Caregivers: Your THINGS deserve priorities too.

Woman soring through piles of things

I’m a pile maker. This article describes the things I’m doing to conquer my piles and declutter my home. I give tips on what kinds of things helped me get organized.

I admit it. I’m a pile maker. Piles in the closet, piles in shelves, piles in cupboards, piles in the corner. I’m always digging through a pile somewhere looking for stuff. I was sitting down a couple days ago and thinking about getting better organized. A couple times, I’ve gotten the right idea & I have a few little plastic drawer carts for things like the kid’s craft supplies. That works great. So I was thinking, how can I apply that to the rest of my “stuff?”

I sat down & started making categories for the things I saw in the piles. I realized that the bulk of the piles were all my stuff. I never thought of it this way before, but it turns out to be categories for my interests. Child Development, Counseling, Zen Spiritual, Home Economics, Computer Games, Reading/Education, Physical activities, Clothes & body care.

My husband’s stuff consists of weights, hockey gear, books, computer gadgets and equipment and clothes. Then we have kids stuff such as bedding, toys, clothes. My husband’s stuff and the kids’ stuff all have places to go. I have designed our space for their stuff. Not mine. My stuff just gets piled in random obscure places that are left over. I give my interests and my stuff low importance. Wow. That was an eye opener.

I have a lot of books and files. So I started looking at which ones of my interests could go into filing cabinets. Child development is my preschool curriculum files, books and resources -that can definitely go in a filing cabinet grouped by topic. Counseling/Psych has a lot of research files and books. That can go in a file drawer. Reading/Education is mostly all books, so that can go on a bookshelf together. Zen Spiritual is books, papers & videos on Christianity, Reiki, Taoism, & Feng Shui. That can go in a file drawer. Computer games I want to keep can go on the bookshelf and my notes on computer games I’m designing, can go into a file drawer. I’m keeping only what I really need. Nice new books will go to the library, older stuff is going to the Salvation Army or the Goodwill thrift stores.

Home Economics is a big category for me. My craft supplies are decently organized in the drawer carts like I mentioned. However, I don’t have a place for scrapbooks, so I will have to plan bookshelf space for those. Next are Finances. I used to have that nicely organized in a file cabinet, but we’ve moved since then & I never got started again. I found a good list of family records to keep and I’m shredding everything that is not in that list.

In the kitchen, I am designating part of a cupboard just for cookbooks & recipes. Also put my control journal in this cupboard. What is a Control Journal? Its a 3 ring binder for keeping track of chores, meal planners, grocery lists, supplies, and addresses of your friends, families, doctors, vet, insurance agent, etc. Two good places for forms and checklists are the Yahoo Control Journal Group and the Flylady

And then there is the physical activity stuff. I had designated a couple of shelves of a plastic bookshelf for my husband’s hockey gear. But things don’t stay on it well and it takes up a lot of room when stuff is side-by-side. I was thinking about those little plastic drawer carts that worked so well for my craft supplies. I had some old empty file boxes and so I filled them up with things like iceskates, tennis rackets, balls, & snow gear. ‘Made my own drawers to put on the shelves – I don’t put lids on them, letting things like a tennis racket stick out. This could also work with plastic bins or baskets. And you could even label them so that if kids or spouses get into them, they know where to put stuff back. This was so convenient, I think I’m going to get another one and do the same thing with tools.

The one I saved for last is the one I was most dreading: my clothes, jewelry, shoes, hair, skin and body care. Our bedroom has a tiny closet, so I used Fashion Mash to organize my clothes into outfits. I found that some things I never wear because they just don’t match anything and so they are going with stuff that doesn’t fit anymore to be donated. Since our closet is so little anything that can be folded like jeans, sweaters and even some T-shirts are going in drawers and on a shelf. We have this old wicker trunk, so my shoes went in it and now my cat enjoys sitting on it.

And here is where yet another drawer cart came to the rescue. One drawer has my hair stuff. A second drawer has my jewelry. The third drawer has the skin care, deodorant and everything I use in the morning. The last drawer has my nighttime stuff, fingernail polish and things I use less often. Makeup and most personal care products have a shelf life, so take the age of your products into consideration when you decide what to keep.

I’m still working on some of it. I’d love to hear back on anyone else’s organization tricks & tips!

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