Getting An Organizing Project Started

Here are my top tips for starting and completing an organizing project. 

Create an Action Plan.  Determine the areas you want to organize.  Define your end goals. Identify times in your schedule to organize.

When organizing Here are my top tips for starting and completing an organizing project. 

Set aside time each day to organize.  Just 20 minutes a day will make the task seem manageable and help you reach your end goal without feeling overwhelmed.

When organizing/de-cluttering, ask yourself 3 important questions.  This exercise will allow you to see what you really need and what is truly important.

1.    How often do I use this item?

2.    How expensive is this item?

3.    How easy is it to replace?

Good enough is enough.  It is most important that your newly organized space works well for your needs.  Your space does not need to be perfect.

Finish each task completely.  Once you have determined what you will toss, keep or pass on – take it there.  This is the last step in the organizing process. 

Ask for help. There will be items that you are emotionally attached to and may find the "keep or pass on" decision more challenging.  Including a professional organizer, friend or family member in the process can help make the decisions easier. 

 

 

Filing Organizing

Name the file folder with the first thing that comes to mind; no matter what it is or how irreverent.  This will most likely be the first thing that will come to your mind when looking for it again.

Organizing files alphabetically is commonly the easiest way to search for files later.

People often want to color-code their files according to topical area.  For example medical would be green, financial blue etc.  This can be a lot more work than it is worth.  Don't color code unless you are skilled at working a filing system. 

Having your filing system looking nice, professional and organized will promote and encourage you to stick with it.  Use a label maker whenever feasible to make the file tabs easiest to read.

If you share filing duties with someone else in the home/office, be sure to have a conversation on what protocols/systems work for each of you.

Your filing folders/system should all be in one spot, whether that is the office, kitchen, garage, or wherever you have the space to work in.

Purging files is the most important part of keeping a filing system working and manageable.  Not less frequently than at the end of the year, go through each file and dispose of/shred anything that is no longer needed or is outdated.  This will free up room for the upcoming year's paperwork.  Pull out anything tax related and retain it in a box labeled with that tax year.

Know what paperwork you need to keep and for how long.  Too frequently, you are filing items that can be tossed out.

Maintain consistency with your filing.  Schedule a time in your calendar each week or each month to file… no matter what.  If you let the pile grow too large, you will be less likely to tackle it and your paperwork will become increasingly disorganized.

Organizing When Buying in Bulk

The principal goal, for most people, when buying items in bulk, is to save money.  This article will help you ensure this happens.

Before the bulk buying event, make a list and avoid deviating.  Impulse and duplicate purchases at the store (or online) creates more risk of costing you money.

If purchasing medicine, food or perishable items, check expiration dates and be sure that you will use the medicine or eat the food before the expiration date. 

Check the per-unit pricing — just because something comes in a huge container doesn’t mean it’s cheaper.

Another potentially helpful space and money-saving approach is to find one or more friends with whom to split purchases.  This strategy allows each of you to take advantage of bulk/discount prices without worrying about using or finishing all of the items or finding room for everything.

Be sure you have a place to store the items before bringing them home.  If storage space is an issue, break down bulk buys into individual units and tuck beneath sinks or in an empty area of a cabinet.

Transfer bulk dry goods to clear plastic containers that fit the dimensions of your storage space.  For liquids like dish soap or shampoo, transfer what you need to a smaller bottle and store the rest for future use.

Kitchen Organizing

The first step in a kitchen organizing project is to empty out one cabinet or area at a time.  Determine which items you no longer use.  These items can be passed on, donated or thrown out. This will allow you to benefit from the lack of clutter. 

The second step is to create zones of activity.  I commonly divide kitchens into 5 zones.  I recommend tackling just one at a time to keep the job from seeming overwhelming.

Cooking Zone – Organize pots, pans, cooking utensils and bake-ware.

Food Preparation Zone – Clean out the refrigerator as well as organize cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders, measuring cups and spoons.  Get rid of duplicates.  Throw out foods that are past their expiration dates.

Dish Zone – Organize your dishware, mugs, glasses and flatware.

Food Serving Zone – Sort through placemats, napkins, trivets, large serving pieces, and any groups of items you have not already organized. 

Food Storage Zone – When you go through your pantry and refrigerator, pull out any food that you know you will not be use or has expired.  Group foods by type – all soups together, all pasta, all fruits, etc.

The third step is to clear counters.  Pay particular attention to reducing the number of objects stored permanently on a counter.  Counters needs frequent cleaning and are usually primary workspaces.

The fourth step is to determine the best locations for the remaining items.  Frequently used objects, should be housed in easy-to-reach locations. Infrequently used items, like the roasting pan that you only haul out during the holidays, can go on high shelves, in the back of cabinets or even outside the kitchen.

It’s that time of year again: Back to School

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It’s hard to believe, but the school year is just around the corner. I encourage you to take the time now to get organized in order to make this school year more productive. You can work together with your family to create systems to stay organized throughout the year.

With all the Back-to- School sales, now is a fantastic time to take inventory of the school and art supplies you have in your home. Note what you need and what you might run out of by mid-year. Store the extra supplies in a box, or closet, so they are easily accessible for your child. Your child should get into the habit of doing their homework at the same time, and in the same place, each day Keep a box of supplies close to this area. Getting into a routine keeps one organized.

Because routines are so important to staying organized, I encourage my clients to get into the habit of preparing the night before for the next day..Here are some examples of things you can do the night before to make the mornings run smoother:

  •  Fix and pack lunches and leave in refrigerator
  • Pick out the next day’s clothes
  • Pack backpacks with all books and papers that need to go back to school
  • Determine breakfast and have as much ready as is possible.

Once your child is at school, another area that is important for them to keep organized is their lockers. There are several locker organizers available to purchase that will create extra space in their lockers. Encourage your child to have a designated space for papers and books that need to come home with them each day.

Remind your child that, being organized will provide them with extra free time. It will also offer you piece of mind.

Happy Organizing!

Steps to Simplify Downsizing Your Residence

Are you, a friend or a loved one planning a move into a smaller home or condo, assisted living facility or dorm room?  Here are some tips for organizing and/or downsizing to make the transition easier:

1.  Write a list of all the items you love or need and can't live without.  This will make it easier to dispose of those items that are not on the list.

2.  Label four bins:  To Keep, To Sell, To Donate To Charity, and Undetermined.

3. Get a feel for the size of your new space by comparing them to similar spaces in your present home.  This will help you, realistically, determine what will fit in your new space. 

4.  Start thinning out your belongings as soon as possible.  Schedule time each day, even 15 minutes, to sort through one area of your home.

5.  Start in rooms that do not have as many items with sentimental value, like the kitchen or garage.  This will help you get some momentum going and the positive feelings you experience should transfer to the more difficult areas you need to go through.

6.  Have an objective person help you sort through the Undetermined bin.

7.  For the items that may be highly valuable, try an auction house.  There are many different levels of auctioneers and second hand dealers that will come to your home to look at your items.  Items or lower value might be disposed of through a consignment shop, online (such as eBay) or garage sale.

8.  Use floor plans to prearrange your furniture before the move.  It will keep you from wasting time and money moving furniture that will not fit in your new space. 

9.  Once you get to the packing stage, use a color-coded system to organize all of your boxes.  Choose a color for each room and mark the boxes destined for that room with a coordinating color sticker.

10.  Call a professional organizer to ease the time and difficulty of downsizing and moving!

Estate Planning

Establishing and maintaining a systematic plan for keeping track of important papers allows our loved ones to easily access them in the event of an emergency or death. I recommend creating a list by taking an inventory of all of your important papers and note their locations on your list. If the papers are scattered in various places, try to consolidate them to a central location.

These papers should include family, property, financial, and legal papers that legitimize and protect you, your family, and your estate. They document identification, ownership, legal and financial status, employment, education, and family history and may include:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Credit Card Information (including auto charge information)
  • Debts Owed and those to be collected
  • Financial Accounts
  • Funeral and Burial Plans and Records
  • Household Property Inventory
  • Income and Expense Records
  • Insurance Policies
  • Investment Records
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Medical Records
  • Membership and Subscription Details
  • Passports
  • Passwords
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Professional Advisers
  • Property Appraisals, Deeds and Titles
  • Safe Deposit Box Inventory
  • Social Security Cards
  • Tax Records
  • Vehicle Information
  • Wills and Trusts 

When you are finished, give this document to one or more trusted persons (such as your attorney, friend, or family member). I would also place a copy in your safety deposit box and in a safe place in your home that is easily found by the appropriate person.

Organizing Steps to Ease Burdens When Unanticipated Life Events Occur

Establishing and maintaining a systematic plan for keeping track of important papers allows our loved ones to easily access them in the event of an emergency or death. 

I recommend creating a list by taking an inventory of all of your important papers and note their locations on your list.  If the papers are scattered in various places, try to consolidate them to a central location. 

These papers should include family, property, financial, and legal papers that legitimize and protect you, your family, and your estate.  They document identification, ownership, legal and financial status, employment, education, and family history and may include:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Credit Card Information (including auto charge information)
  • Debts Owed and those to be collected
  • Financial Accounts
  • Funeral and Burial Plans and Records
  • Household Property Inventory
  • Income and Expense Records
  • Insurance Policies
  • Investment Records
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Medical Records
  • Membership and Subscription Details
  • Passports
  • Passwords
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Professional Advisers
  • Property Appraisals, Deeds and Titles
  • Safe Deposit Box Inventory
  • Social Security Cards
  • Tax Records
  • Vehicle Information
  • Wills and Trusts

When you are finished, give this document to one or more trusted persons (such as your attorney, friend, or family member).  I would also place a copy in your safety deposit box and in a safe place in your home that is easily found by the appropriate person.

 

Calendar Organizing

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With a new year just around the corner, this is the perfect time to get a fresh start on using your calendar more effectively.

There is no right or wrong when selecting a calendar.  Determine which is best for you.  The most important piece of an effective calendar system is to use only one calendar for everything.

The first step in setting up your new calendar is recording recurring events (such as birthdays, anniversaries, meetings, etc).  If set up properly, most electronic calendars will retain these events year-to-year.

When inputting appointments into your calendar, include relevant phone number and address next to each appointment. This should save you time should you need this information as you get closer to the appointment.

To help reduce paper and/or the risk of losing an invitation, or appointment, record the pertinent information on your calendar and discard, or take a picture of, the paper backup.

For those with school children, follow the same process for extracurricular or school schedules. Record the information from the school or extracurricular activity calendars.  You will reduce the risk of missing a practice and allow you to discover potential schedule conflicts.

Use different colors for each family member, or type of activity.  The visual effect will allow you to easily glance at each family member’s commitments and facilitate finding appointments.

Take the time each morning to review your calendar for the upcoming day. 

 

 

Automobile Organizing


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Do you think twice about giving someone a ride because your vehicle is messy?  Do you have a hard time finding things that you have put in your car?  This newsletter shares my organizing tips to keep your car clean and organized with minimal effort.

The first step is to remove all items that did not come with the car.  This would include trash, toys, papers, food, etc.  As you remove the items from your car, place them in three piles: 1. To be returned to car.  2. Garbage.  3. To go in home.

Once all items have been removed and you have determined what should go back into the vehicle, it is time to organize them in a manner that is easy to maintain. 

Create a glove box command center to store the following:  owners manual, vehicle registration, maps, auto club information, notepad and pen, flashlight, emergency contact names and numbers, tire gauge, and any other frequently used items.  To store these important papers, I recommend labeling clear plastic envelopes that fit nicely into the glove compartment.  If you don't have enough space in your glove compartment for all of these papers, use the pockets on doors, center console or behind the seat pockets.

The trunk is an area of the car that can hold essentials items such as jumper cables, flares, first aid kit, etc.  I recommend using a plastic container or bag that doesn't take up too much space.

Along with safety and emergency items, it is helpful to have items you often need while out. For example:  umbrellas, diapers, extra clothing, sports equipment, etc.  I recommend you think through what you may need for your lifestyle.  This may change seasonally, or over time. Reassess what you are carrying every 3 months.

The key to keeping your car organized is to get into the habit of returning items that accumulate in your car to the place they belong.  I encourage my clients to get into the habit of throwing out trash while filling up or charging your car.  Also, upon arriving home, go through your car and bring into your home any items that are non-essential and, again, throw out any trash.