Savvy Summer Organizing

House and Home
Time for some summer cleaning! Tips from a professional organizer on how to organize your home, cottage, or office—so you can enjoy more time relaxing with the family this summer.

Summer… ahhh… there’s a palpable change in the air – a feeling of lightness, fun, relaxation, and freedom from worry. For me, summer starts when school ends. The end of the school year, projects and sports press us for time resulting in a start to summer that is fraught with stress and anxiety. This year, get it together before the children get out of school and before the temperature rises. Kick the summer organizing into high gear now and your summer savvy will be the envy of all.

Of course, the responsibilities of life and work don’t just go away with the change of the seasons. Especially if you or your children will be traveling this summer, things can get pretty complicated. But there’s plenty you can do to prepare yourself for a fun-filled relaxing summer. Here are some tips and ideas to organize your summer—from “casa”, to camp, to cottage!


Create a space to sort through all of the “stuff” that has been collecting around the house. Make a special pile of things that you haven’t used in over a year. Then decide what you don’t need anymore.

Dedicate an area in the basement and/or garage for seasonal storage. Install storage shelves (make sure they are big enough and deep enough for those big plastic bins) and hooks. Categorize as follows:

a) Cottage

b) Sports – Summer

c) Sports -Winter

d) Camp

Get plastic bins that securely shut. Label them clearly with a black permanent marker. You want to make sure the bin doesn’t get “reassigned” while the contents are in use J. For inside the bins, use zip-lock bags to keep things clearly organized. The vacuum zip-lock bags can be very handy for storing all your winter hats and gloves or summer/camp towels and blankets – they take up a lot less space and it keeps them dust and mildew-free.

If you do not have sufficient space in either of these locations, consider purchasing a deck box. Deck boxes are usually less than $100, water tight and provide you with an excellent source of extra outdoor storage for summer outdoor accessories.


Establish Travel Central. Whether it’s in a dedicated notebook, filing cabinet or a vacation category in your handheld organizer – keep all travel information in one place. If you know your family are going to be traveling a lot (to the cottage, to camp) then think about getting a portable file box and that way you will have access to everything you need – regardless of where you or your children are.

Include contact information for

the children’s camp (address, phone numbers, email etc)
vacation destination
car rental agencies
copies of passports
copies of health card numbers and/or insurance
frequent flyer numbers
personal packing lists for each family member
a “before we leave” checklist
instructions for house-sitters


As you plan and prepare, set aside an area to gather travel essentials for you children’s camp – add travel-sized toiletries, tissues, travel appliances and personal care items. Moving from “list” to “packed” is easier if all your gear can be viewed in one place.

Having a successful and happy summer does require some advance planning, but with a little work before the last school bell rings, you can right the heat wave and have fun all summer long!


Isolde O’Neill is on the board of directors for Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), is a Silver Leaf member of POC, and has been a professional organizer since 2000. Her clients range from working parents to retirees to the organizationally challenged. She specializes in working with entrepreneurs, executives, not-for-profits, and those creating a home office or dealing with a career transition—situations that require sensitivity, ingenuity and insight. She enjoys helping her clients achieve their dreams, be their own boss, and enjoy the journey!

Contact Isolde and Getting It Together Organizing at or 416-737-3898. You can also find helpful organizing tips on Isolde’s Organizing Odyssey blog.

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