Organising Tips

10 Tools Everyone Needs to Get and Stay Organised

Organising yourself and your life is a fine balance. Too many tools and devices and you spend more time managing the tools than you do your life. Too few tools and you lose time trying to find things and stay organized. Let’s explore the basics and ten tools everyone needs to get and stay organised.

#1 Planner/Calendar
This may sound like a no-brainer but there’s a difference between having a planner and actually using it. You want to find a planner that you will use consistently. Take a look at paper, computer based, and mobile device planners and find one that fits your needs and personality.  Additionally, consider creating or using different planners for different purposes. For example, your business planner, personal planner and family planner do not all have to be on the same system – they just have to work for you.

#2 Overflow bin
An overflow bin is a bin that collects items that don’t belong. For example, many people keep a basket at the foot of the stairs. Anything that belongs up stairs goes into the basket. Once a day or once a week the basket is emptied and items are placed where they belong.

#3 Media command center
The media center is often a source of chaos. Remotes get lost, DVDs are broken and it can be a frustrating area. Create a media command center. All remotes are placed in the command center when they’re not being used. DVDs and other media are all stored in a box or drawer for easy access.

#4 Phone/Electronics command center
If you’re like many the phone recharging are is a nightmare of chaos. Phones, cords and even keys and wallets get all jumbled. It’s a mess. Create a single location for all rechargeable media. For example, there are caddies that can house anywhere from three to five mobile devices. Each device space can be labeled and the cords can be organized from the back.

#5 Cleaning baskets/storage
Create a basket for each room that stores the room’s cleaning supplies. This is particularly important for rooms like the kitchen and the bathroom which tend to require a lot of cleaning supplies.

#6 Chore Chart/Family Organization Area
A family organisation area is important to keep track of where everyone needs to be and what they’re responsible for. One idea is to use post-its on a large calendar. The post-its can be easily removed and replaced as needs change.

#7 File Cabinet
The file cabinet should house all of your family or personal documents. Bank statements, tax information, and receipts are particularly important. You can also scan these items and store them on your computer. There are portable scanning devices designed specifically for this purpose. Just make sure to back up your computer information.

#8 Task List
Create some sort of task list system for yourself. It can be pen and paper, mobile device or other option. The key is to make sure it’s easily accessible and that you use it.

#9 Binders
Binders are excellent for storing information that you use often. Recipes, schoolwork, and even receipts can be organized and stored in three ring binders.

#10 10 Minutes, Minimum, of Free Time
While free time isn’t a tool per say, it is essential to get and stay organised. A cluttered mind cannot organise effectively and efficiently. Take time each day to clear your thoughts.

Organise Your Kitchen

Organising your kitchen can take a lot of hard work and planning. Many people find that they have a lot more kitchen gadgets and appliances than they realised. These handy kitchen organisation tips will help you stream line the most important room in your home.

  1. Create zones. On your kitchen countertops and workspaces you probably tend to focus on certain tasks. For example by the sink you probably do most of your chopping. The countertops by the stove are reserved for food prep. And your island may be used for pulling it all together. Make sure your tools fit the job. If you chop and dice fruits and veggies by the sink then the knives should be within easy reach
  2. Hide the rarely used appliances. A kitchen countertop may house a toaster, coffee maker, espresso machine, blender, juicer, grill and so on. Many kitchens have appliance overload. Put away the appliances that are not used on a daily basis. Also, if you can, replace multiple appliances with an appliances that does double duty, for example, a grill which grills food and toasts sandwiches, then you save valuable counter space.
  3. Invest in drawer organisers. There’s nothing worse than not being able to find the utensil you need for the job. Consider creating a countertop utensil holder for the utensils used on a daily basis. The rest get stored in a drawer with a utensil organiser.
  4. Utilise space saving storage. There are so many wonderful storage devices now. You can triple the number of cans a cupboard can hold with a can rack. You can pour cereal into stackable storage containers and eliminate that cluttered shelf full of half full cereal boxes. Determine what you need first and then head to the store for solutions.
  5. Keep it clean. Once your kitchen is good and organised, create systems to keep it clean. A clean kitchen just makes you want to put everything back where it belongs. It’s motivating.

Organising your kitchen doesn’t have to be a lifelong process. Take a look at what you have, what you use and the space available and plan it out before you start making changes. What can you get rid of? How would you like your kitchen to look and feel? Embrace these tips, organise your kitchen and keep it clean. You may just find you never want to leave your newly organised space.

Strategies for an Organised Home Office

The home office is one of the most important places in your home. It’s where your finances are managed, decisions are made and information is stored. If it’s chaotic and disorganised it might mean your finances and important family matters are also disorganised. And if you’re running a business out of your home office then it is crucial for it to be an organised and efficient space.

  1. Identify the purpose. A home office must suit its primary purpose. For example, if a home office is where a business is run then the office should be set up to support that purpose. If it’s instead set up to support family organization then it’s not doing the job.
  2. Use a tier system for organization. Keep all items you use on a daily basis close at hand. Lesser used items can be stored within reach. Items that are only used quarterly or less can be housed in boxes and out of site. An example might be last year’s taxes. Sure, you’ll need to look at them next year but they don’t need to be cluttering your daily work space.
  3. Find a place for everything – and put it there. Sounds simple, right? It should be but for most people it isn’t. That’s because the system they’ve created isn’t working for them. Take the in/out box for example. In theory the in/out box makes sense but an inbox can become overwhelmingly full quickly. Then it just becomes a disorganised pile of papers. Unless someone is in the habit of cleaning out their inbox on a daily basis this system won’t work well for them. Think about your personality and habits. Don’t try to make significant changes in your habits, find ways to work with them. If you only access your inbox once a month then create several inboxes. One for receipts, one for bills, one for miscellaneous information and so on.
  4. Group electronics. Cords are one of the most frustrating and often unsightly aspects of a home office – phone cords, charging stations, printer cords, computer cords, speaker wires the list goes on and on. When you keep your electronics in a single location you can mitigate the cord clutter. And it makes it easier to use cord hiding solutions.
  5. Label properly. Labels are a great way to keep things organized and easy to find. However, if you use a label you want to make sure they give you the full information. For example, a file labelled “taxes” isn’t enough information. Taxes from last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Add pertinent information and create a tiered system for your files. For example, create a mail file labelled “taxes” and then separate files for each year. You should be able to find any information in your file cabinet or on your computer in less than thirty seconds.

Organising your home office isn’t a matter of forcing change. Embrace your personality and habits. Be realistic about what you will and won’t do and then create systems to support that.

Laundry Room Storage Solutions

The laundry room is often a neglected space in most homes. It’s often tucked away and surrounded by open wires and pipes. The walls are gray and unfinished and often without a window. The result, of course, when a room is as depressing as most laundry rooms is that no attention or time is spent on the space. Oh sure maybe a wire shelf is hung on the wall so the laundry detergent and supplies have a space but that’s usually about as far as laundry room organisation goes.

Unfortunately when a laundry room is a dismal and disorganized mess no one wants to spend any time in there. Laundry ends up pouring out of the room. You’ll find clean baskets of clothes unfolded and sitting in rooms for days, weeks even. The clean gets mixed with the dirty and the end result is laundry chaos. However, when a laundry room is organised and pleasant to be in, laundry gets done, folded and put away happily.

The essentials of a laundry room:

A laundry room has a few essentials. They include laundry detergent, dirty clothes hampers, drying racks and a folding surface. You may even store your ironing board and iron. You’ll also want baskets to store and deliver the clean clothes.

Storage Ideas

Colorful painted shelving can be added to store laundry supplies. Consider using a small storage bin to keep the laundry detergent, dryer sheets and stain removal items organised. A narrow cupboard can be added to house the drying rack, ironing board and iron. And the surface of the dryer can be covered to provide a surface for folding clothes.

Instead of buying a tall freestanding hamper consider purchasing one that is housed in a cupboard. Then you have extra storage space and a place for your dirty clothes. And don’t forget the trash can for lint removal and all the fun junk found in pockets. You can find these cupboards and smaller storage areas by shopping in the cabinet area of your local home store. Consider also looking at the kitchen cabinets. Often the floor cabinets are small and just the right size for a small laundry room.

Have a jar to collect coins – and any dollar bills – and then treat yourself to something special when the money builds. A great way to reward yourself for all those endless baskets of laundry you do every week.

Dedicate a basket or small bucket to store any single socks you find.  This way all your odd socks are in one place so when its matching pair pops up, you can easily pair them up again.

The fun extras

Making a laundry room welcoming is as simple as painting the walls a bright welcoming colour. Finally, so that people will want to stick around to iron, fold and sort clothing consider adding an element of entertainment. Add a wall mounted television, iPod speakers or other media element to entertain while chores are being done.

The laundry room doesn’t have to be a dismal, depressing and cluttered space. Find simple storage solutions using bright shelving, storage containers and simple cabinetry found at your local home store. Add a splash of color with paint, incorporate media and watch the laundry chores turn into a pleasant pastime.

Tips for Keeping Your Family Organised

It’s not enough to keep yourself organised, many people also have little people and/or a spouse to keep organised too. It’s not an easy job!

Here are a few tips to help you keep everyone in your family organized:

  1. Organize yourself first. If you’re disorganized there’s no way you’re going to be able to keep track of anyone else’s itinerary. Use whatever system works best for you; day planner, mobile device, computer calendar or good old fashioned pen and pencil.
  2. Create solutions that fit the person’s personality. Some people are detailed and able to follow through, others…not so much. Address the challenge your family member is facing. For example, if your daughter has a good system for organizing her school work but fails to follow through then her challenge is in the follow through. Help her create new habits.
    Additionally, some people like very structured organization while others are more relaxed about it. As long as they can immediately find what they need and mistakes are not made then the system works. For example, one child may keep a calendar on their wall of all their practices, meetings and homework. Another child may keep the information on their iPad and have it send them messages when things are due. Both systems, while very different, can work.
  3. Create a central zone. While individual family members may be able to keep track of their own tasks and responsibilities it can be difficult to pull it all together as a family. Many families create a central information zone. You might use a chalk board or dry erase board. You might use a large hanging calendar. One great idea is to create a monthly calendar on a piece of poster board. However, instead of writing on the calendar you use post-its for each day. You can color code the post-its for each family member and write down their schedule. That way everyone can tell at a glance what’s going on for the entire family.
  4. Their own space. The entry way of your home is a perfect example of a location where everyone needs their own space. Children come home from school and just dump their stuff on the floor. Your spouse comes home and drops his or her keys on the table. Eventually it all gets muddled together. It’s a mess and things get lost. Create a space for each person. Use a coat rack, shelf or baskets. Label them and teach everyone to put their items in their space. That goes for you and your spouse too. Central mail, keys and charging stations also help ensure items never get lost.

You can embrace this “own space” concept in other rooms too. The laundry room, bathroom and even the living room can each offer storage space for each family member. It helps keep things organized, minimizes lost items and squabbles.

Keeping your family organized is no small task! Organize yourself first. Pay attention to each personality in your family and try to create systems that work for them. Finally, provide space for each family member in key areas of your home.

Top 5 Organising Solutions – It’s National Organising Week 2011

Take up the challenge to create the order and peace in your home and business that you have been promising yourself all year with the start today of National Organsing Week (NOW).  To help you tackle those piles of papers and mountains of clutter, we are dedicating this week to helping you live and work clutter free with our NOW Solutions. Each day this week, we will share with you How-To’s for the 5 areas you have told us cause you the most frustration. What are those 5 things?

  1. Office
  2. Kitchen
  3. Family members
  4. Laundry
  5. How to get organised when your schedule is crazy busy

Stay tuned for our first NOW Solution……


3 Step Plan to Finish Your Unfinished Business

Just about everyone has unfinished business…those things that we say we will get around to one day and of course ‘one day’ never comes.

It could be getting in contact with a friend we haven’t spoken to for ages or fixing the shelves in the laundry.

Here is a 3 step plan that even the worst procrastinator can follow to get your unfinished business, well, finished.

  1. Get all those niggling ‘to do’ things out of your mind and written down on paper. Your brain will thank you because it no longer needs to worry about remembering all those things.
  2. Select one unfinished ‘to do’ thing and do it today. Do the same next week and every week for however long it take you to tick off your list.
  3. Congratulate yourself on having more energy, a clearer brain and feeling oh so relaxed.

Whilst it is obviously better to do things when they come up, it is not always possible. So keep a running ‘to do’ list and every six months go through this 3-step plan to re-energise and reconnect.

As for my dirty little secret unfinished business that Katie Clift on radio 96.5FM made me fess up to:  cleaning up my email inbox. I’m sure I have about 4000 read emails just sitting in my inbox. Guess I know what unfinished business I will be cleaning up this week?! 🙂

Reduce Your Holiday & Travel Clutter

For those of us who go on holidays and enjoy family trips away from home, we inevitably find that a lot of knick-knacks and souvenirs from our travels worm their way into our home until we suddenly find ourselves inundated by things which we don’t need, but which we can’t bring ourselves to get rid of.

The  most drastic solution to avoiding holiday clutter is to not bring back any holiday souvenirs at all. But for most of us that’s unrealistic and unlikely to happen.  Here are 5 tips to help you keep your holiday souvenirs from cluttering your home:

  1. Take digital photographs and delete unwanted photos each night of your holiday. This way you bring back only great pictures that are great reminders of the places you’ve been to. And photos don’t take up much space.
  2. If you want a little piece of your travels to comeback home with you, why not try to keep that “little” piece truly little.  There are more than enough souvenirs which are small enough to fit into the palm of your hands and which won’t take up too much room in your house.  Instead of buying a lot of cheaper souvenirs, invest in a quality piece that best represents the fun of your travels.  This could be a carving, a snow globe, a figurine, etc.
  3. Send yourself beautiful postcards from wherever you go, and then when you get home, pin them up on a large corkboard that takes up space only on the wall and is a great visual reminder of your holiday.
  4. Fridge magnets are another great idea of a visual reminder of your holidays and you can contain them to one place in your house.
  5. Use your souvenirs as a practical storage item.  For example, a tall wooden giraffe I bought in Africa is a reminder of my trip to Africa and doubles as a place to hang my necklaces and helps me keep the clutter down.

So when you go on holiday, remember you want to bring home with you the peace and fun of your holiday and not a suitcase of things that will clutter your home and destroy your calm and relaxed state.

How to Make Effective Decisions Quickly

Learning to make fast decluttering decisions about your belongings can be a difficult task, but with practice you will find it becomes easier and easier. In the past you may have made decisions too quickly and the result has backfired on you. Rather than repeat your mistakes, you don’t make any decisions about your belongings and they are now taking over the house.

So just how do you make considered decisions quickly and easily and not regret those same decisions later on? Here are five tips to help you make decisions about your unwanted belongings.

1.  Look At Your Past Decisions

  • You can easily discover what has motivated your decision making process in the past by reflecting on why you made your previous decisions.
  • Were you so frustrated by the mess around you and it was all so overwhelming, that you simply tossed everything – and then lived to regret it.  Perhaps you were faced with too many choices about how you could use various items in your home, that you were overwhelmed by the choices and so made none. Or perhaps in the past you have thrown out an item that you later found you needed, and you are now letting your fears of making a wrong decision stop you from making any decisions at all.
  • Whatever the reasons are, once you understand why you have made the decisions you have about your belongings, you can work on improving your decision-making abilities moving forward.

2.  Getting Over Your Fears

  • There are many fears that play into decision making. You could be afraid because you think you might fail at decluttering. You could be afraid because you’ll have to take responsibility for consequences. You also could be afraid to choose between a lot of options.
  • If you’re afraid of failure, it’s a feeling that nearly everyone has encountered at some time in his or her life. The reality is that you very well may fail at certain things in life. It’s inevitable! Even the most organised people have thrown out (and kept) items that they wish they hadn’t of.
  • However, you can’t let this fear rule your life. Instead of being afraid of failure, decide what you’ll do if you do fail. Start small and declutter items that have little value or sentimental attachment.  This way you can practice your decision making skills and if you throw out something you wished you hadn’t of, it is not too expensive to replace or will not impact you emotionally.

3.  Going With Your Gut Instinct

  • When you feel that you have too many options, simply stop, take a deep breath and go with your gut instinct. Your gut instinct is usually right and you get the benefit of a quick decision.
  • Ensure that you’re calm and focused when you’re going with your gut instinct. That way, you can feel confident that you’re going with your true feelings and not something that’s influenced by outside sources.

4.  Speeding Up The Process

  • If you’re having trouble making the correct decisions, give yourself more time. Take the time to weigh your options and go with a decision whole-heartedly. Be ready to take responsibility for your actions, even knowing that everything might not go according to plan.
  • After you strengthen your overall decision making skills, then it’s easier to focus on making your decisions faster. With regular practice, you will notice that you are making decisions about your belongings quicker and easier.  Practice your decluttering decision making.

5.  Learning from Mistakes and Moving Forward

  • Start with smaller projects and practice making decisions about your whether you will keep your belongings or whether it is time for them to go to someone else.  Practice on items of little value or sentimental attachment.  Keep a journal to help you remember which methods work the best for you. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself making better decluttering decisions quicker than ever before.

Get Organised at Home by Creating More Space

Clutter is not just a result of having too many things! It can also be caused by not having enough space or storage for your belongings.  In fact, I see many people who are able to get organised once they have sorted out their lack of space and used the right storage containers.

If you don’t have space to put things away then you can be sure that everything will somehow or other wind up taking up valuable bench, table or floor space somewhere in your house.  So what can you do to stop the spread of your things and create more space?

It’s a three step process:
Step 1:  Look above
Step 2:  Look below
Step 3:  Look around you

It’s as easy and simple as that. If you look closely you will find that there is space above things like cabinets and shelving units and these little places can come in handy.

The same thing applies for step 2. Once you clean out the dust bunnies from under your bed, you would be surprised at the amount of space that you have under there, and what exactly you can store there.

To create the appearance of space you will want to keep as much space as you can in the area which is about eye level as this will create an impression of spaciousness.  And if you have only minimal items here, you can even look uncluttered to boot!  Use this space wisely so that you can accomplish your decluttering efforts without a hitch.

Be mindful of the storage containers you use.  A crate is all well and good under a table or in an unobtrusive corner where you can’t see it properly, but the very last thing that you will want to do is to place a crate right at eye level where its negative visual impact will undo any good that you have been doing so far in your decluttering efforts.

These days however it is very easy to lay your hands on boxes and things which you can use to fill the remaining space in your house.  You also have the choice of buying double-duty furniture, like a bed with storage space underneath it, or a coffee table with storage space underneath it.  You can get a shelving unit that doubles as a TV stand, and if you’re pressed for space you can even use a futon to act as your sofa and bed.

When looking to increase the space in your home to store items, remember to look above, below and around you.