I just got back home from a MOPS meeting and it was all about organization and the home office and it got me all warm and fuzzy-feeling inside.  I just get so excited about having things organized and "in their place."  It was good stuff.  Everyone had some great organization ideas, so I thought I'd share a few of them here:
papers, mail, bills, receipts, etc.  The "STACKS"


Suggested Solutions:
  • The 2-minute rule (If it can be taken care of in less than two minutes, do it immediately)
  • Have appropriate disposal bins handy where you read your mail (trash, recycle, shred)
  • Use a by-date separator to know when to pay certain bills
  • Have an "inbox" and go through it daily (or weekly)


Scheduling, calendars
Solution Suggestions:
  •  Family Calendar with room for each family member's activities for the week.
  • White board calendar in the kitchen
  • Sync up your PDAs, Outlook Calendars, etc.
  • Keep a perpetual birthday, anniversary calendar
To-do lists that are way too long
Solution Suggestions:
  • Keep a long-term (this month/year) and short-term (today/this week) to-do list
  • Categorize your to-dos.  A work-related to-do, a home related to-do, a kid-related to-do, etc.
  • Make a next-action list (Ben got this from the book Getting Things Done.  It has a fantastic system that we use occasionally...not religiously)
Toys everywhere!
Solution Suggestions:
  • Each kid gets a bin and they're allowed to put as many of whatever toys they want to have in the bin, but the lid MUST close.  All other toys are stored in bins in the basement/garage/etc.  Every month or so you give them the option to go "shopping" for a new round of toys.   (Alison gets total credit for this idea--which btw my MOPS group thought this was genious!)
  • Buckets with photo labels of the contents. 
  • Toy "check out" and "return" policy from shelves.  Can only have 3 items checked out at once before they need to be put away. (I don't actually know anyone who does this, but it might be an interesting experiment to see if kids are willing to go along with it...)
Kids' schoolwork and artwork 
Solution Suggestions:
  • Boxes, folders or bins divided by school year.  Label with child's name, year, teacher's name.
  • Portfolio divided by year
  • Hang recent creations from clips on a curtain rod to create your own kid's art gallery
  • Go back 2-3 years later when you aren't so emotionally attached to *every* art piece and quiz and purge, keeping the best and most special.
Funny story:  Tom (Ben's dad) asked me once to make him a top 10 list of how to stay organized.  Immediately I looked for some paper and a pen and came up with a list of 6 things and handed it to him.  He always jokes that #1) he was shocked that I did it instantly, and #2) that I only needed 6 "rules".  Proof of my tendency towards efficiency I guess.  I'll try to remember them here, but he may need to correct me if he still has the original list:
  1.  A place for everything and everything in its place.
  2. If it can be done quickly, do it immediately.
  3. Clean out your closets/desk/etc. every 6 months.  If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it, you probably don't need it.
  4. Put things away every night before you go to bed. 
Darn...i can only come up with 4 now....does that mean I'm getting more efficient and organized?  Or just tired and sloppy now that I've got a kid?
I'll leave you with a photo of my favorite room of our office. 

4 comments so far:

Papa Tom said:

Andrea Nokes Steed Top Ten Tips For Organization (2003)

1. Do it now.

2. Make a routine.

3. A place for everything and everything in its place.

4. Two times a year, clean everything out and get rid of anything you haven’t used in the last six months.

5. Make lists and check off with items are complete.

6. Whenever possible, don’t leave anything unfinished.

Note: I asked Andrea to go back home and e-mail me her top ten tips for organization. She said, “I’ll just do it now,” and went and sat down on the couch and started writing. When she gave the list, it only had six items. She said, “Why should I make it ten when I only need six.” The lessons on organization were already starting.

What a girl! Now if I can just take the advice.

acmickelson said:

Oh thank you so much - these are wonderful gems! I really needed some help with the kid's artwork and school projects - they are starting to take over the house (or at least the closet I have shoved them in to). I know you would have some beautiful way of displaying artwork in each kid's room, and I think I will try hanging them on a string on their walls once we move. I also think waiting a few months before discarding is a great idea - it's too hard to throw things away that they just made especially for you "because I love you Mommy!" Thank you for sharing!

An update on the one bin per kid idea: I wish I had started this years ago - it's working that well. Clean up takes two minutes now, they aren't overwhelmed at the task anymore, and they are so excited about the "new" toys in the garage. My only problem is what to do with the big toys since they take up almost all (or don't fit in) the bin (like one of those Playschool car ramps). Any suggestions about that? One big toy out at a time plus a bin? Or should I be really strict and make them choose between a bin and the big toy? Whew, sorry about this long comment, apparently I am as adoring of organizational gems as you are.

Prlinehan said:

Man you're organized! i'm glad you posted some of the "gems" from last night's meeting here since I missed the bulk of the conversation (darn crying baby!). Did you find a home for your door prize?

kworlton said:

We do that at our house! When we finished the basement, we planned for one large play area and a smaller room for my scraproom. In my scraproom, we added a wall of shelving. All the toys go on those shelves, organized in bins. The kids are not allowed to get out the toys themselves, and they can only have one or two bins out at a time. They do occasionally break the rules, getting into the toys, but for the most part, there are only one or two bins out at any given time. That makes it rather quick and easy to clean up the playroom for company. (Although it's also the schoolroom, so there is a substantial amount of paper, pencils, crayons, etc. to clean up as well.)

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