Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Climbing the Paper Mountain!

I hope you all had great holidays and that you’re ready for the challenge and excitement of the new year. Ours were relatively quiet, but nice. Now on to 2014!

The Christmas decorations are all put away, and the house now looks a bit dull – but uncluttered. That’s not saying the Christmas decorations were clutter, but without the colors and brightness of the trees and baubles there’s not a lot of “stuff” around. I have put all the regular décor items back out, but reorganized them a bit for a new view.

While enjoying my morning coffee today I stared at the newly-decorated shelves in the entertainment center and noticed that something looked a bit off. After a couple of minutes I realized that the candle on the top shelf and the plate just below it on the second shelf were the same color. I quickly rearranged the top shelf, placing the candle on the opposite side. Harmony was achieved! It looks much more pleasing to the eye. The same can be said for our homes. When things are where they belong and organized the entire atmosphere of the home is more pleasant. That brings me to this Tip Tuesday topic – organization.

There are articles everywhere this time of year with ideas for organizing everything. All the stores have sales on supplies for organization projects. Some items you might find helpful for your organizing efforts would be plastic tubs of different sizes with lids, zipper bags in all sizes, labels or masking tape, permanent markers, file folders, accordion files, etc. Get a shredder and be sure to use it to destroy anything with any personal information on it.

I didn’t keep up with the piles of paper last year as well as I should have, and last week I went through a big box of receipts, papers to be filed, and all sorts of statements. After shredding much of them there is just a small stack to be dealt with. I bought an accordion file and will use it during the week to store papers that are necessary to keep. At the end of the week they will be filed properly. At least that’s my plan for now!

And how long should we keep those papers? I find myself hesitant to pitch a lot of things because I think we might need them at some point; however, many of those things can be eliminated! Here’s a guideline for keeping many papers:

Birth certificates, marriage license, death certificates, insurance policies, social security cards/information, passports, military records, wills/trusts, living wills, power of attorney forms – keep indefinitely.

Deeds to house, loan documents, mortgages, vehicle titles - keep until home sold, vehicle sold or discarded.

Income tax returns and supporting documentation – keep 7 years.

Auto and home insurance policy statements – keep until renewed.

Credit card records – keep until paid (but keep for tax purposes)

Bank statements – keep 1 year (or keep for tax purposes)

For long-term storage of the documents you keep, you may want to make copies (either paper or on disc) and keep one at home while putting the other in a safe-deposit box.

Now might be a good time to do a home inventory. Go through your entire house with a video recorder, noting when items were purchased and from where, as well as prices and estimates of value. Listing the information on paper would be good as well. Make copies of both and keep the duplicates in the safe-deposit box. This can be a great help in case of any disaster at home.

When it comes to other areas of the home, such as the kitchen and closets, the best way to conquer the clutter is to make 3 piles – keep, donate and pitch. And, as I tell myself often - be brutal!

Closets:

If you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, it’s time to let it go.

One idea is to have a Swap Party with your friends. Have everyone bring the items (in good condition, of course) that they no longer want or wear. After trading, everyone will go home with something "new".

Kitchen:

If it is broken or doesn’t work, throw it out.

Store items for the same cooking process together. For instance, store baking ingredients in the same area, measuring cups and spoons together.

Keep dry food items in plastic tubs or glass jars and label them for easy identification.

Clear the counters of clutter. They will look neater - and you’ll have more work space!

Bathroom:

Clean out the medicine chest and any storage cabinets. Destroy old medications. One way to do this is to crush the pills and mix them with used coffee grounds. Throw out empty containers, removing any personal information on the labels.

General Organization:

Make a “home” for everything (I learned this term from working in a retail store several years ago) – and always put things in that home. Walk through the house once a day, picking up stray items and returning them to their places.

Make things you use most often easier to get to, and move things you don’t use often but want to keep to the back of the closet or cabinet.

If you have duplicates of any one item, consider getting rid of one. Ask yourself if you really need two.

Use your calendar and make lots of lists!

I hope you’ll join me in organizing things this year! My list is long, so I’d better get to work. Let me know how your efforts go!
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“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” (A. A. Milne)

“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” (Anonymous)

“Organize your life around your dreams – and watch them come true.” (Anonymous)
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

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