My Must-Have Home Organizing Tools

If you’ve been keeping up with me over the last few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that most of my recent posts have been dedicated to giving you tips and ideas to help you organize different aspects of your life (mail, email, delegation). As much as I enjoy teaching and sharing in this way, I don’t want my posts to be predictable and repetitive in nature (that’s code for boring).

Since I love changing things up every once in awhile, I’ve decided that today’s post would be about some of my must-have organizing tools around my house. Normally I would write a post like this for Friday Fun ~ and yes, today’s only Thursday ~ but like I said, I love changing things up! I only have a few things here at home that I absolutely can’t live without when it comes to organizing. They are functional, helpful, and make organizing easier, fun, and even a little stylish!

photo credit: pinprick via photopin cc
photo credit: pinprick via photopin cc

• My Label Maker – I actually own 2 label makers because something in my house isn’t officially “organized” until it’s been “labelized” (and yes, I just made that word up myself). The beauty of a label maker is that it is relatively inexpensive, EASY to use, and gives a clear title to your items’ homes so that everyone can know exactly where things belong. I have had success with the Dymo label maker brand and highly recommend it, although the Brother label maker (pictured) is also very popular.

• Clear containers – If something needs to be containerized in my home, I will opt for a clear container every time. Why? Because clear containers allow you to see what’s inside so you know exactly what you have, or don’t have. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve reached for the flour stored in my dark brown flour jar only to discover that I didn’t have any ~ and of course, that is when I am in the middle of baking or cooking! I could go on and on about the beauty of clear containers, but I think you get the point.

• Filing Systems – I know this one may seem a little strange since it’s not a “product”, but the filing systems I have in place in my file cabinets (both personal and business), as well as in my home office notebook, make my life so much simpler in managing my paper. Since I plan to dedicate some blog posts to files and filing systems later, I won’t go into too much detail now, but I can tell you that with the filing systems I have in place I can retrieve any document in a matter of minutes and I am never at a loss for where a paper is.

• Lazy Susan – Sadly, most lazy Susans are relegated to the kitchen, but the beauty of these roundabouts is that they can be used in a wide variety of ways if you let your imagination run wild! I’ll share how I use mine tomorrow, but here’s one way you could use a lazy Susan besides spices:

Rotating-Craft-Storage

Do you have something that you use to organize your home or office that you just can’t live without? Life is so much more enjoyable when you surround yourself with the things you love. Why shouldn’t organizing be the same way?

Your organizing friend,

Go 2 Gal

6 Steps to Email Organizing Success

Last week we talked about ways to deal with your snail mail. Today, I want to talk with you about your digital mail ~ email!

Almost everyone has an email account, perhaps even 2 or 3.  With so much information quickly bombarding our inboxes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and overloaded.  Sometimes email can be more difficult to handle than our regular mail.  We fear that if we delete or lose an email it will be lost in cyberspace for ever and we won’t be able to function without it.  So we stockpile pages of emails and then wonder how we’ll ever get through them all.

No need to worry!  I have a few ideas that I think can help you get a handle on your email inbox, allow you to maximize your time, and will bring you email organizing success:

photo credit: ario_ via photopin cc
photo credit: ario_ via photopin cc

1.  Set aside time – As I suggested with your snail mail, it’s best if you set aside time each day to deal with your email inbox.  Since it is so easy for us to read our emails on our phones, tablets and computers we may be tempted to check it every few minutes.  Pre-determine a time that you will check and deal with email and then commit to only that time for that purpose. Perhaps you can try a dedicated time in the morning and a time in the afternoon, leaving enough time for yourself to address any emails that need your attention.  It may seem like twice a day is impossible, and you will feel like you’re going through withdrawal.  Those feelings will pass and you will find that your day is more productive by limiting yourself with your email.  Try it for a week and see ~ you might just be surprised!

If you just don’t have the willpower to set aside 2 times a day, I suggest using a self-control app that blocks your ability to access your email (or other social media sites) on your computer for the amount of time you designate.  For Mac users you can use an app called Self Control; for Window users Self Restraint and Browse Control are also available.

2.  Decide what needs to be done – When it comes to your email, you have a decision to make: you can do something with the email (i.e. act on it, reply), delegate the email to someone else to deal with it, or you can simply delete it.  The problem most people have is that they can’t make a decision on what to do, so they just leave it in their inbox to deal with later.  Unfortunately, later comes around and they still don’t know how to handle the email, so it sits in their inbox mocking them. Being proactive and making the hard decision about your emails will save you a lot of time and stress.  Simplify your email worries by remembering the 3 D’s: do, delegate, delete.

photo credit: dampeebe via photopin cc
photo credit: dampeebe via photopin cc

3.  Utilize folders – This is the part of email organizing I love!  Create a system of categories for your email folders so you can designate where your emails need to go.  In this way, you can keep your inbox flow to a minimum and you will be able to retrieve an email easily when you need it.  Some of the categories that might be helpful include: To Read Later, Bills, School, Vacation, Addresses, and Photos.  You could also make folders for each person in your family and place any emails pertaining to them in that folder.  Really the sky is the limit when it comes to folder categories.  As always with organizing, use a system that works for you!

4. Priorities – As you do with your schedule, decide which emails warrant your attention by priority of good, better, and best.  Ask yourself, “Is this email high priority,very important, or just important?” Understanding how an email ranks on your attention scale, you’ll know how to handle it and maximize your dedicated email time on those things that you need to deal with first.  Odds are that the emails that do not need your immediate attention or response (low priority) will never be missed or can most likely be deleted.

5. Control the flow – You are the master of your domain in the digital world; you can decide what comes into your inbox and what doesn’t.  Use junk mail filters to limit the amount of spam that springs up. Opt our of email notifications on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Unsubscribe to e-newsletters and store mailers.  Ask not to be CC’d or BCC’d on emails unless absolutely necessary.  By taking a few proactive measures you can cut down on the amount of emails that pop into your email inbox.  Take control of your email rather than letting it control you!

photo credit: Ross Mayfield via photopin cc
photo credit: Ross Mayfield via photopin cc

6.  Keep it simple – Emails were never intended to be long, drawn out stories to communicate with family and friends.  Unfortunately, some people think that every email has to be in novel form.  It doesn’t.  Keep your emails short, simple and to the point.  Try to convey your message in 10 sentences or less.  The person reading your email will appreciate your conciseness and you will again, maximize your time.  If you only have one thing to say, write it in the subject line followed by the letters EOM (end of message). For example, Meeting at school rescheduled from 3 pm to 4:30 pm – EOM.  You don’t need to explain, justify, or rationalize your emails; just say what you need to say and move on!

Okay, so this was post did not follow Idea #6, but I hope it gives you some ideas on how to tame your email inbox and the time you spend on emails each day.  There is so much to do in life that it doesn’t need to be wasted in front of a screen trying to make sense of digital mail.  Life is meant to be lived!  Getting organized with your email will bring you one step closer to having the life you want.

Your organizing friend,

Go 2 Gal

P.S. Of course, if you are reading this post via your email, then by all means feel free to make a special folder for it or forward it to your family and friends!  What? You aren’t receiving these posts by email??  Sign up to receive today by simply filling out the form at the top right hand side of the page and you won’t miss a single post of great organizing ideas, information and help.

 

Quick tips to deal with your mail

photo credit: Warm ‘n Fuzzy via photopin cc

A few days ago, I wrote a Facebook post about a woman who had so much mail piled up that she was storing it in boxes in her basement. My post was based on a true story that I read in Redbook magazine. The article detailed this woman’s journey to get organized, but also said that most of her mail was unopened and the reason for her madness was the fear that she might need all of those papers someday.  My heart broke for this woman.  Fortunately, she was able to get some help and has since dealt with her mail issues.

Which raises a question, how do you deal with your mail?  Despite the advancement of technology, snail mail still provides us with plenty of paper each day.  If we don’t stay on top of it on a regular basis, it can become overwhelming.  So today I want to share with you a few quick tips to help you stop the mail madness in your house.

Tips for dealing with your mail

1. Have a landing spot for your mail. It’s best to have a home for your mail rather than dropping it on the only available counter space.  By having a designated location you will always know where your mail is and not play hide-and-seek with it.

2. Have the right tools in your landing spot.  If possible, your assigned location for the mail should be near a trash bin, a shredder, and a mail system that designates what to do with the mail.  In this way you can immediately trash any junk mail, you can shred any papers you don’t need that might contain private information, and you can classify your mail into a system to make dealing with the mail easier. I came across this other day and thought it was a very creative mail system.

CD mail sorter
http://living.msn.com/life-inspired/elevated/slideshow?cp-documentid=253538406#scpshrjmd

This is only one system, but you can set yours up in a way that works best for you.  You might want to set up files such as: To pay, to file, to do, etc. where you can place your mail after opening it.  If you want to know how I set up my files, you can read about it/watch it here.  The important thing is to have some type of system!

3. Set aside time to deal with the mail each day.  It really doesn’t take that long to go through your mail.  Try to set aside 5-10 minutes each day to avoid the large pile that will take 30 minutes to an hour to go through.

4. Find ways to reduce your junk mail.  Since you can find most everything on the web, opt out of catalogues. Sign up at www.dmachoice.org to remove your family from direct marketing lists.  Ask people to email you information rather than sending it on paper. Taking simple steps can drastically reduce your junk mail intake.

5. Go digital.  Sign up to receive magazines electronically rather than in paper form.  Have your monthly statements and notices sent via email.  Pay your bills online. With so many digital options it’s hard to believe we still have snail mail!

6. Know what you need to keep and what you can discard.  Only keep necessary papers that you may not be able to gain access to easily or at a later time.  If your monthly statements can be retrieved online, why keep the paper? Most utility bills, credit card/bank statements, and medical information can be all be accessed on the web.  Of course, check with your providers to make sure.

So there you have it…some quick tips to help you deal with your mail.  Obviously, it’s not an extensive list, but by keeping it short and simple you have time for other things. Like dealing with your mail.

Regardless of how broke our postal system may be, they continue delivering mail to us.  And as long as they do, we have to be able to deal with it.  And now you can.

Your organizing friend,

Go 2 Gal

P.S. If you aren’t following me on Facebook, I’d love for you to! You can find me at: www.facebook.com/pages/GettingOrganizedToGainALife, or simply hit the Like button at the top of this post!

 

5 Reasons We Don’t Declutter & Why We Need To

Decluttering

Decluttering is a chore no one really wants to do.  However, if we want to have more organized homes and lives then decluttering has to be part of the equation.

Just as it is with exercising , we are pretty good at coming up with excuses reasons why we can’t declutter, or why we won’t get rid of the items we are no longer needing, using, or wanting.  I’ve heard tons of reasons why someone believes they need to hold onto something, but there seem to be a few that are constantly being offered as a reason to hold on.

Why we can’t let go

Here are the top 5 reasons we feel we need to keep something rather than letting it go:

The misbelief that you will need it/use it again someday. If you’ve been holding on to that pair of jeans that you are certain you will wear again after you drop a few pounds, then you fall under this category of reasoning.

Most of the stuff that you “think” you will need or use again can be decluttered because odds are you haven’t used it in several years, and the truth is you probably won’t.  Even if you were to use the item in the very near future, it probably wouldn’t fit, wouldn’t work properly, or wouldn’t be in style anyway!

Emotional or sentimental reasons.If you are holding on to an item because it holds a special memory for you, then perhaps you can find a different way to cherish the memory.  The macaroni artwork that your child made for you in preschool can be photographed or scanned and placed in an album, rather than taking up space and inviting rodents into your home.

Guilt. If you feel guilty discarding the hand sewn blanket your grandmother made for you, although you never really liked it and you certainly never use it, you need to understand that she gave that to you to bring you joy. If it isn’t bringing you joy, then you need to release the blanket and the guilt by giving it away.  You’ll find much more joy knowing someone else is getting use out of it.  And that would make grandma happy!

You paid a lot for the item and can’t bear to part with it because of the cost. It’s hard to part with items that you doled out a lot of money for, I know. But it’s probably costing you more to store and keep the item than it originally cost.  If you don’t want to give it away, perhaps you can recoup some of the cost by selling it to someone else.

The idea that you can pass it down to your children/grandchildren. If you are holding on to something with the intention of passing it on to the next generation, you are probably holding on to something they won’t want.  Storing and caring for items that may not be appreciated in the future is a waste of your efforts.  You might want to consider giving it to them now, or giving it to someone who can use it today.

While these aren’t the only reasons we don’t declutter, they are the most common.  If we could internalize our reasons and understand what holding on is doing to us, we might be more willing to let go.

Why we need to declutter

There are so many benefits that decluttering and letting go of our stuff can bring to our lives, including:

  • Less stress/Not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff
  • More energy not having to maintain and keep up with so much
  • Being able to see and enjoy the things we do have
  • Blessing someone else with the things we no longer need or want
  • Easier to organize less stuff
  • More time/more money
  • Peace of mindIt is hard to declutter and let go of the things we may hold near and dear to our hearts. Yet the benefits far outweigh any temporary satisfaction we may gain from material things.    We have to remember that our goal is to gain a life, not more stuff.  We can only begin to do that when we begin decluttering.

What keeps you from decluttering?

What benefits of decluttering motivate you to start letting go of your stuff?

 

180 Challenge

Looking for more decluttering help? Join the 180 Challenge, a decluttering challenge that offers you the focus and motivation you need to get rid of the things you no longer want! To sign up or to get more details about this life-changing challenge,  click here.