Monday, December 28, 2009

Year-End Reflections: Organizing

Each day this week, I'm going to take a little time to reflect on the year.  Today I'm going to reflect on some of the organizing (and reorganization) that I encountered this year.

We moved twice this year.  We moved into our rental home in January and our new home that we built in October.  These last two years have been a big transition for us as we had our daughter and have moved a grand total of four times.  In that chaos and disorganization I found myself frustrated not having a place to put my things.  I was frustrated when I would have to open six bins to find a ball of yarn.  We gained a lot of items over the years and found ourselves in a continuous purge this year.  We donated thousands of dollars of items to Goodwill and had a garage sale earlier in the year.  We made whatever space we had work, but it was a challenge.  There's something about having your own home that makes it so much easier to organize.  When we designed the kitchen we put in lots of cabinets, a pantry and lots of work space.  I love the island we put in. I lowered it because I am short, so I don't feel like I'm having to stand on my tip toes to work (slight exageration).  I also like having the lowered island so that my daughter can stand on her stool and help.  It's so important to include her in helping whether it's in the kitchen or folding washcloths.

Here are some tips that I learned this year in keeping myself and our household organized:

  • If you don't use it toss it or donate it.  Sometimes it's really easy to get emotionally attached to things.  But if it's taking up space to never be looked at again then it's not worth having.
  • Plastic bins that are the size of shoebox have been my lifesaver this year.  I organized our junk drawers into bins.  Examples of bins: crayons, tape, glue, batteries, mounting strips, glitter.  We still have one junk drawer, but it's not messy. You can usually find these for $1 each -- I've even found two packs for $1 each.
  • We are slowly transitioning everything to big bins for storage.  We label the outside of each so that it's showing when stored away.  I use packaging tape and then a permanent marker for labeling. These bins stack well.
  • My husband bought me a desk for my birthday.  It's the first time in more than two years that I have a place to go.  I have all the address information, mailing information, coupons, other money saving strategies and the bills all in one place now.  Before I had some stuff in piles in the kitchen and couldn't ever seem to be organized.  It helps to have your own space.  I think as a stay-at-home mom I was feeling like I had no where to go and was just floating wherever the messy clutter was. 
  • Go through the mail and toss what you aren't going to need right away.  I have a file for bills that need attention (on my desk).  I make sure the mail is cleaned up every night.  I just go through everything unless it's for my husband and make decisions whether it's something to keep or not.  If I get a magazine that I'll read later, I put in a basket that is in the kitchen.  That basket I use for those moments I have to quickly clean up and have no where to put it at the time.  Kind of a catch all basket.  Actually, not too much lands in there anymore.
  • This falls into what I'll talk about more on Wednesday, however it crosses into organization because cooking is a big part of my day.  I have learned that browning a couple extra pounds of hamburger or making double batches and freezing them saves lots of time.  And keeps me organized and a little less stressed.  If there is a day where we are behind, I always have something in the freezer I can make.  
  • Keep a running grocery list.  I'll put things on the list that I know I'm going to need soon, such as syrup.  That way when I make the list I'm taking to the store I can look for the sales.  Then I just update the running grocery list.
  • I also make a running list of ideas to do with my daughter.  There are so many activities and games to do that when I write them down we actually get to them.
  • Have a plan for the day.  I try to keep it the same week to week, but leave room for flexibility.  For example, I typically do laundry either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday.  But some weeks it might be Monday and Friday.  I usually reserve mornings for errands and activities with my daughter.  Afternoons run late for us as she starts her nap between 1 and 2 p.m.  By the time she wakes up it's time to start supper.
  • In order for me to be motivated and organized, I keep learning and trying new things.  My favorite thing to do right now is making new recipes.  When my husband and I married three years ago I had about eight recipes I made regularly.  I was unexperienced in the kitchen.  Now I will tackle any recipe that comes my way and try several new ones each month.  Staying home has allowed me to experiment a little more. 
  • Just get to it.  We all have those projects that need to get done.  Just pick a day and get to it.  I really feel good when I get something that's been hanging over my head done.
  • Don't over think it.  Just do what works best for you.  I find that being organized makes life much more relaxed.
Read more of my organizng tips from my blog here, here, here and here!

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