Organization en-US 7 Mantras to Sharpen Your Resolve to Downsize and Declutter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-mantras-to-sharpen-your-resolve-to-downsize-and-declutter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="messy room" title="messy room" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If the time for spring cleaning is long past, yet you still find yourself surrounded by clutter and feeling like you have way too much stuff, maybe you need a decluttering mantra &mdash; a statement or a question that you repeat to yourself as you look at each thing in your space. They way you answer the question or the way you respond from your gut after you say the statement will help you determine whether or not a particular item stays or goes. (See also: <a href="">Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever</a>)</p> <p>Decluttering is hard, and it's even harder when you are forced to do it because you are downsizing in some way. But having a mantra (or two or three) that works for you will make the process so much easier.</p> <p>How do you know if a particular mantra works for you? Try it and see. If it frees you to get rid of items that otherwise you might have held onto, then it's working.</p> <h2>&quot;How Much Would I Spend?&quot;</h2> <p>When you look at an item you already own, think about how much you'd be willing to spend to buy it new. If it's valuable to you, you'll probably give it a relatively high dollar amount. If it's not, you might not be willing to spend a cent.</p> <p>You can easily get rid of items that you don't value at all. For those somewhere in the middle, though, you can choose a dollar limit. You might decide to keep anything that you value at $50 or more, and get rid of the rest.</p> <h2>&quot;Do I: Use It? Need It? Love It?&quot;</h2> <p>Another way to determine just how much you value an item is to use a mantra that is a series of <a href="">these three questions</a>. These help you weed out items that truly should not be in your home, but it gives you space to keep things that, for instance, you may use once a year but, when you use them, you really need them.</p> <p>Items you use but don't need or love might include things like soap dispensers and hairbrushes. Things you need but don't use often or love might include camping or fishing gear. And particular knick knacks or pieces of jewelry might be items you love but don't use often or truly need.</p> <h2>&quot;I Only Need So Many&quot;</h2> <p>If you tend to accumulate multiples of items that you love or find useful, it will be good for you to look at your stash and repeat this mantra. I have a friend who recently realized that she only needs, at most, one toilet brush for every toilet in her home. And I have been getting rid of wooden cooking utensils, because I bought a bunch on a whim a while back.</p> <p>Another option? If you have multiples of items that will eventually wear out, then box them up and store them somewhere out of the way until you actually do need them. Then they're out of your everyday life, but you still have them when you need them.</p> <h2>&quot;Let It Go&quot;</h2> <p>If you feel like you're holding onto things and you don't really know why, this might be the mantra for you. Whether you are holding onto things for sentimental reasons, out of obligation or expectation, out of fear, or for some other reason, this mantra gives you permission to get rid of the things that are holding you back.</p> <p>This mantra might help you let go of more than your possessions. As you repeat it, you may find yourself able to let go of negative experiences and the ways they've impacted you, which can then permit you to get rid of your stuff, too.</p> <h2>&quot;'Just In Case' Is Just in the Way&quot;</h2> <p>If you hold onto things because you're afraid you might need them in the future, then this is a mantra that will help you a lot. Several years ago, my husband was thinking about going back to school in a particular field. He spent hundreds of dollars on books for a semester of courses, only to drop out at the last minute because he got a new job, in a totally different field. Within months, he knew almost-for-sure that he wasn't going back to school.</p> <p>However, we've held onto those books for years now. We've moved them at least twice, and those things are not light. His justification? &quot;Well, if I ever decide to pursue that, I don't want to spend all that money again.&quot;</p> <p>Just recently, though, he moved them to the &quot;give away&quot; pile in our garage. &quot;I'm sick of tripping over them,&quot; he explained, when I asked him why. If you have things you're sick of tripping over but have been afraid to give away, this mantra can free you to finally get rid of them.</p> <h2>&quot;Does This Lift Me Up or Bring Me Down?&quot;</h2> <p>Sometimes, people keep things because they don't want to disappoint the giver, or because they were purchased with someone else's funds. Occasionally, people will even keep a gift from a former spouses or lover, simply because the gift was expensive and the person feels bad getting rid of it.</p> <p>If something brings you down, it shouldn't be in your space. So let go of things with negative emotional connotations, and free yourself.</p> <h2>&quot;Less Is More&quot;</h2> <p>This is an oldie but a goodie. If you're finding yourself wanting more space in your life, more freedom and less responsibility, this mantra can remind you of these things. When you're on the fence between getting rid of something and keeping it, these words can remind you that getting rid of it gives you that much more spaciousness in your life.</p> <p>To some extent, life is a tradeoff between having time and space, and having things. Sure, we need some things, and we are willing to give some of our time and space to have them. At some point, though, we have to decide to preserve peace and spaciousness instead of owning more stuff. This mantra can help you determine where that point is in your own life, and to maintain it.</p> <p><em>What mantra or mantras help you keep your place tidy and uncluttered? Please share in comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Mantras to Sharpen Your Resolve to Downsize and Declutter" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization clutter mantras organization Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1165664 at 6 "Good" Habits That May Actually Be Hurting You <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-good-habits-that-may-actually-be-hurting-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="studying" title="studying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Even good habits take work. Whether you're consciously trying to incorporate something new into your routine, or mindlessly continuing an action or strategy you decided was right for you decades ago, these things require time and energy.</p> <p>So you better make sure they're actually working for you.</p> <p>Even habits generally deemed &quot;good&quot; may have consequences &mdash; be they secret health risks, opportunity costs of your effort, or self-defeating time-sucks. So check out the list, and take a moment to consider whether even your &quot;best&quot; habits are worth keeping.</p> <h2>1. Squatting To Avoid The Toilet Seat</h2> <p>Pride yourself a bum that never touches the seat? Well all that squatting may be lead to pain later on. According to a study from an organization representing over 45,000 physiotherapists, <a href="">women who squat over the toilet</a> instead of sit are more likely to develop painful urinary tract infections, as the body position doesn't encourage complete emptying of the bladder.</p> <h2>2. Using the &quot;Inbox Zero&quot; Method</h2> <p>Having an email organization system is important for prioritizing and making sure things don't slip the cracks. And if inbox zero works for you, great. But some proponents of this particular method &mdash; which involves clearing out one's inbox frequently and thoroughly &mdash; seem to be particularly prone to&hellip; <a href="">obsession</a>. At some point, the checking and sorting of messages stops become a means to an end (that is: organization) and starts becoming the end itself. That's when it may be time to reevaluate.</p> <h2>3. Washing Your Face Twice a Day</h2> <p>According to some dermatologists, washing your face twice a day can harm dry, aging skin. If you notice dryness and suspect over-washing is the culprit, try limiting yourself to only wash a day, and substituting rinsing with water and moisturizing in the morning.</p> <h2>4. Studying by the Book</h2> <p>Study hard kids! Spend long nights in the library! All that good stuff. But be wary of any study habits (at least, for college-level students and beyond) that emphasize &quot;finishing&quot; instead of &quot;learning.&quot; In other words, do the reading that's productive for you, don't finish everything in order to check a reading assignment off your list. Parallels hold true in the working world, too: put your effort into assignments that produce for you or the company &mdash; don't waste time on research you know won't add value.</p> <h2>5. Early Morning Exercise</h2> <p>Between kids and jobs and non-fitness activities (aka, &quot;lives&quot;), some people only have time to exercise in the morning. Some people feel it jumpstarts their day. Fine &mdash; if you're sure it's working, by all means, continue. But be aware that if you're trying to lose weight and skipping sleep in order to fit the workout in, your efforts may be for naught, as not getting enough sleep <a href="">can actually slow down your metabolism</a>, making it hard to shed those pounds.</p> <h2>6. Talking Everything Out</h2> <p>Open communication is vital to maintaining a relationship. But that doesn't mean that you need to hash out every little thing, nor that you have to hash out everything as soon as it pops into your mind. Researchers suggest that <a href="">setting times to talk</a> is much more productive, and by doing so, you may be more inclined to just let the unimportant things go by the time your talk is scheduled.</p> <p><em>Any other &quot;good&quot; habits that may not work for everybody?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 &quot;Good&quot; Habits That May Actually Be Hurting You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Organization Personal Development Productivity habits Improve productivity Thu, 19 Jun 2014 21:12:05 +0000 Joe Epstein 1142018 at 101 Little Things You Can Fix Right Now! <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/101-little-things-you-can-fix-right-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hanging picture" title="hanging picture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="163" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all have annoying little things that we put up with because we don't feel like we've got the time to deal with such penny-ante chores. What's one big thing we put up with even though we don't have the time? Waiting on hold. The average American will spend <a href="">43 days</a> of his or her life waiting on hold. So why not use the 13 hours you will spend on hold this year getting stuff done? (See also: <a href="">9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating &mdash; Now!</a>)</p> <p>Here are 101 things you can fix while you are stuck listening to Muzak (or find yourself with just a little downtime you'd like to fill).</p> <h2>1. Apply Sunscreen</h2> <p>UV rays are damaging your skin even on cloudy days, so it's important to <a href="">apply a sunscreen</a> with an SPF of 30 or higher every day.</p> <h2>2. Backup Your Data</h2> <p>For the love of all that is good and beautiful, backup your data! When backing up or a tablet or a phone, make sure you know <a href="">the difference</a> between backing up to iCloud and backing up to iTunes. (See also: <a href="">Comparing Online Backup Services</a>)</p> <h2>3. Balance the Ceiling Fan</h2> <p>Is that <a href="">squeaky fan</a> slowly making you crazy? Fix it in a flash.</p> <h2>4. Blow Out the Bathroom Exhaust Fan</h2> <p>Dirty <a href="">exhaust fans</a> are a fire hazard. Use canned air to blow out dust and debris. Then wash the fan cover in soapy water. Cleaning the exhaust fan can make your bathroom up to 80% less stinky.</p> <h2>5. Bring Out Your Dead</h2> <p>Dead bugs in your light fixtures won't kill you, but they sure are disgusting to look at.</p> <h2>6. Cancel Your Junk Mail</h2> <p><a href="">Register online</a> with the Direct Marketing Association and opt out of junk mail.</p> <h2>7. Caulk Your Bathtub</h2> <p>I learned <a href="">how to caulk</a> a bathtub when I was eight. It's so easy, even a kid can do it&hellip;literally. New caulk makes the bathroom look instantly cleaner and protects your walls from mold and rot.</p> <h2>8. Change the Baking Soda in the Refrigerator</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>An open box of baking soda in the fridge <a href="">really does help</a> eliminate odors.</p> <h2>9. Change Your Facebook Settings</h2> <p>Once again, Facebook has made changes to privacy settings. Update your settings to make sure that you have all the privacy you want.</p> <h2>10. Check Your Credit Report for Errors</h2> <p>You can get a <a href="">free copy</a> of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Check your report for errors that could be hurting your credit score.</p> <h2>11. Check Your Oil</h2> <p>Oil lubricates your car engine. Check your car's oil level once a month and top off as needed. Letting your engine run out of oil is one of the best ways to <a href="">kill your engine</a>. And by best, I mean worst.</p> <h2>12. Check Your Tire Pressure</h2> <p>Under inflated tires add additional wear to your tires and waste gas. <a href="">Check your tire pressure</a> regularly to ensure that you are getting the best performance out of your car.</p> <h2>13. Clean the Coils on the Refrigerator</h2> <p>Dirty condenser coils will make your refrigerator work harder and use more energy. Extend the life of your fridge and save on your electric bills by cleaning the coils every three months. (See also: <a href="">Make Your Fridge Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>14. Clean Your Computer</h2> <p>Your computer's keyboard is probably <a href="">dirtier than your toilet</a>. Don't put off cleaning your computer for another day.</p> <h2>15. Clean Your Glasses or Contact Lenses</h2> <p>Get a better outlook on the world, instantly.</p> <h2>16. Clean Your Hairbrush Like a Hairdresser Does</h2> <p>Use a comb to remove hair from your brush. Then wash the brush in the washing machine with your towels. Alternately, add a few drops of Dawn dish-washing detergent to some hot water, dip the brush in the soapy water, and scrub with a toothbrush.</p> <h2>17. Clean Out Your Handbag or Wallet</h2> <p>In college I developed shooting neck pains. After a full battery of tests and X-rays, my doctor still couldn't figure out the origin of my pain. Then he watched me pick up my handbag&hellip;which contained $40.00 in spare change.</p> <h2>18. Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>While many over the counter and prescription drugs are perfectly safe and relatively effective to take even if they are expired, this is not true for <a href="">cosmetics</a>, hydrogen peroxide, and <a href="">rubbing alcohol</a>.</p> <h2>19. Clean the Pet Hair Off Your Sofa</h2> <p>Use a rubber glove to quickly remove the furry coating from your upholstered furniture.</p> <h2>20. Clean Your Phone</h2> <p>Because most people are disgusting and don't wash their hands after pooping, everything is <a href="">covered in poop</a>. This includes your cell phone. One in six cell phones are contaminated with fecal matter. Gross. <a href="">Clean your phone</a>.</p> <h2>21. Collect Spare Change</h2> <p>Check under the sofa cushions, in your pockets, and in the laundry room. Put everything into a piggy bank for a rainy day treat.</p> <h2>22. Condition Your Leather Jacket</h2> <p>Leather is a natural fiber that will weaken over time if it's not properly cared for. Extend the life of your leather jacket by using leather conditioner as a moisturizer. There are a number of top leather conditioners you can buy that will clean and help weatherproof even the most creaky leathers. While you are at it, why not condition your bicycle seat, your baseball glove, your vintage handbag, and your leather sofa?</p> <h2>23. Create a Treasure Chest for All Your Play Money</h2> <p>Go through your wallet and home and find all the store credit receipts, all the partially used gift cards, and any other alternate form of currency that stores use to force you to only spend money with them. Put them all in one box for easy reference.</p> <h2>24. Curate Your Netflix Queue</h2> <p>You can add multiple profiles to one Netflix account to create multiple queues for easy reference. Or use a custom queue management script to import Rotten Tomatoes ratings or increase sorting options.</p> <h2>25. Darn a Sock</h2> <p>Small holes are <a href="">a pretty simple fix</a>.&nbsp;</p> <h2>26. Defrost Dinner</h2> <p>Cooking in advance only saves time if you remember to defrost your food in advance. Thawing food on the counter or under hot water can actually make you sick. Use <a href="">safe defrosting</a> methods to thaw homemade and prepackaged foods &mdash; thaw in the fridge; thaw in cold water; thaw in the microwave. (See also: <a href="">Don't Rinse the Bird</a>)</p> <h2>27. De-Fuzz Your Pet</h2> <p><img width="605" height="342" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>Give your dog or cat a good brushing to help control shedding. What's more fun: Spending time with your pet or vacuuming hair off the floor?</p> <h2>28. De-Ice Your Ice Maker</h2> <p>Is your ice maker not ice-making? Before spending money on replacement parts, <a href="">check the refill tube</a> for ice build up. You can defrost this part yourself with a hairdryer.</p> <h2>29. De-Lime Your Coffeemaker</h2> <p>Improve the flavor of your coffee by <a href="">cleaning</a> the mineral deposits out of your coffeemaker.</p> <h2>30. De-Stink the Garbage Disposal</h2> <p>You don't have to use a harsh cleanser to <a href="">clean a stinky</a> garbage disposal &mdash; just toss a couple of ice cubes and some kosher salt in it. Maybe follow up with half a juiced lemon.</p> <h2>31. Ditch Key Clutter</h2> <p>I am 100% sure that my husband has keys to his college dorm room, his childhood bike lock, and to the garden shed that collapsed in the 1989 Northridge Earthquake. Don't be my husband.</p> <h2>32. Drink a Glass of Water</h2> <p>If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Staying hydrated helps energize muscles, aids digestion, and maintains the balance of your body's electrolytes.</p> <h2>33. Dump the Science Experiment in the Refrigerator</h2> <p>Those just-gone-by leftovers are not going to get any fresher. Do it now or do it later while holding your breath. Then make a plan to stop wasting so much food.</p> <h2>34. Dust the Ceiling Fan</h2> <p>Don't wait until the cat hair and dust floats down on your house guests like gray snow from your ceiling fan. Use a <a href="">pillow case</a> to pull the dust from the blades in seconds and contain while you take the pillow case outside to dump the gunk.</p> <h2>35. Dust the Lampshades</h2> <p>Use a lint roller to remove the dust on fabric shades.</p> <h2>36. Empty the Trash Can in Your Car</h2> <p>Or, if you are like me, empty the trash from all over your car.</p> <h2>37. Empty the Vacuum Cleaner Bag</h2> <p>Most vacuums will lose suction when the bag is more than half full. The fuller the bag, the harder the motor has to work. Vacuuming on a full bag is a good way to kill your vacuum.</p> <h2>38. Examine Yourself for Cancer</h2> <p>Examine yourself for <a href="">breast</a> and/or <a href="">testicular</a> cancer. Five minutes spent squeezing yourself could save your life.</p> <h2>39. Exercise</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>Do 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 100 jumping jacks, or just some simple stretches. You would be surprised how many mini workouts you can squeeze out of your schedule.</p> <h2>40. Empty the Lint Trap and the Dryer Vent</h2> <p>The dryer is the number one source of fire in the home. The majority of these fires are caused by <a href="">lint build up</a> in the trap and dryer vent. Empty the lint trap after every dryer cycle and <a href="">regularly clean the dryer vent</a>.</p> <h2>41. Filing the Papers on Your Desk</h2> <p>Ugh, terrible. But if you are being held hostage at your desk while on hold anyway, you might as well just do some filing.</p> <h2>42. Find Unclaimed Money</h2> <p>You might be owed money and not even know it! You can search <a href="">state by state</a> for unclaimed funds and property owed to you. When I did a search through the California State Controller's Office, I discovered that <a href="">I had a $1525.00</a> sitting in some bank vault, waiting for me to collect it. (See also: <a href="">You Might Be Owed Money</a>)</p> <h2>43. Flip Your Mattress</h2> <p>Flipping a mattress is the bed equivalent of rotating the tires on your car. Flipping extends the life of your mattress by evening out the wear and tear. If you have a double-sided mattress, pin some index cards to the <a href="">foot of the bed to keep track</a> of which way your mattress needs to be flipped and turned. If you have a single sided mattress, you'll need to rotate the mattress but not flip it.</p> <h2>44. Floss</h2> <p>Only 49% of Americans floss daily and 10% never floss. Don't be part of that 51% who put their teeth at risk.</p> <h2>45. Hang a Picture</h2> <p>Avoid Swiss cheese walls by using these <a href="">pro tips</a> from Bob Villa. Also, most people hang their art too high on the wall. For a more intimate viewing experience, even with a huge piece of art, take a cue from art galleries and hang your art at eye level. The standard gallery measurement is 57&quot; from the floor.</p> <h2>46. Write a Thank You Note</h2> <p>Who doesn't like feeling appreciated? Write a thank you note to someone who has helped make your life better.</p> <h2>47. Invite Other People to Dropbox</h2> <p>Gain up to 16 GB in free extra online storage space from Dropbox by <a href="">referring friends</a>.</p> <h2>48. Label Cords and Electronic Accessories</h2> <p>I label all my power cords, adapters, and accessories so I can match them up with the proper electronic equipment quickly. It makes troubleshooting so much easier too. Personally I'm a big fan of the <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0002T470S&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=G4WK2WAIM2W7DFQQ">P-Touch printer</a>, but there are lot of ways to label cables.</p> <h2>49. Make a Complaint</h2> <p>Is your Internet not working&hellip; again? Is your elected official an idiot? Did Trader Joe's discontinue the best snack ever? Tweet your displeasure. Even better, write a letter. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease.</p> <h2>50. Make a Grocery List</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>One of the easiest ways to save money at the grocery store is to make a grocery list. If you are terrible at figuring out how much food you need to buy week to week, use an app like <a href="">Out of Milk</a> to help you fine tune your shopping list.</p> <h2>51. Make a To-Do List</h2> <p>Take charge of your schedule by making a daily to-do list. It will save you time and stress.</p> <h2>52. No More Wire Hangers!</h2> <p>What is it about wire hangers? How do they accumulate so fast? Do they breed when they are alone in the dark of the closet? I just pulled approximately 467,923 empty wire hangers out of my husband's closet, which freed up about four inches of rod space. The hangers will be returned to the dry cleaners for reuse and recycling.</p> <h2>53. Oil a Squeaky Door</h2> <p>Now you have one less thing that will wake you up in the night.</p> <h2>54. Open the Bills</h2> <p>Ignoring your money problems will only make them worse.</p> <h2>55. Open an Etsy Store</h2> <p>Are you a rabid collector of fabulous things? Are you now bored with these fabulous things? Finance your next eccentric collection by selling your old one on <a href="">Etsy</a>.</p> <h2>56. Organize Your Address Book</h2> <p>Use an app like <a href="">EasilyDo</a> to manage your contact list or manually enter and correct information in your address book.</p> <h2>57. Organize Your Jewelry</h2> <p>Separate out broken pieces for repair or reuse. (A solitary earring can be turned into a pendant or barrette, for example.) Set aside gold or silver jewelry you don't wear to sell for cash. Once you've sorted your collection, look on Pinterest for a jewelry organizing system that will work best for your space.</p> <h2>58. Organize Your Membership Cards</h2> <p>Go through your membership card collection and ditch all your expired cards. Put the cards you use regularly into your wallet, or onto a separate key chain to carry with you. Store the rest of your cards in an easy to remember place for quick reference. For those who hate carrying around all that plastic, yes, there are <a href="">phone apps</a> that allow you to digitize all your membership card data.</p> <h2>59. Organize the Art on the Refrigerator Door</h2> <p>Most Americans use their refrigerator door as a bulletin board. UCLA researchers discovered that there is a <a href=";6278101=0">direct relationship</a> between the clutter on the fridge door and the clutter in the rest of the house. Start clearing clutter by organizing the front of the refrigerator.</p> <h2>60. Pay a Compliment</h2> <p>Compliments are free, and everyone loves to feel appreciated. Don't be creepy about it, however.</p> <h2>61. Play Matchmaker to Your Tupperware</h2> <p>Store your plastic ware with the lids on. Yes, it takes up a little more room when stacked, but it will save time. No more rooting around for a matching lid.</p> <h2>62. Plot a Murder</h2> <p>Of aphids, of course. Mix one tablespoon of dish-washing liquid and one gallon of water. Load your squirt bottle and go on a killing spree in your victory garden.</p> <h2>63. Pluck Your Eyebrows</h2> <p>Well-shaped <a href="">eyebrows</a> add instant polish to your face, even without make-up.</p> <h2>64. Polish Your Shoes</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>I'd say, stop dressing like a slob, but slobs already know that polishing your shoes makes you look respectable and extends the life of your shoes.</p> <h2>65. Program the Stations on Your Car Radio</h2> <p>Tuning your car's radio, like texting, can be a <a href="">deadly distraction</a>. Preprogram your favorite stations while your car is parked, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road while driving.</p> <h2>66. Purge Your Email</h2> <p>As of this moment I have 434 unread emails cluttering my inbox. See how many old emails you can trash before you are interrupted. My record is 2505 emails in two hours.</p> <h2>67. Put Away Your Clothes</h2> <p>Are your clothes hanging over the treadmill in the corner of the bedroom and not in your closet? Put those clothes away!</p> <h2>68. Put Your Consumer Electronics on One Power Strip</h2> <p>In addition to protecting your expensive electronics, putting your consumer electronics on one power strip (make sure your strip doubles as a surge protector) can save you money. <a href="">This helpful chart</a> shows the average energy wasted by household appliances, even when they are in standby mode. Save money and time by turning off all your appliances at once with the push of one button on the power strip.</p> <h2>69. Put Footie Pads on Your Furniture</h2> <p>Put <a href="">felt pads</a> on your furniture to protect your wood floors from wear and tear.</p> <h2>70. Put Your Hoard of Tins to Work</h2> <p>I am a sucker for cute packaging. Luckily Altoid tins are the perfect size to organize and store tiny office and craft supplies.</p> <h2>71. Read the Manual</h2> <p>To anything. Reading the manual never makes any gadget harder to use. I promise.</p> <h2>72. Repair Your Cracked Patio</h2> <p>If you can use Play-Doh, you can <a href="">fix the cracks</a> in cement with quick-drying hydraulic water-stop cement.</p> <h2>73. Replace Your Windshield Wipers</h2> <p>Don't wait until it's pouring down rain to do this chore. Replacing wipers is <a href="">easy</a>.</p> <h2>74. Restock Your Emergency Kit</h2> <p>Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with at least the <a href="">basics</a>. Replace the batteries in the flashlight. Check the expiration dates on your food and medications. (See also: <a href="">5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For</a>)</p> <h2>75. Re-Up Your Prescriptions</h2> <p>It's Murphy's Law that you will run out of what you need, in the middle of the night, on a holiday weekend. Don't wait until you are having an emergency to get refills.</p> <h2>76. Revive Your Cutting Board</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>Season your wood cutting board with mineral oil to extend its lifespan. Rub it on, wait a bit, rub it off.</p> <h2>77. Round Up Old Magazines</h2> <p>Collect all the magazines that are cluttering your house. Donate the ones you are done with to your local veterinarian, emergency room, or battered women's shelter. Create one central to-be-read pile with the remaining magazines.</p> <h2>78. Sanitize Your Makeup</h2> <p>Use a makeup <a href="">sanitizing spray</a> or wipe to keep your cosmetics bacteria-free.</p> <h2>79. Scrub the Bathtub</h2> <p>If you use non-toxic household products like baking soda, salt, and vinegar to clean the tub, you won't even need to put on gloves.</p> <h2>80. Sell Something Online</h2> <p>List unwanted items on <a href="">Craigslist</a>, <a href="">eBay</a>, <a href="">Etsy</a>, <a href=""></a>, or another online market. More money in the bank. Less to dust.</p> <h2>81. Set the Clock on the Microwave</h2> <p>Why not make your appliances with a clock feature that much more useful?</p> <h2>82. Sew on a Button</h2> <p>Save a little money at the dry cleaners by replacing missing buttons yourself.</p> <h2>83. Sharpen a Knife</h2> <p>It's counter-intuitive, but it's <a href="">more dangerous</a> to use a dull knife than a sharp knife. Save money on professional knife sharpening by learning how to <a href="">do it yourself</a>.</p> <h2>84. Sign a Petition</h2> <p>Don't have the money or the time to spare for your favorite issues? At least sign a petition! Petitions do get results because they show popular demand for a cause. Even the <a href="">White House</a> pays attention to petitions.</p> <h2>85. Silence a Squeaky Floor</h2> <p>Use talcum powder and a paintbrush to <a href=",,20447746_20886389,00.html">quiet wood floors</a>.</p> <h2>86. Snip Your Too-Long Bangs</h2> <p>Scary, right? Not if you look online for <a href="">all sorts</a> of <a href="">helpful hair</a> cutting <a href="">tutorials</a> for guidance.</p> <h2>87. Start Some Seeds</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>Growing plants <a href="">from seeds</a> is a relatively inexpensive way to grow a variety of plants. There are far more plants available from seed that there are from started plants. You don't even need <a href="">special equipment</a>.</p> <h2>88. Steady a Wobbly Toilet</h2> <p>Sitting down on a wobbly toilet is always a little disconcerting. Luckily, <a href="">steadying a toilet</a> is usually an easy fix.</p> <h2>89. Steam Away Microwave Stains</h2> <p>Heat a bowl containing a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar in the microwave for five minutes. The steam will soften stuck-on stains so they can be wiped off with a sponge.</p> <h2>90. Store Your Hairbands on a Carabiner</h2> <p>I love this organizing hack for the bathroom. Although I keep my hairband carabiner in a drawer, I could also hang it on a hook or at the end of a towel rack to save cabinet space.</p> <h2>91. Swap Out Your Toothbrush</h2> <p>Swap out your <a href="">old toothbrush</a> for a new one every three months, or sooner if the bristles are bent or you've been sick. Toothbrush bristles develop sharp edges over time that can make tiny nicks in your gums, making you more prone to infection. Also, worn bristles are less effective at cleaning your teeth.</p> <h2>92. Sweep Away the Cobwebs</h2> <p>Does your home look like the Haunted Mansionette? Use a feather duster or Swiffer broom to remove cobwebs from your ceiling and crown molding.</p> <h2>93. Test Your Smoke Detector</h2> <p>Prevent a fatal fire in your home. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors TWICE a year. Also, pushing the red button on the smoke detector only tests if the battery and the alarm sound work. A better method of testing if the smoke detector is actually detecting smoke is to hold two freshly blown-out matches under the unit.</p> <h2>94. Throw Away Your Dried-Out Pens</h2> <p>If you are waiting on hold, you will eventually need a pen to write down a confirmation number. Use this time to test out your pen collection to find one that works. Throw away the dead ones.</p> <h2>95. Trim Your Photo Collection</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src=" " /></p> <p>Unless you are a hardened blackmailer, there is no reason to keep terrible photographs of yourself or others, unless, of course, they are hilarious. Dump the bad photos from your albums and hard drives and give yourself more space to store flattering memories.</p> <h2>96. Turn Off the Lights</h2> <p>If you aren't in the habit of turning off the light as you leave a room, save money and energy by turning off all the lights (and fans) in the house except in the room you are using right now.</p> <h2>97. Unsubscribe</h2> <p>Be honest with yourself about how much information you can process in a day. Unsubscribe from email lists, online groups, podcasts, and so on that are piling up in your inbox. You can always re-subscribe when you have more free time.</p> <h2>98. Update Your LinkedIn Profile</h2> <p>Even if you aren't looking for work, there are plenty of companies that headhunt solely via <a href="">LinkedIn</a>. A better job might fall right into your lap! Also, every time you update your profile, LinkedIn will spam everyone in your network, a passive (and great) way to reconnect with business connections.</p> <h2>99. Untangle Your Cords</h2> <p>Pretend this is a game and not an odious chore. Store your freshly untangled cords inside toilet paper tubes. For extra credit, <a href="">cute-ify</a> your toilet paper tubes with colored tape.</p> <h2>100. Vacuum Your Hairdryer</h2> <p>Suck the gunk out of the back vents of your hair dryer to keep it from crapping out.</p> <h2>101. Wrap a Present</h2> <p><a href="">Pre-wrap</a> holiday and birthday presents and save time and stress later.</p> <p><em>Whew! Any other small jobs we should do right now? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="101 Little Things You Can Fix Right Now!" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Max Wong</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Organization cleaning odd jobs organization small jobs Thu, 05 Jun 2014 15:00:15 +0000 Max Wong 1141768 at Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="boxes" title="boxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The problem with most advice on clearing clutter is that it runs on the assumption that people actually have enough storage space in their homes. I am 100% sure that anyone who saves closet space by rotating their winter clothes out of their closet to make room for their summer wardrobe isn't storing their Christmas sweaters under their house in the crawlspace. (See also: <a href="">How to Declutter and Keep Your Stuff</a>)</p> <p>For a number of years I lived in a tiny house with horrible storage space. Removing anything from my closet was like playing the dangerous version of Jenga, with heavy, head-bonking cardboard boxes standing in for the little wooden rods. What did I hate more than pulling everything out of the closet to find the one-needed thing (that was always in the back)? The time it took to repack everything, Tetris-like, so I could close the closet door. My time-saving solution to this problem was to stack items that I removed from the closet on the floor outside of the closet where they'd be easier to see and grab.</p> <p>Every other month or so, I'd decide to throw a party. Part of the party prep was spending two unhappy days putting every single thing I owned back in its proper place.</p> <p>It was a most annoying method of keeping house.</p> <h2>Fewer Things Means Fewer Things to Store</h2> <p>Finally, I realized that I hated organizing my stuff more than I enjoyed owning it. My solution to clutter wasn't to have a space for everything, it was not having things that needed to be stored.</p> <p>Fewer things. Fewer things to put away.</p> <p>So, on November 1, 2001 I made a resolution: I would get rid of 10 things a day until I had downsized enough that I could fit all my belongings into one, visible layer in my closets.</p> <p>The 10 items rule was arbitrary. Ten things seemed challenging enough to turn downsizing into a game (always a bonus for me), yet achievable enough to allow me to complete my goal even on the busiest days.</p> <p>One day, at the end of March 2002, I came home to a noticeably neater house. After almost five months of downsizing by 10 things a day, I had painlessly removed almost <em>1500</em> items from my home.</p> <p>Multiplication is what makes 10 Things a successful organizational strategy. Ten is a smallish number. But 10 things a day equals 300 things a month equals 3650 things a year!</p> <h2>Some Positive Side Effects of 10 Things a Day</h2> <p>It was at this point that I realized why speed cleaning methods had never been the answer to my clutter. My house didn't get messy in a week, so it was unrealistic of me to believe that I could declutter my home in the same time frame and be happy with the results. Since I only had to remove 10 items every day, it gave me time to consider what things would go and come up with an optimal plan for their disposal. 10 Things is like yoga, something you practice rather than an end goal. While it fails to provide immediate gratification, 10 Things provides what other organizational systems do not: an easy method of maintenance that doesn't just clear clutter, but prevents clutter from building up in the first place.</p> <p>Over 13 years later, I am still getting rid of 10 things a day. My house is tidier than most, and my material goods cause me a lot less stress. My weird organizational system works!</p> <p>When I tell people who haven't found success with other organizational methods about 10 Things, the same questions always pop up. So here's exactly how I do it.</p> <h2>What Qualifies as a &quot;Thing&quot;?</h2> <p>A <em>Thing</em> can be as big as the old car I sold to my co-worker, or as small as the dried out felt-tip pen that I just threw in the garbage. Clutter is personal. My cherished object could be another person's garbage. I define clutter as any item in my house that isn't necessary for the basic function of my life that also doesn't make me deliriously happy.</p> <p>(I pay attention to the little voice in my head. If it feels like I'm cheating, then I probably am.)</p> <h2>Do You Have a Time Slot Every Day to Find Your 10 Things?</h2> <p>No. Some of my friends set timers to force themselves to make quick decisions. (Plus it's more fun to race the clock and try to pull all 10 Things in one 20-minute period.) Because some of the things in my house need a more elaborate disposal process than just getting put on the curb or in the recycling bin, I give myself all day to find and dispose of the 10 Things. Some days are easy because I will have a garage sale and divest myself of 100 items before lunch. And then there are those days when I am digging through the spice cabinet in my kitchen at 11:58 p.m. trying to find 10 little condiment packets left over from take-out meals that I can donate to the food bank.</p> <h2>What Do You Mean &quot;Get Rid Of?&quot; Are You Throwing Everything Away?</h2> <p>Oh, gosh no. If I could just throw anything I didn't want in the trash without feeling guilt, my house would have been emptied a long time ago. One of the reasons why clutter builds up in my home is that I feel compelled to keep usable things until I can find the &quot;perfect&quot; home for them. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Ways to Get Rid of Stuff</a>)</p> <p>Occasionally I will get lucky and actually wear something out. In that rare instance I will actually throw something in the garbage. But, by &quot;Get Rid Of&quot; I mean &quot;Leaves My Possession.&quot;</p> <ul> <li> <p>I can get rid of the old paint in my garage by taking it to the Poison Control Center for disposal.</p> </li> <li> <p>I can donate old furniture to my local charity.</p> </li> <li> <p>I can collect all the random blue ballpoint pens (I only write with black ink) that have found their way into my home, and give those to my favorite waitress or leave them at the bank or post office for others to use.</p> </li> <li> <p>I can freecycle an old printer.</p> </li> <li> <p>I can sell a vintage lamp on Etsy.</p> </li> <li> <p>I can ship that vintage lamp in a used cardboard box.</p> </li> <li> <p>I can drop my old magazines off at the hospital's waiting room.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The only thing I'm a stickler about with 10 Things is that the items have to physically leave my possession. It doesn't count if the item is in the trunk of my car, waiting to be dropped off at a friend's house, or on the porch, waiting for the Craigslist buyer to pick it up. It must be gone, gone, gone for good to be counted.</p> <h2>What Should I Get Rid of First?</h2> <p>I know this will sound obvious, but get rid of the things you hate first. Clutter often builds up because we keep things around that trigger memories or are valuable collectibles.</p> <p>I don't think it's a coincidence that I had my Get Rid of 10 Things a Day epiphany right after the breakup of a five-year relationship. My house was full of nice things, which had been purchased by a bad boyfriend. The television was now &quot;the television of betrayal.&quot; The coffee grinder was a daily reminder of his passive aggressiveness. I finally had to ask myself: Why am I keeping things that remind me of bad times? Isn't my personal happiness worth more than these possessions? (See also: <a href="">7 Ways to Feel Better Now</a>)</p> <p>By starting with the things that I hated, I accidentally discovered another reason why 10 Things works &mdash; it makes downsizing less stressful, because I never have to make a Sophie's Choice about objects that I care about. I'm always removing the 10 things I like the least in my house. It's pretty hard to make a case to keep things that I am categorizing as my &quot;Bottom 10&quot; possessions. Always choosing the worst of my possessions also means that in thirteen years, I haven't regretted a single choice.</p> <p>Another bonus of 10 Things is that, over time, it trains the eye and the brain to be more discerning. Because I am always removing the least worthy items from my house, over time I've distilled and curated my possessions into a collection of things that are beloved, functional, and give me pleasure.</p> <h2>Do You Keep Track of Everything You Get Rid Of?</h2> <p>Yes. I keep a running total of everything I get rid of in a little notebook. It's weirdly rewarding to see my daily 10 Things written down. It also keeps me honest and accountable. I have a friend who takes a photograph every day of her 10 things. She likes her photo record because it means she doesn't need to keep physical souvenirs to remember things by. I'm still waiting for somebody to blog or Instagram their 10 Things campaign.</p> <h2>Do You Keep Track of Everything You Bring Into Your House?</h2> <p>Hell. No. I want to chronicle my successes, not my failures. (Also, who has the time?)</p> <p>The practice of getting rid of 10 things a day has absolutely made me a more aware consumer. Now I can't acquire something without automatically thinking about when and how that item will leave my home. Knowing that I have to have an exit strategy for each thing that comes into my house makes me think twice about bringing new items home. I have become extremely choosey. It's a wonderful and unintended side effect, which helps me keep my home clutter free. Not to mention what it's done for my spending habits.</p> <h2>You Have Been Doing This for So Long &mdash; How Do You Still Have Things in Your House?</h2> <p>Because I live in a First World country where people waste resources. Even though I am a minimalist by American standards, I am a maximalist relative to most of the rest of the world. Also, I work out of my home, so every day is a war on paper.</p> <p>Most of what leaves my house these days are vintage items that I have collected for resale on my Etsy store, and packing materials to ship those things to my buyers. (See also: <a href="">Using Etsy to Start Your Small Business</a>)</p> <p>Also, I have to admit that I still tend to hoard things like envelopes and glass jars, things that other people would just recycle. While school supplies and storage containers are just temporary visitors in my home, I currently have a bigger collection of both than I'd like to have on hand for personal use. So I'm using the surplus as an incentive to get an early start on handmade holiday gifts of jam and pickles. I will always struggle with organizing my house more than the average person. But, with 10 Things, my clutter has become a starting point for creative projects, not the end point of unconsidered acquisition.</p> <p><em>Do you have an unusual organizational hack to keep clutter at bay? Please share your genius in the comments section. </em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Max Wong</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization cleaning clutter organization Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:36:24 +0000 Max Wong 1135771 at 10 Super-Cool Ways to Add Hidden Storage to Your Home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-super-cool-ways-to-add-hidden-storage-to-your-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="vintage suitcase" title="vintage suitcase" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes it can feel difficult to find good storage solutions around the house or apartment. Whether space comes at a premium where you live, you are looking to organize and conceal chaos, or you just want a sneaky place to hide important items, check out some clever hidden storage solutions that anyone can add to their abode. (See also: <a href="">Efficient Storage With Towel Rods</a>)</p> <h2>1. Headboard Storage</h2> <p>Not only can a headboard be decorative, but it can also be multifunctional when you add in some inconspicuous storage. Check out <a href="">Ikea's BRIMNES headboard</a> with discreet, shelved storage compartments. The top shelf even has holes for cables or cords, making it extra versatile to keep gadgets near. Or, for an even more concealed look, go for a <a href="">hidden fabric paneled headboard</a>, which could make for a good do-it-yourself project too.</p> <h2>2. Repurposed Table Storage</h2> <p>For a fairly easy DIY project that creates some cool, hidden storage, try <a href="">repurposing a vintage suitcase</a> into a unique coffee table or conversation piece. Likewise, you can use a chest and add on some legs in a similar fashion to make a unique end table or nightstand that has plenty of storage inside. (See also: <a href="">Cheap, Smart Ways to Upgrade Your Furniture</a>)</p> <h2>3. Storage Sofas</h2> <p>Beyond built-in cup holders and armrest compartments for remotes, storage sofas have come a long way. Nowadays, even the most attractive sofas and chaises have options for large, <a href="">under-cushion storage compartments</a>, where you can cleverly stash blankets or other sizeable items from view.</p> <h2>4. Shoe Benches</h2> <p>A shoe bench is a great item for an entryway or mudroom, which provides ample hidden or open storage below the seat. If you like to build, try some straightforward <a href="">DIY shoe bench guides</a> to create your own. Or, you can just buy <a href="">pull out shoe benches</a>, which easily keep shoes organized and concealed.</p> <h2>5. Behind the Door Storage</h2> <p>For some great hidden storage, use the backs of doors. On the back of a laundry room or mudroom door, hang <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CRBY8NU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">shoe bags</a> to hold scarves, gloves, and hats. In a bathroom with little wall space, install <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000MF0YCC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">towel racks</a> on the back of the door. On the back of a closet door, install hooks and rods to hold wrapping paper.</p> <p>And don't forget cabinet doors as well. In the kitchen, you can buy and install some <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002ES1SRU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">small wire racks</a> or use adhesive hooks to hold things like spices, cleaning supplies, pans, and spatulas on the inside of cabinet doors. In the bathroom, try storing hairdryers and personal care items on the insides of vanity doors.</p> <h2>6. Storage Mirrors</h2> <p>Like a traditional medicine cabinet, you can find storage mirrors to work in other rooms besides the bathroom. You can purchase a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000X0BY2U&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">wall-mounted jewelry mirror</a> to use in a bedroom or closet to keep your jewelry and valuables organized and out of sight. Or, check out <a href="">floor storage mirrors</a> with shelves in the back to give you clever storage options.</p> <h2>7. Under Washer and Dryer Storage</h2> <p>Why not use the space below your washer and dryer by putting the machines on storage risers? You can purchase <a href=";cjsku=202519826">laundry pedestals</a> with pull out drawers, which your machines sit upon. Check home store outlets and <a href="">Overstock</a> for the cheaper models, or if you are really handy and want to save, you can <a href="">build your own laundry pedestals</a>. In addition to adding roomy, hidden storage, if you have a front-loading machine, the pedestal will save you from bending. (See also: <a href="">5 Great Washing Machines</a>)</p> <h2>8. Concealing Curtains</h2> <p>You can easily purchase curtains, other window treatments, and slipcovers, or make your own coverings with your favorite fabric to hide storage spaces. Some great examples using curtains include turning a <a href="">bistro table into hidden home office storage</a>, masking contents on a shelf by <a href="">creating cabinet curtains</a>, making concealed <a href="">under-sink storage</a> out of an open bathroom vanity, and creating <a href="">hidden storage under counters</a> and buffets in kitchens and dining rooms. To make it even easier, most of these concealing curtains can be hung using simple <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00FB6N79E&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">tension rods</a>. (See also: <a href="">20 Unexpected Uses for Tension Rods</a>)</p> <h2>9. Under Bed Storage</h2> <p>Under bed storage is an easy solution for concealing items and using unused space. You can try purchasing <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000M39HQI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">simple under bed storage solutions</a>, like rollout plastic bins, which are also great for under-the-couch storage if you have a sofa skirt to hide them. If your bed is too low, think about buying some cheap risers to create a little space underneath. Or, buy a <a href="">bed with built-in storage</a> compartments or drawers for some secret storage options.</p> <h2>10. Hard-Working Picture Frames</h2> <p>Make your regular picture frames do double-duty as d├ęcor and storage. For easy store-bought solutions, try purchasing <a href="">wall-mounted picture frame armoires</a>, which can be used to store jewelry or important documents. Another option is to buy front-opening shadow boxes for the plethora of kids' artwork that always gets made. Use the extra space inside these framed boxes to stack other pieces of art behind what's currently on display. Finally, for a nifty, hidden wall compartment, learn to <a href="">turn a medicine cabinet into a picture frame</a> with secret storage behind it.</p> <p><em>What other cool hidden storage ideas can you add to the list? Please hide your ideas in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Super-Cool Ways to Add Hidden Storage to Your Home" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Organization declutter organization storage Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:48:33 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1134928 at This Is How You Speed Up Your Morning Routine (and Get More Sleep) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-is-how-you-speed-up-your-morning-routine-and-get-more-sleep" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="morning" title="morning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How you handle your morning impacts the productivity of your entire day.</p> <p>When you get a good night's rest, your mind is clearer, more focused, and more energetic than it would be if you didn't get enough sleep. It doesn't matter how many energy drinks or cups of coffee you guzzle down; nothing can replace sleep. (See also: <a href="">13 Things Successful People Do Each Morning</a>)</p> <p>The routine that you put in place whenever you wake up is critical when it comes to getting work done and moving through your to-do list. For those looking to take advantage of that clear mind and fresh morning air, the goal should be to streamline the morning routine and maximize productivity, all without sacrificing your Zs.</p> <p>It sounds like a tall order, but we can get it done in a number of practical ways.</p> <h2>1. Figure Out When to Go to Bed Based on When You Have to Get Up</h2> <p>Our bodies are programmed to <a href="">sleep for certain amounts of time</a>, based on five to six sleep cycles. Each cycle is about 90 minutes long. A website called <a href=""></a> actually lets you calculate what time you should go to sleep based on when you want to get up.</p> <p>It'll give you a few different bedtime options. Getting up early doesn't necessarily mean going to bed earlier. What's more important is timing it so that you wake between cycles, rather than in the middle of one. (See also: <a href="">Great Sleep-Tracking Apps</a>)</p> <h2>2. Set Your Clothes Out</h2> <p>Somehow, getting dressed seems to take longer in the morning than it does in the evening.</p> <p>Choose and set out your outfit the night before so that you don't need to spend time deliberating about what to wear or where to find it. Figuring that stuff out at night is much easier, and you'll save yourself anywhere from five to ten minutes in the morning.</p> <p>Or you can do what I do: I pick out a whole week's worth of outfits from my button-down and pants to my undershirt and undies, iron them (not the undies), and put them together on one hanger per outfit in the closet in order of when I want to wear them. It makes my mornings less of a chore &mdash; and allows me more time to snooze. (See also: <a href="">Change Your Bedtime Routine, Change Your Life</a>)</p> <h2>3. Don't Check Facebook</h2> <p>You know you do it. The next thought you have after, &quot;Crap, I've got to get up&quot; is to check your Facebook account. Maybe it's not Facebook. Maybe it's email or your RSS feeds, Twitter, or something sports related. Whatever it is, it's taking time away from both starting your day and time that you could've been sleeping.</p> <p>If you decide to get up, leave your phone be until you get to a point in the day where you've gotten some work under your belt and you need to take a break. (See also: <a href="">Breaking Your Social Media Habit</a>)</p> <h2>4. Get a Quick Breakfast</h2> <p>Don't skip breakfast in the morning if you can help it.</p> <p>It's really the one meal that can work with <a href="">quick solutions</a>, so don't pass it up just to save time. Eating breakfast helps you focus, gets your metabolism going, and gives you energy to get you through to the lunch hour.</p> <p>You might feel like you're saving time by skipping it, but it's counterproductive, even on a good day. Cooking a big breakfast isn't necessary, but use some of the quick ideas to nourish your body before you head out the door.</p> <h2>5. Eat Lunch at Work</h2> <p>If lunch cuts into your morning routine, free up that last half-hour by packing a lunch the night before and eating at your desk.</p> <p>It's cheaper, it's better for your health than restaurant food, and it frees you from having to drive somewhere at 11:30 a.m. for a noon lunch.</p> <h2>6. Shower the Night Before</h2> <p>Some people need a shower in the morning to wake up, but if you prefer to just get up and head out the door, take your shower right before you go to bed, and you'll be fine to go without one in the morning.</p> <h2>7. Brew Your Own Coffee</h2> <p>It's a much quicker process to brew your own coffee than it is to go through the trouble of getting to Starbucks and waiting in line for somebody else to prepare your morning pick-me-up. It's also a lot cheaper. If you have a coffee maker that you can set and forget, your hot cup of joe will be ready for you to take on the go. (See also: <a href="">5 Great Coffeemakers</a>)</p> <h2>Take Advantage of the Morning Hours</h2> <p>While you don't want to short change your sleep, the morning hours and the routine that fills them will set the tone for the rest of your day. Try to get around seven or eight hours of sleep, and then streamline your morning activities as much as possible.</p> <p>The sooner you get to the point where you can start being productive, without having sacrificed much-needed sleep, the better off the rest of your day will be.</p> <p><em>Do you have other ideas on how to speed up your morning routine and get more sleep? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="This Is How You Speed Up Your Morning Routine (and Get More Sleep)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Organization mornings routine sleep Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:48:23 +0000 Mikey Rox 1135031 at This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shelf" title="shelf" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've probably heard you should throw out stuff that hasn't been used in the past year. But if you are like me, you have regretted decisions to donate, sell, or trash the nonessential as you tried to aggressively declutter. Sadly, you may have learned this lesson too late. You can easily get rid of a saved item, but you can't readily reclaim one that's been given away. (See also: <a href="">Simple Rules for Decluttering</a>)</p> <p>To declutter but keep your stuff, defy conventional wisdom. Hang onto whatever your heart desires, bypassing those difficult, emotional decisions often linked to decluttering. Just be mindful about what you save and how you store your stash, using these tips.</p> <h2>1. Create Organizational Masterpieces From Castoffs</h2> <p>Beautify your home with vintage items that have storage capabilities. Consider fashionable yard-sale, thrift-shop, curbside, and consignment-store finds for organizing things before buying storage bins from big-box stores.</p> <p>For example, replace a table in an entryway with a <a href="">thrift-shop dresser</a> and store off-season clothing there. Place odds and ends, like buttons, paper clips, or pens and pencils, in a <a href="">collection of mason jars</a>.</p> <h2>2. Repurpose Rarely-Used Items as Storage or Decor</h2> <p>Imagine new ways to put mostly unused yet beloved items into service.</p> <p>For example, turn an <a href="">old trunk or footlocker into a table</a> (and store keepsakes inside). Display collectibles on an old ladder or <a href="">hang pots</a> from one attached to your kitchen ceiling. (See also: <a href="">Turn Kitchen Junk Into Cool New Things</a>)</p> <h2>3. Group and Elegantly Hide Like Items Together</h2> <p>If you consolidate like items, a couple of neat things often happen naturally.</p> <p>One, you will realize you have duplicates, triplicates, quadruplicates and feel fine about casting off the extras. Second, seeing all these things together (such as your cleaning supplies or electronic chargers) means you probably won't have to buy more of the same, preventing additional clutter.</p> <p>These items can then be <a href="">grouped and hidden elegantly</a> in a handmade basket or stylishly trimmed box instead of scattered randomly throughout your home.</p> <h2>4. Hide Stuff With Curtains</h2> <p>Discreetly placing things behind curtains is a great design option for those with lots of stuff but little storage space.</p> <p>For example, you might build floor-to-ceiling shelving and <a href="">cover with full-length curtains</a> to hide your cache of clothing, accessories, and personal supplies in your bedroom. Alternatively, conceal clutter in your home office by storing items on a shelf and covering with a <a href="">custom-made curtain</a>. (See also: <a href="">DIY Curtains</a>)</p> <h2>5. Use Vertical Space</h2> <p>Capitalize on the <a href="">space above</a> most of your traditional furniture for a clean look with lots of storage capacity.</p> <p>For example, ditch small bookcases and save your tall ones. Consolidate the remaining bookcases into one room and stack your books on these shelves. The result is a library-style room that holds loads of stuff, yet appears uncluttered. (See also: <a href="">How to Live Large in a Small Space</a>)</p> <p>Likewise, shed two-drawer file cabinets in favor of four- and five-drawer ones to hold financial, college-related, and medical documents. On top of these cabinets, store seasonal items.</p> <h2>6. Declutter All Rooms, Even Non-Messy Ones</h2> <p>Resist the desire to skip decluttering a tidy room.</p> <p>Well-kept rooms may harbor extra stuff that is easily scrapped. Sifting through and disposing of this clutter frees storage space. Even one or two extra drawers in your bathroom, for example, can be used to store small items that may be clogging up other rooms.</p> <h2>7. Toss Stuff You Truly Don't Need or Want Pronto</h2> <p>Get rid of stuff you are sure you don't need or want immediately. Don't wait until you finish decluttering the entire house. Carry unneeded and unwanted items to the Goodwill store, rescue mission, or other place that accepts your old things as quickly as possible. (See also: <a href="">10 Frugal Ways to Get Rid of Stuff</a>)</p> <p>The more you can remove from your home, the easier it is to organize the stuff you do love.</p> <h2>8. Store Things in Out-Of-The-Way Places</h2> <p>Collect storage bins and boxes as you declutter or acquire them after you've finished going through every section of your living space. Store rarely needed items that can withstand extremes of hot and cold in your attic or basement. Put stuff you occasionally need in specialty bins under beds, odd corners of utility rooms or garages, unused shelves of your closets, and other accessible places out of casual view.</p> <p>You don't have to become a minimalist to live in a clutter-free home. Get rid of what you no longer want; organize and display or store the rest.</p> <p><em>How do you declutter while keeping your favorite stuff? Please clutter up the comments thread with your secrets!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Organization clutter declutter organization storage Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:24:23 +0000 Julie Rains 1134760 at The Simple Way to Make Multitasking Actually Work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-simple-way-to-make-multitasking-actually-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="multitasking" title="multitasking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the moment, as I am working on this article, I am also watching television, checking Twitter and Facebook, texting with my daughter, checking on dinner, and chatting with a colleague on G+ chat. I am attempting to multitask, but judging by how long it has taken me to write these first few lines of text, I don't think I'm all that successful at it. (See also: <a href="">&quot;Life Hacks&quot; You Shouldn't Bother With</a>)</p> <p>Multitasking is a part of our lives. We are busier than ever before. Whether it is juggling kids' schedules while speaking with clients on the phone and writing notes down for the grocery list, we are all trying to cram more into our lives. The question is, however, is it effective? When does multitasking work and when doesn't it?</p> <h2>When Multitasking Gets in the Way</h2> <p>If you routinely find yourself attempting to multitask, you may be doing more harm for your productivity than good. Some research has shown that multitasking actually increases the time it takes to complete tasks and decreases productivity. (See also: <a href="">This Daily Activity Is Ruining Your Productivity</a>)</p> <p>Multitasking does not work when you are trying to do two or more tasks that require conscious effort. Take, for example, the two tasks of texting while driving. Many people will tell you they are great at multitasking, but are they really? You aren't able to focus on the road when you are looking down at your phone to find a number, open an app, or type out a message. At the very minimum, you'll make mistakes typing with one hand. The New York Times points to research that shows <a href="">texting while driving is akin to drunk driving</a>. Your ability to focus on what lane you are in, your speed, and the distance you are from other cars greatly decreases when you are also focused on the phone.</p> <p>This phenomenon is no different when you are trying to multitask at home or work. Have you ever tried to have a phone conversation with someone who is typing on their computer, dealing with their children, or ordering a coffee at Starbucks? The phone conversation fails to progress because the person on the other line is unable to process two thoughts at the same time.</p> <h2>Use Layers to Make Multitasking Work &mdash; Sometimes</h2> <p>Multitasking works when the tasks you are attempting to complete require different levels of thought and only one requires you to really focus your thought processes. For example, folding laundry while you are having a phone conversation (with the phone on speaker) or typing a letter while dinner simmers on the stove.</p> <p>Multiple tasks can be completed when they are layered by their level of attention needed. If you only need minimal attention on one task, for example, doing the laundry while another task is in process (such as getting dinner started), then you can layer in a more complex task, like answering a few emails. This layering of different types of tasks is still multitasking, and it can be done successfully. However, once you add in another task that requires more thought processes (taking a phone call from your boss, for example) one of the tasks must stop. In this example, answering the emails should be halted.</p> <h2>Setting Up Your Layers</h2> <p>Once you understand that you actually can multitask with a layered system, go ahead and set one up.</p> <h3>1. Make a List</h3> <p>Prioritize the most important tasks on your list that need to be accomplished. Refer back to that list as you complete activities. (See also: <a href="">How to Achieve All Your Goals</a>)</p> <h3>2. Look for Layered Tasks to Pair</h3> <p>Find an activity that can be paired with a higher level item on your list. For example, if you need to contact a business, and you know you'll be on hold for 20 minutes, use that hold time to address a few emails. Or if you need to do laundry, cook dinner, and call your mom, then start the wash, get dinner to the point where it is simmering, and then make the phone call (see #4).</p> <h3>3. Turn Off Other Distractions</h3> <p>That means you need to put your phone on silent. Exit out of Twitter, Facebook, and email. Reduce the noise level in the room, and tackle the most pressing item on your list first.</p> <h3>4. Set a Timer</h3> <p>When you are working on tasks, set a timer to check your progress. If you anticipate that a task should take no longer than one hour, set a timer for sixty minutes. Check where you are when it goes off. Are you distracted? Did something pop up that you felt needed addressed immediately? Are you on the phone with mom for too long and dinner is about to burn? Using a timer will keep you focused on your tasks and keep your productivity level high. (See also: <a href="">How to Stay Focused at Work</a>)</p> <h2>But Is Layering Enough?</h2> <p>When I began this article last night, I was attempting to multitask. It took me well over an hour to write the first three paragraphs. I decided to do my own unscientific study to see how well I was doing. I turned off everything.</p> <p>No email. No Twitter. No Facebook. No G+ chat. No cell phone. No television.</p> <p>When everything was off and my attention was solely focused on writing, I was able to finish the rest of this article relatively quickly. Lesson learned on my end. I will continue to minimize those activities that I once deemed multitasking when I really want to be productive.</p> <p><em>Are you able to multitask? What works for you? Please share in comments while you wait for the tea kettle to whistle!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Simple Way to Make Multitasking Actually Work" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization Productivity focus multitasking productivity Thu, 06 Mar 2014 10:48:24 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1129402 at Declutter Now: Simple Rules You Must Follow to Stay Clutter Free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/declutter-now-simple-rules-you-must-follow-to-stay-clutter-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="organizing kitchen" title="organizing kitchen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's almost time for spring cleaning! If you're at all like me, the very prospect of trying to clean the entire house is overwhelming. But this year I was determined to get the job done &mdash; and I even did it early, because we just moved and I didn't want to take our extra stuff with us <em>or</em> have it build up right after we moved in. (See also: <a href="">A One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <p>As I've tried to determine the best ways to think about handling clutter and then to actually declutter, these are the best tips that I have found. I hope they work for you, too (and, please, if you have any that I've missed here, let me know!).</p> <h2>1. Plan Decluttering Into Your Schedule</h2> <p>Some people prefer to declutter in small stages (anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes a day), while others prefer to set aside an entire day or a weekend. Either way, make your plan and stick to it. Put decluttering into your schedule the same way you would put in a meeting or an appointment. That way, you're more likely to get it done. (See also: <a href="">A 10 Minute Declutter</a>)</p> <h2>2. Make Rules That Work for You</h2> <p>Nearly everyone who declutters has rules. A few say that everything they haven't used in a year has to go. Others say that they can't buy anything new without getting rid of at least one old thing. Whatever rules you choose, make sure they work for you. Just because something works for a friend or for someone you read online does NOT mean that it will help you.</p> <h2>3. Find Your Unique Motivator</h2> <p>Apparently, there are people out there who get excited about decluttering simply because they don't want to have more stuff. If that's you, then your motivation is built-in to who you are. The rest of us, though, have to find some greater motivation. Plan a garage sale, if the prospect of selling stuff excites you. Or, if you like to help others out, plan a donation day. On the other hand, maybe offer yourself a reward when you finish. This can be anything from a meal at your favorite restaurant to a massage or a get-together with a friend. (See also: <a href="">21 Frugal Ways to Reward Yourself</a>)</p> <h2>4. List Areas That Need Work</h2> <p>Decluttering can feel overwhelming, and it's easy to start in one area, then get distracted when you're taking an item somewhere else to put it away, and end up never finishing the first area. Even if you aren't a list person, it can help you to have a visual reminder of all the areas in your home that need decluttering. Then, whether you work your way through them in order or just do what comes naturally, you can check them off as they get cleared.</p> <h2>5. Don't Shop Until You Know What You Need</h2> <p>It's tempting to go to Home Depot or Target and buy a bunch of colorful bins in a bunch of different sizes, but the truth is that you don't know what you need until you've gone through your stuff, gotten rid of what you no longer want or need, and figured out where and how you want to store the rest. Besides, if you buy the bins first, they will just add to the clutter until you bother to use them.</p> <h2>6. Find a Place for Everything</h2> <p>A place for everything and everything in its place&hellip; it's an old adage because it's true. Every single thing that you plan to keep needs to have a place. Try to find a balance when it comes to the level of organization you choose, though. For instance, it's good to know which cupboard the frying pans go in, and even which shelf you want them on, but you probably don't need to have a specific order in which you stack them. (See also: <a href="">Easy Organizing Changes</a>)</p> <h2>7. Find a Logical Place for Everything</h2> <p>It's great to have a place for everything. In fact, it's fabulous. But if you'll never be able to find your stuff, or you'll have to search and search every single time you want something, the places where you're keeping things aren't working. You may have to use some trial and error here. What initially seems like a logical place for an object may not be the first place you think of looking for it later.</p> <h2>8. Find a Usable Place for Everything</h2> <p>In addition to putting things where you expect them to be, you'll also want to put them in places where you will actually go and get them to use them. For instance, it is logical and helpful for us to put my kids' art supplies in the basement. However, our basement is cold and we have found that, in the winter, we don't do art simply because we don't want to go down and get the supplies. If we want to use them, they need to move!</p> <h2>9. If It Doesn't Have a Place, Find One or Toss It</h2> <p>An item that doesn't have a place either isn't important enough for you to set something else aside to give it one, or it somehow doesn't belong with the other things you have. Either way, it is just going to sit around and contribute to cluttering things up again if you don't put it somewhere or get rid of it. (See also: <a href="">Things to Throw Out Today</a>)</p> <h2>10. Stop at &quot;Good Enough&quot;</h2> <p>Decluttering can take forever. I don't just mean that it can take a long time, but that you could literally organize <em>forever</em>, if you let yourself. Instead of devoting the rest of your life to a task that most of us find annoying, stop when you have achieved a level of organization that works for you. That means you need to think about function. In general, if you can find things when you need them and you don't have piles everywhere, you can probably consider yourself done.</p> <h2>11. Commit to a Work in Progress</h2> <p>This may seem to go against the point I made above. However, I'm not saying that you should continue to declutter and organize the same areas to an infinite level of detail. You will, though, need to continue removing clutter and organizing new items as things get moved or more things come into your home. This means going through your mail every day, helping your kids return toys and other items to their places, and more. Plan to spend <a href="">5-15 minutes every day</a> on clutter, in order to remain clutter free.</p> <h2>12. Use the Penicillin Method</h2> <p>Think about already decluttered spaces as being inoculated with Penicillin. This means that, once you have cleared clutter from an area, that area is clutter-free. No matter how bad the clutter may get in other places, that one remains clear. As you move through your home and continue to declutter, you will have more and more spaces that are clear. Eventually, your whole house will be inoculated.</p> <h2>13. Have a Designated Place for New Clutter</h2> <p>Choose a place in your home where you will put everything that doesn't have a home until you can find the time to give it one. This is where the mail goes when you bring it in, where birthday and Christmas gifts get stored until you decide where they go, where items that need to be re-filed or put back in their places get set until you can do that. This way, you will limit the areas of your home that gather clutter, and you will know where to go (and, at a glance, how much work you have to do) when it is time to declutter.</p> <h2>14. Use Baskets for Problem Items</h2> <p>Every night, my husband tosses his keys, wallet, keycard, and whatever else happens to be in his pockets . . . somewhere. Not only are they hard to find after that, but I hate the cluttery way this makes our kitchen/bathroom/bedroom/wherever look. To solve the problem, I put a small basket on a shelf by our door. Now, as soon as he gets home, he puts all of his pocket stuff in there. I don't have to look at it, and he can always find it. As my kids get older, they each have baskets in our main living area, too. This is where they put toys that they brought down from upstairs, snacks they want to finish later, etc.</p> <h2>15. Use Drawer Dividers</h2> <p>You know those things they make for silverware drawers, so you can separate your knives, forks, spoons, etc? Well, they make those for all sorts of drawers. They're great for organizing everything from your socks and underwear to all of the random stuff you keep in your nightstand. It can even help in your junk drawer, so you can actually find the things that you toss in there.</p> <h2>16. Find the Decluttering Philosophy That Works for You</h2> <p>There are a million different ways to think about clutter. Some love the philosophy at <a href="">Unclutterer</a>. Others respond to the <a href="">Fly Lady</a>. The point is, there are lots of different ideas and methods online for dealing with clutter and, if you can find the one that works for you, you'll have a lot more success and motivation for decluttering than you might have otherwise.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite way to declutter?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Declutter Now: Simple Rules You Must Follow to Stay Clutter Free" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization cleaning declutter quick cleaning Thu, 20 Feb 2014 11:36:20 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1126823 at Bulk Buying Basics: What to Buy, How to Store, and Money Saving Tips <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bulk-buying-basics-what-to-buy-how-to-store-and-money-saving-tips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bulk buying" title="bulk buying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you think about buying foods or other items in bulk, you might picture an underground bunker in some remote area with enough supplies to survive a zombie apocalypse. Bulk buying is no joke, however. If you have the space, stocking up can be an excellent, budget-friendly way to fill your shelves with foods and other items routinely needed in your daily life. (See also: <a href="">Organize Your Pantry and Save Cash</a>)</p> <p>As you can imagine, bulk buying is an art. It requires careful planning to achieve the best savings and lower risk for spoilage. When done right, this method of shopping can yield big returns on the investment of both time <em>and</em> money.</p> <h2>Bulk Benefits</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>If you&#39;ve ever scanned the unit prices on your favorite grocery items, you&#39;ve likely noticed that those in larger packaging/quantity <em>typically</em> cost less per unit than their smaller counterparts. In much the same way, those items in the bulk bins &mdash; sans packaging &mdash; are even less expensive in comparison. If you cook or use certain items more often than not, it&#39;s in your best interest to buy and buy big to yield the biggest savings. (See also: <a href="">15 Dollar-Wise Winter Staples</a>)</p> <p>Here are a few more benefits:</p> <ul> <li>Less packaging means less waste and is, therefore, a smarter environmental choice.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buying more at once saves on time and also gas and other related expenses.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Without conforming to pre-measured, packaged amounts of food, you are free to choose how much you need for yourself or your family. This scalability is smart for a number of reasons.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bulk buying also leads to healthier food choices. Many ingredients in those bins are whole foods, which are fantastic choices nutritionally.</li> </ul> <h2>What and Where to Buy</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Bulk foods and other goods can be found at your local grocery store, health specialty shops/cooperatives, online, and through bulk buying clubs (not to be confused with big box buying stores). If you haven&#39;t ventured into the bulk section in your store before, it&#39;s well worth a jaunt to see what&#39;s in all those tubs. Many of your favorite basic ingredients are well represented here. (See also: <a href="">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Grocery List</a>)</p> <h3>Pantry Items</h3> <ul> <li>Rice: white, brown, and just about every other variety</li> <li>Lentils</li> <li>Quinoa</li> <li>Oats: instant, rolled, steel-cut</li> <li>Nuts: cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.</li> <li>Nut butters</li> <li>Spices: from cinnamon to curry, nutmeg to smoked paprika</li> <li>Pasta, including couscous</li> <li>Dried fruits: apples, papayas, banana chips, dates, raisins, etc.</li> <li>Dried mushrooms</li> <li>Dried seaweed</li> <li>Sugars: white, brown, coconut, etc.</li> <li>Flours: white, wheat, rye, gluten-free, etc.</li> <li>Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, sesame, etc.</li> <li>Confectioneries: chocolate chips, among others</li> <li>Coffee and tea</li> <li>Cereal</li> <li>Maple syrup</li> <li>Oils: olive, canola, vegetable, sesame</li> <li>Vinegar: apple cider, white, etc.</li> <li>Honey</li> <li>Tomatoes: whole, diced, sauces, etc.</li> <li>Beans: kidney, black, chickpeas, etc.</li> <li>Soup stocks and broths</li> <li>Condiments: ketchup, mustard, hot sauce</li> </ul> <p>Note: You can also buy seasonable fruits and vegetables in bulk and then can, freeze, or otherwise preserve them for later consumption. Similarly, you can get great deals on frozen fruits and vegetables. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Use Frozen Vegetables</a>)</p> <h3>Non-Food Items</h3> <ul> <li>Aluminum foil</li> <li>Plastic wrap</li> <li>Sandwich bags</li> <li>Shampoo and conditioner</li> <li>Soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant</li> <li>Laundry detergent</li> <li>Toilet paper</li> <li>Paper towels</li> <li>Batteries</li> </ul> <p>...basically anything and everything you use on a daily basis that is either shelf stable (or lends well to preserving) can be purchased in bulk. We&#39;d love to hear what types of items you stock on a regular basis, so be sure to leave a comment below!</p> <p>Oh, and beware of big box stores, which are popular spots to find many of these items &mdash; they typically involve more packaging. As well, I did an informal price survey at my local joint, and I wasn&#39;t impressed with my findings. And if you haven&#39;t heard of those bulk buying clubs I mentioned above, ask around your local farmers market &mdash; or <a href="">start one</a> of your own.</p> <h2>How to Store</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>If you live in a tiny apartment or are otherwise short on space, you might be wondering about how to house all these items. I live in a modest home and we&#39;ve found a few creative solutions, including setting up a special pantry shelf in our basement, storing smaller quantities in clear Ball jars on some open kitchen shelving, and stocking frozen items in an upright freezer. (See also: <a href="">5 Best Freezers</a>)</p> <h3>Containers</h3> <p>Place items in safe containers. If you order items online or buy them at the store and they come in paper bags, consider switching over to either plastic or glass storage. This will eliminate the chance that the bag could tear or be tampered with (cats, dogs, mice, the neighbor kids). (See also: <a href="">Where to Find Free or Cheap Mason Jars</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Utilize all the options for sound storage. Containers come in all shapes and sizes, but be sure that whatever you use is airtight and uncompromised. The key with storing bulk foods is keeping them as fresh as possible. Protect your investment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Look beyond your favorite retailers for deals on storage containers. You can find great deals at discount dollar stores, online, or even at garage sales.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use a funnel to swiftly and cleanly transfer goods from larger to smaller containers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use old measuring cups and spoons (tablespoons are particularly handy!) as scoops.</li> </ul> <h3>Space</h3> <p>Consider installing a dedicated shelving unit in your kitchen or another room in your house specifically for housing bulk food items. (See also: <a href="">How to Live Large in a Small Space</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Designate one of the kitchen cupboards the &quot;bulk cupboard&quot; and store all your goods in there. Alternatively, create open shelving for storage of clear containers for an easy, grab-n-go experience.</li> <li>Use unique spaces, like under the bed or in the hallway closet, as creative storage when in a pinch. You can even create a <a href="">stairway pantry</a> with all that unused wall space!</li> <li>Find new uses for old items, like over-the-door shelving for shoes. If it holds stuff, it might be just what you need to organize your bulk empire.</li> <li>If you&#39;re lucky enough to have a pantry, clear it out and organize with bulk in mind. Containers should be in clear view, easy to reach, and out of harm&#39;s way (off the floor, away from where pets and toddlers can reach, etc.).</li> </ul> <h2>Other Bulky Considerations</h2> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Now that you&#39;ve got the basics, here a few more tips to make it all go a little smoother.</p> <h3>Make a Plan (and Stick to It!)</h3> <p>It can be tempting to go overboard when presented with seemingly endless bulk buying options. Keep in mind that the only way you save is if you actually use up what you&#39;ve bought or it doesn&#39;t go to waste do to spoilage. (See also: <a href="">Recipe Substitutions That Prevent Food Waste</a>)</p> <h3>Bring Your Own (Reusable) Containers for Shopping</h3> <p>Many establishments charge for bulk jars (not so much bags). And while you&#39;re at it, be sure to mark the tare weight (that&#39;s the weight of the container) on your containers, so you&#39;re all set with that information come weigh-time.</p> <h3>Freeze It</h3> <p>To eliminate any possible pests, it&#39;s a good practice to freeze foods (especially grains, beans) for a day or two. I don&#39;t always follow this rule myself, but someone told me it keeps foods fresher, longer.</p> <h3>Mark Ingredients With Name and Date</h3> <p>All those grains can get confusing without packaging. Be sure to use a permanent marker and some labels/masking tape to stay organized and fresh.</p> <h3>Write Up Cooking Instructions and Stow in the Container</h3> <p>Along these same lines, you will likely forget how to cook black rice versus Israeli couscous &mdash; we write instructions on note cards stored in plastic baggies and toss them in with the ingredients for easy reference.</p> <h3>Create a Master List</h3> <p>A danger in buying a lot of something is forgetting you have it. To avoid spoilage or duplicate purchases a simple inventory list can be a lifesaver.</p> <h3>Plan Meals and Cook In</h3> <p>When buying in bulk, it&#39;s important to dedicate a certain amount of time into figuring out which recipes/meals they will eventually turn into. With so much fresh, healthy food on hand, you might want to cook more often rather than going out, further escalating the potential savings. All it takes is a little foresight (and a few good cookbooks). (See also: <a href="">A Month of Frugal Meals</a>)</p> <h3>Evaluate and Tweak as Necessary</h3> <p>It&#39;s good to keep those receipts and track your investment wisely. What items did you use up quickly? What ones did you forget? Were any ingredients unusually costly? Is there another place you might want to check out? Continually refining your process will help it work better each shopping trip.</p> <p><em>Are you a bulk buyer? What works for you?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Bulk Buying Basics: What to Buy, How to Store, and Money Saving Tips" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization Shopping Bulk buying discounts meal planning Mon, 30 Dec 2013 19:47:23 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1285 at Declutter Your Home in 10 Minutes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/declutter-your-home-in-10-minutes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman cleaning" title="woman cleaning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&#39;m sure I&#39;m not the only one around here who hates cleaning the house. Although I want to be tidy, I&#39;m naturally a &quot;cluttery&quot; person, and most of the time my home reflects that. When I tidy up, I tend to clean here or there with no real focus or method, which means that clutter gets managed but never fully cleaned up. After years of frustration at myself for being unable to be as organized as I want to be, I&#39;ve finally hit upon a method that works for me and my dislike of cleaning. (See also: <a href="">How to Clean Your House in a Day</a>)</p> <p>Instead of feeling frustrated at all the cleaning and organizing I&#39;m facing, I&#39;ve resorted to short, concentrated bursts of activity that accomplish decluttering in small, manageable chunks. I call them &quot;10-minute declutters.&quot; The key is to give myself a limited, achievable goal, and to focus on completing the task at hand instead of stressing out about all the cleaning I can&#39;t get done.</p> <h2>The 10-Minute Declutter</h2> <p>If you have trouble keeping your home decluttered, and you tend to avoid organizing, you might be surprised how much you can accomplish if you just concentrate for 10 minutes. For example, in 10 minutes, I might set myself the task of sorting the pile of mail into separate piles for recycling, read later, and bills. Or I might go through my makeup drawer, throwing away all old makeup and sorting the remaining makeup by shape. I might challenge myself to pick up everything on the floor in one room, or to completely clean off the surface of the kitchen table or the kitchen counter. (See also: <a href="">Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>It is much easier to contemplate cleaning for 10 minutes rather than to face the seemingly impossible task of completely organizing the master bedroom, for example. Here are a few tips to make this 10-minute cleaning frenzy work for you.</p> <p><strong>1. Limit the Scope</strong></p> <p>Challenge yourself, yes, but be realistic about what you can accomplish in 10 minutes. You&#39;ll only be discouraged if you constantly can&#39;t complete the task. Focus either on one small area (a drawer, your wallet, one table) or one limited action (dusting the furniture in one room, picking up all the toys). (See also: <a href="">14 Ways to Organize a Closet</a>)</p> <p><strong>2. Enlist Help</strong></p> <p>One person can accomplish a lot in 10 minutes, but two or three people can do even more. And your spouse/kids/roommates are more likely to agree to clean for 10 minutes when they see that the task is limited in time and scope. (See also: <a href="">How to Have a Good Roommate Relationship</a>)</p> <p>I recently saw the efficacy of this approach one night when, frustrated at the state of our family room, I told my husband, &quot;Let&#39;s pick up everything we can in 10 minutes. Ready, set, move your butt!&quot; Ten minutes later, stray coffee cups were in the sink, toys were picked up, books were shelved, and stinky socks were dumped into the washing machine. We both looked at our relatively clean family room and said, &quot;Wow.&quot; We even got a bit of exercise from our burst of decluttering energy!</p> <p><strong>3. Do Your Regular Chores</strong></p> <p>The 10-minute declutter can&#39;t take the place of your regular chores. You probably can&#39;t, for example, do all the dishes that have piled up over the week in 10 minutes. The goal of the 10-minute declutter is to make headway on organizing a mess that seems too big to tackle, by breaking it down into manageable chunks. Do one, or a few, 10-minute declutters every day in addition to your regular chores, and you&#39;ll feel like your home is actually getting cleaner, rather than merely maintaining the status quo. The 10-minute declutter can also help you out when things are getting messier than normal and you want to &quot;reset&quot; the balance, so to speak.</p> <p>If, like me, you have trouble disciplining yourself to tidy up around your home, the 10-minute declutter can be a useful tool in your cleaning arsenal. Make it a habit, and you&#39;ll be a little further on your way to the clean, organized, and peaceful home we all dream of.</p> <p><em>Do you use the 10-minute declutter, or a variation, to keep your place in order? What do you do?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Declutter Your Home in 10 Minutes" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Camilla Cheung</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization cleaning declutter organization Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:21:07 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1041945 at 14 Ways to Organize a Messy Closet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-ways-to-organize-a-messy-closet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="closet" title="closet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="192" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tired of walking into a closet that looks like a bomb just went off? Whip that storage space into shape with these closet-organizing tips, tricks, and ideas designed to make getting dressed a little more enjoyable. (See also: <a href="">15 Awesome Storage Solutions for Under $10</a>)</p> <h2>1. Add Another Clothes Bar</h2> <p>My husband and I have a fairly large walk-in closet, which is hard to find in New York City. It's tall and wide, and it can comfortably keep all of our stuff organized and within reach. When we first moved in, however, there was only one bar below a spacious shelf, with about five feet of unused space above it. To capitalize on that open area, I installed another bar near the ceiling that effectively doubled the amount of hanging area we had. Unfortunately for my husband, he only gets a fraction of the combined area because I'm a clotheshorse. Win some, lose some, as they say. I don't feel too bad about it though, since I'm the one who has to take out the ladder to reach my clothing. Adequate compromise, I think.</p> <h2>2. Hang Shoes on the Back of the Door</h2> <p>When thinking of ways to organize your closet, take a look at all the space that's not being used and think of ways to use it. The back of the door is perfect for hanging a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004Z912RC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">canvas shoe storage apparatus</a> that will hang from the top of the store and allow you to stow at least a dozen pairs of shoes.</p> <h2>3. Put Cubby Cubes on the Floor</h2> <p>While we have a large closet in our bedroom, there's not much room for a dresser in the room, which forced us to think of ways to store our socks, undies, and tees in an organized manner. The solution we decided on was a few six-cube cubbies in which we put inexpensive bins to keep all our undergarments. Two of the cubbies are stacked vertically so the top areas can be used as shelf space for watches and sunglasses, and one is laid horizontally against a wall so the side area can be used as a shelf for additional shoe storage.</p> <h2>4. Install Hooks for Scarves, Hats, and Accessories</h2> <p>Unless you have a closet with 360 degrees of clothing racks, there's probably a lot of unused wall space that you can turn into storage. To keep scarves, bags, and other accessories off the floor and from cluttering up drawers, install a few hooks on the walls so you can hang these items in a way that's aesthetically pleasing and easy to grab. (See also: <a href="">25 Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>5. Swap Out Clothes Seasonally</h2> <p>Every spring I pack up my fall/winter clothes and put them in storage. In the fall and winter, I do the same with my spring/summer clothes. Swapping these seasonal items out keeps my closet from overflowing with an abundance of garments, and it gives me an opportunity to sort through the pieces to decide what to keep and what to donate.</p> <h2>6. Fold Tees and Sweaters</h2> <p>Not every item that goes on your back needs to be hung. You'll save a lot of precious rack real estate by folding tees and sweaters and storing them on shelves and in cubbies. My T-shirts are rolled up in my cubbies and my sweaters are folded and stacked neatly on a shelf. The latter method helps me choose what I want to wear on a cold day quickly, while the former frees up hangers that I can use for button-downs and polos. (See also: <a href="">How to Fold Your Shirt in 2 Seconds</a>)</p> <h2>7. Store Watches in a Compact Case</h2> <p>Instead of throwing a hodgepodge of watches in a box or tossing them on your nightstand, look into an inexpensive watch storage case. I have one that I found on Amazon that holds 10 watches comfortably. The case latches easily, and there's a handle that makes it easy to carry. When I want to pair a watch with a particular outfit, I just open up the case and pick my preference. Until then, it stores perfectly on top of my clothes cubby without taking up too much space.</p> <h2>8. Stack Sunglasses Vertically</h2> <p>Another one of my amazing storage finds was a vertical sunglass rack that I purchased on eBay. It's just like the ones that retail stores have to display glasses, and mine holds about 20 pairs. Before investing in this piece of equipment, I stored my glasses in their respective cases. This kept them from getting damaged, but when I wanted to wear a pair, I had to open up multiple cases until I got to the pair I wanted. Now all I have to do is spin the display and choose my style. And instead of taking up three feet of horizontal space on a shelf, the display consumes vertical space, of which there's plenty.</p> <h2>9. Label Your Drawers</h2> <p>Because my husband and I have so many cubbies, it was necessary to label them so we could go into the closet and grab what we wanted quickly. After a while the labels aren't necessary because we memorize the sequence, but labels are quite helpful the first weeks after organizing if you want to save some time.</p> <h2>10. Eliminate Excess</h2> <p>I touched upon this a few tips earlier and I can't stress how important it is to go through your garments periodically and get rid of what you're not wearing. My basic rule is that if I haven't worn something in a year or more, it has to go. How you choose to get rid of it is up to you. Donating to a local charity seems to be the preferred method, but don't discount yard sales (I had one recently, and I made about $25 on clothing and accessories alone) and planning a clothing swap with your friends wherein you can unload some of your old items and take home a few new(ish) ones through trading. (See also: <a href="">8 Ways to Update a Wardrobe You Hate</a>)</p> <h2>11. Stuff Bags With Bags</h2> <p>For reasons that I can't comprehend, my husband has several duffel bags that he never uses but with which he's not ready to part. To keep them neatly together, I stuffed the bulk of them into the largest bag and stuffed that bag inside a suitcase. The suitcase can't be flattened, so it made sense to utilize the space inside the suitcase by filling it with items that would otherwise take up a lot of space that they didn't necessarily have to. Ladies, you can employ the same savvy storage technique by placing smaller handbags inside larger ones and hanging those on the wall.</p> <h2>12. Categorize Your Clothing</h2> <p>To make it easier to put together a complete outfit, especially when you're layering, consider categorizing your clothing. For instance, on the hanger bar organize shirts into categories like button-downs and polos, and where you keep your pants, separate them into categories like jeans, khakis, and cords. By having certain types of clothing in specific places, you'll be able to dress more efficiently since you'll save time on a daily basis when choosing what you want to wear.</p> <h2>13. Color Code Your Garments</h2> <p>My closet has been color coded for years, and it's one of the best organizational systems I can recommend &mdash; especially for tops. If I feel like wearing a certain color on a particular day, I know exactly where to look. Plus the closet looks fresh, fun, and happy when you walk into it when it's color-coded. Another added bonus is that your mom will be duly impressed if she ever happens to wander into it. Trust me, the time investment and upkeep is worth that tiny bit of praise alone.</p> <h2>14. Keep a Small Ladder Within Reach</h2> <p>I use my small ladder on a daily basis. It's cumbersome at first, but eventually it becomes part of the routine. The ladder is necessary if you plan to maximize your space and use an increased amount of the unused area of your closet. With the ladder in the closet, you can build higher, placing shelves above shelves, installing more hooks for accessories, or even adding another clothes bar to reduce some of the overcrowding on existing bars.</p> <p><em>Do you have even more ideas on how to organize a closet? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="14 Ways to Organize a Messy Closet" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization closet clothing organization storage wardrobe Fri, 13 Sep 2013 10:36:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 981863 at Garage Triage: Organize Your Garage for Maximum Chore and Storage Efficiency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/garage-triage-organize-your-garage-for-maximum-chore-and-storage-efficiency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="garage" title="garage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If your garage, like so many others, has become an overflow storage area for sporting equipment, holiday decorations, and totes too numerous to mention, then it's time to reclaim some space. With winter just a few months away, now is the perfect time to clear the clutter, get organized, and make room for that car that's been kicked to the curb. After all, who wants to be chipping ice of the windshield while a perfectly good garage goes to waste? Here's how to get things in order with a little garage triage. (See also: <a href="">How to Downsize and Declutter</a>)</p> <h2>Clear the Clutter</h2> <p>First things first &mdash; hit the clicker, open the door, and start sorting. Getting a handle on what you've accumulated in the garage is the first step in getting organized. At this stage, don't worry about the grand vision of how you want the space to look, just focus on making room. Sort in piles &mdash; one pile for items that can be donated to charity, one for items that can be sold or passed on to friends, one for items to keep, and one for trash. (See also: <a href="">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a>)</p> <h2>Make It Pretty</h2> <p>Once you've cut the clutter, it's time for cleaning and cosmetics. Does the floor need to be power washed or <a href="">sealed</a>? Could the interior walls use a fresh coat of paint? Are there cracked windows, burnt out bulbs, or shaky steps? A little TLC now will help the final product feel more complete and motivate the rest of the process.</p> <h2>Go Vertical</h2> <p>Once you've spruced things up, it's time to get creative about storage. Start by looking up. The most important real estate in any garage is floor space, so make more of it by storing things vertically. The more you can get off the floor and out the way, the easier it will be to use your garage for it's primary purpose. Here are some ideas for vertical storage:</p> <p><strong>Shelving</strong></p> <p>Shelving hung at shoulder height and going 4-5 feet up is perfect for storing cans of paint, small bins, seasonal yard supplies, and more. Start the shelving at shoulder height to retain floor space and avoid banged car doors and tight squeezes. Store a folding step stool under the shelving to reach items that are higher up.</p> <p><strong>Pegboard</strong></p> <p>Classic pegboard and hooks are still a perfect and cost-effective solution for organizing frequently-used tools and smaller items like tape, twine, and paint brushes. The pegboard solution keeps items in plain sight and easily accessible &mdash; no frustrated rummaging through boxes and bins.</p> <p><strong>Hooks</strong></p> <p>Large hooks are a garage's best friend. Use them to hang rakes, snow shovels, clippers, hoses, and watering cans. Larger plastic-coated utility hooks are great for hanging bicycles, too. Getting bikes off the floor helps keep the space organized and prevents damage. To learn more on how to properly store bikes using hooks, check out <a href="">this article on wikiHow</a>. (See also: <a href="">15 Awesome Storage Solutions for Under $10</a>)</p> <h2>Color Coordinate</h2> <p>Bins, boxes, and cans are ideal for storing larger items like holiday decorations, sporting equipment, bulk cleaning supplies, pet food, and more. Avoid the &quot;I wonder what I put in that bin&quot; phenomenon by color coding your storage. For example, use green bins or boxes for lawn and garden supplies, yellow for cleaning supplies, red for holiday decorations and other seasonal items, etc. Since these storage containers are accessed less frequently, a color-coded approach helps you immediately narrow the search when you need something. Post your color key on the wall for easy reference.</p> <h2>Create a Flexible Workstation</h2> <p>Creating a single flexible workstation in your garage can save space, time, and money. Make any work bench pull double or triple duty for automotive and household repair, woodworking, crafts, and small gardening projects. Equip the space with general tools and supplies, but organize project-specific materials in color-coded containers or small wheeled cabinets for quick cleanup and storage. (See also: <a href="">Screwdrivers to Saws: Stocking Your First Toolbox</a>)</p> <h2>Get Benched</h2> <p>Garages are where we drop at the end of the long day or where we try to pull ourselves together at the last minute before we start the day. A bench helps on both counts. Designate a spot to sit down, kick off your shoes, or decompress after a marathon day of lawn-mowing or car repair. Use under-bench storage for grimy utility boots, paper towels, or hand-sanitizer.</p> <h2>Designate a Go Station</h2> <p>Garages are most families' last stop in their mad dash out the door. Capitalize on this fact by designating a go station in your garage. Store last-minute grab-and-go items like energy bars, extra hats, gloves, reusable grocery bags, pet leashes, and other supplies on a bench or shelf. It'll help you stay organized during those last-minute morning rushes. Hang a whiteboard or chalkboard for reminders or to exchange quick family messages.</p> <p>Though it's tempting to ignore our garages and keep them in a perpetual state of clutter-chaos, getting organized has its advantages. Garage clutter has a way of creeping into the rest of our homes, and the things we love have a way of getting lost, damaged, or tossed out when there's just too much stuff to deal with. In just one weekend of focused effort you can transform your garage from &quot;eek!&quot; to chic. Oh, and you might even get your car off the street in the process.</p> <p><em>What's your garage like? What are your favorite garage organization hacks?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Garage Triage: Organize Your Garage for Maximum Chore and Storage Efficiency" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer garage home organization refinancing Mon, 19 Aug 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Kentin Waits 981342 at The 10 Best Productivity Apps for Really Busy People Like You <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-best-productivity-apps-for-really-busy-people-like-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="post-it notes" title="post-it notes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="178" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have three kids, a business, and a few blogs, and I just signed up to become a Girl Scout leader. When people ask me, &quot;How do you do it all?&quot; my usual reply is, &quot;I give up, how?&quot; (See also: <a href="">What Is Your Best Productivity Advice?</a>)</p> <p>Turns out, &quot;How do you do it all?&quot; is not a joke, or if it is, I'm still waiting to hear the punch line. In reality, I'm supposed to figure out how to get it all done in a day, on my own. Well, not completely on my own. I have a smartphone, and therefore I have a choice of to-do list apps to help me.</p> <p>Here are the 10 apps that most experts consider to be the best at helping people like me get it all done.</p> <h2>1. Todoist</h2> <p>Works on: <a href="">Android</a>, <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a>, Windows, Mac, Web</p> <p>Cost: Free or $29/year for Premium</p> <p>A recent <a href="">Mashable post</a> commended <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">this uncluttered app</a> because it &quot;has enough power to take on a nearly infinite task list, meaning that there's no data ceiling to hit.&quot; You can create any number of projects with deadlines for each, break each one down into the steps you must take to accomplish it, and color code everything to keep it straight.</p> <p>If your to-do list isn't only for you, try their free online collaboration product, <a href="">Wedoist</a>.</p> <h2>2. Awesome Note</h2> <p>Works on: <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a> or Galaxy Note</p> <p>Cost: $3.99</p> <p><a href="">'s iPhone/iPod expert gave this app 5 out of 5 stars</a> because you can easily sync your to-do list with Evernote or Google Docs.</p> <p>&quot;I also love the monthly calendar view for getting an overview of your tasks for the coming weeks,&quot; wrote iPhone expert Tanya Menoni.</p> <p><a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">Awesome Note</a> isn't just a to-do list, either &mdash; it's a full-function note-taking and organizational app. That means it has a bit of a learning curve, but the time invested is reportedly worth it.</p> <h2>3. Wunderlist 2</h2> <p>Works on: <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a>, <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004TMPJP6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=best-apps-20">Android</a>, Mac, Windows</p> <p>Cost: Free</p> <p>Simple and good-looking,&nbsp;<a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">Wunderlist 2</a> was flagged as one of the best by <a href="">TechRadar, which raved about its ease of use and flexibility</a>. You can view your to-do items as a simple list, or you can have alerts or emails pop up to remind you when things come due.</p> <p>Your lists are stored in the cloud, and you can share them, turning this into a group productivity app.</p> <h2>4. Remember the Milk</h2> <p>Works on: <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a>, <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00657XVYY&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=best-apps-20">Android</a>, Blackberry, Web</p> <p>Cost: Free or $25/year for Pro</p> <p><a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">Remember the Milk</a> plays well with others, interacting with Siri on iPhone, or <a href="">with Gmail</a> and Google Tasks. The Pro version syncs with Outlook. <a href="">LifeHacker raves about the recent iOS and Android overhauls</a> that make the app &quot;even easier to use.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Do It (Tomorrow) HD</h2> <p>Works on: <a href="">Android</a>, <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a></p> <p>Cost: Free for phones, $4.99 for iPad</p> <p><a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">Do It (Tomorrow) HD</a> tops <a href="">Fast Company's list of &quot;alternative&quot; to-do apps</a> because it helps users &quot;efficiently procrastinate&quot; by moving items from today's list to tomorrow's with one little swipe. I like this idea, because there's nothing more disheartening than looking at a to-do list full of unchecked tasks at the end of the day. I'm not sure if this app would actually help me get things done, but it could help me sleep better at night.</p> <h2>6.</h2> <p>Works on: <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B006HUC29E&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=best-apps-20">Android</a>, <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a></p> <p>Cost: Free</p> <p>The San Francisco Chronicle recently named <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;"></a> the <a href="">App of the Week</a> because it doesn't wait for you to tell it what you need to do &mdash; the app tells you. It integrates with Gmail and other email, and it guesses based on your messages what you need to do to follow up. If it guesses right, you don't have to type the to-do item, just accept it.</p> <h2>7. Conqu</h2> <p>Works on: <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a></p> <p>Cost: $4.99</p> <p>There's nothing more maddening than driving right past the library without remembering that you've got a trunk full of overdue books to return. So I love the idea of <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;""" fs-bin="">Conqu </a>in its <a href="">best apps list</a> because it doesn't merely let you list tasks, but helps you prioritize them. &quot;You can set up the app to organize tasks automatically by context, energy level, time required, and so on,&quot; the magazine enthuses. And look at all the devices it works on!</p> <h2>9. Toodledo</h2> <p>Works on: <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;">iOS</a>, Web</p> <p>Cost: $2.99 for iOS, free for Web</p> <p>You <a href="">may already be familiar</a> with <a href=";offerid=146261&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0&amp;tmpid=1826&amp;"></a>, the popular online task manager. The app takes your Toodledo to-do items on the road, and <a href="">MacWorld praises its powerful sorting and filtering functions</a>.</p> <h2>10. Yahoo To-Do?</h2> <p>Works on: ?</p> <p>Cost: ?</p> <p><a href="">Astrid</a> deserved a spot on this list, but it was acquired by Yahoo, which shut the <a href="">service down</a>. Keep an eye out for new improved to-do functionality from Yahoo.</p> <p>As if this isn't choice enough, <a href="">stand-alone to-do lists aren't your only option</a>. You could turn to overall productivity apps such as EverNote or OneNote, or just use the Google Tasks built into the Gmail you probably already use.</p> <p>Me? I chose Remember the Milk because I've been meaning to increase my use of Google Calendar, with which it interacts, and also because I liked the cute line drawing of a cow's face that represented the app in the Android store. I would have chosen Checkmark if I had an iPhone.</p> <p>So far, I've found Remember the Milk easy to use for setting up and checking off to-do items. Setting up reminders and figuring out how to get it to play with Google Calendar have proved more challenging. But I like having a handy way to keep myself focused without having to search my purse for that dog-eared list that I probably forgot at home anyway.</p> <p><em>What's your favortie to-do app or tool?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 10 Best Productivity Apps for Really Busy People Like You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization Productivity apps getting things done lists to do Wed, 07 Aug 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Carrie Kirby 980651 at Beyond the Sandcastle: 20 Great Ways to Use a Beach Bucket <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyond-the-sandcastle-20-great-ways-to-use-a-beach-bucket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="beach bucket" title="beach bucket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="162" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Besides making sand castles and carrying water, beach buckets are also handy to have on hand for many other purposes. They are cheap and plentiful, especially during the summer months. Check out dollar stores, warehouse stores, beach shops, pharmacies, big box stores, craft stores, or supermarkets for affordable options, and start exploring the many alternative ways to put an inexpensive plastic pail to good use. (See also: <a href="">30 Uses for the Humble Cardboard Box</a>)</p> <h2>1. Beer Bucket</h2> <p>Find an extra large beach bucket for this task, and the sturdier, the better. Fill it with ice and use as an ice bucket, or place a few bottles or cans inside to make your own mini cooler.</p> <h2>2. Cleaning Supply Storage</h2> <p>A regular sized beach bucket is a great container to store lightweight sponges, dusters, or microfiber cloths in one place. Use the bucket's handle to hang it on a hook in a laundry room or closet to free up valuable floor or shelf space.</p> <h2>3. Beach Bucket Cakes</h2> <p>A very cute and affordable idea for a beach-themed party or summer gathering is a&nbsp;<a href="">beach bucket cake</a>. It basically works by filling small, clean beach buckets <a href="">with layers of cake</a>, frosting, and graham cracker crumbs, which serve as fake sand. Insert a little flag or a chocolate shell for a beachy finishing touch.</p> <h2>4. Art Supply Organizer</h2> <p>Try a series of buckets to hold crayons, markers, paints, or brushes in a well-organized way. Using multiple buckets dedicated to each type of art supply will make it easier to find that one colored marker or paint tube that always gets lost in the shuffle.</p> <h2>5. Bucket Centerpiece</h2> <p>This is great for a beach-themed party or buffet when you want to add a playful touch. Choose a nice looking beach bucket to hold flowers or a potted plant in the middle of a table. Alternatively, you can fill a bucket with sand and shells and add a small candle to use as a centerpiece outdoors. Depending on the candle, your centerpiece can also keep the bugs away.</p> <h2>6. Tub Toys</h2> <p>Young kids love to play in the tub, and a beach bucket makes a great multipurpose tub toy. My daughter&rsquo;s beach bucket does triple duty. First, it stores her smaller tub toys and sits on the side of the tub. Second, it's a toy itself during bath time. And third, Mommy uses it to clean the tub after a bath.</p> <h2>7. Garden Supply Organizer</h2> <p>Keep all the hand tools for the garden in one easy-to-find and carry beach bucket. Not only will it keep small shears, trowels, and spades in place during your regular gardening and planting tasks, but it also can be easily carried around the yard by its handle.</p> <h2>8. Craft Storage</h2> <p>Beach buckets work great to collect scrap fabric, paper, ribbons, yarn, buttons, and other craft trimmings you want easy access to and need to keep organized. Crafty types might even decorate their craft storage buckets with the ribbon and glitter they store!</p> <h2>9. Halloween Trick-or-Treat Tote</h2> <p>Use an orange bucket or decorate any color beach bucket to make a nice trick-or-treat tote for <a href="">a costumed kid</a> to carry door-to-door. You can also decorate one and use it yourself to dish out the goodies when your doorbell rings menacingly.</p> <h2>10. Serveware</h2> <p>Another great&nbsp;<a href="">beach-themed party idea</a>&nbsp;is to use beach buckets and matching shovels to serve chips, pretzels, popcorn, and other snacks. Or, use small buckets to hold ice cream toppings for a make-your-own ice cream bar.</p> <h2>11. Hair Accessory Storage</h2> <p>Use a beach bucket to keep brushes and hair ties in one place on a bathroom counter. A small, brightly colored bucket looks great in a kid&rsquo;s bathroom, is easy to clean, and is shatterproof when it inevitably gets knocked over by little hands.</p> <h2>12. Party Favors</h2> <p>Great for birthday parties, regardless of the season, small beach buckets filled with toys, stickers, or candy are excellent party favors. Or, for baby or wedding showers, use the buckets to hold packs of flower seeds and other little mementos.</p> <h2>13. Snow Toys</h2> <p>They work great on the beach with sand, but don&rsquo;t rule out the possibility of beach buckets in the snow. Use them to hold snowballs for the next great snowball fight or to build little mounds and forts when the snow is heavy and wet.</p> <h2>14. Creative Picnicware</h2> <p>A unique serving idea for a casual barbecue or picnic is to use beach buckets lined with wax paper to hold fried chicken and fries (or whatever you like). It allows you to skip the plate and use your hands to dig in and enjoy eating something in a fun way. Beach buckets are also great for crab feasts and corn on the cob.</p> <h2>15. Dog Toy Storage</h2> <p>Use the biggest buckets to stow rawhides and other chew toys for your dogs in one place. Beach buckets are a cinch to clean, too. Dried dog slobber rinses right off.</p> <h2>16. Bon Voyage Gift</h2> <p>If you know someone going on a beach trip, beach honeymoon, or other fun journey, a beach bucket &nbsp;filled with some goodies makes a clever and inexpensive gift. Include snacks, sunscreen, cheap sunglasses, and other small beach items.</p> <h2>17. Utensil Caddy</h2> <p>If you are having an outdoor gathering or a dinner on your back patio, use a beach bucket to hold your utensils and add a fun touch to a casual meal. It&rsquo;s also great for holding paper napkins outdoors to prevent them from blowing away.</p> <h2>18. Toy Storage</h2> <p>If your kids have toys that come in very small pieces or who have small collectibles, then a beach bucket is <a href="">the perfect storage container</a>. A kid can grab the handle and carry the bucket from room to room. This hopefully makes cleaning up easier and eliminates those small, easily forgotten pieces from falling to the bottom of another, larger storage container.</p> <h2>19. Garden and Harvest Basket</h2> <p>If you pick flowers or vegetables from your own garden or go berry picking at a farm, you definitely need a portable container to collect your bounty. A beach bucket is lightweight, easy to carry, and holds plenty. Plus it&rsquo;s easy to clean, and it&rsquo;s cheap enough that you won&rsquo;t mind getting it dirty.</p> <h2>20. Washing the Car</h2> <p>There&rsquo;s no need to invest in an over-priced bucket for car washing duty when a large beach bucket can get the job done. Fill your bucket with water and use it to soak and wring your sponges out as you soap up the car.</p> <p><i>What's your favorite fun way to use a beach bucket or pail?</i></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Beyond the Sandcastle: 20 Great Ways to Use a Beach Bucket" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Organization beach bucket cheap storage diy decorating Party ideas storage Tue, 30 Jul 2013 10:24:30 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 980594 at