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How to Get Organized

How to Get Organized:   Managing Clutter |  Organizing Your Smartphone |  Boxes in your Office Room |  Organizing Your Computer |  Organizing Each Room |  To-Do Lists |  Yellow Pages |  Main Menu
How important is it to be organized?
  • You are not alone.  All of us share similar organizational challenges (junk mail, email, scheduling, time management, parenting, careers, housework, ...)
  • Lack of organization can make us long-term slaves to our own mess.
  • Organization is the most persistent of challenges.  People can spend years digging themselves out of a disorganized life.
  • A messy house can inhibit your ability to entertain guests, affect your self-esteem, create increased stress, degrade relationships, cause headaches at work, and make it nearly impossible to locate important items.
  • A nicely organized house can be as pleasant to live in as a disorganized house costing twice as much.
  • With so much to do every day, we can often feel constantly unable to catch up or keep up.
  • Your ability to be organized will greatly affect whether or not you feel in control over your life and your surroundings and are able to participate effectively in things that interest you.
  • Being disorganized at work can cause increased stress at home, and being disorganized at home can cause increased stress at work.
Simplify for Happiness
  • The more things you have and keep, the more things you must organize.
  • Since organizing requires constant work, a simpler life is often an easier life.
  • Remember that each item that you keep will likely be organized many times during your future.
  • To resolve any organizational problem:
    1. Sort and classify the items
    2. Consolidate, merge, and remove duplicates
    3. Establish an organized location to store the needed items
    4. Get rid of unneeded items: discard them, recycle them, or give them away
How to Get Started?
  • It will take daily effort and thought for many weeks, but these steps should allow you to eventually get your life back.  Take pride in each small accomplishment.  Getting organized can be a long journey.
  • This page provides a system for organizing that includes the following steps:
    1. Managing Clutter
    2. Organizing Your Smartphone
    3. Boxes in your Office Room
    4. Organizing Your Computer
    5. Organizing Each Room
  • It is important to first set up a system for organizing.  Don't worry if your house is a mess, create your system first.  Once your system is in place you can begin to unscramble your life.  If you don't have a system, then everything that comes into your house will end up in a random drawer, on a table top, on the floor, or in a "messy room".
Reducing 10000 Items to 20
  • When you add papers, work emails, home emails, computer files, digital pictures, to-do items, receipts, advertisements, clothes, most of us have over 10000 items in our life that need to be organized.  The best approach is to reduce this 10000 items into about 20 groups and then use this very same 20 groups for boxes, folders on your computer's hard disk, your smartphone contacts groups, notes that you put into your notepad app, and your email (Outlook) folders.  Each of these 20 groups will be described in more detail later.
The Digital Information Age
  • Strategic use of technology can definitely make managing life easier.
  • Go Paperless.   Store things digitally rather than using paper.   See sections below for how to organize your smartphone and computer.
  • Make SURE to have backups.   ALL digital devices can fail, break, or be dropped.
To keep from losing things, put things where you would expect to find them
  • The quickest way to organize is to put things where you would expect to find them.  This strategy works very well for people who struggle with things getting lost.
Put Everything in its Place Now!   Don't delay!
  • Once your organizational system is in place, it is important to "live within your system" at work and at home.
  • Organizing is something that needs to be done persistently and continuously as you go through your regular day.
  • Try to take action the instant that you recognize that something needs to be:
    1. thrown away / recycled
    2. put together with something else
    3. put in the correct place
  • During the normal day, you will think of several ideas for how to better organize your things.  Be sure to take action on these ideas immediately before these ideas are forgotten.   Good ideas are so easy to forget.   Sparks of organizational insight are ideas worth remembering.   If you cannot take immediate action, then keep a list.
  • To put everything in its correct place, think about the following question anytime you look at any item in your house: "If each item has a purpose, is each item located where it should be to serve that purpose."
  • Try to avoid creating "miscellaneous" piles.  Once you have established your system for organizing, put things into that system and not into "miscellaneous" piles.
  • If a strategy doesn't seem to be working, don't be afraid to re-think or change it.
  • You cannot really know what you have, unless it is organized.
  • We are all creatures of habit.  The secret of success is simply creating good habits.

Managing Clutter

Managing Clutter:   What to Keep? |  Getting Rid of Clutter |  Getting rid of Unneeded Things |  Don't let Stuff INTO your House |  Coupons |  Main Menu
Understanding Clutter
  • Clutter is delayed decision making.   When we have too much to do, we are unable to process our clutter, and clutter builds up.
  • Our ability to process clutter is definitely related to our overall workload and having time available to stay organized.
Locational Dependence
  • Clutter is locational dependence.   I've noticed that both messy people and organized people tend to be able to find things when they are looking for them.   This indicates that everyone keeps a memory map in their mind of their things and where they are located.   Messy people have a dependence on the location of each item and are often afraid or reluctant to move things because of fear that they won't remember the new location.   What looks like a mess to us is actually comforting for the messy person because it matches their locational memory map.
What to Keep and What to Throw Away?
  • Remember that you typically use only a fraction (< 20 %) of the things that you actually have.  Many of our possessions are simply museum pieces to our existence.  Throwing everything in drawers is a poor solution as items in there will remain permanently lost for decades and the drawer will not be used effectively.
  • People often have "locational blindness" and allow certain areas to always be a mess.  Take each item and move it to a different location.  Then your mind will be forced to re-evaluate each item based on its actual significance rather than by "it's always been there".
  • To determine if an item in your house is valuable, ask yourself (1) when was the last time you used that item, and (2) when is the next time you will use that item.
  • Any date on an item (expiration, copyright, edition, sales effective dates, offer ends by, ...) can be very helpful in determining if it is obsolete.
Getting Rid of Clutter
  • Clutter is made of two things: (1) items kept that don't need to be kept, and (2) any item not where it should be.  Clutter is caused by failing to:
    1. Separate what you want to keep from what you want to get rid of.
    2. Move what you want to keep into your organized locations discussed on this web page (including boxes, computer folders, and phone contacts).
    3. Move things you no longer need to a recycle bin, charitable donation, giveaway to a family member, or trash.
    4. Don't let advertisers fill your house with their advertising.  Take back your house.  Sort your mail by sender and count the frequency of advertisements from various sources.  You will be shocked to see that some companies are mailing you advertisements every single week.
    5. Set things down in the correct place.  Finish each task in an organized manner.
    6. An obvious point that should not be overlooked.... If you have too much stuff in one room and inadequate storage or inadequate closet space, then the room will be a mess.
    7. Go through your books, clothes, magazines, and mail and RE-EVALUATE if they are still things that you use, or should they be given away or recycled.
  • When it comes to clutter, we are our own worst enemy.  Clutter is the usually the result of deferred decisions and deferred tasks.   Understand the reasons why we set things down in the wrong place:  (1) We intend to move it where it should be later, (2) We have no designated place for the item, (3) We do so intentially so we won't have to remember the item's new location, (4) We do so intentionally so the item will serve as a "to-do" reminder.
  • Clutter can make entire rooms unusable and even unpassable.  Clutter can make cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming difficult, which can lead to an increase in dust, dust mites, and household allergins.
  • Conquering clutter requires persistent effort.   Whenever you realize that something is out of place, move the item to where it should be.   The split second that you realize that an item or piece of paper is unneeded, immediately move it to a recycle bin.
  • Training your mind to be organized:   Anytime that you pick up an item and set it down, your first impulse will be to set it down in the same place that it was before, even if that location is a bad location and makes no sense.   We have a natural innate fear of losing things.   We have to overcome this fear and BELIEVE in our organizational system and BELIEVE that if we relocate an item to where it should be, that we WILL easily be able to find it later.
  • When you look at any item in your house, ask yourself 2 questions:
    1. Is this item being used for its intended purpose?
    2. If not, where should this item be located to be useful for its intended purpose?
  • We you see clutter, from now on call it "uncategorized items".  Why? Because this simple renaming, "teaches" your mind what needs to be done.
  • Relish in the peace of mind that comes from having an uncluttered room.
Getting rid of Unneeded Things
  • Re-think what you are saving.   Our houses are STUFFED with things that we think we might need someday in the future.
  • Have a recycle bin in the kitchen and a shredder in your office room and make routine trips to the local recycling spot
  • Check the list of acceptable items for your curbside recycling program and make sure you are putting everything possible into your recycle bin.
  • Old, broken, TV's, stereos, dvd players, speakers, etc... can be recycled at most Best Buy stores.   As of Dec. 2018, they charge $25 for each monitor or TV, with other devices being free.   Old televisions are considered hazardous waste, so be sure to contact your city's waste services department for disposal options.
  • Donate clothes and other items you no longer need or want (See Charities and Donatable items and Tax Deductions).   Try everything on, and donate all clothes that you don't wear, don't fit you, or don't match your style.   Donate any pants that are so tight that they hurt your stomach or don't allow you to tuck in your shirt.
  • Garage Sales and Yard Sales can help to get rid of unwanted items that still have value.
  • Books you no longer need can be donated to your local Library.  The tax deduction you can claim for the donation will often be more than the amount you will earn by selling them.   Computer and travel books older than 7 years should be discarded.
  • Keeping usused books and other unused heavy items makes no sense.   You will just end up hurting your back trying to move them in the future.
  • If items are never used or touched, then they are either obsolete or they are in the wrong place or they should be given to someone else.
  • Dust on items and clothes is a good indicator that they are never used.
  • It is better that items be used than just sit in a pile at the back of your closet.  Some less fortunate family may be very happy to receive donated clothes or other items that you no longer need should be washed and given to a charity.
  • Famous organizer Marie Kondo recommends that we determine which items we keep on the basis of whether those items truly give us a spark of joy.
Is each Item in a Temporary or Permanent Place?
  • Clutter tends to be items in "temporary" places.   Piles of clutter tend to be created out of habit and not based on any logical reason.
  • Think of moving items in "temporary" places to their "permanent" place.
  • See boxes and rooms for good ideas of "permanent" places for your things.
Paper (Informational Clutter)
  • The reason we keep any piece of paper is for the information that is on it.  If that information would be more helpful, accessible, or usable in another place (such as in your cell phone, computer, tablet, or flash drive) then transfer the information and recycle the paper.
  • Information is only helpful if we can access it when and where we need it.
Read items to Determine their Importance
  • Paper clutter also tends to be caused by a reluctance or lack of time to read these items and determine if they are important or not.
  • By reading more of these items, you will be able to determine where to put them or if they should be recycled or discarded.
Don't let Stuff get INTO your House in the First Place
  • To avoid bring unneeded things into your house and your life:
    • Shop and purchase very carefully and make sure that anything that you buy is EXACTLY what you want and need.
    • Avoid or cancel subscriptions to periodicals that you don't read.
    • Unsubscribe from postal mailing lists that are not helpful to you.
    • Try not to surrender your home address on those $1000-chance-to-win giveaways, these are marketing traps.
    • Stand over a recycle bin as you process your mail and discard unwanted items immediately.
Purchase Receipts and Account Statements
  • Receipts and statements that reference obsolete closed account numbers and obsolete credit card numbers can be discarded.
  • A lot of billing and account statements get retained as "documented proof" of a bank balance, bill paid, stock owned, and so on.   Typically companies and banks set limits on bank, billing, or account errors, often to 90 days.   The problem is when these documents get stored for years, and are NEVER checked for accuracy.   The entire reason for saving the documents in the first place becomes obsolete.
  • Try to set a reminder for yourself to check your accounts for accuracy once a month.
  • Look for opportunities to discard documents that have been superceded by more recent versions of the same document.
Activate Your Information
  • Think in terms of "Activating Your Information".   Piles of unopened mail, old bills, account statements, and advertisements are not something that can be readily used.   Go though each pile of paper and put the information that you really need onto your laptop computer and in your cell phone so it is quickly accessible and available when you need it.   Once the information that you really need to keep on-hand has been extracted from the pile of papers, then you can put the pile of papers into your recycle bin.   Repeat this process for each pile.
Being Efficient and Having Time for Organizing
  • IT'S ALL CONNECTED.   Your personal life, work life, parenting life, and ALL of your responsibilities can ALL have a direct impact on your ability to stay organized.   Americans working full time work on average 47 hours per week, causing considerable stress and making it very difficult to stay organized.   Usually organizational problems and messes tend to build up everywhere (house, garage, basement, car, office, ...) simultaneously.
  • Being organized requires good time management; both having time and making time for organizing.
  • Use good planning and your smartphone GPS to make your trips and errands as efficient as possible.  Think ahead and take care of as many items as possible on each errand or outing.  Since most outings begin and end at home, think in terms of "efficient circles" and try to accomplish as much as possible in each circular trip.   Forgetting things that we need and being late adds a lot of unnecesssary stress to our life that we can avoid by doing a better job at planning.
  • Immediately put things where they will be needed in the future.  For example, if you know that you will need to take something in the car tomorrow, put it in the car now so you won't forget.
  • Always bring things to do during idle times such as anytime that you are waiting before appts.
  • Avoid giving away your email address and getting on unnecessary email lists.
  • Convert all of your bills to Auto-pay.
  • Write "paid" (and include confirmation numbers if available) on any paper bills that you pay, so you won't forget that they are already paid.
  • By wrinkle-free clothes so you don't have to spend time ironing.
  • Cook in advance and cook larger quantities, so you don't have to spend as much time cooking.
  • Be strategic and use good planning and sensible ordering of activities as you do your normal chores such as cooking, cleaning clothes, cleaning dishes, house cleaning, grocery shopping, yard work, and showering as these tasks will often consume a majority of your available time.
  • People use the term "junk mail" a lot, but coupons can save you money.  The problem occurs when coupons are disorganized and end up everywhere in the house.  In your "Coupons" box, keep the following:
    • Newspaper Grocery Store Coupons
    • Restaurant Coupons
    • Mailer Coupons
  • Bring our mail in from the mailbox in a timely manner, so you can be aware of and take advantage of specials.  Many sales only last a couple of days.
  • Put coupons that you plan to use in a ziplock bag (transparent on both sides) and gift cards in a small ziplock bag.  Keep these ziplock bags in your purse or car, so they will be kept together and so you will have them with you when you need them.  Include a fresnel lens in your ziplock coupon bag so you can use it to read expiration dates.
  • Keep Mailer Coupons together with binder clips so you can toss groups of them as they expire rather than one at a time.
  • Recycle all expired and unwanted coupons.  It is important to put all expired coupons and outdated flyers and newspapers in the recycle bin, because these will obscure your view of current coupons.
"Widen the Room" and don't allow clutter to block you from cleaning the entire room
  • Recognize the peace of mind and self-confidence that comes from having open, attractive, uncluttered, and spacious rooms within your house.
  • Try to "widen the room" when you clean.  We often clean the high traffic paths within a room, but ignore other the rest of the room.  This leads to rooms with "paths" through the middle of them and clutter everwhere else.  So everytime you clean, try to "widen the room" and clean all the way to the walls of each room.
  • To dramatically reduce millions of dust mites and indoor allergins in your living spaces, make sure that clutter does not inhibit you from cleaning and vacuuming the ENTIRE room.
  • Try to "widen your countertops" as well.  We often clean only the parts of the countertop and sink top that we use.  Try to create a bigger and more "luxurious" countertop by simply cleaning all the way to the wall or edge.

Organizing Your Smartphone

Organizing Your Smartphone:   Phone Contacts |  Make Lists |  Appointments and Scheduling |  Main Menu
Organizing your Phone Contacts
  • Use the SAME groupings for your smartphone contacts groups as you use for your office room boxes.
  • Put all of the following items in your smartphone address book:  Phone numbers AND addresses of ALL important contacts, and then organize your cell phone contact into groups:
    FriendsFriends (all of them)   (Add "best time to call" in the notes field.)
    FamilyCreate contacts for all family members and relatives (all of them)  (Add children names, pet names, and best time(s) to call in the notes field.).   For deceased family members start contact name with "Deceased" and enter the address and phone of the cemetery where they are buried.
    Your child's first nameYour child's
    • dentist
    • doctor
    • friends
    • teachers
    • tutors
    • school
    (Add your child's teachers and the school website to the school contact.)
    YourselfAdd your own contact information, home and work addresses, phone, License plate, etc...
    CoworkersYour supervisors as well as coworkers who you interact with
    NeighborsYour neighbors who you see often
    BusinessBusiness Associates, transfer all important business cards to your smartphone
    CarYour favorite Your
    • employment resources
    • recruiters
    • professional certification office
    Dating ActivitiesYour favorite places to take a date:(Add website to the "website" field of each contact so you can jump to the internet to see show schedules.)
    GroceryYour favorite grocery stores.  (Add website so you can click and view weekly sales anytime and anywhere.)
    Hair SalonsYour favorite hair salons
    Happy HourFavorite happy hour spots
    HealthProviders for each family member
    • Doctors
    • Dentists
    • Specialists
    • Chiropractors
    • Therapists
    • Orthodontists
    • Vision Doctors
    In the Comment field of each doctor, dentist, and vision doctor, enter the past appointment dates (see also your health.doc) for each family member so you can keep track of length of time since the last appointment.   In your vision doctor's comment field, enter your eye glasses prescription information.

    Pharmacies for each family member (Put medication name, dosage, and prescription refill numbers in the notes field.)

    Your Health Insurance provider (Put your Member ID and Policy Number in the Notes field.  Also add this contact to your "Hospitals" and "Urgent Care" groups.)

    Your Life Insurance provider

    Your Health Savings Account provider.

    HospitalsHospitals (check each one with your insurance to verify that it is "in network")
    HouseYour favorite

    Your Home or Renter Insurance Agent (Put your Member ID and Policy Number in the Notes field.)

    Your utility companies (Add website, phone, and account number for each.)
    • Cable TV and high-speed internet provider
    • Natural gas company
    • Electric company
    • Water company
    • Trash and Recycling Service company

    Your homeowners association treasurer (dues), activities coordinator, and project approver contact information.

    Your landlord or Apartment Rental Office contact information.

    InvestingYour Financial Advisors, Brokers, Plan Providers, & account#'s for your
    • 529 plan
    • 401K plan
    • Roth IRA
    • Traditional IRA
    Lawn & GardenYour favorite lawn and garden stores
    • 800-DIG-SAFE
    LegalYour local city hall and any needed legal contacts
    LibraryYour favorite libraries (Add website so you can reserve and renew books using your phone.  Add card # to the Notes field.)
Phone Contacts
  • List continued...
    MoneySavings/Checking Banks for each family member.  (Add website so you can check your balance using your phone.)

    Credit Card Company for each family member.  (Add emergency phone to report lost or stolen card.)

    MoviesFavorite movie theaters (Add website to the "website" field of each contact so you can jump to the internet to see show schedules.)
    PetsYour pet's
    • polling (voting) place (often different for primary and general elections)
    • county election office website, address, and phone
    • caucus location
    • representatives
    (In the "comments" field, enter your precinct number and ward number.)
    PoolsYour favorite indoor and outdoor swimming pools
    RestaurantsFavorite restaurants

    (In the Comment field of each restaurant, enter the business hours and happy hour times)

    (In the Notes field of each restaurant, enter detailed family member food orders so you can remember to order exactly what they like.)

    ShippingYour local post office and shipping companies

    In the "comments" field of each contact, enter the hours of business

    ShoppingFavorite stores

    (In the "website" field of each contact, add the store's website so you can quickly see daily sales and check quantity on-hand for a product at each store location.)

    (In the "comments" field of each contact, enter the store's hours of business and (if applicable) your reward card member ID.)

    ShowsFavorite venues, live theatre, box office phone numbers, ... (Add website so you can jump to the internet to see show schedules.)
    Sports BarsFavorite sports bars
    TaxesYour Tax Advisors and Tax Preparers

    Your local County Treasurer (For real estate taxes.)

    Travel (Have one main Travel group.

    Then have separate groups for each place you frequently visit:

    ... and so on
    Your Favorite
    • airlines
    • car rental agencies
    • travel agents
    • hotels
    • airport shuttle
    (Add dates, hotel, flight, & car rental confirmation numbers, flight numbers, flight times, and frequent flyer numbers in the comments field.  Put phone numbers of where you are going into contacts, so you can call before you go and verify that all is ok with your arrival time and what you need to bring with you.)
    Urgent CareUrgent Care Centers and Walk-In Clinics (check each one with your insurance to verify that it is "in network")
    Clubsfitness clubs, etc...
  • When you are done organizing your contacts:
    1. You will be able to contact anyone with just a couple of keystrokes.  Most smartphones allow you to simply type any contact name into the numeric keypad.  For example, to call "John" you would type 5(J), 6(o), 4(h), 6(n).
    2. You will be able to GPS navigate to any location from any location using just a couple of keystrokes.
    3. All incoming and outgoing numbers will be recognized by your phone and will no longer be just numbers.
    4. You will be able to screen your calls effectively.
  • Try to include enough information in your contacts that you will be able to properly fill out information forms for each family member such as those required by doctors and dentists offices.
  • Add email addresses for all of your contacts.  Many smartphones allow you to send a text message to an email address.
  • For places in your contacts list that you visit often (stores, banks, libraries, hair salons, ...), add the business' hours of operation in the Comments field.
  • Be sure to backup your cell phone contact list and cell phone calendar to your phone's SD card and to remote storage (usually your Gmail account) so you won't lose your contacts if your phone breaks or needs to be replaced.
  • Be sure to backup your cell phone pictures to external backup such as your computer, Google Photos App Cloud, or Apple ICloud so you won't lose your pictures if your phone breaks or your SD card fails.   SD cards DO fail.
  • Where useful, add website and/or facebook page to each contact and set your phone to remember your account number and password so you can log on quickly.
  • Stay connected!  Add wireless network names and passwords to the notes field of your phone contacts list for each wireless hot-spot location that you commonly visit.
  • Never miss another meeting!  Add conference bridge numbers to your cell phone contacts.  In Android each comma is a 2-second delay, like this 212-555-1212,,,685932#
Make Lists
  • Add one of the many free "Notepad" app's to your cell phone, so you can always take notes and keep track of the things you need to remember.
  • Use the SAME system for your to-do notes as you use for your boxes.  For example add the following group subjects into your "Notepad" app:
    SubjectItems to put into this note
    CareerYour career to-do list.
    FunYour "Fun" to-do list.
    GiftsYour gift ideas for yourself and each family member.  Beside each person's name, in addition to gift ideas, you can also their clothing sizes.
    GroceryYour grocery list.
    HealthYour health to-do list.
    HouseYour house to-do list.
    InvestingYour investing to-do list.
    ShoppingYour shopping list.
    TodayYour to-do list for today.
    TravelYour travel to-do list.
    WorkYour work or professional to-do list.
    (your hobby)Your Personal Business or Hobby to-do items.
    Bucket ListYour personal lifetime bucket list to-do items.
    Lent outList of stuff you've loaned out, so you can remember to get it back.
  • Many smartphones have voice-to-memo features that allow you to simply talk into your phone to save things you want to remember.
  • Use the camera feature on your cell phone to take note of and quickly capture things that you need to remember.
  • A big part of success is being able to successfully capture and make use of the hundreds of good ideas that pop into our heads.
  • Whenever possible try to simply take immediate action and GET THINGS DONE rather than adding each item to a to-do list.
Appointments and Scheduling
  • Efficient time management is crucial to staying organized and is the only way we will have time to organize.
  • Lack of organization can cause you to miss important appointments or interesting events.
  • Your ability to manage your schedule can determine your personal and professional success as well as the amount of stress in your life.
  • Skillful use of technology (esp. your smartphone) can make it possible to successfully manage the activities within your life.
  • Put all of the following items in your smartphone calendar and set a helpful amount of reminder lead time for each of the following:
    Calendar AppointmentHow Often
    Get school calendar from your child's school and create appointments on your cell phone calendar for each critical date including:
    • School early dismissal days and times
    • School summer, winter, and spring breaks
    • School holidays - no student days
    • Parent-teacher conferences
    • School fall and spring performances (orchestra, choir, plays, ...)
    • School student sports events and games
    • School exam days
    Each School Year
    Lessons, classes, and activity reminders for all family members.Each week
    Reminder to take your prescribed daily medications.Each day
    Weekly trash bin pickup day reminder.Each week
    Recycling bin pickup day reminder.Every Other Week
    Time card submittal deadline reminder.Each week
    Certification-renewal reminders.Every 1 or 2 years
    Dentist appointments for each family memberEvery 6 months
    Doctor appointments for each family memberEach year
    Vision appointments for each family memberEach year
    Birthdays and anniversaries for all family membersEach year
    Reminder to review and reconcile your checking account bank statementsEach month
    Car oil changeEvery 3 months
    Home Owner's Association neighborhood meetingsEvery 6 months
    Semi-annual car insurance premium due datesEvery 6 months
    Semi-annual property tax payment due dates to county treasurerEvery 6 months
    Lunch meetings, dinner meetings, and business meetingsVarious times
    Favorite events, festivals, and conventions for yourself and your kidsEach year
    Show dates for Shows or concerts to which you have ticketsVarious dates
    Tickets-go-on-sale dates for Shows or concerts to which you want to buy ticketsVarious dates
    Favorite television showtimes and TV News programs (NOVA, 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, Frontline, Big Bang Theory, Once Upon a Time, ...)Each week
    Televised sports events that you don't want to miss such as Sunday football or Saturday college games.Each week
    Favorite restaurant happy hoursEach week
    Annual sales at your favorite stores.Each year
    Upcoming weddings, parties, and social eventsVarious times
    Charity truck neighborhood donation pickup datesVarious times
    Exterminator pest control service at your house4 times a year
    Treat your lawn with crabgrass preventerMar. 15 to Apr. 1 each year
    Plant Flower SeedsWeek of May 4 each year
    Spring fertilize your lawnMay 15 each year
    Winter fertilize your lawnSept. 15 each year
  • Be sure to delete obsolete reoccurring reminders
  • On your cell phone, create a bookmark and shortcut to your child's school's web site, so you can access the school calendar anytime.
  • Especially if you are in the Kansas City area, I would recommend you add a bookmark and shortcut to to your cell phone.
  • Block out time away from work on your office calendar, so business meetings don't get scheduled during your days off, vacations, doctor's appts., etc...
  • Add access to your each of your home or personal email accounts to your cell phone so you can send and receive home email anytime.  Usually a free app is available for each email type (e.g. Gmail).
  • After installing any app, be sure to go to your Settings > Application Manager, locate the app you installed, and adjust or disable the notifications from that app according to your preferences.  Make sure you only allow an app to send notifications to your cell phone that you need and disable ALL others.  I do not recommend allowing an app to send email notifications.

Boxes in your Office Room

Boxes:   Cameras |  Car |  Career |  Games |  Gifts |  Health |  House |  Investments |  Keepsake |  Legal |  Manuals |  Money |  Music |  Phone |  Office Supply |  Pictures |  Receipts |  Taxes |  Travel |  Videos |  Shopping |  Main Menu

To get started, you will a variety of large and medium binder clips and about 20 boxes on which you will put the following labels:  Cameras, Car, Career, Computer, Coupons, Games, Gifts, Health, House, Investments, Keepsake, Manuals, Money, Office Supply, Phone, Pictures, School, Taxes, and Travel.  Each of these will be discussed further in the following sections.  Once you have your stuff in labeled boxes, you can move all of the boxes to your "office" room where you can either stack them or put them on sturdy shelves.   Be sure to keep important documents, pictures, and electronics up high and away from lower floors to protect against flood damage.

  • In your "Cameras" box, keep the following items:
    • Cameras, video cameras, lenses, and filters
    • Camera cases, straps, chargers, accessories, and supplies
    • Tripods, Mini Tripods
    • Camera manuals
    • USB to Micro USB digital picture computer data transfer cable
    • Blank SD cards, film, tapes
  • In your "Car" box, put the following items separated by binder clips:
    • Car repair, parts, maintenance, oil change, car battery, tire, and gas receipts
    • Auto Insurance policy coverage information, billing statements, insurance settlement statements, and claim receipts
    • Registration renewals
    • Car Title
    • Lifetime wheel alignment receipts
    • Lifetime rotation and balance receipts
  • In your "Career" box, put the following items separated by binder clips:
    • Resume copies
    • Career guidance books
    • Interview and portfolio materials and notes
    • Written recommendation from former employers
    • Job Search materials
    • Professional certification information, certificates, and training materials
    • Professional association and user group materials
    • Your Performance Appraisals

In your "Computer" box or shelves, keep the following items in the following groups:

  • Software:
    • Software boxes and CD's
    • Antivirus software
    • Computer System Recovery DVDs
    • Microsoft Office DVDs
    • Graphic Design Software
    • Photo Video Editing Software
    • CD DVD Burning Software
    • ClipArt Libraries
  • Hardware:
    • Mouse and Mouse pads
    • Tablets
    • Headphones and external computer speakers
    • Network cables
    • External USB hard disks, floppy drives
    • Routers
  • Digital Media (Used): containing important data, pictures, etc... Make sure each of the following is (1) labeled appropriately, (2) is put in a protective case, (3) has off-site backups in case of fire.  Keep media labeling markers / pens in same location.
    • Burned CD's and DVD's
    • External Hard Drives
    • Jump/flash/thumb drives
      Write a description of the contents of each on an empty envelope, then put the media into the envelope.
  • Digital Media (Blank): available for use:
    • Blank Burnable CD's and DVD's
    • Backup external hard disks
  • In your "Games" box, keep the following items:
    • Electronic Game Consoles, memory cards, stylus', and peripherals
    • Game Instructions manuals
    • Game Receipts
    • Playing cards and board games
  • In your "Gifts" box, put the following items:
    • Gift ideas for future gifts
    • Wrapping paper, gift bags, gift boxes, bows, ribbon, to-from cards, tape, scissors
    • Receipts for gifts that you have purchased for other people kept together in a binder clip.
    • Gift card receipts.
    • Shipping tape for boxes
    • Shipping receipts with tracking numbers
    • Old Christmas and birthday cards can be cut on the fold and the top part used as added decoration on future gifts that you wrap.
Health: Organize your family's health status and health information
  • See also Health To-Do's
  • Within your "Health" folder on your computer, create a document called "health.doc" (click to download sample) in which you keep track of health information for each family member including doctor, dentist, and vision appointments, health status, health history, hospitalizations, and vaccinations.
  • In your "Health" box, create a separate folder for each family member and group each person's information using binder clips with the most recent information on top:
    • A printout of Your Annual (Medical, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance, ...) Benefits Elections through your Company
    • Health Insurance Information, Statements, and Claims receipts
    • A collection of receipts for out-of-pocket medical expenses (see Qualified Medical Expenses) paid so you can reimburse yourself at the end of the year using your Health Savings Account (HSA).
      • Doctor's appointment Receipts
      • Dentist appointment receipts
      • Pharmacy receipts
      • Vision appointment receipts
      • Hospitalization Receipts
    • (Health Savings Account HSA) statements
    • Cosmetic and Elective Procedure receipts and information
    • Immunization Record for each family member
    • Lab test results, Blood test results.  Image files from X-Rays, CAT Scans, MRI Scans on film, CD or DVD.
    • Life Insurance statements and information
  • Your health expense information can be used to determine health savings account reimbursements and for tax deductions.
Hobby or Personal Business Box
  • In your "Hobby" box, keep the following items:
    • Catalogs - Keep only the latest
    • Business expense receipts
    • Paycheck stubs
  • In your "House" box, put the following items separated by binder clips and sorted with the most recent on top:
    • Home or renter's insurance policy coverage information, billing statements, insurance settlement statements, and claim receipts
    • Home improvement installation and repair receipts and warranties from plumbers, painters, exterminators, handymen, tree trimmers, heating and air conditioner service people, hardware stores, etc...
    • Paint and stain color match bar codes
    • Proposals from contractors for labor and/or materials for repairs or work to be done on the house.
    • Home Improvement Brochures that you want to consider
    • Home Improvement and Repair Books, Magazines, and Articles
    • Cable TV and High Speed Internet billing statements
    • Natural gas billing statements
    • Electricity billing statements
    • Water billing statements
    • Tax Appraisal statements
    • Homeowners association information
    • Copy of the Warranty Deed
    • City newsletters
  • In your "House" box, put a jar with a lid to hold all the various keys that you find around the house.
  • It is important to know how much you have invested, where you are invested, how those investments are performing, and what is the risk and diversity of those investments.
  • Keep the type and amounts of all your current accounts and investments organized on a single budget document.
  • Information about obsolete closed accounts should be moved to a separate "Closed Accounts" document.
  • In your "Investments (Current)" box, group the following items with binder clips and sorted with the most recent on top:
  • In a separate "Investments (Closed Accounts)" box, put any historical information and documents related to obsolete closed accounts.  Discard all old prospectuses.
  • Keep all electronic investment records in an "Investments" folder on your computer
  • In your "Keepsake" box, keep the following items:
    • Awards received by your children
    • Favorite art works done by your children
    • Show programs from your children's performances
    • Special articles about your children and family members
    • Cards and letters that have sentimental value
    • Historical items from Grandparents
    • Romantic memory items from the past
    • Wedding and Graduation invitations
    • Obituaries and Ancestral Tree information
    • Souvenirs from special events that you attended
  • In your "Legal" box, keep the following items:
    • Marriage or divorce documents
    • Alimony, child custody, child support documents
    • Copy of your will, codicils, trusts, and estates.
    • Copy of your parent's wills, codicils, and trusts.
    • Financial/healthcare power of attorney documents.
    • Attorney billing statements.
    • Adoption, guardianship, immigration, and name-change documents.
    • Any court case documents (civil, criminal, traffic tickets, bankruptcy, ...)
  • In your "Manuals" box, keep all product manuals, installation guides, and quick reference guides for items that you own.  Staple the purchase receipt, installation receipt, and warranty information directly to each user manual
  • Keep electronic manuals and pdf's in a "Manuals" folder on your computer
  • Tape receipts to product box when first using the item in case it needs to be returned.
  • In your "Money" box, put the following items grouped by account number with binder clips with the most recent on top:
    • Bank Statements for Checking Account(s) and Savings Account(s)
    • Credit Reports and information used to apply a Credit Freeze (or Security Freeze) to your credit reports.
    • Mortgage and 2nd mortgage statements
    • Car loan statements
    • Credit card statements
    • Credit card reward program points statements
    • Paycheck stubs
    • Bank Deposit Slips
    • Savings Bonds
    • Cancelled Checks
    • Blank Checks
    • Student loan statements
    • Line of Credit statements
    • Money Transfer Receipts
  • The following can be grouped by a binder clip in your "Money" box and discarded as soon as you have reconciled them with your checking account statement.  If you have online banking you can reconcile receipts and transactions at almost any time.
    • Receipts for consumable items (food, gasoline, groceries, restaurant bill and tips, haircut bill and tips, ...)
    • Bank Deposit Receipts
  • Cash receipts for consumable items can often be reconciled and discarded at the point of sale.
  • Most items cannot be returned or exchanged after 90 days, so receipts for items such as clothes can be discarded after 90 days.
  • Receipts for durable items (large and small appliances, electronics, cookware, ...) can be stapled inside the owner's manual or warranty card in your "Manuals" box and should be kept for at least the time covered by the product warranty.
  • Receipts for gifts can be grouped by a binder clip and kept in your "Gifts" box in case a return or exchange is needed.
  • In your "Music" box, keep the following items:
    • Purchased Music CD's
    • Burnable CD's
    • CD Players
    • Headphones
    • Speakers
    • Musical instruments
    • Sheet Music
Office Supply
  • In your "Office Supply" box, keep the following items:
    • pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, paper clips, tape, rubber bands, erasers, stamp pads
    • spiral notebooks, writing pads, Post-it notes, laser printer paper
    • manila file folders, index dividers, tabs
    • toner cartridges
    • refills for planner
    • staples, glue, glue sticks, 3-ring binders
    • pushpins, thumbtacks
  • In your "Phone" box, put the following items separated by binder clips:
    • Cell phone and home phone statements with most recent on top
    • Your cell plan information
    • Phone manuals, warranties, accessories
    • Old phones
    • Old phone chargers
    • Phone Books
    • Phone Directories
  • In your "Picture" box, keep the following items:
    • All loose printed pictures
    • Picture DVD's
    • Picture frames
    • Copy all photos from loose SD Cards to a folder within your "\Pictures" folder.  Then, put each loose SD Card in a separate envelope with the current contents written on the front of the envelope.
    • Picture post cards that you have received
  • In the "Pictures" folder on your computer, create yyyy-mm-dd subdirectories like the following example for each major event, so you can easily sort and organize your pictures:
    • 2013-12-25 Christmas
    • 2014-05-15 Trip to Florida 5 days
    • 2014-06-01 Other pictures
    • 2014-07-01 Trip to England and France 21 days
  • In your "School" box, keep the following items:
Shipping / Mailing Supplies
  • In your "Shipping Supplies" box, keep the following items:
    • Envelopes
    • Return address labels
    • Permanent markers for labeling
    • Sealing tape
    • Shipping labels
    • Bubble wrap
    • Stamps
  • In your "Shopping" box, keep brochures.
  • In the "Shopping" folder on your computer, keep all your shopping notes and product research.
  • In your "Taxes" box, create a separate folder for each tax year and put the following into each folder:
    • Federal Return
    • State Return
    • W-2 statments from your employers
    • 1099-Int statments from your bank accounts
    • 1099-B statements from your brokerage accounts
    • Real-estate tax statements
    • Car property tax statements
    • Energy efficiency receipts
    • Donation Receipts
    • Health expenses not covered by a Health Savings Account or Health Insurance
    • Certified mail receipts for proof of mailing your taxes
  • In a folder for next year's taxes, start collecting the following:
  • Pre-packed Suitcases, Carry-ons, and Travel Supplies
    • Make travel easier and less stressful by keeping all the items that you use each time you travel in a single location including a ready-to-go and always-packed suitcase and carry-on travel bag with as many travel essentials and packing list items as you can assemble.
  • In your "Travel" box, put the following items:
    • Travel vouchers
    • Any past travel notes, artifacts, itineraries, and documents that you wish to keep from previous trips grouped by binder clips for each trip.
    • Travel guides and maps.  Discard any guide books older than 7 years.
    • Travel magazines and brochures
    • Airline, hotel, car-rental, attraction, and souvenir receipts
    • Airline Frequent Flyer Point Statements and Information
Videos (Home Movies)
  • On your "Videos" shelf, keep the following items:
    • Family movies taken on your camera, video camera, on DVD or on video tapes.  (Write a description of the contents of each video tape or video disc on an empty envelope and then put the video media into the envelope.)
    • Blank video tapes, video DVD's, micro video tapes marked "Blank"

Organizing Your Computer

Organizing Your Computer:   Folders |  Backups |  Online Accounts |  Main Menu
Organizing Computer Folders
  • A big part of staying organized is naming things correctly.   So use accurate and meaning names for all your files including MS Word documents, MS Excel spreadsheets, Text files, Digital photos, PDF's, Bookmarks, and all other files.
  • Use the SAME system for your computer folders as you use for your boxes.  It is important for organizing and backing up your data to keep all important folders and files under a single parent folder which contains several sub-folders.  Both at home and at work, having your files and folders under a single directory will help you stay focused on working with within an organized system.  For convenience, you can add pins and desktop shortcuts to your documents within this parent folder.  By having all folders and files within a single parent folder, it will be easy to copy all your important files to your backup media each week, or even to a new computer every few years.  Something like the following, but use your first name rather than "My Files":
  • \My Files
    • \Car
      • Car1 Maintenance Log.doc
      • Car2 Maintenance Log.doc
    • \Career
      • \Resumes
      • your current resume
      • job search notes
    • \Computer
    • \Family
    • \Health
      • \HSA Receipts
      • health.doc
      • "mybenefits.pdf" A pdf of Your Annual (Medical, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance...) Benefits Elections through your Company
      • List of in-network medical and dental providers
      • Digital X-rays, health records, immunization records
    • \House
      • \MyHouse
        • \Blinds
        • \Deck
        • \FurnaceAirConditioner
        • \Patio
        • \Roof
        • \Windows
      • \Parent's House
      • \Child's House
      • fix.doc
    • \Investing
      • invest.doc
    • \Legal
      • \Will, Trust, Estate Plan
      • Financial healthcare power of attorney document
      • beneficiaries.doc
    • \Manuals
      • PDF copies of user manuals for products that you own
    • \Money
    • \Pictures
      • Store copies of all of your digital pictures and digital videos in your "pictures" folder
      • \2014-05-15 Trip to Florida 5 days
      • \2014-06-01 Other pictures
      • \2014-07-01 Trip to England and France 21 days
      • The file date-time stamp can often be a great way to determine when each picture was taken.
      • The Microsoft Photos application on the Windows 10 start menu can quickly organize ALL of the pictures onto your computer into a single easy-to-use timeline.   The timeline is just an index and doesn't move any of your pictures.
    • \School
      • \2018-Spring
      • \2017-Fall
    • \Shopping
      • electronic receipts from online purchases
      • a separate word document for each major purchase to give you a place to keep track of notes, product comparisons, possible vendors, and hyperlinks to best bargains
    • \Taxes
      • \2017
      • \2016
      • \2015
    • \Travel
      • In the "Travel" folder on your computer, create yyyy-mm-dd MS Word travel itinerary and confirmation (flight, hotel, cruise, ...) documents like the following examples for each of your (or your family members') past or future trips:
        • 2013-01-10 Ski Trip to Winter Park 5 days.doc
        • 2013-07-02 Trip to San Diego 7 days.doc
        • 2014-07-18 Cruise to Jamaica 7 days.doc
      • Keep a copy of your latest "Emergency Contacts" document to printout for each trip (click to download sample)

Once you have established your folders for organizing computer files, put your files into those folders and not into "miscellaneous" locations such as on your desktop area.

A file management utility like (Beyond Compare and many others) can be helpful for selectively backing up files to your backup media.

Backups of Important Files and Digital Photographs
  • Online Backup: Once you've put your important files in one place, backing up using an offsite online backup service should be relatively easy.  See this review of backup services, PC Magazine.
  • Never trust a hard disk drive!   Always have external backups.
  • To protect against fire, flood, theft, power-surge, lightning strike, hard-drive failure, and ransomware file-deletion attacks, keep multiple backups of important computer files, electronic documents, and digital picture files in an offsite secure location (a Safety Deposit Box or a relative's house):
    • your budget document
    • your Online Accounts document
    • your tax returns
    • legal documents and contracts (Power of Attorney, Divorce, Parenting Agreement)
    • mortgage release
    • your thousands of digital family photographs on thumb (flash) drives, external USB drives, burned DVD's, or burned CD's.  Put each loose flash drive and jump drive in a separate envelope with the current contents written on the front of the envelope.
    • digital photos of house contents for insurance purposes
    • additional items
    • ** Warning: The contents of safety deposit boxes are NOT insured by the bank nor by FDIC against fire, flood, or theft.
Online Account Logins (Usernames and Passwords)
  • Maintain a single up-to-date document called "Logins.doc" (click to download sample) that includes all of the following information for each web site on which you have an online account
    • Web Site
    • Usernames
    • Passwords
    • Security questions and answers
    • Website addresses, company name, company phone number
    • Account numbers
    • Pin numbers
  • Keep this document in a secure location and have a backup copy in a secure location.
  • Maintain a similar (but separate) document for your work-related accounts at the office where you work.
Email Management
  • Unsubscribe from email lists that are not helpful to you.  Take a moment and count the frequency of emails from various sources.   You will be shocked to see that some advertisers are sending you emails every single day and even multiple times per day.  Some companies will put you on multiple internal email lists and force you to unsubscribe from each one.  Just because you make an online purchase from a company does NOT give them the right to send you emails for the rest of your life!  Don't let them.
  • Unsubscribe from any recruiter emails that are not aligned with your interests.
  • Adjust your profile with social media web sites, so they don't send you emails that you don't need.  Phone app notifications are often a better choice.
  • Don't let people that you don't know waste your time by sending you emails and spam that you don't want and don't need.
  • Try not to surrender your email address on those $1000-chance-to-win giveaways, these are marketing traps.
  • Watch out for the pre-checked checkbox that says "OK to email me 3rd party promotions and newsletters" when making internet purchases.
  • Change your email address to one that is not easy for spammers to automatically guess.
  • Treat email as temporary (not permanent) storage.  Many email systems automatically delete emails older emails, important information needs to be transferred to external documents.
  • Obtain permission and instructions from your company to be able to access your work email on your cell phone so you can send and receive work emails and access your work calendar anytime.  I recommend disabling email sound notifications.
  • Each time you send or reply to an email, make sure the subject line accurately describes the topic being discussed.
  • Outlook email folders
    • \Investing
      • Email confirmations of trades
    • \Travel
      • Email confirmations for hotels/flights
    • \Shopping
      • Email receipts for online purchases

Organizing Each Room

Organizing Each Room:   Basement |  Bathrooms |  Bedrooms |  Dining Room |  Garage |  Kitchen |  Office |  Utility closet |  Main Menu
Cleaning Basement
  • Seasonal items in air-tight, hard plastic containers
  • Spare parts
  • Extra parts
  • Paints, stains, brushes, rollers, thinner, stir sticks, paint trays
  • Countertops should be empty except for items that you use every day.
  • Medical drawer: Bandaides, ointments, thermometers
  • Cosmetics drawer: makeup, powder, lipstick, ...
  • Hygiene drawer: Toothpaste, floss, ...
  • Hair drawer: Curlers, headbands, bobby pins, hair combs, barrettes, ...
  • Keep medicines out-of-reach of children
  • Avoid putting sharp objects in rummage drawers
Bedrooms: Organizing your Clothes in Closets, Walk-in Closets, Dressers, and Armoirs
  • Keep all clothes in closets, walk-in closets, dressers, and armoirs.   Hang shirts, pants, and dresses on hangers to keep them clean, organized, and wrinkle-free.  Use thick hangers to avoid damaging clothes.   Replacing single closet rods with double-decker closet rods can help with having enough closet space.
  • Keep coordinated outfits together.
  • Put shirts and pants that you intend to wear again on hangers, so you can keep them wrinkle-free and separate from items that need to be washed.
  • Organize your clothes (shirts, pants, socks) first by season or type as listed below and then from light colors to dark colors:
    • winter wear (long-sleeve shirts, flannel shirts, sweaters, turtlenecks)
    • summer wear (shorts, short-sleeve shirts, skirts, )
    • formalwear (ties, suits, keep coordinated suit jackets and suit pants together, (sweater) vests, cocktail/party/sweater dresses).   Grouping your dry-clean-only items together can be helpful.
    • dressy casual wear (khaki pants, polo shirts, capri pants, skirts)
    • casual wear (keep jeans together, also keep shirts that go well with jeans together)
    • leisure wear, t-shirts, cutoffs, tank tops
    • "around the house" summer t-shirts, shorts, and sleepwear
    • "around the house" winter sweatshirts, sweatpants, and pajamas
    • exercise wear (sweatsuits, keep coordinated sweat shirts, hoodies, and sweat pants together)
    • sports wear (like golf, tennis, etc...)
    • work clothes for cold weather, hot weather, yard work, gardening, lawn mowing, painting
    • clothes that need to be altered by a tailor
    • clothes to be donated
    • Sweaters should be folded and put into a chest, drawer, or armoire to keep them free of dust.
    • swimwear (suit, googles, sun hat, beachtowel).
    • underwear (grouped into drawers)
      • boxers, briefs, panties, tights
      • bras, lingerie
      • t-shirts, camis, slips
      • long underwear, thermal underwear, thick winter socks
    • seasonal and holiday clothes
    • socks (organized in separate drawers)
      • dress socks
      • casual, sport, exercise socks
    • shoes can be put in a shoe cabinet or shoe bench.
  • Avoid buying outfits that you don't wear.  Before purchasing any outfit, try it on and make SURE that it is exactly what you want.
Car Dining Room
  • Silverware
  • Servingware
  • Items put inside curio, china, and corner cabinets that have glass sides and glass doors rarely need dusting.
  • Shelves for
    • Gardening:  tools, trowel, work gloves, fertilizer, weed killer, seeds
    • Painting Supplies:  paint cans, stain cans, stir sticks, brushes, paint tray, paint thinner, paint masking/edging tape
    • Oil:  Motor oil, lawnmower oil, lubricant oil
    • LED Light Bulbs:  All sizes
    • (Heavy things on bottom shelves for safety and shelf stability)
  • Install a paper towl holder in the Garage.  Place bottle of sanitizer beside it.
  • A box of baby wipes can help with cleaning your feet before entering the house after being in the yard.
  • Sun hat
Storage:  Using Rooms, Closets, Drawers, Cabinets, Shelves, and Boxes Effectively
  • Take an inventory of the rooms, closets, drawers, cabinets, shelves, and boxes in your house, and identify whether each one is used effectively.  If they are not being used effectively, then they should be "repurposed".  Try to rethink how the room, closet, drawer, cabinet, or shelf could be better used and then make it happen.
  • Proper storage is not "hiding" items, it is knowing exactly where they are.   A great question to ask yourself is:   "By using storage effectively, can I reduce the number of items that are visible in my house by half and still know where absolutely everything is."
  • To decide what to put into each drawer or cabinet, simply minimize the distance between where an item is used to where it is stored.  If an item is used more than 8 feet away from where it is currently stored, then it is probably needs to be moved to a closer and more convenient drawer or cabinet.
  • Take into consideration who in your family actually uses each item when deciding where to put or store each item.
  • Don't use up storage storing items that are NEVER used.  NEVER-used items should be recycled, donated, given away (to friends, relatives, kids, etc...), or thrown away.
  • Organize shelves so that most used items are in front or on convenient shelves and least used items are in back or on high shelves.   Organize items so that all items are visible.
  • Move things that you use frequently into the most convenient cabinets, and move things you use rarely to the least convenient cabinets.
  • Any storage area (drawer, cabinet, room, etc...) that is never touched and never accessed is not working and should be repurposed.
  • Don't be afraid to open rooms, closets, drawers, cabinets, or boxes because they are full or messy.  Go through them and you will find (1) valuable things that have gone missing, and (2) stuff that needs to be recycled.
  • Just because a room, closet, drawer, cabinet, or box is "full" does not mean it is useful.  If the contents of rooms, closets, drawers, cabinets, or boxes are absolutely never used, then perhaps the contents should be recycled, donated, given away (to friends, relatives, kids, etc...), or thrown away.  As mentioned previously, take each item and move it to a different location.  Then your mind will be forced to re-evaluate each item based on its actual significance rather than by "it's always been there".
  • Food Pantry: reserve bottled water, soup cans, dried goods, unopened condiments.
  • Cookware in cabinets
  • Food storage containers in cabinet
  • Glassware in cabinets
  • Silverware drawer
  • Cooking Shelf for Cooking
  • Stacking like items (especially plastic items) can make a HUGE difference in making your shelves organized and tidy.   LOOK for opportunities to stack like items.
  • Refrigerator organized so food items (esp. the most parishable) are in front and easily visible so they won't become stale and forgotten.   Write current date on any food items (such as restaurant styrofoam take-out containers) that are not already marked with an expiration date.
  • Decorative glass jars are great for candy / nuts
  • Writing drawer: pencils, pens, notepads, erasers, scissors
  • Fix-it drawer: AA AAA batteries, LED flashlight, all-in-one multi-bit screwdriver, matches
  • Recipe books, diet books, and healthy eating books and information

By freezing the following items, you can use your freezer to conveniently save time and money, reduce trips to the store, keep things fresh, and avoid food waste.

  • Cheese blocks or shredded
  • Fruit (lemons)
  • Veggies (onions, peppers, chilies, ...)
  • Baked goods (pies, breads, ....)
  • Doughs (cookie, pizza, ...)
  • Raw or cooked meats, bacon, ground meats
  • Fish, Shrimp, Salmon
  • Sauces, Stocks, and Soups
  • Whole grains and flours
  • Ice cream
  • Nuts
  • Ready-to-cook meals
Linen Closet
  • Hand Towels
  • Bath Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Blankets
  • Sheets
  • Pillowcases
  • Bath mats
  • Put long-term storage blankets, sweaters, clothing, and bedding items inside sturdy clear plastic zippered storage bags.
Make sure your primary workspaces and activities areas are useful for their intended purpose and don't get "corrupted" and become places for piling junk.
  • If items are not used very often, then put them into a storage cabinet and don't put them on a table or countertop.
  • Kitchen counters are important workspaces for food preparation, not a place for junk.
  • Kitchen and dining room tables should be used for eating with your family, not as places for junk.
  • Coffee tables are a place for your guests to place a drink, not a place for junk.
  • Dressers and vanities are workspaces to prepare for the day, not a place for junk.
  • Only put things used every day on bathroom vanity counter tops, other things can be put in drawers.
  • Office room desks are important workspaces for processing paperwork and computer work, not places for junk.
  • Nightstands are your bedtime workspace (clock, book, light, coaster), not a place for junk.
  • Vacuums, ironing boards, cleaning buckets, brooms, and dust pans should be put away when not in use.
  • Garage workbenches are important workspace for projects, not places for junk.
  • Billiard and ping pong tables are for these activities, not places for junk.
Seasonal Holiday Items
  • Holiday (Christmas, Easter, Valentines, Halloween, etc...) decorations, ornaments, centerpieces, door decorations, costumes, dinnerware, and lights should be displayed during the holiday and put in storage during the rest of the year.  Holiday decorations should stored in large labeled plastic bins with tight lids in a central location.
TV, DVDs and CDs
  • Put all of your favorite channels on paper and tape it to the back of your remote.
  • Keep your DVD library centralized and alphabetized by title.
    • Storage Cabinet #1: Regular DVD's
    • Storage Cabinet #2: Children's DVD's
  • Keep your CD music library centralized and on a shelf alphabetized by artist last name.
  • Desk
  • Office Supplies
  • Your labeled boxes for storing documents.
  • Shredder
Laundry room and Utility closet
  • Orphan sock bucket
  • Laundry supplies: detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softener, bleach, Shout, Spray & Wash, mesh delicates laundry bags, cleaning vinegar (NEVER mix vinegar and bleach)
  • Move clothes hangers not currently being used to the laundry room near the dryer.
  • Vacuum, Vacuum attachments, Vacuum bags
  • Ironing board
  • Mop / Cleaning bucket
  • Reusable furniture sliders
  • Broom and dust pans
  • Step stool
  • Extension cord
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towls
  • Cleaning brushes
  • Floor and carpet cleaner
Coat Closet
  • Coats
  • Jackets
  • Hats (ball caps, stocking caps, ...)
  • Gloves
  • Scarves

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