Tag Archives: organization

Tools to Help You Get Organized This Year

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tools to help get organized

Most everyone does the whole New Years resolutions thing.  You know, the: lose weight, get healthy, stop smoking, or insert-your-issue-here.  Well, one of my goals for this year is to get organized.  Declutter my home, remember appointments and be on time for them, find a place for everything and figure out a workable cleaning schedule.  Piece of cake, right?

Now I realize that one can not simply achieve organization and be done with it.  You have to keep working at it.  You know how it is with house cleaning… it doesn’t stay clean longer than three minutes.  But for those three blissful minutes, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.  🙂  Of course the same is true with organizing.  Once you are finished cleaning, decluttering and organizing you have to keep at it or pretty soon your house will look like it did before you started!

So now that we’re clear on all of that it’s time to get down to business.  How can I get my life organized?

Of course, it will be different for everyone.  But I hope you are able to take a few of these tips to help you along your way.

Find a Cleaning Schedule/Routine and Stick With It

There are probably some of you that can find your own routine and stick with it.  I can do that too… sometimes.  But for those of us who have struggles with this, there is help out there in cyber land.  Here are just a few cleaning schedules/routines that you might want to check out.

  • The Confident Mom has a great planner for busy moms.  This is the one I’ve used the past couple of years and I love it.  It reminds me to do things I might otherwise forget (like clean the light fixtures) as well as the normal weekly stuff like changing the sheets and stuff.  And the best part?  It’s free!  She also has a supplement pack you can purchase to go with it if you’re so inclined.
  • Motivated Moms has a planner and an app.  I haven’t used this one myself but I’ve heard some great things about it.  It might be a solution for you tech savvy moms out there.
  • Flylady is also a great resource to use.  She will show you the basics of cleaning and decluttering and helps you build from there.

The easy part is finding a great schedule or routine.  The hard part?  Sticking with it.  And don’t give me the crazy eye right now.  There are days (weeks?) where not everything will get done.  But SOME is better than NONE.  Start with one thing.  One thing.  That you vow to do every day.  And then do it.  No excuses.  Even when you’re tired, sick or cranky.  Just do it.  Next month add one more goal that you vow to do everyday.  By the end of the year you could have twelve new great habits under your belt!  How awesome is that?  {Need a goal tracker?  Check out this one or this one.  And for the techies, try this one or an app from your app store.}

Plan Your Day

Many times I jot down a several things I need to get done for the day but never actually plan where in my day to do these things.  It’s too easy to keep putting it off… then it’s past bedtime and I still haven’t done half of my to do list.  And wonder, what happened to my day?  What did I accomplish?

Nothing.

This is where having a morning routine helps.  Also, this year I got a new planner which works for me and I love, love, love it.  {And you can try it for free here!}  At this point in my life I need the structure of a day timer type planner.  Every Sunday get my planner and take a few minutes to roughly plan my week.  I add any appointments and jot down the regular stuff like church, school, meals/meal prep, etc.  Then each night before bed I look at the next day and fill in the holes.  If I have a free hour in the afternoon I might schedule that time to declutter the office or make my meal plans for the next month.

I have found that if I make a plan I’m far less likely to wonder where my day has gone and why don’t I have something to show for it.

Find Your Motivation

Yeah, everyone wants a clean house and an organized life.  But it has to be more than that.  Why do you want to be organized?  What is your motivation?

For me it is, in part, the peace that comes with being organized and on top of things.  There is waaaaay less stress when I know where I’m supposed to be, where everything is and what needs to be done.

I also enjoy an organized home because I feel more relaxed.  I can open my home up more readily to friends and neighbors if my home is decluttered and organized.  I spend less time looking for things and more time playing with my family.  I’m more apt to snuggle on the couch and watch Veggie Tales with my kids if I don’t have the nagging guilt of clutter and chaos around me.

That’s my motivation.  You should think about yours and write it down.  Keep it handy for those hard days when you feel defeated.  Look at it often and keep chugging along.

Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself

Repetition is boring.  We all know that.  So don’t forget to make it fun.  Reward yourself when you starting making those healthy habits or declutter the kitchen.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something special to YOU.

A few tips though.  Obviously, if you’re trying to lose weight don’t reward yourself with a food item.  Likewise, if you’ve just decluttered your kitchen don’t go buy another kitchen doodad.  Unless it’s something you absolutely need anyway.  And then I say go for it. 🙂

The Bottom Line

Basically it all comes down to this.  You can want an organized life.  You can even need an organized life.  But until you buckle down and follow through with all of your planning you’re not going to get an organized life.  

Hard punch.  Sorry about that.  But I needed to hear it probably more than you did.

Don’t give up.  Keep pushing.  It is worth it.  And once you reach that organized nirvana neverland, I’m betting you’re going to say it is all worth it too.  The peace that comes with organization is well worth the time I spend staying organized.  It makes me happy, it makes my family happy.  I’d say it’s totally worth it. 🙂

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Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Wrap Up

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

I can’t believe it’s already time to end this series!  The month has flown by and I hope you have had as much fun as I have getting started on an organized Christmas.  I have already begun “getting in the Christmas spirit” just from spending so much time planning things this month.  And I’m really looking forward to the season!

I’m nearly done buying my gifts — I at least know what I’m buying everyone (except my dad… he’s a hard nut to crack) and pretty soon I’ll be scheduling a gift wrapping session to take care of the ones I have already bought.  I’ve also started on my Christmas cards — a little late this year but it’s been a really busy month.  I’m sure if I take the time to do a few each day I’ll have them ready with plenty of time to spare.

I don’t tell you all of that to gloat — I tell you that to give you hope that you can do it too.  I want you to join me and reap the benefits of an organized Christmas holiday.  It’s wonderful to be able to savor the moment instead of rushing around trying to get things done.  I mean sure, I’ll have some rushing around to do too — it’s inevitable.  But if a bit of advanced planning and work will give me more time to play with my kids, read a book with them or make some gingerbread men… Well.  That’s not a hard choice, is it?

Because that’s what it’s all about.  Who cares about a lot of the other stuff?  Spending time with my family, making memories and sharing the love of Jesus — that’s what warms my heart.  And if we can’t do that at Christmastime when can we??

My prayer is that each one of you enjoy a wonderful, peaceful and joy filled holiday season.  And I hope this series will give you a bit of help to achieve those goals.  🙂

~~ From my happy home to yours ~~

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Binder Prep and Organizing

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

Throughout the month you’ve been given loads of printables to help you have an organized Christmas season.  Back on day one I talked about getting a binder (mine is green!) to store your Christmas Control Journal (CCJ).

I’ve been making a new CCJ right along with y’all and so far I just have a big mess of papers and not too much organization going on in there.  I plan on changing that today though!

Your binder will probably look different than mine, even if we have the same basic printables in it.  I will share the way I organize my binder, but you should organize yours in an order that makes sense to you.

So let’s get crackin’!

I have eight dividers (bought them at the Dollar Tree around the beginning of September).  Here is how they’re divided:

  1. Calendar — My overall November and December calendar is the only thing behind this tab.
  2. Cleaning and Housekeeping — The cleaning to do list, cleaning calendarhousekeeping to do list and wardrobe planner.  (It was the most logical place for it, in my opinion.)
  3. Financial and Gifts — My budget, gift ideas, gifts purchased, order tracker, gifts to make and stocking stuffers are here.
  4. Addresses and Cards — Obviously the address listChristmas card list and thank you card list are the only things here.
  5. Planners and Food — The Christmas baking plannerparty planner, holiday meal planner, food shopping lists and recipes are here.
  6. Traditions and the Like — This is where I put my holiday traditions, entertainment (movies and music) and light viewing list.  (Because they kind of all go together.)
  7. Christmas Future — The notes for Christmas futureitems needed for next year and decorations inventory are here.
  8. Extra Paper — Just in case I need to jot something down (or have an idea for another printable!) I always have extra paper in my CCJ.

You’ll notice that I did not include my gift closet inventory (because it’s stored with the extra gifts).  I also didn’t include my fridge/freezer or pantry inventory either, because those lists are stored on the side of my fridge.

You may compile your CCJ in a completely different way — and that’s great!  If it’s organized in a way that makes sense to you then you’ll have an easier time using it.  And we all want our lives to be simpler, more organized and just a little more peaceful.  🙂

And now, the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  Organize your CCJ and fill out any bits that you can right now.

Today’s Printable:  Sorry, no printable today.  I have officially ran out of ideas for printables! 😀

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Storage Solutions

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

Just think — in a few months time the holiday season will be over.  You’ll be taking down the decorations, and wondering where the time went.  And also maybe breathing a small sigh of relief that it’s finally over.  That’s okay too. 

But before you box up that strand of lights that only works half the time or repack those decorations that you didn’t use — again — this year, take a little time to clear out the items you don’t want, need, or love anymore.  Give them to someone who will appreciate them or toss them.  Loan them to someone if you can’t bear to actually get rid of them.  If you’re not using them or if they don’t work properly you shouldn’t spend your valuable real estate housing them.

I posted a blog after last Christmas about how I store my Christmas decorations.  It’s a method that works well for me.  (I used the same principle during my last move and it worked wonderfully!)  But if that amount of detail isn’t your thing, that’s ok too.  As long as your decorations are stored neatly (because no one likes to sort through a tangled web of lights!) it really doesn’t matter how you store them.

A few tips I use to help store my Christmas decorations:

  • I wrap Christmas light strands around my hand (you know what I mean; until they form a circle/ball) and then put them in a plastic grocery bag.  I label the bag with black permanent marker and write exactly what is in the bag.  (For example: “clear lights, windows”, “blue lights, big tree”, “red lights, artificial tree”, etc.)  There is no confusion and it’s easy to sort when I need them.  {And if I change my color schemes it’s easy to see what I have and what I may need.}
  • I try to keep the original boxes for the breakable little knick-knacks.  They’re safe and I can pop them all in a larger box to store them.
  • I only buy shatterproof ornaments these days.  With kids, pets and my own clumsy self I need everything shatterproof!  I tend to box all of the ornaments together in one box (a separate box for each tree — I have three trees).  I keep the hangers attached to each ornament.  It’s less time consuming than taking them all off and putting them all back on again the next year.  Occasionally I’ll have some that tie themselves together but they’re easily removed.  And it still takes far less time this way, even when I have to replace a few hangers which have fallen off in storage.  (Some might call it being lazy — I say I’m being efficient with my time. ;))

That is all I can think of for the moment — it is a little hard to think about storage solutions when you’ve had your stuff in storage for the past 10 months!  If I think of any more I’ll be sure and add to it.  Also, if you have any handy dandy tips you would like to share, please feel free!

And now, the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  We’re off the hook again today.  The work will come when Christmas is over and it’s time to put it all away again until next year.  Before then though, you may want to take stock of your storage solutions and see if you’re happy with them.  If not, start trying to come up with a way that is better suited to your needs.

Today’s Printable:  In case you use the method I listed above, I’ve attached a printable to help you:  CCJ decoration storage.  If you need more than two pages of space let me know and I’ll add more.  🙂

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Thank You Card List

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

We try to instill good habits, thankfulness and proper etiquette in our children.  It’s a rough fight on occasion, but somebody has to do it.  🙂  And what better way to teach them all of those important lessons than having them write out thank you cards when they receive gifts?

The young ones will not be able to help you with this, of course, but it is still a way to brighten the gifters day with a nice thank you card detailing how much little Billy loves the toy train set.  And your BFF would love a handwritten note from you telling her how much you love and appreciate her gift to you!

Sometimes it’s just easy to be so busy during the Christmas season that we forget to stop and be thankful.

So I dare you to stop and be thankful for a few minutes.  Take a little time out of your busy holiday season and write some thank you notes to the friends and loved ones who cared enough to send you (or your family members) a gift.

And now, the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  Of course there’s not much you can do until you start receiving Christmas presents.  You can go ahead and get some cute thank you cards though!  Unless you’re like me and still have some left over from when your youngest child was born.  Then you’re off the hook.  🙂

Today’s Printable:  CCJ thank you card list.  

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Notes for Christmas Future

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

Have you ever looked at that partially put together artificial tree (or whatever) and said to yourself, “I know there’s a trick to doing this; I just can’t remember what it is?”

Or maybe your husband tells you every year at the last minute that he’d like you to bake nine dozen cookies for the company Christmas party… which is only two days away.

I think everyone has those little things that they think to themselves, “Ok, maybe next year you’ll actually remember this.”

Guess what?  You won’t.

I don’t either.  That’s why I started writing a list for Christmas future.  (It sounds kind of Charles Dickens-ish, doesn’t it?)

Some things on my list?

  • Not to forget that my brother hates pumpkin pie.  I made him one for at least 5 years before I finally started writing it down so I would remember.  My brain keeps thinking it’s his favorite!
  • No matter what I may think, eight strands of lights are needed for the artificial tree.  Not seven.
  • Don’t forget the stockings.  Or the stocking stuffers.
  • Send the UK Christmas cards early.  Like last week in November early.  Then if there is another Royal Mail strike the cards will hopefully still have time to get there before Christmas.

When you catch yourself thinking that you need to remember something for next year — write it down.  And especially write it down when you think to yourself, “Oh, I’ll definitely remember that next year.”

You know, just in case. 🙂

And now, the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  Print the printable and put it into you CCJ.  Chances are that there isn’t much you can put on it right now.

Today’s Printable:  CCJ notes for Christmas future.

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Items Needed for Next Year

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

By the end of the Christmas season there are usually dead light sets that have to be thrown away, moth eaten garland to retire and maybe even an artificial tree at the end of it’s useful life.

The best time to buy Christmas decorations is, of course, the day after Christmas.  But sometimes that isn’t possible.  Due to time, money or space constraints — or even a sold out store — it’s sometimes impossible to buy items for next Christmas at the end of the year.

A few years ago I noticed how frustrated I would get when I got all of my Christmas decorations out and started decorating the tree but had to stop when I realized I didn’t have enough lights to finish.  Then I would remember that some of them burned out the previous year and I didn’t get replacements.

But that’s not the time you want to drop everything and run to the store!  It’s a lot more peaceful if you already know what you need and buy it before you start decorating.

Now I write it down on a list labeled “Items Needed for Next Year”.  This encompasses Thanksgiving and Christmas and I can tell at a glance exactly what I need to buy to replenish my stock.

Early last month I went to Hobby Lobby (that store is my weakness — I’m kind of glad the closest one is about 2 hours away from me!).  I took my list that I wrote from last year because I knew they would already have Christmas decorations out and I might be able to buy some of my needs then.  I was right — before I left I was able to check off three of the five items on my list — at 40% off!

The other two items are on my next week’s shopping list.  I might as well go ahead and get it out of the way.  We all know how difficult it is to try and find lights and other widely used decorations after about Thanksgiving.  They can get as scarce as hens teeth!

Which leads me to the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  If you already know of anything you need to buy to decorate for the holidays go ahead and write them down.  This will be a great tool for the end of the season and you’ll probably find it more useful then.

Today’s Printable:  CCJ items needed for next year.

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Christmas Light Viewing

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

Every year, without fail, we pick an evening near Christmas and load up the kids (usually in pajamas and coats), grab the camera and some hot chocolate and search for the best light displays around town.  It’s one of our family traditions.  We started doing it the year we were married — long before kids were in the picture… although we do kind of act like a couple of children while we’re out looking at lights.

Hot chocolate, Christmas carols and making memories with the ones you love.  Nothing better than that!  It’s one of my favorite Christmas traditions!

When we lived in my hometown (population of about 11K) I knew exactly where to go for the best lights.  It didn’t take much pre-planning then.   When we moved to a new, bigger city (and state) almost two years ago it was a completely different ball game.  I couldn’t even make it to the grocery store without GPS; finding the best light displays would have to be because of shear luck!  And it really was mostly luck — but we did find some great ones.

I spent the majority of December while out on errands going down different streets to see if I could find the best lights.  I wrote down the street names and hoped I’d be able to find them again in the dark.  I’m telling y’all, I’m dedicated!

I kept last year’s list and I plan to add to it this year.  I’m more familiar with (most) of the city now which should help tremendously.

Does your family go look at Christmas lights around your town?  If you don’t already I’d thoroughly recommend it.

If you’ve lived in your town a while you may already know the “who’s who” in Christmas decorations.  But if you’re new in town or live in a very large city you might profit from making your own Christmas Light Viewing List.  Just don’t forget to write it down — if your memory is like mine you’ll be lucky to remember the good ones by the time you get home, much less by this time next year.  Oh, and always be on the lookout for new streets to visit!

And now, the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  Print out the Christmas Light Viewing List if you like.  Start writing down streets you know you need to visit and add to it when you think of a new one.  Use the list as a general guideline on your family Light-Looking outing.  🙂

Today’s Printable:  CCJ Christmas light viewing list.

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Pantry Inventory

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

I have been blessed with a relatively large pantry.  It’s not like room-sized big, but it’s more space than I’ve ever had before.  I am able to store a lot of extra food in there in case of emergencies (and also if I find a great sale!).  My pantry is also where I keep my extra small appliances when they’re not in use, extra table linens, and extra large containers (like cake carriers, etc.).

Needless to say, it’s pretty well trafficked every day.

I tried for a long time to tame the beast but never had much luck.  I would lose things in the back and forget what I had on hand.  After I finally got my freezer inventory on a good system I decided to tackle the pantry with the same general idea.

I wrote down the list of foods I normally keep in my pantry and laminated the paper.  I use my wet erase marker to mark when I take out or put something into the pantry.  I have my list (and marker) fastened in my pantry on a string.  It doesn’t magically grow legs and walk off that way.

Bonus tip:  On shopping day you can easily take your pantry (and freezer) list and see what you’re running low on.  Making a shopping list is so easy!

With everything going on around the holidays keeping an inventory of your pantry could be a definite sanity saver.  You would always know what’s on hand!  Last minute guests could show up and you could probably throw something together to make them feel welcome.  (Speaking of which, I think everyone should have at least one go to snack/meal that’s easy to fix in a pinch.  And always have those ingredients on hand.)   And you know what?  It’s not a sin to have a little Betty Crocker help from time to time either.  Just sayin’. 🙂

So do yourself a favor and start organizing that pantry now.  You didn’t have any other plans for the weekend, did you? 🙂

And now, the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  Make your pantry inventory check list.  As with the freezer list yesterday, you might as well go ahead and throw out all of the expired cans and boxes of stuff that have overstayed their welcome.

Today’s Printable:  CCJ pantry inventory list.

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Freezer Inventory

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{If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series you can find them here.}

If you already keep a working inventory of your freezer then you’re off the hook for today.  🙂  I usually know what’s in my fridge (I try to clean it out at least once a week) but I sometimes really fall off track on knowing exactly what are in my freezers.  Which really stinks when I think I have something in there and then when I figure out it’s not I have to scramble to figure out what else to cook for supper that night!

Ideally, a freezer inventory should be kept year round.  There are so many benefits:

  • You always know what items you have on hand.
  • You are less likely to forget about something and have to throw it away because it grew moldy or got freezer burned.
  • It’s easier to buy extras when you find a good deal on something (say, beef) if you know how much space you have and that you don’t already have several packages hiding in the freezer.

Setting up an inventory not probably not a fun task.  It takes time, patience, and a hot drink to help keep your hands warm.  (Any excuse for coffee!)  But once you get it set up you hopefully will be able to keep it up with just a bit of maintenance here and there.  And if you go ahead and accomplish this task now, it should help keep you more organized when you’re trying to figure out what you need to buy to do all of your holiday cooking and baking.

A few tips I’ve found useful since keeping a freezer inventory:

  • I keep my freezer inventory on the side of my fridge instead of in my CCJ.  It’s easier to make changes to it if it’s right there so I’m more likely to do it then (instead of doing it “later” — which we all know never tends to actually happen).
  • Write (in permanent marker) on all of your freezer plastic zippy baggies.  Write what’s in there and include the date as well (I also include the amount/weight).  Because no matter how good you think your memory is, in six month’s time that hunk of meat will not be identifiable and will probably never be eaten.
  • After I wrote down a list of things I normally keep in my freezer, I laminated the paper.  Now I can just use a wet erase marker to add/subtract amounts.  It’s more durable and very convenient for me.
  • I also made sure that my marker had a magnet in it so it sticks to the fridge right beside my list.  No more hunting for a writing utensil.  And I made sure that my family know that marker is off limits.

What if you have two (or more) freezers?  How do you make that work?  In my home I have my regular fridge/freezer.  Out in the garage is a separate upright freezer.  When I began my Freezer Inventory List I tried to keep them separate and made separate lists.  That didn’t work well for me because I regularly move things from one freezer to the other.  It just became more of a hassle than it was worth to try and remember to erase from one list and write it on the other.  It wasn’t long before I gave up completely.

Now I just keep one list.  Since it’s all written down it really doesn’t take that long to find something, even if I have to search through both freezers to find it.  (And that normally doesn’t happen because I tend to know what’s in my fridge/freezer since I’m in it so often.)

Another suggestion that may work if you have multiple freezers is to assign numbers to your freezers.  When you write down an item on your Freezer Inventory List just jot down the number of the freezer beside it.  Just find a method that works for you!

{Tomorrow we’re going to tackle the food pantry!}

And now, the homework:

Today’s Assignment:  Bite the bullet and make your freezer inventory check list.  (You might find it handy to have one person to write down the items and someone else to call out all of the items in the freezer.)  While you’re in there you might as well go ahead and throw out all of the mystery meat and other stuff that has been in there since 2005.  It’s time.  Just let it go.  🙂  It’ll be easier to organize what’s left — and much easier to locate things later.   And don’t forget the upright and chest freezers!

Today’s Printable:  CCJ freezer inventory list.  Make multiples as needed.  I’ve also included an inventory list for your fridge if you need one:  CCJ fridge inventory list.