Last night we had the BEST classes on organization. The first one was household organization and the second was organizing food storage. I will split the posts so the information is easier to find.
First off, Valerie told us that organization is a lifestyle NOT a one time event. That was a bit of an eye opener. I used to be organized but since we have seven kids and homeschool I can rarely even find my phone! Ah.
Now I will never be able to relay Valerie’s adorable personality and sense of humor but I hope I get the message across. She told us that entropy is a natural progression from order to chaos. Then she said “So, let’s fight back.”
The first tip – have a tray or a basket or some specific location for keys, wallets, cell phones, work badges or anything else that you need to grab as you head out the door. It takes practice but eventually we will be trained to put the items in the proper place so we can find them again and again.
The next main idea is to have a control center – this should be in the hub of the house (usually the kitchen or close to it). Here is what she recommends for the control center:
- one organized drawer (a lot of us said “Oh, you mean a junk drawer?”) Yes, she has a very organized drawer complete with tape, scissors, paperclips and whatever else she feels she needs to have on hand to grab quickly. (I did not mention that we have literally lost 10 pairs of scissors in the last year. But with homeschooling and seven kids – there is just no way to stay ahead of them.)
- a phone
- a calendar or a planner – write all of the activities for each member of the family here
- an expandable file folder to hold important documents, could remove the need for an family document binder. Also in this is anything that needs to be saved – mortgage papers, life insurance documents, social security cards, etc.
- ALL paper must go to the control center
OHIO – Only Handle It Once — once a paper makes its way to the control center you do whatever it is you need to do with it – does is need to be signed and returned to school – then sign it and put it in the child’s backpack RIGHT AWAY; does the paper need to be calendared – well, the calendar is right there – fill it in; does it need a phone call – the phone is right there – make the call; After you do what needs to be done with it – THROW IT AWAY.
If it is something that needs to be saved permanently then file it in the explandable file; if it is a coupon then put it in your purse or the glove box of the vehicle you drive the most. If you have an item such as a doctor order for lab work – file it in the planner on the day of the appointment – when that day comes you will not be caught searching for the form.
Financial organization – Valerie uses a wired notebook and on it she writes all of her bills, the dates due and the amount. She has one from the mid 90s and can tell you how much they spent on electricity any month of their married life. Impressive. She also suggested that when the time comes and you have a paper bill – just stick it in the notebook on that page so you will not have to search for it when it comes time to pay it.
Art projects and collected papers – This is a big concern for a lot of people. Here are some of the tips that were shared last night
- take pictures of the project or picture and/or take a picture of it with your child holding it – then throw it away
- create an art gallery – display the project for a period of time and then dispose of it – switch out the gallery frequently
- give each child a box or expandable file – they can save whatever fits in the container – then every 6 months or year – have the child go through it and save only their favorites
- one person suggested creating a “file” of papers and in 6 months throw it away. she has used this with several bosses and NO one has ever asked for items from that file
Other great ideas shared:
Spend New Year’s Day cleaning out the house – get rid of the old and ready for the new
Use a glass door or white board with dry erase markers to create a week at a glance – you can include activities for each family member, meal ideas, who has the car, etc. Then just wipe it clean and you are ready for next week. (The Mom that suggested that said it is also great for spelling word practice!) You can even color code it so each person has their own special color for their items.
Spray on chalkboards – another great idea
Train yourself and then work on others. We must take the steps to an organized lifestyle – then others might jump on the bandwagon just because they see what a difference it makes in our lives.