Are you ready to make 2013 the year you get organized and stay organized? If so, here are some tips to get you started.
Make a fresh start for the new year by working systematically room by room, through all the drawers, shelves, closets, etc. Think critically about your stuff and whether or not it is truly needed. Bag the unnecessary stuff and move it out.
2. Sort what’s left
Group items that are similar. As you do this, you get a sense of what sort of space these items need. Fit items into containers that accommodate them best. At this point you can decide if you need to purchase containers or simply use what’s already available in your home.
3. Clean spaces that get decluttered
Don’t miss this opportunity to clean and dust before putting items back into their newly organized spaces!
4. Clean out the pantry and fridge
Check dates on all food. Remove what’s questionable and old. For remaining food, set most recent dates in the forefront so that these items get used first.
5. Clean out the medicine cabinet
6. Clean out the email inbox
Use folders for the pertinent emails that need to be kept. Freely use that Delete button; relatively few emails will ever be needed again.
If you simply don’t have time, focus, or energy to clean out the inbox, try this. Make a folder for 2012. Select all email from 2012. Move all of it to the folder. Do the same for any previous years. And simply and beautifully your inbox is clean and ready for 2013 within a few minutes.
7. Reign in the papers
Become aggressive and decisive about ALL papers, and give each one a home (filing cabinet, folders, binders, or recycling). Create a system for all incoming papers so that they do not pile up. For papers that need attention, I made myself a binder with dividers and force myself to put all action papers or common reference papers in there.
Avoid paper spaces that rest paper horizontally. This method does not help organize, rather it creates a tempting spot to plop more papers on top of. Vertical methods require more discipline in sorting and labeling. This can include hanging files, binders, wall folders, and the like. Always purge regularly.
8. Recognize your personality
Organizing is easier for some than it is for others. A friend recommended a book that is well-written for the big-picture, non-detailed types. It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul, Ph.D. (2003) is very well-written for those who feel stuck in disorganization.Amazon.com’s book description: Overbooking? Running late? Feeling overwhelmed by clutter and to-dos? Management consultant Dr. Marilyn Paul guides you on a path to personal change that will bring true relief from the pain and stress of disorganization. Unlike other books on getting organized, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys offers a clear seven-step path to personal development that is comprehensive in nature. Drawing on her own experience as a chronically disorganized person, Paul adds warmth, insight, humor, and hope to this manual for change and self-discovery. She introduces the notion of becoming “organized enough” to live a far more rewarding life and make the difference that is most important to you.
9. Enjoy and celebrate your newly organized spaces. Spruce it up with labels or a decorative flourish.
10. Make a plan that will encourage you and your household to keep the space organized.
Happy New Year!
One night I sat in my girls’ room and began helping them pick out the toys they no longer wanted. I wanted their involvement and for them to be considerate of each other in deciding what to keep or donate.
We started playing a game we called “aoo’ or dooda.” My kids are beginning to learn the Navajo language, so we incorporated it. For each toy they each had a chance to say “aoo’ ” for yes and “dooda” for no. If either of them had a yes, we let her keep it, but if both of them agreed with 2 no’s then the item went into donation.
They both got really into it and learned to respect each other’s opinion. It only took about 20 minutes. At the end we had 2 trash bags full of donations, and their toy bins had more room with toys they actually wanted. Unfortunately, the massive stuffed animal bin was a unanimous “aoo,” so that remained untouched. Maybe next time.
Use old cookie sheets as pull-out trays for cabinets.
Install a towel rack under the sink for cleaning spray-bottle storage.
Put toothpicks in spice jars for easy dispensing.
If closet lighting is dim, sort clothes by color – whites in the darkest area and blacks in the lightest area.
Create a space to stash socks that have lost their pairs during laundry. Periodically sort through to find matches.
A basket by the front door is a handy way to stash kids’ shoes.
A coat rack stationed in the hallway can offer space for hanging towels when a bathroom has little space. Assign names to hooks.
Found a great use for some kids’ old craft projects: Cabinet organization.
For manageable filing cabinets, remember this rule of thumb: Work within your products’ limits. Use the perforations at the bottom of file folders and hanging folders to determine how much paper it can hold. Don’t exceed, just add additional folders and divide it up. Or use a larger folder (as pictured). Then labels will remain visible. Always leave at least a couple of inches of wiggle room in drawers.
Create a single folder for important documents for the whole family. Give each member a labeled sheet protector to store all their vital records.
Label the base of plugs for easy identification.
Cut up old t-shirts to use as cloth napkins.
Reuse plastic drink cups for snacks, iced coffee, kids’ drinks, fruit. Great for grab and go snacks.
Reuse gift bags for cabinet organization.
Throw some hand-washables into the shower with you. Use shower time to allow items to soak and give a scrub and a rinse as you’re finishing your shower.
Put dishwashing soap in a pump bottle for quicker washing.
While loading your washing machine, use laundry items to quickly wipe down and clean your washer and dryer.
If you’re a laptop user without wireless printing options, load up your print queue with documents, and the next time you plug in your printer everything prints at once.
If you need to make a phone call at a certain time of day, use the alarm on your cell phone. If it allows for descriptions, include the phone number.
Ever sit down to make a shopping list and get a blank? You know there are plenty of common things that are needed but the mind is struggling to recall them. I get those plenty! So I decided to get some help when it came to grocery shopping lists.
I found on AllRecipes.com the shopping list feature, which allows you to search through common groceries and customize your own list. It was very helpful to have all these choices to pick from and tailor a list. BUT when I printed the list it was 4 pages long!! That just doesn’t serve me well when pushing a cart, managing kids, and selecting groceries.
So I took the list I developed from AllRecipes and put it into a Word document with 6 columns. I categorized them to what I thought would work best for me in the planning processes and in the store. The actual list only took up 3 columns, so I copied an additional list for the 3 columns left. Then I have 2 lists for every sheet, and I only have to take half a sheet of paper shopping compared to 4! I either circle items or sometimes I color-code highlight for items needed at different stores.
You can check out my list here: Groceries
Any other shopping list solutions you would like to share?
So I’m in full planning mode – making lists, making arrangements, packing, cleaning. Summer vacation has come and we are going to spend 6 weeks with family. And now that I have an organizing business and a blog, I have decided to share my experiences in trying to stay organized in packing, being on the road, and living in someone else’s house for an extended stay.
Whenever a trip is coming up I make lists, a whole bunch of them. And it’s dawning on me this time around, that I really should type up my lists in order to use as a template for future trips. I have made a travel checklist for my husband to refer to since he travels frequently, so why not for the family? While some details will change trip by trip, the general gist will remain. Also, it will be helpful to refer to as an inventory when I am packing up to return home.
For any kind of trip I take, I evaluate what type of luggage to bring based on the accommodations and type of travel I will be making. For flying, wheeled luggage is absolutely essential. But as for the car, it really depends where I will be staying and for how long.
Last year, my family took a 5-week long Western US road trip. We were in and out of hotels and homes. We didn’t have the kind of car room for individual suitcases for all 5 family members, so I used 2 large narrow bins to store clothing in (and they fit perfectly in the space where a split seat could be lowered!). We had 2 suitcases between us that we used to rotate fresh clothing from the bins every couple of days. It worked well.
However, I also know that not every car has room for big bulky bins. Another packing trick I have employed in the past is organizing and storing clothing in pillow cases. The great advantage to this is that pillow cases are smooshable! They can easily squeeze into crevices. I pinned name tags onto the individual pillow cases to identify who it belonged to or the contents.
So for my current trip, I realize that I will be staying put in the same place for the duration of the trip. So that really eliminates the need for excessive wheeled luggage. I will use a couple of smaller wheeled suitcases, but as for everything else I am opting for soft luggage that can be squeezed for maximum space.
There is always the packing dilemma of what to pack ahead of time and waiting for those last minute items. I packed the clothes I could, made a list of what was missing, and kept the list in the suitcase. Then there was a short list to refer to and make sure nothing gets forgotten.
I also made a big list of toiletries needed and taped it to the bag they were packed into. These lists were helpful in the last minutes of packing when there are too many details for a brain to process coherently!
Another organizational issue to address when traveling is how not to explode toiletries all over a bathroom that is not your own! This trip I am employing tote bags! Keeping each person’s items separate in small tote bags to either keep in the bathroom or carry when needed to it. I’m pleased to use my new Thirty-One Gifts mini-organizer tote for this job.
I used whatever small soft bags I could find to pack essentials. Items used more sparingly but still needed, such as first aid and medicine, got their own small bags. I do this to avoid dumping all of these containers into a large bag. Then I packed all of these smaller bags into a larger tote. Finding what I need is a cinch.
I’m happy to report that I made it to my destination, and we are ready for summer!
We all see it everywhere…in magazines, Pinterest, and blogs…the perfect, spotless images of an organized life. They look beautiful and may even cause envy. While these images and ideas are fantastic ways to encourage our own creativity and DIY-ness, we must be careful that we do not allow them to discourage us or pressure us to keep up a false front to others.
I absolutely love a clutter-free environment. In fact, I often cannot rest well in a room that is very messy. BUT I have a family, including 3 little clutter-makers. And unless I spend A LOT of time constantly cleaning up their messes (no fun and do not have that kind of time), maintaining that ideal is unrealistic.
Does this professional organizer have a beautifully organized and clean home? NO! I strive to maintain this a couple times a week, and definitely employ the help of my clutter-makers, but I do have plenty of organizational and cleaning projects at home. I live in a somewhat run-down rental, filled with second-hand furniture. And honestly, I don’t even want to get new furniture until my youngest daughter turns at least 5 (over 2 years away) because my kids are marker-scribbling and spill-prone. The picture below shows what happens when I don’t get my laundry put away fast enough!
It also seems like we want to present a PERFECT SELF and HOME when others come to visit. But why? Our company does recognize that we all share that common characteristic of – what shall we call it? – HUMAN-ness! Nobody is perfect. All kids are messy (and so are adults)! And it can be relieving for company to see that their hosts share this same human characteristic trait. Because, guess what? Their house probably is the same or worse.
That being said, there are times that we should recognize when the clutter is simply too much. Is there room for company to walk into your home? Is there a place to sit? Could the dust and grime cause someone’s flair up of asthma or allergies? Would someone be uncomfortable eating food provided in your home? Hmmm….it may be time to take action.
How do we attempt to be organized while also being realistic? REDUCE. When there are less things, organization is easier. It’s less overwhelming and less time-consuming.
Now we all have excuses for the clutter, and some are definitely valid. Emotional upheavals and physical illness can incapacitate us at times. Children are little tornadoes in whatever environment they are in. And let’s face it, personalities and personal giftings impact our ability to organize. I’m an organizing type and others hate it.
Therefore, I have an encouragement for you…BE HONEST. If you need help getting your home cleaned up and organized, tell someone. If you have a friend or family member who tends to be more tidy and organized, let them know that you want to get your home in better condition but are overwhelmed, physically unable, etc. And then ask them if they would like to help you either get the work done or else help find someone else to do it.
I have a confession to make. Because I am a detailed, organizing type of person, I often feel tempted to start meddling with and organizing other people’s clutter. But I would refrain so that I wouldn’t offend. And I think my fellow organizing types out there would also share my confession. This is what makes professional organizing a perfect match for us!
So, here’s a thought: If there are people that love opportunities to help others by clearing up their clutter, and there are people that do need help to get the job done, then just think of what could be accomplished if we break through the awkwardness with some HONESTY!
There is no shame in admitting you need help getting the job done. No one is good at everything. ( I may be good at organizing, but please don’t employ me in mechanical, landscaping, art, or children’s projects!) Recognize your gifts and your weaknesses and if this is the time to tackle some clutter. I would bet there is someone within your reach who is readily willing to assist you if you asked or hired them. And then you reap the benefits of open communication and a clean and tidy environment!
Email inboxes can become a source of clutter and headaches. Regular maintenance is the key.
Folders are the best way to keep emails organized. On a frequent and regular basis, send emails that are needed to folders. If your email program allows, create broad categories and then add subfolders that are more narrowly defined. Ex: Create a folder for Bills, and then add subfolders from each respective bill holder. Delete unnecessary emails.
I am a MS Outlook user, and here’s a few tricks to use in this program. I found the placement of folders a little annoying because all of my folders got alphabetically mixed in with the program folders, like inbox, drafts, sent items, etc. I was able to separate my folders by adding a period in front of the folder name, example, .BILLS. I also capitalized my folder names to further distinguish them from the program folders. The result is that all of my personal folders are alphabetically listed first, and then the program files are listed below mine. This helps simplify.
Another Outlook feature that is worth the effort is using E-mail Rules. Found in the Tools menu, you can create any sort of actions on regular incoming emails, such as sending emails from certain senders immediately to a folder. A very nice feature for receipts, newsletters, etc., as it keeps the inbox cleaner.
If your inbox is several years behind in organizing and maintenance, then the time required to clean it up may not be worth all the effort. Create a folder called ARCHIVED along with the date, and move everything from your inbox into it. Then, create the folders you will need to begin a new system of organization and begin from here. If you need to find emails that are archived, you can perform a search on that folder. This way you can start with a clean slate with minimal time.
Got a problem with junk email? Choose a web email address that you don’t frequently use. Whenever signing up for websites that really are not pertinent day-to-day and could be a source of junk emails, use this email address exclusively. You can check when you feel like it, or never, and these emails don’t clog up your primary inbox.
When unwanted emails do start to creep into your inbox, scroll to the bottom of these and go directly to the Unsubscribe button. Never open attachments from senders you do not know, as these could be viruses. Finally, an internet security program is worth the cost when it means that you could be saving yourself computer repairs or even a replacement due to viruses.