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How to get organized

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By using a few of these simple ideas, you will cut down on the stress in your life
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Getting organized at home is a good first step in de-stressing your life

New Year's is just around the corner, and with the beginning of the New Year comes new resolutions: lose weight, quit smoking, and get organized. Making resolutions is the easy part; keeping them is another story. Getting organized at home is a good first step in de-stressing your life, though; so don't give up before you start. Use a few of these ideas on how to get organized; even some small changes can make a big difference.


De-clutter

 

One of the biggest things that can make your home feel stressful and out of control is clutter. With a busy lifestyle where you spend more time at the office or driving your kids around from school and activities than you do at home, your house can easily become a place where you simply dump things as you go. First, you need to get rid of the stuff that's not necessary; then, you can organize the things you actually use with home organizer storage solutions.


If your house is especially cluttered, this will feel like an overwhelming job, and the temptation will be to just give up. Don't. Start with one room at a time. If you don't have a lot of time to spend on your organizing project, dedicate a small amount of time each day to working on a room until it's finished. Even ten minutes a day can make a huge difference.


First, go through the room of choice and pick up anything that is not in its rightful place. Carry around a couple of plastic bins and a garbage bag. The unnecessary stuff goes in the trash. Be ruthless, especially when it come to paper. That magazine you've been hoping to get around to? Chances are, you won't, so toss it. Junk mail should only reside in two places in your home: your mailbox and your trashcan. Place the necessary stuff in the plastic bins to sort through later: necessary paper, like bills, school forms, etc. in one bin; non-paper items in the other bin.


Every item that already has a place, like DVDs, CDs, your kids' stuff, should go into its designated place. If an item is necessary, but doesn't have a place, then you'll need to get one. Baskets and fabric-covered storage totes make attractive places to store magazines, books, library material, and other items.






School solutions

 

If you have school-age children, then keeping track of their school items can be a problem, especially when it's time to catch the bus and your daughter can't find her permission slip, or your son doesn't know where his gym clothes are. By having a few routines set up, you can avoid those last minute, frantic searches.


First, hang up a shelf with posts somewhere near your back door or in the pantry. This is where your kids' coats go. A short, wire shoe rack underneath will prevent all those, "Mom, where are my shoes?" moments. Put some plastic stacking baskets next to the shoe rack, and label with your kids' names. This is where they should put their school stuff when they get home, and their homework after it's finished. Have them take a few minutes at night before bed to pack everything in their book bag or backpack, get those permission slips signed, and lay out their clothes for the next day. This simple, nightly ritual will help circumvent chaos in the mornings.


Laundry solutions

 

If your family is like my family, the laundry never seems to end. It is amazing how many loads a family of six can produce in one week! There are ways to keep your laundry process as stress-free as possible.


Make sure each child has a hamper in his or her room. You may need to explain it a few times: this is where the dirty clothes go. On laundry day, have your kids drag their hampers into the laundry room and sort their clothes into bins: one for whites, one for darks like towels and jeans, and one for delicates. If they're old enough, teach them to use a stain remover spray or stick, and that way they can treat their own stains. If they're not ready for that much responsibility, have a separate bin for the clothes that need to be treated.


When the laundry is finished, have your kids put their own clothes away. Even toddlers can help with this if you use simple instructions. For my youngest, I hand him one drawer's worth of clothes at a time; i.e. "Put your socks and underwear in your top drawer." Then he comes back for more and takes the next drawer's clothes. It's a little time-consuming, but it's training and one day he'll be able to take them all at once.


Kitchen solutions

 

You can avoid a lot of stress in the kitchen if you always have the food items you need on hand. Post a white board on the wall or the side of the refrigerator and tell everyone that when they use the last of an item, they should write it on the white board.


Make a list of ten to fourteen main dishes that are easy to make and that your family will eat. The ingredients for those dishes should always be in your kitchen; make a list of all of those items and stock up. You can create a master shopping list on your computer. If you have a PDA, many of those types of devices have shopping list programs available. I use my Palm to keep track of my grocery list, and I absolutely love it.


By using a few of these simple ideas, you will cut down on the stress in your life. And as you do it, you'll be teaching your whole family how to get organized.


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