For some people, it’s the act of moving from one home to another that gets them organized. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s no time like the present to tackle these top 10 organizational hot spots. Once you’ve set up a system, ongoing organization is a breeze.
1. Embrace digital.
In the last 20 years, photo technology has evolved from negatives to JPEGs to virtual storage. It’s time to bring your image collection into the digital age and take important steps to preserve your memories. Find detailed how-to instructions here.
And once your digital library is set up, it’s easy to add to and maintain going forward.
2. Curate your kids’ art.
Remember, not everything is worth saving. Enjoy the art when it comes home (either on a bulletin board or similar), then decide to keep or toss. Get a large art portfolio for each child and tuck it away, or frame and display your favorite pieces more permanently.
3. Prep your pantry.
Expiration dates exist for a reason. Empty out your cupboards and pantry at least once a year and sort by expired or undesired items. Think about what you really eat and donate what you don’t (same goes for any kitchen gadgets or appliances). And remember, even condiments eventually go bad.
4. Transform your closet.
It never fails that I continue to keep the same shirts year after year, even if they never got worn. With every new season, take an hour or two to reorganize your closet and purge what you really don’t wear (if that means pulling everything out of drawers and off the shelves, do it). Rethink how you purchase clothing, and opt for timeless style and quality. Remember, whatever you don’t wear, chances are someone else will. Here’s where to sell, donate or recycle everything you choose to get rid of.
4. Toss old linens.
Some towels and sheets are worth keeping, others belong in the rag pile. Start the fall season and ditch your worn, stained or just plain non-absorbent towels and sheets and treat your family to simple luxury.
6. Gain control of your garage.
Ever walk by a neighbor’s house and gape at their overflowing garage? Chances are, you’re not far behind. Put aside a few hours and pull everything out of your garage. Sort through the old sports equipment and bikes, and put together a box of stuff to sell at Play It Again Sports or a similar retailer (it’s worth the trip if you’ve got enough items). Invest in some sturdy shelving or storage units and only put back what your family really uses. Give everyone their own bin or shelf, and revisit it at the conclusion of every sports season.
7. Tame the toys.
Here’s the perfect spot to teach your kids the value of donating. Twice a year, ask your kids to pick 4 to 5 toys, stuffed animals, even video games, that they think another child would enjoy and invite them to donate it all to a worthy cause. They get involved in the purging and learn a good lesson in the process.
8. Corral your collection.
Why waste precious storage space on stacks of DVDs and CDs? Recycle the plastic cases and invest in a CD storage binder (music snobs can even tuck the song book behind the CD).
9. Manage the medical records.
Start by designating a file for every member of your family, and separate files for general health insurance information and flexible spending. At the start of each calendar year, sort through last year’s explanation of benefits, receipts and any other medical documents. Save anything that’s related to general health and medical history, as well as developmental milestones.
10. File your tax returns.
Talk with your accountant before tossing anything that relates to your taxes. Set up a secure, permanent file system for each year’s tax forms and returns.