This article originally ran in the Ruston Daily Leader on January 12, 2010.
Did you know that clutter can slow you down? It’s a great time to get rid of the old stuff and get organized. Now is the time to buy your organizing products. They are advertised just about everywhere you shop.
The first tip to becoming organized is to learn to get rid of things that are so important to you but you never use. Things like college notebooks, college textbooks, clothes you haven’t worn in years, magazines and your teddy bear you had as a child.
Work in fifteen-minute blocks. Allow fifteen minutes at some point every day to put away, hang up clothes, and pick up items. Stop after fifteen minutes so it’s not long enough to be a chore, but enough time so that something is accomplished. Let your motto be: “Don’t put it down, put it away.”
If you have items that you use once a year, like Christmas decorations, put these in the attic. This frees up more room in your home. All my yearly decorations are boxed up in my attic. A good way to keep up with what is in the box is to label the boxes 1, 2, 3. On an index card write the box number then write the content of that box and file it in a small filing box. This way you don’t have to look through each box to find the item you want or you are not in your cold/hot attic reading the end of the box contents.
We all are working towards helping our children to become more independent. You can do this by making closets accessible for your children. Make sure they can reach the closet rod, so they can hang up their clothing. Put covered baskets in each of your kid’s rooms. When you pick up their clutter all over the house, it goes in that basket. It will be their job to separate it and put it away. Keep a basket in their room for dirty clothes. Encourage them to take this basket to the laundry room at least once a week. If their favorite outfit is not clean, remind them they didn’t get the clothes to the laundry room to be washed.
Children’s toys are best kept on a bookshelf. They are easy for children reach and for them to put away. Small square baskets are great for small toys, puzzle pieces, and games. The baskets easily slide on and off the shelf and all small game pieces are easy to keep up with. Help your children and other family members to learn this motto: “Don’t put it down, put it away.
Children should have a clean, clear, quiet place to do their homework. This could be a desk in their bedroom, the kitchen table, or any table or desk in a quiet place in your home.
Now is the time to file important papers for income tax purposes. Keep up with all your receipts in a box or envelope. This will save you time and a lot of frustration looking for the information at the end of the year. File important papers: Insurance policies, special letters, pet medical records, appliance warranties and children’s artwork. Use different colored folders to separate the materials.
Now is probably a good time to check your freezer, too After the electricity goes out, food that has thawed out has to be cooked. If there are ice crystals on the food, then it is O.K. to refreeze it. Label all meats, casseroles, frozen vegetables and fruit. Rotate frozen foods and use in the order of date, using older date first. Frozen fresh meat and vegetables can be kept frozen for up to one year. Frozen casseroles and fruit will keep up to four to six months. Food that is freezer burned is not harmful but the flavor and texture does change.
You don’t have to buy expensive day planners to stay organized. Using a small notebook can keep you organized. Each day prioritize your “to do” list. Also, write down work and personal errands on the same page. If you don’t accomplish everything that day it moves over to the next day. Keep one calendar of events and write all activities on this calendar such as work appointments, church and school activities. When you look at this calendar everyday, it will keep you organized and on schedule in all areas of your life.