Organizing With Intention with Melanie Walker

Is organizing a part of your cleaning routine? Organization can remove mental clutter and make living in your home more freeing and peaceful. I chat with Melanie Walker. Melanie is a wife, mama of 2, and professional organizer whose primary focus is to help individuals of all budgets and spaces in creating systems that fits their everyday needs. In this episode of the Routine and Things Podcast, Melanie and I chat about the importance of including your family when organizing, why it’s less important to focus on making it pretty, and how you can stay organized during the holidays and beyond. Tune in to get your organizing routine up and running!

To stay connected with Melanie:

Rock Your Routine Training™ Workshop >>> Join the waitlist!
Word For Word
Ashley Brown 0:00
[Intro] Routines, my absolute favorite word, but you either love them or you hate them. And either way, I strongly believe that routines can be a springboard for improving your home, yourself and your life. I'm Ashley Brown and this is the Routine and Things Podcast. In each episode, we'll dive into a specific routine or point of view that will move you closer to enjoying life more and more each day. Trust me, you're gonna want to keep listening, because you're well on your way to getting and staying happy.

Ashley Brown 0:46
Hey, Hey, welcome back for another episode of the Routine and Things Podcast. I'm your host, Ashley, and I'm so happy that you are joining me today. This episode, as you saw is all about organizing, organization, which I love organizing, I love decluttering, organizing, keeping things. I'm the type of woman that's like, everything needs a place. So let's have everything have a place right in my home. That's how it is. And it has really done so much. For my mental. I feel like I've always been like that though, since I was a little girl. And it's probably due to my mom. But I'm so happy that she instilled that in me because it really, really helps.

Ashley Brown 1:29
And I was able to speak with Melanie Walker. So Melanie is a wife, she's also a mama of two, and she's a professional organizer. And so this is up her wheelhouse, she has a lot of great tips that she is going to be sharing with you today. So make sure you take out a pen and paper, because these tips are really going to help you to get your home organized and do it in a way that doesn't stress you out.

Ashley Brown 1:56
But before we get into today's episode, I do want to share with you I'm going to be hosting the Rock Your Routine Training™ workshop at the top of the year, January 2 2021. It's so crazy for me to say that 2021. But I'm going to be hosting a workshop in which I am super excited for in this workshop, I'm going to be taking you through my easy to follow framework, that's going to take you step by step through how to cultivate routines that work and that last for your home and for your life for yourself. You are going to leave this workshop with the actual routine or routines that you need in order to manage your days with ease throughout the entire year of 2021 and beyond. I'm super excited for this. And then after the workshop, you are going to have accountability and support for the entire month of January. How cool is that? So if you want to join the waitlist, because you'll be the first to know when actual registration opens for the workshop because attendance will be limited because I want it to be a very intimate feel and be able to dive into questions and all of that. So if this is something of interest to you, if you are really invested in cultivating routines for your home, that feel good that work that you know you're going to be able to stick to and come join me, you can click the link in the show notes in order to sign up to join the waitlist, or just head to Alright, so let's go ahead and dive into the conversation that I had with Melanie, all about organizing with intention.

Ashley Brown 3:24
Hi, Melanie, thank you for being here with us. So just to start off, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Melanie Walker 3:32
Yeah, so I'm a professional organizer. I'm a mom, a wife, and lover of all things organize. For me. It's not about how pretty it looks but truly about knowing where things are located at all times.

Ashley Brown 3:47
So yeah, yeah, that's awesome. Can you tell us a little bit about your family?

Melanie Walker 3:54
Yeah, so I have been married for 10 and a half years to my husband. We have a four year old and we just had a baby boy, which he is five weeks now. We stay busy.

Ashley Brown 4:11
Yeah, me you were just talking about when you go from one to two.

Melanie Walker 4:18
And you know, it's funny because, you know, I had a really jam packed organization routine planning with my one, you know, we were rolling. And then we have another baby in us like, Oh, we need to update this not working out. You know, it just we had to and we're still working on the kinks of hey, what works right now for me and the babies and the boys and my family as a whole. Which I'm sure will probably take a year for us to come together and see what truly works for us and why we can keep on working with.

Ashley Brown 4:52
You mentioned something earlier when you were explaining what you do and said it's not about how it looks so much as about knowing where things are. And I love that, because that's how I am. I'm like, I don't care if he's not pretty, even though sometimes I want things to be pretty, but for right now, when I don't have the pretty thing I needed to be more of where does everything go? So can you talk to us more about why that's important?

Melanie Walker 5:18
Of course, you know, and I'll add to it, but I feel like social media, Pinterest and all these other beautiful pages, just bring just a beautiful one snapshot of what organizing is. And I love that don't get me wrong, I love the pretty wipe everything clean. But the reality is, that system does not stay pretty and white for the rest of the month over the rest of the year. So for me, it's about a good system that not just myself, but my family can truly have. Okay, I know where this goes, I know where I can go get that real quickly. And it doesn't have to be a fancy bin or fancy, you know, tag it just everybody knows where everything is located. And I feel like that truly takes the stress out of your home. You know, knowing where anything is, knowing that my husband can just be like, Oh, I know where the meds are. I know where diapers are. I don't have to call on Melanie. I don't have to go ahead and and seeing you know, oh my god, I don't know what this is at so it takes out that stress.

Ashley Brown 6:17
Yeah, I love that. I love it. And like you said system. I'm like a systems girl. So I love anything that is systemized, like I need order as you know, Routine and Things, so y'all know, I love order and making sure that things do have a place in my home. That's how it is like everything has a place. But I will say that some of my things, although they have a place when you just described that everyone knows where they are, even like my husband, and my kids, I don't know if they know where everything is. And it could be because I don't have things labeled. So do you, are you a labeler? Is that something that you are a proponent of?

Melanie Walker 7:02
Yes, I am a pro label person. And you know what, and I'm pro label words, pro label pictures, pro label anything that can help anybody identify, okay, here's the location. A good example is for my toddler's room, he has a playroom. Um, and obviously he's only four he can't recognize words, when he doesn't read so what I did is, I created some labels with these specific toys and go in that bin. So now he knows okay, cars go here. You know, the dinosaurs go over here and paper goes here and what not. Now once he starts reading, and when I want him to be more proactive with reading and education, then we will change that to different words and icon so he can identify. So yes, I am pro label everything.

Ashley Brown 7:48
I love that, I love to try it. I never even thought of that. Yes, that is a really good idea. I know that I've seen people, like I follow a lot of organizing accounts. And so I see the women, they'll have their label makers and I'm like where did they get that. I'm like, you know, where do you feel like we can? Is it any, like favorite stores, of course to get like organizing things like bins or, you know, labels all of that.

Melanie Walker 8:22
And, you know, it truly depends on your budget. If you're starting out, I recommend all my clients, hey, start with Dollar Tree because you know many times we don't know exactly what systems work and so going in all full would have really expensive system that you might not even like in a month or so. It's you know, it's not good. So I always tell my clients hey, depending on your budget and how you feel about the system, Dollar Tree, you have IKEA which I love really inexpensive systems and bins that you can get Dollar General you know, you can go to all these really inexpensive places to start out. Now if you're like okay, I got this under control. I know what I want. I've done my research. Now I'm going to go and purchase this big system The Container Store is one of my favorites. My pantry is full Container Store now because I know what it is that I like and it works for my family. But places like Target Walmart you can find great bins inexpensive items for any and every budget.

Ashley Brown 9:27
Yeah, that's good. That's good. I love it. You said something in terms of you know what works for your family and I when I hear that I'm like, in my mind I'm like that takes time right to know what works for your family any especially for those listening. I know that you know as moms and just you know even if you're not a mom like just knowing how you flow and how things flow better. Is there any like advice you have in terms of figuring out what works for your family? You can even share your experience of what works for your family.

Melanie Walker 10:04
Yeah. So two things, which I know we'll be talking about later as well, but is, knowing your why, why you want to be organized, what you want to see from that space, you know, so every space has a purpose, and it has a need. So when do you go in there? You want to be like, Okay, this is what I visualized. This is what I want. That's my why. And I'm going to go for it. Okay. And once you do that, one of the biggest thing that I preach all the time to all my customers, family and friends, is communication. Okay? Because I can set up this beautiful, amazing system. But if I don't communicate with my husband, hey, this is where everything goes, this is how I would like to see it. Do you like it? Would you like to improve it? What do you think is, do you think it's going to work? If I don't have that communication with my husband and my children, that system is really not going to work. Because people gonna look at it, like, I'm just gonna throw it in there. Oh, wow. I'm just gonna be like, Ah, I see the tag. But you know, I don't really know much about it. So I'm not gonna do much with it. So it's truly about knowing the why. And then after you do that, you communicate that with everyone that lives in your home. And I think that is very important. And I think that we miss that many times.

Melanie Walker 11:24
In March, I went in and organized a home, and she is amazing. She just needs a little bit of help, you know? And then she was like, so what do you think? I'm like, um, have you communicated with your family? And she was like, well, well, no, I didn't think I had to. I was like, well, that would be a good start.

Ashley Brown 11:43
Wow, that is so right. Yes. I would have never like, not to say I would have never thought about that. But I haven't. That is so good. Because, like you said, it's like that collaboration? Is that communication in terms of yes, I may think this is functional for me. But what about those in my family, because like you say it for them, they will come in and you'll straighten up the whole fridge, and then they start throwing things, whatever. And you're like, oh my freaking gosh, like it goes here but in their minds, it might be like, no, it goes here. So I think that is so, that is such a great tip that you just shared is to really collaborate with your family members, and your kids as well. And like you said, even just communicating it with them, and if they have any type of improvement they want to make they can tell you if they think they want to do something different. I mean, that is so beautiful. And then you also spoke about or I mean, when you said purpose, I'm like yes, just knowing like your why, right? It just made me think about just in life, how that's the case too. It always has to go back to why. It always has to go back to a bigger purpose. Because having a center that keeps us grounded and on track and focused and how we want our lives to be and that does help to keep us on our healthiest selves, and all of that. So I love that, purpose. Yeah, so you got into some tips. But I want to, I would love for you to share with us any other tips you have when it comes to organizing? Because I know I speak to so many moms. And this is a hot topic, like for so many women, it's so many moms, it's just organization, how can I get more organized? So any tips, you can share any more tips?

Melanie Walker 13:34
Yeah, of course, you know, like I said before, simple systems are really going to work. You know, try to just start small, inexpensive items are the best and then go from there. Another one that I really like, and we'll get into the routine and cleaning. But it's also about planning. Because once you have the system in place, you have to maintain it, you have to okay, so next week I need to go in, wipe it down and maybe you know rearrange some items you have too. It's an ongoing process that you have to do. And the best way to do that is by planning. So what I love to do, I have a big calendar in my kitchen that I keep, and I put there, hey, on Mondays, I'm going to wipe down the pantry and I'm going to wipe down you know the sink. And that's all I'm going to do. So Monday comes I already know that I'm during that time, it doesn't have to be super specific, obviously. But during that time during that day, I'm going to go and do that. And that is part of my cycle in my routine as your account truly says. So it's about really creating a routine in a planning system that can truly help you in your family.

Melanie Walker 14:46
And another one is bringing in the family. You know you would be so surprised, though so so surprised at how many times you would bring your family in and that at first they'll probably be like, I don't want to do that. But once you continue to do it and bring them into the process, and they want to do it too, you know. Today we went, we bought groceries in bulk, and my pantry is huge, you can probably just put all the boxes in there. But my husband, because we've done this process over and over, and he knows that the system works. He took everything out of the box, and he said, hey, I put them away, you like it? So bringing him into the process. He's like, you know what I feel, I feel part of it. I feel important. I feel like she's bringing me in. And this is my home, my pantry that we all work together. You know, another one for me for an example, is my son. When we created his playroom, I went in and I'm like, I'm going to do this. And I'm going to do that. And I'm going to do that. And my son was like, Mom, I would like to just have the bins. And I was like, well, it doesn't look pretty, it doesn't look nice. But it's not about looking nice. It's about the process of him knowing and throwing the items and the toys in that bin works for him. We've created that process. Now I don't have to say a million times, hey, Brian, please pick up your toys. Because he knows once you're done playing boom, just throw them in that bin. And so it's that process. It takes time. Like you said it does take time. But once you bring them any continue to bring them in, it's an ongoing, you'll be surprised at how much they will love to come and help. And I think that's very important.

Ashley Brown 16:29
Yeah, that is so important. Especially because, like you said, when you do communicate and bring your family into the process that that only helps you. Yeah, but I mean, because many times we want to do things ourselves because we're like, oh, I'm going to be, I'm going to be quicker, I'm going to do it better. And then we find ourselves burnt out after some time, because we're doing everything ourselves. But like you say, bringing in your family is super vital, because then they can help you as well. And so you're not doing as much, like your husband is so sweet. He's like I got your covered, which is great, which is awesome. And I love that. And just like you said, simplicity, I love that you spoke about that. I mean, keeping things simple, so important in these simple systems that you talk about. I mean, I think for some and I will say I do know that some women struggle with simplicity like some of us just do. We struggle with keeping things simple. And for whatever reason that may be. So in terms of just simplicity, and how do you keep? How do you specifically keep things simple in your life? What do you think helps with it?

Melanie Walker 17:43
You know what, this took some time. Because five years ago, I was a hoarder, I kept everything and anything because I just felt like everything had a meaning, you know, I spent money on it. I don't want to get, I don't want to get rid of it. I just want to hold on tight. And it happened. And it happened to everyone, you know, but for me, I'm, I'm a military spouse. And we move quite a bit, you know. So in our last move, I looked around my home and I said, I'm a professional organizer, I organize people. And don't get me wrong, my things are organized. But there were so much of things that had no value no more, you know, so it really took a moment for me to think about, hey, what truly has value? What really brings meaning to my life? And what do I want to keep on as we move on and change throughout the year, the different moves that we have? So, yeah, that that took me a whole year. And from there, I started to look at the minimal side of organizing, which is two different things. You know, you can be organized with all of your things. But you can be organized with minimal items as well. And once you become and you move on to that minimal side, I truly felt like a weight off. My shoulders came off. Like I was like, wow. Yes. You know, and it just is so amazing how just getting rid of things that, you know, you no longer need or haven't even touched. I have things that I haven't even touched in years, okay. In the military, spouses, we call it the brown boxes, because that's where they're packed all of our stuff. And when you move so often sometimes we just keep the brown boxes hidden. And we're like we're not even touching it. Yeah, we're just gonna leave it there. So I went through the boxes like, hey, haven't touched it, I don't need it. I'm gonna donate it, sell it, do something else that's truly gonna give meaning to somebody else. And that was the process. And it's not an easy process. You have to come to the understanding that hey, what it is that I want, what do I want to see in my home and then go from there and deciding what it is that you truly want to see.

Ashley Brown 20:00
Many women that I talked to, and even for me, when I started organizing my home, it was kind of hard because I went to organize everything. I want to be like, okay, it's so much that needs to be organized, I want to organize everything in my home. But I also knew, well, you can do everything, Ashley. So where are you going to start? So where do you think like, which area of our home do you feel like is like maybe the, I wouldn't say the best, but like, yeah, basically the best area to start with when we're wanting to organize, let's say we have our kitchen. And, you know, we have a basement and we have our closer that like, which one do you feel like, okay, this is the area that you should start with.

Melanie Walker 20:41
So my motto is one room at a time. I know when we get excited about doing anything especially about organizing, we want to start today at 8am and be done at 5pm ready to start cooking dinner. And I want to tell you right now, you'll be so burnt out, you're gonna be like, I'm done organizing the house today, I do not care, we're not doing nothing else. Oh, it is very important. Again, going back that you plan before you go into the organizing process. Before you decide which area you're going to start with. You plan ahead what it is that you can do first. And I love doing the small goals that you can reach faster. So for me personally, as a small room, small corner, I will start with the smallest areas you have in there. Because that will build you up, you're gonna be like, Oh my god, I organized that closet, I can do a kitchen tomorrow. Or hey, I can do the basement, you know, I'm saying just starting small, not only will help build you up for the next room, but also see, okay, well, this will not work in this closet, maybe I should think about one for our kitchen and how I'm going to start organizing it. So I don't do the same things and the same issues and waste the same money. You knowI'm saying. So I always start small, and have a plan. I tell all my clients, they're like, but I want to organize it now I want. Okay, that's great. I'm so happy, you're motivated and excited. But I'm gonna tell you right now you get burnt out. When you're out that bit, there's no, there's no more coming back. And it's gonna take you a long time to come back for that. So always start small.

Melanie Walker 22:26
But another way that you can also look at that and organize an area that you and your family utilize the most. For example, when cleaning, I love doing the kitchen first and bring my whole family into that process because family will complete the system faster than just one. So utilizing what you have, your family, the supplies that you, you know are seeing and what you want to see in your system and can really make a difference. So just kind of see what you have, who you have with. And then the time as well.

Ashley Brown 23:01
Oh, I love that. I love that the small area, like start with a small goal. And go from there. I think that is so perfect. I think that that is amazing. Because like I can just when I did the basement, I think like maybe like almost a year ago actually still looks good, thank God. But when I did the basement and like a year ago, I mean, it was a lot. I mean, it took me like an entire week to do the basement. I just chipped away at it little by little but like starting, which I think is so important, like me and my bestie were just talking about how we want to get things done really quick. But then I always have to like tell myself, no, like, progress little by little and that is okay, so that you do not run out. Um, I do have another question that popped into my head because we are approaching the holiday season. And with us approaching the holiday season. I know this is a time especially like after Christmas, I feel like you have so much more things because the gifts come and especially if you have kids and everybody wants to buy them gifts. And so you have all of that. Do you have any system you do around the holiday that really helps you stay organized?

Melanie Walker 24:14
Yes. So I do preparation before the holidays and that actually has been working for the past three years. We'll see now that I have the new baby how it works out. But what I like to do I like to start in October and I plan ahead Okay, I know I needed to do my biannual cleaning of the home. I know that I need to go through my son's toys and clothes and either donate sell and you know give away and I also like to prepare the pantry like how much of this I'm going to need. So preparing before to avoid the mess after is what I like to do. In October I get with my son we sit down on the floor and look through all of the toys and this could be a hard process, a long process because he wants to take keep all of his toys. And that's great. But, you know, you have to put it in a way that he understands that, hey, you're going to get new toys, and we need to give away some to others that need them. So that's the first, the first stage last year, I think I have like two bags of toys, it was just, it was insane. And then along with the toys, what I like to do with the family members is also let them know ahead of time, that truly they don't, my son doesn't need any toys, that if they would love to, you know, gift him with anything, they can give them money for his college fund, which is, you know, very important for our family as a whole. They can donate gift cards or clothes if that like, at first, my family did not take it well. They're like, I'm gonna get whatever I want. And, and that's okay. But you know, as an individual, we also have to understand the needs of the other family. You know, I'm saying so, maybe the child already has the toys, or maybe the child already has the clothes. So it's understanding, hey, what does the person need? And then going from there? Yeah, I think it's important.

Ashley Brown 26:18
Yeah, I think it's truly important. I definitely think that is important, especially like you said, like having those boundaries with your family, which can be hard. My mom is always wanting this for my girls. And she's like, I have them this, I mean, I got so much stuff for Christmas, even I was like, they don't need anything, they don't need anything. Um, but I love that you sat down with your son and really told him, you know, basically explained that you can keep some of these, but you're getting more and to give and be of service to other kids that don't have it, which is truly, I just feel like this really beautiful, I'm going to actually start doing that with my with my oldest, I'm gonna start doing that with her. Because I've just been given away their toys and like, I'm not asking you, so I'm gonna see if she does, she's never come back and been like, Where's my toy,I remember that blue toy with the green box. So I need to start doing that. I'm taking that from you. And I'm using your advice. I'm starting with it.

Melanie Walker 27:28
So yeah, you know, to add into that, I see a lot of people have an issues with the Christmas decorations and things like that. And I one of them, I had a client, we're talking about that. And she was like, well, I just buy new things every year. And I'm like, Well, how do you know how much stuff you already have? She was like, well, I don't. So inventory inventory, what you have by labeling the bins and things like that will generally save you some time and some money. On the other hand, because you know, Walmart and all these other places have this beautiful, you know, decorations and you're like let's buy everything.

Ashley Brown 28:06
Exactly. Yes.

Melanie Walker 28:08
So you know, it's important to inventory what you have. So you're not wasting your time and money for the next you know, the holiday season.

Ashley Brown 28:15
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Thank you. This was a, this was such a great conversation. I feel like I can take away from this. And I know that when you're listening right now now you're like, Oh my gosh, I should have had some paper, pen. I know you're like go listen, jot down these notes, because she just gave us a lot of information is going to be really good with helping you stay organized. Melanie's business is called organizing with intentions. So we're gonna make it happen with intention. So I love that it's all about that intent behind why you are organizing, right? So one question I have for you as we wrap things up is which routine right now? Are you either looking to improve or are you loving right now in your life?

Melanie Walker 29:07
Right now because I have a baby and I am really needing some revamping my morning routine. Because I am breastfeeding and breastfeeding at night. I am changing diapers, I am so tired. I'm not able to wake up at six like I used to and get my coffee going and get my you know alone time and prepping the home for the day. So I really need to write down on paper and kind of see what really worked for me and what do I need to do to be like, Okay, I know you're tired, or you need to wake up. And you need to start your day because once you start your day you'll feel much better. Yeah, my morning routine needs some help.

Melanie Walker 29:46
Yeah my weekly cleaning routine I think it's going it's going pretty well. And I think I'm giving props to my husband because I've communicated that routine with him. And when he's sees me that I'm like, Oh, I'm so tired. I can't do that today. He's stepping up and doing it even though he's working all day. So our weekly cleaning routine has been on point. And, you know, it truly takes a lot of load in the weekends. Because, you know, I feel as parents working moms and you know, working dads, many of the times that we go ahead and we, we leave everything for the weekend. So and then the weekend, you lose those two days to be able to say, hey, this is what I'm gonna do. And I don't want to waste that time.

Ashley Brown 30:30
No, I love that. I love what you said, I love everything that you said. And like you said, working on that morning routine, which I know you're gonna get and really seeing what's realistic. But I'm so glad to hear that your cleaning routine has been able to stay intact. That's super nice. Super great. Well, thank you so much, Melanie, before you go, I would love for you to share with our listeners where they can find more from you. And if you have anything to offer to them, this is your time to share.

Melanie Walker 31:04
Yeah, well you can find me both on Facebook and on Instagram, Organizing With Intentions and you know, Facebook or Instagram. You can also find me at and I'm currently offering a 15 minute free call that you can call me so we can talk about your organizing needs. And it's free. You don't have to even hire me after that. I can provide you with some you know, tips and details that you can utilize for your home. So yeah, Facebook, Instagram and

Ashley Brown 31:38
Yes, I love it. Please go follow Melanie, she is awesome. Always giving out such amazing tips and advice for organizing. So thank you so much for joining today Melanie.

Melanie Walker 31:49
Thank you for asking me, this was great. And I love your page. I love your, I love your colors, vibrant. And I love all your tips for keeping a routine, which is very, very important for everybody to have some type of routine in their lives. It's truly, truly very important.

Ashley Brown 32:04
Oh, thank you so much.

Ashley Brown 32:06
Alright. So that was the conversation I was able to have with Melanie. She is such a doll. I've really enjoyed speaking with Melanie and how she talks about organizing is just so beautiful. And I love that aspect of having your family join in getting your family's input. I've never thought about organizing in that way of like, including, especially like my husband, because the girls are really small. But even when they start to get older, like including them, I never thought about that. So I am going to start doing that because I think it's going to do a lot for our home. And then also like the holidays are coming up, right and the holiday time is one that sometimes can be a pretty like stressful especially when it comes to like getting new things in and trying to get you know, give away the old things. So it's just really good to have those tips and just understanding that it's not about things being really pretty. It's about everything having a place. That's something that stuck out to me that Melanie said. So remember that, it's not about things being really pretty, it's about everything having a place because that's what's going to decrease your mental load. That is what's going to help you declutter your mind on a consistent basis. I hope that you enjoyed today's episode. If you did let me know, screenshot this episode and share it on social. Tag me at routine and things because I would love to know that you are listening. I hope that you continue to enjoy wherever you are, whatever you're doing, and I can't wait for next week's episode, it's going to be a really, really good one. We're gonna be talking about how to actually put your plans into action. So stay tuned for that. Stay happy and I will talk to you later.

Ashley Brown 33:48
[Outro] Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today's episode, could you do me a huge favor and take a screenshot and share it on social and for more routine goodness, be sure to visit Here's to staying happy!
Tags: podcast

Leave a comment