The world from a short person's POV - not Australia or New Zealand.
|Random thoughts, pointed comments, and whatever else crosses my mind|
|"Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer. " Denis Waitley
Here are some tips for staying organized:
Desk -This no place for clutter. You can lose track of important "to do" items like paying bills or turning in responses to school/organization activities. Besides, it can make it more difficult to work on projects or be creative. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to "tidy up" this area. Put papers in designated trays or folders or file them away. Take a few more minutes to review your current "to do" list and prepare one for tomorrow. If necessary transfer items not completed today to tomorrow's list. Make sure your calendar is up to date and review upcoming events.
Kitchen Junk Drawer -Assign a drawer in your kitchen for all the little miscellaneous items you use on a daily basis and make sure the rest of your family know where these items are to be housed. Items would include pens, clips, sticky notes, small tools, small flashlight, and even a few bandaids and antiseptic cream for minor accidents.
Message Center - I highly recommend painting the inside of the pantry door or an open wall in this area with chalk paint (remember the chalk) for keeping track of food items and cleaning supplies that need to be replenished and items needed for a particular recipe for the week. Use this info to make your shopping list, and always take a list when you go to the grocery store. The reason to do it in the pantry is that it will help you keep an inventory without using a computer spreadsheet or other app.
Extra Storage - Baskets and even shoe boxes are good instant storage solutions for belts, scarves, and socks in the bedroom. Larger ones are good to house throws, animal toys or small toys for children in the family room. You probably can't expect your pet to put their toys away at the end of the day but hopefully, you can get the children to put their toys and games away at the end of the day. Make sure you have a designated place for them and the children know where their things go - easy access is the key!
Routines - It is a good idea to always make up your bed first thing in the morning or depending on your schedule when you first get up. This is a "little" reminder that your day has started. I think it also tells you that you are in charge of your day. For most of us, it is very helpful to establish routines that add to how our day functions.
For example, rinsing dishes off after use and putting them in an empty dishwasher makes kitchen clean up go quicker at the end of the day. And yes, it is a good idea to see that the kitchen is clean and dishes ready to wash after the last meal of the day. I promise, your day will go smoother if you can walk into a clean, organized kitchen at the beginning of your day. You don't have to be the only one to see that this is a daily routine (unless you live alone). Other family members can take part as well. (I cook almost all the meals and tidy up as I go; then my husband sees that all the dishes and cookware are in the dishwasher, turns it on to wash at night and sets up the coffee pot to come on in the morning as one of the last things he does at night.) I very much appreciate walking into a clean kitchen with the smell of coffee brewing in the morning.
Laundry routines are also helpful since doing laundry can take up a lot of your time. Family routines will differ based on the number and ages of family members. Still, it is important to find a system that works for you. For one or two people in a household, you can probably use one laundry basket, sort when doing the laundry and pick a day and time that works best for your schedule. For more people of different ages/with different activities, you will probably need a hamper for adults and one or more for children. When you do laundry depends on your schedule and the amount of time you can devote to this task. Of course, you can also be doing other tasks while the clothes are washing or drying. Just make sure you complete this task once you start it. That is, don't let clothes set in the dryer, hang or fold them as soon as they are dry. Having a rod for hanging clothing in the laundry room is a must in my opinion. Adults and older children should be responsible for putting their clothes away. They should also be responsible for telling the person doing the laundry if clothing is stained or needs to be repaired. For many, you can't wait a whole week and then accomplish this task in an hour or so. If that is the situation, designate days/time for individual loads, especially if some clothes require special care.
Next, I'll give you some ideas on keeping your system working for you so keep reading, please.
|Dancing from My Soul
Here are my thoughts on the Justin Timberlake song "Can't Stop the Feeling":
Dance is uplifting, spiritual, healing and just plain fun. These ordinary people prove that moving the body in rhythm to music is just that. Dance doesn't have to be choreographed or structured to have meaning or beauty. When people hear and experience the rhythmic sounds of music and express the feeling with movement, they bring joy to themselves and to others. It is hard to see them dance and not want to join in. And in this kind of movement, there is joy and in that, there is healing in the soul.
|"My style is unique and random. But I think it's important that it still makes sense.
Remember that all of that stuff scattered around the house needs to be corraled or removed. Ask yourself: do you really need it, will you use it frequently or just once in a while, are you holding on to it for someone else, can you give it to them or do they even want it? All questions you should be asking yourself now that your house is organized; well mostly organized. Organizing is not a once and done process; it is a way of life and it takes commitment to periodically re-evaluating your life and your home. You can be critical about what works and doesn't work for you. Don't get caught up in trends that don't fit your way of life.
Be careful with collections. Your taste and style will probably change over time. Then what do you do with the stuff you collected that no longer fits your style or interest you? If you are collecting items, keepsakes just to pass down to other family members, I would caution you to consider how they feel now about your collection. Are they interested; do they also see the value in the items you are collecting? I have known too many parents/grandparents who have spent a lot of money on collections that their children/grandchildren didn't want. Just because you always wanted porcelain dolls or match-box cars or quilts doesn't mean others in your family will want the same. Only collect items that mean something to you, that give you pleasure now and remember you may be selling or donating them in a few years.
Talking about collecting, what do you do with all the magazines and books you collect? There are binders that will hold a year or two collection of magazines. You could use them if you use the magazines for reference often, but if you just want a recipe, how-to article or web site info, remove that info and place it in your recipe box or "command" binder (more on that later). When thinking about books, consider if they are a reference or if you will read them more than once or if they are part of a collection you can give to a school or library. Of course, you also need to consider space available for displaying or storing them. Remember, books can deteriorate over time, so they have to be stored properly. Any time you dust the shelves is a good time to consider if it is time to give any of them away.
If you are having trouble with all the mail, notices, school materials coming into the house of a daily basis, consider placing small baskets or sorting trays where these items enter the house. Either have evereyone take their items out of the trays on a regular basis or set up incoming trays for each individual. You could use one of those teired systems used in offices for incoming and outgoing mail. Be creative and encourage family members to help. Keep a wastebasket handy to really keep down the clutter.
About the Command Central Binder (not my original idea, comes from "Better Homes and Gardens"), here is how it works:
Step One - You need a 3-ring binder, binder tabs, binder pockets, magazine holder for the binder, page protectors, label maker or fine-tip marker, adhesive tabs or notes, divided page protectors sized to hold business cards. You may have most of these items around the house, but if not, they are easily resourced at a office supply store.
Step Two - use a box to gather they types of documents listed below and any other type of dicument that's currently on your desk or plastered to your frig. These are the types of items you should collect: business cards, carry-out menues, emergency info and phone numbers, phone directory, pet-care or pet-sitting infe, health ins. info., insurance contacts for house, car, family members, reference papers from school including important phone numbers., personal financial advisor info. Your command central binder is designed to house those papers you access on a regular basis. ( I keep a copy of my mother's birth certificate, social security number,other pension info and funeral/burial plan documentation here so that I can access all the appropriate documentation when necessary. She is 95 and lives with us for now.) Actually, it is probably a good place to write down the social security numbers for everyone in the house. You might also want to keep passports here.
Step Three - sort like papers together. Group the papers into categories that make sense to you. Cull out papersw that are dated or irrelevant to your current life. Remember to pitch any piece of paper you no longer need. Don't include papers you need to act on now such as bills to pay and daily "to-do" lists.
Step Four - now create categories using your binder tabs and a permanent marker or label maker. Just create categories that make sense to you and how you want to access the information; everyone is different in how they will use this binder.
Step Five- once you have set up your binder, you've completed the prokect phase. Next is the habits phase where ou use and maintain your binder. It is suggested that you maintain this binder as you go looking for out-of-date items, and pull out anthing you don't need anymore. Then schedule routine maintenance just like you do for your car. At least quarterly, review your binder and add to or subtract from it any thing needed to keep it working for you.
The idea is to keep everything you need in one place so you'll have no trouble finding exactly what you need when you need it.
Next entry will continue with more random thoughts so keep reading, please.
|" The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand and the determination...that we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." Vince Lombardi
Well, here we are with all the "stuff" we haven't found a home for yet! It may have taken days or weeks or months to get to this point. Hopefully, you have celebrated your successes (not by buying more stuff) and are ready for this last major task. Dealing with all the things that didn't find a home in your decluttering, re-organizing project may seem even more daunting than the original project, but don't give up now. Remember all that you have learned along the way and use your new skills to tackle the boxes, bins and miscellaneous bits and pieces that still remain.
Did you find that you had things left over after you designed your linen closet(s)? Or are there odds and ends left from your kitchen organizing project? Did you just put them all in the "junk" drawer? Is your laundry room now filled with miscellaneous bits and pieces that you couldn't find a home for? Oh, and what about seasonal decorations; where did they go?
All good questions, right? Here are some pointers that may help you find success with this project:
First, I suggest that you take a walk through the rooms you have been working on and gather any items that don't belong. This includes taking a look at the drawers and closets you organized. Gather the items that are basically homeless in one area so that you can see all the things you will need to work with to make sure you and your house function the way you want.
Second, sort them in categories of sell, donate, discard. At this point, you need to use "critical thinking". That is, be ruthless in your deliberation and do it quickly. If you didn't find a home for the item first time through, you probably won't this time either - DONATE OR TRASH! If you have to keep the item because it is just too sentimental, then find a place for it. Be creative; look at different storage solutions. Consider: Can the item be stored in the attack, storage shed, a garage, a toy chest or trunk? Maybe even a shadow box?
Third, gather all your seasonal decorations. Most of us have items we only use at special times of the year, like birthday's, anniversaries, holidays. The question is: Where to store them? You might want to pull all these items together in one place to see what you have to store. If you are at all like me, you have decorative items that you use/display seasonally. This is how I chose to decorate my home; how about you? When I change items out seasonally I consider their condition and whether they still fit in with the major decor of the room. ( We have moved 5 times in the almost 7 years that we have been married so this is a major issue for me.) It is alright if over the years your style has changed and the items you thought were so great in the '80s or '90s no longer fit your style. Now is a good time to sell or give them away and move on. I pack decorative items by season in clear plastic bins that fit on storage shelving in the small mudroom next to our sunroom. With such a small space, I have had to downsize these decorations. It was much more fun when I had access to a full basement to play with, but oh well, it is much better for the budget now. And I have learned to be conscientious of what works and makes me happy decorating the house. Tip: if you feel the need to buy decorative items, buy them when the seasons' change and stores put this type of merchandise on sale.
In my next blog, I review some miscellaneous ideas for keeping clutter away or at least under control so keep coming back. And as always, I appreciate your questions and comments.
|" Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you are going to live your life." Joel Osteen
A positive attitude often determines the outcome of any project. Case in point, organizing whether just your home or your life needs a positive attitude more than skill, knowledge, or the latest techniques to become a success. I am sure that if you have tackled your master closet, children's closets and/or the kitchen or bathroom closets, you know this is true. With all this success under your belt, it's time to tackle the linen closet.
In my opinion, every house needs either a large linen closet strategically placed or several smaller ones in each bathroom/bedroom. Unfortunately, these closets often become catchalls for everything that didn't find a home earlier. Before you start taking everything out of this closet take some time to consider what really belongs here and what needs another home.
If at all possible, linen closets should store only linens. This is not the place to put extra groceries or cleaning supplies. Nor is it the place to put medicines or gifting materials. Ok, now you have the idea, linen closets are for linens, right? Where to start is the question.
The first question is: do you have one central linen closet or ones located in the bathroom/bedroom? If neither of these exists, can you find a closet that will work just to store linens? Any closet that is available should have shelves deep enough to hold bath towels and king size sheets. And, of course, it is best if this closet is near the bedrooms/bathrooms.
So let's start by taking everything out of the designated linen closet. Next, collect all the linens that will be housed in this closet, i.e. towels, washcloths, sheet sets. blankets and extra bed covers. If you are using one closet to house all these items, consider sorting them in groups that correspond to the room in which you will use them. For example, if the bedrooms have different size beds or different color schemes, sort the sheet sets, blankets, and extra bed covers accordingly. Towels can be sorted the same way, by the bathroom they will be used in. If family members are responsible for their own room/bathroom, make sure that they know where their linens are and how they are organized. Let them know that you expect them to keep them in the same place if they are the ones responsible for putting clean items away.
If you are fortunate enough to have linen closets in the bathroom(s), you can separate linens based on the bathroom where they will be used. Then the question becomes: what about all the sheets, blankets, and bed covers? If you don't have another closet just for these items, consider using the bathroom closet that relates to a given bedroom. The closet in the master bedroom may be big enough to house both towels and sheets, etc. For others, you may need to find enough space in the designated closet.
Along the way, you should consider a purge of the items that go back in the linen closet. Stained, ripped or items no longer used should be removed. Some of these items can be used as cleaning rags or paint throws. (But don't keep them in the linen closet.) The main point is to make organizing work for you. As always, your goal in organizing is to decrease stress and improve the quality of life. Make your home work for you; not you working for your home.
Next, we will deal with all the "stuff" that doesn't have a home, especially all those little/big seasonal decorating items.
|"Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop"... Alice in Wonderland
Well, you started with the closet in the master bedroom but closets don't stop there, do they? Feeling the flush of success, it's time to move on to, oh let's say, a child's/children's closet. This closet can be even more challenging than the one you just finished since we all know that these little ones can expand the need for storage space 10 fold.
It has been many years since I struggled to corral all the items needed for a child (only one). So my blog will relate the story of my granddaughter's closet. The rules still apply though you will need to be more "judgemental" and creative from time to time, especially if you have children sharing the same space.
Age is a major factor when designing closets for children. When they are little you may only need a dresser, toy box, bookshelf and a small amount of hanging space. Most of their things will fit in their bedroom. But don't forget to designate a play space in other parts of the house. This is where creativity really comes into play; for grandparents as well. Toy boxes work very well at this stage if you are able to make yourself store only items used frequently where the toy box is located. Remember you can change out the toys as they go in and out of favor or as the child grows. We still keep a handmade toy box in our sunroom for books and art supplies for our granddaughter to use when she comes to visit.
As your child/children grow closets need to keep up with their needs. Once a child starts school what needs to be kept in their room changes. Don't forget to add a desk and chair for doing school work. Now you need more hanging space and a place to keep shoes for school, outings, and every day.
Shoes can take on a life of their own as the child expands their horizons. By the time my granddaughter was five her shoe rack needed to house school shoes, dress boots, tennis shoes, dress up shoes and ballet shoes. This has always been an issue in her room. Partly, this may be a girl thing but still it has been the hardest issue to overcome. She is eleven now and we still haven't completely solved the problem. That will change soon as the family is giving her a specially designed closet for her twelveth birthday in August. I know it seems a little over-the-top but it is what she wants most. We figured there was no need giving her clothes/shoes/accessories if she didn't have a place to put them that would work for her. Oh, did I mention that she is an only child and my only granddaughter?
When you design a closet for a child of school age think about how they will use it. Now that they are dressing more on their own, clothing needs to be accessible to them. Bars should be lowered to a position that they can reach or if there are high and low bars in their closet you can put everyday wear on the lower bar and less used items on the higher bar. Dressers are still important since items such as t-shirts, PJs, shorts, and jeans are often stored here. While the child is young, keep the most used items in the lower drawers so that they can reach them without asking for help.
Try to keep the closet as flexible as possible since their needs change as they grow and become involved in more activities. Ever since my granddaughter started in competitive gymnastics her closet has become a place to hang leotards, and all the other paraphernalia that goes along with the sport as well as her regular clothing. For now, her closet also houses all her medals and trophies since she re-designed her bedroom. (She tends to be a minimalist when it comes to design.)
If you take a trip to the DIY and HomeGoods stores, you can see all the different units that can be used to make closets work for you. Whether you go this route or use a professional, keep in mind what you need to store and where. For girls, you might want to include a high bar for dresses (especially prom dresses). Also, consider shelving for storing mementos and trophies.
Now here is the really hard part - you probably can't keep everything a child accumulates over time in their closet. Most of us want to keep all the cute outfits they had when they were little, special toys and gifts, cards and pictures, right? It just doesn't work in an organized, uncluttered home. Remember when you organized your closet you had to sort and purge. Here it is even more important. I suggest having your child help with the process. Learning to make decisions about what is and what is not important in your life is a skill worth passing on to them. We started teaching this life skill to our granddaughter several years ago when her "stuff" started expanding to other parts of the house. We gathered all of her stuffed animals and toys in one space and then worked with her to decide what to keep and what to let go of. We suggested that she could decide what to give to children in the local shelter and what could be sold (She got to keep the money). Anything leaving the house was immediately put in bags and boxes and taken to the garage. Her mother took her to the shelter, more than once, to deliver her donations and when her mother sold several of the large ticket items, she gave our granddaughter the money. This activity worked out to be a win, win for everyone. I think this started her move to becoming a minimalist .
I hope that this post has been helpful. In my next post, I'll give you some helpful ideas on linen closets and storing decorative items.
|"It's time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I'd much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure." Ernie Harwell.
For many of us, closets may present the most difficult area to organize. We have spent years accumulating things - collections we were once excited to own, gifts from family and friends, decorations with special meaning for the holidays, momentoes from concerts/plays/trips, and tons and tons of pictures, and of course, clothes/shoes/handbags. But now we look around and find our shelves, closets, basement, and even the attack disorganized, and overcrowded. HELP! Are you overwhelmed wondering where your favorite pair of sandals got to or where you put the recipe you really wanted to try tonight? Are you frustrated because you can't find the jacket that goes with the dress you want to wear to the party tomorrow? Or maybe it is that time of year when you want to change closets from winter to spring and you keep putting it off because it seems too daunting. In this post, I have tried to include tactics that may prove helpful in the never-ending battle to declutter and organize your life.
Is your closet so disorganized that you take too much time just trying to get ready for the day or a special event, have you pulled something out to wear and found that it had a tear or a stain, are other family members bugging you to find what they need for the day? Did you spend hours in the basement trying to find all the decorations for a holiday or complete sets of recreational equipment? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are ready to get started on decluttering and organizing projects that can create a less stressful life for you and your family. A good rule to follow is "Divide and Conquer." Don't try to do every project at once. You will find that little successes go a long way toward encouraging you to keep working on any project. Set reasonable goals for yourself. Do a "walkabout" to get a sense of what you are struggling with and what frustrates you most about your daily routine. Take the time to think through what you need to store and where you want to store it. A little time evaluating your needs and planning a strategy will go a long way toward the successful completion of any project, especially ones requiring decluttering and organization.
So let's say you have decided to tackle the closet in your master bedroom first since you are most frustrated dealing with the clothes, shoes, and accessories that you need on a daily basis from season to season. If you are anyone like me, you can't keep all your clothing year-round in one space, especially if you share that space with another person so this closet requires at least one seasonal purge/reorganize session. While we go through all four seasons where I live, they can be subtle, changing from fall to summer and back or winter to spring and back in any given week. Knowing something about the changeable weather patterns in my area requires planning a closet with easy access to changing weather needs or at least an additional area where transitional clothing is stored. Then too, we often travel to Mexico or other "South of the Border" areas during the winter so I need to access summer clothing even in the winter. In other words, take a look at your lifestyle and organize accordingly.
Now that you have a better idea of what needs to be given a home in the master closet and the actual size of the space you are working with, you can start the process.
Step One: Designate a space to put everything once you have taken it out of the closet. Separate the items by category. The first sort could be in broad categories like tops, pants, dresses, suits, shoes, accessories. Later as you think how you dress for certain activities, you may need to refine the categories, like casual tops and bottoms, business wear, formal wear. Create a sperate area for out of season clothes that may need to find another home. Designate a space for all the miscellaneous items that need a new home. Remember, only keep items in this closet that function as wearables unless this closet has space to also function as a linen closet for the bedroom. If you need to store blankets/quilts and sheets for this room in the same area, consider storage options like underbed bins or baskets. (home goods stores have any number of options that can help with this type of storage.) When it comes to closet space, consider increasing usable space by hanging double rods for shorter pieces of clothing on top and longer pieces on the bottom. (Doesn't work so well for me since I am short but still a good idea for most people.) Here again, you can take a walk through the DIY or home goods stores for ideas or you could find closet organizer companies that will give you a free closet design, then you can take it from there. But before you start buying closet accessories, you will need to do the hard work of deciding what you are going to keep in this space.
Step Two: Decide how the closet will function best for you. I am retired and wear casual clothing especially during the week so when I recently redesigned my closet I put casual tops first, then special blouses; casual bottoms followed by dress pants; skirts followed by dresses because this is the way I plan for any particular activity. I tend to color like items together so each section goes from light to dark. You may have different needs so different plans. Play around a bit, try some different schemes. Just make sure it works for you.
Step Three: With clothing and accessories stacked in "neat" piles, it is time to get down to the most difficult phase of the project, deciding what to keep and what not to keep. Go through each stack and ask yourself: does this fit, is it still in good shape, do I still want to wear it? If yes, set aside to go back into the closet. If no to any of these questions, decide what to do with it (NOW). Create three bins, boxes or bags. One is for "give away", one for "sell", one for "recycling". As you handle each item, decide where it goes and put it there. Try not to leave "undecided" piles when you are working with these items. If it helps make your decisions any easier, you can "thank" the item for working for you and then put it aside. This can help you have closure as you move to a new lifestyle. For those items that you want to keep, sort out any that need to be cleaned or repaired and put them either in the laundry or a sewing basket. Both should be kept in the closet/bedroom or bath.
Step Four: With everything out of the closet and items sorted, it is time to consider any changes you might need to make to the space you are working on. Add additional rods, baskets, or dressers as needed. Remember to be creative; every item needs a home. Consider purchasing slim-line hangers since they can also create more space in your closet. Those items that are not going back in the closet can be set aside for now, but remind yourself that you will need to find the appropriate location for them. Don't add to the confusion by stuffing them just anywhere. With clothes, shoes, and accessories sorted and the closed designed, start re-housing items meant just for this closet. Now, step back, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on successfully completing another project. Give yourself a few weeks of use to decide if you need to make any adjustments. This will give you opportunities to live with the system you have designed and if needed you can always re-arrange. Now might be the time to institute a new rule if you haven't already: One Item In means One Item Out!
Congratulations! Now on to finding homes for all the items you took out of this closet. Next, we will consider children's closets, linen closets, and holiday storage.
|"When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and 'good, orderly direction' to enter." Julia Cameron
I am a very visual person, so my environment is important to me. If my environment is messy, I can't think clearly. I don't like clutter. A clear desk is a clear mind for me. Clutter makes me anxious, unsettled. I can't work on a project until my space is organized and functional. I have worked with people and currently live with someone for whom this statement is not true. They can be highly creative in a very cluttered environment, but not me. So this post is for those of you who are more like me than the others.
Here are some very good reasons to get all those papers under control:
Pay bills on time. Stop wasting money on late fees and finance charges.
Regain the use of space meant for other purposes like the dining room table.
Save time and eliminate stress searching for misplaced papers and documents.
The likelihood is that you have papers piled in various locations around the house. The best strategy is to start organizing a designated space that will act as command central then you can incorporate other papers into the system. Use your creativity to utilize found space in your home, especially if you do not have a room that functions only as an office. Closets can be turned into very functional paperwork zones with a little effort and some organizing tools. You might want to check out the DIY or home goods stores for inspiration. You might be able to make a guest room serve a dual purpose by including a desk/files that can be locked when not in use. We are fortunate to have a large sunroom located on the back of our house that functions as an additional sitting/reading/plant room and my command central. The sunroom is one of the main reasons we selected this house over others with the same primary floorplan because we knew we would need the extra space. Since there are only three of us living in this home now, my husband took the third bedroom as his "creative writing" space. However, I confiscated the closet for out of season clothing storage. It's important to make your space work for your lifestyle.
Here are some ideas to help you get control of all the paper clutter:
Set up a paper processing center by creating an "In Box" file. This is where all the incoming paper lands - mail, receipts, school papers, flyers, etc. For each asks yourself, "what is the next action that needs to happen and when". Next, establish an "Action Box". Go through your "In Box" daily to separate items that need immediate attention from those that simply require filing away or those that you can address at a later time. This "Action Box" should have three separate areas: Do Now, Do Later (by date), Pending. If you need visual reminders, use clear stacking trays. If you are a filer, use a desktop file box with labeled folders. Keep a shredder, recycling bin and trash can in reach so you can dispose of unwanted papers as soon as they enter the house before they hit the "In Box".
"Do Now" includes anything you need to act on in the next week, example: bills to pay, permission slips, party invites with RSVP. "Do Later includes items that you need to act on in the next 3 months, for example, vacation flyers, refinance offer from the bank, a catalog containing something you plan to buy. "Pending includes anything you are awaiting a reply, for example, a receipt for something that has not arrived. Anything else is likely something to be filed away, for example, warranties, instructions, reference materials.
Every day or two sort papers from your "In Box" into the "Action Box". Act on the most time-sensitive items like bills with upcoming due dates, permission slips that need to be turned in by the end of the week. Look at party invites that require gifts and schedule in time to shop in your daily routine. Once a week look at your "Do Later" file and take whatever actions you can, moving items to other files or the recycling bin. Look at "Pending" and follow up as needed. As items resolve themselves recycle or put in long term storage.
Don't let miscellaneous papers clog your "In Box". Use files that can be labeled for inspiration and reference papers from magazines. Categorize them by subject such as decorating, writing ideas, vacation ideas, etc. Use a coupon/receipt folder with dividers that can be kept in the car. This way you won't get caught finding something you wanted to get without the coupon you saved for that item.
For your children's schoolwork and art use a lidded box and keep on a handy shelf so it is easy to reach. Collect the papers daily, then plan a time quarterly when you can review them and decide whether or not they are keepers (grade cards, awards, art). When you review either archive or toss. Be decisive, ask yourself if this is something you or your child will consider important a year from now.
For instruction booklets and warranties, either keep them in the same room as the item connected to them (manual for kitchen appliances in the kitchen) or in your file cabinet or box. Staple receipts and warranty cards to the cover of instruction books.
I came across a great idea for a command central binder from Simplify 101 (online). This is an inexpensive way to keep important papers you will need to have handy from time to time. Use a 3 ring binder that includes folders for business cards (plumber, electrician, doctor, dentist, bank, restaurants or wineries you want to visit, etc.); important phone numbers of family and friends; protective folders for birth certificates, marriage license, insurance certificates, vaccination records; plans for home/garden projects; list of online sites you visit or want to visit later. You can add to this binder as you identify items you need to reference frequently. It is easy to make it your own. Let your family know where you keep the binder so that they can access it if needed.
A big help in organizing and getting control of clutter is to keep a calendar in your control central location and make it accessible to everyone in the family. Make sure the blocks for each day are large enough to include all activities for that date. You can color code items by the person responsible for the activity, for example, green for your items, blue for husband/partner, pink for daughter, yellow for son. Be creative and make it your own. Use the calendar to plan your schedule and try to stick to it. Schedules are vital in keeping your life organized when you are trying to juggle home, family, work, and time for self-renewal.
This may all sound like a lot of work that you think you don't have time for but if you make organizing and decluttering a priority, you will find that you will actually free up time to spend on projects, do fun activities with family and friends all with less stress . *hart*
These ideas should keep you busy for a while. Next on the agenda is tackling the closets.
|"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." Helen Kelleryzed and
You've analyzed and strategized, and now you're ready to put on some comfortable clothes, roll up your sleeves, and begin transforming your space. Here is a logical method of approach that can work for any area: SPACE It breaks down as follows - Sort, Purge, Assign a home, Containerize, Equalize. The key is to do every one of the steps, and most importantly, do them in order. Don't let your new found enthusiasm for organizing get ahead of you.
SORT. If your space is disorganized, you may have items scattered in different areas of the house, making it difficult to find what you need when you need it. It is also difficult to determine what you really have. Remember when we talked about organizing the pantry. If you don't group like things together, you probably will buy items you already have. So here is where you go through each item and create a sense of order. It is critical to handle everything. Don't ignore those large piles of stuff in corners or scattered throughout the house or office because it may seem intimidating or you think it will take too long to process.
As you sort, focus on the following:
What is important to you - focus on the items you currently use, love, and that are important to you, not those that used to be important or might be important in the future (unless you know when and how you are going to use them).
Group similar items together in related categories that reflect your associations, not someone else's. Rember, this only has to make sense to you; it should be intuitive and natural to you so that you can find things and put them away again without too much thought. Especially, if others will be expected to occasionally use or work with the items, you will need to keep the categories as broad as possible so you or they will have fewer places to look.
To achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time, attack the visible first. What's most visible probably is the most relevant and used by you on a daily basis, so sort and categorize it first. Then you can see how much space you will need and where. Next, you can work on drawers and cabinets knowing you only need to keep what is most important to you now allowing the right space for the right item.
Don't belabor your decisions; keep moving through your stuff quickly. Focus on identifying items and categorizing them. All those unanswered phone messages, articles you want to read or other started projects, now is not the time to work on them. Put these aside and schedule an appointment with yourself to look at them again later.
Don't work back and forth from one room to the other. This is called zigzag organizing and does not produce the results you are looking for. Rather, work on one area or section at a time. Complete one room before going on to the rest or work on organizing your closet with items needed for the current season before dealing with out-of-season items or work on organizing your desk before tackling the file cabinet. If you find something that belongs elsewhere just set it near the doorway. That way you will be forced to deal with it once you have finished the room you are working on.
PURGE: Here is where you decide what stuff to get rid of, and how. You have several choices. You can give it away, sell it, store, or repurpose it. Ideally, you would set out bins labeled with these options and start. If you are working on a child's room, I encourage you to include them in the process. You may have to do some negotiating, but this is also helping them learn what is important and what is just "stuff." (Doing this with my granddaughter over the last few years has created the most organized eleven-year-old you will ever meet.) It can also help to involve a friend or family member who is not invested in the items you are considering purging. Hopefully, they can remind you of what you will gain by following through on this step - making space for the things you really use and love, save searching through drawers, bins, closets to find a needed item, feeling good about sharing items you no longer use with others. For good items of clothing or toys, why not drop them off at the local woman's shelter. If you are removing items from the house, plan to do it within a day or two. Don't think about the items once you have made a decision, JUST DO IT!
ASSIGN A HOME: Next take all the items you're keeping and decide precisely where you are going to store them - wich shelf, which drawer, which side of the bed, which closet. Avoid being vague and indecisive about where to put items by giving each item a single, consistent home. This is the key to maintaining your system.
You can use the following guidelines in assigning homes: Match the size and number of items to the size of storage space. For example, socks or scarves in a shallow drawer, sweaters in a deep drawer. Don't mix categories within a storage space; it makes it too complicated to remember where a certain item is, much less, ask someone else to get it for you. For example, put t-shirts in one drawer and jeans in another. Be logical when grouping items near each other. For example, scarfs and hats near outerwear, measuring cups and spoons near the mixer, hot pads near the stove. Make items you use all the time easy to retrieve. Don't stack them on shelves that you can't reach without a ladder. If the items are heavy, make sure they are on a sturdy shelf that is easy to reach. For example, if you are short like me you will want to put plates, glasses, and cups on lower shelves, as well as, every day serving bowls.
As you put items away, you may discover that you don't have enough space for everything. Your options are either to reevaluate and purge those "maybes" or increase the storage area. If you visit a home store or do-it-yourself center, you will find ideas for expanding storage. Look at what you want to keep and where you need to store it and BE CREATIVE! That is part of the fun of organizing.
Containerize: Containers make it easy to keep your items grouped and separated within their assigned homes so that retrieval, cleanup, maintenance are a breeze. This also helps to limit how much you accumulate in any given category. You can only save as much as the container will hold. This is where you can get creative and have fun infusing your system with your style. You may already have containers that will work for certain items in specific areas. If not, make an inventory of what you need to containerize and go shopping (and who doesn't like a reason to shop). You can find different types of containers at the dollar stores or flea markets; they don't have to be expensive. I have used baskets that came as part of a gift to house magazines, doggy toys, and bath accessories.
EQUALIZE: About two weeks after you've finished, make an appointment with yourself to evaluate how well your system has been working. Are there any rough spots that a quick review of your needs assessment might help to iron out. Once you have a system that works for you, then integrate a daily, weekly, monthly maintenance program into your routine. "Tune-ups" are essential to keep your system working as your needs, goals, possessions, and priorities change.
Since handling all the paper that accumulates in your home/office is a major cause for disorganization and clutter, we will tackle this next.
A clutter-free workspace can bring a little sanity to your busy day.
If you have been following along, you are probably ready for this next step: Creating a Plan of Action. Taking this next step takes very little time, but if you skip it you are setting yourself up for disaster. There are any number of methods and techniques for creating plans, and all projects, no matter how small should have one. Of course, the most popular one now is the Marie Kondo Method that suggests organizing by category rather than room by room. You have probably heard the phrase, "If it gives you joy, keep it, if not say thank you and put it aside." But here is another method that might work for you. It's called The Kindergarten Model by Julie Morgenstern. Organizing is about creating a space so that it reflects who you are and how you want to function in the area. You need to arrange things logically and efficiently so that staying organized will be a snap.
Take a look at Kindergarten rooms for example. They are divided into activity zones. This makes it easy to focus on one activity at a time and, everything needed for that activity is right there in that space. With this in mind, you can walk into any room and decide what to do and where to do it.
The beauty of this model is that it can be applied to anything: office, home, room, drawer, car. And since one of the major rooms in any home that works best when organized is the kitchen I'll give you an example of how this works.
Activity Zones: Food preparation, cooking, dishwashing and dish storage, food storage, and possibly, utility and home info/paperwork hub.
As you identify each zone, consider what supplies are needed and what storage units you will need. Unless you are creating a kitchen from scratch, you will have to make your plan work with the existing floor/cabinet design. Look at how your kitchen is working for you now. If an area works efficiently, you can look at other areas that need improvement. Identifying the zone that is most practical for a certain activity will go a long way to getting the kitchen organized in a way that works for you.
The food preparation zone is where you do most cutting, chopping, mixing and seasoning. So, the best location for this activity would be along the counter between the sink and stove or between the stove and frig., depending on how your kitchen is laid out. The cabinets above and below should hold the supplies and equipment needed. I have found it most efficient to use the space between the sink and stove for this zone. It is easy to clean the cutting board when using it next to the sink. I keep all my spices in an upper cabinet.
In the cooking zone which is around the stove, I keep my pots and pans, etc. in a lower cabinet. I also keep most of the serving bowls in an upper cabinet. Knives, spatulas, slicers are in an adjoining drawer. Bakeware is in an upper cabinet including measuring cups and mixing bowls. Wisk and other small items needed for baking are in a lower drawer. My kitchen aid mixer is on the counter between the stove and frig. since this is my designated baking area.
In the Dishwashing/storage zone, I have stored my everyday dishes, glasses, and cups in the upper cabinets next to the sink. Flatware including steak knives and specialty pieces are in drawers below the cabinets. This area is close to the dining room so it is convenient to use for meals and then put used pieces in the dishwasher. Dishwashing products and cleaning products are stored under the sink on a special mat that can be cleaned if anything spills. The counter in this area is used as a serving buffet next to the dining room.
I also have a coffee zone next to the pantry. The counter contains two coffee makers, one for my mother and one for us. Coffee supplies are stored in the cabinet below.
I am fortunate to have a walk-in pantry where all my food supplies are housed. The pantry is a special area that requires as much attention as the rest of the kitchen. You don't want to open the door and wonder if you have an item or not, only to find that you have duplicates because you forgot where you put the product or it got lost behind other items. My suggestion is to put like items together, utilizing storage containers (make sure they fit on the shelves unless you can adjust the levels.) and that they are labeled or you can see through them. For example, in my pantry, different kinds of pasta are in clear containers next to bottled sauces; can goods are stacked together by type. Flour, sugar, salt, etc. are in clear containers on another shelf. Oils are grouped together on the same shelf. Crackers and chips are in a basket on another shelf. Cereals are stored on the top shelf in clear containers. I periodically review the contents of the pantry making sure like or complementary items are together, removing any items that are past their shelf life. I used chalkboard paint on the inside of the door to the pantry. I keep a list of items that need to be replaced or specialty items for menus there. If you are not fortunate enough to have a pantry in close proximity to the kitchen, consider storing items near where you are most likely to use them. Lazy susans are great for this if you have them. Though I highly recommend finding a space to incorporate a pantry if at all possible.
Take a good look at how you want the room to function for you and your family. Give close attention to the counters and storage space you have available. It is worth the time to take a trip to a local home goods store to get ideas of storage containers, racks, and liners that are available now. Most are not very expensive and can add to your overall design. I used tiered shelves to increase the space for seasonings, baskets for snacks, clear containers for sugar, etc., mats and cabinet liners to help keep the area clean, and a divider system for trays and pot lids.
While this is a plan for kitchens, you can approach any room or area in the same way. Laundry rooms can be planned out the same, closets as well. Remember, an excess of supplies like condiments in the kitchen or shampoos, lotions in the bath can easily cause clutter. Make sure you are storing like items together and take an inventory before you go shopping. If children or other members have their own items, teach them to do the same.
In the next post, I'll write more on organizing closets, bathrooms and a real problem area for most of us: the office.
Do you have a particular area that you are having trouble getting organized the way you want it? What seems to be the culprit? Let me know, and I will try to give you suggestions and support.