Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Organization 101

Now that the chaos of the end of the school year is through, I’m trying to regroup and reorganize.  Organization is really not my forte.  I’ve come to discover the true key to organization is discipline, that of which I don’t have.  Sure, I am organized and disciplined when it comes to planning parties and doing things for other people.  I even used a clipboard at my daughter’s birthday party to stay on track.  I was like Julie McCoy from The Love Boat. 

julie mccoy

But when it comes down to the daily grind of organization, I do not have discipline at all.  I kind of compare myself to a sprinter and long distance runner.  I am a sprinter.  Go hog wild for for a short time and I’m done.

But my sister-in-law’s got discipline for the both of us.  She is definitely an endurance runner.  It’s almost comical how polar opposite we are when it comes to daily organization.  And that, my friends, is why I’ve asked her to share some of her organization must do’s with us today. 

What are the things that you do that keep you the most organized?


School Year

When the kids come home from school they empty backpacks and folders and give me their papers.  Whatever needs to be signed is taken care of and put in the folders and back in the backpacks immediately.

Library books and stay home folders stay in their "mailbox" so we always know where they are when needed.

4 slot mailbox


Same goes for athletic bags: swim bags are emptied immediately as they walk in from practice and then repacked for the next running around 5 minutes before car pool.


Known expectations and responsibilities by the kids

They have checklists that they reference to make sure they've done their share.  These are not allowance related....haven't really done that yet.  They are teamwork related.....really helps to give some structure to summer days.

What are your favorite organization tricks?

Stair baskets! (Hey, I do that one!!Smile)

The kids each have a basket that sits on the 2nd step to collect the day’s things....AKA clutter!  At the end of the night, the baskets need to be empty or they run the risk of the items being thrown out by mom and dad.  This has occurred and the kids are allowed to fish the contents out of the garbage if they choose to do so.  This has been an amazingly successful process and I now find the kids taking care of their baskets multiple times throughout the day without even being asked to do so. (Ooooh, we’re suppose to empty them too?  Yep, I don’t do that part. Ours collect for weeks, maybe months before we empty them.Smile)


Four slot mailbox

One slot for each person in the family

4 slot mailbox


Large Color Coded wall calendar

wall calendar


What is a must do every day?

Clean up the kitchen after EVERY single meal or snack!!!  It takes barely anytime and is just part of our routine.  No matter how little time we have, the counters, dishes, sink and floor are cleaned after any type of meal/snack preparing or eating occurs.  This is my sanity.....especially with our kitchen being the 1st thing I see no matter how I enter the house (garage, bedroom, front or back door)!  (And this, my friends, would be one of my BIGGEST downfalls.)


How do you tackle paper piles?

  • 90% of our bills are online so no paper
  • recycle containers in the kitchen, garage and office for paper collection
  • must keep papers, I'm old fashion..... At the beginning of each year, we make new file folders for the necessary papers: medical bills that we will submit for Health Care Reimbursement, Tax papers (salvation army donations, etc).
  • I have a large flat basket with a lid in the office that holds the kids’ school papers and activities that I sort at the end of each year for MUST keeps and time to recycle. 
  • The 4 slot mailbox on the kitchen wall holds the kids’ "important" papers.

How do you avoid clutter?

Clutter Clean Up Days…

…the kids go through the treasures they've been hoarding and decide if they really still want it.  This usually amounts to about 90% of the stuff ending up in recycle/trash.

We also are really focused on items going back to where they came from not just moved to a new place.

Cleaning, laundry schedule?


  • Laundry is a DAILY activity in my house.  Typically, I do 1 load of colors and 1 load of whites each day.  I have 2 laundry baskets in the laundry room: 1 for whites, 1 for darks.
  • The kids are responsible for bringing their clothes down after every change and towels after each shower (jammies in morning, uniforms after school, clothes before bed).  No clothes left on floors.

We used to have hampers in each room, including ours, but then I'd start collecting and became overwhelmed by how much laundry I suddenly had to do.  Kids clothes are folded for them and then placed on the step above their clutter boxes on the stairs.

They are responsible for putting away everything except for items that need to hang up.  We do that for them usually at the end of the day while they are brushing teeth doing bedtime routine.



  • The dishwasher usually gets ran either every day or every other day at night ready to be emptied 1st thing in the morning while we are all in the kitchen doing breakfast.
  • The kids have to clean their bathroom once a week together. 
  • I usually wipe down my bathroom and powder room 1-2 times a week. 
  • The kids make their beds 5 days/week (1 day off when I change the sheets and 1 free day because I'm so crazy).
  • vacuum once a week and swiffer when the sunshine hits the dust.   
  • The other thing that helps with cleaning is we only eat in the kitchen at the counter/table.  No walking around or taking food out of the kitchen.  Now of course this rule gets broken....mostly by Keith and I, but the kids don't really know that.

Thanks for the tips, Shelly.  I’ve been focusing on the dishes as my top priority these days.  It does make me feel so much calmer when I walk into a clean, dish free kitchen!  Baby steps.  Everyone has their own level and approach to organization.  I’ll never be as organized as my sis-in-law, but the key is to find what works for you.  In my next post, I’ll share how I’ve organized my kids’ schoolwork...but first I’ve actually got to do it!  I’ve got the plan, just need to execute it!

What are your best organizing tips?

Do share!

Let us know in the comments.


  1. Love the Julie McCoy image!! This is such a timely post for me...finishing up a week of Vacation Bible School today. Monday begins "the great clean-up and organization - summer session." Thanks for the tips!!

  2. I love these ideas! I am a sprinter too... I just did a sprint and need all the help I can get! I am TIRED! LOL I am featuring this on my blog at midnight! Thanks for linking up!


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