Monday, November 1, 2010

Desk Organization

Finally! I have DONE it!! I have struggled for so long on how to master my desk! I think I've done it this time!! This took several days and much pondering, but I have a system that finally works for me. Here's my before picture: Not great, huh? And believe me, that's not even as bad as it could have been. There is some organization to it. Like I said, I've tried several different things that weren't working well enough.

Now, here's the after picture:Much better, huh? Okay, so there's two things that are key to this desk. First are the magazine holders above the computer screen. Before, I was using them as storage for cardstock, folders, laminating pouches, etc. Now, they are not being used as storage. They are used for a "filing" system of categorized items that I use everyday. That is prime real estate on my desk, and I wanted that to be actionable space, not storage.
Here are my categories:

  1. Jefferson's Papers-whatever school items that need to be referenced during the week, or a place to hold his homework, reading logs, spelling lists, etc. (This is not long-term storage, see this post for that)
  2. Papers to Recycle- so often as I'm cleaning things off my desk, or mail comes in, or whatever, I have papers I want to recycle, but I don't want to walk to the garage every time to dump it. So, I'll hold it until I'm ready to go to the garage.
  3. Talmage's Papers-same concept as "Jefferson's Papers" for my 2nd son
  4. Magazines & Papers to Read-this would be for, yes, magazines, and maybe some articles, or stories that I've printed out that I want to read, or some lists of books to read.
  5. To Be Put Away-things that have landed on my desk that need to be put somewhere else. Just a holding spot until I can put them all away at once.
  6. Scrap Paper-paper I can use to jot a list down on, or something I can use when I'm trying to explain a math problem to my son. Or, art paper for my children.
  7. Primary- I teach the children's singing time in church every week. Whatever activity I'm preparing for the week, I can put in there as the week goes on.
  8. Coupons/Receipts- Pretty self-explanatory. I keep receipts for a few days in case I have to return something. And of course whatever coupons I clip out that haven't made it to my little coupon wallet yet.

As you've noticed, these spots mostly are NOT for storage. They are for items that are in transit for one reason or another. Items to be used, thrown away, or in a holding spot.

Then in this spot, I have my Family Organization Book (see here for that post), my E-mealz menus (I love can check it out here), book my son is reading for school, and my pocket calendar.And then, the next spot is here:
The top left basket is for my husband. Yeah, he needs a little spot. The right top basket is full of discs that I'd need for the computer. The bottom left basket holds my label maker, my camera, and my date stamper (for my kids school papers; see this post). Then there's my ipod, our pencil pot, and my kids' money banks.

And if you'll remember, I said that there were two keys to this desk. The first was the magazine holders, and the second are my letter trays. The top is for Incoming anything. Whether it be mail, or something my husband needs to give me, or whatever. This needs to be looked at daily. The second tray is my "hot" To Do tray. Things that need to be taken care of fairly soon.

So, that's my desk! It's been working great. I may have to tweak as some things come in that I didn't expect, but I'm so excited!! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Simple Recipe Organization

Look familiar? Do you have one of these? And what does it look like inside? Maybe like this?Congratulations to you, if it doesn't! However, I think many people have a recipe box that looks a lot like mine! So, let's clean this out and get a new system going!

Something I started a few years ago that still works for me, was creating these recipe binders. If I ever get a recipe, whether it's in index card format, cut from a magazine, or printed off from the internet, I will put them in sheet protectors and add them to my recipe binder. So, if it's already on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper, great, no problem, just slip it into the sheet protector. But if it's any other size (some written on a post-it note, some cut from a magazine, etc. etc.) this is what I do: I use photo corners (you can get them at a local craft store or online) and put them on card-stock, and then slip the recipe in. Then I'll slide the card-stock into a sheet protector and insert into one of the recipe binders. This allows you to take the recipe out of the sheet protector entirely, and put it back, or you could even just take the page out and use that when you are cooking if you want. I have 2 recipe binders. One for Breads/Breakfasts, Appetizers/Salads, and Entrees, and one binder for Desserts, Food storage recipes, Freezer meals, and Fun stuff (like how to make a gingerbread house, or cake decorating directions, etc). I use dividers for each category in each binder.

So back to the recipe box....many of the recipes I don't use! Some I've cut from a cream cheese box, or a chocolate chip package and have NEVER used! So I went through my recipe box and was able to pare down a lot of things. And then I went through my binders and got rid of some recipes that I know I never use.

If you want, you can make up a Table of Contents, but I'm not going to be doing that. It's too much work, and you usually know where to find the recipes that you use the most anyway.

So now I have lovely recipe binders and I'm using my recipe box for a temporary "keep the recipe here until I can get it into my binders." Sometimes you don't have the time to do things right when you want to do them! Just don't forget about those recipes, stay organized!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Still here!

Sorry I haven't been around! I just broke my foot and haven't done much organizing...but I'll be back soon!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Organizing Kids' Chore Charts

I don't know about your kids, but mine need structure in place to get their jobs done. AND a reward system. Otherwise I am constantly telling and reminding (as well as demanding, nagging, pleading, threatening, bribing, etc.) my children to do things around the house. Not only does it help me out, they learn that they are part of a family to contribute to with their own responsibilities, and they learn a great work ethic.

So there are many systems that you could implement in your house. I'll share what we do. I've printed off one of these charts for each of my kids (this one has been on the frig for a while, so it's a little wrinkly).I typed out some of their jobs for the morning, and then for the evening. I am having them put just a slash / if they do the job. They get an X (2 slashes together) if they do the job without my having to tell them several times and if they don't complain and they do it all by themselves (within reason of course). Then if they get an appropriate numbers of X's after 1 or 2 weeks (depends on your kids' attention spans) then they draw a piece of paper from our "X Reward Jar."Some of the rewards are:
  1. Family Movie Night with popcorn
  2. Trip to the Dollar Store
  3. 15 minutes FREE computer time (anytime they want...normally we have specific "electronic" times of the day)
  4. Trip to the park
  5. Order pizza
  6. Piece of candy
  7. Happy Meal from fast food joint
  8. $1.00 each (that they DO NOT have to pay savings on....but of course they still have to pay tithing)
  9. 15 minutes FREE on the Wii (anytime they want)
  10. Help make a batch of cookies
I tried to come up with rewards that were things that we don't usually do (I know...we should go to the park more....we don't go as much as I should take them!) in order to make it fun.

If you'd like a copy of my chore chart, leave a comment with your email and I'll send you the Excel file. Mine doesn't have images, because I found that I didn't know how to add images in Excel, but you could draw little sketches next to the chore, or figure out how to make one with the images (I'm sure there are many who are more technologically savvy than I). I looked online as well and found a few places where you could create your own chore chart:

1) DLKT's Custom Chore Charts
2) Chore Charts
3) Free Printable Behavior Charts.

I'd love to hear if you all have any systems that work well in your home. I'd love some new ideas.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Linen Closets!

Now wouldn't we all want a pretty one? And wouldn't it be nice if linens were indeed the only items in the linen closet? Wouldn't you love that much space? Too bad though. So, I'll tell you how I've organized mine:Top shelf are my sheets. Each bin holds a different size; king, queen, a small bin for pillowcases, and where are my twin sheets you ask? Currently we don't have any twin beds in our house, so I have some of those space saver vacuum bags that I've used for the twin sheets which are now stored underneath my bed (amongst other things....what I wouldn't give for more storage space!). Second and third shelves are my towels. Fourth and fifth shelves, as well as the floor, are bins for different necessities. One is for cleaning supplies (not my main place, but just something to clean up quick messes upstairs), one for "Skin Care," "Hair Care," "Dental Care," bar soaps, hand soaps, travel size items, paper products (feminine products, bathroom cups, etc.), hair cutting tools, fabric/sewing items. Also, if you can see, I have a baby wipes dispenser sitting on top of my aqua-colored sewing box that holds plastic bags for replacing the upstairs bathroom trash and for stinky diapers. Here's another close-up look: And if you look closely, you'll see that I've used my handy-dandy label maker that I LOVE to label each of my bins.

Upon doing a little research on linen closets, I did find some good suggestions out there that I have not implemented, but are awesome none the less. Here they are:

1) Store bed sheet sets in pillow cases for easy access

2) Don't take up space in the linen closet for the bed sheets--store them in the room that they would be used in OR store them (get this) IN BETWEEN your mattress and box springs. So you change the sheets, and voila! A clean set is sitting there ready to be used!

3) If it works for you, rolls towels instead of folding them

4) Use an over-the-door hanging shoe organizer (if you have the right kind of door...unlike me!) to store things like extra shampoo or soap

5) And lastly, get rid of linens you don't need or use! You don't need 4 sheet sets per bed! Downsize for extra space!

So there you have it. Does anyone have any new ideas or suggestions for me? I'd love it if you'd share!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dejunking the Junk Drawer!

I have been wanting to dejunk my junk drawer for far too long. Here's my before picture:As you can see by a couple little baskets hidden in there, I have attempted to organize this before, but apparently it didn't really work for me. So today I did some revamping, and here's how it went:So, what I did was dump everything out of the drawer (you could do it on a dry towel so that your counter or carpet doesn't get little paper scraps and crumbs everywhere) and then made three piles. 1) to throw away 2) the stuff I wanted to keep IN the drawer and 3) stuff I didn't want to toss, but needed to be put somewhere else. Then I took these handy little baskets/containers and organized! (You can buy these little baskets at Wal-mart or any dollar store). I even put baby jars in a long basket for little things (like tacks, paper clips, safety pins) and then in the back I put clean yogurt cups for different sized batteries and also my twistie ties. And that plastic baggie in front of the yogurt cups are batteries to discard. I'd rather recycle them at the library than throw them in the trash. Here's a website that you can enter your zip code and find a local collection site to recycle your (rechargeable) batteries (apparently regular batteries are harder to find recycling locations for).

Back to the drawer. As you can see I have a container for pens/markers, and the back container has "tool" objects like a screw driver, measuring tape, super glue, etc. That's so I don't have to go dig in the garage every time I need one of these items.

So that's my new junk drawer! Now I want to challenge each of you to dejunk YOUR junk drawer and then tell me about it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Web Inspirations....Laundry Rooms!

I would love to have a BEAUTIFUL laundry room. Right now, our house is too small for the system of my choice, but I'll show you what I do have, and what I want.So I have my bins up top with cleaning supplies, rags, light bulbs, etc. Now if you'll notice, in between the washer and dryer I have this 3 tiered cart (with wheels!) where I keep my laundry detergent, dryer sheets, etc. I got it from Wal-Mart a while back. I can't find the exact product out there online, but it's very similar to this. And then of course I used a shower curtain rod to hang clothes up when need be. And I must say, I do love my plastic bag storage on the wall. You can get it just about anywhere. I think I found mine at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. But if you don't want to buy one of these, I've seen people put their grocery store bags in an empty tissue box, or an empty baby wipes dispenser. I use the empty wipes dispenser on my second floor in my linen closet. So here's some pictures of laundry rooms that I love!!Isn't that gorgeous?! This picture came from Stacks and Stacks Clutter Control Freak Blog. She's got some great tips. But here's some real people's laundry rooms:This woman has 5 children and her own laundry room in the basement. She even has a laundry shoot. Read her blog on what she does: Clover Lane. Simple, which equals awesome to me! And next we have a really cute laundry room from Organize with Sandy.Sandy has 7 hampers in her laundry room for whites, jeans, reds, light permapress, dark permapress, towels, and extra (misc – like pillows or delicates). So she sorts as she goes. I really like her system. Read the part about The Laundry Process. I love the laundry cubbies. She's got those kids trained! Read her post and she'll tell you all about it.

Oh! And one more thing on Organize with Sandy that I'd like to try are Sock Sacks! I would love to not have to sort socks! Check these out:I'll have to order mine and see if I like them. Now I would really like to know from you all, how do you organize your laundry room? I'd love some tips!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kids' Artwork and School Papers

Now this is a BIG one. What do you do with all of your kids' artwork and school work that accumulates just about EVERY DAY?! This is what I do:
I stamp the date on whatever papers or art that come home from school, and I have a designated basket that I put each child's in. (I got these ones from Ikea).Then during the summer (that means right now!!) I go through them, find the ones I want to keep, use sheet protectors and put them in a 3 ring binder. I sort the papers into artwork, math, writing, etc. Most of the math and science ones get tossed (and sometimes it's easy to see what is toss-able before it even hits the baskets during the year) and then I pick out some of the special or favorite writings and art samples to save. I try to pick out work that shows their progress or their sweet little personalities. Also, I try to make notes on the page so that we know what in the world that picture was all about in 10 years. With those big artwork pages, I take them to Kinko's and get the guys there to shrink them down to 8 1/2 x 11 for me. Below is one of those shrunk artwork pages with my writing explaining the picture on the next page.**Note, I get an explanation from the kids RIGHT when that artwork comes in and make notes (could be a post-it that gets stuck on the paper, or just write it on the back...whatever works for you) otherwise they won't remember by the time I get around to making their book.**

I know that there will be many-a-things that will not make the cut, but remember, you will be collecting and accumulating forever! It will not stop! So, for me, it stops after one 3 ring binder per year. Here's a picture of this same thing on one of the blogs I am following: Creative Organizing So, now I'd like to know, how do you all organize your kids' papers?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Family Organization Book

I have a desk in my house that is the center of all hub-bub in the house. For some crazy reason I can NEVER keep it clean! I think it's the catch-all "I don't know where to put this" place in the house. So, to help with this, I decided to create a "Family Organization Book." Yeah, I know the name is rather dry, but that's exactly what it is. I took a 3 ring binder, and put 5 dividers in it for 5 sections:
1) Notes-anything I need to scribble at any time
2)"Dynamic" Papers-papers that come in and go permission slips, flyers for the school Fun Fair, book orders, reminders for upcoming activities, etc.
3)"Static" Papers-these papers will stick around for a long time, like the school calendar, class lists, my list of "kids-eat-free" restaurant nights (which check out the website , you'll love it!), etc.
4)Phone #s/email addresses
5)Grocery list-my husband is always saying, "Oh, could you get this at the store next time you go?" and then of course I never remember, so now he can just right it down in the section.
And then in the back pocket of the binder, I've stuck some gift certificates and coupons for any place my family likes to go out and eat. (I think going out to eat is my very favorite thing to do! I really, really, love good food.....I've been spoiled since moving to Chicago!).

So, from now on, when I go through our mail, or the papers my kids bring home from school, I'll immediately take out whatever I need, punch holes in it, and put them in my book!

So that's it! I'll let you all know if the top of my desk stays any clearer now!

Getting started...

Organization here I come!!! I am so excited to be here and to be starting this blog!! I'm on a mission to simplify and organize my life. I'm not an "expert" by any means and would always LOVE suggestions from you all, and I will share anything I glean through this let's get started!