An important part of simplifying is getting organized.
When I hear the word “organization”, my eyes usually glaze over. Do yours? Getting organized sounds about as much fun as flossing your teeth. But organization helps keep things simple, saves you time and headache and can often save you money too.
The first step is purging.
There are stores full of every kind of shelving and container imaginable, but they won’t help you solve the very real problem of simply having too much.
If you have too much stuff, it’s impossible to organize. You simply can’t organize clutter.
Look through your home with a notepad in hand. Find areas in your home that you feel are disorganized and cluttered.
Maybe it’s the stacks of papers on your desk, kitchen counters that give you no room to cook, or the pile of magazines you have next to your chair. You may have a problem with the many pairs of shoes that are cluttering up your foyer or your organizational disaster may be the too-full book shelves.
Where is there a logjam in your home?
Whatever it is that bothers you most, this is where you want to begin. Write this down on a sheet of paper or notepad.
Then get rid of stuff that you don’t love or need.
Collect it for recycling or to donate to a thrift store.
Now you can move on to the next step of getting organized which is:
An example of this is in the kitchen. Kitchens are often organized on the fly when we move into a new home. But if you take the time to really think about how you actually move and operate in the kitchen, you might save time and steps and keep things cleaner.
Items that you need near the stove (like long handled spoons, spatulas, pots and pans, oven mitts etc) should be kept near the stove. Another great tip I heard once is to create dishpan “stations” for different tasks. For instance if you bake a lot, use a dishpan to hold your mixer, beaters, measuring cups and spoons, etc in one place. When it’s time to bake you grab the dishpan and everything you need is right there. When you’re done, you clean everything up and put it right back.
I have all of the kid’s homeschooling books in a dresser in the kitchen. One drawer for each kid. That way they never have to ask where their stuff is. (Now getting them to put their stuff back into the drawers is another problem entirely!)
Are your kids constantly asking you for a glass for water? Why not put their drinking glasses on a low shelf? Ditto for their bowls and plates. This makes it easier for them to help you set the table and they’ll likely have fewer accidents (broken glass!).
A bill paying/accounting station is a great idea. Do you have a spot with all of your bills, stamps, envelopes, return address labels, a pen etc? My spot is in the kitchen near the phone.
We also have a system for library books. If you’re not careful, late fees can really add up. I know there was a time in my life where I felt the library should name a wing after me because I was paying so many late fees. That’s not good! It’s a classic example of a logjam.
So I created a system. When we go to the library, we take a large canvas tote bag inside with us. As the kids pick out books, they go into the bag and we check out. Once home, the books stay in the bag, which sits on a chair in the kitchen. When we finish reading a story, the book goes right back into the bag. Now it’s rare for me to lose a book. I also make sure I go to the library once a week and return all the books whether they’re due or not.
Where are the logjams in your life? Can you create some systems to help you deal with that?
What are your tips for organizing and creating systems?