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Best organizing tips/worst mistakes

Posted by upnovernicole (My Page) on
Wed, May 31, 06 at 13:20

I'm a lurker here, read a lot but rarely post on this forum. I love to organize (I know - some of you think I'm sick LOL).

Anyway - on another forum I read they have a thread going in which they've listed their best and worst organizing aids. I thought that would be a great thing here - especially for anyone just really starting to organize.

For me it's to do it in small doses, like 15 minutes, or a drawer at a time. And to clean it up when I'm done with that one before moving on. Because I actually enjoy organizing I can get very involved and then burn myself out easily. At the end I've usually made a giant mess that I'm too tired to clean up. If I do one drawer at a time and clean up after I can pace myself a lot better.

The worst thing for me is that I keep buying tools to organize, boxes and bins and baskets. I'm always searching for that perfect thing. At the moment I am slowly working on my scrapbook room and I have 1/2 an armoir full of empty containers! One's that just don't work for me. I hate tossing them too LOL. I need to though - makes no logical sense to organize empty containers!

What are your favorite tips, tools etc. Mistakes others can learn from?

Nicole


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Best organizing tips/worst mistakes

Great thread!

I use a rubbermaid-type large hamper that you can flatten when not in use as my garbage pail when going through stuff. It holds the large green garbage bags so I don't have to change it as often. It's also very light so it's easy to move from room to room.

I store my tupperware lids in a plastic saucepan lid rack I purchased at the Dollar Store. Since I moved all my tupperware to the first shelf of the upper cabinet, it's been so much easier to keep neat. When it was all in the lower cabinet, I ended up throwing the pieces in haphazardly.


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The best tip I ever got (and followed!) was for long term storage (kid's clothes, for example). Instead of writing the contents on the box, write a number on the box. Then keep a list of all the numbers and their contents (in pencil) near the boxes. That way when the contents in the boxes change, I am not crossing out on the box or putting a new label on the box, but instead just easily changing the contents on the list. So now when I need a pair of size 10 boys long pants, I just scan my list for "Boys, size 10 winter" and see what the box number is. I go to that box and pull out a pair of pants. The beauty of this system is when I am done with all of my size 10 boy winter clothes (and have passed them on to someone who can use them) I can now put size 4 girls dresses in the box and make a simple change to the list (don't forget to use a pencil on your list, or you'll be looking for the white out!)


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I'll hit the worst mistake one. Not a real mistake, but actually thinking that organization was a one time deal and that I would be done. I'm never done. Just like life, it is constantly evolving and changing. Something as simple as a new school year or visitors means numerous things need to change.

I use to think that to be organized I would have to find the perfect "thing" to keep "stuff." I still like all of those cool boxes and some day I'd love to have my spices look like mustangs'. For now, I realize since I have gotten the clutter gone and have a system set up for the constantly rotating items in and out of the house, that most organization for me is based on mental prep, with a few simple items like a good calendar.

So maybe I do have a tip. Get rid of the clutter in your house and it will actually free up space in your brain.

Gloria


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Start by putting things in the rooms they belong in. Pile things that don't belong in a room near the door so that every time you walk out of a room, scoop it up and drop in the right room. Eventually when everything's in the correct room you can work on each space individually rather than taking on the whole house at once. Works for me, little by little. Oh, also I'm a minimalist with a packrat hubby. So I just take most of it to the trash OR

I keep a "donations" box in the entry, which gets kicked into the coat closet when company comes. It appeases the organizer in me and takes away the guilt of throwing away something that is "perfectly good".


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jasileet, my sister USED to keep a large box for garage sale/donations in one of her walk in closets. She was always ready and remained somewhat clutter free. Then she had kids LOL!!!!!


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Haha.. I'm beginning to see. I'm a brand new mom, so only time will tell if I can keep that box around or if everything old becomes "new" again and the kids keep reclaiming my recyclables.


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My worst mistakes are keeping too much stuff & not putting things away even when they have a place. I'm really bad about doing this with paperwork.

Best tips:
1. Buy a good shredder & use it. I now shred credit card offers, etc. as soon as they come in. See #2.
2. Shred most bills once the payment clears the bank. I shred all utility bills. Unless I have a dispute, I don't need to keep my phone bills for months. Even filing them is a waste of time to me. The exception, of course, would be something you would need for tax purposes. I only keep the most recent of our retirement account statements.
3. Keep a Rubbermaid bin for gifts. That way, if you find something during the year that would be a perfect gift but the occasion is six months away, you can buy it & know where to find it.
4. Use a PDA. I use mine for the obvious things like addresses, but one thing it really helps me with is lists. My shopping is organized by store. I like being able to do the list once & use it over & over. I also have to-do lists on it & can check off items as completed.


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jasileet, my sister is in the process of packing up her house as she is building a new home. Her home was the original family home since 1960. She bought out the siblings' interest and continued living there after my mom passed away. Reality is now hitting her - 56 years of accumulation -YIPES! She said she's got the whole family (kids too) going through every inch of her house in order to have a huge moving sale. Just as you said, the kids are like *WOW, I haven't seen this in years - I need this!" Shoot, even my son did the same thing. I cleaned out the computer *graveyard* closet that hasn't been touched in at least 4 years and of course, all I heard was "I've been looking for that". YEAH RIGHT LOL.

It's amazing what we all accumlate and stash as treasures to be used down the road... NOT!


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Lisa, Sounds like my DH. He is -such- a packrat, especially when it comes to electronics. We have boxes for computer components that are not only way obsolete, but we don't even have the item anymore. He just keeps saying he'll get to it. Me, I'm a minimalist. If I haven't used it in 2 mo. (save seasonal items) it's gone! Also it has to have a purpose, only pictures remain exclusively decorative around the house. But if I can't tame my husband's clutterbug ways, I'm sure a battle is up ahead as our family grows.

And you're right... products improve, become less expensive and easier to find. Very few things remain treasures. heh


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jasileet, I bet you have mounds of cords and ac adapters too. Lord knows what they go to either. I made my son sit down with me the other night and I bet we tossed 50 lbs of unknown cables, cords and adapters. My only fear is that one day I might want to use a small appliance only to learn that I have tossed the electrical cord made specifically for that appliance. Oh well!'

However, on the flip side, we've damaged two different electronics by using the wrong adapter. I used an unknown adapter on my daughter's old record player and it sent it into reverse! My son plugged in the wrong adapter to a router and it blew it too.


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Oh yeah, tons and tons of cords, Lisa. Someday I'll post a pic of his dungeon, ah, I mean computer room, downstairs. It's a sight, for sure.


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You don't need to post a picture for me LOL. Been there, done that. Years ago I cleaned out the computer graveyard and lined everything up at the street. 6 dead printers, huge battery back ups, a scanner, routers, modems, old speakers, huge old monitors, 2 old antique PB pcs - the mound went on forever. I was afraid at that time to ditch cables, cords, etc. I was kind of in shock at the amount of money that we must have spent over the years to get all that stuff. Were we nutz? Most definitely. Will it happen again? Most definitely.


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I've posted about my wire problem in the past. It's ongoing and something that will never go away in our house. I put every wire in its own individual baggie and put all of them in a 50 gallon container which barely closes. Well, I realized last week that this idea didn't work for me. We needed to find several wires and ended up pulling everything out of the bin just to look for 3 wires.

DH will NOT give up any wires. And I don't want to go through that argument again. Part of the reason we have so many is probably rebuying what we already owned because until last year, they were all over the place.

I'm open to suggestions on how to reorganize these wires again.


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The wire problem is something I will have to tackle when DH is away for a few hours. We have enough extension cords of all powers to supply our entire city. Mantra is "we may need it". God, it drives me crazy. Of course, this spills over into many areas. He is a BJs junkie. Need any TP, paper towels, oh yah, Kleenex???? How about batteries or film?

He went to the recycle place today to dump our old room AC. A worker there took it as it still works. Otherwise, they require stuff to be in plastic bags that they sell for $2 each. He bought 2 in case we need them. THIS IS THE FIRST TRIP TO THE CENTER IN 3 YEARS. The bags will go into a never never land, not to be found if we ever need one.

I could go on and on..........

Carol


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I keep all of my adapters in a drawer in my closet. I label them as I get them, right where they plug into the unit, because I'm afraid of forgetting what they go to. I actually thought I was the only one who couldn't keep this stuff straight.


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The wire situation is a good example of my use of private vs public space theory. The DH tripped over boxes of all of the computer wires, adapter, even a server. He can keep whatever he wants, but it must stay in his home office. A few weeks ago, he finally sorted through it we are down to one box, which easily went into storage.

In our house the garage is considered public space. The man's an accountant. It's not like he does home fix it jobs around here, so he can't even store his overflow in the garage.

And what is it with men and warehouse stores? My gosh, they can't come out of there without a lifetime's supply of everything.

Gloria


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susan, great idea. If I can remember (key word there), I will start identifying all my ac adapters and cords with whiteout or black marker the minute they are unwrapped. Then I will have to pledge to myself to remember to toss the cord whenever I toss the corresponding item. Yeah right LOL. I can already see the writing on the wall.


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This thread has been hijacked! LOL

Let's see....I think the silliest thing I did (for me, not to knock anyone else) was to create a file folder for each company that sent me catalogs (that I used regularly. New one came, old one tossed.) Stored these alphabetically in a file cabinet. "Borrowed" this idea from a fellow, ultra-organized playgroup Mom about 12 years ago. After about a year I decided that besides taking up valuable real-estate in the file cabinet, it also wasn't worth the time/effort to file and purge. I was never even a big catalog shopper (or shopper at all for that matter). I've managed to cut down on the # of catalogs received, and now they get tossed in a basket. I purge and toss if the basket gets too full or if I think of it when the recyclers are due to pick up. Very few (if any) catalogs are worth keeping now with web sites.

One of my favorites --

This one "borrowed" from Talley Sue (thank you again!) -- Hang school notices, flyers, invitations, class trip info etc. (anything time-sensitive) on a magnetic hook on the fridge, right next to the kitchen calendar. Keep a hole puncher handy. When these notices come home, they get recorded onto the calendar (and my Palm pilot). They are then hung in chronological order (soonest date first). Then, when the date approaches, I just need to glance at the notice to see what is needed for that particular event (what the kids need for their class trip, what they need to wear at their chorus performance, etc.) Keeps the fridge space much less cluttered this way. (This "system" used to be on a kitchen bulletin board, but I no longer have one).

Another "best" --

Other "longer-term" info such as school lunch menus, sports schedules, etc, along with other pertinent info., are stored in a "Family Reference" book in the kitchen. (I have since created these "books" for friends and family member that admired ours.)

Another --

We were able to dedicate some adjustable shelf space to our CD collection. I put index tabs to section off artists alphabetically so they are very easy to find. Also, I purchased a small CD storage binder to keep in the car. The jewel cases stay in the house (not filed with the rest of the CDs) -- I rotate the car collection periodically. However, lately, this collection is rarely touched by anyone other than me (four music lovers in the house) since my DH put the entire collection on the computer and then onto portable music devices. (He is gadget/tech crazy!) At least it keeps things more orderly!

That's all I have time for now --

Enjoy the day!

Maura


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Ok Maura, I'm feeling so totally inferior about now LOL. Oh how I envy you :)


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The biggest waste of time for me:
I organized all DS's legos once. I bought 3 sets of small drawers, about 2 inches deep, 4 drawers to each set/box. yep, 12 drawers of legos. He had millions I think. I labeled every drawer for different kinds/sizes of pieces: People, Pieces for Houses, Pieces for Cars; X-Large, etc. And one for the accumulation of directions to sets. I thought it would make it easier for him to use and put away the legos.

Stupid me! No sooner was I done than DS had dumped and mixed the contents of every drawer. What took me hours was undone in minutes. He would put them back in the drawers, but not the "correct" drawers. That's just not how little boys play. Oh well, at least the type of storage container was a good idea, even it was *over* organized! The label is still on those drawers, a constant reminder to me of that mistake.

The best use of organizing time: The plastic drawers of school/craft supplies in the pantry. This is the type on wheels with 2 shallow and 2 deep drawers. I have 2 sets. These drawers are also labeled, but it's good, it works. When the kids need something for a project the can find it and put it away so the can find it next time. I keep extra school supplies (pencils, pens, folders, paper, glue sticks) so when they run out at school we already have it handy. It helps me make sure we always have all the supplies, I am informed when the "notebook paper" or "contruction paper" drawer is empty. Since they're on wheels, they come right out and up to the table while a project is going on. That one makes me feel good every time I see it working like I planned.


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One of my best organizing tips was to put my "standard" shopping list in the computer, with categories like dairy, meats, canned goods, etc. I keep everything alphabetical in each category, and there is a little box next to each item to check it off if it is needed. When I used up the milk, for example, or when it starts getting low, I check off milk on the list. Any coupons I plan to use get stapled to the list. Now when I'm ready to go to the store I've got my grocery list all ready to go. I can easily change this list on the computer if we start buying something new (like our recent addiction to pomegranate juice mixed with seltzer), and I print out 3-4 lists at a time so there is always one handy, right on the fridge with a magnet.

The other thing I do is to keep a small address book in my handbag. I'm a plant nut, and every time I see or hear about a plant I want to buy, I put the name in the book under the correct alphabet letter. Then, when I'm in a nursery, I've got my list handy.


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Lots of great tips here! I will try the magnetic hook for school notices - they are currently layered on my bulletin board.

My biggest organizing mistake was to organize the house around the way I want it to be, versus the way dh and dd actually function. For example, I put the art supplies in the play room, when dd always does art at the dining room table. I'm trying to correct these mistakes and be a little more flexible, ie making room on the living room shelves for board games and puzzles so we don't have to dig them out of the coat closet.

My biggest issue is toy clutter, but I'm resigned that this will just last for a few more years.

One of the most helpful tools I have is a big whiteboard on the fridge with every day of the week and what we have to do on each day. I seem to keep a lot of calendars - maybe I need to get a palm pilot or something - but the whiteboard is what keeps me on track.

I have a clothing sytem that works for me. I hang my clothes by type (pants, skirts, dresses, jackets, etc.) When I take something out I put the hanger on a large hook. When I put it back, I put it in the FRONT of that section of clothes. So when it is time for me to get rid of some stuff, I can just look to the back of each section to see what hasn't been worn. I hang practically all of my clothes (even t-shirts) so this is a big help.

I also have a shoe rack that holds 24 pairs of shoes - when I get more than that, I go through and get rid of some.

On the cord issue - I use blue masking tape and a marker to label the cords.

Does anyone else get frustrated by feeling like their organizing efforts are sabotaged by other family members? I try to involve them but there is a lot of resistance there.


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Biggest mistake. Not insisting on a separate TV room when the kids were younger. Now my DH won't give up the office space for it. My DD uses the LR as a sick room and won't go away until the cold or whatever is gone. She also loves to study in front of the TV in the LR, and so her paper mess is forever being cleared and brought back out. I don't know how she gets the A's she gets doing that, but she does.

Best organizer. Two dishwashers!! Hands down, bar none, the best $250. I ever spent. Dishes are done in one fell swoop, including the dreaded pots, which I always hated washing by hand. They hum away late at night, get emptied in the A.M. and sit ready for refilling throughout the day. What a fab feeling to know that I, me the messy one, finally have a 100% cleaner kitchen. Not perfect, but almost. Next is the chutes DH is building for the recycling in the next while. Then I'll be in heaven for sure. Caveat. I'm vying for a 4 chute config, but DH says there'll only be room for two chutes. I'm worried that it won't be enough. I have bottles, newspapers, plastics, and cans to get out of my home and that adds up to 4.

Postum yes I do feel sabotaged by my family. More so before than now. Two things have helped me feel better. One is to realize that I set myself and my family up for failure when I expect the wrong things from them. Like DDs need to be looked after constantly when sick. She gets really sick, with fever, nausea, etc, etc, whenever she gets sick, so she has to be nearby, not trapped in her room away from the only washroom in the house, and near me to schlep and carry for her. I just had to let it go, even though the whole house is ruled by her flues and colds when she gets them. Another is to see that theres something the family hates doing, like sitting at the dining table with no window, and stopping fighting about it. Now we just use the dining room for parties etc. and sit in the kitchen or LR. No more fighting and more meals actually shared. I wish Id solved all of the sabotage but no one else wants to pick up right away, or declutter everything, like I do.

BTW DH is a computer programmer and has wires coming and going all the time. He has a bit of disdain for older technology though as our company, (we own our own businesses) uses fairly new technology and encourage our clients to upgrade when technology takes big leaps, like better memory etc. So he throws the wires not needed away right away, and keeps the stuff down to one box.

Yeona


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I am NOT a well organized person, although I do have moments of brilliance.

Here are my good tips:

When the kids rooms got too messy, I would ring a bunch of stuff with a skipping rope and give them a kitchen timer set for 15 minutes to put all that stuff away. Then they could quit cleaning for a while before doing another circle.

When my kids were little, they had a lot of toy sets that I though should stay together for best play value. I sat next to the toy shelves and had them bring me the toys, which I organized as I put them on the shelves. (3 out of 4 are now organized adults.)

When I redid our kitchen, I left things in the storage boxes until I actually used them. Then I put them away in a spot that made snse based on their use. This way, I had a kitchen full of actually used things and a couple of boxes of stuff that needed to be given away or junked.


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Sharon, I love the skipping rope idea! Wish I'd had it years ago. The timer works well for kids and for me - it seems to challenge my ADD tendencies.

Here's 2 of my ideas that seem to work.

For DH electronics mess, I installed heavy-duty hooks in the garage and sorted the incredible numbers of cables and hung em up. I ended up wishing I had bought all bicycle hooks cause the cables became increasingly heavy.

The tiny cables I bagged and ran an alligator tie thru, then hung by the tie. Some of the huge ones, I looped, tied with twine, and ran the alligator tie thru the twine and hung. The ties are thinner than cables, so there was more room on the hook to hang stuff.

We have at least 12 hooks and need another one. Or maybe we just need the Midnight Skulker to come in and snag all of the multiples....

2nd idea I saw after my DD was nearly grown, but it's a goody. Take a box -you choose the size based on your family - and label the outside "Your Kid's Names Here" Toy Jail. Write the rules on the outside, too. Basically, any toys left in certain areas at night are put "in jail". The "bail" is housework. Any toys not bailed out are disposed of. You choose the particulars.

I also keep a large shopping bag or box in my closet. All donation stuff goes into it and my DH & DD never even notice. If the donation box is in the open, then they get to paw thru it and reclaim everything. Of course, it is a good idea to get the whole family thinking of thinning things out and donating to others....but who are we kidding?


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We needed to find several wires and ended up pulling everything out of the bin just to look for 3 wires.

I guess I don't see why this is a big problem. Didn't you just throw the unneeded baggies back in the bin? How hard was that?

As long as you don't have to take them ouf of the bag itself to know that they're not the ones you want....

Would you be better off if you just made a divider, so the stereo wires can stay in one half of the bin, and the computer ones in the other half? Or the stereo's speaker wires stay separate from the stereo's power wires?

You could make dividers simply by cutting a piece of cardboard to fit, and then taping it to the sides of the bin (on both sides, w/ clear packing tape).

Otherwise, I think perhaps your standards are too high, when it comes to those wires? As long as they're: 1) all in one bin; 2) not tangling with one another; 3) labeled as to type AND length; what more do you need? Anything else, frankly, is more work than it's worth.

Or, maybe you could color-code the bags somehow so all the stereo ones are red, the video ones are blue, etc. Maybe slip a piece of construction paper or colored poster board in the bag w/ the cord? That might make them "stand up" better for a more "file-cabinet" effect, but it could also make it hard to fit them in there.

The thing is, one organizing "mantra" that I've come to believe strongly is the "make it easy to put away, even if that means it's hard to get it out."

How often do you go through the bin looking for the wires? How much effort, truly, it is? HHow much effort would you expend trying to create--and maintain--a "put your hands on it right away" system? Those are often MUCH more work than they're worth. If you're going through one bin, and you do find the wire you want, what doesn't work? Life can't be push-button easy, and I'd rather spend my energy scooping up the unopened bags of wires I don't need, and dropping them into the box, than spending it creating multiple compartments, etc., and having to label them, and worrying whether anybody ELSE put the wrong thing in the wrong place.

Maura, you're welcome for that hook idea. I've been using it for 12 years now,a nd it works great! birthday-party invites, plane tickets, anything calendar related, goes on the hook!


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It seems that we go into this wire box enough times that it is becoming a bother. One problem with it, I realize now is the placement of this container. Our walk-in MBR closet has double hung rods. All the clothes are on top and I had put all DH's stuff in boxes and bins on the bottom stacked neatly under the lower rods, including this huge wire bin. The last time he went to look for a wire, he decided to look in some of the boxes. Of course, that meant pulling them out haphazardly into the middle of the floor, pullling some stuff out and just leaving it all there like that. So now, the wire bin can't even be pulled out and it's a pain to even try to hang up his washed clothes.

I have one empty closet in another room that I can put all these boxes in but they'd be stacked again, which is my problem...getting to something at the bottom of the stack. Should I just put all these boxes in that unused room and let them sit there out in the open? Unless someone comes to visit, that room is not used.

I'm just angry that he makes the mess and it's up to me to fix it (again!). But he does work hard and I was just laid off from my job so I now have the time to do this (again!).

Each time I think I'm making headway, I seem to get back to square one.


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pullling some stuff out and just leaving it all there like that.

OK, here's one problem, right there, and no wire-storage system in the WORLD will solve it.

And I don't care if you are unemployed right now, that still doesn't mean it's right for you to pick up after someone else. Maybe you can do the bulk of the vacuuming, and it's OK for you to be the strategizer, but it's not fair for someone else to leave a mess for you to pick up.

You can sort of head it off by making it possible for each BIN to be removed without lots of other mess. But it doesn't sound like the problem right no

w is the INSIDE of that bin--so leave it alone for a while. And focus on storing the bin in a place it can be used.

My vote: put the boxes in the empty closet, and try to find a way to put them each on their own shelf (or two deep on shelves). Can you install the wall-mounted wire shelving? Or, attach shelves to the walls at the end?

Of course, then he'll pull all the bins off the shelves and look in them, and leave the stuff out on the floor. But, it'll be in the other room, maybe. And you can wedge a chair under the doorknob and refuse to let him back out until he picks it all up.


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I'm with Talley on this one, marie. I really don't understand why we confuse rudeness with organization. I would no more pick up after my DH, than become the man in the moon. I would throw the stuff away in a heartbeat.

I just can't image being raised to expect another person to pick up after you. Do these guys do this at work? Throw trash on the floor and expect the cleaning people to pick it up?

I keep hearing this on some of my listserves. Keeping an organized home and picking up after people are not the same tasks. Throw the stuff away if he can't keep it picked up.

Gloria


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Talley Sue and Gloria, of course I know you're both right. But after so many years of picking up after everybody, it's become a pattern and it's obviously part of a bigger problem.

I will move his stuff to the spare bedroom. But I think before I move all the stuff, I'm going to bring out a box every few days and have him go thru it. I'm hoping to get him to weed out his stuff, like I did mine last year. At least I did put all of his boxes in one place so I don't have to go searching for them.

I think the only thing of his I'll leave in the MBR closet are the wires.


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marie said: But after so many years of picking up after everybody, it's become a pattern and it's obviously part of a bigger problem.

How true and how sad! Even back when I worked full time, I would get frustrated at the messes and just "did it". The messes of others would drive me so crazy sometimes. Was too tired to continue yelling, finding tactics, etc. Yeah, I blew it.

I still chuckle at my sister aka Ms. Neat, Ms. Organized, Ms. Everything. She finally gave up and went on strike. The daily reports she shared with me made me laugh so hard. But deep inside, what she really wanted was some heart felt apologies and some "kudos" or recognition for all of her work to keep the home clean, organized and in running order 24/7.


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My dh grew up with live-in help - housekeeper, gardener, the works. Just throw the clothes on the floor and they re-appear, clean and folded! Leave the bathroom a mess, and next time you go in it's spotless! He was so clueless - when we first got married that he asked me why I was washing the sheets! He never knew they got washed. I told him "for the same reason you wash your underwear!"

He's still learning that there is no maid in our house!


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LOL postum! You certainly had your work cut out for you. Too funny about the sheets. You made me smile this morning.

P.S. After reading your post, I held my coffee cup close to my face, tilted my head, looked up towards the ceiling with that dreamy look in my eyes...........imagining myself doing what your DH used to do only to find it perfect later. OH WOW!!!!!
What a blissful, peaceful awesome moment that was. That moment was better than taking a valium hahaha.


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pretty new to Garden Web. Great ideas here! I find the easiest way for me to organize all the computer stuff is to make folders for each item and I put everything related to that item in the folder (cords too) That way it is easily located. When the item is outdated or no longer needed, the folder gets pulled and put with the item to be given away or sold. Works great for me!


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ROFL.... Hey... I did that Lego sorting thing once, too! And WHY DON'T boys like the pieces all separated??? Makes perfect sense to me!

My best tips:

1. Have a place for everything.
2. Clean as you go (especially when cooking or gardening or something else messy).
3. Do it NOW (no sense putting something on my to-do list if it's a quick job I can finish in a minute or less).


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I just came up with this one recently. I've always sorted my items on the belt at the supermarket, hoping that the checker would follow my order. Since it's so hot here now, I really want to make sure that the freezer items stay together. So now, I ask that only the freezer items be put in paper. The rest can be put in plastic bags.

I put the items from the paper bag away first. No more searching through all the bags for anything that goes in the freezer.


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I cook alot so I keep my spices in alphabetical order. Also have a 5 drawer rolling plastic cart (sort of like a airplane beverage cart) to keep all tools in. I just roll it to the next job. My closet is a disaster. Yikes


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Like Susi, I keep my 1-page grocery list in the computer and print out a few at a time. I've organized mine according to the layout of the supermarket where I always shop. When I run out of something, I circle the item. The only difficulty is if I decide to shop at a different supermarket, and then there's some frustration, wasted steps and omissions.

I read a book about organization years ago and learned that one key is to think in terms of systems, and to keep a system contained and intact. So, I have a giftwrapping system with everything needed for wrapping and mailing (giftcards, papers, tape, markers, scissors, ribbon, padded envelopes...), a picnic system, a shoecleaning system, a cut flower arranging system, a bread baking system, and even a system for gluing ( a bin with superglue and epoxy where anything needing gluing gets tossed until the time comes for fixing all at once.)


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My worst mistake is leaving any job for "Future Jannie". Do it now, when you first see it. Get it over with and it won't nag you or get worse.


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"Future Jannie"--I'd forgotten about that term! That's the one I'm still trying to get down-pat.


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future Jannie?

I thought you were referring to the next wife!!! LOL!!!
My ex-FIL would pick up the kids' stuff -- lock it up & make them pay to get it back!!! Worked for him!!!


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The worst organizing mistake I've made is to assume the job for the whole family. It's been my job to figure out where things go. I think this "enables" the other family members to be child-like and irresponsible.
Also, because I am super-organized, I tend to grab up the available storage spaces for what I need them for, and doing this leaves the others with fewer places to put things. This sets them up for failure, and me for being the problem-solver.
To the poster whose DH dumped the wires and such on the floor - he is "acting out" or maybe he is one of those people who don't see the messes. He didn't like your system but didn't tell you. My husband does this too, and I have learned to question him so I can understand what his needs are. Too often they want to give in to keep the peace.
We have just moved, into our retirement home, which was already partly furnished. So we are trying to whittle our way down from essentially two households of stuff to just one. It is extremely hard. But I am thankful that DH and I are communicating a bit better about these basics. I don't see him any longer as hopelessly disorganized, but rather as inexperienced. I hope he sees me as helpful, creative rather than demanding. And I've been trying to say what I really mean, too. I can now say, I don't like that because it's ugly, rather than just sigh or act irritated.
For computer and software stuff, I use three-sided multicolored folders. I don't colorcode, but I like these "pockets" because manuals, parts, etc. won't fall out. At least that's what I've done with my stuff. I will ask DH if he'd like to do that with his stuff as well. If not, rather than harumph about it, I'll try to find out what is wrong - in his view- about this idea.


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Worked well:
Soon after I bought my current computer, I bought a sturdy cardboard box about the size of a very thick book for all the disks, manuals, car power adapter, and other stuff that came with it but isn't used regularly. I made a nice label for it, and it sits on the bookshelf. I've been oh-so-happy the few times I needed any of it and knew just where it was. Normally I would have put the disks with my other disks, manuals on the bookshelf, and everything else "somewhere".

Didn't work so well:
When my dd was younger and had lots of Barbies, I did something similar to the Lego system in the previous posts. I had a plastic bin for each type of doll - Barbie, Ken, Skipper, Kelly, Stacie, etc. and their associated stuff. I thought that would make sense to my dd. Wrong! She knew exactly what went with each doll, but just plain didn't mind if they were all mixed together. Drove me crazy for a while. She's 12 now, and still lives with exploding room syndrome. (But the Barbies are mostly gone. Other little junk lives in those bins now.)


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I got a large 3 ring binder. I keep all manuals/receipts in page protectors in the binder. I store it out of the way and have freed up a whole drawer! This is mostly for appliances, tools, yard stuff etc.
When something dies or I give it away--the paper work goes bye-bye, too!


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Catkin, Don't forget to cut out the pages that are in a foreign language. No sense in saving half a manual that you can't read.

As someone mentioned The worst thing for me is that I keep buying tools to organize, boxes and bins and baskets. I'm always searching for that perfect thing. This is my biggest bad idea. I end up having to organize the organizers just to eventually sell them at the annual garage sale.

This works for me, a vertical junk drawer (shoe holder) hidden behind the laundry room door.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


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Fantastic thread! I have been told that I am a compulsive organizer, but the wire thing really hit home with me this morning. Last night I spent 45 minutes going through a (well organized, each one packaged in a seperate baggie) box of unidentifiable wires trying to find an adapter to replace the one for the portable dvd player (my daughter's rabbit ate the original one!). I never did find one that would be a suitable substitute so today I have to trek over to Radio Shack to purchase yet another wire. And to think I saved all of those other wires/cables for a "just in case" scenario! Lesson learned, if I get rid of the item that the wire belongs to, I will just toss the danged adapter cord!

Now, as for my best organizational tip, I would have to say that it is leading by example. My kids (especially my 18 year old son) continually tease me about my never ending organizing, but last week I noticed that my son had all of his bank statements and paystubs organized in seperate stacks on his desk.....in calendar order!! Oh, it makes a mother so proud....brought a tear to my eye. I immediately ran out and purchased him a file box(which he was actually thrilled to receive!) Now, don't get me wrong...this kid is a packrat, and he keeps his room horrifyingly messy (clothes all over the floor, obsolete computer equipment everywhere, throws nothing away). BUT...those two stacks of important papers.....sitting there on his desk in perfect order, they sort of glowed with a golden light! He is a teenager after all, but at least there is a glimmer of a future organizer there, when he gets over his teenage slovenliness!

As for my 8 year old, her idea of fun is "helping mom clean and organize". She loves to organize and always asks me what organizing project we have planned. She can't abide messiness (she had a friend coming over the other day and she raced around the house picking up things and putting them where they belong, because she didn't want Caitlin to think we were messy people!!) She has learned from me, that sometimes even in organized houses, there are days where things just don't get put away.....but that when company comes, it's time to do a quick "run-around" and pick up and put everything away.

Ahhhhhhhh...sometimes parenting can be so rewarding!
:) jiggreen


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this kid is a packrat, and he keeps his room horrifyingly messy (clothes all over the floor, obsolete computer equipment everywhere, throws nothing away). BUT...those two stacks of important papers.....sitting there on his desk in perfect order, they sort of glowed with a golden light!

I find this sporadic organizing to actually be the most beneficial. He organizes those papers because for some reason he values it--it makes him feel in control; he believes he'll save time when he eventually needs to look through those.....

laundry, well, it never STAYS organized, so I can see why the clothes wouldn't make him even want to TRY! Eventually, he'll begin to see value in having that organized, too.


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Worst mistake is buying organizing boxes, bins and baskets that promise the best organizing system but don't really fit "my style" of living, therefore they don't work.

Best tips found in "Organizing from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern

My biggest time saver, like pink_overalls and Susi, I keep my grocery list in the computer and print out a few at a time. I also have it organized according to the layout of the supermarket where I always shop.

My life line is my DayTimer. I'm a computer geek but I love a pencil to paper (and have experienced one too many loss of data). I keep a calendar that ALL events get recorded in. Then 26 tabs A - Z hold in alpha order addresses, projects, one page for each family member with info that includes: birthdates, gift list, sizes, etc. I sketch craft projects and list all materials needed, I keep lists of storage systems. Everything is always handy. This book has saved my sanity many times!

I use the portable size DayTimer system. When my DD was small I used the 2 page per week layout because of all the activities, now that she's grown I've "downsized" to a 2 page per month.

Here is a link that might be useful: Day Timer


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Hmmn, seems like one of my worst mistakes dates back a year or two - buying "Organizing from the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern - and not reading it!


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I put all my CDs in those discjockey binders. Now I need to catalog them, but what took up walls of space now takes up one shelf.


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What is a discjockey binder?


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I'm new here and you all seem like such a fun group!

Worst tip: I purchased over 15 books on how to get organized, read every one of them (which took a considerable amount of time which would have been better spent organizing my home), ORGANIZED them alphabetically on their own book shelf, and then never applied any of the principles. The only thing absolutely organized in my home are the books on how to be organized.

Best tip: I have a head injury which has caused a memory loss problem and attention deficit disorder; it was my MD who recommended that I go a little easier on myself (not thinking that I can organize the whole home in a week-end) and put everything that can possibly be stored this way in a see-through container.

The Best of the Best tip: Although it cost about $60 at the time (you can get them significantly cheaper on e-bay) I purchased "Now You Can Find It" by Sharper Image. These are 8 battery-operated "tags" (the size of a car-door opener) that each have a different colored light and unique beeper sound. They can be attached to your keys, purse, glasses case, whatever you constantly misplace. The kit comes with a master finder (which looks like a tv remote control) with 8 buttons matching the "tags." When you lose your purse, you get the master finder which is magnetically attached to your fridge and press the button which you have labled "purse". You go through the house, pointing the device in all directions. Eventually, beeping will be heard and you'll know you're getting closer as the beeping gets louder. In the dark, you'll see the tag flashing the appropriate color. And... poof! - there's your purse. I have saved HOURS of searching thanks to this device. A must for anyone suffering from early signs of dementia or the habitual "loser."


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Your see through container tip reminded me of something. Once I sort a stack of papers or mail, I slip each category into a ziploc bag. The 2.5 gallon size are perfect. The categories may just be DO, FILE, & CALL, or sometimes more detailed. But once in the bags the piles don't get restacked together and are easily portable. I don't have a desk at this point, so usually work at the kitchen table. My SHRED pile usually just gets stacked on the shredder if I can't shred at the moment.

For anything that is to be filed, I make a note right on the paper of where to file it (IRS 2006, for example) Ideally it should just go in the file, but right now my file cabinet is in a different room. (That will change in the new house)

Once I do have a desk I may use the zipbags for things I want to keep out.


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Posted by marie26: What is a discjockey binder?

It is like a photo album. It is a book with pages of clear plastic sleeves that you slide you CD's into. You do not need to keep them in the plastic cases that they come in and they take up far less room and it is easier to just flip through the pages to find a CD rather than shuffle through a bunch of plastic cases.


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New here, but I love this thread!!!

My best advice as far as kids and their rooms--it's so simple and it always worked for me (had 1 girl, 2 boys). When they get old enough, there is always some where they want to go. My rule was you don't go until your room is clean. This didn't include obligations like sports, etc., but extracirricular activities. Church is not included in that unless it was a movie outing or something similar. As a result of this rule, I had three children, later teenagers, whose rooms were always presentable. May not have been cleaned like I would have done it, but it was clean.

I also had a chore list and each person (including me) cleaned one room a week on a rotating basis. That way I was hiting each room with a good cleaning at least once a month. In between, it was fairly clean.

My biggest mistake in the past was letting little stuff bother me. My husband and I have an empty nest now and we have a running joke about replacing the toilet paper. For some reason, he will not put in on the holder. Years ago, I would have freaked out about that, now I just kind of laugh about it. If I want it on the holder, I put it there. If not, I leave it.

Life is too short. :-)


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My SHRED pile usually just gets stacked on the shredder if I can't shred at the moment.

I've never quite figured out why people "can't shred at the moment." Probably their houses aren't organized for "on-demand shredding," and shredders are usually retrofitted into an existing "trash organization" scheme. But it would be a smart move to fix it so this is possible.

I set my shredder up permanently--I don't have to wait for any special "time" to shred--I just stick the paper in there instead of putting it in the trash can or setting it down.

(I don't have any worries about my cat or my kids accidentally sticking something in the shredder, so I just leave it ready to go. If I *did* have worried about that, then I'd turn the switch to off, and then I'd simply need to flick it back to "on" when I wanted to shred. )


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I think for me shredding is very final, and I want to be sure I don't need any of that stuff again. So I have a box next to the shredder and shred once a week when the recycling goes out. Yes, I have had to go in and retreive some things once in a while. After a week, I'm usually o.k. with shredding stuff. If not, it stays in the box another week. Otherwise, a lot of this stuff would end up in a pile on my desk or kitchen counter or wherever. So this works best for me.


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In my case the shredder isn't located near where I sort the mail. Not surprising - my whole house is very unorganized! Often I squeeze in a few minutes to sort the mail, but don't have more than that. Once we move I'll have a desk again and the shredder will sit underneath - and the mail comes much earlier in the day, something I'll appreciate very much.


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Let's see:

Principle 1: Organization is An Evolving Process -- Observe, Learn and Adapt. What works one day ---- may have to change ....

Principle 2: What Works for One Person -- May or May Not Work for You --- BUT there is always something to be learned and considered ......

Principle 3: Your Home ain't All That Different from Any Business. Accounts to be Paid. Inventory. Distribution.
Storage. Think about How Many Businesses (of all kinds and sizes) Have Failed Because They Wouldn't Get a Handle the Basics.

a) Consider the "Whole Process" (learned this one from my days as a business writer -- I wrote about factories and business learning to create processes throughout their organization ....) In other words -- really think about how your Mail System needs to work for you. From picking it up --- to opening --- to filing .....

Or Laundry. Or Groceries. Or Gardening.

b) Clean As You Go. Just Do It.


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1 of my better ideas of organizing is a couple yrs ago after fighting the Christmas decoration battle for almost 30 yrs I went and bought a few clear plastic shoe boxes I think I spent a dollar each on them. Labled them with the contents I wanted in them. Packed the ornaments in them stored them.

OK next Christmas after the tree is up and decorated and I stat making cookies I rinse out the boxes and put cookies in them.

About the time the cookies are gone it's time to take tree down wash out the boxes and ornaments goes back in them.


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Software licenses, CDs, and passwords

We had an incredible quantity of CDs and they were not organized. Since we have multiple computers, that means we also have multiple copies of software--much of which needs to be kept.

DH created a spreadsheet for the software and licenses. We write the license numbers on each CD when it is initially opened. He uses the spreadsheet to track which license goes with which computer (especially useful for Windows, Office, etc.)

He also created a tab for each of us to track our usernames and passwords for each website we use. Since different sites have different rules (created username, email address, SSN, 6 letter password, 8 letters, no special symbols, special symbols required), this is a *very* useful spreadsheet for us.

For the CDs, we use a Rubbermaid shoebox bin. I used colored envelopes to create file folders: "Microsoft Windows", "Microsoft Office", "Photo software", etc. I can now put my hands on the CD (and know its license #) in seconds.

BTW, DH was *VERY* skeptical of the shoebox idea. It has worked out *wonderfully* although we are about to need a second shoebox since we have so many CDs.

--Beth


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My 'Good' tips:

* Stop junk mail before it comes! Cancel all your catalogs that you can bear to or sign up at greendimes.com and have them do that and more for cheap. Most catalogs are available online nowadays anyway. Go Here to stop even more junk.

* Keep a bin for incoming mail in the TV area so you can sort though it while you watch TV. Try to do other stuff while watching TV.

* Join a freecycle group in your area and give away all that I-might-need-this-someday stuff and this-is-too-nice-to-throwout stuff. Feel confident that when you need those things (and you won't) you can get them from someone else in the group. I've been collecting shipping boxes for years and had dozens of them in the garage because they might be useful and I might need them someday. Now they are freecycled, I have lots more room, and someone else has the boxes they needed.
I use a group on yahoo, there's a bunch of local ones on there and maybe elsewhere. (why is all of yahoo groups banned on here?)

* One tip I just thought of this morning: I stopped at a garage sale this morning and saw a Avon sample kit binder that would have been perfect for storing all my seed packets . They wanted $10 and wanted me to buy samples with it. I declined but decided one of my spare CD binders would work great as well. They're not just for CDs/DVDs!


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Why does green dimes require my credit card # for my name to be removed from catalog mailing lists?


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Marie
I do the same thing at the grocery store. Its easy to put the groceries away when they are together in the bag. ALL dry items together, meat, frozen, produce & veggies, canned etc.
I despise when the checkers throw cans on my bread. LOL


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catkin,

It appears their service costs $15.00. They do have to pay the people who do the work to get your name off those lists.


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I have a pendaflex folder for each grade my kids are in.
Put all schedules, awards, report cards, pictures, etc.

Turn all hangers around in the closet. When you use soemthing you will automatically put the hanger back in correctly. You will quickly know what clothes you aren't wearing anymore.

Also have pendaflex for year month of year. After I pay a bill or have receipts I want to keep, they go right in there.

Join Flylady.


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Old thread but maybe this will help someone:
1. keep shopping list on computer, each item numbered with the aisles of the store where I shop most often
2. Use a label maker. I recently organized two drawers in my sewing table. Small tins keeps dozens of notions separated. Now they are also labeled so I know what is in each one. It's a joy to sew when I can find everything without a big search party.
3. My lazy susan holds all my alphabetized spices. I don't think I could function as well in the kitchen without this help. But it only works well in a circular arrangement. A linear arrangement would mean shuffling everything whenever a new bottle was purchased. Blech.
4. A small pair of scissors on a hook above my washer handles little threads that appear with regularity when doing laundry.
5. One drawer in our entertainment center is devoted to grandchildren's toys. They always know they can go in there for play things. I also toss small freebies like decals, stickers and Cracker Jack-size toys in there so they often find surprises when they visit.


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Toys: I have about 15 clear plastic bins with handles filled with toys for visiting grandkids -- small blocks, cars, old Fisher-Price, etc., all stacked in a hall closet. The general rule is "one box out of the closet at a time," although on occasion we've combined boxes for different kinds of play. It was quite an effort to teach the concept of "we must pick this box up before getting another one out" -- a 30 minute tearful standoff with a two year old comes to mind -- but now it's second nature. I know this can't be done this strictly with toddlers at home, but for a grandma's house, it works great!

Cooking: When I start to cook or bake something, I fill one side of the sink with very hot, soapy water, and open the dishwasher. Every utensil, bowl, etc. goes immediately either into the sink or the dishwasher. When I'm finished cooking, clean-up is a breeze: Shut the dishwasher, swipe or rinse off the soaked dishes in the sink, wipe up the counter, and the kitchen is basically clean.

Kitchen organization: I know this goes against the rule here of "Less is more" but I have multiples of quite a few kitchen things. Example: The cupboard next to the fridge is Sandwich/Snack Central. I keep specific glasses and mugs there, paper plates, and a specific, inexpensive, set of flatware. No running around the kitchen when fixing a sandwich, drink, or snack because everything is at hand. Adds just a bit of complexity to the sorting step of emptying the dishwasher but it sure simplified life. Because I run the dishwasher only every 3 days, I have multiple spatulas, measuring spoons, and a few other things I use constantly. For me, sometimes "more is easier."


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Hostagrams, I follow your kitchen organization rule because I also don't run the dishwasher every day. It's much easier to pull the extra measuring cup, spoon or spatula than constantly having to wash everything I own.


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