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Archive for Home Organization

Recently I substituted for our kindergarten and first grade classes.  I love spending the day with these great little kids – they are so much fun.  When I get my sub plans I am always in awe of how much they accomplish in a day – they keep me hopping!  I am also amazed at how organized the teachers and their classrooms are. The kids know the daily routine and they don’t miss a beat.  So how do they do it?  What are the tricks of the trade?  Let’s take a look.
When I walk into the room the first thing I notice is that the room is divided into Zones: the Carpet Spot Zone, the Calendar Zone, the Reading Zone, the Arts & Crafts Zone, the Activity Center Zones, and more.   
The second thing I notice is that each zone is self-contained.  It is its own separate space and is designated for only one type of activity.  Children can completely focus on the task at hand without other distractions competing for his/her attention.
Third, all items needed for each activity are conveniently stored at their point of use.  For example, the art table has paper, scissors, markers, glue, and stamps.  Everything they need is within hands reach.
Fourth, everything in the classroom has a well defined and labeled home.  There is no question at clean-up time where items go. Lockers and cubbies are labeled with each child’s name, so there is never a question for anyone (including subs) as to where the papers, coats, and lunch pails go.
Lastly, time and task management is a breeze because there are visual cues all over the room to remind everyone of the day’s events (the planner).  Each morning begins by reading the schedule for the day (the to-do list).  They know if they will have a special guest or a field trip so they are not surprised by a change in routine.  The calendar displays the day, the date and even the weather forecast.  My favorite is the Velcro board with laminated photographs of each activity for the day.  They are placed in order of when they will take place.  This is great for very visual people like me.
This brilliant organizing model can be applied to any room in your home, or your office.  If you want your space to function for you, ask yourself these questions.
  • What do I want to do in this space?  Figure out your zones. If it is your kitchen, you need a cooking zone, dishwashing zone, food storage and prep zones, etc.
  •  What do I need to get rid of or add to clearly define my zones?  If you want your bedroom to be a relaxing retreat you need to get rid of the kid’s toys and maybe add a comfy reading chair. 
  •  What supplies, tools, items do I need to make the best use of my time and not be distracted from my tasks?  If you have a baking zone in your kitchen, you want your bowls, mixers, measuring cups, and baking pans all in one spot.  It wastes time to run around grabbing things from five different places. 
  •  How will I store all of my supplies for easy access and clean-up?  Everything needs a logical home.  Label marker bins, have stack-able trays for your paper.  If things have order, clean-up is a breeze.
  •  What visual cues do I need to help keep my space and family organized?  Labels are a great solution for shelves and cupboards.  They will help everyone know where to return bins when they are finished with them.  Try adding a family clean-up schedule in the kitchen.  Keep a family calendar in a common area. Visual reminders are always helpful.

Now give it a try!  If you get stuck email with questions at daniele@otttogetorganized.com 

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How to Get Your Photos Organized

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121_f260How many photos do you have in random boxes, envelopes, or stuck in your computer?  Hundreds, or maybe even thousands?  Organizing your photos can be overwhelming, so here are some tips to get your photos in order so you can enjoy them. 

Gather all of your photos into one large bin.  If possible work in a space you can leave undisturbed while you “sort” – a place you can leave and come back to often.  Place post-it notes in a time-line across your table or floor space.  Depending on how many years worth of photos you have you should decide whether you want your time-line to be specific or more general.  For example, you may choose to label the post-it notes by year and season (Spring/2000, Summer/2000…).  Or you may choose to be more specific (January/2000, February/2000…).  If you are completely overwhelmed, you may even choose to do your photographs by decade (1980’s, 1990’s, etc.).

Begin by “dealing” your photos in front of the appropriate post-it note.  Remember if you are working with decades, “close enough” will be better than no chronological order at all.  Use hair styles, clothing, ages of your children, and the interior or exterior of homes to give clues as to dates of photographs.  This is the time to throw away blurry, near duplicates or just really unflattering pictures.  There is no law against throwing away photos – you can do it – be brave!!!  Even if you will be creating photo albums for more than one person, or specific event albums, continue to make single piles in front of the post-it notes.  It’s easier to go back through and choose specific photos for separate albums after they are all in chronological order.

The hard work is over.  Congratulations – you did it!!  Now it is time for the fun part.  Whether you are planning on putting your photographs in albums or storage boxes, here are some more tips to keep you organized.

Storage Boxes:  There are a variety of boxes that will work.  I love clear plastic shoe boxes, but if they are not pvc and acid free they could damage your photos.  Creative Memories makes a Power Sort Box with individualized compartments that are perfect for sorting by event or chronological order and are 100% safe for long term storage.   This is what I use and they are great!  Contact me at daniele@otttogetorganized.com and I can tell you how you can purchase one.  Another option is the photo storage box sold at craft stores.  They are sold with dividers so you can index your pictures and they hold a lot of photos (see the image above).

Scrapbooks:  Chances are you have a lot of memorabilia that you want to include in your albums along with your photos.  Here is a cool storage solution that will work for larger items and keep things super organized, so when you are ready to work on your albums everything will be at your fingertips.

Materials Needed:

  • One covered file box designed for hanging files
  • 12 to 24 hanging files
  • Colored file folders

You already have everything in chronological order so this step will be easy.  Take your post-its (month/year) from the original sort and place one on each hanging folder.  Place the pictures into the hanging file for that time frame.

  1. Place one colored file for each album you will be doing in each hanging file.  For example – I might have blue for my family album, red for Christmas, green for one child, yellow for another, and so on.  So each hanging file has a blue, red, green, and yellow file in it. 
  2. Now go back and divide your photos into the colored folder for the specific album.  Add any memorabilia that you will include in the album.  For example – if you are doing a baby book, you may want to add birth certificate and baby shower cards.  For a school album, maybe report cards and some small pieces of art work.

Whatever method you choose, the most important thing is to commit time to getting your precious memories organized, so you and your loved ones can enjoy them!!

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Cool Uses for Binder Clips

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Binder clips are so handy!Today we were having a family birthday party for my daughter Hayley, who is now 18.  I mention this because she told me I had to give her credit for the following idea.  As she was walking downstairs I noticed she had a deck of cards in her hand and they were held neatly together with a binder clip.  When I saw this, I thought to myself, I need to write a mini post about cool uses for binder clips.  

Over the last couple years I have discovered some really clever uses for these mighty little clips.  Here are a handful of the ones we use in our home:

  1. Chip and Cereal Bag Clips.  Roll up the bag and clip tightly to keep your food fresh.
  2. Toothpaste Tube Squeezers.  I stick them on the end of the tubes and roll them from the bottom as we use the toothpaste.  It keeps them from getting squeezed in the middle and making a big mess.
  3. Hang binder clip from cup hook.School Paper Holders.  When your kids bring home their newsletters, permission slips and party invites, clip them together (one clip per child) and hang them from a small cup hook. You can screw cup hooks into bulletin boards, walls, or under cabinets.  This will keep everything together in one neat bundle and you will no longer lose important papers.
  4. Bookmarks.  Mini binder clips make perfect bookmarks and they won’t slip out of your book.
  5. Flagging Important Files.  For instance, if you are working on your taxes and you need to locate that file quickly, attach a brightly colored binder clip for easy visibility.  It will also keep your papers together so nothing important falls out.
  6. cord organizers Emergency Button.  If you ever pop a button or need to tighten some one’s waist band, binder clips are great in a pinch.
  7. Cord Organizers.  Use them to bundle cords behind your computer, or string cords through the loops to keep them in place. To do this, remove one of the metal clips, slide the cord in, and replace. 
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