Quick Tips for Everyday Organization

Only have 15-30 minutes to spare each day? Try one of our 14 simple fixes to get a more organized home, fast!

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7. Minimize Interruptions

Just when you begin organizing your jewelry, the phone rings. And keeps ringing. Telemarketers and even family and friends can be a prime source of interruption in the evenings. When you want to get things done without being interrupted, set a night aside each week when family and friends know not to bug you, except for emergencies. As for the telemarketers, stick it to the man by registering your home and mobile phone with the National Do Not Call Registry www.donotcall.gov.

8. Uncover Your Fridge

Do you really need 15 magnets, or will five suffice? Unless your refrigerator is a design statement, it usually becomes a catch-all for mismatched magnets, emergency phone numbers and take-out menus. Clear everything off your fridge's façade and organize it by stacking ads, coupons and scraps of related papers in piles. If you keep phone numbers on your fridge, type or neatly print them on a single sheet. Things like doctor's appointment reminders should go in your planner, while coupons can be stored in a coupon book.

9. Toss Old Medicines

Take 10 minutes to sort through your over-the-counter and prescription medicines, throwing away any that are expired. You might want to relocate your medicines, too. Even though medicine cabinets are a logical place to store medications, capsules and tablets really should be stored in a moisture-free environment. Just be sure to store them out of reach from children. All medicines should be kept in their original containers, unless you’re using a pillbox when traveling.

10. Practice Early Morning Organization

If you dread organizing and have a hard time committing to it, try doing your organizing projects early in the morning. By spending just 30 minutes on a project before you go to work or drop the kids off at school, you'll be free to do things you really enjoy later in the day. It's also great for those days where everything seems to get in the way of your carefully scheduled plans.

11. Go On Receipt Duty

Receipts — what to do with them? They find their way in your wallet, your check book and your piles of bills stacking up on the kitchen counter. Gather them up and make a quick pass through, noting which payments have cleared and which are still pending. Get organized fast: Check ATM and bank receipts against your monthly bank statement; Purge grocery and clothing receipts if you have no problems with the products; Make a pact from now on to retain credit card receipts in an envelope until you pay that month's bill. Shred all receipts rather than tossing them.

12. Never Run Out of Milk, or Mayo

Designate a space for the grocery list in your kitchen (not your bottomless purse!). We recommend keeping an index card or notepad handy on the refrigerator or at the kitchen office. When you run out of an ingredient, write it down immediately. Gone will be the days of getting half-through your tuna casserole and realizing you forgot the mayo.

13. Find Ways to Remind Yourself

You've made a list of organizational goals... and promptly lost it. Enlist a spouse, relative, friend or coworker to help you remember — and remind you about — your goals. Sometimes all you need is a friendly reminder to keep your organizational efforts on track.

If you're the type of person who balks at such "motivation," make a copy of your list and keep it in two prominent places in your home where you'll look at it every day. Or, go digital and sign up for free with the simple Todoist www.todoist.com or more complex Backpack www.backpackit.com. Both let you can replicate your to-do list, but Backpack allows you to schedule reminders to be sent to your e-mail or phone.

14. Consider Creative Containers

Aesthetics and function are important when choosing containers for your things. "You want to make sure you know exactly what you're going to put in the container before you go shopping for it," says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out www.juliemorgenstern.com. She recommends making things as much fun to put away as they are to take out by using sleek, classy storage that matches the decor of your room or home.

Instead of several shopping trips, reuse items you have lying around your house: Baskets, boxes or shelves can be repurposed with a new coat of fabric or paint. Often, this is less expensive than buying a specialty container and can be just as effective for organizing. The key is to buy containers last, not first, so you know they'll be effective.

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