Organization en-US Organized People Have These 5 Things in Their Homes — Do You? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/organized-people-have-these-5-things-in-their-homes-do-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="organized woman" title="organized woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Organization is all about time management and making sure your belongings have a designated home for easy access and cleanup. It's a simple concept, but it's not always easy to pull off, especially when you're being pulled in a million directions by work, trips to the grocery store, your kid's cello lessons, your Twitter feed, and the dog who just can't get enough walks. (See also: <a href="">25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>Luckily, there are tons of tools on the market to help you keep calm, cool, and coordinated. Read on for our roundup of the things every organized person should have in the home if they want to stay clear of chaos and clutter.</p> <h2>1. A Shoe Rack</h2> <p>Never again will you have the right shoe but not the left. Never again will you have to tear up the house looking for that missing pair of rain boots. A rack built to store and display two dozen pairs of footwear is the organized person's must-have sanity tool. Try something sleek and simple like this <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005KC6DY0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=VZCSHTUYRLFVCNZP">Whitmor rack</a>.</p> <h2>2. Grid-It Organizer</h2> <p>This rubberized grid of elastic bands is <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002HU27UW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=EUG6PHAKHFWG5TMC">like a Trapper Keeper for grown ups</a> that slides right into your drawer, bag, or briefcase. Simply place the items you need &mdash; cell phone, toothpaste, notebook, flashlight, measuring stick, business card holder &mdash; beneath an elastic strap and the Grid-It Organizer will hold them firmly in place. Rummaging through a bag or junk drawer to find your flash drive is now a thing of the past.</p> <h2>3. A Garbage Can &mdash; That Gets Used For More Than Just Food Scraps</h2> <p>Organized people stay organized in part because they don't hold on to every little thing they've ever owned. They know when it's time to say goodbye, if only to prevent clutter from cramping their style. Even the smallest show of resistance to a good spring cleaning is indicative of mild hoarding. (See also: <a href="">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a>)</p> <p>&quot;People hoard because they believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future,&quot; writes Fugen Neziroglu, Director of the Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck, New York. &quot;Or they feel it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away. They may also consider an item a reminder that will jog their memory, thinking that without it they won't remember an important person or event. Or because they can't decide where something belongs, it's better just to keep it.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Smart Shelving</h2> <p>We all use shelving to organize everything from our kitchenware to our laundry supplies. But organized people utilize this shelving with a bit of forward-thinking: Whether its dishes or detergents, the organized person arranges the items on their shelves by frequency of use, with everyday items on an easy-to-reach shelf and special-occasion items tucked behind or above.</p> <h2>5. A Filing Cabinet</h2> <p>A home filing system keeps the organized person free from the frustrations that come with not being able to find their passport. That's because the organized person stores all important documents and paperwork in a single cabinet organized with tabs marked by category and the letters of the alphabet.</p> <p><em>Are you organized? What do you use to help keep your place organized and clutter free? Please share in comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Organized People Have These 5 Things in Their Homes — Do You?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization organized planning storage Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:07 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1238128 at 10 Ways You're Wasting Time Without Realizing It <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-youre-wasting-time-without-realizing-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman working headphones" title="woman working headphones" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Time is one thing that we seem to have less of as life wears on. (See also: <a href="">15 Ways to Save Time in the Morning</a>)</p> <p>The days fly by and we're stressed to come up with any extra minutes. But what if we could free up our schedule and finish our to-do lists? Some people are just busy with little or no recourse, but others are wasting time without even knowing that it's happening. Here's a look at a few ways we can be more aware of our time and be better managers of it.</p> <h2>1. Leaving Email &quot;Up&quot;</h2> <p>You may work a job where you must have email up on a constant basis. But if you don't, there's no reason to run it when you aren't waiting on a particular message. If you're working on a project, just close your email and check them periodically throughout the day. Avoiding that catchy little &quot;(1)&quot; that often distracts your train of thought can save you a lot of time.</p> <h2>2. Listening to Music</h2> <p>In some cases, listening to music can help pass the time when engaging in mundane or mindless tasks. But when it comes to work that you need to think intentionally about, like crafting a sales pitch, writing a report, or even just reading something, <a href="">music can slow you down</a>, thereby increasing the time spent on the task and decreasing the resulting quality of your work.</p> <h2>3. Paying for Lunch</h2> <p>In some cases, you need to spend money to make money. But paying for lunch is often a double-figure investment and can cost you close to (or more than) an hour of work. <a href="">Pack a lunch instead</a> of eating out and you'll get back an hour's worth of pay, which<a href=""> can really add up</a>.</p> <h2>4. Not Taking a Break</h2> <p>It might seem counterproductive (or even impossible) to stop what you're doing at work or home to take a break. However, <a href="">numerous studies have shown</a> that taking a break, or even a short nap, can actually boost your productivity and increase the quality of your work output.</p> <h2>5. Not Making a To-Do List</h2> <p>Even if you can remember everything you need to do, making a to-do list can help you focus by streamlining your schedule and giving you a failsafe to avoid forgetting important tasks.</p> <h2>6. Using a Gadget When Pen and Paper Will Do</h2> <p>Tablets and smartphones can be excellent productivity tools. But when it comes to taking notes or <a href="">quickly writing down ideas</a>, you may be better off with the much simpler pen and paper.</p> <h2>7. Going to Meetings</h2> <p>It's becoming increasingly common for meetings to be viewed as <a href="">productivity killers</a>. That's not to say they don't have their place, but a<a href=""> brutally objective view</a> of the typical workplace meeting shows us that we're wasting a lot of precious time.</p> <h2>8. Attending Technology-Related Classes</h2> <p>It's not to say that all work-related classes are a waste of time, but a lot of the information that used to only exist inside classrooms now exists for free on the Internet. Particularly when it comes to technology-related topics, you can learn almost everything there is to know in a free, online format.</p> <p>Places like <a href="">Khanacademy</a> and <a href="">Code Academy</a> are great places to start.</p> <h2>9. Running Dual Monitors</h2> <p>A lot of people find dual monitors to be more productive because it allows them to avoid having to switch back and forth between different applications or documents. While that's true, it only applies in certain professions. For example, graphic designers and programmers will often have need for more than one screen. But if it's not an obvious necessity, more than one monitor often makes things more distracting because it tempts you to put something that's not work-related on the second screen. In most cases, it'll be more efficient to stick with one monitor.</p> <h2>10. Not Putting Your Clothes Out the Night Before</h2> <p>One incredibly simple thing you can do to save time before you go to bed is set your clothes out for the next day the night before. It makes early mornings a lot quicker as it gets you out of your bedroom without having to search through drawers, possibly in the dark out of fear that you'll wake someone up.</p> <h2>Time to Be Saved</h2> <p>There's no question that it's easy to crowd our lives with obligations and tight schedules. But there is time to be saved if we're willing to be objective about our own scheduling and work habits. If we remove the unnecessary time wasters and get specific about where we can get be more efficient, most of us can get back more than 60 minutes a day. For many, that can make a huge difference by allowing them to be more focused, relaxed and allow them to feel less rushed every day.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve and avoid wasting time? Are the tactics you employ at home and work much different? Let me know in the comments section.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Time Without Realizing It" 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 Productivity efficiency saving time shortcuts time time savers time sucks Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1218888 at 12 Things You Won't Ever Use Again and Should Throw Out Today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-things-you-wont-ever-use-again-and-should-throw-out-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="recycle computer" title="recycle computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm a frugal person. I also love to upcycle. So how should you handle items in your home that you aren't using now, but are worried may come in handy someday? While it's a good idea to make a personal assessment of most every item in your home, there are some items you shouldn't waste your time considering. (See also: <a href="">10 Useful Items You Should Never Throw Out</a>)</p> <p>Here is a list of 12 old things you can safely part with, minus the regret.</p> <h2>1. Outdated Clothing</h2> <p>Imagine my surprise when I saw some very 80's looking shirts hanging up at a local Target store; they brought me back to a time when I wore very similar items! The fact that clothing goes in cycles is not reason enough to keep them around, however. In addition to the fit being an issue (can you really wear the same clothes you did 30 years ago? Should you?), there are modern details that most vintage-inspired pieces depend on to be trendy. Your acid wash jeans, for example, may have too much of a &quot;mom fit&quot; to qualify for cutting edge today. Donate, sell, or toss.</p> <h2>2. Cables, Cords, and Wires for Old Electronics</h2> <p>I was just as surprised as you when the government made digital TV a thing, and people started buying up rabbit ears to get their local news. This was an anomaly, however, and most of the accessories you used for your television in the 90's are seriously defunct. Toss out that RF modulator and coaxial cable adapter. Even Goodwill won't want them.</p> <h2>3. Toys That Take Specialized &quot;Cartridges&quot;</h2> <p>Brands like Leapfrog and VTech are notorious for releasing the hot new toys each holiday, complete with a line of games and upgrades that only work with that year's new thing. Unless you have the complete collection with enough entertainment hours to keep someone happy for awhile, most kids don't want to try to round up the matching components for 2009's doorbuster deal.</p> <h2>4. Underwear or Lingerie That Might Fit Someday</h2> <p>Unless you recently had a baby and are certain you may squeeze back in within the next 10 months, ditch the dainties from a skinnier you and buy something that you feel comfy in. If you do, indeed, drop the pounds, you can celebrate with a nighty or briefs that reflect your new physique. Think of it as a celebration!</p> <h2>5. Old Makeup</h2> <p>Once opened, cosmetics last for less time than you think. Give it a toss if it's been longer than six months since you bought it. Sooner if it smells or is truly out of season.</p> <h2>6. Old Paint</h2> <p>It's possible to blend similar paints together for a cheap coverup for a single wall or outside shed. Most people don't aspire to do this, and if paint has been exposed to extremely hot or freezing temps, the paint won't be good anyway. Be sure to dispose of it according to the rules and regs for your area to avoid any hazardous consequences to the environment. This includes cans of spray paint and spray foam, which lose their propellant over time.</p> <h2>7. Old CRT Monitors and Televisions</h2> <p>These clunkers suck energy and take up precious desk space. Considering that a decent LED monitor can cost under $100, it's best to set these dinosaurs out on the curb.</p> <h2>8. Spices</h2> <p>Not sure when you'll ever use ground lemongrass? If you have opened spices that don't fit your cooking style, you might want to give them a sniff &mdash; and throw out the odorless ones. Dried spices that have been stored around your stove, and have been exposed to high temps, should be the first to go.</p> <h2>9. Textbooks</h2> <p>Professors can be prickly about letting college students use older editions of textbooks, especially for those which are updated often (like law books.) Skip the odds of getting misinformation &mdash; or a bad grade &mdash; and opt to borrow or rent the most revised edition.</p> <p>And if you've been keeping your college textbooks around since you graduated &mdash; why? If you haven't cracked them open again yet, you aren't going to.</p> <h2>10. Medicines</h2> <p>If your OTC meds don't have an expiration date, have been opened, and don't come with any memory of when you last used them, dispose of them responsibly. If they came with an Rx toss them as soon as your prescription expired.</p> <h2>11. Canned Goods</h2> <p>Follow the same rules for canned food as you would for meds. No date? Don't bother keeping it around.</p> <h2>12. Kitchen Appliance Piecemeal</h2> <p>That blender without a lid? Coffee machine that requires expensive pods you can't seem to find in the store anymore? Both are just taking up precious kitchen counter real estate and should be gotten rid of. If an appliance is missing vital parts, just scrap them; otherwise, your local used store can likely sell donations of a complete unit.</p> <p>Tossing stuff is hard, especially if you have fond memories of using it. If you don't remember the last time you put it to good use, or you really don't care for it much, anyway, you can add even more useless items to your &quot;toss it&quot; box!</p> <p><em>What are you keeping around that you know you should toss? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Things You Won&#039;t Ever Use Again and Should Throw Out Today" 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> Frugal Living Organization clutter declutter donate trash upcycle Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:00:08 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1213030 at The 5 Best Ways to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Workday <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-ways-to-spend-the-first-10-minutes-of-your-workday" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="businessman morning" title="businessman morning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As Plato wrote in 380 B.C., &quot;The beginning is the most important part of the work.&quot; It's a truth that still stands today: How you begin your work day sets the tone for the rest of it. If you do your morning right, you're apt to have an overall day where you accomplish more, stress less, and earn more recognition for your productivity. (See also: <a href="">13 Things Successful People Do Every Morning</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our roundup of the top tips and tricks on starting the work day off right.</p> <h2>1. Don't Check Your Email</h2> <p>Julie Morganstern's <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0743250885&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=B5W2ELQZKCNTSVID">Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work</a> preaches the near-unfathomable: Don't start the day by checking your inbox.</p> <p>Email is often a black hole and our number one time suck. Checking it never feels like much of an accomplishment because while you're reading, deleting, and responding, more and more messages are piling up. Instead, Morganstern suggests we begin the work day by crossing off a task with a single focus &mdash; something we can truly feel accomplished about.</p> <p>If you fear a vitally important email might slip through the cracks if you delay checking your inbox, we recommend <a href="">AwayFind</a>, a program that cuts through the clutter, notifying you on your cell phone about only the most urgent messages.</p> <h2>2. Clear Your Desk of Clutter</h2> <p>Throw out yesterday's empty disposable coffee cup and that stack of memos from last week. Studies show that a cluttered workspace actually hinders our ability to process information and concentrate. We aren't aware of it, but <a href="">clutter competes for our attention</a> in much the same way as a whining child or a barking dog does.</p> <h2>3. Organize Your Day</h2> <p>Just like school children who attend a homeroom period at the start of the day, adults in the workplace should carve out a few minutes in the morning to review schedules, assess priorities, and set goals. A little organization can go along way to getting your day on track.</p> <h2>4. Make Big Decisions</h2> <p>Research shows that morning time is when we're best equipped to <a href="">make clear-headed decisions</a> relating to ethics and tough situations. So it's best to pull the trigger on any hiring, firing, financial, or otherwise important quandaries at the very start of the day, before your mind gets strained or overwhelmed.</p> <h2>5. Take Advantage of a Clear Mind</h2> <p>Decision-making isn't the only task a clear mind is good for. A focused mind helps us complete tasks of all sorts more quickly and accurately. &quot;In considering the <a href="">limitations of attention</a> imagine the following scenario,&quot; writes Jamie Hale for PsychCentral. &quot;You find a parking spot that is tight and requires parallel parking. One of the first things you will probably do is turn the radio down. You turn the radio down so you can focus on getting the car in the parking space.&quot; So while when your brain is at its sharpest, begin working on the most important assignments of your day.</p> <p><em>How do you start your day for maximum productivity? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Ways to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Workday" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization Productivity getting things done mornings to-do work Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1211249 at The Only 5 Words You Need to Declutter Your Life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-5-words-you-need-to-declutter-your-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple recycling" title="couple recycling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2008 I downsized my personal belongings by 85% when I moved into Dinky Manor with Mr. Foxypants, my now husband.</p> <p>Initially, Mr. Foxypants and I agreed that we would both downsize our belongings by 50% in order to fit the acquisition of our two adult lives into a 1000 square foot house with terrible closet space.</p> <p>Downsizing by 50% was easy. I managed that in just a few weeks by creating a game called &quot;Do I like this object more than my boyfriend?&quot; Since I have OCD, I really wanted to avoid negatively impacting our relationship with my personal clutter issues. I never wanted to be in a position where we would argue about my stuff. Conflict avoidance is a huge motivator for me. (See also: <a href="">This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too</a>)</p> <p>However, I soon realized that 50% wasn't going to cut it. The 1937 layout of Dinky Manor wasn't designed for 21st Century life. Our house predates both television and refrigeration, so just arranging our major appliances in our tiny, period kitchen was challenging.</p> <p>Because I love a good challenge, I decided that I would downsize by 90%. After speedily ditching half my belongings, I thought, &quot;How hard could this be?&quot;</p> <p>Not that hard, but still hard enough that I actually didn't make my goal of downsizing by 90% because I couldn't bear to purge my enormous crafty crap stash of fabric and yarn. But I made it to 85% with the help of the 5 R's.</p> <h2>1. REFUSE (To Bring In More Stuff)</h2> <p>Curbing consumption is actually the first step in downsizing. I think of it as a diet for my home. To this end I try and <a href="">get rid of 10 things a day</a>. I will not keep my house free of clutter and shrink my carbon footprint with a one-in-one-out policy. In order to cut my clutter I also:</p> <ul> <li>Refused to acquire new-to-me clothes, furniture, or house wares until I found a place for everything I already owned. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Refused to restock the pantry until I'd eaten through my current food stash. (This took two months).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Refused to bring single use items into my home. And by single use I mean items that generally are used only once like wrapping paper, plastic shopping bags, drinking straws, and little hotel shampoo bottles. In addition to being environmentally unsustainable, single use items were using up precious storage with their additional packaging. Most importantly, by using &quot;convenience&quot; items I was making mindless consumption a habit. Doing a periodic <a href="">trash audit</a> helps me discover where I am over-consuming in my home.</li> </ul> <h3>Decluttering Is the Mother of Invention</h3> <p>The direct result of refusing to bring new things into my home was innovation. I was forced to find reusable replacements for all my convenience goods. This is actually easier than it sounds because single use items only rose to prominence in the last 30 years and I am old enough to remember when everyone drank from the drinking fountains or thermoses rather than disposable water bottles.</p> <p>If I couldn't think of a suitable reusable replacement, I called my mom and dad and asked what they used when they were growing up instead of Saran Wrap (a plastic shower cap) or a to-go coffee mug (a jar with a tight fitting lid). Every single use item has its reusable counter part. Often it took just a few moments of looking around the house to find a suitable reusable replacement &mdash; a practice that is actually way more convenient than driving to the store to buy consumables.</p> <h2>2. REDUCE (What You Already Own)</h2> <p>The ease that I was able to part with half my stuff taught me a very important lesson: If it's easy to part with, then it's not something I really need in my life. Clearly, I was massively over-consuming, a fact that was really difficult for me to admit to myself, as I have always prided myself as being a very careful, and efficient shopper. I rarely go shopping and when I do buy something, I try to buy used to conserve resources. Alas, all my anti-consumerist smugness had gone to waste; I might be a minimalist compared to my fellow Americans, but I was still collecting too much stuff.</p> <p>Speaking of too much stuff, my grandmother, an accomplished hoarder, referred to herself as a founding member of the SABLE club. SABLE stands for Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy, of course. How many books can I realistically read before I die? And, do I need to store them all in my house? Can I store my stash of future reads at the public library instead, or in my Audible queue? Is packing my books Tetris-like into the bookcase a good use of my short life?</p> <h3>Reduce Redundancies</h3> <p>One of the speediest ways I reduced my belongings was by seeking out and eliminating repetition. Between my boyfriend and I, we owned two lawnmowers, two toasters, four coffee makers, seven flashlights, and 29 pairs of scissors. I went room by room and distilled our belongings down to the best of each item, and we sold the runner-ups at a garage sale.</p> <h3>Increase Sharing</h3> <p>Another easy way to reduce clutter is by sharing. My brother-in-law Jonathan and I share a china pattern. He has place settings for 12 and I have place settings for eight (which is the maximum number of plates and cups that will fit into my kitchen cabinet). When I have a dinner party for more than eight people, I borrow Jonathan's dishes. When he needs spare pieces for an event, he borrows mine. I share a weed whacker and garden tools with my friend Laura and kitchen appliances with my neighbor Alexandra. What is the point of buying and storing items like ladders, luggage, or camping gear that get used only a few times a year, when I can save money and space by sharing these things with friends and neighbors? I'm not a doomsday prepper. There's no need for me to own my own everything.</p> <h3>Reduce Exposure to Advertising</h3> <p>Another thing I hate to admit about myself: I am super sensitive to advertising. While I am grateful to Pinterest, Etsy, and eBay for making my life easier and my wallet fatter, those sites are also incredibly triggering. Window-shopping on those sites fills me with desire for things I never knew existed and certainly don't need. Fashion magazines and blogs are equally <a href="">crazy-making</a>. While in hardcore, downsizing, purge mode it is often necessary to take a sabbatical from media, social networks, and even people that encourage consumption.</p> <h3>Less Stuff = Less Stress</h3> <p>Reducing my belongings had an unforeseen benefit: It dramatically reduced my stress level. In addition to having 85% fewer things I had to curate, clean, and care for, it allowed me to stop looking at my everyday schedule as one, long To Do List. Every book in my house is something that needs to be read. The yarn needs to be knit into sweaters. The video games need to be played.</p> <h2>3. REUSE (Through Repair and Repurposing)</h2> <p>My great-grandfather was really good with money. He raised six kids on his earnings as a card shark. One of his favorite sayings was, &quot;Nothing is cheaper than the thing you already own.&quot; From an environmental standpoint, nothing is greener, either.</p> <p>As I write this I am wearing my new shorts. Last night they were my old jeans with holes in both knees. My new shorts will help me get through the disgusting heat of September in Los Angeles. I won't have to buy new shorts, nor will I have to buy new oven mitts for my kitchen, as the <a href="">leftover denim</a> from my old jeans will be sewn into hot pads. Also, I will save on electricity costs by wearing shorts to stay cool instead of turning on the air conditioning.</p> <p>Shopping in your own closet is one of the easiest ways of stretching your wardrobe budget. According to Ginny Snook Scott, the chief design officer of California Closets, the custom storage design firm, most women only wear 20% of their wardrobes. Before bringing anything new into the house I now ask myself, &quot;Do I already own something that I can use instead of this?&quot;</p> <h2>4. RECYCLE</h2> <p>Check with your local recycling plant to find out what is actually recyclable in your community. For example, mirrors and crystal are both made from glass. However, they are a different composition of glass than food jars and bottles, and cannot be recycled curbside in my city. Although single use plastic water bottles are recyclable in my area, the caps from the water bottles are not. Greasy cardboard food wrappers are not recyclable anywhere (although they can be composted).</p> <p>That said, a little research into your local recycling might result in some pleasant surprises. Many communities now have e-waste facilities that accept old appliances and computers. My e-waste depot also accepts old paint, pesticides, and other types of household chemicals. Nike collects old sports shoes of any brand that they turn into Grind Cover, a court surface for playgrounds. Most dry cleaners are happy to take returns of wire hangers. The Lions Club recycles old eyeglasses, with or without lenses.</p> <p><a href="">Earth911</a> has a search application that helps users find recycling centers in their area for items like cell phones, batteries, CFLs, BBQ grills, and bicycles, too.</p> <h2>5. ROT (Compost Like a Champion)</h2> <p>While most people don't think about the trash they generate, garbage is the clutter that is forced onto other people. Composting is a great way to downsize your garbage clutter. Although there are tons of people who get all judge-y and micromanage-y about composting, composting is actually really easy. In fact, Mother Nature does all the heavy lifting. Banana peels, coffee grounds, cotton rags that have seen their last mess, cat hair, and paper and cardboard packaging that is too dirty to be recycled all gets broken down by microbes and worms in my backyard into nutrient-rich plant food, instead of languishing in the landfill. Even apartment dwellers without yards can compost their waste using an under-the-kitchen-sink worm bin. Let me just say from personal experience, that homemade worm poo compost is a great gift for all the gardeners in your life.</p> <p>People who do not have access to recycling in their community, can use composting as a way to keep paper waste out of the landfill. Before I had a yard with trees, the brown component of my compost consisted of pizza boxes, old phone books, and paper deli-wrap.</p> <p>By keeping paper food wrappers and food waste out of the kitchen garbage can, I can go over a month without having to empty the 13-gallon garbage can in my kitchen. (I can go on vacation without coming back to a house that smells like rotting food&mdash; bonus). Alas, even with my tiny garbage output, my garbage bill is the same as my neighbors that throw away everything. Even so, composting does help me save hundreds of dollars on my food and water costs.</p> <p>Organic compost costs $12 per bag at my local nursery, and fertilizer costs even more. My homemade compost works as an all-in-one soil amendment to make my clay soil more friable, as an organic fertilizer to feed both my crops and my decorative plants, and as water-saving mulch all over my yard. Just about every new home gardener has experienced the $20 home grown tomato &mdash; the start up costs of their garden exceed their actual grocery bill. Composting allows me to grow my homegrown produce, for much less than what I'd spend at the store for the same items.</p> <p>Finally, my <a href="">garden hack</a> of using citrus peels as biodegradable seed starter pots has been pinned over 165K times and been featured on design blogs and magazines ranging from Ready Made to Apartment Therapy to Buzzfeed. Food-based garbage is my friend.</p> <p><em>Have you recently downsized your house? How did you do it?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Only 5 Words You Need to Declutter Your Life" 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 clutter compost declutter organization recycle Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Max Wong 1199025 at 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 décor 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