Don’t confuse "getting organized" with "buying stuff"

You make think that getting organized is actually an expensive task. You may think that you have to go out and buy all those organizing holders, baskets, bins, and whatever else they tell you! Uh no! Don’t confuse “getting organized” with “buying stuff”. It’s NOT the same thing!

After you have your household notebook, you can begin the decluttering process (which we will delve more into in Jan 2006). It’s a process not a purchase :) Cute phrase huh? Yeah well it’s true!

Look around you! See all that stuff? The clutter? The stack of clothes that needs buttons, or has a rip. The stck of artwork in the corner because your child cannot part with their little “gems”. What about that pile of papers on the kitchen island – oh come on – you have it! And all those magazines! What are you going to do with all of them? I can guarantee you that a) you don’t need most of it, and b) you can use some of it to actually get yourself organized! So let’s begin with looking around us for mundane everyday “often tossable” objects that we can organize with.

Ok, the magazine/catalog problem. I’m starting here, because it seems most of us have this problem. Since you probably aren’t prepared to get rid of them yet, let’s begin with storage for these items. First, you can purchase fairly inexpensive cardboard magazine holders from just about any office supply store, I have even seen them at Wal-mart. HOWEVER, there is a cheaper way to organize them. Open your pantry. See all those boxes of cereal? Pick a few up, shake them! Is there even enough for another bowl of cereal? One thing you can do with that problem, is combine cereals with like tastes. Experiment a little, but we do this a lot and my kids actually love it. (I know, a little weird, but it works!) THEN after those boxes are empty – get rid of the bag and shake those boxes over the trash cans. Don’t want any little cereal bits left to attract bugs – slightly defeats the process of a clean and organized home. LOL Then cut the boxes into a magazine holder! Put your magazines in the boxes. At least organize a little at this point – separate them by “Magazine Title”, and place all catalogs in one. Once each box is full, don’t allow yourself to put another magazine into it until you toss one out. (unless you’re a scrapbooker like me – lol but that’s a WHOLE different post!) Ok, so now we at least have that area of your life organized. One last tip on that, they should fit perfectly on any book shelf, but if there is no room on your book shelf, either make a shelf out of something else, or place on a top shelf of a closet – be sure to label the outside of the box so you know at a glance what’s inside and don’t have to pull out every box when you’re looking for something. (I have two boxes in my kitchen with my cookbooks, about 5 up in my scrapbook studio, 1 next to my bed (containing catalogs and new magazines to read before bed – then they get placed in their respective homes after they are read or tossed if nothing worth keeping it for) and I have two on a shelf in my living room which contain the newest edition of catalogs I use regularly and a few magazines I reference often.) I did wind up buying a big basket to place some coffee table reads in and it slides under my coffee table. (I’ll take a photo later). This works great.

Ok, next item:
Ice Cube Trays – WHAT?! If you need to organize smaller items in ANY room (examples: earrings, extra buttons, pins, craft supplies, etc), Ice cube trays or even some muffin tins are perfect for keeping everything sorted. You can put them right into your drawer (so they are out of sight) and they are stackable on shelves! The great part is – ice cube trays and even muffin pans are CHEAP – check out your dollar store or just go to Wal-mart – or anywhere else kitchen supplies are sold.

Boxes & Containers – First, consolidate any items that you can, out of already in use plastic containers, as these are the easiest, most flexible (and sturdy) to use – generally what I suggest. But for the frugal organizer, looking to accomplish this with little to no $$ forked out, here is another option. Use boxes, and containers that food used to reside in. Same with jars. Clean them out thoroughly and they are perfect for storage. I use empty butter and sour cream tubs for everything from leftovers, to craft supplies. Nails, screws, corn holders, you name it. If it’s small it can fit. Boxes are always available. Just look around – oatmeal, pastas, kleenex – so you get the idea by now – use these! You can cover them with wrapping paper, or patterned paper purchased from Wal-mart or somewhere else equally as cheap. Fabric scraps work well too! They can hold anything depending on their size. And you can actually make them look cute by taking some time to embellish them (but that again is for another article!)

Film Canisters – Now these work best in a craft room or a “catch all drawer”. Because of their size, they don’t hold much, but they look uniform organized all together. You can even place them in a small box or basket to kind of corral them! You don’t even need to decorate them, but be sure to either label the lid or glue one of whatever little treasure you’ve placed inside them, onto the lid. This makes knowing what’s insdie easier. I’ve also seen people store them with the tops off, so they just glance inside! Nice and frugal and EASY!

Hmm… what else can work:
- Baby Food Jars
- Containers used for other items (ie. lego containers that no longer host the item, etc)
- Paint Buckets, and Regular Cleaning Pails
- Trash Cans – they can be decorated or painted on to make them “Blend” into the decor! (I have a photo of this I will upload soon!)
- Medicine Pill Bottles (be sure to clean these thoroughly and I recommend covering them with something so the prescription or title of item is no longer showing)
- Pringles can – these can store rulers, pens, skewers for kabobs, even cooking utensils. If you are storing cooking utensils, be sure to weight the bottom of the can with some beans or something to be sure it doesn’t tip! (just paint or decorate the can and you can blend it with your decor nicely!)
- Pizza Boxes – ok these can be hard to use – First, often the pizza is stuck TO the box. However, if you do happen to come across a pizza box that is not completely covered in grease, cheese or sauce (it does happen!) line the bottom with something (I use wax paper) and you can store large craft projects, art projects and school work for each child. Just label the outside of the box with their name and the year and you can stack these on a shelf somewhere!
- Cardboard – cut shapes to fit the “project” and you can use these to wrap ribbons, wrapping paper scraps, christmas tree lights, extension cords, etc.

I have loads more ideas, but if I give them all away today – we won’t have anything else for the rest of the week!!

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