Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Importance of Organizing Systems

The Importance of Organizing Systems (latest Article for neighborhood Newsletter) 

            The busier and more hectic our lives become, the more disorganized we seem to be.  We all strive to be organized, but getting organized is not something that happens overnight.

            Getting organized is not a perfect science, but it does take a little thought and time to set up “organizing systems” that work for your family. If you spend the time to become organized, you want to have these systems in place to keep things organized or you have wasted your time. Take the time to think about your daily lives and where the problem areas arise. Then, create systems to help these areas or times of your day run more smoothly. The systems that are put in place must make sense to you and your family. Once you have systems in place, explain them to the other members of your family. If a system doesn't work at first, change it until it does. Remember when creating these systems that everyone will not view being organized the same way.

            One of the most important systems to have in place is a calendar or schedule. Time management and being organized go hand in hand. Some people prefer to keep a paper or dry erase calendar in a central location while others use their phone as their primary calendar.   Whatever your style, it is very important that everyone in the home has the same information and that all information is added to the calendar. If you have older children and you keep the calendar on your phone, sync everyone’s calendars so everyone has the same information and dates are not overscheduled or double booked. After all, we can’t be in two places at once. 

By having a calendar already in place, you can also save yourself time as the month goes by.  For example, if you see that you are going to attend two birthday parties and a wedding in the same month as well as provide snacks on the first Monday for your child’s ball team you can go ahead and purchase cards, gifts and other items in advance. This will prevent the running around at the last minute and overspending as well as the added stress.

Schedules can also be a tool to help keep you on track on a daily and monthly basis.  Make a list of your household chores and create a weekly schedule for getting these accomplished. Wash laundry on Monday and Wednesday for example or clean the living room on Tuesday. By keeping a weekly and monthly cleaning schedule, you free your time up later with deep cleaning. You also feel you have accomplished something at the end of the day when you can mark off what you have done. Monthly schedules can include the deep cleaning tasks along with tasks such as changing the air conditioner filter or changing batteries in the smoke detectors. You can also include other household maintenance on this schedule such as sharpening the lawn mower blade and having the air conditioner inspected. This will not only save time, but could save on costly repair bills later on down the road.

Meal plans are also a type of schedule. Plan meals by the week, make grocery lists to match and clip coupons. Not only will this save you time and money, it may also help you stay healthy. Include several crock pot meals, casseroles or have breakfast for dinner. If planning meals by the week stresses you out, go online and search for meal plans that are already created for you. There are sites such as E-Meals that will email you menus and grocery lists for the week. With these prepared meal plans, you can also focus on your style of eating such as Low Carb or Natural and Organic. When you plan a meal that is a hit with everyone in the family, double the recipe and freeze part for a meal later on when time is a factor. By planning meals and eating as a family, the family can spend more time together as well.

Having schedules and calendars is a great way to begin your overall home organization, but what about the items we already have that cause clutter? One of the biggest creators of clutter in the home is bringing items into the home that we do not need to keep. We often bring goody bags in from parties and events, we bring swag from business meetings, and our kids bring flyers and art in from school. Our mailboxes are often filled with junk mail.  Having a system in place for these types of clutter is a must and having a specific time of week to siphon through it is also a must.
Mail:  If it is junk mail, separate it and toss it as soon as you walk into the house.  The other important mail such as bills and items you need to respond to should go in a place where they will not get lost in the shuffle – especially if they need to be taken care of later. The entryway or command center for the home is a perfect place to have a divided holder for the mail with labels such as Bills, Respond, File, and/or Shred.  You could also have a section for school mail and coupons.  Coupons for eating out or shopping (Grocery coupons are separate) could then be placed in a large Ziploc bag in the car where they will be available when needed. That way, you can check this bag depending on where you go and it will keep you from letting coupons expire.  
Goody Bags and Party Favors:  Save these items and box them up for your child’s teacher to use in their classroom treasure chest.  When attending events, don’t feel obligated to accept or take every flyer that is offered. If you do attend an event where you are handed a goody bag of papers and items, go through it as soon as you bring it into the house. Toss what you will not use and place the other items where they are needed. We all could use the extra pens and drink Koozies, but other items are not something we should clutter our home with.

Magazines: Read the magazines you know have articles of interest and recycle the others. You could also donate them to a doctor’s office waiting room. By cancelling magazine subscriptions of magazines you never read or no longer have an interest in, you can also save money.

The above are just a few suggestions of systems to set up that will benefit most people. Whatever systems you decide to put in place in your home, remember to work with the other members of your family. Discuss what works and change systems as the need arises. Everyone in the home should have a part in keeping the house running smoothly. By maintaining these systems and by cleaning clutter a little each day, you will soon have a more organized home that is running more smoothly.

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