Organize

Putting Paperwork in Its Place

By on February 5, 2018

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Last year, I took on a paper organizing project. I needed to sort through a large number of old papers and files and decide what to keep and what I could shred and recycle. The items that I kept also required a system that would work, so they were easily accessible when we needed them.

Paperwork seems to pile up until we have the time to take care of it. No matter what you do to contain it; it’s still there. There are several things that you can do before the paper piles become overwhelming.

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Sorting and Purging

Sorting paperwork can be overwhelming and time-consuming. You should manage mail and papers as soon as they enter your home. You need to determine what you need to keep, what you need to look at another time, and what you can recycle. We sort mail over the recycling bin or shred it if it’s needed. If you take the time up front and make it part of your routine, you don’t have to make the time later. The result is worth the effort of not having to sort through a large paper pile all at once.

In a previous post, I wrote about editing your mailbox. I included how you can minimize the junk mail and catalogs that come to your home. Reducing the paper items that come into your home can help you with keeping up with all your paperwork.

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Filing System

My desk includes a file drawer and instead of using it for storage, I use it for the files that I access most frequently. Most of these items are papers that are not essential, but that I have to keep to access when I need them. The files also contain booklets that are too bulky to include in the binders that I use.

Some of the items that you should keep for a period are legal documents, tax returns, mortgage records, automobile titles and records, insurance records, home improvement records, your will and power of attorney records, and retirement information and records.

Using Binders

Binders are a great way to keep frequently accessed papers organized. In another post, I talked about using them to keep your paperwork organized. Just recently, I arranged my medical paperwork so everything is in one 3-ring notebook that I can easily carry with me to appointments. As long as you have adequate storage space, using binders is an efficient way to store your essential documents.

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Going Paperless

My hubby has set up our bills, so we only get paperless statements via email. Setting this up has gone a long way to reducing the paper clutter that we have in our home.

You can scan and keep other paperwork items online, as well. Dropbox is one way that you can store your documents. Personally, the only records that I store online are ones that I need to access frequently. Even when I’m away from home, I can obtain them and share them with others.

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Put paperwork in its place by filing items, using binders or going paperless to keep things under control. Taking the time to sort through papers that come into your home will save you from having to make the time later.

Until next time,

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Keeping Your Teenager Organized

By on January 29, 2018

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Several years ago, my Mom shared with me that when I was a teenager, I disappeared into my room one weekend and didn’t emerge until I had it organized. My kiddos did not keep their spaces in order while they were teenagers. I had to learn to take a step back even though I kept things organized in the other areas of our home.

If you have a teenager in your home, you know that they have an individual organizing style. Many times it involves clothes and papers that are taking up residence on the floor and under the bed. Helping your teenager stay organized can become a battle of wills. However, there are a few things that you can do to help them maintain some organization in their lives even if their room doesn’t reflect that.

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Home Organization

1 | Using a basket gives you a space to contain the items that your kiddos leave lying around the house until they take care of them. You can designate one basket for each child.

2 | You can use a wall mounted letterbox to collect your kiddos mail or school papers. The paperwork doesn’t accumulate on your counter, and your kids know to check it for their important items.

3 | Having an individual laundry basket for each of your kids can help when it comes time to do laundry. Clothes can be washed and dried in separate loads, folded, and returned to their rooms using their basket. When my kids were in middle school, I had them start doing their laundry. I helped them with it when they first started.

4 | If your children do daily chores, it is helpful to have a list that they can follow. I posted ours in the kitchen next to our family calendar so everyone could see it. Some of the tasks such as setting the table, helping to make dinner, cleaning up after the meal, and emptying the dishwasher were rotated each week.

teen, teenager, organize, organized, organization

School Organization

1 |  Using a planner to keep track of appointments, homework, tests, and practices can help your kiddo take control of their schedule and time management. They can keep track of their calendar using a  paper planner or on their device.

2 | Creating a homework spot gives your kiddo a place to settle in and get things done. Stock the area with school supplies that they may need while working.

3 | In a previous post, I talked about creating a back to school routine. There are some other organizing ideas listed there that you can implement, as well.

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Helping your teenager to be organized is something that they will be able to implement at home, at school, and in their personal life. Do you have any tips that you use to help keep your teenager organized?

Until next time,

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Organize

How to Keep Your Purse Organized

By on January 22, 2018

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Most women carry a purse with them each day. My bag contains only the items that I will need throughout my day. I carry my keys, wallet, phone, earbuds, business cards, reading and sunglasses, pens, lip balm and lipstick, and my essentials oils that I may need. If I’m going to an appointment, I will carry my Ipad so I can read my book while I’m waiting. During the winter, I also have a pair of warm gloves that will go in my purse when I am not wearing them.

Keeping your purse organized should not be a struggle. There are things that you need to have with you each day, but they should only be the essentials. What can you do to help you keep your purse organized?

Carry the Essentials

You need to consider what is necessary to have with you each day. If there are extra items that you think that you might need, you can either keep those things at work, in your car or carry a tote bag.

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Contain the Clutter

Small pouches can be extremely helpful in containing the clutter. You can use bags for makeup, medications, essential oils, receipts, business cards, electronics, and change. You could also use a pouch to contain the smaller items in your purse, so they aren’t getting lost on the bottom of your bag.

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Clean It Out

Take the time to clean out your purse each week. Remove any garbage, receipts, change, and anything that isn’t necessary to your daily activities. If you use a pouch for your receipts, sort through them each week and store only the ones you need to keep in the bag, so they are readily accessible if you need to return an item.

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Use a Tote Bag

When you’re away from home during the day, you want to make sure that you have whatever you may need throughout the day. In a previous post, I talked about putting together a work tote. Your purse should carry the essentials, not the extras.

Use a Smaller Purse

If you don’t want to carry both a purse and a tote bag, use a smaller purse that will fit into your bag while you’re on the go. Your purse can hold your essentials like your ID, money, phone, and glasses. The remainder of the items can go in your tote.

Until next time,

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Completing a Large, Organizing Project

By on January 18, 2018

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Our winter project is to organize our lower level. The lower level includes our family room, a couple of bedrooms, a bathroom, and work/storage room. Each of our children has occupied the bedrooms at one point or another, and all but one of our children have moved into their own homes. Our goal is to organize the lower level so we can use the family room and repurpose one of the bedrooms for a guest room.

Tackling an organizing project can seem daunting especially if it is large and involves multiple components that you need to complete. How can you approach an extensive, organization project, so it’s not quite so overwhelming?

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Make a Plan

Making a plan for the entire organizing project is essential. It gives you a visual outline of what you need to complete. Ask yourself what the end goal is that you are trying to achieve and plan out the steps you need to take to obtain it.

As much as you would like to be able to complete the entire project at once, it’s not possible. You need to focus on the individual steps that you need to take to achieve your end goal. They should be manageable so you can complete them and not feel defeated.

In our case, we knew that we wanted to be able to use our family room more frequently and create a comfortable guest room that also serves other purposes. That is our end goal, and the overall plan and the steps that we take will help us to accomplish this. We divided up the project into rooms and then individual tasks within the space to complete it.

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Make the Time

In a previous post, I wrote about the tools that I use to complete an organizing project. One of those is time. Making the time to organize is essential to making the progress that you want.

Typically, I will create multiple steps that vary in the length of time that they take to complete. Even though the overall project seems daunting, it makes it easier to tackle by creating individual steps that I can make the time to finish. We don’t work for more than a two-hour stretch at a time before we take a break or move onto something else.

Purge as You Go

As you’re organizing, it’s important to purge as you go through each space. You need to ask the following questions when you are deciding if you want to keep an item.

1 | Do you love it? Is it something that you want in your home, or are you keeping it for sentimental reasons?

2 | Are you using the item? If you are, how often are you using it?

3 | Do you have room in your home to keep and use it?

4 | Does the item fit in with your current decor? If it doesn’t, are you still willing to use it? Can it be updated so you can use it in your home? Are you ready to take the time to update it so you can use it?

5 | Do you see passing this item down to a family member? Are they going to want it?

If the answer to the any of the above questions is no, then you need to consider giving away or selling the item.

We had quite a few things that we purged. I am setting them aside in one space for now and will be holding a garage sale this summer. Even though the items have not been removed from our house yet, I know that they will be gone relatively soon.

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Taking on a large, organizing project can be incredibly overwhelming. It’s essential to create a plan and break it down into manageable steps so you can complete what you’ve set out to do.

Until next time,

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Organize | Simplify

Creating a Routine That Works for You

By on January 8, 2018

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A routine is helpful to get things done without having to spend time overthinking it. There are several routines that I complete throughout the day to help me manage my time in getting things done. It all comes down to delegating your time for the things that you need to accomplish each day. How can you create a routine that works for you?

routine, routines

1 | Calendar/Planner

Not only do I schedule my appointments in my planner, but I also add items from my to-do list and daily routines, as well. I check my planner first thing in the morning, so I know what each day will bring, check things off as I complete them and recheck it in the evening, so I know what is going on the next day. The key is not to overschedule each day, so I have the time I need to rest and relax, as well.

Take away – Use your planner or calendar as a tool to schedule your day including the items that are a part of your daily routine.

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2 | Meals

When we started meal planning for our family, we always knew what we were having for dinner each night, and our grocery list was created using those plans. Now that it’s just my husband and me, we still plan out our meals. It’s a routine that continues to work for us.

Meal prepping each week is also beneficial. We don’t meal prep as frequently now since it’s just the two of us. However, when our kiddos were home, it helped to get dinner on the table if we meal prepped for the week. It was especially helpful when they had after-school activities.

Take away – Meal plan and prep as part of a weekly routine that will keep you from wondering what you’re going to have for dinner each night.

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3 | Cleaning and Laundry

Instead of saving the cleaning that I need to do until the weekend, I clean a little each day. It takes me 20-30 minutes depending on the task and leaves my weekends free for other things. For example, one day I clean the bathrooms, and on a different day, I dust. I will do a load of wash on several days, as well. I wrote about making laundry seem like less of a chore in another post. I’ve figured out a routine that worked for me without dedicating an entire day to cleaning and laundry.

Take away – Make it part of your routine to do a cleaning task or laundry each day throughout the week. It will keep your weekends free for other activities.

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4 | Morning Routine

My morning routine may vary if I have an early morning appointment or meeting. Otherwise, I spend time in the morning checking my planner, reading my email, completing my daily devotions, and exercising. After that, I work through my daily routine that includes any appointments that I may have, tasks that I need to do, and any work that I need to do.

On a side note, I don’t respond to my emails immediately when I first read them. Emails remain in my inbox until I take care of them. I have a set time during the day to respond to emails as part of my daily routine.

Take away – Your morning routine will help to set the tone for the remainder of the day. Complete items that will help you to be productive as you start your day.

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5 | Bedtime Routine

To begin my bedtime routine, I start at least thirty minutes for I’m going to climb into bed. Each evening includes self-care, getting my diffuser ready to go, and preparing for the next day. I also give myself about thirty minutes to read at bedtime. Bedtime is a relaxing ritual for me, and I will go to bed earlier if I need to if it means completing everything. My usual time to turn in is usually 9:00 p.m. each night.

During the evening, before I turn in, I also take the time to journal. It is something that I started last year, and I’ve enjoyed doing it so much that I’m doing it again this year.

Take away – Take the time to complete a bedtime routine. Incorporate things that will help you to relax before you go to sleep for the night.

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Life is busy, and it can be challenging to try to get everything done that you need to do. A routine will help you to get things done without wondering when you are going to find the time to do them throughout the day.

Until next time,

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Organize | Simplify

Looking Back at the Most Popular Posts of 2017

By on January 4, 2018

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It’s interesting to look back and see what ranked as the most popular posts of the year determined by the number of reads. I listed the top ten of 2017 and six runners-up. If you missed any of the posts listed, take some time to check them out.

Top 10 Posts for 2017

10 | How to Get Started on Your Organizing Journey and a Free Printable

If you are creating goals for the new year, make some of those organizing goals, as well. It will help you to simplify the world around you and help with the overwhelm that the clutter may be giving you.

09 | How to Keep a Memory Journal 

I kept a memory journal throughout 2017, and I’m planning to do the same in 2018. It’s neat to look back and see what you did each day.

08 | How to Put Together a Work Tote That Works for You

A work tote carries all of the daily necessities that you need while you’re away from home. It’s important to make sure that you have all that you need without overloading yourself.

07 | Get Things Done When You Feel Like Procrastinating

This post is speaking to me right now as we begin our planned winter project. Manageable steps are essential, so you’re not overwhelmed.

06 | Tie: How to Use Binders to Stay Organized and Creating a Recipe Binder and a Free Printable

Binders are useful whether in the home office or the kitchen. I use binders more than I use files to keep things organized.

05 | How to Efficiently Change Out Your Seasonal Clothing

Changing out your seasonal clothing doesn’t have to be a chore. I used to store my off-season clothes in bins and haul them down to the storage room every six months. There are more efficient ways to access your clothing that doesn’t involve such an arduous process.

04 | Determine What Organizing Project to Do First

Organizing involves creating a system that works for you and sticking to it. When you have multiple organizing projects that need doing, it’s important to work on the areas that frustrate you the most.

03 | Using a Home Management Binder and a Free Printable 

I would be lost without my home management binder as it houses all of the vital information I need at my fingertips. Many of you were interested in incorporating one in your daily life, as well.

02 | Nesting at Home During the Autumn Season

Autumn is my favorite season, and I carry the nesting ideas into winter. Hygge is another way that I get through the long, winter season.

01 | Introducing the Home Management Binder

This post won by a landslide. I’m looking forward to reworking the Home Management Binder this year and sharing it with all of you. Is there anything that you would like to see included?

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Runner Up Posts for 2017

How to Keep Your Email Inbox Organized

My goal is to only keep the emails in my inbox that need immediate attention. With that said, there are several ways that you can keep your email box organized.

How to Keep Your Vehicle Organized

Keeping the areas of your vehicle organized is important so you know where things are located and you don’t have to search for them.

How to Remain Clutter-Free

Clutter seems to take over from time to time. Everything needs a permanent home and it’s important to take the time to take care of things each day.

Creating a Cleaning Schedule That Works for You

I created a cleaning schedule for 2017 and plan to carry it into 2018. It has made a huge difference dividing my cleaning jobs into daily tasks instead of trying to complete everything in one day.

How to Run a Successful Garage Sale

We held a garage sale last summer and learned a lot from our experience. I am planning on having another one this summer to help declutter our home after our adult children have moved out.

How Meal Planning and Prep Can be Helpful and a Free Printable

It is very helpful to plan out and prep your meals so you aren’t wondering what’s for dinner. It’s my hubby and me at the table and we often include leftovers as part of our menu plan.

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Thank you for all the reading love in 2017. I’m looking forward to what 2018 holds for Living a Simplified Life. See you on the blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Until next time,

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How to Help Your Adult Child Move

By on December 7, 2017

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I’m not sure when my children became adults because I certainly don’t feel any older. My youngest son recently started a new job and moved away from home for the first time. As hard as it may be to see your adult child leave the nest, it’s also thrilling to see them spread their wings as they embark on their own. My son had a limited amount of time to move and was moving several hours away, so we had to organize it, so we didn’t forget anything.

There are several things that you can do to help your adult child, so the move goes smoothly for them.

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Make Lists of What You Need

To help my adult child move, we made lists of items that he needed to move, things that he needed to purchase for his new place, and the groceries he needed to get him started. Those lists were a lifesaver when it came to moving him so we could remember what we needed.

My son was somewhat skeptical of all of my list making when we first started the moving process. However, he was all about it when we were in the midst of moving him. I was instructed to leave the packing list on our kitchen island until everything was on the truck and the other lists I made were referred to when we needed them.

moving, moving adult child

Let Your Adult Child Take the Lead

Your child will certainly want to be independent and make decisions on their own. My son did ask for my opinion…a lot. When it came to boxing up items, my son packed his clothes and the personal things from his room. I packed up the kitchen and bathroom items that we purchased and labeled the boxes.

After he moved, he had very distinct ideas of how he wanted things to be in his new place. I made suggestions on a few things but followed his direction when it came to putting items away.

My son gave me control in setting up his kitchen and bathroom. We bounced ideas off of each other during the process in what would work best for him. We set up his bed, but I didn’t help to unpack the remainder of his bedroom or his office space. It gave him the independence to make decisions about those areas on his own.

moving, moving adult child

Helping your adult child move can be a tough process and not just the emotional tug at your heartstrings. It’s a matter of doing what you can to help them while allowing them to make their own decisions. Moving my son went well because we organized the move ahead of time and made decisions together while giving him his independence.

Until next time,

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Holidays | Organize | Printables

Holiday Organization and a Free Printable

By on October 16, 2017

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If I’ve calculated correctly, there are just 37 days until Thanksgiving and 70 days until Christmas. Not that I’m counting. Cue, laughter. Autumn is the time of year when I start to think about what I need to do for the upcoming holidays. This way, I can plan and take care of items when I have the time over the next couple of months.

It’s helpful to organize things ahead of time, for the holidays, so things go more smoothly. In a previous post, I shared a Thanksgiving Planner Bundle that will help you plan for it. However, what else can you do to prepare for the upcoming holidays, especially if you’re hosting?

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1 | Organize Your Space

When I say organize your space, I don’t mean a complete overhaul. Leading up to the holiday season is not the time to reorganize your entire home. Organizing your space should include those areas that you are going to be using the most while celebrating the holidays. For example, when we entertain, we use our living room, kitchen, and bathrooms. Those are the spaces that I would focus on to make sure that they are in workable order. If you have anyone staying with you, your guest room will also be on your list. If you’re concerned about the appearance of other areas of your home, just shut the door. Don’t add extra stress by trying to do it all beforehand.

2 | Organize Your Tasks

Come up with a schedule that works for you and divide up the tasks that you need to complete before the holidays. Shopping for gifts and sending out cards are things you can finish weeks ahead of the holiday. However, you can plan out meals ahead of time, but they need to be prepared in the days leading up to and on the day of the holiday. Make a list of what you need to get done and create a schedule to get everything accomplished.

Free Printable

To help you start making a list of your holiday tasks so you can add them to your calendar, I am sharing a To-Do list printable. Click on the image of the To-Do List to join and get access to your free printable. You can print off a separate page for Thanksgiving if you’re in the United States, and Christmas.

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**Look for a Christmas Planner next month to help you start on your Christmas planning.**

It’s helpful to organize things ahead of time for the holidays. Planning and taking care of items when you have the time over the next couple of months helps the holiday to be less stressful. Do what you can and don’t worry about doing it all.

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Until next time,

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Tools to Make Your Organizing Projects Easier

By on September 25, 2017

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When I’m organizing, there are several tools that I rely on to get me from the beginning to the end of a project. These tools are essential for every organizing job, and I use them every time I set out to organize something.

Have you thought about organizing, but you aren’t sure where to start? In a previous post, I talked how to determine what organizing project to do first. Today, I’m going to talk about some of the tools that you can use to help with your organizing projects and ultimately meet your organizational goals.

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Calendar

Whether you like to use a calendar on your phone or you’re a paper calendar user, it’s helpful to schedule the time to organize. Just like other things in your life, if it’s not planned, there’s a good chance that it may not happen. The organization sessions don’t have to be too long. Schedule when you have some time to focus on organizing without interruptions.

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Labels

Labels are an essential part of organizing. Each one of your possessions should have a home that it goes back to when you’re finished with it. Labels help to aid in making that happen. There are many different types and styles. Using a label maker will add a uniform look to them. I especially like using the label maker for my files.

organizing tools, organizing project

Storage Items

Even though you should wait until your organizing project is complete before you splurge on the items that you that you need to finish your project, they are still important tools to consider. Boxes or bins can add a finishing touch and help you to maintain the area that you worked so hard to organize. Some of my favorite organizing containers are fabric covered. They add a pop of pattern or color when I open a cupboard or drawer.

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Time

Don’t underestimate time as one of your most valuable tools. It’s a necessary part of accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. When organizing, time is a vitally important tool in getting things done.

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There are essential tools that I rely on to get me from the start to finish of an organizing project. Using these tools will help with your organizing projects and ultimately meet your organizational goals.

Until next time,

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Top 5 Organizing Tips to Start Using Today

By on September 18, 2017

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Keeping your home organized is an ongoing process and takes work. There are several organizing tips that you can start using today to help keep your home organized, on a daily basis, without the added frustration that clutter can create.

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1 | Keep your counters and other surfaces cleaned off.

Visual clutter can be frustrating especially if it’s taking over the flat surfaces of your home such as your counters, table, desk, or dresser top. Keeping your surfaces cleaned off helps to alleviate that visual clutter and is less frustrating and stressful for you.

2 | Create a home for all of your belongings.

Everything you own should have a permanent home where it belongs. Creating a space for each of your possessions helps to eliminate the clutter.

3 | Put things away when you’ve finished with them.

When you have finished with an item, put it away. Leaving things lying around leads to stress and frustration as they start to pile up. Taking the time, when you’re done with an item, to put it away means that you won’t have to worry about dealing with it later.

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4 | Make the time to clean up the clutter each day.

Taking 10-15 minutes at the end of each day to clean up the clutter around your home will help you to stay on top of it. Make it a part of your daily routine. Taking the time each day helps with having to deal with the clutter all at once.

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5 | Use labels whenever possible.

Giving everything a permanent home is much easier to maintain if you use labels to mark where items go. You can use labels on shelving, drawers, or on each of your file folders to give them a uniform look.

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You can help to keep your home organized by implementing the tips listed above. Utilizing the tips on a daily basis will help to alleviate the added frustration that clutter can create.

Until next time,

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