Posts Tagged ‘laundry’

Plan Before You Organize

Before you can create an organizing “grand plan,” you need to takestock of your belongings — it's time for an inventory! Do you have sporting goods stashed in different areas throughoutthe house, clothes in three different closets, no set home for all those extra electrical cords, and miscellaneous”homeless” items scattered here and there? Let's go on a room-by-room tour and start gathering like items together into piles. Be sure tocollect up everything (and I mean everything) you want to store in a particular spacebefore you begin organizing — leave no stone unturned, open every cabinet, look in every drawer, sift through all the piles. There is nothing more frustrating thandesigning the perfect closet, then realizing you forgot 15 pairsof shoes that were hidden away under the bed!

You also can't concoct a truly useful organizing solution unless you have an end in mind. Start by asking yourself what you want from your storage. Are you concerned about maximizing space? Being able to see everything you own? Protecting your treasures? Cutting down on time spent dusting? Creating a focal point for the room? Displaying or concealing your belongings? Keep these objectives in mind as you work — your choice of supplies and storage location will depend on what you hope to accomplish with your organizing efforts. Everything you do — whether it's cleaning out or buying a container or expanding a closet — should take you one step closer to these goals.

Location, Location, Location

Look around your house — do you see anything that is clearly out of place? Any bowling balls stored in the kitchen or power tools thrown in with the toys? Don't laugh — I've actually seen both of these situations! You might think that you're “organizing” your home when you put an item away in the first available cabinet or closet — but your storage will serve you better if you think in terms of logical categories. Begin by sorting your belongings according to purpose — sports, travel, grooming, etc. Then group similar items together — travel accessories with your luggage, rags in the same place as other cleaning equipment, office supplies in one spot. Don't forget accessories and related items — keep the knife sharpener with your cutlery and the extra bits with the drill.

A large part of being organized is having a set spot for everything you own. As you sort through your stuff, create a pile of “homeless items” that need to be incorporated into your storage. Then do your best to find a logical place for each — no halfway spots allowed! Each time you assign an item to a space, ask yourself why you are putting it there. Because it's close to where you will use it? Because it will be easy to see or reach? Because that's the first place you would think to look for it? If you don't have a good reason for storing an item in a certain place, please rethink your decision. The worst mistake you can make is to randomly stash your belongings around your home or office — how will you ever find them again? You shouldn't have to guess!

Strive to choose a storage space that is appropriate forit's contents. There are many factors to consider — such as anobject's size, shape, “breakability,” and weight. Are you storing heavyboxes on a high shelf? Sounds like a concussion waiting to happen! Andyou should always try to match form with function as you evaluate yourstorage spaces — how can you best use shallow shelves, a tall thincabinet, or a deep desk drawer? Organizing requires a balance betweencreativity and common sense.

Movement Matters

Getting at your belongings shouldn't require a lot of strain or effort. Take a quick look at your existing storage — do you have to bend and stretch and squat in order to reach items you use all the time? You can make your life great deal easier by keeping motion in mind as you organize.

Every space in your home or office can be categorized according to ease of accessibility — your job is to think about how (and how often) you use each of your belongings, and assign that item to the correct type of storage. You really have three to choose from. Those spaces that fall at or near eye-level are considered primary storage and should be reserved for items you access on a daily basis. If your primary storage is cluttered with objects you rarely touch, consider moving these items a bit further away — to a secondary storage area between knee and shoulder height. And what do you do with those incredibly inaccessible spaces — such as the garage, high cabinets, or the back of the closet? This tertiary storage is meant for items that you use only a few times a year — like holiday decorations, memorabilia, and archived records.

Storage Considerations

You can't just throw any old box of stuff in a storage space and call it “organized.” Even those items that you wouldn't normally consider to be “fragile” can be damaged if they are improperly packed away. Attics, garages, and basements are usually the worst offenders — thanks to the extremes of temperature and moisture. Are your storage spaces climate-controlled? Do they get really hot in the summer? Cold in the winter? Damp when it rains or is humid? Do you have problems with insects or other rodents? You may need to wrap or seal an item, toss in some cedar chips, or purchase a special container to keep your treasures safe. And if you think there is any chance of damage in this location, pick a different storage space.

Now, let me ask whether your storage paraphernalia is helping or hindering your organizing efforts. Have you ever had to open 6 different boxes to find what you were looking for? Organizing supplies should make your life easier, not more difficult! Use see-through clear plastic containers and label everything — shelves included. You should immediately recognize the contents simply by looking at the container. Accessories such as drawer trays, shelf dividers, lazy susans, pull-out baskets, and stackable shelves can also help you make the most of your storage by subdividing larger spaces.

Remember that organization is an ever-changing and dynamic part of your life. You can't just set up a storage system and think that you are “finished.” As you acquire new possessions, as your lifestyle and interests change, your storage needs will evolve. Be willing to adjust your system as necessary — what seemed like a good idea at one point may require some improvement down the road!

A Faster Way To Get It All Done

Most people's days are so filled to overflowing with responsibilities, that there's is almost no way to get it all done in the hours available. Some things (like work and school and appointments) eat up big chunks of your day, and you have little control over when or how they happen. Others can be squeezed in whenever you've got a few free minutes here or there. The trick to successful time management is making effective and productive use of “micro-moments” — little chunks of time scattered throughout your day, in-between the other bigger commitments. Instead of watching TV, why not get something meaningful accomplished? Any time you can cross a to-do off your list during one of these normally “wasted” periods of time, you're one step ahead of the game.
  • wrap and mail a gift you've been meaning to send off
  • pay the bills that have been sitting on the counter waiting for your attention
  • clean out a cabinet or a drawer that's been driving you up the wall
  • repair a ripped hem
  • respond to a couple of emails or return a few phone calls
  • set out your clothes for the next day
  • make tomorrow's lunch today
  • sew a missing button
  • tackle a small home “fix-it” project (tighten a screw, hang a picture, etc.)
  • do the dishes and wipe down the counters
  • run the vacuum or sweep the floor
  • throw a load of laundry in the washer or dryer
  • put away a pile of clutter that's been staring you in the face for too long
  • clean out your purse, briefcase, or backpack
  • read that magazine article or book you haven't had time for
  • schedule an appointment you've been putting off
  • sort through your incoming mail, separating to-do's from trash
  • reorganize your CDs or DVDs in categorical / alphabetical order
  • gather up outdated magazines and newspapers to put in the recycling

See how easy that was? Wink

A Faster Way To Clean

Cleaning day — what an old-fashioned notion! The idea that you should give up one entire day of your week for scrubbing and mopping might have been appropriate when folks didn't have jobs outside the house — but this system doesn't work so well with modern schedules. It's hard for busy families with working parents and afterschool activities and other responsibilities to fit in a whole day for housework. And when you work 9-5 Monday through Friday, you surely don't want to sacrifice your “off” days to chores. More importantly, there's no reason you should have to — if you stay on top of the dirt throughout the week. Each time you have a few free minutes, why not take care of one small cleaning job, rather than saving it all up? That way, you can finish your cleaning by the end of the week, leaving the weekend for fun!

  • wipe splatters and fingerprints off the bathroom mirrors
  • clean the ring out of the toilet and wipe down the seat
  • wipe down the bathroom counters
  • wash your bathroom rugs
  • wipe down the tub and shower walls with disinfectant
  • load your dishwasher and let it run while you do something else
  • empty your dishwasher and put the dishes away
  • wipe down the kitchen counters
  • clean the grease and food splatters off your stove top and vent hood
  • wipe down the inside shelves and veggie drawers of your refrigerator with disinfectant
  • empty your trashcans and take out the trash
  • put a load of laundry in the washer or dryer
  • fold some clean clothes
  • hang up your clean laundry
  • make your bed
  • change the sheets
  • vacuum, sweep, or mop in one room
  • dust one room (or if you have big rooms with lots of nick-nacks, just one shelf)
  • wash the windows in one room
  • go around the house with a lint roller or brush and clean pet hair off the furniture

See how easy that was? Wink

A Faster Way To Get Kids Organized

Contrary to popular belief children were not put on this planet to perpetuate chaos — hell-bent on undoing your housework and leaving piles of clutter trailing behind them. Kids actually thrive on order, but it's not something they can easily maintain until you teach them how — and children have short attention spans, so you can't expect a 6-year-old to stay focused as long as an adult might. You'll get a better response (and your children will experience a greater sense of achievement) if you ask your kids to complete just one small task at a time — something concrete and specific.  With the right action plan, there will be no misunderstanding about what you expect from your offspring, and your kids will soon be picking up after themselves without you even asking! Have your kids:

  • sit down with you to draw up a chore chart for the week
  • help prepare a week's worth of packed lunch “basics” (veggies, cookies, crackers, fruit, etc.)
  • collect up all their scattered pairs of shoes and coats to put away in their closets
  • go around the house, gathering their stray toys from each room into a basket
  • put away any games or toys as soon as play time is over
  • sort their dirty clothes into “whites,” “colors,” and “darks” on laundry day
  • put away their newly cleaned laundry
  • clean out all the broken crayons and used-up paint in their art supplies
  • go through their school supplies and clean out anything they no longer use in class
  • label each of their drawers with a picture of what's stored inside (shirts, pants, undies, socks, etc.)
  • sort their craft paraphernalia into separate tubs (for beads, glitter, markers, construction paper, etc.)
  • pull out any toys that are too childish for them to donate
  • try on last year's school clothes and get rid of what no longer fits
  • go through their art papers and pick only those favorites to hang or put in a scrapbook
  • go through their school papers and pick only those favorites to keep as memorabilia
  • choose their school outfits for the next week
  • gather up everything they need for school the next day and sit it by the front door
  • group their books together by author or type (coloring, picture, story, etc.)
  • put all their CDs, DVDs, and software discs back in the correct cases
  • sort their sports equipment into containers according to the game and label with pictures

See how easy that was? Wink

Look, Up In The Sky!

Some of the best storage space you will ever find is over your head. Those high, short shelves in the tops of your closets are perfect for hats, smaller luggage, boxes of holiday decorations, and other items you don't use very often. Hang things like cookware and bicycles from the ceiling using special suspended racks. Those sturdy rafters in the attic, garage, or basement are great for heavier items like sports equipment or yard tools. No limits — the only rule is be creative! A metal pole strung between two beams is perfect for off-season, dress-up, or vintage clothing — a large square of netting tacked at the four corners can hold stuffed animals — and some thick plywood laid across your attic rafters will create an entirely new level of storage.

Laying Low

Oftentimes, we focus too heavily on storage that is at eye level — forgetting about the extra space we have near the floor (under the bed, at the bottom of a closet, along the base of a wall in the garage, etc.) However, the last thing you want to do is simply create another pile that clutters up the floor and trips you up. Like any other storage, floor space will serve you much better if you containerize and create some structure. Long, flat boxes are great for subdividing the space under your bed. Shoe racks will help you make the best use of your closet floor. And you can create a ton of additional storage in your basement, attic, laundry room, or garage by lining the base of the wall with low shelves, pull-out baskets, and bins.

Just Hanging Around

Another place to find extra storage is along a vertical surface. Almost anything can be attached to a wall — just be sure to use strong anchors if you plan to hang anything heavy. Give your tools and garden implements a home on a peg board in the garage or basement. Hang see-through mesh bags of toys from colored hooks on your child's wall. If your home lacks a hall closet, create one with an attractive coat rack in your entryway. Put up some pegs in your bedroom closet to make room for belts, scarves, and purses. Hang coffee cups from the underside of your kitchen cabinet shelves. Or store grocery bags in a holder on the inside of your pantry. All it takes is a little creativity, and a hammer!

Shut The Door On The Way Out

And as long as we're hanging things, let's take a look at your doors. While racks on an entry door often look cluttered and junky — an enclosed closet, pantry, or bathroom door can be provide a valuable source of storage space. Just make sure that you attach all organizing paraphernalia firmly — you don't want your racks or pegs coming loose the first time you slam the thing shut! You also need to be conscious of blocking your hinges (putting your hooks toward the center of the door solves this problem). And if you prefer not to permanently damage your surfaces, stick with racks that hook over the top of the door rather than screwing in.

Other than those three rules, your options are limitless. Closet doors are just begging to be used for storage — to hold a shoe rack, belt hooks, purses, or even a jewelry organizer. Your bathroom door is the perfect place for hanging a towel rack or a bathrobe. Putting a rack with shelves on the inside of a pantry door can double your food storage. And if your child needs someplace to hang bookbags and coats, a series of hooks on his or her bedroom door is one of the easiest and most accessible options.

Making Use Of Odd-Sized Spaces

One final word on using “dead space” — don't be deceived by unconventional storage areas. You may wonder, at times, what your builder was smoking when he created some of the closets and cubbyholes in your house — spaces that seem too skinny or short or angular to serve much of a purpose. These storage areas may initially appear useless, but you can always find something to put there. You just have to think a bit outside of the box (or outside of the cabinet, as it were!)

You might be able to fit a bicycle or cleaning supplies in that low closet under the stairs. Or use those tall thin cabinets for cookie sheets and serving platters. If your pantry or linen closet stretches up taller than you can easily reach (but you like to shop in bulk at stores like Sam's or Costco) — add some high shallow shelves for bulk toilet paper or extra canned goods (and hang a step-ladder on the wall so you can get at them when you need a refill!) Never be afraid to outfit a strangely shaped storage space with whatever accessories are required to make it useful.