Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Organizing Tips

The following post is what I spoke on last week at Apples of Golds.  I added some additional info also.  Most of these tips have been on the tip sheet at one time or another but here I am elaborating.

Organizing Tips

When I was asked to share tips on organizing a month ago, I began looking around my house at all the things I organize.  After I awhile, I began thinking that this topic could be dangerous for me.  These women are going to think I'm crazy and I may become hospitalized because of it!  I am a little obsessive about organization!  There are a few tips I decided to leave off due to this reasoning and will be keeping those to myself :)

I think the key to being organized is being as clutter free as possible. I like to leave the tops of things empty…counters, coffee table, vanities in bathrooms…this makes them easier/quicker to clean and they just look nicer if they are not piled up with stuff. You’ll also save a little money doing this because you won’t be buying so many home things to try and make things “prettier”. Less stuff = less to organize. So think “top-less”, ladies! Your hubby will be fond of the concept and he’ll be eager to push you out the door next week for Apples of Gold! (the theme of the night was "quick and easy night" with the devotion focusing on "Loving your husband" so as you can see...pun intended :)

I found it difficult to keep my bathroom vanity "top-less" because we do not have a medicine cabinet and our underneath cabinet is small and used mainly for feminine products and toilet paper (oh, the things I will change when we remodel/gut our bathroom this summer).  We do have this ugly shelving unit behind the door that wasn't being used (and is hidden unless you are inside the bathroom with the door closed).  So I organized my items into like items, distributed them into bins, and labled them.  Now when I need something, it's easier to find and is stored neatly.  I have one specific to "gettin ready" and it has my cleanser, toner, moisturizer, deodorant, foundation, etc in it (I use a drawer for makeup).  When I get out of the shower in the morning, I pull it down, do everything in that bin, and put it back....leaving, my bathroom "top-less".  There is nothing on my bathroom sink besides a soap dispenser!
Bins - Hair/hair removal (wax kit, shaving needs, hair color); eyes/lips (contact stuff, glass, lip glosses, etc), Nails - polish, files, polish remover; Jewelry; gettin' ready bin complete with hair straightner on top
 Gettin Ready bin - inside

I have been using Fly lady for the past 6 to 9 months.  This is a free site which helps you organize your home and life.  When you join you will get emails each day with a 15 minute cleaning/organizing task each day.  Each week she focuses on a different area of your home.  It can be a bit overwhelming but read the emails that you want, and delete the rest.  Don't take on all the changes at once - as Fly lady says, take baby steps.  Pick and choose what you want to do. It has really helped me not be overwhelmed on where to start cleaning/organizing...and most of us just need a starting place!

Quote from FlyLady's website: "FlyLady uses the Sidetracked Home Executive (SHE) system as a basis for organizing her home and her life. She adds humor, spunk, and a dose of common sense to her advice, but be prepared - FlyLady does not allow whining. her special way of weaving housecleaning tips with homespun humor and daily musings about life. She has a no-nonsense approach to getting your house and your life in order. She mixes housekeeping advice with insights about life and love and anything else that is on her mind. This list is whatever FlyLady decides it should be -- it's her list. She expects subscribers to decide if they get anything out of it or not."

Go to link that says “join fly lady now”

Fly Lady also have a "tool box" – different cleaning tools to help make the job easier. FlyLady's Tool Box offers the best tools that make it fun to get the job done!  They are a fun shade of purple too!  I use her purple bags in a rag, the rubba scrubba (funny names too), and her fly lady calendar.

I also found these "chore charts" on Money Saving Mom's website here or here These you can make your own each week or however you want to do it.  I am going to star using these! 

Getting Ready/Being on Time

  • Invest in a good calendar. Have a large calendar where you can put all the families info. I use the one from Flylady because it has big spaces and fun stickers. They actually have a kids version too which looks fun for older kids to keep track of their chores and other things. The calendar costs around $10 for a 17 month calendar which includes all the fun stickers.  The student sticker kit (for kids) is an additional $6 for 600 more stickers.  She also has a free online version of the calendar.  I recommend getting a calendar that can be hung. I put my up on my fridge since it is a main gathering area for my family. If you have it on a desk or counter, it is more likely to have things built up on it and then you’ll never look at it. I put things like what meals I am having, places we have to be, what verses I need to read, which work out I am doing, and things we need to do or get done.  I put the daily tasks from FlyLady on it also.
  • One thing I do to get out of the door on time, is have a getting ready spot and/or drawer. My daughter is almost 4 and goes to pre-school 3 days a week. I know that at least 3 days, we will be going somewhere. In my daughters room, I put three changes of clothes in a bottom drawer in her room (complete with socks and shoes). This allows her to pick from three outfits that I have already picked out and approved on and she feels like she is picking out her own things to wear…without making a big mess and taking up a bunch of time.  Hoping that I can continue this unitl age 24!!  I also have a "getting ready" area for me where I put my clothes and things I need for the next day.
In the Kitchen

  • Here’s a new one I just started…Tupperware bowls and lids. I always try and stack what fits together but what about all those lids?? This one was from fly lady I think…put all your circle lids in one ziploc bag and all your square in the other (or whatever shapes you have).  

  • I do a lot of cooking in bulk to cut down on meals I have to cook. I have a family of 4 so any recipe that calls for a 9X13 I always just split in half in put into two smaller square pans or quart dishes. I freeze one and eat the other. If I am going to cut one onion in a bag, I might as well cut the whole bag and I freeze the rest in zip lock sandwich bags. I do this with onions, green peppers, potatos, carrots, etc…I just cut them all up at one time – one mess and it’s done.   A couple of good freezer cookbooks which I have recommended before are "Fix, Freeze, Feast" and "Once a month cooking"...most reciepes should freeze well.  I freeze most in freezer bags (and not those bulky pans) if I can and file them in the deep freeze like a file cabinet drawer (you have to freeze them flat first in order to achieve this though).  Mommy Saving Mom also has some good info on this topic here.  I rarely cook during the week.
  • This is one of those tips that I said might cause you to talk…There were a few organizational tips that I do that I was scared to share as then I would be confessing of my OCD problem:) This was one of them…When I load my dishwasher, I always put the forks all in one basket, teaspoons in one, tablespoons in one, knives in one, and all others in the back basket…that way when I unload it, I just have to pull them out and put them in the right place – no sorting.

  • Pictured below is what I use for storing restaurant coupons.  We love to go out to eat but we also like saving money while doing so.  I store this in one of my kitchen drawers. On the labels, I just put what month the coupons expire that way when the month is over, I just pull all of them out and throw them away…no sorting out or leaving them for a year.  I also have the menus in here based on Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and all other (only because I didn't have room for others). To save space I use each tab for 2 different months (one pictured is for March or August)

  • What do you do with recipes you find in magazines or that someone gives you? I just made a binder and put these clear sheets in there, and just put them in there like this. If they are smaller recipes, I tape them onto sheets to fit multiple ones on. I have it organized by appetizers, breakfasts, lunch, dinner, desserts.

     Magazine recipe
     4 recipes on note cards taped to a piece of paper...I know...genius, right?

In the Office/library

Wonder what to do with all those manuals you get for the products you purchase? I keep a file in my file cabinet and keep them in there. I have my files broken down into appliances, electronics, kitchen items, “baby/kid”, and all other. That way you are not sifting through drawers when your microwave is not working or when you go to sell an item, you always have the manual to go with it.

  • I file all my pictures on my computer based on my kids ages or places/events. Then every quarter I save them onto discs…I have a master copy of all the pictures and then my kids each have their own separate discs that they will have forever. (I write this task on my calendar on the last day of the month - every 3 months...that is how I remember.  I also have to clean out my vacuum filters every three months, so I do this on opposite months).  Each kid has their own copy of the pictures and we have a master copy.  If DVDs become obsolete, I am hoping it is an easy thing to transfer.

  • EWO Sermon notes – I bought a small binder and put dividers with all the books of the bible in it. Whatever the topic of the sermon, I put it behind that book of the bible. That way if I ever want to know more about a particular verse, I may have a sermon on it that might explain more.


Toys - Keep like items in tubs or old wipe containers – if it becomes too full, you have too much. This makes it easier to go through and sort and get rid of things, small increments of time.  If you only have 5 minutes, that's enough time to go through one bucket.  If you don't get past one bucket, hey, you at least got something accomplished.  This also helps your kids to be able to sort and put things away.

Examples of types of containers:  This will depend on what you have at home and how much money you want to spend. You can use old wipe containers, old boxes (decorate), rubbermaid containers, baskets, old easter and Halloween baskets.

Examples of "like" items – crayons, colored pencils, cars, tools, puzzles, balls, supervision required items (markers, crafts, etc), Stickers, playdoh/paints, color stuff, dress up stuff broken down into – hats, purses, accessories (phones, sunglasses, car keys, magic wands), necklaces, bracelets/watches/rings.

Here are some pictures of our playroom and how it is organized. It's just an unfinished basement that the kids love as their own place.  Here is the shelving unit we bought (hideous but sturdy)...see, nothing special, but simple and serves a purpose.

Top shelf with buckets - organized by different shapes and colors the kids can easily identify by memory what goes in each bucket.  Blue square - playdoh/paints, pink triangle - stickers, educationals items such as lace ups, flash cards, etc;  purple oval (yes, made by hand:) is the supervision required bucket - markers, wipeoffs, crafts; orange diamond - crayons, colored pencils, color books; green rectangle - puzzles
 Wipe tube for crayons - everything stacks nicely on top of each other.

 Different flash cards and game cards in ziploc bags labeled with marker (boxes get ripped and smashed in our house).
 Dress up - each shelf has different items on it...tiaras and necklaces (in last year's easter basket) on top, wands and head pieces on second shelf, purses on third shelf, bracelets (in old McD's happy meal bucket), phones, keys, accessories on bottom shelf.  In the orange bucket is hats, wings, etc.
 Dress up clothes hanging on a shower curtain (cheap!)
 Truck area - line up big ones...medium ones are in the green bucket and matchbox are in the cars bucket (last year's easter bucket)

 Other storage - blocks, potato head, little people
 Tools - in yellow garbage can buckets and old wipe container.

  • You’re more likely to get a babysitter if you already have a detailed list of things the sitter will need to know at your fingertips. Type something up on your computer and SAVE it. That way you can make adjustments to it as you need to. Some people print them out and always keep it on their fridge. Put the numbers where you and/or your husband can be reached, kid’s schedules, other important tips.

  • With kids growing out of things quickly or getting rid of toys quickly, you may have a garage sale every year. It can be such a hassle preparing for the garage sale, that you may not have one and forgo all the “gold” you could have made to buy new things! As I pull things out of my kids closets, I keep them on the hangars (these are cheap and you get to keep alot of them when you buy items) and price them as I take them out. Then I store them in the basement either in big rubbermaid containers, or by hanging them up until the garage sale. I do the same thing with their toys and with my own things. I have a garage sale type space in my basement where everything is together.  When garage sale season sweat. 
Warning…I would not implement all of these at once…your husband will NOT be fond of this concept and you all will be overwhelmed!  Baby steps as FlyLady says. 
I’d say the biggest key thing I can tell you to stay organized, is to organize God first. Keep God at the center of your day – and at the beginning of your day if possible. Mark 1:35 says "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went away to a seculded place and was praying there.  This verse really convicted me.  So for the past two years, I have gotten up really early (yes, while it is still dark) and started my day with the Lord. This has greatly blessed not only me, but my family. When you “organize” God in your life first – all the other things kind of fall into place. It’s hard when you are tired and you just want some extra sleep, but for me that extra sleep didn’t help me have a better attitude toward my family or help me accomplish more through my day, but God did. And he blessed me…I really am no more tired when I get up early than when I sleep a little extra. We as woman can hold so many things dear to our heart that aren’t that important – how clean our house is, what types of material things we have, what our play room looks like and the types of buckets we use for our kids toys, decorations in our home, etc. But none of that matters to God. All he wants is us. One of my favorite songs right now is by Tenth Avenue North and it’s called “All the Pretty Things” and the chorus goes like this: “Look at all the pretty things, that keep my heart away…I can feel I’m fading…Cause Lord I love so many things, that keep me from your face, come and save me.” What are we allowing to keep us from God’s face? Let’s get organized with God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do many of these organization tips, but have found some new ones! Thanks as always Lindsay!