My children are back at school, the daily preparation for parties is over, the Christmas decorations will all be put away. I am hoping to take advantage of each of these to get my house, and my day to day life more organized.
I have so much to organize that the mere thought of figuring out where to begin is exhausting. Coming up with a list of tips has been encouraging and has helped keep all of the tasks I need to do under control, a bit more organized.
Here are some tips I have found helpful:
Make a Priority List
I have decided that I would make a list of what needs the most attention then work from there. This has helped me to make quick decisions about where to start. It also has kept me from being discouraged by thoughts that there is just way too much to do.
Lost and Found Basket
Have a basket or plastic container that you carry to an area you are cleaning. This is used to place items that do not belong in that area as you clean. This has kept me from wasting time going in and out of the room I am cleaning, as well as keeping my thoughts focused on finishing what I started. After I have finished cleaning, the contents of the basket are returned to the correct places.
Categorize: Keep, Give Away, or Trash
When cleaning out closets, dressers, or storage areas, you need a quick system for sorting. Keep a bag or bin or just a pile on the floor as you clean up an area for each of these categories.
Many may want to add another category, "Sell", if they plan to consign items or have a yard sale in the future. I am too short on time to do this and find that others often appreciate me giving them items I no longer use. As a rule, I try not to keep things I have not used for a year. There are always exceptions.
Set a Time Limit
Set a timer as you work; don't take all day for a task you planned for 1 hour or you will get discouraged. I take time to do at least one thing on my priority list and be happy with getting that done. If there is time and energy, I move on to something else. This way I plan to do certain tasks on specific days and know that I will still have time for other things.
I find the most time consuming job of the day is making all of the food to feed my family, not only dinner, but breakfast and lunch as well. The biggest help with this is knowing what I will be making for each meal. Planning meals for a week at a time has been most helpful to me. I find planning meals further ahead can be somewhat overwhelming, but friends I know find this quite satisfying. As meals are planned, make a grocery list; double check this before going to the store, because you may already have something or you may be out of something you need but not for cooking.
I plan meals around what I can buy in bulk at stores like Costco. I will buy Italian sausages and plan to make sausage and pepper sandwiches, sliced sausage with pasta, and jambalaya for example. Also, I keep a list of what my family has especially liked so my time preparing food is not wasted.
Save Your Steps
My grandmother, who lived through the depression, was very frugal, not only with money but with time. I know, time is money. As we did chores around the house, she would remind us to save our steps. She would point out that while we carried the laundry from the room, we could also take the glass from the dresser to the kitchen. This is just as true with bigger chores.
When you get home from the grocery, rinse and chop vegetables before putting them in the refrigerator. Having some onions or lettuce pre-chopped in the refrigerator saves time and money; you won't be tempted to buy that pre-washed salad mix or any of those convenience items found in the produce or meat sections of the grocery.
I also try to save steps with laundry; this is crucial with nine family members. Each person has his own laundry basket with his name on it. When the basket is full, all of his laundry is washed on cold. There is no need for separate washes and no need for sorting clothes into piles for various persons. The laundry is folded and put in the basket then returned to the correct room to be put away. The only exception to this is gentles; they are washed separately.
Plan for Company
Looking over the past year, I would like to change something for this new year. I would like to have others over more often to fellowship with. I think the only way I will succeed at this is to "schedule" visitors. I hate using that word because it sounds so unpleasant and visitors are not unpleasant. Visiting with others is uplifting and energizing.
Something else I have found is that having visitors to our home forces me to clean things I do not usually notice. Preparing the home for frequent visits will not only keep it clean, but it will useful in keeping our home prepared for unexpected visitors.
These 15 minute room cleanups have been very helpful in our house. They give a list of specific chores the children can easily follow. Also, they help us all to see that cleaning doesn't take long, not much longer than 15 minutes a room.
Here you will find some terrifically helpful ideas about how to organize your home.
This site has some simple but very helpful time saving tips.
Here you will find inexpensive storage container ideas.
Next Week: Ideas for Organizing the Pantry