Creative Cleaning and Cleansing

"Less Stress from Cleaning the Mess." From decluttering to inspiration! Proverbs 31:27a

Filing

Have you ever sat there while your boss stands over you, desperately searching for that missing document he or she needs RIGHT NOW? Or have you kept a client waiting on the phone for several minutes while you’ve searched for a status report?

If you have, then however organized and effective you are in your day-to-day work, your boss and your client may have a less than perfect opinion of you, because in a key encounter, you’ve let them down. And if it’s your job to help people, how much of other people’s time are you wasting if you can’t find the information you need when you need it?

You owe it to yourself to file effectively, however boring this may seem. Imagine how much more impressive it would have been if – when asked – you’d smiled, accessed a well-organized filing system, immediately found the document, and quickly given the answer!

Managing Time

On a typical work day, we deal with many documents, presentations, graphics, and other files. There’s a flurry of data pouring in from all directions that we need to process and, usually, store to retrieve later. We want to be able to lay our hands on the information we need – at the right moment, when we need it – so it can be used for further analysis or report writing, or perhaps for creating a presentation.

All too often, though, we waste our own time (and often the time of other people) searching for data that’s sitting on the very computer we’re using! This adds to our stress, and makes the task of putting the data to use more difficult than it ought to be. So we need to get more organized and efficient with our file management if we’re going to get our work done in a timely manner.

Managing Information Efficiently

When you receive a file in an e-mail from a co-worker, vendor, or customer, it’s tempting to “just put it away” in some folder for the time being. “Hmm. looks interesting, but I’ll take a closer look at this later, when I’ve got more time.” Sound familiar? Or, worse still, perhaps you just leave the message and its attachment sitting in your Inbox. After a while, many such documents build up, leading to a lot of clutter. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever find time to go back and get all of that information organized, especially considering that you’re usually under pressure with other things.

You can spend hours of precious time searching for data you’ve filed away somewhere, because it’s easy to forget the filename – or even to forget that such information is on your computer in the first place. So how can you go about simplifying your work? Get better at managing files.

 

Effective File Management

Managing files on your computer isn’t much different from the way you’ve always stored and managed your paper files. It boils down to this: store the information in folders – by category, and in a sequence that makes sense to you.

Here are some tips to help manage your files:

  • Avoid saving unnecessary documents. Don’t make a habit of saving everything that finds its way into your Inbox. Take a few seconds to glance through the content, and save a file only if it’s relevant to your work activity. Having too much data on your computer adds to clutter and makes it harder to find things in the future – and it may, over time, slow down your computer’s performance too. Be selective about what you keep!
  • Follow a consistent method for naming your files and folders. For instance, divide a main folder into subfolders for customers, vendors, and co-workers. Give shortened names to identify what or whom the folders relate to. What’s more, you can even give a different appearance or look to different categories of folders – this can make it easy to tell them apart at first glance.
  • Store related documents together, whatever their type. For example, store Word documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and graphics related to a particular project in a single folder – rather than having one folder for presentations for all projects, another folder for spreadsheets for all projects, and so forth. This way, it’s much quicker to find, open, and attach documents for a particular project.
  • Separate ongoing work from completed work. Some people prefer to save current or ongoing work on their computer’s desktop until a job is completed. Then, once it’s done, they move it to the appropriate location, where files of the same category are stored. At periodic intervals (for example, weekly or every two weeks), move files you’re no longer working on to the folders where your completed work is stored.
  • Avoid overfilling folders. If you have a large number of files in one folder, or a large number of subfolders in a main folder – so many that you can’t see the entire list on your screen without scrolling down – break them into smaller groups (subfolders or sub-subfolders). Think of creating a sequential menu, arranged either in chronological or alphabetical order, to make retrieval easy. For instance, you can divide a folder called “Business Plan” into subfolders called “BP2008,” “BP2009,” and “BP2010.” Likewise, you can divide a folder for a client named Delta Traders into subfolders named “Delta Traders sales presentations” and “Delta Traders contracts.” The idea is to place every file into a logical folder or subfolder, rather than have one huge list of files.
  • Having said this, there is usually little point in creating a folder for fewer than about five documents. If you do, the time you spend clicking through subfolders to get to the documents you need may not be outweighed by the greater ease of finding them.
  • Install Google Desktop on your PC. If you can (sometimes IT departments don’t permit this), install Google Desktop on your PC – you can find this at http://desktop.google.com. This neat tool creates a desktop search engine that indexes all of your files and emails, meaning that you can search for them quickly and easily. This can be invaluable when you need to answer offbeat questions!
  • Make sure your filing system is backed up. Again, this is a bit tedious, but it’s so important, as anyone who’s had a failed disk drive will testify! Make sure, firstly, that your PC is backed up regularly and, secondly, that the backup includes the directories where you file information.

Prioritizing Your Files for Action

Take these approaches further by customizing your file management. This can help you prioritize your work, which can lead to better efficiency.

  • Organize files by dates. Incorporate a date into the file name. This will help you determine which is the most recent document in the folder, without having to open the file and read through the content. For example, a file named “Guidelines 12Oct07” would indicate a version of the Guidelines file dated October 12, 2007. (If you’re working internationally, be aware that in some countries this date can be presented as 101207, while in other countries, this same date can be shown as 121007. This can be very confusing!)
  • Some people use version numbers to distinguish between documents that have been reworked or changed. Examples would be “Delta Traders contract v1” and “Delta Traders contract v2.” This also makes it easier to pick out the most current file.

Tip:
If your document is going to be looked at, used, or amended by several people, you need to be particularly careful about version control: people quite rightly can get very annoyed if versions are mixed up and their work on the document is lost.

Make sure you put the version number in the file name here, and also consider having a version control table at the beginning of the document showing the version number, the date of the version, the person making changes, and, perhaps, the nature of changes made.

  • Use “Tickler” files. Tickler files, also known as the “43 folders” method, are a unique system that’s used by many people for organizing files. Create 12 folders (one for each month of the year) and an additional 31 subfolders (for each day of the month). Fill each folder with the documents that you need to work with on that day. At the beginning of each day, open the folder for that day. Take all the items out of the folder and move them into a “today” folder or onto your desktop. Then move the empty folder into the corresponding slot for the next month. If you can’t complete some work items by the end of the day, transfer them to the folder for the next convenient day. This system of file management helps you keep track of everything you need to do, and it also doubles as a diary.

For any system to be useful and effective, it must also be convenient for you. To some extent, this depends on the nature of your business or the work that you do. So, although there’s no “one size fits all” solution to file management, you will likely profit by using some of these file management tips, and by customizing them in a way that best serves your own needs.

Key Points

Are you losing too much time searching through the clutter on your computer for files that you need? And when you’re under pressure, can you retrieve information quickly and easily?

Spending precious time looking for data can take the pleasure out of any kind of creative work you might be doing – and it adds to your stress levels as well. Simple good file management habits can hugely simplify your working life!

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_85.htm

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School Paperwork

SCHOOL PAPERS

Is paper taking over your home? Do you groan each time you check the mail? Are the contents of your children’s backpack waiting to take over your dining table? Help is available to control paper, and it may be simpler than you think.

1. Create a command center.

Create a regular place where all paper is kept. Mail is sorted here. Backpacks are emptied here. Receipts are deposited here. To make it a great command center, you’ll need a shredder, trash can, and at least a temporary filing system. In just a few seconds, you’ll be able to sort paper into the shredder, the trash, or an action or archive file.

2. Store digitally.

Keep digital copies of what you can. Storing things on a computer takes up less space in your home, so when possible, store items digitally. I’ve tossed out my recipe box in favor of storing recipes online. The things I need are easier to find and they don’t take up additional counter space.

3. Toss right away.

Throw out paper that isn’t needed right away. Whether you recycle it, shred it, or trash it, throw out unnecessary forms, receipts, and letters right away. The command center comes in handy for this. Instead of moving piles of junk paper around, you’ll throw it away and forget it.

4. Have a filing system in place.

Take the time to create a filing system that works for you. I have a set of temporary files, and a set of archived files. When paper comes into my command center, I can right away choose whether it’s something that should be trashed, archived, or requires action on my part. It’s filed accordingly.

5. Use a shredder.

Before I had a shredder in my command center, I always ended up with a stack of papers to remember to shred later. Often that stack would get moved around and piled up with other papers, forcing me to re-sort. Having a shredder available is a huge time-saver. Just shred it and be done.

6. Go paperless.

If possible, go paperless with as much of life as you can. More and more companies offer paperless billing options. Even schools are beginning to communicate through email and webpages more frequently. Take advantage of paperless options wherever available and you’ll have less coming into your home.

7. Set a time/date to file and clean files.

Depending on the size of your household and how much paper you receive, you’ll need to have a set time each week to file. I do mini-filing daily when I sort the mail and after school papers. Then weekly, I go through my action and archive folders in my command center and take care of those papers. Doing this regularly has gotten me into the habit of taking care of paper daily, and it’s made all the difference.

8. Teach the kids.

Teaching your children how to file their own items will save you time. My children are already learning how to evaluate the paper that they bring into our home. They can make decisions on whether those papers need an action for me, need to be archived, or can be thrown out.

9. Put it on the calendar.

Just like anything else you schedule, filing needs to be written as part of your daily plan. This is to help remind you that it’s an important part of your day. After awhile your routine will become…well, routine. But for now, writing it down in your daily planner will help keep you honest about keeping up with the influx of paper.

10. Multitask your sorting.

Sorting paper can be a great chore to multitask with. I love going through files while I watch TV. It’s a great way to get something done and not feel guilty about spending time catching up on your favorite shows.

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Tackling the Paper Pile

Tackling The PAPER PILE!!!!

Today’s motto:

Do not organize what you can toss!

Are you overcome by papers but don’t know how long to keep them or if it’s safe to throw them away?

Set aside 45 minutes and turn on good music. Get a bag or a recycle bin ready, and borrow a shredder if you don’t have one.  It’s time to make some big progress.

Start with the obvious.

Go quickly through your house and throw away all the junk mail, expired coupons, catalogs, and old grocery lists that you see.  Any little scribbled notes that you no longer need should be tossed.

Take it one step further and prevent useless paper from entering your house in the first place.  Open your mail over the recycle bin.  Opt out of credit offers, and remove your name from catalog mailing lists.

Magazines and newspapers

Save individual pages from magazines instead of the entire issue. Give magazines away to a friend or donate them to the local library.  Put yesterday’s newspaper in the recycle bin.  Cancel subscriptions for newspapers or magazines that you never get around to reading.

Paid bills

You really don’t need more than three months of past bills that have been paid.  If the company has a reputation for frequent billing errors then it might be worth keeping more, but otherwise it’s safe to toss them.

Receipts

When the transaction has been entered in your checkbook and has cleared your account, you probably don’t need those little slips of paper any more.  The only reasons to keep them would be:

  • the possibility of returning an item
  • insurance valuation for expensive items
  • for taxes, such as sales tax credit or home upgrades

Almost all other receipts can be tossed after you’ve checked your bank or credit card statement.

Pay stubs

Only keep the most recent few until you get the last one for the year.  Then compare it to your W-2 before you toss it.

Bank or Credit Card statements

I’d say this one is a personal judgement call.  Most statements probably do not have long-term significance, but keeping them helps me to toss other paperwork.  I can easily throw away paid bills and receipts because I know there is a record of them on the bank statement.

Retirement Account statements

You don’t need the monthly statements if you’ve received a quarterly or annual statement.  It’s also fine to toss the Annual Report and Prospectus for an investment. Never toss a letter or document that confirms your right to a future retirement benefit.

Taxes

In most cases, you should keep tax returns for at least 3 years, since that’s the time limit to amend a return or for the IRS to audit good-faith returns.  (There’s no time limit for the IRS to audit fraudulent returns.)

Auto Records

Keep maintenance records until you sell the car.

Auto and Property Insurance papers

When you get the new insurance card in the mail, throw away the expired cards.  You don’t need to keep insurance paperwork that expired or that covered property you no longer own.

Health Insurance Papers

Instead of storing a bulky directory of physicians, see if your insurance company lets you search online for network doctors.  You can likely find the list of preferred prescriptions online as well.  Keep medical bills for the current year, and then toss them if you don’t need them for tax deductions.

School papers

Are you keeping old school notes or research papers just because you worked hard on them?  (You’re not keeping them to show how smart you are, right?)  Unless you actually use them in your current career, you don’t need them anymore.  They have already served their purpose.  Keep a small sample if you must, and then let go of the rest.

Warranties and Manuals

If you have any warranty paperwork that is expired or manuals for appliances that you no longer own, give them a toss.

What about cards, letters, and keepsakes?

Papers with sentimental value are challenging just by themselves. I also want to share more ideas for going digital with paper storage.

If you still have a lot more to clean out, that’s ok! Just take a look at how many papers you’ve ALREADY managed to toss. Later you can pick up right where you left off.

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Junk Drawer

 How many junk drawers is too many?

After some research here is what I came up with:

10% as many as needed

20% 1 small per room,

70%  ONLY ONE!

If you have too many here are some suggestions to tame the JUNK!

  • Remember that most of the items in the Junk Drawer are items that do not have a home or just put in there as a convenance. Try to establish a home for at least half of the items and then organize the rest.  Go back monthly to get current items so that they do not get lost.
  • Keep each Junk Drawer very small-no bigger than the size of a shoe box. This will help eliminate lots of stuff and control what can and cannot fit. If possible label the drawer and Misc or Junk Drawer…sometimes the label is offensive,  there is less Junk and usually becomes unnecessary.
  • If trying to eliminate the number of Junk Drawers, start with the smallest one first. Then do not start a new one in that area.  Once you get down to a few Junk Drawers, you will be able to declutter even more with less stress.
  • If you only have one…keep the size small.  You may want to resize the one you have but dumping the Junk Drawer into a show box and deciding what to keep and what not to keep.
  • Basically less is best, and by cleaning out the drawer(s) several times a year (once every 3 months), even your Junk Drawer can be organized with purpose.

Bottom line…You control the clutter or it will control you.

Good Luck!

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Tossing Tips

To Treasure, Toss or Trash ~

That is the Question!

So what is the answer?  Here are some ideas to help!

  •  Toys: Broken items that cannot be fixed, haven’t played with for over a year or so, or no longer age appropriate.
  • Magazines/Books: If they are no longer interesting, have expired over a year, damaged or just no longer need. Also you can tear out the pages that you need and file them and toss the rest of the book or magazine.
  • Movies: no longer age appropriate, damaged etc…
  • Board Games: Pieces missing or no longer age appropriate.
  • Stuffed animals: Multiples multiply so decrease.  Ex. if you have 4 dogs…decreases by half, or at least one.
  • Papers: if not art work or something work keeping, trash right away. May can transfer information on calendar or notebook then toss the paper. Take photos and put them on disk, then toss paperwork.
  • Educational Items: Unless you are a teacher, look at the age on the container. If there are no children within 6 mths of that age, then toss.
  • Art supplies: Dried up, broken, caps missing, no longer working –toss.  Anything damaged.
  • Puzzles: toss if pieces are missing.
  • Clothes/Shoes: too small, too big, torn, worn or faded, have more than 5 (toss out oldest or the one that is not as new looking as the others.  Use tossed clothing for siblings or donate asap.
  • Sentimental items: Toss out items that are no longer needed. Use clear storage bins to store items to pass down. LABEL. Take photos of things and put them in a scrap book or photo book and toss the items.

Rule of thumb:

Make a decision today for today. Simplicity is best!

Other thoughts:

~Think logically and not “but one day……”

~Don’t get overwhelmed on what you do keep. Keep like items together, find homes and enjoy!

~Donations are wonderful gifts to others. Churches and donation drop offs,  are great places to start.

~If you are really still uncertain about an item…put it in a box. Label it as “THINKING.”  Put them away for 30 days and see what you feel about them on day 31.  You can continue this process until all items have a place or as you de clutter and clean other projects.

Good luck and know that every thing you do is progress!

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School Stuff (Part 1 of 2) ~ The Basics

Is paper taking over your home? Do you groan each time you check the mail? Are the contents of your children’s backpack waiting to take over your dining table? Help is available to control paper, and it may be simpler than you think.

1. Create a command center.

Create a regular place where all paper is kept. Mail is sorted here. Backpacks are emptied here. Receipts are deposited here. To make it a great command center, you’ll need a shredder, trash can, and at least a temporary filing system. In just a few seconds, you’ll be able to sort paper into the shredder, the trash, or an action or archive file.

2. Store digitally.

Keep digital copies of what you can. Storing things on a computer takes up less space in your home, so when possible, store items digitally. I’ve tossed out my recipe box in favor of storing recipes online. The things I need are easier to find and they don’t take up additional counter space.

3. Toss right away.

Throw out paper that isn’t needed right away. Whether you recycle it, shred it, or trash it, throw out unnecessary forms, receipts, and letters right away. The command center comes in handy for this. Instead of moving piles of junk paper around, you’ll throw it away and forget it.

4. Have a filing system in place.

Take the time to create a filing system that works for you. I have a set of temporary files, and a set of archived files. When paper comes into my command center, I can right away choose whether it’s something that should be trashed, archived, or requires action on my part. It’s filed accordingly.

5. Use a shredder.

Before I had a shredder in my command center, I always ended up with a stack of papers to remember to shred later. Often that stack would get moved around and piled up with other papers, forcing me to re-sort. Having a shredder available is a huge time-saver. Just shred it and be done.

6. Go paperless.

If possible, go paperless with as much of life as you can. More and more companies offer paperless billing options. Even schools are beginning to communicate through email and webpages more frequently. Take advantage of paperless options wherever available and you’ll have less coming into your home.

7. Set a time/date to file and clean files.

Depending on the size of your household and how much paper you receive, you’ll need to have a set time each week to file. I do mini-filing daily when I sort the mail and after school papers. Then weekly, I go through my action and archive folders in my command center and take care of those papers. Doing this regularly has gotten me into the habit of taking care of paper daily, and it’s made all the difference.

8. Teach the kids.

Teaching your children how to file their own items will save you time. My children are already learning how to evaluate the paper that they bring into our home. They can make decisions on whether those papers need an action for me, need to be archived, or can be thrown out.

9. Put it on the calendar.

Just like anything else you schedule, filing needs to be written as part of your daily plan. This is to help remind you that it’s an important part of your day. After awhile your routine will become…well, routine. But for now, writing it down in your daily planner will help keep you honest about keeping up with the influx of paper.

10. Multitask your sorting.

Sorting paper can be a great chore to multitask with. I love going through files while I watch TV. It’s a great way to get something done and not feel guilty about spending time catching up on your favorite shows.

http://housekeeping.about.com/od/organizing101/a/controlpaper.htm

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Junk Drawer–Yes we all have them!

BEFORE

 

 

 

DURING

 

 

 

AFTER

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Organized Pantry and Pantry Tips

Every home needs a well organized pantry. Even if you don’t have the luxury of a walk in pantry, you should designate and organize an area in your home to serve as the pantry.

The benefits of maintaining a well stocked and neatly organized pantry are numerous. You won’t have to make as many trips to the grocery store, Target, Costco, etc. if you follow the steps we outline in this article. Keeping items inventoried and making a complete list of what you need to purchase when shopping will allow you to use coupons and buy items in bulk, saving you money.

You will also maximize the available storage and shelf space in your home by keeping the pantry neat and orderly. When you need some food or other items, you won’t have to spend time searching for it or making a special trip to the store. You’ll also save on gas money this way!

Function First in the Pantry

No matter how large or small your pantry is, function should be your first consideration. Here are a few functional tips for organizing your pantry:

·Like organizing the kitchen, a pantry should be planned to save time, energy and efficiency of motion.

·A pantry should be well-lit, with good overall ambient lighting and, if possible, task lighting that can be controlled separately to light specific areas or shelves in your pantry.

·Buy or build standardized shelving to make best use of your available pantry space.

·The most efficient pantry will be located centrally, in the kitchen or a hall closet that is readily accessible. If needed, create multiple pantry areas, organizing each space so that the items needed in the kitchen are in the kitchen, cleaning supplies, bedding and bath linens are near your home’s bedrooms and bathrooms and so on.

·Be sure to consider the humidity and temperature of your pantry; you don’t want to store dry food items in a damp place and a pantry that has a relatively cool, constant temperature is ideal.

·If space is limited, buy plastic storage containers that you can stack under a bed, in a coat closet or on top shelves. Keep items that you access less often in these storage areas. Buy in bulk to save money and keep the excess inventory in these less easily accessed areas, restocking a smaller supply in your most convenient pantry storage area.

·If you keep a good inventory of the items you use regularly, you will be better able to avoid tempting sale prices on items you don’t use and which may use valuable pantry storage space and only need to be thrown out eventually!

So how do I get started Cleaning Out My Pantry?

Once you have planned your pantry for function, its time to get started on reorganizing! If you already have a pantry area, you’ll want to start by removing everything in order to get started:

1. Empty your pantry completely, moving everything into boxes or onto countertops. Discard or recycle anything you find which is spoiled, expired or otherwise stale or unusable.

2. Before you set about to put things in order, the first step is disassembling whatever food cupboards you currently have in use. Look at everything as you take it out and consider: how long has it been since you used that item? Herbs, for example, loose a great deal of flavor after 6 months even in a dark, cool space.

3. While you’re at it check expiration date and throw away accordingly. Remember the rule with food is when in doubt, throw it out!

4. Clean any dust or dirt off of each item as you go.

5. If something isn’t labeled and you know for certain what it is, make a hand made label for easy recognition and attach it.

6. The best part about this process is that it won’t take much more than an hour to complete this task. In fact, it’s good to do this twice a year with spring and fall cleaning.

7. Clean the shelving and walls thoroughly with a solution of warm water and mild soap, drying them with a towel and letting the shelf surfaces dry thoroughly.

Preparing My Pantry Space

Once you have removed everything, cleaned and prepared your pantry space, you are ready to start re-organization. Here are the steps to getting your pantry prepared for increased efficiency and order:

1. If you don’t have adequate shelving or need to replace and standardize the existing shelves, now is the time! You can easily build your own or buy inexpensive plastic or melamine shelves at your local home improvement center and install them yourself.

2. Try to add shelving that maximizes use of vertical space. The chrome metal shelves made by companies such as ClosetMaid and Rubbermaid are a great way to add shelf space inexpensively without need to build or install anything!

3. Look for any available space you can use to store items; the back of the pantry door can be used to store spices or other small items if you hang a rack over the door! You can buy these door racks at Home Depot, Lowes, Target or a similar retail store.

4. If needed, repaint your pantry walls and shelves; white or off-white is generally the best color for a pantry.

5. If you want, put down some easily wiped-off contact paper at this juncture before re-assembling your pantry. This protects the shelf surface from stains.

6. Install your new pantry shelving and add hooks or wall-mounted wire organizers to keep canned goods and spices more neatly organized.

7. Get some of those sturdy plastic containers with tight fitting lids; Tupperware’s Modular Mates containers are great for keeping dry goods such as flour, sugar, pasta, teabags, coffee beans, and cereal. Rectangular or square containers will take up less space and stack more neatly than round or oval shaped containers.

Re-Organizing My Pantry

Once you’ve cleaned the pantry out, you can begin to get things organized by following these steps:

1. Start sorting pantry items into categories. Example categories include: fruits, vegetables, soup, condiments, boxed lunches/dinners, canned meats, sauces, baking goods, and rice/pasta/dry beans. While you‚re doing this, put the items in order by their expiration dates, the soonest expiring being the last item to go back into the pantry (i.e. it will be in front, thereby reducing wastefulness).

2. The heaviest items should go on lower shelves, especially in lazy Susan set ups for added convenience. So if you have a large can of olive oil, put that on the lower shelf with the canisters for your baking goods. Meanwhile leave upper shelves for those items you access frequently (like instant foods), and lighter weight items like beans and rice.

3. Use canisters to keep dry goods and baking items such as flour and sugar, labeling them. You can keep smaller items, such as tea and coffee, dried fruits and bouillon in small baskets or plastic bins, which also helps keep them fresh.

4. Group like items together: breakfast items, snacks, baking goods, cleaning supplies, linens, etc. If you take a bit of time to consider how things are arranged in the grocery store where you typically shop, you can group your pantry items similarly, using subgroups to keep things more neatly stored and easily accessible. So, for instance, all canned foods go on one shelf, organized into subgroups such as canned fruits and vegetables, soups, crackers and cookies, etc.

5. Labeling shelves will help you keep your groups in order.

Creating My Pantry Inventory List and Restocking

Once you have cleaned out your pantry, discarded outdated items, added shelving and other storage systems, you will want to take inventory in order to determine what is missing and needs to be regularly re-supplied.

Here is a starter list of common items you may want to put on your own pantry inventory list:

·Canned Items – Canned Soup and Soup Broth, Canned Beans, Canned Tomatoes

·Foods in Jars – Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce, Olives, Pickles, Peanut Butter, Jams and Jellies

·Baking Items – Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Flour, Sugar, Vanilla Extract

·Spices – Pepper, Paprika, Oregano, Salt, Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil

·Starches – Pasta, Couscous, Potatoes, Rice

·Condiments – Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise

·Sweeteners – Syrup, Honey, Artificial Sweetener

·Dry Goods – Cereals, Oatmeal, Pancake Mix, Raisins &Dried Fruit, Nuts & Seeds

Now that I have my pantry organized how do I keep it that way?

Once you have your pantry clean and organized, follow these tips to keep it that way easily:

·Don’t buy things that won’t get used; every home and family will have items that are unique to their habits and personal preferences, so buy only according your tastes, budget and needs.

·Look for coupons and sale on items you keep in your pantry and use regularly, checking your inventory to be sure you don’t overstock items just because they are on sale.

·Some items, such as paper towels, napkins, etc. that will not expire or become stale you can buy in larger quantities.

·Try to buy reserve quantities of the staple items you use the most to avoid “stock outs”. Having an extra jar of mayo or some reserve cans of tuna fish on hand can come in handy. Be sure to add these items to your shopping list when you break into your reserves.

·If you have kids in the house, you might consider making a special area to keep quick snacks and treats handy so they don’t rifle through your pantry and leave everything in a mess!

·Try to reorganize your pantry when you are alone and have a block of time available to concentrate and complete the project quickly. If you take time to reorganize a couple times a year it won’t be such a big chore!

·Remember to store cleaning products and chemicals away from your food items.

·Try to keep items you use most often in front and readily visible. Stack cans, jars and other items so that the labels can be easily read.

·Be on the lookout for new organization aids such as baskets, adjustable racks, stacking containers, etc. that may improve your pantry organization.

·Set up a guest or refreshments shelf to keep crackers, dips, chips, drink mixes and other items handy so you are ready whenever you have an impromptu party or visitors.

·Keep paper and pencil or a small whiteboard in your pantry and encourage family members to record items they would like to add to the inventory or have noticed are out of stock.

·Don’t put heavy items on hard to reach higher shelves as this can pose a safety issue; keep heavy items on the floor or lower shelves. Keep a step stool or small ladder handy to reach higher shelves and be sure it has a handle and is sturdy to prevent falling!

·If you can’t get everything into the pantry neatly, you might store non-essential items in a more “remote” storage location such as the garage or basement.

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Moving Tips-Lets Get Started

Congratulations!

Let’s get started on an exciting time in your life~

To ease the stress, below are some guidlelines to help.

  1. After the moving date is set, go to the grocery store, resturants, liquor stores on delivery days, and ask for boxes.  Most of the time you can get several and get several sizes. Stock up on boxes, packing tape, packing and labels. (Newspapers and magazines are great for protecting your valuables.)
  2. Make a ton of labels-Kitchen, Living Room, Family Room, Master Bedroom, Girl Bedroom, Boy Bedroom, Guest Bedroom, Master Bathroom, Guest Bathroom, Other Bedrooms, Dining Room, Game Room, Study, Playroom, Storage, Garage, Attic. etc….You cannot go wrong with too many labels.
  3. Make paper signs that match your labels so that the movers, (you or hired), know exactly where the boxes go.
  4. Make a “Neccessity Box.”  This are items that you will need during your move and possibly for the first few days of your new move.  Items could include but not limited to: light bulbs, garbage bags, sheets, towels, alarm clock, paper plates-napkins-plastic utensils, toliet paper-paper towels, hammer-nails-screwdrivers, portable coffemaker with makings and breakfast items that require little effort, hand soap, cleaning supplies, first aid kit, camera, etc…Some may include portable TV’s or radios. This box should be packed last and be the first thing in the house.
  5. Make a “Overnight Suitcase.”  This can be a small suitcase or back pack for each member of the family.  Items could include but not limited to: personal hygiene items, hair and makeup items, perscriptions, Pj’s, a change of clothes, extra shoes, children’s lovie’s or favorite toy, snacks, extra cash, etc… This “Overight suitcase,” should be packed last and also be taken with you the first day you move in.
  6. Pets: Make sure that you have their items ready as well. Food, water-containers.
  7. Consider the food in your freezers and refrigerator.  Try to consume as much as possible, so that the food will not go to waste. A few days before, cook up a feast and enjoy!
  8. Make a list of things that you have to Cancel/Turn off before you move. (Helpful list to follow.)
  9. Make a list of things that you need to Change/Turn on for your “Move In,” day. (Helpful list to follow.)
  10. Have a “Before you leave,” checklist for the old location, so that nothing is forgotten. (Helpful list to follow.)
  11. Moving Documents, Personal Documents, and papers needed for the move-should be kept in one place and kept with you for easy access.  (Helpful list to follow.)
  12. Declutter while you can!  There is a seperate list for that one.  =)
  13. Above all, keep a sense of humor. It will help!

For a detailed list for Tips #8-#12—Please view:    “Moving Tips-Helpful Lists.”

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