Tuesday, June 10, 2014

40 Our Favorite Daily Organizing Solutions

Over the past four and a half years of blogging, we have had our share of project successes and downfalls.  And although I love sharing the little things that keep us excited and motivated and bring a smile to our faces each day, what we all really love are those projects that are truly life changing.  The ones that make our lives easier and streamlined on a daily basis.

I am a believer that there needs to be a mixture of fun and crafty projects and super practical sanity saving projects.  I always try to integrate the two of course, but as we all know, some of the things I do around here are just as much for aesthetics as they are for function.  A storage box would function just the same if it were regular ol' cardboard as it would if it were painted and embellished.  So although I have a slew of favorite "pretty projects", today I am going to talk about the ones that truly make our lives easier each and every day.  The ones that we celebrate and love and that I would recommend to anyone in a heartbeat, no glue gun required.




An Organized Kitchen

I am starting off in the kitchen because it is really where we spend a crazy amount of time.  Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner are prepared here and it is also where everyone naturally gathers.  A few of our favorite organizational systems reside in the kitchen area, and the first tip I have is be smart about kitchen storage accessibility.


A few years ago I went on a kitchen overhaul and removed everything from our cabinets and started with a blank slate.  I thought about how we use our kitchen each day and where it made the most sense for things to be stored.  I also really questioned how we were using our existing storage solutions.  We placed everything back where it would be quick and easy to access in frequent scenarios.  Silverware near the dishwasher, pots and pans near the stove, utensils near the stove, leftover storage containers near the fridge, less used items up high, etc... We had been previously stacking all of our pots and pans in a deep cabinet, and moving them to a lazy susan near the stove was earth shattering for us.  Sometimes it is the little things that make the biggest impact in our days, and keeping things as easy to access during busy meal times and clean ups is a huge plus.

{see our entire kitchen cabinet tour here}


Fridge Bins

Speaking of little things, a couple of dollars spent on a few basics bins has rocked my fridge storage world.  I LOVE these things!


I am convinced we are better about eating our entire grocery shopping supply because we have an organized fridge.  And these tall, narrow, clear bins are amazing.  They pull out like drawers and allow you to combine like items.  Lunches?  Check, pull out the bin with the lunch meat, sliced cheese and dressings.  Obsessed doesn't begin to describe my feelings and how easy they make meal time prep and how space saving they are.  Oh, and of course we use them in the freezer as well!


{see more of our fridge/freezer here and here}


Meal Planning

This process has continued to get easier and evolve over the years, but the concept stays the same.  I know I have touched on it quite a bit in the past, and everyone and their mom in blogland has as well, but that is because it works!


By taking time each week to plan our our meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we prevent ourselves from going out to eat, we have stocked groceries, we plan our meals based on our current grocery inventory, we waste less food, we spend less money, we watch for savings and plan around ingredients on sale.  We even try new recipes, which is my favorite part.  Although it may seem time consuming in the moment, just think of how much time is spent gazing into a cabinet wondering what to prepare for dinner.  And think about those busy nights with after school sports, certainly a huge family dinner won't happen, but with some prior planning you can be stocked with supplies to make quick grilled chicken wraps.  The art of slowing down and coming together as a family for dinner doesn't have to be lost just yet.

{more about our meal planning process here}


Calendar Management

I am a paper planner girl, but I know many of you love the digital calendars and planners as well.  The type of calendar isn't the key, it is how you use it!


In all honesty, I have time management issues.  I can easily get overwhelmed when I look at my work to do list as well as my home to do list compared to our busy schedules with school events and activities and even squeezing in social activities from time to time.  If I don't have a plan, nothing gets done and the lists just grow and grow, right along with the sinking feeling in my stomach.  I haven't mastered the problem by any means, however, I would be lost without my planner and my Sunday afternoon planning session.  Each Sunday I sit down and look at my week at a glance {I do this while meal planning so that our meals follow our schedules}.  I write in days I am going to blog, I write in time to work on projects with my husband, I write in time to check emails and which days I am going to allocate to working on my Etsy shop or contributing work outside of my daily blog duties, I write in birthday parties and sleepovers and volunteer time.  I determine who is taking which boy to which sport and how we can divide and conquer tasks throughout the week.  I don't always stick to the schedule, but having some sort of guidance going into the week vs. trying to tackle it blindly is HUGE for me.

{more about my daily planner here}


Paper Management

I can't stand filing but I also can't stand paper piles and clutter.  So a good compromise for us has been to hang mail bins in our kitchen.


By keeping these wall pockets in a central location, each family member has a one stop spot for current paperwork, bills, catalogs, correspondence and information.  When we bring in the mail or empty back-packs, everything is either recycled or quickly sorted down to these bins.  And everyone knows right where to look when for their specific documents, and I love that everyone can easily access them without help.  The key is to take time once or twice a month to empty the bins and file away anything that is worth saving.

{read more about our filing system here}


Budget Binder

As well as managing a calendar, we also have to be organized about managing a budget.


We set up a binder awhile back, and we really consider it to be our budget bible.  Everything lives in the binder throughout the year, from current statements, planned expenses and a checklist of bills paid each month.  It also allows my husband and I to stay on the same page, and is a great reminder of which bills are paid at which time of the month {as well as a check box to be sure each bill has been paid}.  We also use this to manage our checkbook register and our cash budget, and so far both of us continue to give this little book a thumbs up.

{read more about our budget binder here}


School Cubbies

Our home didn't come with a dedicated entryway or coat closet, so we were required to get creative with the space we have.  Our entryway solution was a combination of some coat hooks for guests, a shoe cabinet for all of our footwear and a credenza cabinet for our boy's school/personal belongings.


Each boy received a cabinet, and it is equipped with a shelf for their school study boxes and a place to charge their electronic devices, as well as a spot to tuck away their boots/winter gear, backpacks and lunch boxes.  It is amazing how much can fit into one of these little cabinets, and I love that there is no visual clutter all over the floor or taking up valuable space on the small wall behind the door.


After a few days of consistent use, the process of putting things away was a simple addition to their after school routine because the cabinets are right at their level.

{read more about our school cubbies here}


Playroom Benches/Baskets

Speaking of right at their level, that is my next time saving tip.  When we organized our boy's playroom, the majority of our storage solutions were down at floor level.


Our playroom doesn't always look like this, in fact, most often there are train tracks and Lego cities sprawling from one end of the room to the other.  However, when it is time to pick up, our boys have no trouble {other than distractions}, putting their belongings away.  Having everything easily labeled with picture labels and color identification as well as keeping the storage low and easy for them to quickly access, has really changed how we organize for our kids in many other situations as well.  The easier it is for them, the more likely they are to be helpful.


{read more about our playroom here}


Laundry Helpers

Laundry is a curse word around here from time to time.  Anyone who knows us also knows we have been known to have an out of control laundry system, with no ability to even open our laundry room door.  It was EMBARRASSING!   I finally decided to spend an entire weekend dedicated to catching up on laundry, and put a system into place immediately.


Now, we sort less {only delicates, linens and whites} and toss most of our clothing directly into the washing machine each day.  Once the washer is full, we run it.  The kids agree that putting away a few pieces from one load is far better than putting away a few weeks worth at a time.  Heck, I agree as well!  And to help them with their process, I put their items directly onto hangers straight out of the washer, and sort their pieces into individual bins.  The bins get placed in their room and they are responsible for putting away the contents.  Win win!


{read more about our laundry sorting process here}


Clean Happy!

OK, I know that seems like an oxymoron, but there are ways to make the process much easier.


For me, my biggest cleaning wins are:
  • Creating a portable cleaning caddy.  By having caddy that I can tote around my home, I can cut my cleaning time in half.  I keep it stocked with my favorite rags, scrubbers and homemade cleaning products.
  • Storing daily cleaners under each sink.  Again, quick access is the key to success.  By keeping cleaners under the sink in the rooms that need daily disinfecting {bathrooms and kitchen}, I can clean up right after using the space.  By not having to leave each area to go find cleaners, these key spaces are much more likely to cleaned frequently.
  • Focusing on four cleaning tasks per day and doing the rest on the weekend.  I love a clean house, but there is no way I am going to scrub it top to bottom in between working and heading off to the next baseball game.  To keep our home presentable during the week, we keep our focus on four main things: cleaning the kitchen after each meal, wiping down the bathrooms each evening, picking up any piles before they turn into monsters and doing/putting away any laundry.  The rest can wait.
  • Using less products.  Vinegar cleans just about everything and simplifying our cleaners has been a convenient and money saving option that we have learned to love.
{read more about our cleaning process here}


Now I would love to hear from you!  What organizing systems and solutions have you put in place that are your daily sanity savers?  Any other time and money saving tips to share?

40 comments:

  1. These are all great suggestions! Once a week, I go through one room in the house to throw some items into a box for donations. At first it was hard to let go of stuff, but after a while it was so freeing to do. It also helps me stay on top of the annoying clutterbugs that tend to appear from time to time. :)

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    1. Really great tip! We recently added a large empty bin to our storage room for donations and I find myself looking for things to toss in there frequently. It is a good idea to have something that promotes frequent decluttering, and I agree, it is always a great feeling to shed of the excess. :)

      xoxo!

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  2. Greetings from Minnesota! Just wanted to drop a line to say that I really enjoyed this post. As a soon-to-be-new-parent, I'm always grateful for examples of how a working family keeps it together.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your favourites. Loved reading this and love your whole blog! :)

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  4. Can you please make an app for iHeart Organizing? Since the world is slowly evolving around apps. Cheers :)

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    1. I would love an app! Although, I believe it is quite the process to get one built, it is something definitely on my radar! :)

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  5. What a great overview Jen! I love this. I like that you touched on time management and scheduling out your week on Sunday, I need to start doing that, that could really help my weeks to go smoother. Thanks! :)

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  6. I LOVE the idea of putting your clothes directly into the washer. That's something my 2.5 yo could do. Awesome idea!
    ~ Megan

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  7. Your post was great! I use a budget but had never thought of creating a binder. I like the idea and I’m going to try it. I crush on your blog and it’s one of the reasons I decided to create a blog of my own. Thanks for the great posts and the never ending inspiration!!

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  8. My tip is more of a monthly tip, but I love to use an Area of the Month approach when it comes to big cleaning. This saves us daily because I am not constantly feeling overwhelmed by bigger projects.

    In a nut shell, I divide up the rooms of our house and each month I tackle one or two areas (for example, March was all the bathrooms and January was the basement and utility room). I not only deep clean each room during that month, but I evaluate our storage situations, take out containers and clean them, purge and/or restock where necessary, and make lists of smaller improvements I would like to make.

    So, I might decide I would like better storage in the drawers of the kids' bathroom. I make a note of it and then when I am struck by inspiration (like on your blog!), then I tackle the project. It works for us because I don't really worry about overhauling my spaces until their given month and I have a list of what needs to be done that I can refer to and can tackle the project when I have the time/desire to do so. That makes my daily life much easier!

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    1. Such a great idea to create an area to focus on each month! I love that it allows you to stay on top of your home without feeling overwhelmed.

      xo!

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  9. I adore your laundry helpers...currently they are done anywhere in the house :)

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  10. LOVE this post!! Its all of my favorite (and often referenced) posts of yours in one place!!! :) Oh, and there is research to support your preference for using the old pen and paper to make lists, keep track of dates, etc. It has been shown that we retain info better when we physically write it down, pen to paper, than if we use technology. There is even a difference between printing and cursive and our ability to learn/remember (cursive is better!) So it makes sense that quite a few people still cling to the "old ways" haha!! Its also important that we keep teaching cursive and handwriting in schools as well!! (sorry, off-topic. lol)

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    1. I knew there must be some sort of brilliant reasoning behind my pen and paper method ;) I really agree that writing things down does help me remember things, and I love that physical crossing off/checking things off feeling as well! However, I am excited to continue to explore ways to utilize technology for organization.

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  11. My favorites are (actually all of them) the fridge and meal planning, I know what's like to have an organized fridge and not to worry where you put it and spend 10 min looking for an item...haha .. Jen your An inspiration , i spend yesterday the whole day feeling depressed and overwhelmed and NOTHING worked to cheer me up. I came on your blog and by instant my mood changed into a happy lady and a lot of inspiration of things I wanted to do around my home.

    So thank you Jen !
    Xo
    Yasmina

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    1. It fills me with happiness to know that this is a place of joy for you. That has always been my goal around here, so thank you for stopping by. Smile away Yasmina! ♥

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  12. I religiously do the easiest 'tip' ever...keep things picked up and put in the right area/drawer/room. In the morning, I brush my teeth and roam the upstairs gathering (one handed! :) ), and while making coffee, the downstairs gets picked up. It really was an eye opener to see how little time it took, and at least there is an appearance of organization! Now DEEP cleaning....I'm still working on that....Great ideas you have here....I need to do a few of these too! Rosie

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    1. Couldn't agree more Rosie! We do daily pick-ups and I always stress to my family that if we would just return things where they belonged instantly, we wouldn't have to touch things twice. Although, I am even guilty of it because sometimes we just get busy and things fall where they fall. :)

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  13. Such a great post, Jen! I've read a lot of these tips on your blog in the past, but it's so great to think about how all of these things work together to make your life easier! It's still a work in progress at our house - but we are getting there slowly ;)

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  14. I love your organization posts. Unfortunately here in Germany we do not have all these amazing things effortable that you use but I guess it's just a matter of time. Keep on doing this - you inspiring me to keep my very small flat as clean and organized as possible :)

    Greetings from sunny Berlin, Germany
    Tina
    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=de&sl=de&tl=en&u=http://viableheart.blogspot.de

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  15. Jen, awesome post! Where did you get the fridge bins? Thanks!!

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    1. Thanks Corbie! I purchased the bins from The Container Store: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/office/paperFileStorage/portable?productId=10022942

      xo!

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  16. Great post with amazing ideas!!! I love organizing stuff!!! What I implemented in the evening is walking around the apartment and collect everything that is not in the correct place and put it in a basket. Afterwards, I am taking every item to its place. Also, we have a board right next to the door with things we need to take somewhere. This way, we do not forget to take them! :-)

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    1. We do a similar basket method as well. Works great!

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  17. Great ideas, pictures and tips! I am pretty organized but slack once in awhile especially this past winter. I had the winter blahs here in Eastern Wisconsin. I am rejuvenated thanks to you!

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  18. I love your mad organization skills, Jennifer! I need to get my hands on a few of those fridge bins!! Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks!

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  19. So glad i found your blog! I have been browsing Pinterest for organizing tips and your pictures were eye catching!

    I run a fashion blog but these tips make my whole apartment prettier! Going to check out your printables as well :)

    XO Emmy

    Boys & Bombshells

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  20. This is such a great post! I hope that I'm this organized when I have my own place!

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  21. Amazing suggestions! Some of these areas I really need to work on, especially the laundry room!

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  22. Hi Jen! Love your blog and posts! :) Do you keep a separate hamper for towels? I have a small hamper at the end of the hallway to keep our clothes in before I take them to be washed but we also put dirty towels in there. Not a big fan of it! I generlaly like to keep the clothes and towels separate. Any suggestions? I do laundry once or twice a week since it there is only two of us. Thank you!!! :)

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  23. I saw the bottle of Sutter Home Moscato in your fridge and knew it was finally time to write to you. That's my favorite wine. It's nice and sweet. :-) Anyway, I love your blog and look forward to reading your newest posts.

    My sanity saver is my three-drawer bin for storing receipts. I added some pretty scrapbook paper to the front, and labeled the drawers: receipts, health care, and box tops for school. Now the receipts have a temporary home, instead of on the kitchen counter or in my purse. It's also super simple to toss the box tops in the bottom drawer until it's time to turn them in. Hope this helps.

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  24. Hi thankyou for this wonderful tips. Loving and putting into action your suggestions. I especially like involving the kids to take responsibility with their stuffs such as toys and laundry. You are right, laundry days are the most dreaded part of the chores, but if you do it daily, it releases the stress and free you up with the thought of facing a weeklong kaundry. :-) Thank you so much.

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  25. Random question: I saw that your fruit is in mason jars....how long does it stay fresh? With being washed and all that, do you think it stays fresher longer in the jars as opposed to their original plastic containers? Thanks.

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    1. Hello,

      I typically wash the fruit on Sundays and when I grab the last jar on Friday morning, the fruit still tastes fresh. It may be the air-tight mason jars help preserve it, as typically washed fruit doesn't keep as well. It definitely makes it easier to snack quickly and healthy.

      xo!

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  26. Your Living Room layout is so similar to ours, except that the staircase when you walk in the front door leads upstairs for us and yours goes downstairs. I had a similar concept of creating an "entry way" where there isn't really one, with a coat rack and shoe bench to the left of the front door, next to the curtain for the bay window. It's worked out really well for us and we get lots of compliments on it, because I guess it makes it look more like a dedicated entry way than it is :)
    http://practicaldecor.blogspot.com

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  27. I loved your cleaning challenge earlier this spring and have started doing a lot of those items monthly now. I am no longer embarrassed for others to open my freezer or oven door, and cleaning the oven without the self-cleaning cycle is SOOO much better! I need to look into your entry way solutions now. We do not have a mud room either, which would be great. With two boys, and a third on the way, we certainly need a solutions for all the shoes that end up by the door and the backpacks about to start this fall. Thanks for all the great tips!

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  28. Are you coming out with 2015 Planner Printables on your etsy account soon? I'm dying for it! Your last planner was absolutely amazing.

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    1. Thank you so much! They are typically released mid-summer; I am aiming for July. :) So happy to hear you are excited!

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  29. Hi Jen!
    Ok absolutely in love with all the organizational items in this post. Where can I get the white tin caddy and the white clear looking medicine bottle that is off to the right in that same picture? Also, how do you put the labels on all these things?

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