"My Fave Five" will be a list of five things that are favorites of mine related to a specific topic. I'll probably write some more fave fives in the future....so stay tuned. :)
Of course, I did not create or invent these ideas, they are taken from a variety of places and times in my life, and these are not going to be mind-blowing, crazy tips....honestly, they may be pretty obvious. I just know if I was looking for some new ways to stay organized, I wouldn't mind a reminder like this. And who couldn't use a refresher once in a while?
So, here they are:
My Fave Five.....Organizing Tips
1. Do It Now.
The basic meaning of this is.....don't procrastinate. Which is hard for a born-procrastinator like me. However, I've learned that so many of the things I "put off until later" really don't take very long. I wrote a post this summer that proves this to be true.
A couple ways you can implement this into your life....if you don't already do these....
*Take care of your mail the minute you come home- open all the envelopes, recycle whatever you can, put your bills to be paid where they belong (more about that later), and bring everything else where it needs to go.
*If you have a dishwasher, as soon as the dishes are done, put them away. That way, your dishwasher will be ready for the dirty dishes to go right in after each meal. On the same topic-- do all of your handwashing as soon as you put away your leftovers after cooking. I've gotten SO much better at this recently. Seriously, it's never taken me longer than 15 minutes to clean my kitchen when I stick to these two dishwashing "rules".
*If you see something that isn't where it supposed to be, and you keep ignoring it.....unless you have a magical fairy that comes and cleans your house.....it probably won't go away. Which leads us to the next rule....
2. Room to Room
This is kind of like multi-tasking on a basic level. The idea of this tip is that when you're getting up to go from one room to another, decide if there is something that needs to be brought there. If you're going from your living room to your kitchen, scan the room for any dishes or trash that can be brought there. If you're going downstairs from upstairs, is there anything that can be returned to where it belongs? This simple tip can save you time and keep you focused on staying organized. Honestly, I do this almost every time I leave a room.....so I can attest to this!
3. Everything has a Place
Yes....this is probably the most obvious organization rule out there. But honestly, it's probably the one that gives you the best results.
*First, you need to have places to store things- closets, cabinets, storage bins, baskets, drawer dividers, etc. These don't need to be expensive- but you will need to invest a little money in this step. Check out Pinterest for some creative, cheap ideas with this!
*Second, these places need to be logical (or you will forget where you put something!). The logical places should be the closest to where you'll use it. Obvious, I know....but even an organized person like myself can forget this rule once in a while.
*Lastly, whenever you get something new (whether you buy it yourself or you get something as a gift) decide where it will go when you're not using it...and put it there. Depending on how often it is used, it might go in storage, or in the room where it will be used.
I heart baskets....great for purses, wallets, socks, belts, scarves, and other accessories.
4. Filing System
One area that I've always struggled with is paper organization. I've really improved this over the past few years.....but I still find this is my biggest challenge.
When you create your own system, you'll need to answer the following questions. Where will it go once you open it? How often will you pay the bills? Where will your receipts, statements, and other reference pages be stored, and how? If you clip coupons (like I do), how will you organize those?
So, here's an explanation of my system:
*I have a hanging file box with file folders labeled: To Do Now (for bills to pay, phone calls to make, orders to check on, etc.), To Do Later (for things I want to check out someday, but don't have a deadline). I check the Do Now folder at least a couple times a week, and the Do Later folder a couple times a month. The other folders I have are for things like: banking, credit cards, insurance, utilities, finances/taxes, car, medical/personal, and loans. Those are just for filing away papers I may need to refer back to during the year. I go through this once a year, usually at the end of December, and keep in large envelopes anything I may need to save for tax purposes.
*A metal organizer/mail station is perfect for keeping everything you need for working on your bills....envelopes, stamps, return address labels, calculators, pens, scissors, and other random items.
*I bought a plastic accordian-envelope to organize my receipts. The one I bought has 12 sections and I labeled those with the months. When I need to keep a receipt, I file it under the month that I bought the item in case I need to find it later. Again, at the end of the year, I'll "clean out" this envelope and file away any receipts I need to keep in the large envelope.
*A couple sturdy organizing boxes with lids are great for things like manuals, warranties, and other large reference booklets that I rarely need to use.
In the middle of organizing my paperwork this summer....the hanging file box, mail station, and storage boxes are all laid out and ready for me!
*And lastly, I have two small plastic envelopes for my coupons- one for grocery coupons (which I organize by expiration date instead of item) and another for coupons to other stores- restaurants, home stores, clothing stores, beauty stores, etc. I keep these in my junk drawer along with my folder of menus, take-out coupons, and coupon books. Then, I just grab them when I'm ready to make my grocery list or head out to go shopping.
5. Baby Steps
Decluttering can be overwhelming if you either (a) hate doing it, (b) are a packrat, (c) have kids, or (d) are human. Seriously though, I know there are some people who just naturally declutter their homes on a daily basis, and that is fantastic for them. Personally, I use my summer to do the bulk of my decluttering. Then, as long as I follow the other four rules on here....my house can stay fairly clutter-free. Note: I said "fairly"....after all, I am human.
The idea of "baby steps" is to take one small area of your home (a drawer, a closet shelf, a cabinet, etc.) whenever you can find time. Like I said, I do this over the summer. Some people may find that one hour, one day a week works best to do this. Others may want to set aside one day a month. Whatever works for you, just make a plan to do it......or most likely you won't (see rule #1).