Thursday, December 1, 2011

Organizing Tips for December

We are approaching the end of the year but this is a busy month for everyone.  Some organizing strategies for this season have already been covered in the previous months.  Here are some final reminders and tips to help you through the holidays and the end of the year.

  • Children and adults should take time to donate any items that are no longer useful. Many families will be forced to shop at thrift stores for holiday gifts and donating toys and clothing can be a blessing you will never see. 
  • If you have not done so already, immediately send cards, packages, newsletters and email messages.
  • Begin traditions with your family if you have not already begun them. For young children, simple activities such as baking cookies or decorating packages are best. Older children can help with community or church events. The family can purchase gifts for an "Angel Tree", read the Christmas story together, watch a favorite Christmas movie, etc. Keep it simple.
  • Take pictures of family and friends and the decorations you chose as a keepsake and reminder for next year. 
  • Be flexible on the big day and welcome any help offered. Don't sweat the small stuff and keep the mood light and happy.
  • Avoid the after Christmas sale unless you absolutely immediately need the items. Avoid the long lines, parking problems and traffic jams. Items that need to be returned can usually wait for a few days. 
  • Resist the urge to buy more holiday decorations just because they are on sale.
  • Keep a journal of what worked and what didn't, the gifts you gave and any changes you would make in the future. Keep a list of clutter free gifts you can give next year. (A list can be found in my book on pages 103-105.)
  • Keep the collection of all the lists, ideas, recipes, pictures, evaluations, etc. related to the holiday in a manila folder or create a folder for them on your computer. 
  • Plan the holiday clean up when others are there to help you.  Make it as much a part of the traditions as decorating.
  • As you take down the decorations, consider purging what you can. Eliminate as much permanent storage as possible. Make sure all items are clean and in good repair.  Try to maintain only those things with special significance or that cannot be replaced. Donate or pass on the others. 
  • Consider color coding holiday containers and label with the contents.
  • If you have space, hang bows in bags on hooks to maintain their shape.
  • Set a family goal to make the holidays even more meaningful next year. Adopt a charity, volunteer in the community, participate in your church holiday program, etc. Write down your decision and make plans for it next year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Organizing Checklist for November

Ready or not, the winter holidays are coming quickly.  Here are a couple of reminders plus more strategies to get you through the next few weeks.

Have packages for mailing out of town ready to send.  Some overseas deadlines occur in November.  Even packages to domestic locations should be ready to ship by the end of the month.

Now is the best time for online shopping.  Almost all stores are offering free shipping and the selection is better now than later.  Be sure to save receipts until after the holiday so items can be returned if necessary and to validate any charges on future credit statements.  It is a good idea to keep this in a special envelope, folder, box, basket, etc.

Last month we reminded you to purchase holiday cards if you are particular about them.  Now is the time to address and get them ready to mail.  Email greetings can wait until December.

And I can never stress this point enough:  If you choose to send a holiday newsletter, remember to keep it short and sweet.  The shorter, the sweeter.  No bragging is allowed; keep it newsy with love and appreciation for the input the recipients have had in your lives.

If you begin your holiday decorating early, be selective as you pull out the boxes of decorations.  Pass on those items that you no longer like or use to save space and time.  Permanent wreaths for the door can have the bow and a few leaves or flowers changed each season and will not have to be packed and stored.  I purchase the inexpensive wreath decorations for my permanent vine wreath each season and toss them after use.  They are normally dirty or faded anyway. 

Stand alone decorations specific to the holidays take lots of time in packing and unpacking each year and require more storage space.  By simply adding decorative bows, etc. to lamps, candles, house plants, etc., you can make your home festive without needing extra storage bins and space after the holidays. 

In addition to the kitchen organizing we suggested last month, spend some time going through the kitchen equipment.  Now is a good time to donate or sell those pots, pans, small appliances, tools and utensils you do not use.  If you have not used an item in the past year, it should not be taking up valuable real estate in your kitchen.  Consider storing it in a more remote place in the house if you cannot part with it.  A good article on selecting basic pots and pans was written by Pat Caudill on his Facebook article:!/  Check out his website:

Avoid shopping on Black Friday unless you absolutely must go and be sure to stick to your “needs” list.  Going into the stores with their displays of special pricing, etc. is an emotional trap waiting for your hard earned cash.  And all that stuff you don’t really need will clutter your house.  After years of getting up before dawn to hit the sales, I have learned it is much smarter to just stay home that weekend, get more sleep and decorate.  If you love the adventure, if you only buy what you need and is on your list, and if you don’t mind crowds and insane traffic jams and parking, go for it and send me your stories!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Organizing Checklist for October

Fall is officially here.  In some parts of our country the weather may not show it, but it is time to get moving towards the season filled with decorating and entertaining.  This month we will concentrate on getting the kitchen organized and ready for holiday cooking and serving.

  • Inventory your linens and purge what you haven’t used in years.  If some hold sentimental value, see if someone in your family can use them and give them the honor they deserve.  If some are in need of repair, make the decision to take care of that or to move them on.  Removing those that you do not use will make more space for those that you love and use.
  • Look over your dinnerware and remove pieces that cannot be used because of chips or other damage.  If there are odd pieces that cannot be used with other items, move them on, too.  Complete sets that are stored in boxes and never opened should be sold, donated or given to someone who wants them.   As with your linens, move on pieces that are simply taking up space.
  • If you send holiday cards and are very selective in what you prefer, purchase them now while the selection is good.  You can find good sales on them later on, but the selection will not be as favorable.
  • Inventory your spices, extracts and specialty kitchen gadgets before the holiday rush.  Remove those that have expired or no longer useful and make a list of what you will need for holiday cooking.  Be careful not to purchase items that you will not have room to store the rest of the year.
  • Inventory your cookbooks and recipe collection.  Purge those that are no longer useful.  Remember recipes for anything you need can be found online.
  • Inventory the pantry making note of items you will need for special recipes you use during the holidays.  Look for specials on these items in the local grocery stores.
  • Continue sorting summer clothing and other hot weather items.  Donate or sell those you no longer want or need. 
  • Begin the purge of toys that children have outgrown so there is room for new items that arrive during the holidays.
  • Clean the windows, inside and out.  Most of the summer grasses have shed their pollen, the weather is good for outdoor work and the busyness of November and December will make the task more inconvenient.  For a review of Windex Outdoor, check out the posting for August 17, 2010 on my special tips blog.

The end of the month also brings Halloween and the Trick or Treat invaders.

  •  First you want to be sure the pathway to your door is safe. Remember to clean the driveway, sidewalk, steps and porch while it is still daylight. Fallen leaves can be slippery especially when wet so they should be removed as well as any toys, twigs, etc. Make sure this area is well lit by leaving your porch light and any other light fixtures on during the Trick or Treat hours. Those hours are set by each locality.

    It is recommended that you give only individually pre-wrapped candy and keep it in a convenient basket, bowl or other container that is easy for you to manage at the door. You should not allow each child to reach into your container to get the candy since each one could be contaminating the other pieces with his hands. Rather, you should choose and drop the candy into each child's bag yourself. Keep hand sanitizer near the door and use it yourself as often as you think necessary.

    As an extra precaution, you may want to use disinfecting wipes to clean your doorbell or door handles if you keep it closed between visitors. This can be done periodically during the evening or at the end when Trick or Treating is over. It is a shame we need to be so careful, but it is always better to be safe than sorry and we want to do our part in keeping our homes and neighbors as healthy and safe as possible.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Organizing Checklist for September

This month marks a shift in the thinking and planning for many of us.  Summer vacations are behind us, we look forward to cooler temperatures and we plan for the upcoming holidays.  Below are some strategies to help us make the fall transition including tips for organizing the bathrooms.

  • Take advantage of paper, office and stationery sales of items left over from the Back to School supplies. These will often be found in the clearance isles and bins.
  • Begin looking for new planners and calendars for next year.  The selection is better in early fall.  Pick one that allows you to write in daily activities. 
  • Update the fall activities on your family calendar. Consider state fairs, apple and pumpkin picking, fall festivals, new community classes, etc. Send out “Save the Date” for any holiday activities you are hosting. .
  • Cull the magazines, save only needed articles and recycle the remainder. If you must purchase holiday magazines, be selective and recycle after reading.
  • Donate summer gadgets you did not use this year. If you ever need them again, you can get them at that time. Don’t let them take up valuable storage and work spaces.
  • Remove summer decorative items and toss those that are faded or worn.  Pull out the fall decorations and donate those that are no longer useful.
  • Clean the windows and exterior items around the house.  You will have more time and better temperatures this month than later on in the season.
  • Bathrooms are abused during summer month with extra showers, more bodies at home and higher humidity.  Take inventory of supplies needed to clean and restock them.
  • Clean out the old sunscreens, summer make up and lotions.  Remove expired medications, etc.
  • Purchase cold and flu preventatives, remedies and medications now. They will be harder to find with the onset of flu season
  • Inventory linens, remove those no longer needed or in disrepair.  Make a list of what is needed. 
  • Install under the bathroom sink slide out trays or baskets to contain items that are difficult to reach.  Styles are available to go around the plumbing efficiently. 
  • Install a magnifying mirror designed for wall mounting.  It will save counter space.
  • Additional storage can be added with shelves or cabinets over the toilet, skirts around free standing sinks, or bags with pockets on the back of the door.
  • Use hooks rather than bars for children to hang towels or washcloths.  They are easier to manipulate and are more likely to be used.

Think ahead for the holidays.  If you plan to make holiday gifts, plan and start now or you may not have them ready in time.  More tips on these activities in the next few months

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Organizing Checklist for August

Organizing Tips for August

This month brings us the back-to-school events, the end of summer sales and final trips to the beach and other vacation destinations. Planning for fall activities is a good idea, too.

There are two areas that benefit from organizing in August: school and office.

Many states have a weekend of freedom from sales tax to help with school supplies.  Many office and stationery supplies are covered, too.  These stores will identify covered items for you. In Virginia the tax holiday is August 5-7, 2011.
What's Exempt: During this three-day period, purchases of qualifying school supplies selling for $20 or less per item, and purchases of qualifying clothing and footwear selling for $100 or less per item will be exempt from sales tax.

Most stores have increased their inventory of school and office supplies.  You can find a better selection and better prices this month. Make a list and try to find those things you need while there are good choices.   Plan ahead for consumable items like printer paper, notepads, etc.  Be sure you have room to store these items.  Clean out items that are no longer useful or in disrepair.  Organizing your files is a great indoor activity when the weather is too hot for outside work.   For children, check the supply list created by the specific school or teacher. 

Think ahead in purchasing children’s clothing. My oldest child grew 3” the first two months of his 9th grade year. The clothes I purchased early in August to get the best selection were too small in October. (This was before long baggie pants were acceptable.) 

If you plan on having a yard sale in the fall, begin planning now. Start gathering items that you need to move on, clean and price them. Young children have probably outgrown last year’s school attire. Take an inventory to see what you can sell or donate now. As colder weather and winter approach, you may need to take another look at heavier clothing to see what can be eliminated.

Go to Craig’s list or EBay to determine a reasonable price for selling your items. In fact, you may want to put some of the items up for sale there now so they won’t take up storage space in your home. If you want to join with others in a sale, pick a date now that is good for everyone.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Organizing Tips for July

It is hot and humid but it is July after all.  And we have a plan for this year.  We need to continue removing a bag of stuff each week and eliminating an hour of electronics each week.  Admittedly the electronic entertainment becomes more important when it is too hot to go outside.  Here are some tips for organizing the linen closet and things to consider this month to keep you cooler.

  • Purge the linen closet of those items that are worn out or never used.  Animal shelters and clinics often use those for bedding or to dry animals.
  • Consider bundling bed linens and bath linens.  These can be stored in containers or on shelving.  If items are rolled they can be placed upright in a container so it is easier to pick one out without disturbing all of them.  This is especially helpful for children who have their favorite towel or for picking the right size sheets from among all of them. 
  • If there are many sizes of mattresses, consider color coding the linens for each size. If all are the same size, consider one color to make laundry sorting easier.
  • Bulky blankets and other items used less often can be placed in vacuum bags to reduce the amount of space they take.  They can also be stored in containers under beds. 
  • If space is limited in the linen closet, consider storing sheet sets in the bedroom where they are used.  They can be placed in closets, in storage bins under the bed or even between the mattress and bed springs.
  • Refold items not used often so they do not develop wear on their creases.
  • Store extra pillows on the top shelf.  They are lightweight and fill the space without taking up valuable room on shelves where heavier items are easier to manage.
  • Place bulky items or equipment in the bottom of the linen closet.
  • Remove as many stored items as you can from the floor.  Bags and boxes that sit on the floor or against walls for months or years can harbor mold and mildew, especially in hot, humid summer months.
  • Change the filter on the a/c unit.  Spring and summer pollen can accumulate quickly as doors and windows are opened more often.
  • Clean around the refrigerator and other major appliances to keep them running cooler.  Try not to store items around or over them that would block proper ventilation for their motors.
  • Run the dryer late in the day or evening if it is located in the house.  Better yet, use clothes lines if you have them for larger or heavier items.   
  • Schedule outside activities or workouts early in the day or after sundown.  Better yet, begin an indoor routine.  Malls open early for walkers.
  • Begin or continue indoor hobbies during scorching temperatures:  scrapbooking, reading, computer programs, sewing, etc.
  • While you are inside, set a goal to clean/organize one drawer a day, one closet a week, one room this month.  Put it on your calendar..
  • Keep a happy attitude.  Remember we were looking forward to July last January.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Organizing Checklist for June

It is the end of the school year and the children or grandchildren will be around so now is the time to prepare for the summer months ahead.  Don’t forget our resolution to remove a bag of items a week and to eliminate and hour of electronics a week.  If you have not been diligent, don’t give up.  Just pick up where you left off and start again. 

This month we will tackle keepsakes, children’s rooms, travel and more.

Too many of anything means none of them are special.  This includes collections such as china, dolls, salt and pepper shakers, stamps, etc.  If space is limited and many of these items are stored in the attic or closets, consider saving only those that have special meaning and letting the remainder go to someone who will appreciate them and has room for them.  Put those that you keep in a place where they can be enjoyed and given the honor and respect they deserve.  If you cannot let any go, then consider rotating those on display.

Photographs are another source of keepsake clutter.  Save only the best from each activity.  No one needs 100 pictures of the beach vacation.  A few special pictures are all that is needed to capture that special time.  There are lots of ways to sort and save them in colorful scrapbooks and online.  Each Christmas I receive a calendar with pictures of my grandchildren taken each month the year before.  They are a mini scrapbook of 12 pages and all I need to remember those special occasions for that year.

An avalanche of school papers may be arriving for you to handle this month.  My best advice is to let the child decide which to keep.  Keepsake boxes or binders can be used for these.  Give one to each child and let it be the only place for special items to save.  If it gets too full, let the child decide what to keep and what can go.  Resist the urge to get more or bigger boxes.  Think about how many things you really need from your childhood to remember the good times.  (We don’t want to relive those not so good times!)

Children now have time to go through their rooms and eliminate items they have not used or no longer want or like.  Clothing that no longer fits can be sorted for sale or donation.  Children grow quickly and by fall most of what they wore during the past year will not fit.  Thankfully not much variety in clothing is need for the summer months

Make a point of enjoying the outdoors while the weather is nice.  Keep outdoor umbrellas closed when not in use.  It will extend their usefulness and prevent damage during high winds or thunderstorms.  I have personal experience with this one.

And speaking of storms, this is the beginning of hurricane season.  If you live in an area affected by hurricanes, high winds or rising waters, you should review the list of necessary emergency items and secure those now.  Be sure to update your household inventory.  More information on it can be found on a previous Blog I posted:

If you will be traveling this summer, create a permanent travel kit with activities for yourself and family.  If it is only used for travel, the items will appear to be almost new and more interesting. 

If you travel often and if you have storage space, create a permanent supply box or bag with items you always need.  Some of these may be duplicates of items you use everyday at home but you will not need to disturb those.

A permanent travel checklist that you keep on your computer or in a convenient notebook is a great strategy to prevent forgetting items you always need.  I keep one just for quilt retreats, my favorite travel experience! 

For information on organizing your suitcase, check out this article I posted recently:

The days will be hot and humid for the next few months but I am thankful.  I was too cold for too long last winter and I vowed not to complain about the summer heat when it arrived.  Even with the mosquitoes, I go outside everyday and appreciate seeing green trees and flowers.  I also appreciate returning to air conditioning!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Organizing Checklist for May

It appears spring has arrived. In fact there were some hot days in April that had me thinking maybe we would jump from winter to summer. This month will probably be the last opportunity to take care of the garage and/or attic before it is too hot to do it even early in the morning. 

If you have been removing one bag of items per week as we suggested in January, then you are well on your way to having your other spaces organized.  And if you have been eliminating an hour of electronics a week, you now have plenty of time to tackle these monumental storage areas.

Since the Garage is more convenient, let’s begin there. During the winter it often becomes a temporary dumping ground for items.

Take advantage of systems that will allow you to organize your items off the floor. For pennies or hundreds of dollars, you can invest in items that will work for you. Check out the home improvement stores for hooks or shelving units. Be sure to label bins and cardboard boxes used for storage.

Move out items you no longer need. Only things you continually use should be kept. Boxes of old magazines, newspapers, etc. should be recycled. Let’s face it. You didn’t have time to read them before and you won’t later on. There are too many new ideas coming at us everyday.

Update the garden tools and accessories. Remove rusted, broken or stained plant containers, stepping stones and other garden fixtures. Add outdoor furniture and children’s outside toys to the checklist.

Review the sporting equipment to see if it is still needed. Move on any you no longer use.

Plan ahead so you can make room for the car if you have not already done this. Your automobile is probably the second most expensive investment you have made so take care of it. Mark off a space for it on the floor. Identify a wall item or hang a string or chain from the ceiling as a marker for how far you should pull forward.

Attack the Attic. Unless you are storing items for another family member, the goal is to keep as little as possible in the attic. It is inconvenient to access and too hot or cold for many items to be kept safely. In addition, you must take care to prevent invasion by critters.

For safety add lighting and secure floor boards in areas you must use.

For items you must keep, create zones for the types of items you are storing. Holiday items can be labeled and stored together. Take care to cover wood furnishings with sheets or blankets. Upholstered furniture should not be stored in the attic for many reasons.

The attic is not suitable for candles, photographs, soft plastics such as in dolls, electronic media such as tapes, and many fabrics.

If there are many items left after sorting, purging and cleaning the attic space, it is a good idea to create a map of where items are located. This will save much time when it is necessary to recover them.

If you planned a yard sale, do it before the weather gets too hot to stay outside all day. Now is the time to unload all the things you removed during the past few months and from the garage and attic this month. Consider donating any items that do not sell. If you cannot part with them, store them together and label them for a future sale. Do not let them take up valuable space you use everyday.

A few other reminders for May:

Change the a/c filter and have a routine inspection of all its components before the scorching days of summer arrive. Clean ceiling fan blades and give other fans an inspection.

Clean the carpets and floors. They were used and abused all winter and deserve a thorough cleaning. If piles of clutter or stacks of items are on them, consider moving the items to shelving, cabinets or tables. Floors are easier to keep clean when only furniture is on them.

Plant flowers or hang flowering baskets. I vote for perennials although many do not continue to bloom through the summer months. Since they will come back each year, it saves time and money. Then plan on spending some time outside enjoying them before the bugs and scorching heat arrive!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Organizing Checklist for April

When warmer weather arrives we want to spend our time outdoors. Finishing up indoor activities can be done if a cold spell arrives or on those rainy April days. This month we want to concentrate on our clothing and linens.  This may seem a daunting task, but attacking one closet at a time over several days makes the task easier and usually more successful.  If you are planning a yard sale, tackle those areas early in the month.

• Organize your wardrobe so spring and summer clothing is more convenient to reach and use. The back of the closet, a spare closet, attics, basements, garages or under the bed are all options for temporary storage of off season items. As you do this, check clothing for repairs or necessary cleaning.

Move out all the items that are no longer useful to you. If you are unsure of moving it on, pack it in a dated, labeled container and if you need it in the next year, you will know where it is. If you don’t use it in a year, move the contents of the container to a higher use or purpose by donating or selling them.

• As you change over the clothing for children, pack the too small clothing in containers that label the sex, size and season of the items in it. It will be easy to identify for a younger sibling later on or for a family member or friend who can use them.

• Organize the foyer or coat closet in the same way as your wardrobe. Lighter jackets should replace the heavier coats. Be sure the coats are cleaned and ready for use next fall.

• Replace heavier bedding with lighter weight items. Some quilts or comforters need only to be put through the “air” cycle on the dryer to remove dust. This is a good time to organize the linen closet and move out the towels, sheets and blankets that you no longer use.  Animal shelters often need those worn or out of style washable items.

Consider rolling towels so favorite items can be reached without going to the bottom of stacked items.  This is especially convenient for children who have their special towels.  The rolls can be stacked or placed upright in containers for easy access.

Sheet sets can be folded and placed in a pillowcase so the items do not separate.  If space is limited, they can be stored between the mattress and springs of the appropriate bed.

• Get the outdoor grill ready for use. Pull out your favorite grilling recipes and your favorite grilling utensils and put them in a convenient location. Purchase the ingredients you use most for outdoor cooking.

• When the heavier pollen season has ended, clean the windows so you can enjoy the beauty of the spring flowers and birds as they arrive.  For information on the Windex Outdoor Cleaner, check out this link:

• Get your outdoor furniture clean and ready to use. Don’t be tempted to keep items that are no longer needed, that have served their purpose and are beyond repair.

• Pick some early blooming flowers and dress up your dining room, foyer or living room tables.  They will brighten the days with April showers.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Organizing Checklist for March

Spring arrives this month, at least on the calendar. Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 13th. Set your clock ahead one hour.

Remember our goal this year:  Each week remove one bag of items for recycling, trash or donation and  remove one hour of electronics from our schedule. Don't be discouraged if you are behind in the process.  Begin this week no matter where you fell behind.
• This is the time to get indoor tasks finished so you can enjoy the outdoors as soon as the warm weather is here. Whatever the project, do not let it drag on or remain unfinished until next winter. Make that final to do list and get it done.
• With temperatures not too hot or too cold, this month is the best time to check out the attic. Often the morning sun will warm the space enough for working before the heat of the day makes it too uncomfortable.

Review that space and determine if any items can be removed to sell, donate or pass on to family or friends. You should do it before the summer sun makes it impossible.
It is best to store items in air tight containers in order to discourage pests from getting into them. Do not store photographs, candles and some plastic items as the attic heat will ruin them.
• Now is also the best time to clean out the garage, especially on the days when the temperatures are more moderate. Hopefully you have made room for probably your most expensive investment other than your children or house—the automobile. If not, consider a renovation that includes space to park it there.

Create zones for the items you store in the garage. The goal here is to keep as many items off the floor as you can. Separate sporting equipment, gardening items, cleaning supplies, tools and other hobby equipment.
• If you have considered the possibility of having a yard or tag sale. It is never too early to plan and prepare for one. . This month is the time to set the date and work towards that goal. May and June are great choices as it is not too hot and people are on the move.
• As you clean these areas and move out winter items later on, you have the opportunity to sort and price items that would be good to sell. Any items that remain after the sale can be donated to a local charity or thrift store.
• As the days are longer and warmer, remove the heaviest clothing, bedding, etc. for summer storage. This may mean to the back of the closet, to another closet or storage area, or out of the house permanently. If they will be part of a future yard sale, store them in the area set aside for that.
• Spring will arrive on the calendar. I just hope there is no snow on my daffodils when it comes. It has been a long, cold winter and I am ready for warm temperatures, leaves on the trees and flowers in my yard. And I pray I don’t complain about the heat this summer.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Organizing Checklist for February

January was a busy month. The aftermath of the holidays and the beginning of a new year creates much activity. February is not so hectic and should allow time for creativity to chase away the frigid temperatures. This month’s focus will be on the Books, DVDs, Cookbooks and Hobbies.
Reminders for Each Week (can include the new organizing strategies for this month)
• Remove one bag of items
• Eliminate one hour of electronics
• Clean and organize one drawer
• Clean and organize one cabinet or closet
• Remove back issues of catalogues, magazines and newspapers.

• If you have not done so already, clean out the file folders, update the yearly budget, and shred unwanted financial papers. Only this year’s information and legal documents should be kept in your nearby reference files.

• Clear the bookshelves of fiction you have already read and reference books. It is unlikely you will reread fiction and reference books become outdated quickly. Use the Internet to keep up to date on those topics.

• Cull the cookbook collection and consider online sites for new recipe ideas. Save only those with recipes you continually use or those with sentimental value.

• Sort through videos and CDs and remove those no longer used. Let’s face it, if you haven’t run them in the last couple of years, you probably will not. Our tastes in music and movies change over the years. Sell or pass them on to someone who wants them.

• Make the most of indoor time by finishing up indoor decorating projects and/or enjoying time on indoor hobbies. Sort through your supplies and remove those no longer useful. For more details on organizing hobbies and crafts, here is a link to my notes on it.

• Begin planning for early spring activities. Buy seeds, sharpen garden and lawn tools.

• Make preliminary plans for spring or summer vacations. Early reservations are usually less expensive. Insure all travel tickets.

Stay warm.  This cold weather has to end sometime!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Organizing Checklist for January

If this economy has taught us anything it is that we can get by with less. I think we can safely say less of just about everything.

This year I challenge you to declutter the excess from your spaces by donating or recycling one bag of items a week. Then free your schedules by eliminating one hour of electronics each week (television, wii, search engines, email, etc.). Only replace those with things or activities that fill a definite need. You may be surprised as your attitude towards “stuff’ changes for the better and you will have more time for important things.  Just think, at the end of the year you could have 52 less bags of stuff and 52 more hours in your week for things that count.

Some organizing reminders for January
• Set at least one new personal goal for the year. Break it down into manageable tasks and put those on your calendar.

• If you have not already done so, get a new planner that shows a week at a time and breaks the days into hourly segments. Organize your daily activities with it. Many computer programs will allow you to do that.

• Start a container for tax related items that arrive in the mail this month.

• Update your paper and computer records by purging folders of items no longer needed. This will make preparing tax forms much easier, too. Shred old financial documents a little at a time or take them to a records management company to be shredded professionally.

• Set a schedule to clean and organize one drawer or closet each week.  Write it down and pencil it in your planner.  Even it it has to be changed, it is a reminder.  If you don't write it down, it probably will not get done.

• With shortened days and longer nights, make sure every light fixture has working bulbs. Brighter environments can brighten the outlook of those who are photo sensitive.

• Try online resources for new recipes. You will find you can remove of some of those cookbooks and magazines with recipes.