Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Household Command Center How-To

With back-to-school season in full swing, home organization is at the top of many people's priority lists. Below is a helpful infographic as well as detailed tips.

  1. Have a true outbox by having a container for outward bound items that actually goes outside your home on a regular basis. Try carrying a backup such as the Herschel Supply Co. Retreat Backpack from Urban Outfitters, even if you're a non-student. Just place your forms, letters, etc., inside. You could also use a tote bag, large purse, or anything else that works for you.
  2. Keep your last three months' worth of receipts in an organizer such as the C-Line 13-Pocket Expanding File in Coupon Size from Amazon with tabs for each month. After three months, most stores won't take back the item. If it's a particularly expensive or important item, move its receipt to your easy-access records area (tip #8) once the three months are up.
  3. Sometimes we still receive paper cards such as invitations, holiday cards, and thank-you cards. For invitations, you could input the information immediately into your electronic calendar (tip #5). However, if you're like me and enjoy saving the paper cards too, use magnets such as Magnutz Super Strong Magnets from The Container Store to stick the card to your fridge, thus keeping all your cards together. This is especially handy for bulky invitations that include additional information, for example a paper map, as well as for cards that include photos you want to share with visitors to your home. After the event (for invitations), or a period of three months (for other cards), discard the item or place it in your mementos storage area (tip #8).
  4. For items you consistently need, such as medical records and pet sitter notes, create an easy-access records area. The specific kind you choose is a matter of personal preference. I like to use a two-drawer metal file cabinet with hanging file folders, which could be personalized in a variety of ways, such as with DIY Spray-Paint as Dollar Store Crafts has done. You may prefer using one or more of the following systems instead: a cloud-based digital file storage system (such as Google Drive), a removable electronic hard drive (more reliable than your laptop), a regular three-ring binder, or a scanner and your desktop home computer.
  5. Use a digital calendar that you can access from both your cell phone and your computer. I like to use Google Calendar, which has many features including: the ability to create recurring events, the ability to create multiple calendars, the ability to create shared calendars, and the ability to invite someone to an event.
  6. Have a system in place to make gift-giving simple. First, consider creating an electronic wish list that you can send to family and friends. You can also create electronic wish lists for your children and even your pets. I like Amazon's wish list because it is an ongoing list (it never expires) and because, with the Amazon Wish List Button, you can add items from non-Amazon sites to your list too. These lists are especially good for forgetful people. Second, add important birthdays to your digital calendar as yearly recurring events (tip #5). And third, schedule designated shopping days on your calendar. For example, if you know you have three birthdays to celebrate in the same month, designate a day at the beginning of the month to buy all three gifts.
  7. Keep a to-do list, and preferably make it an electronically-accessible to-do list that you can see on your cell phone. How many times have you lost a paper to-do list? One example of such an app is the "Do" App by SalesForce on iTunes. However, there are many other options to choose from - just search for "to-do list" or look under the "productivity" category in your app store. Other kinds of list apps (such as for grocery and/or shopping lists) may also be useful to you.
  8. Act to file mementos immediately. If it's important, save it and pack it up as soon as possible, such as in an IKEA KVARNVIK Box with Lid, a plastic bin with a lid, or an archival storage container. If it's not important, toss it. Filing mementos as soon as possible decreases the changes that they will be lost or accidentally damaged.
  9. Keep a small desk calendar nearby so you can see the big picture at a glance while taking up minimal space. This useful National Wildlife Federation Calendar Magnet benefits charity as well.
  10. And finally, store school and office supplies in one location. There is no reason why you need a pen cup in every room of your house. Having multiple locations for these supplies increases the odds that you will over-buy some items and/or run out of others because you don't get to see everything you have at a glance. For pens and other desk suppplies, one option is the Acrylic Drawer Organizer Set from The Container Store.

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