Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Organizing for Lazy uh... Busy People

When I first read that Kristen was having an organizing-tips WFMW, I thought, "Well, I can't contribute a #@$!%& thing. I am organizationally challenged, to say the least. But looking around the house, I noticed that there were a few things that I've implemented that have managed to save me time and effort.

The best rule for me to remember is to KNOW THYSELF. I know that I am super lazy and disorganized, so I will never be able to implement an intricate, multi-step process. I need to KISS anything like that goodbye.

Keep It Simple Stupid.

This is best demonstrated in my filing system. I HATE to file. I mean, I have a physical aversion to it. I would rather lick the kitchen floor than have to organize and file all the paperwork that piles up on a daily basis. That said, I take the easy way out: I only use one file a month.

Yup, I throw everything into one file. Actually, I'm even too lazy to have that file in a filing cabinet where I would actually have to spend the time looking for it. I've had to place an expanding file above my computer that I can literally throw papers in:

sorry for the poor quality pics; I was too lazy to get better ones...

In here, I throw everything from bills, to receipts, to instruction manuals, to financial papers. At the end of the month, I put the papers in a file with the month name on it and put it in a filing cabinet. That's it.

Now for those of you who are obsessive about filing, I'm sure your eyes are bleeding right now from reading this. But you know what? Somehow it works! I've learned that, since I'm horrible with paperwork, I really shouldn't keep too much of it around. Receipts? Only for big stuff. Coupons for a certain restaurant? Yeah, with a family of five, we don't eat out much. Fliers for fun-sounding events that we might go to? If it's that important, we'll put it on the calendar. Otherwise, toss.

You might be screaming at your screen, "But what about the Important Info?" I only have to look through a few files to find it. "What about Taxes??" In the April folder, where else? I've actually been able to put my hands on pretty much any important paperwork I need, since I try not to keep too much crap in the first place.

As for keeping up with paperwork in other ways, another thing I know about myself is "Out of sight, out of mind." Literally. Hence, my bills:

I literally have them staring me in my face every time I look at my desk. It's my way of nagging reminding myself that this needs to get done. If I didn't have them hanging there, I'd put them in some pile somewhere and promptly forget about them until it's too late to save myself a late fee.

Another area I keep things in sight and in mind is in the pantry:

I'm pretty short, so this is my view of the upper shelves. I keep everything right on the edge of the shelf, so I can see exactly what I have without having to move stuff out of the way or getting a stool to get a better view. Yes, there is stuff behind this, but it's stuff I hardly ever use; I think of it as extra storage. Definitely nothing that's used on a regular basis.

Also in the kitchen are the inevitable junk drawers. I actually have four of them. Terrible I know. In order to keep some semblance of order, I cut food boxes and place them inside to corral some of the junk:

Yes, they're still messy, but at least I can find the pens without having to dump out the whole drawer.

Another thing I'm trying to implement is labels. It's a very slow process, labeling, but hopefully it will save time eventually. The boys empty the dishwasher as part of their chores, which means that kitchen items can end up anywhere. So I'm trying to be very specific with what should go on each shelf:

Again, this does take a while, but I only do a few shelves at a time. Plus, the boys for some reason LOVE to make labels with the label maker. (This sounds like it would make my life easier, but I have to write everything down for them so they know how to spell it. Oh well.)

Speaking of boys, I know that they are all about easy access as well. They leave boxes of food all in a jumble if they can't put it away easily. Therefore, I've eliminated that step for them whenever I can by simply ripping off the top of the box. Notice the popcorn box:

Also, whenever I can, I put non-sealed stuff in tupperware (like the lovely mismatched one next to the popcorn) so they can just reach their hand in, grab, and go. I also take fruit out of the plastic produce bags and throw it all into one drawer in the fridge, as it's apparently too much effort for the the boys to take it out of the plastic bag. Otherwise, they'll let it sit in the bags and rot.

Also in the kitchen, I try to corral things in baskets whenever I can, such all the condiments the boys like:

Still looks messy, but better than just having them all over the counter.

I also use baskets for all my little crafty bits:

Again, it still looks pretty cluttered, but definitely better than if I tried to keep them organized any other way. Putting them neatly in a box or drawer? Fuggedabout it. I need to just toss and go.

I do try to show the boys some type of organization when it comes to school stuff. Since we do homework at the dining room table, I set up this pegboard on one of the dining room walls:

I try to have everything they need on it, so they don't have to go searching, and it's easy to put everything away. For myself, I try to keep all their school paperwork in one spot so I don't randomly assign it a pile and then forget about it.

Other little things:

• Towels are easy to organize because I'm a towel Nazi. I give the boys only two towels each in the linen closet. Why? Because otherwise they'd use a towel once, leave it on their bedroom floor, and get another one. Lots of towels, lots of laundry. The boys have their initials on their own towel so I know who's left theirs on the bathroom floor. The other towels I keep hidden in my closet. That keeps the linen closet available for other storage.

• I have a box on the stairs to put stuff that goes upstairs. I'm too lazy to walk up and down all the time.

• I have a large bucket in the laundry room as a dumping bin for cleaning rags, napkins, etc. that need to be washed. At least all that stuff isn't thrown on the floor like it used to be.

• I delegate. The boys are old enough to do just about any type of cleaning/organizing. Even though they don't do it all that well (purposely or not), stuff still gets done. A sloppily-organized dresser is better than a never-organized one.

• I purposely have spots to hide stuff. In the living room, I have a small side table with a drawer underneath. In it are tons of photos that need to be put in albums. At least they're all in the same place. I have my toiletries in small plastic buckets under my vanity; the buckets get messy a lot. I have a small tension rod hung with dishtowel "drapes" underneath the vanity to cover the unsightly mess. My craft cabinets are a disaster, but I always make sure they're not so full that I can't close the doors to hide it all.

• I put my make-up brushes, Q-tips, and other things I use each day in drinking glasses on my vanity. (I have really shallow drawers underneath so I can't put much in them.) The glasses at least keep like things with like, and keep things from just piling up.

• I hang my necklaces on nails on my wall. I could never take the time to put them away in their separate little pouches and they'd always get tangled up.

• Lastly, when I need some motivation to get organized, I get one small space done so I can see how great it looks. Often, the "organizing" is done by me putting everything cluttering up that spot into a large bag out of sight. I know it's prolonging the inevitable, but sometimes you just need to see a clean desk in order to know that it can be done. By any means necessary.

So yes, I'm lazy and always want to take the easy way out. But I'm also really busy and know that in order to make it work for me, organization has to be simple and quick. As much as I would love to be that person who has all matching pretty containers perfectly lined up on the shelves without even a paper clip out of place, I know this is not my reality.

Hopefully I've helped some of you other disorganized super-duper-crazy-busy ladies. I can't wait to read the rest of the entries for this WFMW. Who knows? Maybe I'll find something that even I can implement! Head over to We Are That Family for this much-needed Works For Me Wednesday edition.


Angela said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! You have some non-conventional, but great ideas for organizing. I think I need to do what you have done and figure out what really works best for ME.

Paula @ Organizing Tips For Moms said...

You are doing great! If it works for you, you have met your goal! There is no one way to be organized, that's for sure!

Eos Mom said...

As a fellow lazy organizer, I love your ideas, thanks for sharing!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

You have awesome ideas! I have baskets and bins to corral pretty much everything we own all over the house.

I am lovin that peg board!


Stop by and see me over at Free2BeFrugal!

Heather - - said...

Lots of good tips there. I have two boys (soon to be three). They're still younger (3 and under) but this is good info to keep in mind!