Summer To Do List

Can you believe summer is officially here as of Friday and that half of the year is over? Me neither. So how is your New Year’s resolution to “get organized” panning out? Do you feel like you’ll never get there? Do you start an organization project just to abandon it after a few frustrating hours or minutes? Even if ‘getting organized’ was not on your resolution list, I would be willing to bet that you’d like parts of your home or office to have fewer stacks and piles, to be more clean and ordered so that you’re not wasting time looking for things and wasting money buying what you already have. Fear not, it is never too late to get started. Here is a list of suggestions for quick, mini- organization tasks you can do right now to get closer to your goals of calm, reduced stress, and more time to do the things that you want to do:

Keeping a refrigerator in order means you don't waste energy poking around looking for food.

Keeping a refrigerator in order means you don’t waste energy poking around looking for food.

When was the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator? Can you identify what’s really in that old takeout container? Take less than an hour and toss out the bad stuff, clean out the shelves and drawers, and put the good stuff back where it belongs. Here is a link for detailed instructions on how to store food in the smartest spots.

One example of a kitchen-based command center.

One example of a kitchen-based command center.

What is the state of your command center? Do you know what a command center is? Learn more about why it’s essential to your sanity to have this part of your home in order.

Get some type of box for storing tax documents

Do you have a place for gathering tax documents for 2013? Designate a folder or box now for storing receipts, car tag statements, donation receipts, medical statements or whatever it is that you’ll need to locate next year to file your 2013 taxes. Also, don’t completely file away 2012. You’ll need to refer back to it if you do your own taxes or your accountant may need to review it as well. (no IRS jokes, please 🙂 )

Don’t store clothes without cleaning them first.

Did you put away your winter sweaters without getting them cleaned or washing them? Food and sweat is what attracts moths and other bugs so make sure they are clean and not stored in plastic. Wool and cashmere need to breathe. On that note, take your winter coat(s) to get cleaned. Don’t forget scarves, hats, and gloves if they are not leather. Just take them out of the plastic bags when you get them home.

Get your OWN filing system.

Get your OWN filing system.

How is your personal filing system? Do you know where your mortgage statements, bank statements, EOBs, and appliance warranties are? Set up a personal business filing system in a desk drawer or file box with labeled hanging files and folders. If you have kids, how are you storing their school papers? Put together a file box for saving report cards, certificates, school pictures, programs, etc. Or ask Neatsmart about creating a “Box of a Lifetime.”

Another example of a car filing system

Have you ever cleaned out your glove box in your car? Are you the kind of person that just shoves your insurance card in there with your repair receipts and takeout napkins? In less than 30 minutes, you can separate and file your car’s paperwork into a document wallet so you can find all the necessary documents when necessary. Hopefully you don’t have to show that proof of insurance frequently.

 

All of these tasks are a good jump start to propel you towards more order less clutter. When you’re ready to go all the way in getting your life organized or you want to continue with the momentum you’ve started with this list, give Neatsmart a call. We’ll be there to take your home to the next level of organization so you can live more efficiently, have less stress, and more time to spend doing what matters most to you.

Happy organizing!

More $1 Dollar Organization!

Inexpensive organization tools are high on everyone’s list of essential items for their home and I love finding treasures that help people save money. Here is a post I wrote about items found at the Dollar Store. This time, I found some great items at Wal-Mart. I know that is not everyone’s favorite place to shop but I love it for specific food staples and organization tools like bins, laundry bags, storage crates, and cleaning supplies. A lot of their bins are made in the USA which is a huge bonus in my book although I didn’t verify where these were made. One of my organization rules is to not buy things, even if they are inexpensive or on sale, unless I have a specific use for them. You should never go buy containers until you’ve decluttered and figured out exactly what you need and, most importantly, measured your space.

So here is what I found that I would recommend for anyone who wants to get organized and not spend a lot of money.

Small lidded container

Small lidded container

I love these small lidded containers for several reasons:

  1. They come in a variety of colors which means you can color code (love!) or just pick out your favorite.
  2. Lids are always good if you are storing leftover food or juice.
  3. They can be stacked if not in use and won’t take up a lot of room.
  4. These can be used for traveling, in your desk, bathroom, craft room, kids’ rooms, garage, or basement.I could go on and on….
  5. You get 4 for $1. Great price!
Similar and cute!

Similar and cute!

These containers have a similar function but thought they were just cute! These would be great for kids or adults that act like children. 😉

Notepad with pen and magnet!

Notepad with pen and magnet!

You know I love making lists and it’s great to have paper around to do just that. These notepads have a magnet so could be put on the refrigerator for grocery lists or other notes. Again, a dollar!

Notepad for capturing brilliant your brilliance

Journal for capturing your brilliance

Here is a journal with a pen for a dollar that would be great in your purse, briefcase, by your bed, in your car or wherever you may be struck with an epiphany that saves the world so you don’t want to forget it. I know there are a lot prettier ones out there on the market but these are small with only 60 pages so you can have them in a variety of locations. You can see how much of a luddite I am because I’m suggesting you use paper and pen and not telling you about an app to capture ideas or grocery lists. No, I’m not preparing for a zombie apocalypse; I just like what is easy and reliable. I’m also one who likes to sketch and doodle and there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to do that when I’ve got idle time.

Office supplies

Office supplies

Office supplies for a dollar? Yes, Virginia, it is possible. These cups for pens could also be used for holding craft supplies, makeup brushes, paperclips, scissors, and other desk necessities. The file folders in the background are a steal as well. It’s not a very masculine way of organizing paperwork but I think the bright colors are a nice break from vanilla manila.

So there are some more suggestions for inexpensive organization containers. Don’t forget to look around your own home before you go out and buy something. You may already have the perfect jar, shoe box, or mug that you can use right now. What is your favorite inexpensive home organization tool?

Happy organizing!

What Every Family Needs to Organize Their Kids

One of the most frequently asked questions I get about organization is “how do I organize my kids’ constant paperwork?” While the same principles apply to organizing adults’ paperwork, typically a parent will get this started and then it gets passed down to the child to maintain, thus teaching them valuable organization skills. The problem comes when no system is in place and it feels like a herculean task to get it sorted out to begin with, much less come up with a system to maintain going forward.  This is where Neatsmart offers you an easy method to manage the paperwork and activity-tracking chaos:

  1. Get a small filing box for each child. This is where you can get creative with your choices.  Everyone from Container Store to Office Depot has an option for you. Choose something with a lid to protect the papers from dust and other damage and so you can stack them if necessary.
  2. Fill the box with hanging files in a pretty color or your child’s favorite color. Create a tab for each year of school.
  3. Here is what goes in the box: at least 1 school picture for each year, copies of recital programs, honor roll announcements, sports brackets, newspaper clippings, report cards, special cards or letters sent, etc. Think of this as the school memories box that you’ll eventually pass on to your child (because you will) and fill it with the little things you never really know what to do with but you’ll both enjoy looking back on years from now.

This accomplishes 2 things: it gives a home for these types of papers and it helps to teach your children organization skills. You probably won’t file every paper every day but I would designate an area of your home to temporarily capture these papers and then as your children get older they can help you put these papers away. It will be a fun trip through memory lane each time you look at old pictures and report cards that your kids will ultimately be glad you saved.

Here is what does NOT go in the box: birth certificate, passport, adoption papers, social security card, and artwork. The first 3 or 4 items should be in a separate file where you are storing the family’s important papers. These are not things that you’ll need to readily access and you don’t want your kids rummaging around in at this point.

Artwork can be handled a variety or ways, depending on the volume. Some should be displayed in the house whether it is on the refrigerator or a large bulletin board where it can be admired. Important pieces that you want to keep can go in a portfolio binder. Others can be photographed and later made into a book or just viewed online. I know it is hard to throw away any of these pieces but you just can’t keep everything unless you have unlimited storage and time to catalog it all.

Another thing every family with kids needs is a calendar that everyone can see. Most often this will be in the kitchen or mudroom or family room. All activities that involve the kids should be put on this calendar: birthday parties, sports practices, sleepovers if they are scheduled in advance, birthdays, doctors’ and dentists’ appointments, games, vacations, application due dates, church events, I could go on and on. It is especially helpful if this is kept close to where mail is opened so that you can immediately put the event on the calendar when you are advised of it via mail like invitations and appointment reminders. Everyone in the family can see what is going on and start to take responsibility for their activities. This doesn’t mean everyone remembers everything J but it does mean everyone knows where to find out what is going on. I know lots of us have personal planners that we keep with us either in our purse or briefcase or on our phone and, yes, this is duplicative. The benefit of this calendar is that everyone can see it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to write things twice to help remember better!

So spend a little time putting your file box and file folders together and they’ll serve you for many years to come. You’ll have a box full of memories ready to pass down to your kids who I promise will thank you later. J Get your calendar up and start putting all of the family’s activities on it to keep everyone schedule straight.

Happy organizing!

6 Dollar Store Organization Products For Every Home

I’m all about saving money whenever possible and not spending more than necessary when containing clutter and eliminating disorganization. Dollar stores can be an invaluable resource when it comes to finding storage solutions for your home. I think it is best to start inexpensive and work your way up for most products but there are exceptions, of course. Today, though, we are talking about some fab products I found at my local Dollar Tree but you may have a different type of “dollar store” (f.k.a. “five and dime”) near you. This post is not endorsed by anyone but me. 🙂

Stackable Storage Bins

Stackable Storage Bins

  1. Stackable Storage Bins–While you may not love the bright colors in every room of your house, the size and shape of these are great for kids’ toys, tools and hardware supplies, socks and underwear in your closet, under sink storage in the bathroom, and craft or art supplies. You can color coordinate if you want to go that extra step or just pick your favorite and get several of one color. Colors are also helpful for kids as well as labeling: cars, pencils, blocks, etc. 
  2. Small Containers with Lids

    Small Containers with Lids

    Small Containers with Lids–I’ve written about these containers before but they are still my favorite in the kitchen for small amounts of leftovers. They also come in round shapes if you prefer that but I’m partial to the easy stacking with the rectangular ones.

  3. 4 Cup Containers

    4 Cup Containers

    ~4 Cup Containers–There are more expensive versions of these at your grocery store and they aren’t crazy expensive there but you can’t beat the price of $1 for 3 of these. They are great for leftover food, dried beans, supplies under the bathroom sink, containing cords in your desk drawer, and taking your lunch to the office. What I love about this type of container is being able to label and stack them anywhere. These are 3.8 cups each which is great if you make and freeze stock–that’s usually the minimum a soup recipe requires.

  4. Wire

    Wire Drawer Organizer

    Wire Drawer Organizer–These are perfect for separating small items in your drawers like socks, underwear, scarves. They are also great in drawers for keeping kitchen utensils in place, separating items in your desk or utility drawer,

  5. 3

    3 inch boxes

    3″ Boxes–Is there anything better for keeping hair accessories in place? What about paper clips, staples, and other office supplies? How about keeping lipsticks in place in a makeup drawer? If you do not need all of them at once, you can keep the extras stacked in place. You can even have them by the door for storing your keys with a color for each person.

There are 2 other products I am going to mention here that aren’t for containing things but are part of general home-keeping and making your life easier:

Brown Kraft Paper for gift wrapping

Brown Kraft Paper for gift wrapping

Brown Wrapping Paper is your solution to all of your giftwrapping woes! It can be used for any gender or occasion and provides a perfect foundation for your creative embellishment such as  a simple ribbon or baker’s twine tied around it, cut flowers and greenery from your yard, burlap, newsprint or just draw a bow with markers!

Felt Pads

Felt Pads

Felt Pads should be used under all of your furniture legs if you have hardwood or tile floors. This will not only protect your floors but make it easier to slide furniture around if you need to move it. They are also helpful placed in the corners of the backs of your picture frames on the wall to keep from scratching your paint finish. It’s amazing how much damage your pictures can do to your walls, especially those near doors that are opened and closed a lot. I also think they are good under lamps. Protecting your furniture and walls will help them last longer.

The main goal here is to find a home for your clothes, food, supplies, and tools and a way to contain it all attractively, efficiently, and easily. 

Do you have any dollar store products you like to use in your home? I’d love to hear your suggestions and comments below.

Happy organizing!

Great organization product

Organization brilliance

I am always on the lookout for new, wonderful, convenient, and inexpensive products to use for storage and organization. While I was at the Dollar Tree a couple of weeks ago, I came across a great option for storing little things like paperclips, hair ties, cooking leftovers, doll clothes, beads, craft supplies…and so forth. They come in a package of 10 so you can leave a few in  your kitchen and use the others in your office, bathroom, kids’ rooms, and closet. Or buy a package and share them with a friend if you don’t need that many. The first thing I used one for was keeping some leftover lemon juice from a recipe I’d just made. They are clear, have lids, and are stackable. And they cost a dollar!! What could be better?

In my book this ranks high with zippy bags and glass jars for inexpensive containers. What is your favorite inexpensive container?

Happy Organizing!