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Post your number 1 organizational tip here!

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 
Okay, I need some feedback. I am the most unorganized person. It comes from my family. My sister's husband calls her huge piles of stuff "Amy avalanches" and the term has spread like wildfire through my family since all the woman seem to have "Amy avalanches" all over their house. I am breaking the pattern. Now.

I have sorted through all of Elijah's toys and put them into clear bins. I took a picture of each toy and taped it to the end of the bin so he can pick out the toy he wants when we pull toys for the day. I am extremely proud of myself.

I am on a kick. I actually bought a wallet. You know, one of those things that keeps your credit cards and money in one place. It is great.

So, what is one thing you did to organize that you would like to pass on? I can't wait to hear!
post #2 of 103
I label shelves to help me remember where things go. In the kids' room, they have a little shelf where I store some of their things. As I was putting it together, I used a label maker to make labels reading:

- Arts & Crafts
- Puzzles
- Books
- Cassette tapes

When I'm putting something away, I always remember exactly where it goes. If my husband or a sitter needs to find something or put it away, *they* know exactly where it goes. (I've learned that one of the keys to organization is making sure you have a system that people besides you can use!)
post #3 of 103
I have a couple.

I open the mail next to the recycling bin. I can just toss the junk mail in. I also toss the envelope and extra envelope and any additional items that come with a bill. I pay my bills online so I only need it for a reminder.

I have a weekly laundry schedule that I follow. Laundry is done M-F. Each day has what items will be washed. Example:Monday=DS laundry, Tues=DH laundry, etc.

I only have 1 set of dishes. There are 3 in my family so I only keep 3 plates, cups, bowls, etc. It has really helped. I don't have visitors and if I did I would just ask them to provide their own stuff.

I own 1 set of sheets for my bed and 2 for my son. It has really cut down on the amount of laundry I wash.

I have 1 tall bookcase and 1 small bookcase for books. The taller one is for non-fiction books and the small one is for fiction books. When I start accumulating too many fopr the shelf, I weed them out. They hold all the books in the house, my DS included.
post #4 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Sun View Post
So, what is one thing you did to organize that you would like to pass on?
I've posted about this earlier, but it continues to amaze me daily and I can't believe I didn't do it sooner!

Declutter the kitchen, then put things back in the "logical" spot. Dishes about the drainer/dishwasher. Baking supplies all together, close to where you mix, etc... Cofee stuff in a basket near the cofee maker. It makes cooking sooo much easier.

Hope that helps! Any others out there?
post #5 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by nova22 View Post
(I've learned that one of the keys to organization is making sure you have a system that people besides you can use!)
This is so true!
post #6 of 103
Go through your mail over the garbage can right after you get it, every day, and put the keeper mail in the proper places immediately. 5 minutes a day saves a dining room table looking like a volcano ready to blow
post #7 of 103
When in doubt, toss it out. Seriously, all of my years of trying to get organized were a waste until I was really ready to commit and just start giving things away. Be ruthless! I just remind myself as I am putting it in the donation pile that it is the last time that I will ever have to deal with that item.
post #8 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanessa View Post
When in doubt, toss it out. Seriously, all of my years of trying to get organized were a waste until I was really ready to commit and just start giving things away. Be ruthless! I just remind myself as I am putting it in the donation pile that it is the last time that I will ever have to deal with that item.
The Decluttering Challenge works wonders for this. Sometimes when I have a few moments to spare, I start searching for things to throw away so my tally looks good. It works, too - I am finding things that I've gotten so used to having around, I've stopped noticing them. Why do we have Cajun seasoning, for example? I hate cajun seasoning, and so does DH. Out it goes.
post #9 of 103
When my children were babies I had to teach myself some organizational skills, these stick in my mind as the most helpful.

Every single *thing* in my house MUST have a place it belongs.

If *it* is not useful or beautiful, into the trunk of my car it goes, for the next trip to goodwill. I always have an ongoing bag, the trick is putting in in my trunk or *it* will just get forgotten or cycled back in.

When I was in the early stages of breaking patterns it helped me to have a daily schedule. For instance: Vacuum mondays & fridays, bathrooms tues & sat, laundry mon, wed, & fri, pay bills & shop on fri- you get the idea that way on mondays I would never think about the dirty bathroom because I knew the next day I would be cleaning it. It sort of removes the weight of worry. I don't use a schedule anymore because I don't really need it but in times of stress I will resort back to it for as long as I need it.

Lastly, washing the dishes and putting away the food every night really helps keep the kitchen from overwhelming me.

Blessings,
Traci
formerly known to hide when someone came to the door
post #10 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traci mom23boys View Post
I always have an ongoing bag, the trick is putting in in my trunk or *it* will just get forgotten or cycled back in.
Great idea! Never thought to "store" stuff in my trunk. I get so depressed when I see boxes piling up in our spare room, even if the intent is to donate them. They get forgotten in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Traci mom23boys View Post
Lastly, washing the dishes and putting away the food every night really helps keep the kitchen from overwhelming me.
I try and do this, too. If I get behind on dishes, it takes forever to catch up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Traci mom23boys View Post
Every single *thing* in my house MUST have a place it belongs.
Still working on this one!

Also, there's a lot of good ideas in this forum for designating a functional "landing pad" in your home so that keys/hats/mail/day-to-day clutter has a place to be set down/sorted/stored.

Good luck on your decluttering journey!
post #11 of 103
Never leave a room without something in your hands to put away.

Empty your wallet at the end of the week and put the left over money in an envelope-I've saved hundreds of dollars this way.

I only wear black pants, clogs, bag and then own a few colored LLBean tees for work,-a real no-brainer.

My jacket has a zip-in liner, one less jacket to own. I also look for coats with hoods too if possible. My rain jacket is a fold up.

I multi-task as much as possible Dr. Bronner's head to toe, shea butter for any dry areas and as lip balm.

I try to encourage disposable gifts for myself, candy, candles, etc., and do the same for others.

We share DVD's and books at work.

I try to live as minmalist as possible, I always think about what I'd grab in case of emergency (I guess 9/11 and living in NYC does that to you!)-it would be my dog, hubby and handbag. Every thing else in life can be replaced except them or else it's just not important.
post #12 of 103
Don't feel guilty limiting toys; kids play better when they have fewer choices anyway! I keep our "extra" toys in the attic and periodically rotate some out.

Don't feel guilty limiting choices, period. Check out this great video for more on that (it's long, but very good).
post #13 of 103
Thread Starter 
Okay, just wanted to also post about my clear-bin idea. Not that it is a new idea-it is what they are made for-but I am sure some of you understand how this whole organizational thing is an epiphany for me.

Last night I went through the bathroom stuff. I have four clear bins, all labeled with my nifty label maker tape.

"Stacey's Daily Bathroom"
"Stacey's Weekly Bathroom"
"Extra/Refills"
"Medicines and Medical Supplies" This is the biggest one-they are so expensive I can't bear to throw any of it out, but at least nothing is expired!

So, I have done toys, and the bathroom. Now I will have to do the kitchen and our clothes. We are moving in three weeks back to Boulder (yea!) so I can't do those until I get there, but have already sorted everything.

Does anyone have good clothes tips? I sewed up a thing that hangs on the door with lots of big pockets for our socks and underwear. I have one dresser. I also have that kind of shelving unit that is just crates that you can put together in anyway you want. I was thinking about getting bins and having everything in there. How ugly though! I can't have plastic bins in every room in my house! Although, I will sacrifice aesthetics for the sanity of organization.

Please post your clothes ideas! Anything!
Thanks,

--
Stacey
post #14 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Sun View Post
Please post your clothes ideas! Anything!
I don't know if this will help your or not because it's limited to children's clothing.

My son likes to dress himself, but neither he nor DH can remember where his clothes are kept, what is his and what is his sister's (socks and jeans are often confused), etc.

When I'm putting laundry away, I make little clothing packets for the kids with gallon-sized Ziplock bags. DS's bags get one shirt, one pair of underpants, and one pair of socks. I flatten them completely and store them, stacked neatly, in his drawer. They free up so much room - one drawer can now store all his clothing packets, plus pants and pajamas. All DS's clothing is in ONE drawer. Very easy for him, and my husband.

DD's clothing packets get two shirts and two pairs of socks. She's still learning to use the potty so she usually runs around with no diaper or underpants on. Her single drawer can also store all her clothing packets, pants, and pajamas.

DH seemed a little sketchy about my idea until DS came running into our room one morning after wetting the bed. DH grabbed one of DS's clothing packets and had him dressed in no time, with no searching for clothing.

As for my clothing, I store it like index cards - instead of stacking everything so I can only see what's on top, I lay it sideways so I can see the edge of every shirt. That way I can easily choose a shirt without putting my other shirts in disarray.
post #15 of 103
Store things near their point of use (cups near sink, coffee and coffee supplies in cabinet near coffee maker on counter if you leave it out, etc.)

Dishpans work wonders. Not as pretty as baskets, but for $1-2 work great for containing kids toys, piles of sweaters or tees in a closet (so the tower of clothes doesn't come tumblin' down ) and make it easy to move a whole pile to clean underneath if needed.

Grouping supplies by function. In our kitchen we have our hand mixer, whisks, measuring cups/spoons, baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) all together in one dishpan. Got this idea from some book I read (either Confessions of an Organized Homemaker or Sidetracked Home Executives I think?).

Vertical storage. We are using the Ikea Expedit shelves for storage and they work really well to contain toys without having a gigantic black hole like a toybox can create.

Ditto to the never leave a room without taking something with you. Every trip up and down the stairs I try to take something with me that needs to be returned to its place. I wish I could instill this in DH :

I'm still not really organized but these tips help me keep things a little more manageable.
post #16 of 103
The one thing that has really helped me tons is what others have suggested about the mail. I immediately dump any advertising circulars in the recycling. Then I open all the mail and I dump the envelopes and any extraneous papers that come with the important papers. The important papers go into a pile, then get sorted out. I make a pile for bills, and I have a file folder that I keep on our desk which I label "Bills To Pay." As bills come, this is where I put them. That way they are all in one place and we never have to search for them when it's time to do the finances. I also make a pile of things that need to be shredded (we shred all credit card "checks" and credit card offers, etc.) I just stick those on top of the shredder until the next time that I get into the office area and do the shredding then.

We use our debit cards a TON, so I have a little box on the desk also for the receipts. I have DH accustomed to putting his debit card receipts there, so I can record all purchases in the checkbook. Although I must say, I have lately begun questioning whether I really need to list every single measly purchase in a checkbook, since they come out of the account immediately anyway and I have online access--so I am experimenting with streamlining the process by just printing out the account information and then going through the receipts with that, and checking the purchase off then shredding the receipt. I am using the checkbook for recording automatic payments (like our mortgage,) checks, and online bill pay payments.

I keep my cleaning supplies in a caddy that can be carried from one room to another. Then when I need to clean the bathroom, for example, I just bring the whole tray and sponges, mirror/window cleaner (which is vinegar and water) and scrubbing powder and everything are right there and I don't have to keep running back and forth to the laundry room where I keep all the supplies.
post #17 of 103
Remember - Every time you pick something up and decide, "I think I'll actually hold onto this for now, because..." you are also committing to:

1 - let it occupy space in your house, and your mind.
2 - clean it periodically
3 - find a sensible place to put it
4 - wonder where you put it (10 months later)
5 - pick it up at least a few more times and wonder if you should finally get rid of it
6 - deny someone else the opportunity to use it (via donation, selling, etc.)

Looking at it that way, getting rid of stuff is really easier than letting it sit around!
post #18 of 103
My tricks have already been stated, for the most part, but thought I'd add these:

Do now what you could do later. First thing in the morning the other day, I was looking at the silverware drawer, which needed to be reorganized and I realized I had the energy, so I did it. Washed the plastic bin with the morning dishes then made breakfast and ate and went about my day.

Whenever you bring something new in, take something old out. This is especially important at the holidays when you're bringing in new gifts. I store my donating items in the basement or my closet, in full view where I pass by them frequently then as soon as there's a full box or bag, put it in the trunk and drive it to Goodwill.
post #19 of 103
Get a decent vaccuum that you can easily tote around (a rechargeable little upright is great.) If vaccuuming is a chore, you won't do it. If you can just zip the vaccuum out and clean up spills or vaccuum the carpet, your whole house will look tidier.
post #20 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penelope View Post
Get a decent vaccuum that you can easily tote around (a rechargeable little upright is great.) If vaccuuming is a chore, you won't do it. If you can just zip the vaccuum out and clean up spills or vaccuum the carpet, your whole house will look tidier.
I got a Shark vacuum, and I love it!
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