If you work at home in any capacity, even just paying bills, it’s important to have a well-defined, well-organized office space. Here are two posts about home offices to get you inspired.
(also applies to closets, wardrobes, etc.)
The problem here is most likely a combination of too much stuff for the size of the cupboard, and the stuff not being put away efficiently.
First, think about what is referred to in my favorite organizing book as your “Put-Away Style”. This is “the manner in which you put something away after you are finished using it”. Are you a tosser or a stacker? Can you take the time to put things back in a particular place or style, or do you have lots of important things to be doing, and are just lucky get something back in the cupboard at all? If your Put-Away Style is more hurried, you won’t be able to fit as many things in a small space, but that’s ok.
My suggestion here would be to use less of the things in your cupboard. Downsize a bit. Note that I didn’t say to get rid of anything, just use less of it. Parting with things we’re used to can be difficult for some people, so instead of throwing it out, get a box and put away a lot of the dishes somewhere. Keep your favorite ones in the cupboard, and the ones you know you use often. Try it, and see how that works for a couple weeks. If you find you’re missing something, go get it from the box. Later you can decide if you can live without some of those items.
If that doesn’t work for you, consider hiring a professional organizer to help you come up with some more solutions!
I hope you enjoyed reading these suggestions as much as I enjoyed thinking about the questions you submitted. Please share in the comments any tips that have worked for you for these, or any other organizing questions, and be sure to submit more questions for future consideration.
I could do a whole post, or even a small book, on time management! It’s something I’m working on myself right now, and I’m discovering some really interesting thing. I’ll share a few things that I have found helpful recently.
1. Track your time. Just as you would track your expenses when you start to make a budget, keeping track of your time and where you spend it can help you manage it better. You can use a calendar app on a phone, or a little notebook, and write down what you do every day for a week. Be sure to note how much time you spend on each thing, you might be surprised to learn just how much time is taken up by things that will “only take a minute”
2. Allow buffer time. Not many people remember to do this, but it is such a necessity when scheduling things. Plan for the time it takes to drive to the store, or walk to class, or just collect your thoughts before you start doing homework. A good place to start is scheduling only 45 minutes of every hour, with a break in between activities for refreshing your brain or unexpected distractions.
3. Make conscious decisions about time. Recognize that we usually can’t do everything we want to, and often have to make tough choices about how to use our time wisely. Invest in the things that will give you the most reward, like completing assignments ahead of schedule, and taking care of important jobs before they become urgent and “hijack” your time.
Most important: Schedule time for an activity, and watch the clock. When we have a limited amount of time to do something, it keeps us on track. Knowing when we have to be done helps us work more efficiently, not get distracted as much and helps us avoid being derailed by perfectionism.
A few ideas for deciding what things to do first:
Time Management Matrix – I first read about this famous matrix in college, and it had a big impact on how I used my time from then on. A great tool for prioritizing.
Bracketed To-Do List – I read about this recently in a book called “Organizing Your Day“. You write a list of everything you want to do in the day, and treat it like a sports bracket. Compare the first two things, and choose which one to do first. Continue down the list, comparing two at a time, until you get the top 5 or 3 or 1 thing. Then focus on that task until it’s done!
Check back tomorrow for ideas on overflowing kitchen cupboards.
(Last week I mentioned that I love tackling organizing questions, and challenged readers to submit some. This week I’ll start addressing some of them. Stay tuned as we talk about managing paper, time, and kitchen cupboards.)
Excellent question. You are not alone, paper clutter is often a big challenge for many people, and one of the first things people tend to ask me about.
I think there are two key factors in dealing with paper that will help it not get out of hand:
In summary, she describes how paper sorting is done in two steps, as soon as possible. (Like rabbits, paper will surely multiply if left unattended. Do your part to keep the population down by dealing with it right away.)
Step 1 is a daily quick sort – Create a Standing Paper Station, and divide papers into various categories that require different actions. Bills, magazines, papers that require future action, reminders of events, etc. Above is a picture of my still in progress paper station.
Step 2 is a weekly slow sort – Taking those actions required. Paying bills, filing receipts, recycling old magazines, etc. This requires more filing systems that will be different for each person.
Decisions about papers may be things like: trash it, act on it, or save it for later (a lot later, or for a short time as a reminder.) Go get her book and read it for the full description, it is completely worth it. (Bonus, since there is a new edition, the first edition has become amazingly affordable!)
In the mean time, I’ll be doing a presentation at some local libraries in May where we will address this topic more in depth, and have a sample paper station for people to practice with. Watch for an announcement with the details in a few weeks, or contact me for specifics.
One final though: Do everything you can to cut down on the amount of paper you receive. Lots of times you can sign up for bank statements and utility bills by email, and you can opt out of catalogs and credit card offers. The less paper you have to sort through each day, the more likely it will happen!
Check back tomorrow for ideas on Time Management.
I was inspired by this post from Apartment Therapy about tips to help you leave the house on time. Every moment counts when you have to leave early in the morning, and there are some great ideas here about how to plan for tomorrow to save time.
One of the most important is the “landing strip”: a dedicated place to put all the things you need before you can leave, like keys, wallet, glasses, etc.
The other day I was delighted to find that someone was using a clever idea I had a while back, so I thought I’d share it with you. I call it, the Vulcan Sponge.
I like to use a separate sponge to bleach my sink, not the same one I would use for dishes. And for a while I wasn’t sure how to tell them apart, so I wouldn’t ever accidentally use the bleach sponge on some dishes. Thus, the Vulcan Sponge. Just cut an identifying mark in the sink-cleaning sponge, (In my case, a “V” that reminded me of the Vulcans on Star Trek) and you can instantly tell it apart and know not to use it on dishes!
Today a random idea to save time in the kitchen. If you are preparing a meal that involves lots of chopping and preparing of ingredients, and your trash can is more than a step away, consider placing a container on the counter top and toss in scraps as you go. This will save you time walking to the trash can after prepping every ingredient, and will consolidate the clutter on the counter.
Ever since I started my business last fall, when people hear what I do, they usually come back to me with a specific organizing question or two. “How can I better organize my time?” “Do you have a good solution for this issue I have in my kitchen?” I love getting organizing questions, and I’ll always do my best to suggest a solution, or point you in the direction of a resource that might be helpful. (“The House That Cleans Itself” is one of my all time favorite books on organizing!)
Feel free to submit your questions here in the comments, or by email on the “contact” page, and I’ll take a stab at them.
A while back I was inspired by using curtains as doors or coverings for closets, or other open spaces that might look better covered. This week I took the plunge, and tried it out. I was so pleased with the results! (In fact, I find myself going back to look at it many times throughout the day, just to enjoy the calm it brings to the room.)
I used a shower curtain rod to make it very easy to install, and a curtain with grommets for easy opening and closing.
Sometimes when I’m trying to come up with organizing solutions for my home, or for someone else’s, I’m not immediately sure what the best solution is going to be.
That’s hard for me, since I like to get to the answers right away, but often good solutions take time, and experimenting. So today I’m encouraging you to try something new in your home or routine. Is there a problem area that always stays messy? Grab the first container you can find and see if it can help coral the mess. If it works, you can always replace it with something prettier later down the line.
Some things I’ve been experimenting with this week include: