All Entries For organization
Keep countertops free of items that don't belong there. Sort and file mail every day and hang up garments after taking them off. Encourage your kids to do the same with their clothes and toys, says Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Life.
Spend Just a Few Minutes a Day Decluttering
Brooks Palmer, author of Clutter Busting, suggests setting a timer for at least 15 minutes to help you keep disorder in check. "Start small and do it on a regular basis," he says. For example, sift through a stack of papers on your desk for recycling or deep-six that jumble of expired spices. And if you have to stop mid-project, go back to it the next day. Read More ›
"I'm a good mother, cook and entertainer, but organizing eludes me," says Jen. The entire family—Jen, her husband, Rich, and their two sons—dump everything on the kitchen counter, including phones, iPads, keys and papers. "When guests are coming over, I just throw it all in what I call 'the party bag' and shove it out of sight," she says. "Problem is, later nobody can find their stuff." Jen also uses the area to display snapshots and post notes, but the jumble created visual clutter and got in the way of the cookbooks she refers to on a regular basis.
Pro organizer Julie Morgenstern, author of Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life (Touchstone), suggests a number of simple storage systems. Shallow bins, situated beneath an outlet, provide a place to charge electronics, deposit mail and empty pockets without junking up the area. A sleek metal organizer strip displays photos and papers. Bins in the cabinets below can corral chargers and kitchen items, as well as handbags, hats, gloves and anything else that doesn't make it into the main closet, located a few rooms away. "The key to containing clutter is to catch it where it lands," says Morgenstern. Read More ›
We’re all pressed for time. Kitchens often go unused because it can simply take too long to cook, and seems more like a hassle than a help when you're trying to feed a busy family. In this hurry-up world, a clean, organized kitchen will get more use than a cluttered mess that’s difficult to use. Creating an efficient workspace makes for healthier, faster and more enjoyable meal preparation for everyone involved. Read More ›
5-Minute Cheat: Toss out-of-place items—magazines, sneakers and video games—into a laundry basket and stash in the closet for the time being. Run a microfiber duster across coffee and side tables. Straighten and fluff sofa cushions and pillows.
15-Minute Spiff-Up: Give floor and rugs a once-over with a vacuum. Dust the shelves and the flatscreen. A damp eraser pad takes care of any noticeable scuffs or fingerprints on walls. Quickly put DVDs and video games back where they belong.
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It's the most wonderful time of the year...
I've been softly singing that tune for the past two weeks in anticipation of my three teenage sons and me going back to school. Yes, I love my boys and have loads of fun home with them in the summer, but it's time. I look forward to the weeknights that everyone is home by 9 p.m. (no more late baseball games!) and fast asleep before 11--mom, too. My days will soon be filled with bright-eyed budding chefs to be learning how to hold a knife properly, fillet a fish, and shop for the best quality foods.
With school just around the corner, my family, much like yours, needs to get its act together. Early fall is a perfect time of year to get organized for school and home. Even if you are not sending anyone off to school this list will help you gain control of your home before the holidays are upon us and it really gets crazy. Read More ›
- Small Appliances
Get rid of anything needing repair—that toaster that only heats one side of the bread—or impulse items you never use, like a yogurt maker.
- Plastic Containers
"Don't hang on to spare lids or tubs without tops," says Andrew J. Mellen, author of Unstuff Your Life! And pare down to five or six basic pieces. For recycling information, check online at 1800recycling.com.
Recycle what you don't need to file long-term: expired coupons, old party invitations, out-of-date school activity calendars.
- Odds and Ends
Weed out dead batteries and dried-up markers. Take empty printer cartridges to any Staples store for credit. Toss or recycle things you don't use regularly, like old notepads, stray Post-its and rubber bands. Read More ›
Even the professionals who dole out advice on how to handle anxiety and worry aren't immune to daily pressures. The difference is, when these "stress-perts" encounter bumps in the road (piles of dirty clothes or an irate boss or kids repeatedly asking what's for dinner) they know how to tackle the problem while staying calm. Try their tricks and you too can keep your cool.
Expert Stressor: Morning Madness
"Getting myself, and my two kids, dressed and out of the house in the morning can get very chaotic!"
—Patricia Martin Arcari, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Calm Mother, Happy Child Program at Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and the mother of two girls, ages 10 and 12.
Patricia's Stress-Solving Action Plan:
Get organized at night. My daughters and I set aside a half hour before bed to make sure that homework is done, lunches are packed and schoolbags are by the door. The girls also pick their outfits, which gives us a heads-up if, say, a matching shoe or sock is missing.
Try not to yell. There's no need to further increase your blood pressure and stress cortisol levels in the morning. When I'm about to lose it, I take four slow, deep breaths and concentrate on keeping the volume of my voice in check. Read More ›
Follow these easy tips to de-clutter your kitchen pantry, linen closet and mudroom.
- Free up cluttered kitchen cupboards by creating a storage area in a nearby hall closet with adjustable shelves.
- Transfer foods like rice, flour and sugar from bags or boxes into see-through canisters that won't leak or be knocked over easily.
- End needless hunting by grouping together ingredients like dried pasta and tomato sauce or teas and honey.
- Decant nuts and snacks into airtight containers that stack to maximize space.
- Canvas bins on the floor keep bulk purchases handy.
- Move fancy serving pieces (and anything else that you don't use frequently) to the topmost shelves.
- Pour pet food from oversize bags, which are prone to spills, into supersize bins.
Seven years ago, I lived in a 240-square-foot apartment on the 15th floor of a high-rise building on the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea. Just 10 feet wide and 24 feet long, my furnished apartment had a galley kitchen with two burners, a bathtub that was about the size of a utility sink, and a bedroom that doubled as an office and living room.
Everything I owned could fit in two suitcases and a couple of carry-ons, and for over 12 months, I bought only those items I could either mail home, donate, or use after my time in Korea was up.
I baked cookies in a toaster oven, hung my laundry on a rack near the foot of my bed, and had only a small closet for my clothes.
I loved it. I felt safe, cocooned, and comfortable in that cozy little apartment. I had everything I needed and little more. It was easy to clean and I never wasted time searching for objects.
I hate clutter, but I struggle to control it. It stresses me out to amass objects that I don't need, and I don't take comfort in having more "things" in my life. I'm terrible at decorating, and truthfully, my apartment is barer than most. Still, I felt like I had too much stuff, especially when faced with the prospect of packing and moving all of it.
Before my last move, I set out to get rid of 25% of my belongings.
I hosted a clothing swap party, gave clothes and shoes to friends and family, then donated the rest.
I sorted through my books, DVDs, and magazines. Anything I hadn't watched in a year or that I wouldn't consider re-reading (or consulting for reference), I recycled or sold at a used book store.
All the boxes of stuff--photos, letters, train tickets, and scraps of paper--I've collected during my travels were whittled down to one box. I had saved every train ticket and Metro stub from a half-dozen trips to France almost a decade ago. They heat-sensitive ink had faded, and they weren't legible. Into the recycling they went.
Not even the kitchen, my favorite room in the house, was exempt. I shed all the single-use gadgets (like a shrimp deveiner--I'm vegan!), any duplicates, and moved all my bulk items into jars and plastic containers.
I still have enough clothes to wear in any situation, enough photos to remember all my trips, and enough kitchen gear to whip up a multi-course meal.
Getting rid of all that stuff felt good. Very good.
So I kept going, aiming to strip down other areas of my life as well.
Today I read this: "Most of us have little idea how many things in our lives keep us from enjoying life more. But one’s life can be cluttered by more than household objects. The irritating extras can include activities that are no longer rewarding but are continued out of habit or guilt. Perhaps it’s time for a more extended kind of housecleaning."
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Follow these simple solutions for bringing order to your home.
Tip 1: Purge Perennially
To really stay on top of the organizing game, constantly get rid of your unwanteds.
- In the living room and other high-traffic spaces, it's what you see first that counts. "Make sure the room's focal point, whether it's the fireplace mantel, a console or a coffee table, is the least cluttered area," says Jennifer Ford Berry, author of Organize Now! 12 Month Home & Activity Planner (Betterway Home). Keep surfaces pared down by limiting what you display to only a few items.
- Make laundry day a time to discard stretched-out T-shirts, mismatched socks and threadbare linens.
- Take stock of utensils and other kitchen paraphernalia each time you unload the dishwasher, Berry says. If you find you have multiples—more than two can openers or potato mashers, say—keep one on hand, store the duplicate and donate the rest.
- Toss clothes you no longer want or that don't fit into a bin in the corner of your closet. "Do this on a regular basis," says organizing expert and founder of simplify101.com Aby Garvey. "When it's full, take the container to Goodwill." Read More ›
Whether you telecommute or just need an organized space to pay bills and answer e-mails, a home office should feel as stylish and inviting as any other room in the house. New York City interior designer John Loecke, who transformed this attic nook into a brilliant workplace for New Jersey mom and graphic designer Andrea Amadio, suggests thinking big, even in a Post-it-size space. Here he incorporated an outsize desk and bulletin board that encourage spreading out, bold colors and patterns, and storage galore, including a cubby unit roomy enough for Andrea and daughters Ella, 8, and Kate, 5, to share. What was once a blank (albeit cluttered) slate is now a cheerful space that gets the job done.
Short & Upbeat
Curtains can be a fun touch and less costly than customized shades for irregular-size windows. Loecke chose panels that extend only to the sill, which are less formal than longer styles. To make a squat window appear taller, mount drapes a few inches above the frame.
DIY: Create no-sew curtains using iron-on adhesive like Stitch Witchery.
A tangerine chair that Andrea fell in love with at a garage sale inspired the vivid color scheme. "All the white keeps it from looking clownish," she says. To balance the chair's playful shape Loecke added bold, geometric touches like the carpet, lamp shade and curtains.
DIY: Try modular carpet tiles in high-traffic areas. Opt for a pattern or dark color to camouflage stains and keep extra squares on hand so you can replace one if necessary.
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We'll spell it out for you: Decorating with letters and numbers gives everyday items instant personality.
These decoupaged dishes make for an inspired display on a table and are equally at home with vintage glass objects.
Here's how: Enlarge clip art to the size of a transparent glass plate and print design on thin paper, such as lightweight resume paper. Cut pattern to size and shape of the plate. Spread a thin, even coat of decoupage medium over the underside of the plate and apply the clip art so that the image shows through the bottom of the plate. Smooth out air bubbles with your fingers and make sure all edges are adhered. Set aside to dry. If your clip art isn't perfectly flush with the plate's edge, use a fine sanding block to smooth the edges or trim with sharp scissors. Once the paper is fully dry, paint two or three layers of acrylic paint onto the back of the plate to seal it. (We used a champagne-colored acrylic paint to complement the clip art.) Read More ›
Clean up your act by getting tough with excess possessions. We found the best places for responsibly casting off clothing, books, furniture, electronics, and more. (You may even earn some extra money!)
Where to Sell Items
According to Cari Cucksey, who organizes estate sales on HGTV's Cash & Cari, "The average family has several thousand dollars' worth of stuff lying around." Check out how to find the right market:
If you're looking to unload a bunch of goods that don't have a high intrinsic value, a yard sale is the way to go. Price items at 50 to 75 percent off the store price, and keep everything under $50. "People who go to garage sales are looking for the ultimate bargain," says Cucksey. "Higher-end items I would put online." First find out if your city or town requires a permit to hold a sale. Events are best held on a Saturday, when most people have time to shop. Then advertise like crazy a week ahead. Cucksey recommends taking an ad out in local papers; posting on Facebook and Twitter, as well as free sites like craigslist.org and yardsalesearch.com; and hanging poster-size signs on the street to direct customers to your home. Read More ›
Forget about big organizing overhauls. (Who has the energy?) The slow-and-steady approach is much more effective for time-pressed moms. Tackle just a couple of our 30 super-simple projects: that pile of jumbled cords in the family room today, the overflowing drawer of cooking utensils tomorrow. You'll be inspired by the day-to-day results, and within a month you'll see major home improvement.
1. Clean up the utensil drawer by moving the four or five things you reach for most often to a countertop canister or crock. Take stock of what's left and toss anything superfluous. You'll be pleased when you can slide the drawer open and closed without it jamming.
2. Sort craft supplies into piles of like items—glue and tape together, ribbons and bows—then stash it all in clear plastic bins, says Stephanie Vozza, author of Five Minute Mom's Club (Franklin Green). Stack bins, whether on the top shelf of a linen closet or on an office bookcase. The next time you need a pair of scissors, you'll be able to locate them in seconds. If your boxes aren't clear, label them.
3. Pull cleaning supplies from under the kitchen sink and create space for them in the room they're used in, suggests Vozza. Move shower and toilet cleaners to a bathroom cabinet, the stain stick to a shelf in the laundry room, and wood polish to a dining room cupboard. The benefits are twofold: You'll have more room in your kitchen cabinet, and cleaning products will be close at hand. Read More ›
By Margery D. Rosen, Family Circle
To help our kids become happy adults, we have to give them the gift of competence. Kids who can handle everyday tasks, from laundry to banking, are happier and more confident. Whether they're still under your roof or heading off to college, it's never too late to start teaching them how to be self-sufficient.
- use a microwave
- plan and shop for a healthy diet
- read nutrition labels and know what's good and what's not
- prepare, serve and store food to avoid spoilage
- cook a well-balanced meal
- know which kitchen tools and equipment to use for which tasks
- make a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it
- use an ATM
- open, use and balance a checking account
- apply for a credit card and use it responsibly
- save up to buy a desired item
- set aside money for charity
- keep track of important papers
- sew on a button
- mend a seam
- iron garments
- fold and put away clothing
- follow fabric-care labels
- do laundry, including treating simple stains
- wash and dry items by hand
- fold clothes
- pack a suitcase
- find the circuit breaker and use it
- locate and use water and furnace shutoffs
- use a fire extinguisher
- perform basic first aid
- fix a running toilet
- do laundry, including treating simple stains
- use all household appliances, like loading the dishwasher the right way
Which other skills do teens and young adults need to learn? Find out at FamilyCircle.com.
Stories You Might Like, from Family Circle:
- How to Connect with Your Teens
- 4 Solutions to Teen Sleep Problems
- Get mom-to-mom parenting advice on Momster.com!
Did you learn these skills on your own or from your parents/teachers/etc.? Read More ›