Category Archives: Storage

Accessories Storage Tray + An Inspirational Weight Loss Story

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I know I did.

Today, I’m going to talk more in depth about a quick decorating/organizing fix that I used in my master bedroom. (I hinted at it here and here.)

But first I wanted to share one more story with you that ties in with last week’s You Can Do It theme.

I don’t typically post about weight loss (other than to compare it to the self-control required to become neater), but I received an email from Kim from Snug Harbor Bay and wanted to share her son’s story with you. Kim’s son, Tony, struggled with obesity as a teenager and went through a remarkable transformation between his junior and senior years, losing 80 pounds and gaining a significant amount of muscle mass in the process. His outlook on life improved, he was happier, and he began living life to the fullest.

Here’s Tony, before and after:

Can you believe it? You can see from Kim’s huge grin that she’s incredibly proud of her son. His secret was working out an hour and a half each day after school, incorporating weight training and focusing on good nutrition.

According to Kim, “[a]t first his diet consisted of cutting out ALL junk food like candy, cookies, chips, coke and fast food. He mainly ate fruit for breakfast, small lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and dinner was pasta, steak, chicken or pork chops.” He conquered junk food cravings by eating an apple instead any time he wanted to snack. Apparently, he ate A LOT of apples.

His dedication paid off; by his senior prom he was a changed young man.

If you’d like to read more about Tony’s transformation, check out Kim’s blog post, “A Life Changing Experience.” Tony is now going to college and is focusing on a career in nutrition and fitness, with a specific emphasis on overweight children, although he wants to help adults as well. He is also blogging to inspire others to lose weight and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. To follow Tony’s ongoing tips as he maintains his physical fitness level and weight, go to his blog, Tony’s Nutrition and Fitness Tips.

Congratulations, Tony! What a wonderful story of perseverance and accomplishment.

And now … the quick fix I promised.

While I was taking photographs of our master bedroom for the Home Tour Tuesday I posted a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had quite a few bracelets, rings, and various accessories that were just sitting on my dresser, making it look messier. I didn’t know what to do with them. I wanted to find a way to make them easy to access and, at the same time, incorporate them into my decorating theme. I have a lot of white accents in our bedroom (they pop so well against the dark gray-blue walls), so I really wanted something white to jazz up that dresser. What could I do, without spending more money?

Then a light bulb went off. Aha! I could repurpose something I already owned!

I left my bedroom, went straight to the kitchen, and came back with a white ceramic serving tray from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We had gotten it as a wedding present two years ago and it has been used at several parties since then. I love its simple lines and it is great for serving cheese and crackers.

And also, apparently, for displaying jewelry and accessories! Who knew? I love how my sunglasses look so special sitting on that white tray, even though I bought them at Marshalls for only about $9 each. To add even more repurposed storage, I also grabbed a white ceramic ramekin to hold my loose rings. I then added a sweet little crocheted heart from Megan E Sass, just for a bit of charm and whimsy. (Why, yes, that adorable headband is from her, as well. It fits so neatly in that third divided compartment on the tray.)

Let me tell you, now that I have a special place for them, I like to keep them there when I’m not using them. I used to toss my glasses on any available horizontal surface, but now I put them back in “their spot.”

It is so good when objects have a home.

How about you? Do you have a repurposed item in your home that does double duty? What turned on the lightbulb in your mind? Do tell!

p.s. Guess what! While my friends were so kind to share their guest blog posts last week, I sneaked off to soak up some rays in the Caribbean! Now that I’m back home, I’ll be sharing some organized travel and packing tips (and vacation photos) soon. :)

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Filed under Balance, Budget Decor, Containers, Life, Organizing, Storage

You Can Do It: Conquer Paper Clutter

Today’s guest blogger is Daniel, an IT consultant extraordinaire and all-around geek, who blogs about business, life, and coffee (not necessarily in that order) over at his blog, BrameStorm. I have to admit: I think he’s pretty amazing. Granted, I’m a little biased, since he’s my husband. Daniel’s been a trooper during the process of getting our home organized and I’m very blessed (thank you, God!) that he a) doesn’t think I’m crazy, and b) actually wants to contribute to and maintain the organizational efforts that I’ve put in place. He’s paid particular interest in efforts to organize files and technology … In fact, when I mentioned I was asking blogging friends to contribute to a guest post series, he suggested that he could write a post describing how he’s ended his “paper pandemic.” Considering that so many entrants in my book giveaway last month said that their chief organizational challenge was paper, I accepted his offer gladly, and am excited to share his results with you!

{Image: Kate Ter Haar}

As a generally technical sort of fellow, I have a deep-seated hatred of paper.  It stacks, piles, gets ripped apart by the dog, and may yet still contain valuable information to be perused.  No matter how far technology advances, I just can’t totally get rid of the stuff.  Therefore, I decided that it was high time that I designed a filing system that worked.

In general terms, I have three filing locations:

  • A single “Inbox”
  • A filing cabinet
  • The trash can / shredder

When I come home, my first instinct is not to sort through my paper.  I want to dump it somewhere until I can deal with it.  That place is the inbox.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  I use a simple wire basket.  The idea is that when I intentionally sit down to file mail once every couple of days, I can process the pieces one at a time and decide precisely where it goes.  A lot of this has to do with whether or not it’s actionable or not.  If I can do something with it, it becomes a project in the filing cabinet or gets done on the spot.  If I can’t do something with it, it gets filed as reference or sent to the mighty trash gods.

I’m not going to reiterate a lot of this process because David Allen does a remarkable job of explaining this thought process in his book, Getting Things Done:  The Art of Stress Free Productivity.  Instead, I’m going to focus on reference filing, as that tends to be the sticking point for most individuals.

Warning:  Coming from the digital world, I’m used to acronyms.  I’m comfortable with them.  I love them and they love me.  It was inevitable that I made them part of my filing system.  While this may not totally work for you, it might give you a starting point.

Moving on…

I needed a way to establish some control over the types of information that came into my world.  Sure, alphabetizing files are a given, but what about the titles themselves?  I needed something reproducible that gave me a degree of granularity while maintaining scalability.  That’s a tall order…  I came up with something like this.

PER.INS.ATO

In human language, that’s Personal Auto Insurance.  After about fifty attempts, a useable pattern started to emerge.  Here are just a few of the tags that I used.

PER.TAX.2010 / Personal Tax Return from 2010

BIZ.LGL.LIC / Business Legal Licenses

BIZ.INS.ERR / Business Errors and Omissions Insurance

I could then file them alphabetically by section and subsection.  It was easy, extensible, and short.  There was still a challenge, though.   I needed details on what was in the file.  I already had a sharpie in hand at the time, so I did what any lazy programmer would do.  I started scrawling out lines that detailed the documents inside of the files in order of appearance.

Problem Solved!

Below, you can see a few examples of my filing system.  I hope this helps you in your own quest to kill the Evil Paper Monster of Doom ™

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Filed under Balance, Drawers, Office, Organizing, Paper, Sorting, Storage

Home Tour Tuesday: The Master Bedroom

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today’s tour is of one of my favorite rooms in the house. I love, love, love the paint color. Our bedroom has a high ceiling, gray-blue walls, and white accents. I’m working on adding artwork, prints, and pictures on the walls, but for now I’ve just been trying to get it organized. I think I’m almost there!

You can see in this picture that the left-hand bookshelf has a white box on it. I put it there so Daniel could have a place to hold all of the wires and electronic bits and pieces that accumulate on “his” bookshelf. It works pretty well! Someday soon I really need to get him a better nightstand solution, but for now the box and the bookshelf do their job.
For my part, my growing accessories collection has been haphazardly strewn across the top of my dresser for awhile, until I realized I could continue “shopping” in my home and reuse something for an organizational purpose. If you look on the left-hand corner of the dresser, you’ll see a white tray. Guess what? That tray is actually a serving tray from Bed, Bath, & Beyond that we got for our wedding. I’ve used it for parties, but usually it is stored above our refrigerator. Not now! Now it is the perfect place to store my bracelets and sunglasses. I’ve also put a white ramekin I rarely use on top of it, to hold loose rings that I don’t wear every day.
Here are few close-ups of the room. I spy my white owl!:
And finally, a couple of shots from inside the bookshelves. Yes, I know the gold-framed picture of us has showed up all around the house:
So that’s our master bedroom! In a couple of weeks I’ll delve into the master bathroom.
p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Bedroom, Budget Decor, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday, Organizing, Storage

Athletic Gear Storage in the Coat Closet

When I began cleaning and organizing our third bedroom/storage room, I ran into the problem of where to put all of our athletic gear. Since I keep my Creative Salvage stock in the closet of that bedroom, the gear couldn’t go there. Since I store boxes to ship my Creative Salvage items in our attic, the gear couldn’t go there. Since our garage can’t hold much more storage without becoming unusable for its main purpose (riding mower parking), the gear couldn’t go there. Since we are protecting our master bedroom closet to keep it for clothing and shoes and extra comforter storage only, the gear couldn’t go there.

So I put it in the only remaining closet I had available: our coat closet. At first I balked at this idea. After all, I liked being able to keep board games there, along with our coats. It seemed like a good idea, because it is close to our living room and therefore accessible at a moment’s notice. However, the athletic gear won out, and the few board games were designated to another storage area.

In the future, I plan to dress this closet up a bit and put matching organizers in it, including a storage shelf to go on the closet floor to add more storage and keep things off the floor itself. Until then, this is what I came up with:

… and ta-da! …

There was only one blooper I came across while in the middle of the process; our medicine ball wouldn’t fit, no matter how hard I tried to squeeze it in. *sigh* I’ll have to figure out where else to put it. Right now, it’s keeping Grandpa Mo (our ancient riding lawn mower) company.

(Hello, Grandpa Mo)

Where do you keep all your athletic gear? I’d love to hear other ideas!

Sorry I’ve been posting later than usual, lately. It’s been a crazy week! I hope you come back tomorrow, when I’m making an announcement about a new guest blog series that will begin soon!

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Filed under Cleaning, Closet, Containers, Organizing, Sorting, Storage

Making Storage From Nothing

There are day, months, and sometimes even years when a “tight budget” means not a cent to spare for any purpose other than food, shelter, gas, and bills. Storage containers cost quite a bit, even in small quantities. Not many budget-friendly (and attractive) solutions fall under the completely free category.

This one does.

I call it Use-What-You-Have-Organizing, a.k.a. Making Storage From Nothing.

I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing our third bedroom/my crafting and shop storage room. During the process, I came across a number of CDs (don’t judge. I’m old school that way. I like to keep the cases.) I needed CD storage to get them off the floor.

In the past, I stored them in a bottom cubby of our Expedit bookcase. Now, however, more of our books occupy that bookcase, so there is no longer room. I needed to find a place to keep the CDs all in one space. Then I realized I had some open-top elongated boxes that were just about the right height. I also had leftover kraft wrapping paper and paper doilies, plus a couple of rolls of washi tape from Japan.

That’s when the lightbulb went off, and my three boxes went from this:

to this:

here’s how I did it:

  1. I eyeballed cutting the size of the wrapping paper to fit across the front side of the boxes. I just placed it against the paper and cut around it, leaving enough length to wrap from the bottom up and around the box lip.
  2. I used packaging tape to tape it down in place.
  3. I cut the paper doilies in half, taped them to the inside of the top lip and folded and creased them over the top, then cut off the edges that overlapped.
  4. I taped the doily down with a small piece of washi tape on each side.
  5. I filled in each box with Tetris-like arrangements of my CDs.

I gotta say, for a set of storage containers that cost, as my wonderful friend Joy says, “free dollars,” they ain’t too shabby.

In fact, I rather like looking at them up on top of the bookcase.

Linked up at:

Toys in the Dryer | Five Days … 5 Ways | Sugar & Spice | A Bowl Full of Lemons | Tip Junkie

 

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Filed under Budget Decor, DIY, Media, Organizing, Storage

Coming Soon: Dresser Drawer Divider Hack

So, I went on a laundry rampage over the past few days. I have one load of delicates/handwashables/possible dry-cleanables left but I got it done. This battle has been won (although we all know the war is never over. Eek. I can understand the aristocratic appeal of having a laundress on staff. Any volunteers? I pay in free dinner and crafts.)

While I was at it, I found an item or two I thought I was missing (funny how things disappear into the depths of a dresser drawer) but have yet to find the one pair of pants I wanted to wear.  The hunt is on. Perhaps one of the  few boxes yet to be unpacked in the garage contain the elusive pants in question? Hmmm.

In the meantime, I managed to fit more items into my dresser by utilizing a couple of tricks I uncovered via Pinterest and Google. And the peasants rejoiced! (Fist pump. Yeah.)

First, because Daniel and I share a single dresser and space is at a premium,  I removed all the items from our dresser drawers that we didn’t use on a routine basis. This included out-of-season items like shorts, as well as little-worn belts or articles of clothing. This freed up a significant amount of space. I simply purchased an under-the-bed plastic tub from Target to store those items in for easy access without taking up space.

Then, I filed our folded t-shirts vertically, like cards in a card catalog or recipes in a recipe box (inspired by this drawer organization example via sydoniah as found at Apartment Therapy) instead of stacking them. Brilliant. We can now see them all at a glance and access them more quickly and neatly.

Finally, I stored like items with like in the range most needed. Undergarments and socks went in the upper drawers, as always, while our t-shirts went in the second tier and our workout clothing (shirts, pants, etc.) went in the bottom drawers. Everything else was hung up in our closet. A separate trip to Target procured the additional black plastic hangers we needed to complete the task.

I searched in many stores for drawer dividers to keep our his-and-hers t-shirt “files” neat, as well as other items. Nearly every option I found was $15 or more. Like this one, at Bed, Bath, and Beyond:

Not satisfied (and wanting something even more adjustable/customizable), I recalled having stumbled across a solution for a kitchen drawer divider when browsing the Internet that I thought I could modify for our bedroom dresser drawers, so on a hunch I went to Lowe’s and purchased a $9 large sheet of corrugated white sign plastic, such as is used to make Yard Sale signs. I had to hunt through my browser history to find the link, but when I did I pinned it for future reference. Sometime this week I’ll take a ruler and an X-Acto knife and cut the sheet down to size. I have to figure out how I’ll attach the segments to each other (I’m thinking of hacking the original idea so it is more like this cardboard drawer divider, with notches that interconnect), but I am fully confident that when I’m done I’ll have nice, neat drawers with drawer dividers.

As a final touch, I am either going to use some  wrapping paper, as pinned here, or fabric, as pinned here, to create my own geometric-design drawer liner, as the current liner is pretty dated (I believe from the 70s, to be precise.)

I’m pretty excited to see how it will all turn out. Stay tuned!

p.s. As part of my “organize how it makes sense to you” campaign to simplify my life instead of add unnecessary extra work, I recalled a laid-back approach to the sock drawer that I saw in a book once. Sadly, I can’t remember the book title or author’s name. However, it really liberated me to not feel guilty about hating to pair socks. Daniel does it for me usually because he is wonderful and he loves me and he knows how I despise taking time to pair socks, but with this new solution, he doesn’t have to sacrifice for me. Our sock drawer … is just that. A drawer full of socks. Period. They are all in a single drawer and we take as we can. After all, so many of our socks are just multiples of the exact same style and color. (White.) This may end up being ditched if it adds stress instead of efficiency (in which case, I’ll  let you know), but for now I’m kinda loving it, to quote McDonald’s. And to quote William Wallace: FREEEEEDOOOOOOMMMM!

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Filed under Drawers, Laundry, Organizing, Sorting, Storage

Necklace Display Case

I discovered this nifty necklace display case at either T.J.Maxx or Marshalls a few months ago, just after we had moved into our new home. For around $15, it was truly worth the ease of taking it home and displaying my collection of necklaces. I had been pinning DIY jewelry storage ideas on Pinterest, but I was relieved have a quick and simple solution so my necklaces would not be tangled in a drawer somewhere anymore!

The display case is painted a light ivory color, has a glass “window” door on hinges, and contains a linen background with ivory pegs for hanging necklaces. It even has hooks to hang it from the wall, which I intend to use at some point, but for now I’m letting it reside on my dresser.

You could probably DIY something very similar with a shadow box, spray paint, a plate of glass and wooden frame, hinges, and small wooden pegs. I was happy to find a ready-made solution, but think of the ways you could adapt something like this to your own style and desired dimensions!

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Filed under Collections, Organizing, Storage

Our New Dog Food Storage Bucket

Daniel and I were enjoying a night out, browsing shops, being goofy, and we ran into this beauty. For about $12, it was ours. I’ve been storing my dog food, bag and all, in a plastic trash bin, or just on my laundry room floor and have been wanting a better solution for some time.

There’s a couple problems with the bucket, but they are minor. First, I’ve been using a paper cup for a long time now and I like the one-scoop-and-go method; this scoop requires a few more than that. Second, I’m not sure where to put the it. The counter top is a little bit too far away from my dog’s dishes to be really convenient. I’m thinking I’m just going to make room for it in the laundry room where I’m used to the big bag being kept, and then get a bigger scoop.

I love it when I find attractive solutions to everyday storage problems!

p.s. I’ve announced the winner of the Organize Now! book and At-a-Glance Organizer on the giveaway post. I’m excited to be sending the books out soon!

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Filed under Storage

5 Steps to Get Organized in 2012: Before You Buy Organizers, Know What You Need

Today is the final day of this series! I hope that you have gleaned some nugget of truth along the way that will be useful to you in your home. We’ve already talked about Being Intentional With the Process, Making Specific Goals, Sorting the Major Areas You Use FIRST, and Not Getting Distracted by Details. Today we’re going to go a step further and discuss the importance of knowing what you need before buying those cool, snazzy organizers that are being promoted in every major home store these days (they aren’t dumb. They know how many people make home organization a resolution this time of year!)

I have to say, this particular post resonates with me because as that girl who liked to organize but hated to clean and sort to get the organized state, I went through cycles of binging on pretty, neat plastic tubs, bins, shelves, and anything else that caught my eye. I was operating under the mistaken delusion that more containers meant quicker organizing.

So here’s what would normally happen: I’d buy clear plastic shoeboxes with the newest hip shade of lid, a couple of big totes, and maybe some baskets for good measure. I’d bring them home, take them out and admire them, start putting stuff in them, and I’d eventually get stuck. My sorting method would leave too few or too many containers remaining. Or they wouldn’t fit under my bed or on the top shelf in my closet. Or they’d be cheap and fall apart within weeks. Or … something. But you get the picture.

Then there was the problem that I’d inevitably lose track of which tub or shoe box held the particular item I would look for months later, so I’d tear them all apart until I found it.

So, please, spare yourself that agony …

Step 5: Before you buy organizers, know what you need.

This might make you cringe, but live with your stuff for awhile before you make that next shopping trip to Target or The Container Store.

The beauty of organizing your home is that you don’t have to be confined to a particular method of cleaning, sorting, or decluttering if it doesn’t work for you. I like to keep my toothbrushes in my bathroom in an open mason jar. You might prefer a classier holder. I keep memorabilia in clear plastic bins, you might prefer baskets. I have the majority of my craft supplies in cubbies and fabric drawers in our garage, you might be horrified by that idea and choose a snazzy wardrobe (cast off from the big tv days) to house your crafts.

So, basically, if I was to give you a list of all the best things to buy to get your home organized, they wouldn’t necessarily work for you and you’d be stuck with even more “organizational” clutter than before.

My suggestion is simple; take a few days or even weeks or months to really get the feel for how you use your home. Not how you wish you used your home, but how you really, truly use it. Pay attention to where you put items out of habit when you are done using them. Notice where you wished you had a shelf, or a container. Gather all of like items with like (wooden spoons with the wooden spoons in the kitchen, printer paper with the printer, dirty colored clothing with other dirty colored clothing) and note how much room is needed to hold all the like items.

Once you have a good handle on this, take things a step further and break out your measuring tape. Measure the space available–height, width, depth–in the areas you need containers. Write the measurements down in a place you will be able to find them again (for me, this was a notebook I kept in my purse). Take the measurements with you to the store. You’ll be glad you did. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve broken this little rule and ended up making a second or third trip back to The Container Store to find something the actually fit. Shame on me!

Now, what kind of look do you want with the container you purchase? If it is for the wooden kitchen spoons, simply putting them in the same kitchen drawer by the stove might suffice and save you some money. But if your drawers are all full, or if you want them even more accessible, a pottery pitcher or a plastic lazy susan with upright dividers might be better. For your closet, matching baskets or sturdy fabric-covered boxes would add a certain polished look. In the office, a simple plastic drawer unit or lidded paper boxes would be appropriate for printer paper. Just make sure the item you buy matches your aesthetic, your space available, and your budget.

Speaking of budget, storage isn’t cheap. Even shopping at Wal-Mart, you’ll still run into sticker shock. I’ve had to deal with this by purchasing a few here and there and making do in the meantime. Sometimes making do for us means not having a drawer divider in a kitchen drawer for awhile, or swallowing pride and accepting to use an ugly boring plastic tub I have on hand, or even focusing on updating one area at a time to aesthetically pleasing storage and re-using the uglier storage from the updated locations in other, less visible locations. In fact, I have one plain brown collapsible fabric “drawer,” (first spotted in our old master bedroom closet, then in our laundry room storage area later) that has made its way around my house and is currently residing under the kitchen sink with all my cleaners.

So, before you go out and buy organizers and containers, make sure you know exactly what you need. Save up, take your time, and measure twice.

And that completes our 5 Steps to Get Organized in 2012 series! If you are just getting started reading and would like to learn more, links to the complete series are in order below. I hope you’ll also take a moment to subscribe to Behind Closed Drawers by email or RSS feed, both located at the top right-hand corner of the page. The one-year anniversary of this blog is coming up, and I have big things planned to celebrate!

5 Steps to Get Organized in 2012

  1. Be Intentional With the Process
  2. Make Specific Goals
  3. Sort the Major Areas You Use FIRST
  4. Don’t Get Distracted by Details
  5. Before You Buy Organizers, Know What You Need

Happy Organizing,

Andrea

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Filed under Budget, Organizing, Storage

The Things That Clutter

You know what I’m talking about. Those things that find their way to surfaces in your home and just don’t want to leave. Sometimes clutter happens to the best of us.

Really, clutter awareness is the best way to keep things under control, so your cleaning day is more of just tidying up and doing household chores than, say, digging through the piles to China … err … your bedroom floor.

Watch out for these culprits I’ve identified:

Packaging

You unwrap a present, open the cardboard surrounding your new tube of toothpaste, grab a piece of chewing gum, etc. What happens to the package? Does it immediately go in the trash or the recycle bin? EVERY time? Yeah, didn’t think so. I’m the worst at this. Seriously. The worst. I open things and leave their wrappers and packages behind as I go. Somehow I have yet to train myself to deal with wrappers and packaging on the spot. I’m working on this big time right now.

Junk mail

If it comes through that front door, you’d better have a plan for how to deal with it, pronto, or else it sits on the kitchen table. You have to excavate just to find that coupon you wanted from last week. For us, Daniel tends to confiscate the bills and important documents and I’m left to deal with the sad junk mail. So here’s what I’ve learned to do. I walk into the house with my new batch of junk mail and I DON’T PUT IT DOWN. I literally sort through it immediately and tear up all those credit card offers, toss the mailers (I mean, really, do you read them? I don’t), and filter the items I do want to read. Then I read them RIGHT NEXT TO THE TRASH CAN. And toss them. Junk mail is no longer the master of me! I’m even thinking of adding a surreptitious shredder next to our entry hallway landing strip. Convenience is your friend.

Clothing

Oh, this is my worst enemy. I can’t tell you how many times I have washed the same load of laundry multiple times simply because I couldn’t remember if that particular hamper on my bedroom floor was clean or dirty. I actually kinda like DOING the laundry now that I have my lovely little homemade detergent. But it’s not just the laundry; clothing also piles up in the living room, where we have apparently decided that the side chairs are perfect clothes horses. We toss our jackets there when we come home, and then they don’t leave until I get frustrated enough to put them in the coat closet. I read recently that the best way to deal with this is to just not lay things down “for now.” Just go ahead and store them where they belong. You know, like … the closet. One of these days I’ll get the hang of this.

Projects

Do you have them? Surely I’m not the only one. I’m scared I’ll lose track of where I’m at in the process so I leave it on the table. Or the coffee table. Or the couch. Or the end table. Or the floor. Or the dresser. These are craft projects, art projects, writing projects, research projects (books and books and books!), and work projects. Lately, this has been Etsy listing projects. I’ve got to have the items close by to write the listing and edit the photos for closest color accuracy, right? Um. Wrong. I should have an area set up specifically for this activity. It’s in the works as I type this.

THOSE HORRIBLE BITS AND PIECES OF UNIDENTIFIABLE THINGS YOU ARE SCARED YOU ACTUALLY NEED

Yes, this deserved all-caps. I am screaming this in my head! I’m sure you’ve had this conversation. “Honey, what is this?” (Waving random tiny piece of oddly shaped black plastic around. It is vaguely reminiscent of one of those furniture-in-a-box IKEA pegs. Or maybe it’s a connector for something electronic. Or maybe it’s …. heck, you have no clue what it is.) Honey doesn’t know, either, but suspects it goes to something. Like that old VCR in the garage. Maybe. So, random bit of who-knows-what gets either put in a pile of other random bits or thrown in a drawer or handed to Honey, who promptly forgets to do anything about it and so it stays put in his/her pocket. Which you discover on wash day. Oh, boy. Aren’t those little unidentifiable bits fun? To quote my junior high self: NOT. So, get your good self a simple Ziploc bag and start storing those bits and pieces in one spot. Choose a place to put said Ziploc bag. AND KEEP PUTTING BITS THERE. Eventually you’ll find the bit you need. Until then, at least you know where to put it.

Mementos & Photos

That ticket stub from the movie you went to on your first date. The letter from your mom that got you through a tough time at college. The really cute bow from the gift your best friend gave you. The tickets from your flight to Paris. The key to your first car. The fortune cookie fortune promising you will get the wish your heart most desires. This one is important: get a box. A nice sturdy, attractive box you will put on a shelf in a closet or your office, so you will use it.  If you find a memento in a drawer or some random nook or cranny, put that sucker in the memories box. One day, it would be even better to put frame the ticket or put the key in a shadow box. Make a scrapbook for the stubs from museums and shows. Tie the letters up with some baker’s twine and store them in the box, to read at a later date when you need some encouragement again.

Old Electronics

This is closely associated with those nasty bits and pieces, but with old electronic equipment that is outdated, you probably have the whole item. Things that qualify: your old cellphone, that printer from the late 90s that is gathering dust in your garage since you’ve replaced it … six times. (Better get rid of the others, too.) Old headphones and earbuds that you’re not sure if they work or not. Broken CD cases. Now, I’m not saying get rid of your CD collection (I guess I’m old school. I still buy CDS.) I’m also not saying throw out that record player or cassette tape deck, if you actually use them. Key word: USE. But items you replace on a regular basis need to be thrown out, recycled, given away, or taken to a collection point that can distribute them to people in need. For instance, you can donate cellphones here to help troops call home. Oh, and a special item of note? If you can’t find the charger anywhere, please just get rid of it. Please. I’m begging you. You’ve been eying that new smart phone or iPod, anyway.

Change

This is not the good kind. This is change of the coin variety that falls in your couch cushions, behind your dresser, in the laundry room, under the loveseat, on top of the bathroom counter top. For change I suggest two things: first, find an attractive little bowl to deposit loose change in when you find it in your pockets or around the home; second, invest in some paper coin rolls. You will be amazed how quickly the change adds up when you take it to the bank. Or, just treat yourself to a movie.

Which of these is causing problems at your house?

Image: Amy Burton

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