Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Faves 9/9/11 (Organize It!)

I have always been into organizing stuff. From an early age, I have been addicted to calendars, highlighters, file folders... all manner of office supply flotsam.

As the years have gone by, I admit to slipping a little. I have (more than) a little of my mother's piling habits. If you're a piler, you know what I mean! Piles of bills on the hutch, piles of kids' papers on the coffee table, piles of recipes in a shoebox. 

I have a lot of time at home right now, so I thought it was a good opportunity to revamp some of my household systems and getting a better hold on CALM.  I started by compiling a list of the main areas I wanted to focus on:

bills/finances
medical information
recipes
kids' papers
I could really go on and on, and probably will at some point, but as with any large project, you will be more successful if you break it down into small steps and prevent yourself from being overwhelmed.

The internet is such a vast resource for all things organizational. Ideas for organizing anything abound, and if you look in the right places, the information can be had for free! I've listed some of my favorite resources that pertain to the above categories, and some brief ideas on where I'm headed with my particular systems.
Home Management Notebook
Organizing Your Way has a great post on supplies, categories, and uses for a home management notebook. I am definitely creating one of these. I am in the beginning planning stages, and still deciding on my categories. So far I think it will include sections for bill paying/budget, one for each kid (activity schedules, school menu, etc.), information for babysitters, websites and passwords, and contacts.This is a great post because it has free printables for your binder.

Medical Information

As a lot of you know, my health problems have been especially troublesome lately. Making the rounds to several new specialists, and having to recount my history and tests results to each of them is simply exhausting, and often an incomplete endeavor. I had read a magazine article a while back about organizing medical records digitally, and it appealed to me at the time. I really wish I had ripped out that article! But, it was sitting in a doctor's waiting room, so I left it for the next patient. But I did start snooping around the internet, and will be exploring these options:

Organizing Life has downloadable forms that can be put into a binder for general information, or they may be good if you don't have any complex issues. I may use a few of these in my Home Management Notebook.

Paper Doll reviews some digital options, including flash drives and on-line services. I had intended to check out GoogleHealth, but when I checked out the link, I discovered this service will be discontinued in January 2012. Bummer. I may end up just creating files on my hard drive and scanning test results, etc.

Kids' Papers
 "I'm an Organizing Junkie" is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs for all things organizing. This post has some great links from elsewhere in blogland.

Here are some good tips from Housekeeping.about.com:
For younger children’s artwork and papers, consider creating a Weekly Wall of Fame from a bulletin board in their room or study areas. Every week or so, tack up some of the work they bring home from school. Papers can then be sorted to what needs to be filed and what can safely be tossed.
Keep only the important cards. Birthday cards, invitations, and thank you cards can quickly overwhelm your storage places. Try to keep only the cards that really mean something special to you.

Some papers my girls bring home will go into my Home Management Notebook, but things like artwork and daily worksheets really overwhelm me.  Some tips I employ include:
Take photos of large or special art projects and keep the pics in a scrapbook or other photo-storage system. I keep a "School Days" album for each of my girls, and each school year has a 2-page spread dedicated to pictures of them with their art projects.

I keep only a few worksheets per year for the kids' scrapbooks. They get three report cards per year, which of course I save. Getting those report cards is a good reminder for me to choose a paper or two to keep- this way I get samples from the beginning, middle, and end of the school year.

A majority of the papers the kids bring home are one-sided. Instead of throwing out all that paper, I use the blank side for household computer printing or for the kids to color on. Saves money and natural resources!

Recipes
I have long used menu planning to organize my grocery shopping and dinners. My recipes, on the other hand, are out of control! I have them stashed in a recipe box and binders. I have stacks of cookbooks and magazines. In addition, I have recipes saved on my computer and on Pinterest.  I am still debating what system to use, but I am leaning towards a large 3-ring binder. I really need to spend some time paring down before I commit, though.  Again, I'm an Organizing Junkie has tons of ideas and resources for this project.

I recently read a blog post that mentioned Springpad. I haven't done anything more than bookmark the site to check into later, but apparently you can save and organize recipes (among tons of other things) on it, and access it from your smart phone. I can see how this would come in handy at the grocery store!

I will keep you updated on my organizing efforts... Please share any tips or organizing projects you are working on!
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