Think you're the only disorganized person in your neighborhood? The National Association of Professional Organizers reports that we don't use 80 percent of the stuff we keep. We wear 20 percent of the clothes we own, while the other 80 percent hangs there just in case, and 25 percent of adults say they pay bills late because they lost them.
If you have stacks of papers, frazzled mornings or lost car keys, use the following ideas to help you organize your family and home!
1. Make lunches, set out clothes and put everything you need for the next day in a designated area the night before. Have kids pack homework and books in their backpacks to be ready for the next day.
2. Place your purse, briefcase, cell phone and keys in a designated area every day so you always know where they are.
3. Decide on a breakfast menu the night before. If the family is to have cereal, set out the cereal boxes, bowls and spoons.
4. Make a "to do" list for the next day and prioritize the tasks. (Be sure to refer to it regularly!)
5. Fill the gas tank the day before so you won't have to worry about getting gas if you are running late the next morning.
6. To organize countertop clutter, purchase a plastic tub with a handle on top. Place all of your accessories (such as hair spray and lotion) in the tub and place under the counter. Take the tub out when you are ready to use it, and put it back under the counter when you are finished with it.
7. To organize your bathtub/shower, place your soaps, body wash, shampoos and conditioners in shower caddies. Many different kinds of organizers are available at both discount and department stores -- including those that hang from the shower head pipe and others that have several shelves attached to a long pole you put in the corner of the tub.
8. To help keep your shower doors clean, buy a water squeegee (like you use on your windows) and keep it in the shower. When you are done taking a shower, just wipe down the doors with the squeegee for a clean and dry shower door. Many of the squeegees come with a hole in the handle, which is convenient for hanging it up in the shower with a suction cup. (See a shower squeegee from Lowes at right.)
9. Install a simple magnetic strip in your medicine cabinet and hang tweezers, nail clippers and scissors from it.
10. Store reading material in a decorative magazine rack. As you add new magazines, recycle or give away the older ones to keep the magazine rack from overflowing.
11. Throw away old or unusued items in your bathroom: Makeup, lotions, old razors, sunscreen and perfume. Return old medications (including prescriptions) to your local pharmacy for safe disposal.
12. If you are out of space in your bathroom cabinets for towels, roll them up and display them in a decorative basket next to the shower or bathtub.
13. Install hooks on a wall or the back of your bathroom door for towels and robes.
14. Use drawer organizers for makeup, jewelry, ponytail holders and other loose items. (Plastic silverware trays, found in the kitchen aisle, are inexpensive and fit the bill.)
15. Place a shelving unit or etagere above the toilet for storing extra towels, washcloths and other accessories.
16. Put a clock in each bathroom so there are no excuses for being late.
17. Place baskets in your closet for laundry and dry cleaning.
18. Sort through, bag and donate anything you don't wear anymore to a local charity. This includes clothes that are no longer in fashion, no longer fit, or you haven't worn in a year. Also, get rid of those worn-out and/or uncomfortable shoes you no longer wear.
19. Separate your clothes by season. If you have a tall closet with several rows of hanging rods, place the current season's clothes on the lowest level, and move out-of-season clothes up to the tallest rods.
20. Categorize your clothes by purpose: Work, casual, cold- or hot-weather wear and formal.
21. Gather all of your unused wire hangers (remember Joan Crawford!) and take them to the dry cleaners to recycle.
22. Hang scarves on a hanger or scarf rack, and belts and ties on hangers or racks.
23. Use a shoe rack to keep shoes organized. Recycle old shoe boxes that clutter the floor. (You don't need to keep every pair of shoes in your closet all year long, either!)
24. Install hooks on the closet wall to hang up hats, handbags and tote bags.
25. Store clothes that you want to save in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag. These bags compress the clothing, making it much easier to fit under the bed or in a closet. Save only the clothes that you think will be worn!
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