Organization. For some of us it is something that comes easy… for others it can be a daily challenge. Add in our crazy, busy lives, moving every couple of years, always having to adjust to a new space… well we could probably all use some helpful tips in this department.
We asked you, our readers, to share some of your best organization tips with us. This list is pretty amazing! So here is to getting and STAYING organized in 2014! What tips would you add to this list?
1) Open your mail next to the trash can so you can immediately throw away junk mail.
2) Go paperless. Bank statements, bills, and other important documents can now be made paperless. Just go to the company website and request to do so. Less paper in the house is a good thing!
3) Do as much as you can ahead of time. For example: make lunches for the next day while you are getting dinner ready.
4) Your crockpot is your best friend.
5) Delegate! It’s okay if it isn’t done the way you would do it… as long as it gets done!
6) Being okay with a junk drawer.. Or 2 or 3! You’re always gonna have stuff that misfits… have a place to stash it away to reduce clutter.
7) Clean out your refrigerator before each grocery shopping trip. You will save money by not buying items you already have, it will take less time to get all the groceries put away, and your fridge will stay organized!
8) Put it back where you got it from. Everything should have a place and if it’s not being used then put it back.
9) Use several shower curtain plastic hooks on a hanger to organize your scarves.
10) Sticky notes and lists! I write the important things down on neon sticky notes and put them on my desk at home so I don’t forget to do things. I also love lists, it helps me prioritize!
11) Use an over the door shoe organizer to hold all of your cleaning supplies. I have one downstairs in our coat closet and another upstairs in our laundry room so I don’t have to take cleaning supplies up and down the stairs constantly.
12) We repurposed an old dresser to store board games!
13) Teach children age appropriate chores at a very young age. A toddler can pick up their own toys, an eight year old can wash dishes, and a pre-teen can learn to do laundry.
14) We had three kids, all in sports… our laundry was out of control and located downstairs. It was a lot of work…so we decided on three different colored laundry baskets, one for upstairs (dirty) on for downstairs (clean), when you took your dirty clothes down stairs (on your given laundry day) you would bring up your clean clothes. Seemed to work….most of the time.
15) This might seem odd to many, but it has been an amazing move. The house we moved into on recruiting duty was smaller in square footage than what we previously had on base. In trying to figure out how to make things fit a friend gave me a suggestion I at first dismissed. My laundry room is now larger, due to being part of the basement, than the bedrooms that my children have. To conserve room in their bedrooms we put their dressers in the laundry room! Now when I fold laundry I can just slide it into their drawers, no more arguing over them actually putting it away rather than tossing it on the floors. Another upside has been that they have had to organize themselves due to the necessity of planning outfits ahead. They must get the next days clothes ready the night before cutting down on morning drama.
16) Stick with it. It’s so easy to organize and then slide into the old habits that may be easier. If you can force yourself to stick with it than it will become a new habit and you may even find that in the end, it does what it was meant to do, and makes your life easier.
17) Totes. Lots of storage totes!!
18) I make a monthly and then weekly ‘To Do’ list. Every evening I add things to the to do list that CAN be accomplished the next day on my phone. I check it frequently throughout the day and cross things off or stay focused. Also, the night before I schedule my entire day with plenty of wiggle room. I am AMAZED how much more efficient I am now that I just do these things! Love my smart phone!
19) Write it down. If I write on my calendar or on my to-do list it’s going to happen because I made the commitment by putting pen to paper. And you remember twice as much when you write it down.
20) I cover and repurpose diaper boxes (or any other boxes) with canvas cloth and make them match the room they’re in. I have them for crafts, books, toys, blocks, stuffed animals, toiletries which don’t fit under the sink, etc. I just use hot glue gun, and cut away, no sewing and you can make one in about 45 minutes! It costs me $4 in fabric to cover 2 diaper boxes and everyone loves them.
21) Check out our awesome Pinterest boards for lots of organization ideas… and all the best military spouse related boards, of course!
22) Shred junk mail and excess paper as it comes into the house. Don’t let it pile up. I open my mail by the shredder!
23) Keep only what you need. If you haven’t used it in six months, you probably don’t need it.
24) Don’t have kids because their stuff steadily takes over your house… JUST kidding! I love my boys and their mess (husband included!)
25) I place a small container by the washing machine to put the change I find in pockets. After a few days I claim it all as MINE! (It adds up pretty fast).
26) The trash can is also your friend!
27) I have “catch all” baskets in strategic places throughout the house. There’s one by the front door for hats, mittens, scarves, etc. One on each nightstand for personal toiletry stuff, like contact cases, glasses, etc. Even if stuff gets put in the wrong basket, at least it’s not on the countertops, dining table, dresser, etc.
28) Just act like you are about to PCS in a week.
29) Fabric hanging shelves for kids and husband, roll all t shirts, underwear and socks to make room in drawers for jeans and pj’s.
30) In your dresser drawers, stack your t-shirts where the writing on the front faces you. You can stack many kids sports t-shirts that way. It fits more and you can see what you want to pick out at a glance.
31) I space out my cleaning throughout the week. That way I don’t have to do it all for a full day. Floors one day, bathrooms another, dusting and furniture a third day, etc. It really makes things easier throughout your week, especially as the unexpected pops up. This keeps your house clean and organized all week and for any unexpected visits.
32) Donate throughout the year instead of holding on to extra “stuff” you don’t really use.
33) Get the entire family’s input on how to stay organized. Your spouse or kids might have a different idea about doing something that might surprise you by really working!
34) Plan your meals for the entire week on Sunday night. That way everyone knows what to expect and there are fewer nights of forgetting until 6:30 to thaw out those chicken breasts.
35) We have many best friends… another one? Command hooks.
36) Put magnets on your makeup and place the compacts, etc. on a metal board in your bathroom. Saves space.
37) Place a large desk calendar on a prominent wall in the house (command stickies are great for this). Everyone in the family who can write is responsible for updating the calendar with their activities.
38) I made a “school papers” box out of an old cereal box and every night all the papers from school go in there and once a week I clean it out and “file” as appropriate.
39) I also use a day of the week hanging shelf for my older child. We pick out all clothes on Sunday for the school week and then there are no fights. All the “extras” he may need that day are also in the appropriate shelf/bin.
40) An inventory of your pantry and your freezer, taped to each. I actually do this for my freezer meals and so I can easily see my pantry so that I know what’s there and what I need.
41) TUPPERWARE! No seriously. I have the spice container. Everything nicely labeled and they are clear, so I can see when they are running low.
42) Weed through clothes, books and paperwork, often.
43) I organize my spices in alphabetical order (I know many are rolling eyes -look, I know I have problem). HOWEVER, it does help keep spices fresh and easier to use.
44) My shopping list is always organized by aisle. My hubby takes a kid and starts in diary, I take a kid and start in veggies. We meet in pasta.
45) I store flour and sugar and brown sugar and powdered sugar all in clear, air tight glass containers. looks pretty and easy to access without spilling/the bag ripping.
46) I used different colored hangers for the many sizes of baby clothes we owned. I would use color to identify size so I knew what I had to purchase in the future.
47) Get a label maker and label everything! Espically cords… both at the plug part and the electronic part.
48) Put your house to bed each night. This is just a general straightening that you would do as you turn off lights, power down electronics and make sure the doors are locked.
49) I organize my daily tasks in order to stay sane. I use a day planner and I schedule time for leisure, naps, any errands I need to run, and my work. I also use the “sticky note rule.” I write all the things I need to accomplish that day on a sticky note and if it doesn’t fit on the sticky note I save it for the next day.
50) Baskets! Baskets are cute and are great for storing any and everything! Holy cow, a bunch of cute wicker baskets for the two year old and I can clean up all her toys in a snap.
51) I organize my email in specified folders including: Family, Friends, Bills, Account Information, Newsletters, Tax Receipts, Junk, promotions, and trash. I make it point to clean up my email every saturday morning.
52) Lately, I’ve taken to chucking what I haven’t used in the last month. I have too much crap and too small of a house to keep all the junk.
53) I have a legal size file bin for each kid with a hanging folder for each school year. I put report cards, awards, letters to Santa, school photos, etc.
54) Scan needed paperwork, receipts, pictures, etc and put them on a hard drive you keep secured in a fire safe. Get rid of the extra paper and photo albums.
55) E-readers can save space by allowing you to have hundreds of your favorite books at your fingertips, instead of taking up space on another bookshelf.
56) Hang each dogs leash/harness on his own hook by the door.
57) Mark similar clothes (i.e. husband’s and teen son’s) clothes with a small Sharpie dot. Husband’s inner shirt collar gets a green dot, son’s gets a blue one. Same goes for socks.
58) Use plastic shoe boxes in your linen closets to organize cold medicines, first aid supplies, bar soap, etc.
59) Put a pressure rod under your sink and hang your cleaning bottles that have a “trigger” handle (Windex, etc.)
60) Use ice cube trays to organize earrings and other small jewelry items in a vanity drawer.
61) Get rid of plastic bags for fruit and veggies as soon as you come in from the store, and put them in the veggie tray so you can see them and they don’t get forgotten about and spoil.
62) Put all of the manuals for electronics, etc in an accordion file folder. Go through it whenever you add a new one to make sure you still need that manual for the VCR.
63) Check out a free finance budget website or app that combines credit and debit cards with paychecks to create budgets and manage finances in one easy program.
64) Go through the closet and get rid of any clothes you haven’t worn in a year and donate them to your local thrift store for a tax write off.
65) Use color coded storage bins when doing a PCSmove yourself. Every room gets a different color tub. This cut our moving time from a whole weekend to a day because everyone knew where everything went which cut down on double handling.
66) Buy large plastic tubs to house seasonal items and place in storage, i.e fall decor, christmas decor, summer decor, etc. Plastic storage tubs that close will keep your goods relatively safe from pests and water damage. They can also be color coded by holiday or season.
67) Put your grocery list on post it notes. Makes for hands free shopping and you can have multiple ones for different areas of the store.
68) Use 3 ring binders for documents vs a filing cabinet.
69) Over the door hangers are also a great place to store smaller toys or socks and underwear in a room with room for only a small dresser.
70) Have dedicated hooks for uniform items (covers, boot bands etc.) near where your service member usually changes. That way you are not looking for those items at 4:30 before a 0′ dark thirty report time.
71) Store bed linens in the pillowcase that goes with each sheet set.
72) An empty lysol wipe container is perfect for storing plastic grocery bags. Keep them in every bathroom and in your car.
73) Label keys with color-coded tape so it is easy to find spares… and actually know what in the world they are for!
74) Keep a box in your trunk with not only emergency supplies, but water bottles, extra snacks, baby wipes, a change of clothes and diapers if you have kids in diapers.
75) Get under the bed storage for heavy sweaters or seasonal clothing that is not used all year long. That way it will be out of the way when not in use.