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Organization

  • Toy Storage Ideas to Tame Toy Clutter

    Toy storage is a must for anyone who has children. No matter your intention, each child usually generates double his or her body weight in toys when they’re young!

    Toy Storage Ideas to Tame Toy Clutter

    Toy Storage Ideas

    Toy storage can be very simple and inexpensive. Pinterest is a wonderful place to find inspiration for a toy storage system that may work for your family. Here are two great suggestions:

    Toy Storage Bins

    Toy Storage Baskets

    The most important things to keep in mind when considering toy storage are:

    1. Trim down the toys
    2. Kid friendly
    3. Clearly labelled
    4. Everything has a place


    Let’s look at each in a bit more detail.

    Trim down toys

    Toy storage works best when you have a reasonable amount of toys. I know when our toys are getting out of hand quite quickly – a clear sign is when my kids don’t even open the toy box anymore. The toy box will be completely full – but of toys my kids are no longer interested in, or are tired of.

    This tells me it’s time to donate some toys, or switch some out. We keep a bin of toys in storage so we can rotate them. When the kids get tired of some, we put them away and pull out some “new” toys.

    Toy Storage Cabinet

    source

    Kid friendly

    When thinking about toy storage, consider how accessible the storage containers are for your children. Bins and baskets are fantastic – but do very little for organization, if they are out of reach for your little ones. Containers with lids are also great, but not if your little ones cannot open and shut the lids.

    The goal of your toy storage system should be helping your children become independent with organizing and putting things away where they belong. For them to be independent, their toy storage must be kid friendly.

    Clearly label

    No matter what toy storage system you decide to use (bins, baskets, shelving units, dressers, etc.), it’s important to clearly label things. It’s very helpful to label each bin or basket with the word and a picture.

    If you would like all little cars to go in a bin, label it with the words “small cars” and draw a picture of them (or take a picture with your camera) and attach it to the bin. This way, even very young children can participate in tidying up.

    Organized Toys in Crates

    source

    Everything has a place

    When labeling your bins and baskets, it may be helpful to dump all toys out on the ground to sort through them. Put each toy into the correct place (once the labels have been attached). This way you can be sure every single item has a place.

    If a toy does not have a “home”, it will never be put away properly – a slippery slope in my house!

    Toy storage does not have to be tricky – and it doesn’t have to be forever either. Choosing a simple method of toy storage means that if it doesn’t work well for your family, you can easily change it.

    Your toy storage needs will also change as your children grow older. Using a flexible system with lots of bins and buckets will keep you and your kids organized for a long time to come.

    How do you organize toys in your home?

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  • How to Organize Your Coupons

    When you start collecting coupons, it can be overwhelming. Those tiny slips of paper can clutter up your home fast and if they aren’t organized properly, it’s likely that you will miss out on some fantastic savings at the store.

    By making a plan to organize your coupons when you receive them, you will be better able to find any coupon you need when you’re out shopping.

    Following are a few ways you can organize your coupons.

    How to Organize Your Coupons

    How to Organize Your Coupons

    Envelopes

    Coupon Envelopes

    For a beginner, I would definitely suggest using envelopes to organize your coupons. Just write the categories (food, pets, health, beauty, etc.) on them and stuff your coupons inside.

    You will probably need to swap out your envelopes for new ones every so often, because they can easily get torn when you cart them and your coupons around with you each time you go shopping.

    Accordion File

    Coupon Accordian File

    This is another great coupon organization system for beginners. These small accordion files have tabs for you to use to separate your coupons, making finding what you need very easy. Just clip your coupons and put them in their respective categories.

    You will often find these organizing tools at many dollar stores and they are usually of good quality. However, if you can’t seem to find any at your local dollar store, many big box stores such as Walmart will carry these as well (though, they may be a bit bigger – and more expensive).

    Coupon Binder

    Coupon Binder

    Coupon binders are great for more advanced couponers/extreme couponers. Simply purchase a large binder, some divider tabs and trading card protector sheets and put them all together.

    Divide your coupons by category, date or alphabetically with your divider tabs and place your coupons in the protector sheets and then into the binder.

    It’s also a good idea to carry a pair of scissors, pen & pencil and calculator with you when you shop. Click here for my tutorial on creating a coupon binder.

    How to Sort Your Coupons

    Alphabetically: Set up your divider tabs or envelopes from A-Z and file your coupons away. If you have a good idea of all the coupons you currently have, this may be a good system for you.

    By Expiry Date: Check the expiry dates on all of your coupons. Write down the dates on your divider tabs or envelopes and sort your coupons this way. This is a great system for ensuring you use up your coupons before they expire.

    By Category: Sorting by category is the easiest, especially if you have a lot of coupons and can’t always remember each and every one that you have. The most common categories are: health, beauty, pets, baby/kids, food, household, and miscellaneous. You could always go more in depth and do something like this: food – cereal, food – meat, food – fruits & vegetables, beauty – makeup, beauty – hair care, etc.

    Once you’ve created your categories, put your coupons into the categories that they belong to.

    Note: Make sure that you go through your coupons and weed out the expired ones at least once every month. This makes the task less overwhelming, and also prevents embarrassment at the store if you try to use an expired coupon.

    Do I really have to carry my coupons with me everywhere I go?

    I do suggest bringing your coupons with you if you think it’s possible that you may end up in a store that accepts them. A good tip is to keep your coupons in your purse or car so that if you do make that unexpected trip, your coupons are right there and you won’t miss out on a good deal (if you come across one).

    Some people suggest only carrying the coupons you plan on using when you go shopping. This idea is fine and dandy, but I suggest carrying all of your coupons in case of unexpected deals. Many stores have items on sale that are not advertised in their flyers. You can also find clearance racks at most stores and you would miss out on those deals if you didn’t have all of your coupons with you.

    Organizing your coupons (and keeping them organized) is very important if you want to be able to save as much money as possible at the grocery store.

    When new coupons come in, try to file them right away. If this is not possible, set aside a bit of time once every week to clip and file your coupons. If you wait any longer than that, it’s possible that you will have an abundance of coupons to organize and could get overwhelmed.

    How do you organize your coupons? Please share in the comments.


    top photo credit

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  • 7 Easy Ways to Organize Clutter

    Clutter seems to follow me. I must have a magnetic clutter pull. I will organize a room or a drawer and before I know it, it’s cluttered again. I’m working on de-magnetizing myself. And dare I say it out loud, I think I’m finally organizing clutter once and for all!

    Here are the best ways I have found to organize clutter:

    How to Organize Clutter

    Organize Clutter

    Before you even get started, have a look around your house. Bring a piece of paper and pencil with you. Figure out where there is clutter. Is it on table tops, counters, floors, shelves, in drawers? You may be surprised to find that your clutter is usually contained in specific areas.

    After finding the clutter (which in my home is super simple!), figure out why it’s there. Is there a pile of papers because you don’t have a spot for bills? Or is it because your spot for bills is inconvenient to access, or too cluttered to add more bills to?

    Are the toys messy because there are simply too many, because there is no organization system, or because your kids are little monsters (ahem!)?

    After these first 2 steps are completed, you are truly ready to conquer your clutter for once and all. You now know where the clutter is and why it’s there, making it simple to plan how to get rid of it for good.

    1. Purge

    Clearly, the best way to get rid of clutter is just that, to get rid of it. Truly think about items that are cluttering up your life. I’ve been trying very hard to follow the mantra – if I do not find it useful or beautiful, I do not need it.

    2. Piles

    Create designated piling spots – a closet or garage space works well. Create a pile for items to donate and a pile for items to sell. Make regular trips to donation centers of course, to keep piles under control.

    3. Everything in its place

    One key way to organize clutter is to make sure every single item in your home has a place. The bills shouldn’t pile up on your counter if they have a convenient and organized storage spot. The scissors should never go missing, if everyone knows they belong in the left kitchen drawer, etc.

    Organizing Small Items

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    4. Containers, bins, and buckets, oh my!

    While I agree that containers and bins do not in and of themselves organize a home, I believe that they certainly have a place in organizing clutter.

    Once you’ve realized the important items that you do in fact need, and you have a place for them, containerizing is a good choice to further organize those items.

    Having a container for receipts and warranties ensures you always have what you need, when you need it. Having a bin devoted to hair elastics, headbands, and the like makes sure those items don’t clutter up the bathroom counter.

    5. Know when one is enough

    While getting organized, you may realize that you have multiples of items (like 5 pairs of kitchen scissors). Is this really needed for your family? If not, get rid of the extras.

    My husband and I used to each have one travel mug for coffee. Every night they would get washed and reused the next day. Once in awhile one would be forgotten at work, and we would suffer the consequences the next day.

    Eventually, there was a good sale and we bought a few more travel mugs. Low and behold we ended up losing them all over a very short period. We no longer had that sense of needing to be extra careful with our cups, as we knew there were extras at home. Sometimes having one is enough.

    6. Label

    Once you’ve determined a place for every object, label that place. Label your cupboard shelves, the inside of drawers, everything! This way everyone in your home will know where items belong, making it impossible for them to plead ignorance when you question why the kitchen scissors are not in the left kitchen drawer.

    Organize with Labels

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    7. Take pictures of memorabilia

    This is one step I have a lot of trouble with. I do a ton of crafts with my kids, and as such, have a ton of crafts saved up as keepsakes. I also have some of my favourite baby outfits, blankets, and the like. I have a very difficult time parting with this stuff.

    I can’t rationalize – it’s silly, and realize I still have those memories in my head, but I just don’t want to get rid of the items.

    Taking pictures of some things has allowed me to part with them, but my favourite baby things I am choosing to organize with containers. I have one container for each child, and am limiting myself to that one bin. This works for me.

    Organizing clutter can be done if you put in the effort. It certainly takes time – but I have learned that it also takes strategy. Simply cleaning it up may not be enough, but truly organizing and ensuring everything has its place will allow you to easily conquer that clutter.

    Being organized is extremely beneficial – it saves you money and time! You will not have to search for items and will not have to unnecessarily buy duplicate items. The time it takes to organize your clutter will be granted back to you ten fold because you will no longer need to search and shop.

    How do you organize your clutter?

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  • Command Center to Eliminate Paper Clutter For Good

    Command Center Guide.

    Command Center Guide

    A command center is a system used for organizing all of the paper that comes into your home each day. School papers, invitations, coupons, bills and more – eliminate paper clutter by setting up a command center in your home.

    The command center that I use in my home is something similar to what I found on Pinterest:

    Kitchen Command Center

    photo

    I was looking for something to manage clutter on my kitchen counter, and I was inspired by this idea. I switched it up a bit to make it into my own filing system.

    What you need to create a command center

    • Accordion file folder (keep it mind the size that you purchase – you don’t want it to be so big that it gets in the way, but you also don’t want something that is so small that you never see it)
    • Folders (optional)
    • Sheet protectors for your budget spreadsheet & washable markers to write with
    • Calendar

    I have 9 tabs in the folder in my command center:

    1. Christina – My personal mail to file away.
    2. Mark – My husband’s personal mail to file away.
    3. Mason – My son’s tab includes crafts and development spreadsheets that need to be filed away.
    4. New mail – When I don’t have time to sort through mail one day, I place it in this slot.
    5. Bills to be paid – I put my bills here when they come in the mail, and refer to my budget to determine when they need to be paid. I mark that date on my calendar.
    6. Bills to be filed – Once bills are paid, I transfer them here to file away in my office.
    7. Coupons – I put coupons in this slot when I get them, and every Sunday I clip my coupons and place them in my coupon binder.
    8. Invitations – Wedding, birthday, and shower invitations go in this slot.
    9. Budget – I do a weekly budget and place each sheet in a sheet protector with a washable marker to write on as needed.

    Organizing Papers

    Once you have created your command center, refer to it at least once per week and file away all paid bills, clipped coupons, check your budget, and sort through your new mail.

    Options for filing your paid bills

    Paperless

    More and more people are going the paperless route because it cuts down on paper clutter and it’s better for the environment.

    You can request paperless bills from many companies and they will email you your bill every month. (If you’re notorious for not checking your email, this may not be the best option for you.)

    If you’re trying to cut down on paper clutter, you can simply scan your paid bills and keep them in a file on your computer and shred those paper bills. If you or your partner runs a small business, this is a great tool to use to cut down on paper clutter.

    Paper Bill Filing

    This is how I personally file my bills. I use two file folders; one for business and one for personal & home. I purchased two of these from Walmart for about $10. These have 19 slots in each, so they are pretty large in size and can hold a lot.

    I like that they don’t take up too much space in my office and I can easily store them away on a book shelf, in a filing cabinet, or in a closet.

    Tips for naming your bills

    Make sure you have a name for every bill. I know some people (i.e. my husband) will look for a tab and if it’s not there, will file it away under another tab – causing some major confusion later on. It’s a better idea to just make a new tab.

    Be specific. If you have a simple receipt folder for all of your receipts, you will likely find that it fills up fast. Instead of being overwhelmed by receipts, separate your receipt storage. For example: kids receipts, car receipts, clothing receipts, grocery receipts.

    File by year. Most government records need to be kept for 7 years. That’s a lot of paperwork. Removing your paperwork from your organizing system every year will be a huge help in freeing up some space.

    I would suggest setting aside about one hour per week to look over the items in your command center. When looking everything over, you can update your calendar for the week, look over your budget, organize and file your bills and make sure you RSVP’d to events you were invited to.

    Do you have a command center in your home?

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  • Relocating – 9 Tips for an Organized Move

    Relocating the Organized Way!

    Relocating

    Relocating to a new home (especially in a new city or country) can be very stressful. My husband and I have moved 5 times in the past 7 years and each time has been very nerve-wracking – except the last move.

    I made sure we organized our move so well that the whole experience would be relatively stress-free. And it was, thankfully. Here are my tips on relocating and how to do it in a more organized fashion.

    1. Make a moving binder

    This is a very important first step in staying organized. A moving binder is one of the key elements in an organized move. Inside your binder, I suggest the following:

    Budget & Expenses

    Make a list of everything you plan to purchase for your move (moving supplies, moving truck/company, cable hook-up) and come up with a budget for those expenses. Then, when you spend money, add the amount to your budget. Doing this will allow you to see if you are staying on track with the money you have set aside for relocating.

    Receipts

    To your moving binder, add a folder for holding your receipts. Make sure all of your receipts associated with your move go in there so you have records of those purchases.

    Special Dates

    Keep track of when your cable and internet will be set up, when you will be getting furniture delivered (if you are getting it delivered before you move in), your closing date, etc.. All of these important appointments need to be in one spot so you can refer to them easily.

    Contents List

    As you start packing up your belongings, keep a record of the items you are packing. Number each box and organize your contents list by number. This is for insurance purposes, but also for your own reference when you are looking for something specific. If you need to find your toaster, look at your list and find out what box it is in. Find that box number and find your toaster. This is much easier than having to dig through a bunch of boxes for just one or two things.

    Design Ideas

    If you come across any decorating and organizing ideas that you want to try out in your new home, add those ideas here. If you end up with many, MANY different ideas, it may actually be a good idea to dedicate a whole binder to this. Or you could just use Pinterest. The choice is yours.

    Moving Binder

    2. Book your moving truck or moving company right away

    This is something I learned from experience. If you don’t book your moving truck or professional movers well in advance (1 month or more), it will be extremely difficult to book them at all. We almost missed our moving date one time because we didn’t book our moving truck until 2 weeks before the moving date. That was scary. Give at least a one month notice to be safe.

    If you’re looking for a reputable moving company, I highly recommend Firemen Movers. They are fantastic. And in case you’re wondering – yes, they are really firemen!

    3. Fill out a change of address form right away

    In addition to booking your moving company/truck, you also want to fill out a “change of address” form right away to make sure that all of your mail is forwarded to your new address.

    You can do this easily at your local post office for $47.95 or $79.95 (in province), $59.95 or $99.95 (out of province), or $135.95 or $225.95 (USA/International). Those are prices for 6 and 12 month periods, for residential addresses.

    4. Purge before you pack

    Rid your current home of all non-essentials. If you don’t plan to use something in your new home, you don’t need to spend the time, effort or money on bringing it with you.

    Donations

    Sell or donate all of the items you no longer want. If this seems overwhelming, start by purging one area of each room of your home every day, until you have gone through all of your belongings.

    5. Create a moving basket

    Before you start packing, spend a few minutes preparing a moving basket that you will be able to carry around your home with you while you pack. This basket can include the following items:

    • Packing tape
    • Colour-coded stickers/duct tape
    • Permanent markers
    • Pens & pencils
    • Your moving binder
    • Scissors

    You will be so much more organized if you have all of your moving supplies in one location.

    6. Start packing as soon as possible

    The sooner you start packing, the less overwhelming this whole relocating thing is going to be. If you take anything from this article, I hope you take this one piece of advice – pack at least one box every single day until the day you move.

    A few tips to make packing easier (well, easier for when you are unpacking at your new home):

    • Label every box with the room it will be going into at the new house
    • Label every box with a number
    • Label every box with a colour-coded sticker or duct tape (each room in the new home gets its own colour)
    • Add items to your “contents list” as you pack

    Moving Boxes

    7. Look for a new doctor, dentist and veterinarian as soon as possible

    Don’t leave this one until the very end or you may have to settle with a health professional you’re not that comfortable with after relocating.

    Many doctors have a long waiting list, or simply don’t accept new patients at all, so be sure to do your research before you move. Ask your current doctor for a referral before you move. Don’t forget to ask for your medical records as well (you may have to to pay a fee for these).

    8. Pack your valuables separately

    If you’re enlisting the help of a moving company, make sure you pack your valuables separately and bring them to your new house yourself, if possible. Things like expensive jewelry, important paperwork and large sums of cash are more likely to be stolen than a box of cookware or clothing. Play it safe and move those items yourself.

    9. Create an “open me first” box

    This box saved our sanity when we recently relocated to our new home. With previous moves, we would pack everything and then open boxes as we needed things (digging through un-labelled boxes to find just one thing!). This time around, a friend suggested an “open me first” box, which would consist of the following:

    • Sheet set for each bed in the house
    • Shower curtain
    • Toiletries for everyone
    • Kettle
    • Frying pan, pot
    • Paper plates, bowls & cups
    • Plastic cutlery
    • Paper towels
    • Portable games for kids
    • Garbage bags
    • Dish soap
    • Bathroom tissue

    These are items you will likely need to access immediately after you move in, so it’s important to keep them all in one location. Just like with your valuables, you should transport this box of necessities yourself when you move.

    Open First Box

    Relocating is a big job. It can be stressful, overwhelming and not fun at all – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

    With just a bit of planning and organization, it is possible to move to a new home without going crazy. I promise.

    Please share your moving tips in the comments.

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  • Declutter Your Life: Free eBook

    DeClutter Your Life Book Sept2012

    Download a FREE Kindle edition of Declutter Your Life right now.

    If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download this software for free (only works on a PC). This will enable you to read Kindle books on your computer.

    Keep in mind that this book is $0.00 right now, but the price could change at any time.

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  • Recent Pinterest Pins: September 22, 2012

    Have you signed up for Pinterest yet?

    It really is one of my favourite sites! Every morning I sip my coffee and browse Pinterest. It’s become routine now, and I look forward to it!

    Here are some of the latest things I have “pinned”:

    Toys From Trash

    20 Toys to Make From Scratch by Foster

    Turkey Meatballs

    Turkey Meatballs by Megan

    Organize Car Stuff

    Organize Car Stuff by Kierste

    Wendys Frosty Recipe

    Copycat Wendy’s Frosty by Nikki

    Newborn Photos

    Tips For Taking Newborn Photos at the Hospital by Katie

    Kids Crafts

    35 Paper Plate Crafts for Kids by Laurie

    Pumpkin Latte

    Pumpkin Spice Latte by Heather

    Have you pinned anything great lately? Let me know your Pinterest username so I can add you! Don’t forget to add me too!

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