Rebecca McAloon, www.havenlifestyle.com
5 Things To Get Organized at the Start of the New Year
The New Year feels like such a great time for fresh starts; a time to simplify, streamline and get some manageable household systems in place that can help you live a little better...a little easier. Here are five (often under-organized) areas that you can quickly get organized and working well, and keep maintained in a snap.
1. Manuals, Instructions, Guides, and Warranties (Oh my!)
Getting all your 'directions' heading in the right direction is easy. Have them easily accessible and organized and you'll know exactly where to find them when you need them! (especially after the holidays)
• Search out those drawers, closets and crevices and gather them all in one place.
• Keep verses toss; take a good look through and toss/recycle anything you don't own anymore.
• Now you know what you have to find a good container that fits...a deep drawer, a cute bin, an old file box.
• Put them in! And no they don't need to be alphabetized (too much work!). If they are streamlined to what you own, flipping through to find what you need every-so-often shouldn't be an ordeal.
• Store them in an accessible place. Tucked away so they are not under-foot, 'yes'...buried at the back of a closet or under holiday decorations, 'no'.
• Do a quick maintenance 'sort and purge' every June and January and you'll never lose these 'important' pieces again!!
2. Safety First (of the year)
Household safety equipment, is yours working as it should?
• Test all the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
• Replace (if standard 9v) batteries so that you know they are fresh as of January.
• Have replacement batteries on hand IN a specific known location. (So you'll never be out of batteries when the alarms start 'chirping' in the middle of the night.)
• Maintain regularly, per your specific type of detector/alarm...http://www.usfa.fema.gov/campaigns/smokealarms/alarms/
• Have fire extinguishers in strategic, accessible locations, and educate your family as to 'what to do in case of...'.
• There are many different types of fire extinguishers so make sure you have the right kind. They need to be handled properly so learn the specifics; http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/extinguishers.shtm, AND they also expire so check monthly to make sure they are still in good shape.
Set up a 'charging space' and have all those pesky chargers and cords where they need to be, accessible, and labeled...
• Find them all, yes all! Locate all the cords, adapters, and special chargers for all of your gear.
• Inspect them and get rid of any that don't work (or only work when jiggled!), are split or cracked, are missing pieces. Keep what works well, and replace anything needed.
• Label 'what-goes-with-what' using a label maker, masking tape/marker, cute tags, etc.
• Contain in a stylish basket, on a cute tray, or a 'ready made' charging station. Just make sure the container fits the amount of gadgets you have, has a little room to grow, and isn't cumbersome to use.
• Location, location, location! Place near a substantial electrical outlet (use a multi-socket surge protector if needed) and create a dedicated place for your 'charging space' to live. Nothing else should live here...keep your gear easy to find, use, and maintain!
4. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle (not the usual stuff)
What do you do with used batteries, ink cartridges, CFL light bulbs, etc.? These items need to be disposed of or recycled properly. It's much easier to do if you have a place to collect and corral these items...until your next trip to your local disposal/recycling center.
• Again...location, location, location. Find a good, accessible spot in your house (garage, closet shelf, laundry room, on a wall shelf above your regular recyclables) to house this handy recycling corral. It should be easily reachable so you can drop in items as needed and also has enough space for some accumulation (until it's cleared out periodically)
• Set it up! A divided bin or basket, or a few containers with handles work well.
• Once a month clear it out, bring your items where they need to go...you'll feel better knowing they were disposed of appropriately.
5. Get Yourself 'Systematized'
Stop losing paperwork, or feeling like 'that permission slip was just right here!' Create a simple system to keep your paperwork easy to find, organized, and at your finger-tips...
• As items (such as mail, papers from the doctor's office, school backpack slips, etc.) come into your house you first need to decide, 'is it a...';
1. To Do Immediate (needs to be processed today)
2. To Do when I have the time and energy (needs to be done when I get to it...or soon but not today:)
3. File it
4. To Use
5. Toss it
• Setting up the right containers;
1. To Do Immediate - Do it right then or create a small stack to process before you go to bed (it shouldn't be too many things)...this one doesn't need to be contained because the items are being taken care of ASAP.
2. To Do - A wall file or magazine holder works well to contain regular To Do items. Scan through briefly each morning and take out any that need to become a To Do Immediate for that day, as well as an additional few to just get done. This will keep you continually processing your To Do's and keep them from over-accumulating.
3. File it - A small file box/bag works well. It should be portable, easy to move around, not too big, and of course cute to look at . Your files are mostly 'revolving' and get cleared out each January for yearly tax purposes. You might have a file or two of things that carry over from year to year, but you still shouldn't need a ton of space (keep it simple). This is not where you archive, but where you process.
4. To Use - Put it where you'll use it...coupons in your coupon container or wallet; business card on a bulletin board, contact deck, or add to phone and dispose; concert tickets in a safe, your wallet, or To Do bin (awaiting concert day)...keep these items where you'll find them and where they make sense. Then yes, you will actually use them instead of lose them.
5. Toss it (or recycle) - Self explanatory here. If you don't need it let it go!
• The keys to a simple home paperwork system are easy - don't just pile your stuff...take a few minutes and decide what needs to happen with your paper item, process a little bit every day, and don't accumulate. You'll be systematized and streamlined before you know it!
Having these areas organized and running systematically in your home (really in your life) provide you time, less 'piling', less accumulation, an ease in finding what you need-when you need it, and control over your space, your place, your domain. Your home shouldn't control you...you should be in charge! And by taking small steps (as above) to get functionally organized, your place starts to truly feel like YOUR place. Happy New Year! Now, have at it...