She’s So Organized: Organizing DVDs and Games

In my household DVDs and games are an endless growing collection with three boys (husband included), especially with three gaming consoles and a 2 1/2 year old that loves to watch his moovies! About a year ago, DVDs and games in my house were scattered in multiple rooms of the house; in multiple baskets/bins, behind the TV and stuffed in drawers.  After having to look at the stack of DVDs and games behind the TV and after so many questions asking “Where is?” I decided this was an organization project I had to tackle head on.  I began to dread this project as I just knew it was going to either cost me a lot of time or money.  Ultimately this project actually ended up being one of my favorite projects because it was so simple and had such great rewards!

I started my journey by exploring multiple options;  purchasing a large expensive DVD/CD furniture case, plastic containers, or maybe just throwing them away (my husband wouldn’t notice right)?  After doing hours of research for furniture or products that would solve all my organizational problems I had my great epiphany.  Why was I going to buy expensive furniture that we didn’t have room for to basically store containers that held our DVDs and games.  I always just assumed I needed those cases for some reason, but I couldn’t find one reason why.  I do realize for collectible DVDs/Games you might want to keep these cases but for the majority there really isn’t a reason.  So after my great epiphany, I began my DVD/game organizing project by ordering five binders for our DVDs and games; one for Adult DVDs, Kid DVDs, and 3 for each gaming console (so they could be stored where the gaming console is located).  Below are the binders I ordered from Amazon.

I removed all the DVDs and games out of their cases and sorted into their appropriate binder, I also stored any booklets that came with them inside the binder as well.  And for those great cases that caused me so much grief, well they all went straight to the trash!  This organizational project only took me a couple hours and I wouldn’t change a thing.  Besides not having to look at those ugly DVD/game cases anymore, an extra plus has been the convenience factor.  If we go on vacation or kids go to grandparents, just grab the binder and go.  Also if we need a movie we want to watch downstairs, again just grab the binder and go.  Hope this small but so rewarding tip helps you along your organizational journey!  I’d love to hear about any other creative ways that you use to store your DVDS or games.

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She’s So Organized: Staying Organized with Children

As a mom of two small children I am constantly challenged with how to keep my family organized.  All the bottles, toys, missing socks, loads of laundry, oh did I mention toys?  Below I’ve provided some tips and products that I use in my household to keep us organized.

1) Toys – We try to make sure that toys are picked up before naps, before leaving the house and before bed time. For the most part, this strategy help us to maintain sanity and ensures that toys don’t overtake our house.  With toys you need to realize that the clutter is just temporary, as long as you have a system.  To help create that system make sure you have an easy access toy storage area that kids can get to, this will prevent you from being the only one picking up as well.  I highly suggest not using toy chests/boxes as little items just get swallowed in them and it is extremely hard for little ones to find their toys. Below is the toy storage I use from The Land Of Nod, we’ve had it for several years and I still love it!  It allows for sorting of larger toys and has easy access, we use small bins on top to sort the smaller toys.

2) Missing Socks – This is a problem for everyone, but when you have kids it becomes even a bigger problem. The best solution that I have found is to designate an area (basket, separate drawer, bag)  for your missing socks wherever you fold your laundry. Most of the time that matching sock will magically show up again and you will know exactly where to find its missing partner. I love this sock bucket from Etsy.com.

3) Bottles – This is always a constant struggle in our house to make sure we always have clean bottles.  My husband and I both work full-time so 3 dirty bottles always come home dirty and 3 bottles have to be made for the next day. I bought enough that if we were down one day it wasn’t the end of the world but this is for the worse case scenario.

One of the very first things my husband or I do when we get home is to take 10 minutes and clean the dirty bottles from school and make new bottles for the next day. We try to rotate this responsibility so it doesn’t become too much of a chore for one person.  The 10 minutes of cleaning and prepping prevents bottles from piling up or having to rush in the morning to get the new ones prepared.  I always tell my husband if you really want to make me happy wash the bottles 🙂

If you are staying at home I found the easiest way to keep up with bottles was to immediately rinse out the bottle after use and put in a dish washing basket.  Clean twice a day, during nap time and while you are preparing dinner or after kids are in bed.

Below is a tool I love that we use to keep all the bottles and accessories organized while cleaning and drying.

She’s So Organized: Command Center

So when a house becomes clutter free, there is a conscious effort that one has to to make to keep that house from getting or becoming cluttered again.  Clutter control can often be as easy as making a choice of whether to allow new items into our home.  Paper although is not quite so easy.

Paper comes in many forms; catalogs, magazines, bills, junk mail, coupons, receipts, etc.  Some of these items are necessary to run our household and all can take a well managed household from uncluttered to cluttered in a matter of minutes.  So until we become a paperless society (which I personally support fully 🙂 ),  the question then becomes how to stay on top of  the endless paper parade? The answer in my household has been to setup a command center. Since we setup our command center in our family there is no longer papers piled up on desks, hidden in corners or shoved in a drawer.

Incoming Mail

1)  A spot should be designated for where mail will be placed once it is brought into the home.  This landing spot should be communicated to everyone in the household and needs to be in a location that is viewable so it can not be tucked in a drawer and forgotten!  I strongly believe that if you can physical see your clutter you are much more likely to fix it then if it is stuffed in a drawer.

2) Once a day the mail should be sorted, this is a very quick sort.  Junk mail needs to be tossed, catalogs placed in a designated location, mail that is actionable should be sorted into three folders (To File, To Pay, To Review). Coupons should be thrown also into a designated location for sorting later.  I personally have a receipt and coupon catcher that I place these items for sorting and filing later.

School Papers

1) For artwork I keep a file bin handy for all kids artwork.  I immediately put the kids artwork into this bin and at the end of the school year we determine our favorite 3 and file in a designated folder.

2) Papers that need to be reviewed or responded I post on the side of my refrigerator for easy viewing!  Every time I look in my kitchen I can see these papers so I can’t forget.  Seeing is not forgetting.

Receipts

1) Whether you place your receipts in your purse or in your shopping bag, receipts should be removed immediately once enter the home.  I send my receipts directly to my coupon and receipt catcher, where I can sort and file for later.

Here are some example pictures from my command center:

Actionable Folders: Target Itso bin with some stickers, folders, and labels so cheap and easy!

Receipt and Coupon Catcher: Target file organizer that I used command hooks to hold on to the side of my refrigerator

I hope I have inspired you to create your own command centers…..now start getting that command center setup so you too can take control of the endless paper parade!  Feel free to  share your comments on how you manage the paper clutter and/or your own command centers for inspiration.

She’s So Organized: Organizing Closets

Spending a few hours of your day cleaning out a closet may not seem like an exciting way to spend your free time, but it can ultimately be one of the most rewarding places to start when organizing.

Many of us tend to dread opening up our closets only to see the endless stuff crammed into them. Once we have rummaged through the endless junk and found that essential item we most often close the door as fast as possible and try to pretend it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately the next time we walk by or need to open that door again we are haunted by those items in our closets. So here are some helpful tips I put together to help exorcise those haunted closets.

1) Assign your closet a role. Will the closet be a place to hold clothes or a place to store linens and medicines? Once this decision is made you can start to remove everything out of the closet. Put into four different piles; Purge, Give Away, Move or Stay. After the items have been sorted review the items in the stay pile.

2) Ask yourself if there is enough room in your closet to store these items in an accessible manner? If not, you may want to review the items again (purge until it fits!) or if you have assigned multiple roles to the closet designate another closet or area to that role. If you assigned your closet to be the place to store your gift wrap, crafts and less frequently used clothes; you may want to think of moving your less frequently used clothes to another area. There is no point to organizing a closet if you can not see or access your items.

3) Start looking a products that would help to make these items easier to access. Do not buy your products until after you have done the purge process. You don’t know what you need until you know what you have. I know shopping can be the most exciting part of organizing but pointless if you do it too soon. Too many times I thought I knew what organizing products I needed and ultimately ended up having to return them or giving them away because they just didn’t work with the items I had. A good place to start is looking at the insides of your closet first. Could your closet use new shelving to maximize space? How about the door, can you put shelving to help organize items there as well? Of course once you have your items and space designated there are a wide range of products designed to help you get organized. Stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target and Container Store have great products for organizing closets.

Now that you have the items you need and the products, start organizing. Once you are finished, you will amazed how much you will love opening your closet door!

She’s So Organized: Medication List

I have asked a friend of mine, Jill Beaty to be a guest writer on “She’s So Organized” blog today.  Jill is extremely organized and always has great organization tips.  Below is one tip that can always help with those fun visits to the doctor!

“What medications are you currently taking?”

We’ve all done it:  responded to that question with a blank stare, an “uhhhhhh,” and then it comes to us!  We gleefully shout, “Vitamin C!”

Then comes the second question:  “What strength?”

Blank stare…uhhhhhhhh.

My memory is pretty good, but because I take several medications for allergies and whatnot, as well as several vitamins, I have a hard time keeping track of all of them for annual checkups.  So, I created a list on my computer in a table format that has the following columns:

Medication Strength Dosage For

A few sample entries looks like this:

Medication Strength Dosage For
Calcium plus Vitamin D 600 mg 2 pills, once a day (AM) General health
Advair 100/50 mcg 1 puff, once a day (AM) Allergies, asthma

I also put notes at the top that would be important for my doctor, such as “Because I’m on allergy shots, I can’t have beta blockers.”

I ensure that before I go to any doctor appointment, I verify and update this list and print it for my patient file.  I can’t tell you how many times I get an incredulous look, and big smile, and a “Wow, this is great!  I wish all my patients did this!”

A list like this not only keeps your medications/supplements straight, it helps your doctor to determine if you might have any drug interactions with anything he or she may prescribe.

No more blank stare…no more uhhhhh…just an organized you!

Thanks for sharing your tips Jill, I know I have had that blank stare too many times! Of course, now that I have kids it is harder to remember not only just my current medications but theirs as well.  Also, my memory has never been good and has only gotten worse after kids.  I honestly have thought to myself many times “They honestly expect me to remember all that?”.

After reading Jill’s great tip it got me thinking could there be an App for that?  And of course the answer is YES!  I’m always excited about finding new technology to help automate my life 🙂 and the App iRXHelper is one that I have found to help.  It not only keeps track of what medications you are using, the dosage and type but also reminds you when you need to get a refill.  Ahhh….I sooooooo love that!  Hopefully no more blank stares at the doctor for me either.

She’s So Organized: Managing the World of Paper

So the time of doing our taxes is here again and this has triggered my new challenge/project this week.  This for a lot of people including myself can be a tedious and time-consuming task, and even for someone who loves organizing not so fun!   If you haven’t done it in a while it can be a bit overwhelming to say the least.  So as I started my new project I began to ask myself how I could come up with a better solution than the one I currently had and of course needed to blog about it :).

Below are some tips that I’ve been using and as always I hope they can help you!

1) Quick Sort

Don’t get into the mud by going through each paper in detail, review quickly and determine if the item can either be thrown out, shredded, or needs to be filed and separate accordingly.  Refer to my link below for a reference document to know how long to keep your paperwork.  Once the quick sort is completed, move the trash and shredded items out of the room, you can discard or shred later.  By doing this you have now removed them from your eye site, which can lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed and prevent you from quitting.

2) Sort items by category

Once you have removed the items that need to be thrown away you can begin the real sort.  I have found sorting items into three or four general categories at first really helps to keep it simple, and prevents you from getting overwhelmed.  The word we would always use K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Also, determine a color code for each category so you can label appropriately later on.

Below are examples of three categories that I use.

  • Financial (Green)
  • Household (Blue)
  • Vital Records (Yellow)

3) Create To Do Folders

These folders will not be used for items that will be immediately filed but for actionable items as well as for new incoming mail.

  • To Pay
  • To Review
  • To File

4) Create more detail folders

For each category I created a manila folder with the proper colored category label described above.  Use removable labels and pencils to always label your folders, this allows you to change if you need later on. 

Examples for Financial:

  • Mortgages
  • Stocks
  • Medical Expenses
  • 401K

Examples for Household:

  • Receipts for Major Purchases
  • Contacts
  • Vacation
  • Auto Maintenance Records
  • Home Maintenance Records

Examples for Vital Documents:

  • Health Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • Social Security
  • Taxes (Folder per Year)

Make sure you to do this at least once a year…I find there are a lot of documents you can purge at tax time given the guidelines below.

http://www.shrednations.com/articles/personal-records-retention.php

To get through this tedious task, I highly recommend turning on some enjoyable music!!

She’s So Organized: SmartPhones

So in a previous post I talked about leveraging technology to stay more organized and one of the best tools out there now for staying organized are smartphones!  Before your cell phone was your phone, well now this new cool tool  functions as your phone and your planner.  To me there isn’t a reason to carry around those bulky planners anymore, everything that planners did smart phones do plus ten times more.  As we all say there has to be an App for that!

If you never heard the term apps basically these are applications that may already exist on your phone or that can be downloaded onto your phone and there are thousands to chose from.  The thing I love most about my phone is not the phone itself but the apps.  They really do make my day to day life a little easier and to me it is honestly exciting to find a new app that can make my life more organized :).

Below are some of my favorite apps that keep me organized:

1) Calendar – This app really isn’t an app that you have to download but comes already on your phone.  This tool lets you create your appointments right on your phone and gives you the ability to set reminders so you don’t forget that next doctor’s appointment.  I love it when I setup a new doctor’s appointment and they ask me “Do you need a reminder card?”, nope got it in my phone!  For me it is one less thing for me to have to keep track of.

2) Occasions – This app keeps track of all my friends birthdays and anniversaries from my phone.  It reviews my contact information on my phone and Facebook and notifies me a week and the day of the event.  This allows me enough advanced warning to make sure I buy that birthday or anniversary card and they are sent out on time.   It also links to my phone’s calendar so I don’t even need to go into the app.

3) iRxHelper – This little prescription application is so simple yet for me keeps me on top of making sure my prescriptions are ordered on time before we run out and that I always have the information I need.  When the doctor asks what prescriptions my children or I am taking and what are the strengths?  Before I would always answer “I will need to get back to you on that”, not anymore.

4) ToDo – I have all tasks (work and home) all listed in my ToDo Application.  This nice little app let’s me setup recurring tasks and setup alerts to push notifications to me at particular times of the day.  So on Mondays when that daycare paycheck is due I receive my reminder on my phone while I’m getting ready.  No more need for that post it note!

Also, there is no scrambling to find my to do list or a pen and paper when I need to add something to my list.  The second I think of that crucial thing that needs to get done, I grab my phone and start typing.  Wala my to do item will not be forgotten!

5) GroceryIQ – I mentioned this app in an early post but it is still one of my favorite applications.  I used to always forget my grocery list at home and struggle to remember what I need (my memory is horrible)….well not anymore!  This app let’s me create my grocery list in minutes and allows me to grocery shop in half the time.  It also saves me having to tell my husband what he needs to pickup from the grocery store and  where it is located.  The app syncs with his phone and tells him exactly what aisle everything is in.  Have I mentioned lately I love this app!!

A couple others tools on my phone that keep me organized are of course my email,  contacts, and the ability to text.  I am not sure how I lived without having my email and contacts always on me but I definitely know I wasn’t as organized then!

If you own a Smartphone have fun app shopping, if you don’t own a Smartphone get one it will honestly transform your life.  If not for to keep you more organized at least to enjoy a game of AngryBirds!