Box of Clothes

If you go to your local home or office supply store, you’ll find aisles and aisles of bins, shelves, binders, boxes, planners, containers, folders, and other, well, junk to get you organized. This is where most of us head when it comes time to re-evaluate our current system of organization. It’s usually after a frantic Monday morning where you can’t find that document you need before you get to work or when you discover you haven’t paid off the electric bill because it got lost under that pile of mail building up by the doorway, and you’ve vowed to yourself, never again!

But before you head to the store, look for other ways you can get organized by using what you already have at home. You’ll be saving money and also further condensing all that clutter that’s the problem in the first place.

 Re-use what you have! There are likely tons of bins, containers, and boxes around your home that can be used to get things in order — everything from shoe boxes and medicine bottles to baby food jars and old moving boxes.

In particular, I make a point of keeping any small boxes, such as those little white boxes that nice jewelry comes in, for any future organizational needs. I have a basket where I throw them all, so if I have an itch to start organizing, I already have an arsenal of tools at my disposal.

Donate and repair – or at least prepare to donate and repair when you have more time. Set aside a spot for donations and another spot for items needing repair. This way, once you recognize an item is not able to be used, you can quickly get it out of the way, and when you have time to deliver the items to the donation center or start fixing them, you’re ready to go. For items I plan to repair, I use an old trash can, and for those I plan to donate, I use large shopping bags so I can just grab them and go when the time comes. I store both in my closet where I can easily access them.

Go digital! Besides saving paper, there are a ton of benefits for switching to an electronic “To Do” list. If you use a smart phone, you have constant access to your list, so no matter where you are when you realize you need to pick up some milk, you’re able to pop on and add it. Since it’s in electronic form, it’s easy to refer back to old lists to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. And you can also share the list with everyone in your household, so everyone can add to the grocery list or share the responsibilities.

There are many programs out there specifically for this purpose, such as Remember the Milk, but I am a fan of using the spreadsheet program in Google Docs so I can create a format specifically for my needs. I also find it’s easy to refer back to old lists using the Revision History function and simple to keep my husband up-to-date using the Share function. In the end, you have one simple file to access instead of scattered notepads and Post-Its around the house. If you still want a place where you and others can jot things down, consider using a marker board. Then when it comes time to shop, you can simply add it to your electronic list.