Posts Tagged ‘organize’

When it comes to locating an important family document, do you dig furiously through a disaster of haphazard files to get to it?  Do you wish you had an easier way to file your home’s documents without reinventing the wheel?  There is no way to tell you exactly how to create and organize files for your home, since your filing system will be unique to your family.  But there is a guide from Home Storage Solutions 101 to help you get started.Some typical home file categories to consider making files for include:

  • Medical file for each family member
  • Home maintenance file, with receipts of major expenditures
  • Real estate documents
  • Insurance policies (create a file for each one, and label each year’s policy separately, to know what years you were covered with what policies)
  • Automobile documents (separate file for each car)
  • Credit card documents (this is different than the file for credit card bills, and should contain the agreement, privacy policies, etc. that you get in the mail) (one file for each card)
  • Banking records (one file for each account at each bank)
  • Loan documents (one file for each loan)
  • Investment records (one file for each investment, 401(k), IRA, etc.
  • Vital documents (such as birth and marriage certificates, will, etc.)*
  • Personal home inventory (another copy should be kept outside the house too)
  • Tax documents (instructions for organizing these found in the personal home organizer and receipt organization challenge
  • Monthly bills and receipts (instructions for organizing these found in theorganize bills challenge
  • Warranties and manuals (more information on organizing warranties and manuals here)

* Vital documents may also be stored in a safe deposit box at a bank, instead, if you wish. Seriously consider this if you don’t, at least, have a fire resistant file cabinet or storage system for these papers.

Once you’ve created your file folders, go ahead and organize files for each of the categories, adding things as you go. Over the next couple of weeks sit down with a shredder and go through your papers, putting them into the correct files or shredding them if you no longer need them.  Don’t go too overboard trying to create the perfect system– avoid fancy printable labels you have to replicate every time you create a new file.  Just make friends with your Sharpie and that will be easier in the long run.

It will take a while, but a little at a time while listening to the radio or watching a movie on your computer will get the job done and then you’ll just have to deal with papers as they come in, not huge stacks ever again!



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January is New Year’s Resolution time!  January also happens to be National Get Organized Month, which makes 2013 the perfect time to make your organized home a reality!  You might also need a little extra room for those new Christmas items.  JCL has a few favorite reminders to achieve your goals without getting overwhelmed and quitting early.  One room at a time.  You might be super excited about clearing your entire house of clutter in one whirlwind day, but its likely you will end up overwhelmed!  Finish one room before starting on the next.  This will ensure you complete each project and also give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue on.Act like you’re moving.  As you sift through your belongings to decide what to keep, pretend you’re moving out of your house!  Ask yourself if you would bother keeping three sets of cheese knives or eight sets of black dress pants.  Sell or donate the excess!

Identify your “Prime Real Estate”.  Whatever room you’re dealing with (closet, garage, office, etc.) determine your “prime real estate,” ie. the drawer closest to the sink, or the most accessible area in your closet.  Be vigilant about what you allow in those areas of the room in order to organize successfully and strategically.  For example, your evening gowns most likely do not belong in “prime real estate”–move them to the “burbs”!

Keep it simple.  If walking through the Container Store feels like you’ve reached your own personal Mecca, we understand!  But be wary of fancy label sets and excessive storage solutions.  If you need something so elaborate as to remodel one side of your bedroom to fit a fancy wall of shelving units, it is likely you need to pare down the excess, not store it all.  Not only will you save money on shelves, but you can sell the extra and have some cash left over!

Stick to these guidelines and watch your resolution come to fruition!  Happy Organizing!

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January is National Get Organized Month!  By this time, you’re probably buried in the post-holiday carnage wondering what to tackle first. First things first–storing your decorations safely and labeling them clearly for next year.  Here are a few helpful tips to get you started.First off, you need an organized system for storing your Christmas lights.  Martha Stewart suggests wrapping the lights around pieces of cardboard for easy storage without the tangle.

Store the cardboard in clear, labeled bins.
Also, keep the old cardboard tubes that gift-wrap comes wound around to store large, loose sheets of paper.  You can save some money and store the extra without it getting shoved into a bin somewhere and forgotten.For ornament storage use egg cartons for the smaller items and plastic cups stored in clear bins.
When storing the rest of your Christmas decorations, you should always use clear bins so you can see what is inside.  That goes for all your storage bins.Lastly, you need to make room for all your new holiday goodies.  If you didn’t do a pre-holiday clutter clean of your child’s old toys, go through their room and see what can be donated or sold to consignment.  Don’t forget to go through your own room and closet to clear out extra clothing and clutter.  You may even make a few bucks selling through a consignment store.

For some extra pointers on how to make organizing your 2013 goal, check out our New Year’s Organizing Tips blog.

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At JCL, we love September for many reasons…cooler temps, change of seasons (hello boots!) and of course, all those great school supplies!  We love the smell of Sharpies and crayons. Is there anything more beautiful than a perfectly sharpened No. 2 pencil?  Nirvana. We realize, however, that not everyone gets as excited about notebooks and rulers as we do, but relax. “Back to School” doesn’t have to mean “Back to Clutter.” Check out the following ideas from some of our favorite organizing guru moms and fellow bloggers for some creative solutions to  your homework headaches. We got goose bumps just looking at them!We just loved this Children’s Homework Message Center.  What’s more, this crafty momma has these templates available for purchase!Take a look at this Organize Your Morning hanging shelf.  No more scrambling in the morning to help your child get dressed and out the door.

For a space saver, try this over the door school supplies organizer.  No more scattered pencils and glue sticks in this home…

For the small areas of the home needing a little order, use a shower caddy organizer.  Brilliant!

Stuck with a stack full of school work from your children?  Organize them by grade with a hanging folder system like this.

Have a creative back-to-school organizing solution? Share your answers–it’s the only time you won’t get in trouble for sharing answers in class.

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We couldn’t wait to share these creative travel tips with you that we snagged off of Pinterest.    Save some money and feed your creative side…win win!
Have you noticed that “DIY” is the way to go?  Check out this crafty idea here by sewing a few pillow cases together.  It packs well, and you can stuff the pillow cases with pillows at your destination for an inpromptu lounging mat for the kiddos.

And what about those little do-dads you save along the way: train ticket stubs, a wine label from Paris, or that napkin from the hole-in-the-wall bistro you discovered?

Display them all in a frame like this before they get misplaced or tossed in the trash.  It is not always the pictures on your smartphone that bring back the most memories–it’s the extras along the way!
And how about this interactive travel pin-up map?
This corkboard is a cute and fun way to track your travels stateside and show them off to the world!
Happy Travels!

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Tax season is upon us…yikes!  As you dutifully dig up old receipts and gather your tax documents, do you find yourself wishing you had a better system—better than crumpled receipts at the bottom of your brief case or floor board?  There’s always room for improvement.

If one of the reasons you are burrowing receipts at the bottom of your purse is because you don’t have a proper work space due to space constraints, how about a stylish/functional desk that allows you to tuck your work away when the work day ends? If that’s the case, try the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”approach.  There’s nothing like a smart storage solutions to perk up your productivity.

Your desk will always be waiting when you need it!

Take heed, however, out of sight, out of mind may work for your class assignment, but it won’t work for the tax man.  Even if you’re running at full steam, take time at the end of each day to empty your receipts and/or log your mileage (if applicable).  Keep a storage bin or basket near your work area, and get into the habit of ending your day by clearing your wallet and/or purse of necessary tax paperwork.  At the end of the week or month, categorize and file away.  The key is to stay on top of it.  Mole hills will quickly become mountains if you don’t have a system—any system—that keeps you from dealing with a year’s supply of paperwork in one day.

If you’re still not feeling it, incorporate some color!  There are so many fun, colorful office products out now—clearly some women got into the industry—use liberally.  You’ll be surprise how much more fun sorting receipts can be with a bright, color-coded system.  So much better!  Bring on the tax man!

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Have you heard the “I’m bored!” routine one too many times these days from the kids?  Staying busy indoors can transform those dreary days into fun (and hopefully productive) ones to stave off cabin fever.  Try some indoor creativity with the little ones to make the most of the last days of winter!

Write a book and make it come to life!  If you’ve spent any time with children, they always have a story to tell.  Your local bookstore often sells the bound, blank books ready for your child to write and illustrate their original story.  If your kid has an itch for the theatrical (most kids do), they may retell their original work through acting out a play or a puppet show.  With a pre-bound book, you can store it safely on your shelf and cut down on the clutter. And—it will be easily retrievable so little hands can grab to show off to grandma!

Rearrange your child’s room…and make it fun!  If you have a small child, there may have been one or two incidents where toy clutter has threatened the health and well-being of those in your family (matchbox car catastrophe, anyone??).  Finding smart storage solutions for your child’s room may help temper the continued battle for cleanliness, and in the end, save an emergency room trip!

The first rule of toy storage is: don’t have everything out at once.  Use a large plastic storage bin as a “toy library”, rotating out groups of toys, one group at a time.  Not only does this solution create more room for play, it helps your child get the most out of each group of toys, and renewing their interest in old toys after having been out of sight.  Incorporating furniture into this strategy, such as a storage ottoman, can also be a stylish way to cut down on toy clutter.  Keep in mind as you are storing those extras to use shoeboxes for toys with smaller parts.  Providing a smaller toy with a home prevents tiny parts scattered throughout the room.  Make a rule where only one shoebox can be out at a time, and you cut down on excessive toy clutter in your kid’s room.   Second, get on their levelliterally!  Get down on your hands and knees to let your child guide you on a trip around the room.  Ask him/her what they love the  most about their room, favorite toys and activities.  Put the most used items within reach, and let your child help rearrange some small furniture.  Not only does it help him/her feel valued and included, but moving furniture helps get the pent-up energy out on those frosty days!

Transform chores!  Making an everyday chore into a game can be fun for kids and a lifesaver for you.  By setting a timer and providing prizes, you can motivate your kids to kick their task into high gear.  For after dinner clean-up, crank up the iPod while you work, and reward the most efficient “tidier” with a small prize or extra privileges.  You can also make a mundane job such as dusting into a scavenger hunt.  Hide stickers, pennies and other treats under tabletop items to be discovered by your diligent duster.  Many families find that “Chore Charts” and gold stars are helpful in tracking their child’s initiative and rewarding them on a weekly basis.

Dance!  Without the luxury of unleashing your little one into the yard to run laps, how else can he/she shake out that extra energy before bed?  A wonderful solution is instituting evening “Dance Time”.  After the dinner cleanup is complete and the homework done, clear a space in the family room to get your groove on!  Each family member can take turns picking the song selection every night, and it’s an entertaining end to the day for everyone!  Who knows—maybe it turns into an exercise regimen for the whole family.

The cold can’t stop you from making memories this winter!  Savor these remaining chilly days at home with the family…you’ll be glad you did!  And of course, if you’re living in the DC metro area, you may go from hibernating to rollerblading in your shorts and tee within hours.

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