How to Organize Your Family

How to Organize Your Family

Family life can be hectic whether you have one child or ten. Even though staying organised can be difficult, with a little analysis and commitment, you can improve your organisational situation.

Part 1 Organizing your Family’s Things

1. Sort and clean up. Then sort and purge again. There are very few organised hoarders in the world for a reason: organised people know what they have, so they don’t buy duplicate items and don’t let items go to waste.

Remember that “stuff” does not organise itself. Don’t go out and buy 70 storage bins the next day. An organised person understands how to use their belongings to improve their organisation.

Set up criteria to help you get rid of items you don’t use on a regular basis. For example, you could make it a rule that if you haven’t used something in at least 6 months, it has to go. Use criteria and timeframes that are appropriate for your daily life.

First, categorise, then say good-by. Then make a purchase.

2. Physical media should be reduced. Media is a major source of clutter and takes up a lot of room. Reduce the size of your books, CDs, DVDs, and (for God’s sake) VHS tapes.

There is almost no reason to have physical reference books these days. Nonfiction and fiction books are a different storey, but unless the subject is extremely obscure, there is little reason to keep a physical book. The internet has rendered dictionaries, encyclopaedias, non-historical atlases, almanacks, gazetteers, and desk references obsolete. Say your goodbyes.

It may be difficult, but your CDs (and, to a lesser extent, DVDs) will soon follow in the footsteps of the World Book Encyclopedia. There is almost no music on CD that is not now available in digital format. Vinyl records may be a different storey, as much vinyl is out of print, but see if you can get rid of the CD player and CDs.

If you have VHS or other tape media home movies, many photo centres can convert them to digital format for a fee. If you still have a VHS player, you can convert the media yourself by purchasing a converter online.

3. Clean up the kitchen. The kitchen has so many utensils, appliances, and accessories that they become a major source of clutter. Because families spend so much time in the kitchen, a well-organized kitchen can set the tone for the rest of the house.

Nail some peg boards to the wall to hang pots, spoons, ladles, whisks, and other kitchen items. It gets them off your counter, cabinets, and drawers!

Purchase a few chalkboard labels for your kitchen cabinets. That way, you can keep similar items together while still having the flexibility to change what goes where as new needs arise.

Purchase glass tupperware-style containers. For whatever reason, people can keep up with the lids on these containers far better than they can with the cheap plastic variety. It will clear out the orphan tupperware that has accumulated in your cabinets.

Store baby bottles and sippy cups in their own container—kids use so many that you’ll go insane trying to keep every lid with every bottle.

4. Organize your cleaning supplies. Don’t overlook the tools of the trade if you’re going to make an honest effort to stay organised and tidy. Install a tension rod in the cabinet under your kitchen sink to keep spray bottles above the bottom level, allowing your cabinets to remain uncluttered. Keep a full set of bathroom cleaning supplies in each bathroom to ensure that you always have what you need when cleaning.

In a jar, keep new scrubbers, steel wool, and scouring pads. That way, they aren’t just hanging out in random places around the cabinets.

5. Make use of drawer dividers. Every disorganised home has disorganised drawers that are overflowing with random objects. Purchase drawer dividers. Drawer dividers not only help you find what you’re looking for, but they also save space.

Drawer dividers are great because they can be used in almost any room of your home.

6. Take it one step at a time to reorganise your bathroom. The number of bathroom products that people accumulate can be quite surprising. That is why it is critical to examine each of the spaces individually to determine where you can make improvements.

Personal grooming items, not medications, should be kept in the medicine cabinet. Grooming items are being used more frequently, and they are crowding the bathroom countertop.

Purchase or construct over-the-toilet shelving. Backup soap, toilet paper, razor blades, washcloths, and towels can be stored here if they aren’t used on every trip.

Shampoos and conditioners can quickly accumulate in the shower. Rotate it to a cabinet, closet, or trashcan if you don’t use it at least once a week.

7. Make the living room more streamlined. Stacks of magazines, newspapers, and coffee table books on flat surfaces are the most common source of clutter in most people’s living rooms. Make use of the storage space beneath the coffee table. Wooden boxes, metal crates, and plastic bins are all acceptable options. Choose something that complements your furniture and décor. Consider purchasing furniture with built-in storage, such as chairs or ottomans.

Rather than allowing everything to pile up on the flat surfaces, get a few vertical files or magazine racks and strategically place them around the couches and chairs.

Put all of the mail in one location and have separate containers for each person in the house. Some people will have an office where they can keep their mail, while many will use their living room. Whatever the case may be, there will be no more stacks of junk mail piling up everywhere. Try to follow the “Only Handle It Once” rule (OHIO).

8. Take on the playrooms and bedrooms of your children. Toys and games are a major source of clutter and mess for every parent, so making sure they have a place is critical to keeping your home organised.

Toys with a lot of separate parts should be kept out of your children’s reach so they don’t get strewn around the house.

Toys that are broken, missing parts, too young for your children, or came from a cereal box or fast food chain should be discarded.

Take note of how your child’s classroom is organised and try to imitate it. A typical classroom will hold 20-40 students, so they must be well-organized. Because your child is accustomed to this system, use the habits he or she already has to make your life easier. Look for details such as where toys are stored (usually low down), where coats are hung, and where personal belongings are kept.

Part 2 Organizing your Family’s Time

1. Configure an inbox and an outbox. Disorganization leads to forgetfulness, which leads to time waste. Set up an inbox and an outbox to help you remember what you need to do.

When a piece of mail arrives for someone or a task arises that they must complete, place it in their inbox. Immediately.

The same is true for the outbox. When something comes up that they will need to handle away from home, such as submitting an assignment or running an errand, put it in the outbox right away.

2. Make a master list and keep it in the kitchen. Everyone needs to eat, so everyone heads to the kitchen. As a result, keep the master to-do list in the kitchen, where everyone can see it.

The master list is best suited to routine tasks such as cleaning and yardwork. Putting a note in the outbox to mow the grass or every time a floor needs to be swept will cause you to micromanage too much.

3. Make use of a calendar app. Using technology to keep your family organised outside the home is a great way to save money, and calendar apps offer the best bang for your buck.

Cozi is a well-known app that was created with parents in mind. It lets you make a shared calendar, sync everyone’s schedules, make to-do lists, grocery lists, and meal plans. It is compatible with Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and PC. There are free and paid versions available, with the paid version costing $19.99 per year.

Another free option is Google Calendar. Although Google Calendar does not offer as many features as Cozi, it does allow you to sync schedules across platforms, create multiple calendars, and set alerts.

4. Maintain financial records. Being late on bills, overspending, and being caught off guard by unexpected costs can all lead to chaos, disorganizing all aspects of your life. Although you can try to log every purchase and deposit in a written ledger, it may be beneficial to use technology to help you keep track of your finances as well.

Mint is a free app that assists you in keeping track of your finances and spending. You can keep track of what you spend and where you spend it, as well as unusual account activity, and Mint will send you an email if it notices anything out of the ordinary. You can easily create budgets for various spending categories, which Mint will visually represent in the form of bar graphs and pie charts. It is compatible with Android, iPad, and iPhone. The best part is that creating an account only takes ten minutes.

5. Keep a running grocery list. Returning to the grocery store several times during the week wastes time and money. So keep a running grocery list to keep track of what you require.

The most straightforward method is to use a dry erase board on the refrigerator. You write down what you need on the board and then erase it once you’ve purchased it.

There are, however, more sophisticated approaches. Another excellent free tool is Grocery IQ. Grocery IQ allows you to create ongoing lists, but it also has a plethora of other features. The coupon alert is a fantastic feature. You scan or enter items that you frequently purchase, and Grocery IQ sends you an alert right to your phone when a sale or a coupon is available.

Part 3 Keeping your Life Organized

1. Maintain a nightly check-in. Making sure everyone is on the same page is a great way to stay efficient. Go over the status of the items on your shared calendar as well as the in and out boxes each night. This not only increases efficiency, but it also gives the family time to talk about their days.

Consider this exercise to be more of a time to listen to your family’s experiences and think privately (or with your partner) about what is working and what isn’t working.

2. Allow for changes and adaptations in your systems. After you’ve implemented a new organisational system, examine your family’s routines. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Consider times when you know things will change, such as when the seasons change, when school begins, when you plan vacations, and so on. Consider whether your family is working with or against the system. Typical inquiries include:

Because the coat closet is on the other side of the room from the door, do coats end up on a chair?

Are you all eating at the same time and in the same place? Is that why you’re leaving dishes all over the place if not?

Are toys strewn about your home because the children’s rooms are in different parts of the house than their toys?

3. Allow yourself to be carried along. After you’ve examined your family’s patterns, look for passive ways to change them.

It is much easier to change a situation than it is to change a person. For example, if the coat closet is on the wrong side of the room, purchase a coat rack and place it next to the door before repurposing the coat closet.  Create an impediment, such as a piece of furniture or a new lock, that forces them to use a different door.

Eat in the same place at the same time if you eat in different places at different times. It’s easier to miss one dish in a room than it is to miss a table full of dishes.

4. Make a decision to be disciplined. Getting organised is similar to getting in shape: there are many ways to make it happen, but none of them will be effective unless you are willing to put in the effort. It’s less about determining the best way and more about determining the best way for you. Organization necessitates a mental commitment. It will eventually become second nature, but you will never be organised unless you make a plan and stick to it.

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