Organizing tip #11: I often talk to my clients about 'prime real estate' in their home. For example, your kitchen countertop is prime real estate and should only be used for items that you use on a daily (or almost) basis... Coffee maker for example. If your crockpot, blender or toaster is only used on occasion, then they should be stored somewhere else in your kitchen and not clutter your countertops. And just because an item is a kitchen item, does not mean it deserves prime real estate space in your kitchen. If there are items that are used only on occasion, then store them somewhere else, like the garage or basement. Items like the turkey platter and baster that only come out on Thanksgiving, or the ice cream maker that is only used on the Fourth of July are good examples. Set your timer for 15 minutes and free up some prime real estate in your kitchen today :-)
Organizing tip #12: Keeping control of clutter can be difficult, especially if you are holding onto items that you have inherited from family members who have passed. It is important to consider why you are holding onto items.
I have a client who is using space in her dining room china cabinet to store her husband mother's dishes, saving them for her daughters. If her daughters had special memories of 'dinner with grandma' on those dishes, then the dishes may have a place in her daughters' heart and home. But this is not the case, the daughters did not know their grandmother and the dishes are ugly (according to my client), so really my client needs to evaluate why she is cluttering her dining room.
My grandmother had a tea cup collection, a collection that is not really my 'cup of tea' :-) I have ONE teacup on the bookshelf in my office. I don't need the entire collection to remind me of my grandmother, each day when I look up and see her teacup, I smile and think of her.
Organizing tip #13: Once upon a time I had a closet full of partial rolls or packages of wrapping paper.... Baby girl, wedding, boy birthday, black 40th birthday....you get the picture. Now I just keep three rolls, a bright pink, a light blue and a kraft. I have found that these three will work for any occasion with a pretty ribbon. As for gift bags, generic designs work well, and I only stock white tissue paper. Less decisions and less clutter!
Organizing tip #14: I had a FB reader ask about how to store spices. There are several ways to organize and store your spices depending on how many you have. I have a good size drawer to the left of my stove, so I store my spices there with a nifty spice drawer organizer. One of my clients had an abundance of spices stacked in a large kitchen cabinet. By dividing the spices into four categories (baking, general, cooking and fish...she cooked a lot of fish) and putting them in plastic baskets that fit in her cabinet four across, we made it much easier to find what she needed. Also available are spice step risers that fit, or adjust to, many cabinet sizes. Bonus tip: When I buy a new spice, I write the month and year on the top of the jar with a sharpie. This helps in knowing if a spice is too old and should be replaced.
Organizing tip #15: We are just few weeks out of Christmas, are you drowning in a sea of toys? A little late for me to advise you to clean out the toys before Santa comes :-) Instead my advice is to rotate toys. Put some of the toys in a bin and store them away from the little eyes. In a month, bring those toys out and store away a different batch. By doing this, you are reducing the amount of toys cluttering your spaces and your children are getting 'new' toys every month.
Organizing tip #16: Menu planning is key to being organized at dinner time. Each week (Saturday morning for me) I sit down with my calendar, recipe binder, the store sales ad and the shopping list I have been adding to each week. I plan my meals based upon the sales and my schedule. For example if pot roast is on sale... two-for-one, then pot roast is going into the crockpot on a busy day of my week. I also plan meals to be able to multi-task. Tonight for example my hubby is BBQing hamburgers, but before he puts the burgers on he is going to grill a few chicken breasts that I will chop up for a casserole I am making for tomorrows dinner (double batch of course). The day my daughter has horse lessons is the day that one of my freezer meals is on the menu (hubby can put it in and dinner is ready when we get home at 6:15.)
Organizing tip #17: With all the small electronics in our house comes a charger for each.... Cameras, DS game, Kindle, iPods, etc. Using my handy dandy label maker, each charger is labeled for easy identification. Additionally all of these chargers are stored in one drawer together. This makes it oh so easy when it is time to charge something. For our family, since our phones are charged nightly, we have a permanent charging station for phones
Organizing tip #18: Store items in a place that makes sense to you right now. For example, my almost two year old is really into coloring with crayons right now. When she does color it is in her high chair (I am not quite ready to let her loose with crayons :-) I rearranged a few things so that now paper and crayons are stored in a drawer in the side table next to the kitchen table, which of course is where her high chair is. When she asks to color, her supplies are close at hand.
Another personal example... when I grate cheese (which seems to be often) I always grate on a paper plate. My cheese grater is stored in the drawer with my paper plates, which happens to be on the island across from the fridge, because most snacks and lunches are prepared on and served on paper plates.. Did you follow that ok?
Organizing tip #19: It's tax time! I received my first tax related statement in the mail yesterday. With all of the tax information that will be arriving in the coming weeks, it is important to have a dedicated space for the paperwork. So, before your tax papers start piling up, designate a spot. It can be a basket on your desk, a file folder or even a drawer, just so it is a designated spot just for tax paperwork. When it is time to do your taxes, you will be grateful (so will your accountant :-) For my clients who have my filing system: it is the blue folder in the 'legal/tax' section labeled "tax info" :-)
Also, try to use your 15 minute timer a couple times a week to gather, calculate or summarize any additional information you may need (health expenses, mileage, donations, etc).
And, if you have someone prepare your taxes, make an appointment now :-)
Organizing tip #20: Paper clutter from mail can be a big problem for a lot of people. I often advise clients to make getting the mail an event. If you bring in the mail along with groceries, kids or after a long day at work, then the mail is just going to be put in a pile somewhere. Instead go out and get the mail when you know you have a few minutes to sort it. I sort my mail right over the garbage and recycle bins. Better yet, don't even bring it in, have a trash bin right outside your garage door. After you weed out the junk mail, deal with the mail right then and there. Place bills in your 'pay' container, action items in your 'to do' container and immediately write events on your calendar.
You can prevent some of the junk mail by eliminating all of those catalogs. It just takes minute to call the number on the catalog and request to be removed from their mailing list.