According to The Statistic Brain Research Institute, “Get More Organized” was the second most popular New Year’s Resolution in the United States (second only to “Lose Weight”). If you are one of those people who is looking to add some calm to the chaos this year, here are 5 organizing projects that can have a positive impact on your day to day life… and each of these can usually be completed in an afternoon or less! Pick one or two to start – and move toward a more organized 2016!
Tackle the Kitchen-Turned-Mailroom. The kitchen is usually a popular place for stacks of paperwork to accumulate – bills, catalogs, field trip notices, coupons, homework assignments and party invitations quickly gather in large piles if you’re not careful. Fight the urge to make piles!
⇒ Accept that junk mail belongs in the recycle bin or garbage. Coupons for obscure restaurants or products you’ve never heard of shouldn’t be saved ‘just in case.’ Unless it’s something you regularly buy, or have honestly been wanting to try, toss it. Consider buying a small billfold filer to organize useful coupons and receipts.
⇒ Hang a family calendar to keep track of schedules, and pin or stick event invitations directly to it so address and RSVP information is readily available.
⇒ Invest in a countertop filing bin to store long-term homework assignments, catalogs and other items that don’t need immediate attention. Stand-up models made of wire mesh (or another see-through material) tend to work well as they ensure paperwork isn’t totally out of sight… and out of mind.
Clean Out Your Pantry. This is a simple cleaning project that will make planning meals and finding snacks much easier.
⇒ Take stock of what’s there. There’s no need to have canned tomatoes gathering dust on the shelf when you know you’ll never use them before the expiration date. Donate items you have too many of or won’t use.
⇒ Check expiration dates. Condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressing only last so long, even if they’re unopened and sitting in the pantry. Check the dates and clean out as needed.
⇒ Designate certain shelves / areas for specific products, and stick to your plan. You’ll know at-a-glance how many boxes of cereal or bags of chips you already have when making your grocery list.
⇒ Consider buying bins or baskets to organize small snacks. Having a single ‘snack basket’ for kids (and grown ups!) prevents a slew of half-empty boxes all over the place.
Thin Out Linen Closets This is an easy project to overlook because the mess isn’t typically in your daily line of sight, but this an area that can quickly spin out of control.
⇒ Go through each towel, sheet and pillowcase – mend any tears and toss or recycle anything that is stained or torn beyond repair (old sheets & pillow cases can make great rags or dusting cloths!)
⇒ Organize linens by room, size and/or type. Consider keeping sheet sets together by folding each piece in the set and then slipping everything into one of the pillow cases. Keeps things organized and makes it easy to grab the complete sheet set when needed.
Go through the Medicine Cabinet and Make-Up Bag/Drawer. Regularly cleaning out these areas can be important – it’s best not to have expired medicine or eye shadow from 2005 sitting around.
⇒ Check medicine expiration dates and expose of anything that’s old or expired. (The FDA.Gov website provides guidelines on how to safely dispose of medications).
⇒ Create a single bin or basket to store all medications to avoid having to rummage through the closet when you need an adhesive bandage or pain reliever.
⇒ Go through makeup, skincare and haircare supplies and throw out or donate anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months.
⇒ If you haven’t cleaned your make-up brushes recently (experts say they should be cleaned every two weeks or so), take a few minutes to clean them. Baby shampoo and warm water should do the trick, then let brushes dry overnight.
Tackle the Toys. If you have young kids, you know that toys seem to multiply overnight.
⇒ Check for age-appropriate toys and donate or put away anything your children have outgrown. Hint: do this when your kids are sleeping or in the other room.
⇒ Consider putting away toys on a rotating basis. Toys stored for 2-3 months are like new again when brought back out on display. This will keep your kids playing happily and your home more organized.
⇒ Invest in storage. From storage benches to colorful plastic bins, there are an array of creative solutions to organize the toys. For many, a number of smaller bins work better than one huge toy box, as toys at the bottom of a large chest are typically forgotten.
There you go! 5 high impact projects that can typically be completed in a few hours or less. Now all you need to do is pick a project and dive in – you’ll be well on your way to a more organized 2016!