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12 Techniques to Tame Household Chaos by Kara DeBord

Transfer Basket: Collect all items needed for errands the next  day (ie. library books, dry cleaning, mailings, b-day party gift) and place in a basket by the door. Grab the basket on your way out, put on passenger seat of your car and “work out of the basket” all day long.  When you return home, bring the empty basket in and put it back by the door. Repeat the next day. The ‘basket’ could be ANY container a cardboard box/laundry basket/tote bag.

Lunch Station: Save precious moments by creating a “lunch station” in your kitchen. This is simply a designated area that holds all things needed to pack a sack lunch FAST (i.e. lunchboxes, baggies, peanut butter, juice boxes, bins that hold a variety of snacks, etc). Be sure to post a list of options found in the fridge too! With items all in one area and your list to reference you can pack a lunch on auto-pilot.

Sock Box: Create a small container (box/basket/bag) for socks that have lost their mate in the laundry. Place this container close to where you fold laundry (maybe a shoebox under the bed or under the couch). Sooner or later the other sock will turn up and you can unite the two again!

Art Treasures: Each school year fold a poster board in half taping the sides shut creating a HUGE “envelope.” As papers and art projects come home put them in the “envelope” for safe keeping. Keep it handy so you can toss papers in easily. Over summer vacation go thru the envelope with your kids keeping just the really treasured items.

Tickler File System: This simple system of date-labeled folders (1 for each day & 1 for each month) allows you to sort incoming paper by the date on which it needs action. Daily you remove the folder for the current date and retrieve the reminders that need action today. Don’t get thru that days paper- no fear-file it in tomorrows file and keep moving it forward till it’s dealt with and VOILA no more lost paper!

Grocery Store Map: Here is a hint for making grocery shopping a quick and efficient trip. Walk the store from front to back buying items off your list. This way if you miss an item and need to re-visit an aisle you’ve already been down it’s okay because you’ll pass that aisle again on your way back to the front of the store to the checkout. No more zig-zagging aisles wasting time.

Outgrown Clothing: As you undress your little one for the night and realize they’ve outgrown the outfit they wore that day, attach a small safety pin to the outfit as you toss it in the laundry.  When the garment comes out of the laundry you’ll know not to put it back in the dresser but to add to the outgrown bin. Under the crib is a great place to store a cute bin/crate/bag to hold the outgrown clothing for donation or your next child.

Backpack Checklist: Help your child succeed by making a laminated checklist of what needs to make it to school with them each day and attaching it to their backpack. With a quick glance on the way out the door they can be sure they are prepared. List might include: gym shoes, instrument, lunch, milk money, show & tell item, papers in daily folder, etc. Maybe listing items by day of the week would be helpful ~ adapt this idea to fit YOUR child’s needs!

Car Organization: Use a covered cake pan or old lunchbox to store books, a change of clothes, first aid kit, trash bags, snacks, sunscreen, etc.  in your car. The pan is shallow and perfect to slip under the seat. Use a crate (that collapses when not in use) to contain grocery items…no more rolling melons or spilling milk on the way home.

Home Project Binder: Create a binder that includes project ideas, the “honey-do” list, and all those paint chips for the colors in your home! Use a trading card sheet (3 ring binder sheet protector type) to store the paint chip and label each “pocket” with the room painted and date. When you need to reference the color again you won’t need to try and read it off the yucky used paint can.

Charging Labels: Label every charger cord (iPods, e-readers, cell phones, cameras) that enters your home with the name of the devise and initial of the owner. With the average family owning 8-10 devices that need charging, no wonder we’re always looking for the right charger for the right device!

Library Bag: Designate a tote bag as the “home” for library books and attach a luggage tag to the bag. In the tag holder store your library card and the slip listing the books you have and the due date. This slip can be used as a checklist to be sure ALL books are returned. Be sure to record the due date on your calendar. Some libraries offer an e-mail service that sends a reminder a few days before books are due.

Thanks to Organized A to partner Kara DeBord for contributing these tips. Kara is owner of Organize With Hope. You can visit her Web site at

Leave a Comment July 19, 2010

Carving Your Christmas…Elephant?!

“Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was sleeping not even a mouse; the stockings weren’t hung yet, the tree was still bare we assembled and wrapped and then pulled out our hair. The children were noisy and jumping on the bed and the thought of gift giving caused nothing but dread. We had nothing for grandma; we’d forgotten the poor dear so we vowed to plan ahead for gift giving next year.”


Well….it’s next year! If your Christmas memories include sleepless night wrapping presents and rushing to 24 hour stores for last minute gifts, I’m here with some ideas to help. No, I can’t add more hours to your day, but I can tell you how to plan ahead and, hopefully, breeze through the weeks before Christmas.

This is the time of year we seem to need time management more than ever but, we need to begin well before Nov. or Dec. Oops!

Using concepts from the basic info from Woman Time Management I believe you can find help to get and stay organized for all holidays. Sometimes we feel like we live in a Pressure Cooker – and this is one of the most “pressured” times of the year! Oh, there are always a few who claim there’s nothing to getting ready for Christmas – just put up a tree and get a turkey! (Men?)

Much of the pleasure of a Merry Christmas & happy unharried holidays are based on using good organizational techniques and time management principles. I hope to help you create more TIME with your family and the projects you CHOOSE to undertake by making optimal use of your available time to prepare for the holidays with minimal STESS.

First – put away the old Christ- mess… being DEPRESSED, FRANTIC / UNDER PRESSURE / AND OVER BUDGET! The goal is to have a Christmas in which you enjoy the ultimate spirit of GOODWILL, where there is PEACE, a RELAXED ATMOSPHERE, and where you can enjoy FRIENDSHIPS AND KINSHIPS….without being left with a MOUNTAIN OF UNPAID BILLS and a PILE OF UNFINISHED PROJECTS.

You really CAN organize Christmas and make it the special time of year it was meant to be! Obviously, most of us don’t have the luxury of devoting all of our spare time during Nov. and Dec. to holiday activities. All the things you WANT to do can bring PRESSURE if you don’t bring your WANTS & NEEDS into a manageable schedule. But…..Let’s all admit it – CHRISTMAS ISN’T SPRUNG ON US AT THE LAST MINUTE! It’s always the same date. There are always 365 days between Christmases and yet we still find ourselves saying, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN!

You may as well face it – when HALLOWEEN is over, there are only 7 WEEKS left and the RACE IS ON! And then, you can’t really count the week of THANKSGIVING or the week of CHRISTMAS…so we’re left with 5 WEEKS to “Get our Holiday Act Together!” HO! HO! HO!

There’s a saying in time management that applies well to this time of year: HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT….? Before we begin to CARVE this little fella – you first need to decide your GOALS or PURPOSE in celebrating Christmas: IS IT TO DRAW THE FAMILY TOGETHER? / TO IMPRESS OTHERS? / TO HAVE FUN? / TO INCREASE YOUR SPIRITUALITY? / OR PERHAPS, JUST TO SURVIVE THE SEASON?!


Come back tomorrow to see the first tip on carving your Christmas Elephant…

Some information gleaned from “76 Ways to Get Organized for Christmas:  and make it special too” by Bonnie McCullough

Contributed by Organized A to Z partner Judy Warmington. Judy is owner of Woman Time Management in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. She also partners her business with Treva Berends of The Organizing Specialists, a Professional Organizing business that trains new organizers and then manages them in a referral network. They have trained over 300 new organizers from 25 different states. Judy is a member of NAPO and Faithful Organizers. Learn more about Judy and her services at either or

Some information gleaned from “76 Ways to Get Organized for Christmas:  and make it special too” by Bonnie McCullough

Leave a Comment November 24, 2009

National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization

People can be disorganized for a variety of reasons: learning styles, lifestyle choices, physical challenges, neurologically-based conditions, mental health issues, difficulty dealing with transitions and life changes, or even the simple reason of never being taught how to organize. Part of being a successful professional organizer involves learning about these issues and understanding ways to help my clients overcome those factors. The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD) helps me stay on top of the latest research and methods to help my clients do just that.


“The mission of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization is to explore, develop and disseminate to professional organizers and related professionals organizing methods, techniques, approaches and solutions that will benefit chronically disorganized people.”

The NSGCD Website offers some great assessment tools and tips on chronic disorganization. If you want to talk more about topics that you read about here, feel free to contact me – or call me at 804-550-9428

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