Tag Archives: Organizing
1. Learn to say NO
“Life is a journey, but it is not a race. Do yourself a favor and slow down.” Richard Swenson, MD
by Maria Connor
The reason people go on vacation is to escape the demands and drudgery of everyday life. They scrimp and save all year in order to afford a tropical cruise, take the kids to visit Mickey Mouse at Disney World or travel to a foreign country they’ve dreamed about visiting.
People work hard for their break from reality. They go into work sick so their vacation time isn’t docked. They forego new clothes or dining out. With all that effort, it’s a shame that coming home can take the bloom off that vacation rose.
Have you been there? It’s close to midnight and the flight was late/delayed/overbooked. You have to be in to work by eight the next morning, the kids have school and there isn’t so much as a shriveled apple in the fridge. In the frantic rush to get back to your routine, the suitcases remain parked in the front hall for a week, and the kids begin recycling their socks. And you’re already behind on saving for the next vacation because you’ve spent $75 on carry-out this week.
Planning for your homecoming should be given as much consideration as your tour of Yosemite. With a bit of forethought and a little organization, you can remain relaxed, refreshed and reinvigorated.
Just one more day. Allow at least one day to transition from vacation mode to work mode, recommends Sharon Hayward, owner of The Organized Advantage in La Mesa. Come home a day early or tack an extra day onto your vacation. This provides time to go through the mail, restock the kitchen, catch up on laundry and read your email.
Thanks, neighbor! Leave a house key with a trusted neighbor. Ask them to pick up bread and milk the day before you return home so there’s something edible in the house until you can go grocery shopping.
Easy unpacking. Organizational expert Kathi Burns of AddSpace to Your Life! in Leucadia suggests packing a few plastic grocery bags. When preparing to head home, put the dirty laundry in the plastic sacks so it can be sorted right into the laundry room when you get back. Burns says it also helps to empty your luggage immediately. Things are more likely to get put away if they aren’t hidden out of sight in the Samsonite.
Leave it like you want to find it. Preparing for vacation requires a lot of energy and effort, but allow time to make sure your house is in order before you leave Empty the refrigerator of any foods that might spoil. Take out the trash. Change the bed linens. Run the vacuum. Leaving your house neat and tidy is critical, Burns says. Coming home can be a letdown after the glamor and regular maid service of most hotels, so make your welcome as comfortable and welcoming as possible.
Odds and ends. Here are a few random tips to consider.
*Freeze a couple of casseroles before you start your vacation. Dinner will be a cinch until you’re back in the groove.
*Consider traveling Wednesday to Tuesday or returning midweek. Coming home to a three-day work week is infinitely easier than facing five long days.
*Leave an outfit or two in the closet so you’ll have something clean to wear. Same goes for underwear, socks and linens.
*Avoid catastrophes. We live in an area vulnerable to earthquakes, Hayward says, so take a few minutes to shut off the water main and unplug appliances and computers.
Maria Connor is a freelance writer and mother of four in San Diego. She says there’s no such thing as a vacation for mothers; it’s just doing the same thing is a more exotic location.
Today, kitchens are the focal point of many homes and account for a fair percentage of the total square footage in any new home. Planning a kitchen for optimal workflow will enable you to get the most out of your space. What you do most in your kitchen will determine the focus, but there are a (more…)
I have a challenge for you:
We would like to organize this space with all of our bathroom stuff (towels, hair stuff, lotions, shaving, bath toys, etc.). How in the world do we do this?
I had considered just buying some pretty wicker baskets to make it pretty, but still, our stuff would just be thrown into each basket without any order.
You are so lucky to have floor to ceiling built in cabinets in your bathroom. The only real challenge as I see it is that the cabinets are deep and probably act as a black hole with minimal effort.
Here is what you do to keep items form disappearing into the deep recesses:
Separate and organize all items by type of use. Your categories might include toiletries, bathing, makeup, towels, medicine etc.
Segregate each collection into containers.
Towels might be able to fit into large plastic bins that will act as drawers that you can pull in and out of the shelf as needed.
Bottles can swirl joyously on a very large (perhaps 24”) lazy susan
Bath toys can be hung in a hammock within the shower area or relegated again to another plastic bin of appropriate size.
Smaller items can be separated and stored in plastic Sterilite drawers
The items that are rarely used wil be tucked into the back of each shelf in separate bins so you can pull them out as needed after you pull out the items in front.
Consider your frequency of use for each ‘type’ of item
This will determine which items are stored at eye level and which are stored below or in the back of the shelf behind other more important categories.
I am assuming that you have already purged and donated the excess items that you no longer need or use. By the way, for all readers, women’s shelters and shelters of all kinds absolutely LOVE the small travel and sample bottles of shampoos and soaps that we bring back from our hotel stays. Please donate these to your local shelters; they are a valuable commodity to these organizations!
Have you or someone in your family ever felt that “cold coming on,” late at night and all the medicine cabinet had was old, half-empty, probably expired medicine? Does the tiny area of the medicine cabinet seem like a hunt in a deep forest when looking for something in particular? Managing prescriptions, first aid, supplements, and cough medicine is important. Getting things organized can help you minimize the frustration of hunting for “those pills” or “that medicine.”
Here are ten medicine cabinet organization tips, in no particular order, that can help resolve some unhealthy chaos. (more…)
A child’s room often needs to serve as both a play area and a study area. It is important to be able to organize so that the space is functional and clutter free. Here are some tips on how you can create a space in your child’s room that will give it a dual purpose without hassle. (more…)
Our kids accumulate belongings starting at birth and continuing throughout the rest of their lives. Organizing a child’s room or playroom is crucial for this reason. Without a good organizational plan for your child’s room or play area, chaos will soon arise, if you aren’t already tripping over or stepping on toys thrown about the room. If you have experience with the almost frantic search for “the other piece” to a game or toy set, these tips are for you. (more…)
The kids hit school age, and suddenly everything they own is underfoot. Between extracurricular activities and weekend events, finding the time to keep up with school supplies, sports equipment, shoes and basic clothing items can be difficult. Cut down on wasted time and frustration searching for missing articles by implementing a few simple ideas.
Create a ‘drop zone’ near the entrance of your home. This can be as simple as a row of pegs to hold backpacks and jackets, with a rack below it for muddy footwear. A large basket can catch sport gear or outdoor toys, and a bench with storage under the seat can make all the difference. Don’t forget a hook for keys.
Sort your children’s clothing at the end of each season and donate or discard items that you won’t use the next year. Rotate their off season clothes to the back of the closet, or install a two tiered rod to increase your closet space. A low shelf or rack can hold footwear and a higher one be used for hair ribbons or baseball caps. Use drawer dividers to sort socks, underwear and pajamas, or set up small plastic drawer units for smaller tots.
Utilize labeled boxes and bins with easy to open lids for games, hobby items and toys. Rotate toys regularly to keep a fresh assortment available and cut down on boredom. Consider separate shelves for each child to ensure each one will be responsible for his or her own possessions. For preschoolers, labels with pictures of the appropriate toy or game can be used to mark the spot where it belongs.
Get the whole family involved in charity; designate a box for ‘give away’ items and place it in an accessible place. Ask your children to put an old toy in the box every time they get a new one. You can take them with you to drop the items off at a donation center when it becomes full so that they can see where their items go. Explain how the donation process works, and how others can benefit from their cast-off items.
Use a trunk or hope chest at the foot of each bed to save keepsakes for your children as they grow. If your space and finances are limited, an under-the-bed box will serve the same purpose. Again, let your children take an active role in deciding what to keep throughout the year. Each summer, help them go through the contents and discard those items which have lost their importance. The goal is to have only one box of memories by the end of twelfth grade. When the kids leave the nest, they will love having their childhood treasures intact.
A box or caddy for spare school supplies can make finding any replacement items easy on rushed mornings. Another box can be set up to file school papers throughout the year; review them each summer to identify ‘keepers’ for scrap booking. A shoebox with cardboard dividers can store photos until you can put them in your album.
Prize ribbons can be easily kept in your photo album as well, and photographs taken of victors holding their trophies to keep as a remembrance of past accomplishments. Peel off the placard with their name or achievement to use in your photo album alongside the picture, and donate the trophy itself to a school fundraiser. These are popular items at thrift sales, as children love to dream of their future triumphs and act out winning and receiving their prize.
Once you have your children’s belongings well organized, have them take the responsibility for keeping their rooms clean. Set aside a few hours each weekend to have a ‘family cleanup’; many hands make light work. Once you get in the habit of putting things in their designated places, keeping your house clutter free will be a matter of course.
by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
Once you decide to work from home, designating an office space is mandatory. Even if it is just a large table in a corner, the key is to make it an exclusive work area – nothing unrelated to your business should be allowed. This will allow you to stay more fully focused on your business at hand, and keeping your other paperwork such as private financial records separate may even qualify you for a home office tax write-off.
Organize your desk properly from the very beginning and make sure to spend at least ten minutes a day keeping it that way. Just a small investment of time will save you countless hours of frustration looking for misplaced or lost papers or trying to do paperwork on a hopelessly cluttered desktop. Make use of desk and drawer organizers to keep pens, paper-clips and sticky notes handy.
Be certain you have a trash basket by your desk to dispose of unneeded paper and discarded envelopes or mail. This will reduce mess and help keep your workspace clear. Have a vertical inbox on top of your desk to hold papers or files that require immediate attention, and an outbox somewhere by the exit of your office for mail and packages that are awaiting pickup or a trip to the post office.
Make sure your file cabinet is industrial strength. If a brand new one is outside of your price range, check thrift and second hand stores for a gently used, well made cabinet. Likewise, try to find a desk large enough to hold your computer and leave plenty of surface space free for work. These items are worth investing in; good quality cabinets will last you for years. Likewise, an ergonomic chair is almost a necessity if you want to avoid fatigue and back strain.
Form a habit of filing papers as you handle them instead of letting them stack up on your desk. Decide on a categorizing system and label all files accordingly. Use the same approach for your daily mail; open it all immediately and discard the junk, then file remaining mail (invoices, bills, etc) in the appropriate place. Have a special folder for business expenses and keep every receipt for business related items – these will be useful when tax time rolls around.
Take an hour or two each week to enter any new contact information into your database. Handheld computer scanners are available to make entering business card data quick and efficient, or you can use a regular rolodex file and simply staple the business cards to the blanks provided. Many businesses depend on accurate, up to date contacts, and you will benefit from having this information at your fingertips.
If you are working more than 40 to 60 hours a week, or are having difficulty finding time for family, consider hiring help for lawn care and housework. This will cut down on stress, and may even increase your productivity to the point that such a proposal can pay for itself.
Working from home is an incredible experience, but requires a high degree of organization to be fully effective. By designating a section of your home as a special work zone, you will enable yourself to work without distraction and reach your greatest potential.
by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
Would you like to use your garage for its intended purpose? If you open the garage door and see a wall of clutter, don’t despair. A little elbow grease and organization can free your car from its exile on the driveway.
We live in a world where more is – well, more. Our grandparents’ generation taught us to be thrifty and never to throw anything away, but many of us have taken this to an extreme. Our garages are the battlefield, and our vehicles the casualties… and the enemy is TOO MUCH STUFF.
Plan your garage liberation for the day after trash pickup, or the weekend before your local bulk trash day. Your supplies will need to include boxes of all shapes and sizes, a large number of trash bags, and your recycle bins. Place these at the front of the garage for easy access.
A Professional Organizer can be of great help, and is well worth the money when balanced off against the time wasted and favors owing at the end of an exhausting DIY weekend. If you can plan on hiring such a guide, he or she can help you save valuable time and energy by cutting down the time needed to complete the process. If you choose to forgo this option, you will be forced to recruit a small army from the ranks of friends, neighbors and family, and risk defeat at the hands of your self inflicted mess.
A well thought out plan of attack is vital for success. Create a timeline for your helpers and delegate tasks according to ability. Plan to spend at least two consecutive days for this project; you shouldn’t really leave items out on the drive for longer than this, and once you launch your effort you won’t want to let up until the field is won. Losing your momentum in mid-charge can force you into beating an ignominious retreat!
Start by leading a scouting party into the depths of your garage. There are many items that do not necessarily have to be stored in this area, but end up there by default. They may include:
Luggage (can be moved to an indoor closet or the attic)
Paints and lawn and garden equipment (an outdoor shed is actually a safer place for these items than your garage due to fumes and chemicals)
Other items you may find in your initial foray are tools, gardening supplies, bulk groceries and recycling paraphernalia. Bicycles, sports equipment and camping gear may also make the garage their home, along with Christmas decorations and automotive supplies. Decide which things can be relocated and which will need to be organized into a smaller section of your garage space.
Once you have made these determinations, Pull every thing out of your garage and begin a series of groups on your driveway. Use boxes to corral small items and make sorting easier.
Stop and consider carefully any item you plan to put in the keep pile. Question your motives. Are you keeping it because of guilt or a misplaced sense of responsibility? Is it useful to you? Does it hold good memories or bad? What would be the long term effects of discarding it? If you haven’t used the item in the last two years, you probably don’t need it at all. Remember that each item that goes back into the garage will take up space, and require energy to move if another reorganization becomes necessary.
Throw away any broken items. If you have two identical items, get rid of one. Recycle, donate or give away items that do not fit either the keep or trash categories. If you come across random items or spare parts you need to keep, sort them according to category and store them in the smallest possible container. Put loose objects in small boxes and label them; tape a list to the outside of each box to make them easy to locate if needed.
As the garage is cleared and you can actually see the floor again, start planning how to divide it in to useable zones. Zone locations will depend on frequency of use and the space available. Being able to park your vehicle is naturally your primary goal, and you can draw a chalk outline on the floor to denote the space needed to enter and exit your car comfortably. Make a list of what you need to store and you will get a pretty good idea of what specialized zones will be required.
Once your belongings have been culled and sorted, you can more readily determine where each category should live within these zones. If your laundry room is located in the garage you will need to ensure you have space to maneuver, and a spot for detergent and other supplies. A work bench space can prove invaluable for tool organization and small home projects. Stack boxes up off the ground on a pallet or other raised platform to guard against water damage in case of flooding.
Put frequently used things where they can be easily accessed when needed. Recycling bins should go by the inside door, gardening tools by the fertilizer, etc. Bulk goods can go on a large shelf near the home entrance and other commonly used items on eye level shelves around the perimeter.
Once you have defeated the foe of disorganization, you will need to be vigilant to prevent its return. A few hours of maintenance at the start of each season can work wonders, and forming the habit of putting everything back in its assigned spot after use will keep your garage spotless. Follow this strategy and restore your dispossessed car to its rightful kingdom!