Personal and family organization can be a challenge for every busy parent and father. When I think about organization skills and strategies. When I think about organization, I am often reminded of two of my colleagues at work.
I am a medium messy desk executive. If you were to look at my desk, you would see folders with several current projects inside, papers waiting to be signed, and often a water bottle.
But I have colleagues at both ends of the desk spectrum. One has piles so high that you can’t even tell if he is at his desk; the other is almost compulsively neat with a desk that never has anything on it except what he is currently working on.
But interestingly enough, the guy with piles several feet high can find anything there in a minute or so; and my neat friend is often losing things. So I’m not sure that a messy desk always signifies a lack of organization. But more often than not, having a system of organization that works for you and that you work with can help reduce stress and maximize time efficiency and effectiveness.
The same is true of a home or household. If we have a good organizing system in place, we can waste less time looking for things and can keep our family running smoothly. When we don’t have a system and don’t stay on top of all of the stuff we are doing and that we need, we are less effective and miss some important opportunities.
And the bottom line is that being disorganized at home wastes time, and time is what most families need more of.
So an investment of time and money in getting better organized can help create more time for families to be together having fun!
So, consider a few of these tips for getting your home and family better organized so that your time is spent on the things that matter most - family relationships.
Create a mail station. Even though so much of our written communication occurs electronically, many families still get bills, checks, statements and other important items in their home mailbox. Having a single place where all the mail goes can be a real time saver because you only have to look in one place, and you only do to one place to process the incoming mail. A hanging file box, a fabric box or a wicker basket can all do the trick.
Keep track of leftovers. Quite often, our refrigerator will fill up and overflow, largely because we haven’t used all of the leftovers. One well organized family I know has a small whiteboard magneted to the front of the refrigerator where they write down any leftover items they put in the refrigerator along the date. This helps them use their leftovers, not throw them out and not let them mold and be wasted.
Have a cleaning supplies caddy. In our home, we have four bathrooms, and carting cleaning supplies from one to the other can be tricky. We bought a cleaning caddy at a local janitorial supply store where we keep cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, glass cleaners and rags and brushes in one place. Whoever is cleaning a bathroom just grabs the caddy and heads off to do the job.
Use personalized checklists. Many people love to make lists to stay organized, but it is a time-waster to make the same list over and over. Set up some checklists on your home computer - like a packing list for a trip, babysitter information and routine grocery shopping lists - and then print them out whenever you need them.
Set up recurring bills to be paid automatically. One of the smartest organizing ideas we have implemented is to use the bill pay function of our local bank to put recurring monthly bills like car payments and credit cards on an auto pay program so they are paid by the bank every month before the due date. It totally eliminates late fees and removes one stress from my overburdened mind and calendar.
Create a family command center. Our family command center consists of a whiteboard one-week calendar, a large-format paper monthly calendar, our telephone, our mail station and some pens and pencils. Family members write their commitments on the large monthly calendar, and then each week that information is moved onto the weekly whiteboard.; By having calendar items all in one place, we can stay somewhat organized at least as far as our schedule is concerned.
Have one place for homework. Each child should have a homework center with a desk, baskets and folders for organizing work, and all the paper, pens, staplers and other supplies they need. This allows the kids to have a specific place to do homework and allows them to customize their own space and keep everything homework-related there.
A few simple steps can have great leverage in your quest to become more organized at home. And eliminating time wasters in favor of meaningful quality family time is well worth the effort.