Organizing Tips

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Products I Love: File Folder Holder

I discovered the organizing potential of file folder holders accidentally. Like many of you, I pick up random stuff at the Target Dollar Spot that I’m sure I’ll use. Several years ago I purchased four file folder holders, and now I can’t for the life of me think of my original intention for them. However, whatever it was it didn’t work because they ended up in my extra supplies area. When I decided to reorganize my pantry I had an idea and grabbed them.

It turns out they make the perfect can holders! They are 3.5 inches wide, 9 inches long and 6 inches tall in the back. They are short enough that you can easily see the cans. I have the holders sorted by type: the first one is kind of the miscellaneous and holds a couple cans of refried beans, coconut milk and enchilada sauce. The second one holds a variety of regular beans (we are a year round chili-making family). The third one holds tomato products and the fourth holds soup. I think this works great if you have small pantry shelves – mine are not very deep and not very tall.

 

Keep your eye out at the Target Dollar Spot for these. I’m not sure if the one pictured below is there anymore, as there was only one but this one would work great.

 

There are a ton of options at Amazon. I think these (affiliate link) are the most similar in shape and size to mine. I do like that these, and mine, have a design that makes them a little see-through. I think that also helps in being able to see your cans.

5 other great ways to use this product:

  1. To hold foil, plastic wrap and plastic baggies
  2. To hold cleaning products
  3. To hold hair accessories: hair dryer, curling irons, etc.
  4. To hold children’s coloring and activity books
  5. To hold paper and paper products (the obvious one!)

In my office I use them to hold magazines/articles I want to keep, larger envelopes of all sizes and shapes and notepads.

If you need help utilizing file folder holders or organizing your pantry or office — please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

If any of these tips have helped, please share your success and tag me in the post – @holisticallyorganized

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So much paper, so little space, so little time!

Do you get as frustrated as I do with the amount of paper that comes into the house, between mail and papers from work and school – there is just too much. Do you also struggle with lack of space for storing all the paper? The system I outline below is to help those that need a process to deal with it all when you don’t have a home office.

Set up a centralized basket to collect in any coming paperwork and mail for the week. You can put this basket anywhere…in the kitchen, in your bedroom, etc. Also, you could hang a basket on a wall near the entrance to your home using something like this or this.

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This is the basket I use throughout the week to catch all incoming mail and paperwork. It’s the perfect size at 10.5″ x 14.5″.

As mail comes into the house, sort through and recycle any catalogs or junk mail (be sure to shred any items with sensitive personal information). In an earlier post, I mentioned the company, Catalog Choice, as a resource for removing yourself from unwanted catalogs and junk mail. The only mail I typically receive are the one-off bills (typically medical bills, small kids in daycare = lots of doctors visits). All other statements I have elected to receive electronically. Any other paper that comes into the house for the week will also get put into the basket after reviewing and determining I don’t immediately need to take care of such as receipts or forms from your children’s school, etc. Then pick one day a week to go through the basket. I typically do this on Fridays, as I like to do a little pre-weekend house pick-up. Picking a designated time to go through the basket saves you time throughout the week to focus on other things at night like spending time with kids, cooking, homework, bedtime routine and of course much needed me-time or we-time with your significant other!

Now what do you do with it all on Friday (or whatever day you choose)? If you are really short on space I would recommend scanning your bills to an external hard drive once you have paid them.  You could also do this for receipts, as well, or any school forms you need to keep a copy of. We purchased a hard drive a while back that has 1 Terabyte of space (similar to this). Tip: I don’t know a ton about cyber-security but I do tend to leave my hard drive unplugged from my computer. I’m not positive, but feel like it can help prevent cyber-fraud! After you have finished scanning everything, be sure to shred what you no longer need. 

If you have room for a small file cabinet set up some files to store the important stuff. I have a file cabinet that I use to file throughout the year, then at the beginning of the year I go through and clean out what I no longer need to keep. The items I do need to keep I move to a file box that I keep on the top shelf of a closet. It’s OK that it’s a pain to bring the box down to access it because I only do it once maybe twice a year!

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These are my file boxes that I keep in a closet above the closet door. I only bring them down once or twice a year.

I’d like to share 3 additional space-saving tips for storage when you don’t have a home office:

  1. Use your filing cabinet as another piece of furniture as well – maybe it holds your microwave in the kitchen, cable box in your bedroom or wireless printer
  2. Mount your televisions in order maximize the space under your tv
  3. Utilize the the vertical space in your closets; add additional shelves if necessary to make use of the every inch of your closets

If you need help setting up systems in order to manage your paper — please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

If any of these tips have helped, please share your success and tag me in the post – @holisticallyorganized

Kids

It Was Time for A Toy Purge

It’s summertime and a lot of times that means kids are home more which means kids are playing more with their toys and if your kids are like mine it means toys start appearing EVERYWHERE in the house! My boys have toy boxes in their rooms that were stuffed to the rim. There were also a lot of toys they were not playing with and with my youngest being 3 there were a lot of baby toys he had outgrown. It was time for a toy purge!

I started the toy purge after the kids had a play date so the play room was a disaster – see evidence below!

Instead of making the kids clean-up, I took the opportunity to do it while simultaneously going through every toy and deciding whether to keep, sell, donate, recycle or pitch. I brought in their toy boxes from their room and the miscellaneous toys spread through the rest of our home to go through as well.

I asked the boys for a little input – my older was more easily able to let things go; my little did not want to give anything away which makes sense given his age! We already have some great organization systems set-up in the room. In pictures above you can see at the back of the room a 4-cube organizer – there are two of these. We also have a bookshelf that houses some games and puzzles.

Once we had gone through everything and decided what we wanted to keep it was time to take care of the rest. I bagged up the toys with small parts to keep them all together.

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We gave some of the bigger toys away to family.

I had a huge pile that I wanted to try to sell. We have a resale store here called Kid-to-Kid so that was my first stop. They took quite a bit!

Next up is donations, whatever toys Kid-to-Kid did not accept I plan to donate. Here is a list of donation places that the City of Austin put together.

And finally, I had a small bag of little items, random toy parts and broken toys that I will  recycle with the City of Austin’s curbside recycling program called, Simple Recycling. I talked about this program in my tip about recycling. This is for items that would normally end up in the landfill but with this program they will try to recycle everything first. You just put the items in the green bag provided by the City and set out on the curb on your recycle day.

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So now our play room is picked up, sorted and organized!

Have I inspired you to do a toy purge of your own?

If you need help  getting started — please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

If any of these tips have helped, please share your success and tag me in the post – @holisticallyorganized

 

Uncategorized

Recycle It

This is the third post in my series on Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. While addressing the actual clutter, I also give some hints on how to reduce what comes in your house, reuse items within your home and finally where to recycle items in Austin, Texas. I think recycling is really important and luckily we live in a city that believes this as well. Within the City of Austin, the Austin Resource Recovery department has a goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040. This would reduce the amount of trash sent by landfills by 90%.

The City of Austin has an extensive website dedicated to recycling resources. I thought it would be helpful if I provided some of the links and information by category.

Residential Recycling
http://www.austintexas.gov/department/single-stream-recycling

In the City of Austin we have Single Stream Recycling – which means you can recycle paper, plastic, metal and glass in your blue recycling cart and put at your curb for weekly pick-up. I’m kind of a nut about recycling as much as possible! The more you recycle obviously the less trash you have. Did you know you can request a smaller trash can from the city and then you’ll be charged less on your monthly utility bill?

What can you recycle? Based on the information provided by the City of Austin, I created a helpful info-graphic on what you can put in your blue recycle cart. You can also download it here.

Residential Recycling

There are some guidelines to Plastic Recycling. I often see people recycling plastic bags but this is not allowed. Here are the other guidelines:

  • Remove metal components from plastic items
  • Empty and rinse items before recycling them
  • Only hard plastics are accepted; plastic foam, plastic bags, and plastic wrap are not allowed
  • Make sure all items fit inside the blue recycling cart with the lid closed

One thing I learned when creating this post was that you can actually set out extra recycling next to your recycling cart for no extra charge. Just make sure they are in a cardboard box or reusable container. You can also set out cardboard in a manageable pile (2’ x 2’) next to your cart (especially helpful around the holidays with all of those Amazon boxes!) If you run out of room in your recycling cart between pickups, you can always call and request (512-494-9400) an extra blue cart for free.

Clothing and Housewares Recycling
http://www.austintexas.gov/clothing

A big step in de-cluttering is getting rid of unwanted items. Your first stop is most likely going to be donation. You may already have your go-to place for taking items, but if not the City of Austin has a great directory to figure out where to donate or sell your particular item.

However, sometimes something is not even suitable for donation. In the past I’ve had to throw out a few pieces of children’s clothing or shoes that were beyond donation status. I’ve hesitated putting in the trash because it just seems wrong! Well, there is now a solution for this. The City of Austin offers a fairly new program to pick up clothing and housewares for recycling that you do not want to donate. It is offered through a for-profit company called, Simple Recycling. If you are in the city limits you should have received a green plastic bag earlier this year when they rolled out the program, however if you need one you can request it here. You simply fill up the bag with clothing and housewares and place next to your recycling cart on your recycling collection day. Once the bag is picked up, they will leave an empty bag or two. You may be wondering what they do with the items. According to the City of Austin website, “Simple Recycling sells as many items for reuse as possible, first within the state of Texas, then nationally, then internationally. Items that cannot be reused are sold for recycling. Only items that cannot be reused or recycled are disposed of in the landfill.”

This is a great free resource for items that are beyond despair and not suitable for donation!

Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center
http://www.austintexas.gov/dropoff

The Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center is a mostly free resource to City of Austin residents, where you can donate several different types of items that can be recycled or safely discarded. Below is more information on the services offered (most are free but some services have a fee – like discarding tires).

Household Hazardous Waste

Did you know paint eventually expires? I just learned that after I wanted to repaint some rooms in our house with some existing paint that was about 5 years old. In preparing for this post, I was happy to learn that there is place you can drop off old paint and other hazardous waste.

The Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center accepts most household chemicals including:

  • Cleaning products
  • Automotive fluids and oil filters
  • Paint and thinners
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Batteries (car and household)
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Mercury
  • Aerosol cans
  • Pool chemicals
  • Cooking oil
  • Propane cylinders

Electronics & Appliances

If the item plugs in, the Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center probably takes it.

Other Recyclables

The Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center accepts all single-stream recycling as well as plastic bags and film, Styrofoam (NO packing peanuts) and scrap metal.

Click here to view the list of items accepted and not accepted at the Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center.

Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center Location
See Map – located just East of I-35 off of Ben White
2514 Business Center Drive, Austin, 78744
Phone: 512-974-4343
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday: 7 a.m. to noon

The cool thing about the Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center is that they have a ReUse Store that has items in usable condition for free. Items can include: Art supplies, Cleaning products, Household chemicals, Automotive fluids.

Other items available at the ReUse store:

  • Austin ReBlend Paint – this is paint that is reblended from the paint dropped off at the center and is free to individuals!
  • Mulch – also free but you must load the mulch yourself (consider bringing: shovel, gloves and containers)

Battery Recycling
http://www.austintexas.gov/page/battery-drop-locations

The City of Austin maintains a big list of libraries and companies that accept battery donations. Check out the list here for a location near you and then set up a container in your house to collect old batteries.

Unwanted Mail
https://catalogchoice.org/

Are you as sick of junk mail as I am? I think in 10 years we will be appalled that companies were allowed to mail us junk. Of course you’ll want to recycle as much as you can but how about getting off the lists to begin with. The City of Austin recommends Catalog Choice – which is a non-profit that is on a mission to stop junk mail for good!

I didn’t highlight every single service offered by the Austin Resource Recovery department so I highly recommend you check out their website if you need to recycle something and it wasn’t covered above. Most likely there is a place for it! They even have a nifty search tool you can use as a guide to find out what do to do with unwanted to items. Click here to access the What Do I Do With tool.

If any of these tips have helped, please share your success and tag me in the post – @holisticallyorganized

If you need help  getting started — please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

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Reuse It

Next up – Reuse It…

In my last post I shared ways to reduce clutter in your home and reduce the amount of stuff you bring into your home. Now I want to share 5 ways to reuse everyday things. Most of these ideas stem from a combination of me being frugal 🙂 as well wanting to be environmentally responsible! In the next post I will give you some recycling tips to finish out how best to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

One

Reuse furniture – we had originally purchased this 6-cube shelf for my husband’s massive t-shirt collection in our master closet. However, we eventually installed Container Store Elfa shelving (which by the way is a wonderful investment) and had no longer had a need for this particular piece in our closet. I absolutely hate to get rid of furniture so I thought of a great place for it – somewhere that I never intended to put a piece of furniture. I put it in the hallway between our boy’s bedrooms and filled with toys and over-sized books. It has turned out to be the perfect addition for the area. Another example of this would be when I reused the mug rack holders in an earlier post for necklaces. It’s not exactly furniture but a similar idea.

 

Two

Reuse baggies – I admit I have a baggie addiction! They are such a great way to organize and contain but I realized I was going through them way too fast. Now I reuse any baggies that were not used for food. I keep a little collection in different sizes and then use them to organize: puzzles, extra office supplies, small toy parts, etc.

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Three

Reusable bags – Because of my baggie addiction, I started to buy a few reusable baggies. I love feta cheese in block form but once you open it, it makes a bit of a mess unless you contain it. We always have it in the house so I found myself reaching for a new baggie every couple of weeks when we got a new block of cheese. Since the baggie gets pretty icky by the end of block, I thought a reusable baggie would be the perfect solution for this. And it has been! The one we have is the Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag*. It’s nice and sturdy, has a tight seal and can go in the dishwasher. 

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Reusable baggies and containers also come in handy for school snacks. We need to send three snacks to school for my oldest son and I knew I didn’t want to go through that many baggies a day so we use the containers in the picture below to send fruit, veggies and other snacks. The links for both products are below. 

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We are big fans of the Take & Toss Toddler Bowls with Lids*. They are great for traveling! The Lunchskins Reusable Velcro Sandwich Bag* is a new edition to our reusable supply but it works great and is dishwasher safe. There are a ton of patterns to choose from!

Four

Reusable napkins and kitchen towels – About 5 years ago, I was browsing Etsy and the cutest cloth napkins caught my eye! I realized what a good idea it was to ditch our paper napkins and some buy cloth ones. It has saved us money and decreased the amount of trash we have (we aim for 1-2 bags of trash a week). And they are cute to boot! The following have great reviews and are on my Amazon wish list: Cotton Craft – Water Color Effect Plaid Cotton Dinner Napkins*. Instead of using paper towels or sponges to clean our kitchen and bathroom counters I use microfiber towels. I purchased the Zwipes Microfiber Towel Cleaning Cloths* few years ago and keep them under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. I’ll use several throughout the week and then just throw them in the wash. They are obviously more economical than paper towels and I feel like they are more hygienic than sponges since we only use once before washing.

Five

Reuse organizational products – In an effort to try to get organized many of us purchase products to help us. Sometimes, though, we purchase something that just isn’t quite right for the area. On top of my boy’s dressers was their diaper changing station that had a basket next to the changing pad filled with diapers, wipes and other baby necessities. Once they had outgrown that phase I now had a couple extra baskets. Initially, I kept them in our bathroom closet and was using them both to hold some of my workout gear. At the same time, under my bathroom sink I had a disorganized situation. We kept toothbrush chargers, our steamer, as well as many different sizes of curling irons. We mainly would just toss the item back under the sink since we didn’t really have anything to corral it in. I was thinking about this area recently and thought I wanted a pull-out drawer. I bought a couple of these from Target and was excited to use them because they were a great price, really sturdy and also looked great! As they were sitting on my bedroom floor waiting for me to install them, I happened to notice that the two baskets in our closet were not being used fully. So instead, I put everything in one basket in the closet and used the other basket for under the sink. It fit perfectly under the sink and was the right size to hold everything. It also pulled out easily so no need to install the pull out drawer. It was nice to be able to just use what I had on hand and return the one I purchased back to Target!

I hope these tips inspire you to look around your home and think of ways you can reuse products or incorporate reusable products into your lives.

If any of these tips have helped, please share your success and tag me in the post – @holisticallyorganized

If you need help thinking of ways to reuse products in your home – please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

*Affiliate Links