list for 2020?
Lindsey: And I’m laughing at myself when I talked about my tools, my courage to say no, and to walk away because ironically, the book that I’m reading is called How to Walk Away. And it’s by Katherine Center. It was actually recommended by you. So I’m reading that. And next on my list is a book called A Woman is no Man by Etaf Rum. And I know that it’s going to be a heavy book. So I’ve kind of been putting off of when the right time to read that. But I highly recommend and from the reviews that I’ve read for any woman who’s listening to pick that up, especially in the political climate that we’re in this day and age, it’s about three Palestinian women living in America and their story. So I will have to report back after I read it.
But kind of books that I think should be on everyone’s list. I loved 100 Summers by Beatrice Williams. She writes historical fiction about things that you may not necessarily have known happened in America and there’s always romance and there’s always a little bit of drama. But 100 Summers would be my favorite book of hers. I loved, you know, The Great Alone and Where the Crawdads Sing. I think those might be cliche answers because the books have been so popular, but don’t be scared to read them because they are. And then I would say my last two if y’all can’t tell I’m a reader. And if somebody is planning a beach vacation this year, I think you should read Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman. It is just a light hearted, fun read, but actually does have a little history in it. And then if you’re wanting a book to stick with you, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover has never left me. I read it in 2017 and it’s about domestic abuse and how it really can happen to any of us. So it was a really powerful fiction book for me. I love to read. So that’s my escape from organizing, is to read.
Susan: I love it. And I hope you’re enjoying How to Walk Away. I didn’t realize you were still reading it. I hope you liked it as much as I did. Thank you so much for being here today. This has been so much fun.
Susan: I know you have a ton to get to for the rest of your afternoon. I think a little certain somebody I can kind of hear him in the background.
Lindsey: He’s not too happy.
Susan: I love that he joined us because one day he’s going to hear this recording and he’s going to go “What is that?” And you’re going to go, “That was you, you little stinker.”
Lindsey: Refusing to take a nap.
Susan: Sweet baby.
Susan: Alright, friend. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it today.
Lindsey: Thank you for having me.