There are two things you need to keep in mind when managing the paper and information that comes into your home on a daily basis. First, you need to choose just one location to process it. Second, you need to process it in a timely manner. Remember, clutter is simply a result of delayed decisions.
To set up a Family Information Center keep the following tips in mind:
• it should be located in a heavily trafficked area like the kitchen or a mudroom.
• it needs to have wall space for a bulletin board or wall calendar , a surface for an action center and reference material and ideally, a floor surface for a shredder (although there are some great tabletop shredders available)
• it needs to have a file close by to file papers that need to be retained for a long period of time. Remember to file once a week. If you wait any longer the task becomes unbearable to most people.
Once you have determined a place where you will process incoming information it is important to gather all the papers that are around your home and process them. if you are completely overwhelmed, at least place all the paper in one pile and process it for ten minutes a day until it’s gone. There are three different types of paper: reference, action, and trash. Reference papers are school schedules, invitations, legal papers and such. How long you keep them depends on the importance of the paper. Papers for medical and tax purposes have to be kept for a longer period of time but are seldom looked at. These papers belong in a file cabinet somewhere in your home but necessarily in your information center. Reference papers such as sports schedules, school information and such need to be referred to on a regular basis and should be kept in a binder or folio close at hand. I love Mom Agenda’s Kitchen Folio. Check it out at
www.momagenda.com Don’t forget to check out the free printables to keep you and your family on track.
Papers that require an action such as bills to pay, invitations that require a response, permission slips to sign, etc. need to be placed in an action center. I love the three tier sorter from Office Max for this purpose. www.officemax.com As you see there is a place to label each tray. Use one for items to do that are high priority (check it daily) label the second tray for items that are not really important such as things you may want to do with your family or things you want to buy (check it weekly) and the third tray for paper that needs to be filed. File it each week.
Paper that is to be thrown away needs to be discarded before it hits a hard surface. Open mail over a trash can, recycle bin or shredder on a daily basis and quickly put items in their predefined spaces: either the trash, the action center or a file.
To keep track of schedules use an individual planner. whether you choose an electronic schedule or a paper depends entirely on your personality. There are a lot of people who still prefer paper, including me. I have used and loved Mom Agenda’s personal portfolio for years. I like to look at my entire month at a glance and the uncluttered pages of this planner make be feel like I’m in control even though there is hardly a square in that doesn’t contain something I have to do or somewhere I have to be.
I think it’s gorgeous and I love to carry it. My good friend prefers her I phone which absolutely doesn’t work for me. Decide which calendar works best for you and then input all your commitments on a daily basis.
If you have a large or busy family. I think it’s important to have a family calendar. Dry erase calendars are perfect for this. Each family member can use a different color to mark their schedules and everyone knows where to look to see who is doing what. If you prefer the computer screen you can do the same thing online. I really like the clean look of the magnetic dry erase calendar at the container store, www.containerstore.com
If you don’t have the wall space, mom agenda has come out with a home office addition planner that is large enough to capture all your important information and attractive enough to leave out.
So, if you apply the organizing triangle to your new Family Information Center. The system would be the defined spaces that your paper goes to immediately when it comes in the door. The products are the planners, folios, action centers and shredder. The habits, keep on top of things. It only takes five minutes to process your mail each day. Remember, it’s not the things we do that wear us out. It is what is left undone.
Don’t know about the organizing triangle? It is my own organizing method that I teach my clients and use myself. Find out more in my coauthored book, Get Organized Today. Available at a discount on my site www.simplyputorganizing.com
It’s no doubt that our pantries play an integral role in our family’s life. They come in all shapes and sizes and they all have one thing in common, they need to be organized in order to save you and your family time and money. With our busy lives the reality for pantries is that they often fall victim to what I like to call “the shove and close method”. If you and your family are prone to putting things away on the first glimpse of a shelf the answer if definition. Yes, definition is what organizing is all about.
The following tips will help reclaim you space and restore order to one of your household’s busiest areas.
- Schedule the time. Large pantries can take up to six hours to organize.
- Assemble your tools: a large garbage bin for expired items, a donation box for the local food bank (let go of items your family no longer enjoys before they expire and turn into garbage), a container to relocate all the things you’ll find in the pantry that don’t really belong there, a tape measure, a shopping list for organizing supplies you’ll need once you determine what you are keeping and where it will live and a label maker.
- Identify your pantry’s “prime real-estate”. These are the shelves that are most accessible to you. Your go-to items should make their home on these spaces.
- Sort the items you have removed from your pantry into like groups discarding anything that is expired or unwanted. If you find holiday items while you are organizing, set them aside to be stored with other holiday items in a remote location. Most pantries are not large enough for holiday storage and should be used only for food and kitchen items.
- Take a moment to look at your empty pantry and decide where the things you are keeping should live. Remember, seldom used items should be placed on the hardest to reach shelves and often used items should be very accessible. Don’t forget to consider the door and wall space. Often times wire racks can be added to these spaces to accommodate extra items. At this point, if you are able, it is a great time to make a trip to the local organizing store or discount department store to purchase containers to organize with. If you are unable to make the trip during your organizing time, take measurements to shop with later. Resist buying items in advance unless you are really good about returning unused purchases and know exactly what is in your pantry and what you will keep.
- My favorite products are baskets that fit your shelves to contain bags of pasta, rice and grains. Baskets are also great to contain bulk purchases of lunch snacks. Label one sweet snacks and the other salty snacks and dump the boxes of small packages into them. Kids love this!! I also love turntables that fit the shelf for oils, vinegars, marinades and condiments (turn tables make items on high shelves accessible). They are also good for liquor, vases and any other tall, round items like airtight containers of flour sugar etc. I use plastic containers with lids and labels to contain small items used for baking such as sprinkles, cookie cutters, and birthday candles.
- Load up your pantry. Place things according to how often they are used. Heavy appliances should be on lower shelves and seldom used things up high. Avoid using the floor space if at all possible. Having a clean floor helps keep the dust at bay and will make your pantry much more appealing.
- Label everything and explain to your family the new system so they will understand there is now an assigned space for each item.
- Hang a shopping list in or nearby your pantry. When you see your running low on a family favorite jot it on the list. This will save a lot of time and money at the grocery store.
Pantries can run the gamut from functional to beautiful and they are one of my favorite things to organize. Once you have restored order to your food storage the key is to maintain it. Avoid bulk purchases if you have a small family. If you have a small pantry and you need to buy in bulk consider storing the bulk items in a warehouse area either in a basement or garage until you need to restock your pantry. When you see your pantry looking disheveled, take a moment to straighten it up and discard any stale or expired items. With a little elbow grease, definition and new habits you too can take your pantry from pathetic to pampered.
My friend Kim recently told me about a closet in her home that never seems to be totally under control. The closet, she explained, is used for school supplies, family files, miscellaneous electronics and office supplies. It is used by her entire family. I went to her home to take a look and saw that Kim had done a great job of straightening it up, but I could see, that after a few weeks of use it would return to its chaotic state. How did I know? It’s simple, the closet lacked definition. Organizing is about eliminating excess, defining spaces and creating systems that are easily maintained. Use the picture of my very own supply closet to inspire you. Still overwhelmed? I would love to help. Just visit www.simplyputorganizing.com to find out more…
I found the a great resource last night while researching an article I was writing: Mail Stopper. Here’s what it can do for just a twenty dollar annual subscription.
- Stamp out junk mail.
- Un-Clutter your Life. Stop up to 90% of your junk mail with MailStopper – in just 90 days. We work with over 6,500 direct marketers – to make sure you get only the mail you want.
- Catalogs. Credit card offers. Grocery store circulars. Not only does junk mail pile up – it also can lead to identity theft. With MailStopper, you’ll save time, reduce waste, and protect your privacy.
- Think green. Plant trees. When you join MailStopper, we plant 5 trees on your behalf. Combined with the paper you save, it’s like growing your own tiny forest.
I love the fact that they plant trees on your behalf. I have signed up and I’m really looking forward to ending the paper nightmare that is my mailbox.
I would love to get feedback on this if anyone else tries this service…
Love this product!!! I found this at spacesavers.com and I added it to my shower curtain about a month ago. After giving it a test drive I am happy to report that it works great!! I have nothing around my tub and I don’t have to deal with an annoying metal unit hanging from my shower head. My shampoo, conditioner and all my other things are within easy reach and the best part is I can throw this organizer in the washer if and when it gets gunky. All this for just 8.99!!
Hello everyone!! I hope you’ll all watch me tomorrow on Sonoran Living Live, Phoenix’s ABC 15 at 9AM. I’ll be talking about paper and what the heck to do with it when it ends up in piles all over your home. Get a head start on restoring order to your environment with the article below. See you tomorrow…
Piles to Files
The fact about paper is that it is everywhere. It arrives daily in our mailbox. Our kids bring it home from school. We print out articles and pictures from our computer just in case we can’t find the website again. The list goes on and on. The problem with paper is that, if you don’t have a processing system, it can end up in piles all over your home. When that happens, digging out without a plan, feels overwhelming. As with any big project take it slowly, address a pile, or part of a pile, each day and create new habits for incoming papers.
Use the simple processing system below to restore order in your environment:
Think F.A.T. Paper falls into three categories, file, act and toss:
- File: Papers that need to be kept for reference; insurance policies, medical reports, tax information and any other critical document falls into this category. You will need a file cabinet with clearly labeled folders for this type of paper. You’ll also need a clearly defined place to keep your papers that need to be filed until you can complete the task.
- Act: Papers that need an action taken on them; invitations, coupons, projects, school assignments and anything else that is associated with a task. This type of paper needs to be stored in an action center. The action center should be in only one location in your home and needs to be checked daily. Checking your action center daily allows you to pull the items you need for that day and toss anything that is no longer relevant. Keep it current and file papers that need to be retained at least once a week. Three tiered sorters found at office supply centers are great for this purpose as the tiers can be labeled: to do, to file, and pending (papers that you’ve taken an action on and you’re waiting for a response).
- Toss: Most papers that come into our lives fall into this category. Always open your mail close to a recycle bin or trash can in order to eliminate them before they hit a hard surface in your home.
Organization is about defining your spaces and creating homes for everything, including paper. After defining easy access homes for your paper to live the key to maintenance is a well established system and a routine to follow.
If you feel overwhelmed and just don’t know where to start please call for help. I would love to work with you.
Simply Put Organizing (480) 659-2663
This is an armoire, in a client’s home office that we turned into a supply cabinet. This particular office did not have a closet space to store the items needed to support her business. Her supplies were scattered all over the house which made it difficult to be productive. Duplicates were often purchased because she had no idea what she already had. My client loves beautiful things so she had the inside of the cabinet upholstered. I added baskets with custom tags to reduce the cluttered appearance of the supplies. Armoires are great for storage anywhere in the home. The key is to give them a specific purpose and then organize within based on retrieval. I’m blogging on a Sunday morning, it is so peaceful in my own office. I could do this all day. However, my daughter just woke up….
I am officially a blogger! This is very exciting because there are so many things that I want to share with all of you but don’t want to compile them into a newsletter that, let’s face it, can be boring!!!
So, I hope you’ll all check my blog frequently for organizing inspiration, great products, services and fun.
I am blogging from Seattle which at the moment is cold and snowing. Because of this I am finally able to find the time to catch up on my to-do list and regroup. This is blissful for me because when I’m home life is non stop.
What i want to let all of you know right now is that I have posted some of my favorite links on my blog. One is to my website, simply put organizing, two are to great places to find organizing products; Storables and The Container Store, Gazelle is a great place to recycle your old electronics for cash and Remindr is a fantastic reminder service you must check out for yourself.
A big thank you goes out to my friend Alicia for her inspiration, advice and the little nudge she gave me to start blogging.