Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Getting Organized 101

Getting Organized 101 (January 2013 article published in neighborhood newsletter)

Of all of the resolutions that people make each year, there are always a few that stand out above the rest. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (University of Scranton), the top resolutions included losing weight and getting organized along with spending less money and saving more money. The study also showed the likelihood of resolutions being met each year and continuing past six months is only 45%. But, don’t let those numbers discourage you!
According to this study, getting organized is listed as a separate resolution. But, did you know that getting organized can actually help you meet your other resolutions? For example, if your pantry and refrigerator are organized you will spend less money on groceries because you won’t buy duplicates. You will use what you have. You may even be tempted to plan a weekly menu and save money on the occasional drive through meal which will in turn help with the losing weight resolution.

It is important to realize in the beginning of this process that becoming organized does not need to be an added stressor to your life. Tackle only ONE space at a time. If you try to tackle the whole house at once, you will tend to be overwhelmed and give up. In the end, you should have a home that works best for YOU and have more time to do things that matter most like spending time with family or exercising.  

Here are some general guidelines on getting organized and being persistent:

Recognize your trouble spots. This is where you play detective. Ask your family to help with this step. Look around your home and see where the major clutter collecting areas are located. Usually these areas include the entryway, the kitchen counter or dining table, the desk in the office, the closets, and the kids’ areas (we will save the garage for later). Make a list and expected completion date for organizing each space.

Find a place for every item. We have all heard the adage “A Place for Everything and Everything in its place.” This rings very true for getting and staying organized. Each space should be clearly defined for its purpose and only items needed in the space should be stored there. For example, items needed before you leave home such as keys and sunglasses should be stored in your entryway- not backpacks, athletic equipment or piles of junk mail.

Use what you already have to help organize these spaces. Small bowls or trays can be used inside pieces of entryway furniture to separate small items. Dog leashes can be hung on a decorative hook behind the door. A pretty gardening pot may be used to hold umbrellas.

The DIYers may even like to cover heavy duty boxes in pretty fabric or recycle cans to hold small items in drawers or on desks. (As a new mom I can say that diaper boxes and formula cans work great for recycled storage)

Purge. As you organize each area, see what you no longer need to keep. The less you have to store, the more organized you can be. This is especially important in the closet, kitchen and kids’ zones. Just like you can purchase food that is a duplicate, you can also spend money on unnecessary clothing. Also, clear the junk mail as it comes into the home.

Stay on top of things. Spending entire days or weeks cleaning before company comes is not how any of us would like to spend our time. Once your top clutter spots are organized and working for your family, you must put steps in place to keep them that way. Cleaning clutter a little at a time makes this possible.

For younger children, pictures of toys/items can be added on the front of a bucket or other container to help them stay organized (this also helps with the skill of categorizing for younger children). For two story homes, a basket or bag at the end of the stairs can be a great solution. When items are brought down during the day, place them in the container as you are finished with them. Then, at night, carry the container upstairs and replace items all at once.

Create a home binder(s). Pretty home binders and folders are all the rage right now. You can pull up information on creating them with a simple Google or Pinterest search. But, they aren’t just pretty- they actually work. You can have as many binders as you want, but make sure they are labeled and organized. Having too many could be overwhelming. Making them too “pretty” can also take time and money.

The following general categories can be added into one binder or several:

1.      Contact List: Neighbors/friends, family, doctors, dentist, vet, insurance, schools, work, home (gas, electric, etc.) (this can also help keep the fridge clear of business cards)
2.      Weekly Menu: menu for the week, grocery list for the week, recipes for week’s meals, coupons
3.      Cleaning Checklist: You may think this is a little OCD, but this will help you with your daily scheduling and save time and money (repairs from lack of maintenance). Add a category for daily, weekly, monthly and annual lists of items that need to be completed. A Weekly Schedule might include washing linens on Saturday and cleaning the kitchen on Tuesday. A Monthly Schedule might include vacuuming the blinds or cleaning the carpets. This section could also include kids’ chore chart(s).
4.      Home Maintenance: phone numbers or business cards for trusted repair, schedules of routine home maintenance such as air conditioning filter changes, appliance checkups or cleanings, manuals for appliances
5.      Auto Maintenance: Phone numbers, type of oil or other fluids used, maintenance checklist with dates
6.      Kids: (useful for babysitters) medical information, infant and child CPR information, doctor’s information, schedules for school and extracurricular activities, newsletters from school or teachers
7.      Pets: Veterinarian information, pet sitter notes, allergies, medications  
8.      Other categories you might want to add: calendar with birthdays/anniversaries, inventory sheets for pantry/freezer/fridge, gift wish lists (holiday/birthday), natural cleaning tips

Getting organized will take time, but in the end it’s worth it. Staying organized will take effort, but will save you time in the long run. You will also feel less stressed because you will have time to spend on other activities that you enjoy more than cleaning house. If you get organized now and make an effort to stay that way, you will quickly realize that you aren’t as busy with housework and chores as you used to be.

No comments: