One of the most popular “new years resolutions” is to get organized. That said, how to get organized is a challenge facing many of us this January. And, to be honest, it seems a bit daunting. Between the holidays, having the kids home and the general chaos of life, things tend to get out of hand. As realtors, we have seen chaos up close; it’s amazing how things spiral out of control.
Don’t worry, you can do this! Below, we have shared some of our favorite tips and tricks as well as links to some helpful articles. We are confident that, by committing some time this January, you can set yourself up for a more organized and productive year.
What To Organize
First, one of the biggest mistakes we make when undertaking an organization project is to do everything at once. More often than not, this results not only in failure, but also greater disorganization. So, make a list. A real “written down” list of everything you want to organize. Organized people write things down.
Then, rank your list in order of importance. Next to each item record the amount of time you believe it will take you to complete the project and schedule that time on your calendar. Do this for your entire list. Important note: Do not schedule projects on top of each other. Complete project number one BEFORE you begin project number two!
Below we have identified several popular things that need attention and provided some tips on how to get organized.
Your Finances – Get Organized
Finances, in this case, include your records and filing systems as well as your plans for the future. This is a great place to start your organizing! If you can develop an efficient and effective system in January, you will always have access to information you need. Think of how helpful this will be when tax time rolls around!
For our purposes, we are are going to look at two specific areas. First, is decluttering all the paperwork you have collected. Second is determining a filing system to keep you organized from this point forward.
Keep v. Toss
If you are like most people, you have some type of “filing system” where you collect your important papers. Most likely the contents of this system includes bills, receipts, warranties, tax records, pay stubs, children’s report cards and birth certificates; among other things. While holding on to some paperwork is smart, other things in your possession can most likely be discarded.
Most financial professionals agree on a general timeline for keeping records.These time frames are one month, one year, three years, seven years and forever. By going through your financial paperwork you can identify what you need and create a schedule for when to purge. Suze Orman, a well-known author and financial advisor, created a list which details what we should keep and for how long.
Once you have gone through your paperwork, and determined what to keep and what to toss (we suggest shredding); its time to create a filing system to keep yourself organized.
Creating a Filing System
Developing a filing system that is simple to implement and maintain is key to getting and remaining organized. Once something becomes too complicated we tend to not keep up with it. While we all know that some type of file box and folders seems like a good idea, often we don’t know how to move forward.
First, we suggest purchasing folders and a fire proof cabinet or box (depending upon how much paperwork you have). Forbes magazine published an article that provides a list of 10 titles for each of your files; a link to that article is provided here. Of course, you can subdivide these major categories, if you wish,but this is a great overall guide to keep your information contained and organized.
Your Garage – Get Organized
Living in South Florida means one thing — no basements; the garage often becomes the “home to the great unknown”. Let’s be honest, most of us have uttered the phrase “just put it in the garage” more then we care to admit. So, garages have become the catch-all storage room in the house.
That said, since we are planning a whole house organization, we need to make room in the garage. That is why it is number two on our organization priority list.
First, set aside a reasonable amount of time. Depending upon the size of your garage and its current state, this can range from a couple of hours to a weekend. Second, we recommend enlisting the entire family in the endeavor; we are pretty sure everyone owns things in there!
Step one should be to set out bins and label them keep, trash, donate, and sell. Then pick a side and begin to sort. While doing this, keep in mind that space is valuable — if you (or your children) haven’t used something within the last year it most likely shouldn’t be in the keep pile. Even if it was your oldest’s first bicycle and holds a special place in your heart. Take a photo of it, frame the photo and display it. Then, if the bicycle is still in good condition, either sell or donate it.
There are many local organizations that will do a home pick up for donations including The Florida Breast Cancer Foundation and Vietnam Veterans of America. You can sell items on ebay or consider having a garage sale (if you are not in a gated community or if this is something your HOA supports, they have rules governing this).
Once you have emptied the garage sweep it out completely and consider washing the floor as well. It’s always best to begin with a clean slate. Then consider these storage tips:
- Install Shelves: Wire shelving is inexpensive and relatively easy to install. By moving vertically you increase the capacity to store items in your garage. On your highest shelves store the items you use least often.
- Use containers. Consider placing smaller, like items in clear, plastic bins that “lock” shut. This will keep the items in the bin clean and you will easily be able to identify what is in each. Suggestions for this include holiday decorations and supplies used infrequently for entertaining.
- Purchase stacking bins. These easily accessible containers can hold sports equipment that can be organized by child, by sport or by season. Kids can reach their gear when they need and easily put it away.
- Install a pegboard or slat wall. This method of storage also provides more “vertical room”. you can hang large garden tools like rakes and smaller household tools like hammers. They are out of the way, but visible and easy to find.
For more tips and tricks on organizing your garage click here for some “do it yourself” ideas.
Rooms Inside your House
The most used room in the house is often the kitchen. So, it’s not surprising that it also is the most challenging to organize. Often kitchens become home to more than just cooking and eating items. Mail, school paperwork, keys, and phones are in kitchens across South Florida. Combine that chaos with cabinets that hold all sorts of pots, pans and appliances and a drawer full of random plastic containers and mismatched lids; it’s no wonder your kitchen is not a place of calm.
First, group like items together. For example, keep all of your baking items in one cabinet. These would include cake pans, cookie sheets and cupcake tins. Store all saucepans and frying pans together.
Imagine how nice it will be to know where everything is.
Second, discard items you have duplicates of, you haven’t used in a year or are so old they really are not useful (you know, the non-stick pan that no longer has a non-stick coating?). You don’t need six spatulas and four can openers. Remember back to Halloween 2000 when you bought a cupcake maker to feed all the kids. Have you pulled it out of the cabinet since then? We are guessing no. Donate or sell it.
As for those plastic containers, it’s time to match them up. store anything in a container without a lid.
Finally, invest in a charging station and file center for your kitchen. You can visit Amazon and check out all the different models. If the kitchen is going to be a catch all area for everything, at least let everything have a place. And, make a commitment to cleaning out that file box EVERY week (if not more often).
For more creative kitchen organization tips, click here.
I cannot tell you how many times over the years my family has struggled with the state of our family room. Children’s toys seem to overtake the house in general and specifically the family room. Combine that chaos with remote controls, magazines and video games and it becomes overwhelming. This website contains information on organizing your family room, check it out.
Bedrooms and Closets
This would seem like the easy one. Bedrooms equal a bed, a dresser, a night table and a closet. How much mess can there be? The answer will surprise you! Quite often, the bedroom becomes the catchall room where you can “dump” the mess from the rest of the house and close the door. It’s almost like it doesn’t exist. Only it does, every evening when you go to sleep.
First, commit to keeping your bedroom clutter free. Keep the mail in the file in the kitchen. Put your clothes in drawers and closets immediately after they are washed. You will be surprised at how much easier it is to sleep.
That said, the closet may be a challenge. First, make a quick trip to the store and buy hangers. Matching hangers. It’s amazing how much more organized a closet can be when the hangers are all the same side and width. Here is the process. Step one, EMPTY IT! All of it. Wipe down the shelves, sweep the floor – you have a blank canvas!
Now, use those same “buckets” you used for your garage: keep, trash, sell, and donate. Go through every item. If you haven’t worn it in a year, odds are you won’t. If it’s in good condition, sell or donate it. Also, keep a separate pile for things you want to keep, but need to be “repaired” (missing buttons, needs a hem). Get them fixed!
Now, take your “keep” pile. Separate it into hanging and folded. Refold all your clothes in the same manner. Also, consider folding dark items inside out (a retail employee in Old Navy shared that tip with a friend years ago, it keeps lint from adhering to the outside of your shirts!). Pile all long sleeve shirts and place them on a shelf. Same with short shirts and anything else that you choose to fold.
Now, t’s time for the hanging items. Again, categorize them. Hang pants together, same with blouses, shirts or skirts. If it is a man’s closet, keep suit jackets and pants together. Hang slacks and blazers together in groups. Make sure all hangers face the same direction.
For men, consider a tie rack. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to keep ties neat and organized. Also, you can mount this inside your closet.
Finally, shoes. Again, we suggest you consider some type of shoe organizer. There are so many to choose from. Over the door, standing racks, some with shelves. In short, choose what works best for you!
The Benefit of Getting Organized
Obviously, there are so many benefits to getting organized. First, it studies show it reduces stress. Consider the stress you have when you are struggling to find something. Once you organized, this problem – and your stress – is alleviated. Second, it saves time. You can clean your house more quickly and you don’t waste time looking for things! You will have more time for yourself. And third, just a thought, if and when you decide to sell your house the process will be much easier.
We welcome your stories, photos and tips about how you are getting organized this year. Share them in the comments section of this blog. All of our readers can benefit from each others successes.
Your real estate agent is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give The Wilson Group a call today at 954-818-6092 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling your home, or tour available homes for sale.