Benjamin Franklin once said, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” We feel that. There’s something so satisfying and liberating about clearing clutter — and that includes mental clutter, too. Once you’ve tackled your junk drawers, think about other areas of your life that could use some organization. Your finances, perhaps? Your closet? How about your kitchen? Organizing each of these spaces can bring management, joy and general wellness for you and your family. That’s why we’re bringing you this organization guide — to help you have the most efficient, well-managed life possible in 2020. Below, regional experts offer us pointers on how to organize anything and everything — and they share the benefits of a life well-organized!
6 Easy Steps to an Efficient, Well-Organized Life
Get a paper calendar.
For those of us who aren’t as technically savvy or who are looking to just plain simplify, consider implementing a paper calendar for 2020. Heck, there’s a reason calendars are still around and thriving. According to NPD Group, dated products are booming, especially personalized and customized options. In fact, they estimate a consistent $10 million year-over-year growth for planners and calendars. If you’re longing for a digital detox of your own, start with a paper planner. “When you write things down, it logs that thought in a different part of your brain,” says Jenny Grumbling of STARTplanner. She continues, “We very much believe that in today’s busy world, things are ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ There is so much to remember that it’s easy to forget if you don’t see it regularly. When you write out to-dos, goals and schedules in a planner, it is always right there in front of you, reminding you what needs to be done, so it becomes easier to stay on task and focused on your list at hand.”
Keep your car organized too!
Raise your hand if your car is among the first places to get absolutely filled to the brim with trash, toys, empty food containers and just about anything else under the sun. Same, girl, same. Alex Lupo Sasser of Organize Bham says to add cleaning out your car to your weekly to-do list, so you’re turning it into a manageable habit. She explains, “Always keep some grocery bags in the trunk. Use them for trash bags, and empty them every week.” Another handy hack she suggests? “Use old iPhone boxes in your center console to keep items organized. The boxes fit perfectly and can be stacked.”
Alex also recommends finding a decent-sized bag and keeping it in your trunk to store things and prevent them from rolling around. Overall, she says, “A good system shortens the road to the goal. When organization is put in place, and when everything has a home, life becomes a little easier.” And that includes your life on the go!
Make the kitchen ‘mess’ less messy.
Setting your home up for organizational success is one of the best things you can do. And since the kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s best to tackle that first and hone your organizational skills. Think about how many activities take place in your kitchen beyond simply preparing meals. Your kids might do their homework at the island, you might drop your mail in a stack on the counter, and your husband might use the table as a makeshift home office. Chances are, your day even starts in your kitchen with coffee! Southern designer Maggie Griffin says, “While the kitchen has many needs and uses for us, each of those tasks requires its own set of tools. And keeping those tools neat and tidy, as well as at arm’s reach, is super important for me, the CEO of our household.”
A few of Maggie’s favorite organizational hacks include “corralling pens and pencils into a pretty cup,” stacking papers onto a pretty tray or even placing produce into a big bowl. She says that all of those ideas are “easy ways to make the ‘mess’ less messy.”
Closet clean-outs are a must!
Ladies, listen up. We know how daunting a closet clean-out can be! But trust us, once completed, you will not only feel accomplished, you’ll know exactly what to put on your shopping list, too. And who doesn’t love a little post-closet-clean-out shopping trip? Atlanta stylist Leigh Williams, the face behind L.Williams Closet Edit + Styling, says the key is to start by simplifying. “No one wants to be rummaging through piles of jeans or sweaters that are thrown onto a shelf. When we get dressed, and we like how we look, we’re subconsciously more motivated and ready for the day ahead.” That means investing in tools like velvet non-slip hangers and a few baskets, too. “Velvet non-slip hangers are my go-to for an instant, new, clean look. Everything looks and organizes better when good hangers are used. Keep a basket of these hangers in your closet. When you bring home dry cleaning and need to un-do that whole process, you can just easily grab the non-slip velvet ones and replace them. Super easy and convenient. I also recommend labeling any basket used in your closet.”
Don’t forget to clean out the kids’ closets too. Weed out the “can’t wears” and make a little cash while you do it, whether through local consignment sales or utilizing services like Kidizen Style Scouts, which works with expert sellers to provide consignment services for “busy families looking to make money on the items their kids have outgrown.” You’ll find Style Scouts throughout the South, including Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
And don’t forget the cave (also known as your home office)!
Close your eyes and picture your dream workday. What are you surrounded by? We’re going out on a limb and saying that you’re probably not picturing piles of papers, open file cabinets and a messy workspace. You’re likely dreaming of a pristine, productive spot. Did we nail it? If you’re hoping to be even more productive in 2020, take care of your office organization. “Office organization is essential for productivity because it allows us to focus on getting the work completed instead of wasting time finding the tools to get it done or finding space on our desk to work,” says Carrie Peeples of Neatsmart, a Marietta, Georgia-based organization company.
To be tidy, you have to think tidy. “I love a vertical file on your desk, so important papers are at the ready but not in a pile. I also love to have pens and markers available in a pretty vase or other container on my desk so that I can reach them easily. Also, make sure you have good lighting and visually pleasing art on the walls around you.” Perhaps Carrie’s best tip? Going paperless. “If you’re comfortable, I’d switch to getting statements and bills via email instead of snail mail as much as you can. Essential papers to keep: birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage certificates, divorce agreements, stock certificates, car titles, and home deeds are at the top of the ‘must-have’ list. I only recommend keeping receipts for the purchase of large items like substantial furniture pieces, jewelry and appliances — primarily for insurance purposes, in case they are stolen or destroyed,” she says.
Firm up the finances.
While finances might not be your first thought when it comes to getting things straightened out, keeping financial affairs organized is a huge part of maintaining an orderly year. Rebeca Romero Rainey, a finance expert and president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), says, “By being financially organized, we create opportunities for the future. Without a plan — without knowing how our resources have been used — we limit our future options. The best financial decisions are made when planned in advance.” In fact, each of the above suggestions probably requires a little budgeting to see them through. This brings us to Rebeca’s top financial organization suggestion: “The best tool to stay organized is a monthly budget. There are plenty of tools available, so find the one that works best for you to both plan your monthly expenditures and track them as you go.” Your local bank can help you get started, or you can look into apps and cloud-based solutions such as Mint.
Now go forth and make 2020 your most organized efficient year yet!
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