Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 6 Organization Tips (for more time and $ - duh)


In the spirit of the year winding down and in thinking about my resolution/to-do list for 2011, I started thinking of some things I did in the last couple of years that seriously made my life SO much easier, and saved me money (you know, money to buy dresses, shoes and coats) . Some I mention regularly on the blog, some I’ve never mentioned before and ALL are very simple, easy-to-implement and by no means genius. All of that being said, they’ve been lifesavers and have made it easier to multi-task and get almost everything I want to do done, while still working 40 hours a week and having a social life. Enough blather – here are my top 6 organization tips as of late:
  1. Keep Gift cards and coupons in one, easy-to-transport place. Buy a small accordion file (about 4”x6”) like this one. Get a sharpie and label the tabs A-Z. Get all of those coupons – you know – the 20% off at Bed, Bath and Beyond cards and the 15% off days at Macy’s. Before dropping your cards in their designated letter, get index cards and list out the coupons or gift cards you have and when (or if) they expire – put this card in the front of your file. Now when you shop you have them all with you, and are more likely to take advantage of the coupons that do expire. (I like to highlight the ones that expire soon!)
  2. Make a Bill Box and List. I made a ‘bill box’ that includes a ledger of all bills we pay (how we pay them and when), checkbooks, stamps, envelopes, pens and return-address labels I made rather than write every. single. time. I also put together a ‘bills’ document. It has four columns: (1) type of service provider, (2) name of service provider and all contact info (phone number, address and website), (3) our online information (user name, password, etc.) if applicable and (4) ‘how to pay.’ Some bills charge $15 to pay online. Some charge $5 to pay over the phone. The column tells you how to pay each bill and the penalties for not paying it right way. Having this 2-pager and bill box make it SO much easier to do this sucky task. I get the AMEX bill, I look at the list and I know what to do and when to do it!
  3. Develop a full grocery List. Once. Take the time to make a list of everything you buy at the store. Yes, everything (Black Beans, Gum, Laundry detergent). If you have a significant other who helps you shop, be specific (Bush’s Black Beans, Eclipse Gum, Tide original scent 32 loads). Once EVERYTHING is on there (even stuff like stamps if you buy them there), organize it by section of the grocery store. Then format into columns with small boxes (bullets) to the side. Try to get it on 1 page (front and back) with 3 columns on each side. Now, print out numerous copies, and when you go to make a grocery list you have something to start from, rather than a blank page, increasing the odds that you get everything you need and don’t have to go back. Make sure to add some blank lines just in case, and if you find yourself putting the same items on there, update your full list!
  4. Buy (and use!) kitchen drawer organizers. Really. I know it seems simple (and it is!) but get some, especially for that drawer that has all of the little measurement spoons, can opener, pizza cutter, etc. With organizers everything has a space and it’s easier to grab what you need, especially when you’re cooking.
  5. Create a shared Google Calendar. If you share your life with someone else, share a calendar. When we get an evite or invite, I can go to the calendar and quickly see if we have a prior engagement. When we have household things to do (like change the air filter), we can schedule this on the calendar for every 5 months. We also keep up with important birthdays, events and more – all in one place.
  6. Rely on meal plans. I know I preach this all the time but I really feel that this helps you in so many ways. Aside from just eating better because meals are ready on hand, it saves you back-and-forth trips to the grocery store. Here’s how I plan meals for anyone who missed it!
That’s it for now! I don’t know about you all – but I LOVE anything that makes mine and Austin’s family run smoother, and helps us save a buck here and there so we can travel to see our family and friends, buy gifts for celebrations and for each other and the list goes on. Extra time (or money!) never hurts anybody!

Q: What’s your #1 Organization Tip? What did you do in 2010, or plan to do in 2011, to make your life easier?

I'll post more about today tomorrow (today involved a marathon cooking event with FIVE new recipes!). Until then HAPPY NEW YEAR! And please share a tip you love or one you want to try so I can be more productive in 2011!

18 comments:

Josie said...

I do the grocery list now! Such a time saver!! I had my 2nd baby in the beginning of 2010 so I've learned to budget better and manage my time better. however, I plan on working on more meal planning in 2011, I've been slacking but still manage to only order out 1 night a week!

Jennifer said...

Those are some great tips - I love the idea about organizing the coupons and am definitely going to be using it!

fittingbackin said...

Josie: AWESOME! And 1 night/week WITH a baby at home is pretty fabulous! I only have puppers and probably eat out 1/week!!

Jennifer: Thanks! It's really worked great! I just have to remember that I don't HAVE to use the coupon, but if I need something or see a birthday or wedding coming up on the calendar it's nice to save some $!

Tami said...

Those are great tips. I am a list maker, list for what to do each week, each day and so on. It helps me stay on track and organized.

Tyler said...

I'm a total list maker as well. I'm also learning to be stingy with my time. I don't need to stress myself out to make it to 549 places in one night. I've been known to feel guilty and that's just silly. Ultimately that will save time and money!

Gabriela said...

You're seriously so organized- I LOVE it!! I've always been an organized person, but being organized in the "adult" world is harder than in the college world- thanks for the tips for making the transition!!

Joanne said...

Ahhh love these tips! I always make a grocery list based on what I'm cooking that week and I ALWAYS use a meal plan.

Happy new year love! Here's to a great 2011!

And I can't wait to see those recipes!

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Great tips! Meal planning and grocery shopping lists help me the most, and I plan to get serious about them again! :-)

Wishing you a happy & healthy 2011!

Runi said...

Those are great tips! I've been looking for new drawer organizers (I can't see the one you have). I need some with a lot of compartments. We have two full sets of silverware plus a bunch of other utensils and not nearly enough drawers!

I've been keeping my most important coupons (for BBB and Babies R Us) in my car door because my 17 month old thinks the accordion coupon file is her toy! :)

I love the shared Google calendar. Now if my husband says he didn't know about or remember something, I just say, "it was on the joint calendar!" He can't argue with that! :)

Some little organization things I do are: organizing my pantry (putting similar things together) so I can see at a glance what we're low on; put index cards on the plastic bins I use for storage so I know what is in each one; and I use the drawer organizer bins from Ikea in my bathroom cabinets to keep everything uncluttered.

Happy new year!!

Kelly Olexa said...

I've been a relatively organized person but this month, I've been "purging" in my house. Getting rid of things I am storing for no reason and giving them away. Keeping groceries in my house- only what I eat NOW. I've changed my "diet" a lot so I purged a lot of food, and that made room to store/organize other stuff. I'm a big believer like you in the drawer dividers- and organizing the cabinet shelves like a psycho so you can SEE when you need something - and then it goes on the grocery list. Otherwise you are just GUESSING at the grocery store and spending more than you normally would.

Val said...

I love being organized!! It's the little things that bring me joy and being organized is way up there on the list! I hope you have an amazing New Year!

Melissa said...

I'm a huge list maker! I keep a pen and paper by my bed so when i think of things, it doesnt keep me up at night!

Tricia said...

happy new year

Beth @ bride in the little white dress said...

I love to clip coupons and organize them in my $1 Target coupon organizer (*nerd alert*) I also make grocery lists and a mark a little "c" next to the item if I have a coupon then staple all the coupons I'm using for that trip to the list.

Happy New Year! :)

Mica said...

Those are all good tips--especially the drawer organizers!

Jacey said...

These are absolutely fantastic tips. I especially love the tip for organizing and storing coupons and gift cards. I cannot tell you how many times I am at a store and realize I left a gift card at home. Good stuff!

Jacey said...

These are absolutely fantastic tips. I especially love the tip for organizing and storing coupons and gift cards. I cannot tell you how many times I am at a store and realize I left a gift card at home. Good stuff!

Kelly Olexa said...

I've been a relatively organized person but this month, I've been "purging" in my house. Getting rid of things I am storing for no reason and giving them away. Keeping groceries in my house- only what I eat NOW. I've changed my "diet" a lot so I purged a lot of food, and that made room to store/organize other stuff. I'm a big believer like you in the drawer dividers- and organizing the cabinet shelves like a psycho so you can SEE when you need something - and then it goes on the grocery list. Otherwise you are just GUESSING at the grocery store and spending more than you normally would.