Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year and Happy Organizing!

I think one of the main reasons there is an urge to get organized at the start of the year, is the desire to do more and to do it better. In order to do anything better and to accomplish more, we have to figure out how we may be wasting time and we need to determine how to use our time more effectively.

Time is a commodity that everyone wants more of, but it seems to allude us. We live in an age where advances in technology make us available 24/7 and the expectations of people are that we should be responsive almost immediately. We pride ourselves in being supreme multi-taskers and some how doing it all and most times doing it well. Over time this takes a toll and most people start borrowing time from leisure or sleep and inevitably come up short.

The best kept secret to achieve more time in our day is to get organized – first at home and then at work. Do you know that on average most people waste an hour a day looking for items, thinking about what to do next and combating mind clutter? The hour a day adds up to two weeks a year in wasted time and who has that to give up! I suggest getting organized at home first, because home should be our oasis and our place where we re-charge and enjoy life.

Sometimes it is difficult to know where to start, but I recommend to start in the kitchen since it is the most used room in the home. Two common organizing principals to keep in mind as you organize any space are: 1) everything has its place and 2) put like things together. If you use these as your guide it will help you tremendously sort through your rooms.

The kitchen is the hub of the home and since it is a room where you will spend a lot of time it needs to function well. Many times, even if there is a home office, there tends to be a lot of paper and associated accessories that find their way in a kitchen. If you have a desk in your kitchen, you are set. But if you don’t rearrange your cabinets to free up one by the phone to place some baskets to hold mail, school work, and action items. If you have children and they do their homework in the kitchen, make sure you have a place to hold their homework supplies. Keep the family calendar in the kitchen and think about having a family meeting on Sundays to plan out your week.

Some other kitchen organizing tips are:

1. The start of a New Year is a good time to organize your pantry. In order to plan meals you need to know what you have and what you need. Throw out expired food, organize your food by categories or types and then label your pantry shelves so when you are rushed, your food items will be easier to put away. I use baskets in my pantry and I organize my food by meals/type (Italian, Mexican, Bread/crackers, Snacks, Nuts/dried fruit).

2. Empty out your cooking utensil drawers. This is where we all have a huge backlog of excess utensils, some of which have probably never been used. Put all of the utensils that you don’t know what they are or haven’t used them in a container to give away. Make sure you have drawer separators in your drawer to divide like types of utensils.

3. Zone your kitchen for how you use it – food prep, baking, cooking, washing dishes, coffee/breakfast, etc. As much as you can, put the supplies for these respective tasks in or near the areas you have designated.

4. Downsize your Tupperware drawer to keep only those containers that have lids. Really think about cutting your supply in half because that is probably all you need.

5. Make sure whatever is taking prime real estate on the counter deserves it.

6. Hide your trash and recycling and if it has to be out in the room, shop for an attractive matching set. Crate and Barrel has small recycling options that are attractive.

7. Make sure you need all of the pots and pans that you may have inherited from family or as gifts. How many frying pans do we need? Really think about what you use and need and then donate the rest.

The most important tip I could give to have a warm, inviting kitchen is to spend 10 minutes at the end of the day picking up the clutter, doing the dishes, wiping down the counters and processing any paper that has come into your home. Now, your most used room in your home is ready for another busy day.

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