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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

11 Organizing Tips to Become A Queen of Organization

Saturday, June 4, 2016

How much time does it take you to find your car keys, glasses, last week's mail receipt, last month's paid electric bill, or last year's income tax documents needed for itemizing your yearly tax return? Five minutes? An hour? Some things, never? 

If you need a little help getting organized, you are at the right place. Just this past month a colleague referred to me as the Queen of Organization, and I'm going to share with you some tips to help you become organizing royalty, too. It is not complicated and doesn't require an elaborate filing system. 




The secret to being organized is something your mother probably told you more than once in your life, and it is true. 


A place for everything and everything in its place.


Moms are always right, you know. Having a place for everything means knowing where to look for things. An organized life does not mean everything has to go into a file folder, labeled with a cute color-coded label, but there should be a designated spot for everything. 

Different kinds of things go into different kinds of places.

Otherwise, your house begins to look like you should be on the TV show for hoarders. Wait, some of those hoarders have elaborate organizing systems. Well, we're not going to discuss elaborate filing systems.  


Begin with organizing to find the daily essentials... your keys, your glasses, your jewelry...

Some of my jewelry is in a safety-deposit box. That is, I have O N E piece of jewelry that needs to be in the safety-deposit box. What we are going to talk about are the everyday pieces that are your favorites that you wear all the time. 


Designate a catch-all place near your bathroom sink for your everyday jewelry, keys, and glasses.  

My place is a small square plate inside the top drawer of my bathroom vanity. Each night when I call it finished for the day, and begin to get ready for bed, I place my watch, earrings, necklace, and/or bracelet on this little plate, and close the drawer. 

Then the next morning, they are easy to find and to put back on. Right after putting on my clothes. 

Cat owners know you N E V E R leave pretty, shiny objects out in the open for them to become cat toys. Small objects must be enclosed somewhere. 

My keys are kept in my purse, and my glasses are placed on the chest next to the bed so I can put them on first thing each morning. Or in the middle of the night if needed to stumble around looking for something. 

For men, they may want to put their car keys in the designated spot near their bathroom sinks, also. 


My car and house keys always stay in my purse in a designated spot, even when I am in the house. I have extra house keys, not my car/house keys, that I use in the house to lock and unlock doors. 


The most difficult thing about putting things in their places is not identifying a place, but remembering to put everything in their places every time. In the beginning, you have to remind yourself where you decided to put things and to remind yourself, put things in their places

N O W.  

After about two weeks, the routine should be established enough that you will begin to automatically put things in their places.

Until then, T R A I N yourself....
Stop.
Go to the designated place.
Place the item there. 


What about receipts, bills, warranties, etc...? All of these could have their own post. In this post, you will see a general system for one of these kinds of things. 


I know I promised you no elaborate filing systems with color-coded labels. Breathe. This is a simple system. 

For a small business I run (a V E R Y small business), I keep my records in a file box of their own. Most of my records are electronic records, but for shipped items I need a paper copy of what was shipped, postage paid, and insurance receipts. 

I do not have file folders for everything. Instead, I just place the last record received into the front of the box. If I need a specific record, it doesn't take long to look at all of them to find the one I need. 

This method takes far less of my time in life than a system where each record goes into a specific file folder. The time it takes to make the file folders, label the file folders, find the correct file folder to place the record, etc... is longer than the time it takes to place the newest record in the front of the stack and thumb through a few when one is needed. 



Keeping track of receipts and insurance for mailed packages is easy, easy, but effective. Just staple the postage and insurance receipts to the record of sale. 

Done! 

I can always find which insurance receipt goes with which sale. 

What about unusual records? As executor of my late mother's estate, I have to keep track of all the records to finalize the distribution of her estate. Since she lived in Alabama, and I live in Texas, keeping track of everything could get tricky, but here is a system that has worked for me. 



I keep all records in a large carry-on size bag. This is where all records stay that I need to conduct Mother's affairs as her executor. I have a copy of the will, the letter from the court appointing me the legal executor, death certificates, information needed to access the bank accounts, and a large spiral notebook that is a record of what has been done.  



One of the most helpful things is the spiral notebook that contains all my notes about who I talked with, about what, and on which date. I list everything that needs action as well. Then when that item is completed, I place a check mark beside it. 

Those black smeary marks are not lost information; I obscured some of the writing in the photo to keep things confidential.

Since everything is in a carry-on bag, I don't have to look for anything when I travel to Alabama to take care of business for Mother's estate. Plus, being a carry-on, all records are in my possession at all times while traveling... no records are in checked baggage. 

That cute little red, white, and blue ribbon is part of P A C K I N G  T I P S, a post in the works. 


I R S --- Just the sound of those three letters causes stress in many people. Knowing where your records are reduces that stress level immensely. 


No elaborate file box with color-coded labels here either. Just one deep drawer that holds letter-size documents. As each record that is needed to file income taxes comes in the mail, the document is placed on top of the stack of documents already in the drawer. 


Underneath the loose stack of this year's records are file folders with previous years' records neatly organized with a copy of the IRS 1040 as the first page. Each spring, I pick up the stack of loose records and receipts to take to my CPA who does the taxes. No stress looking for records. 


Here's a summary of these organizing tips for finding things.
  1. A place for everything and everything in its place.
  2. Different kinds of things go in different kinds of places.
  3. Remind yourself where to put things when you designate a new place for something.
  4. Do it N O W. Do not lay something down to store in its correct place later.
  5. Keep everyday jewelry, keys, glasses near your vanity and bed.
  6. Use a separate house key in the house to lock doors. Keep your set of keys in your purse.
  7. Staple receipts to items' information pages. Great for warranties. 
  8. File records in their own box, but not in individual file folders.
  9. Keep traveling records in a carry-on.
  10. Use a spiral notebook to list everything that needs doing - with dates, names, numbers.
  11. Store records for IRS in a large drawer with the latest received record on top. 

You are on your way to being C R O W N E D queen of organization.


What tips can you add for keeping organized without using elaborate, time-consuming systems? 
Please join me at these inspiring places for more joy of living. 

SUNDAY
Dishing It and Digging It @ Rustic and Refined

MONDAY

TUESDAY

11 comments:

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Votre Majesté! teeheee

I believe in organization. I am totally concrete-sequential, and I feel I work best in an organized area. At home, I play best when I know where my materials are kept, my ideas as well. I MUST ASK YOU...where, oh where did you get that awesome cutlery keychain????

Bon dimanche Judith! Anita

Marilyn said...

Great tips, Judith. I use the spiral method of keeping track of important information, both at home and at work, but would like to suggest that in addition to names, dates and numbers be sure to add what was discussed and the time of the day the call took place.

I had the experience of calling back to a business concerning an on-going problem. I referenced a previous conversation with "Jane Doe" on a specific date. I was told that I was all wrong because Jane was on vacation that day. My reply was that I had spoken with her at 10:10 am
that morning. There was a pause and then an apology. Jane had taken the afternoon off not the whole day.

The whole tone of the conversation changed because they knew that I had been taking notes and staying on top of things.

Marilyn (in Dallas)

Sarah said...

Great suggestions, Judith. I try to keep things organized so I'll know where to find what I need. The problem is placing my phone or keys down accidentally when distracted. ;-)

Pondside said...

You had me at the title of this post, Judith! I especially like the idea of the little tray in the bathroom drawer and might try it.

Katie Mansfield said...

I have hidden so many things from myself over the years. This is a great post to learn how to train yourself not to do that. Fabulous ideas.

Lori -thestonybrookhouse said...

I am not super organized, but I am a firm believer in a place for everything and everything in its place! Thanks for sharing these tips at Dishing It & Digging It!

Carole West said...

These are great tips and I love those hidden tips. I made myself a little dodad box where I keep my keys, wallet, sunglasses and phone. Was a huge help because I use to always misplace them in the house.

Carole @ Garden Up Green

Christine Graves said...

Great tips!! I need to print this out for hubby.

and tape it to his forehead. LOL

handmade by amalia said...

Great tips! And I must say - that is the prettiest key ring.
Amalia
xo

dreamson34thstreet.com said...

Hi Judith! Love your simple alternative to using file folders for the IRS! . . . and . . . like the rest of the crowd . . . that lovely key fob!
w/L

cindy@bornhouseliving said...

I am soooooo trying to do this with my life...It's quite the daunting task I will admit. THE KEY FOB!!!! You just gave me an idea of what I will be making soon:D I have one of Audrey's spoons, and that's exactly what I'm going to do with it! Thank you, Ms. Judith:D