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10 Tips For Organizing Your Family

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Organinizing FROM THE INSIDE OUT by Julie Morgenstern is the
motherload when it comes to organizing.

www.organizersinCanada.comis the website of the Professional

Organizers in Canada Association.

Are you tired of the clutter around your house? Join the crowd. Are you also losing your patience with those frantic searches for school permission forms just as the bus is turning at your corner? Or getting stuck with late fees because you couldn t find the library book, hockey registration form or magazine renewal notice?

Here are 10 tips to help you take control of the clutter and the piles of paper around your home. The tips are from professional organizers. They say they can help anyone.

1 Cut the clutter

When you re really ready to de-clutter a room, start with sorting. Work your way around the room putting similar things together, says Julie Stobbe, owner of Mind Over Clutter in Beamsville, Ont. Collect garbage, recyclables and donatable items in separate bags. Once you ve sorted, you can evaluate and purge. Be practical. Do you really need 12 pairs of scissors?

2 Paper, paper, paper

When it comes to dealing with the mail, Stobbe says it should be opened daily. If it s something you want to keep, it must go into one of three files: To Pay, To Read and To Do. Different filing systems work for different people. Some prefer a filing cabinet or an accordion file. Others like to be able to see their files, so stacking letter trays can be a good choice. It s up to you, but a system is essential.

For kids school permission slips or activity information, the important thing is to have a pre-arranged drop-off spot, says Stobbe. It could be in the office, the kitchen or near the door. The parent must check this location daily and set up a system of returning signed forms to the child.

Schmidt recommends keeping a Hot File to handle the day-to-day paper such as notices, school papers and bills. Set up a file caddy with files for bills, school papers, etc It needs to be in prime real estate, says Schmidt, like the kitchen counter where you will check it regularly.

Also make sure you keep it separate from the farm and business files, states Schmidt. The farm office doesn t have to be four walls and a door but it should have a separate filing system from the family, she emphasizes.

3 Everything in its place

This is the number one rule for organizing, says Donna Schmidt, co-owner of Heart of the Matter in Baden, Ont. Everything needs a home and everything has to go back to its home. Figure out what you re going to keep, then either find appropriate bins or the best place to hang it up. But don t stop there. Next comes the absolutely critical step. Once you ve set up systems and made space for backpacks, shoes, the remote control and school papers, the family has to use them. This may require a family meeting to explain the systems, Schmidt says, and to also explain the consequences for not using them.

4 Kids artwork

If you have young school-aged children, one of the challenges is figuring out what to do with all the artwork and projects that come home from school. Recently completed projects can be hung on the front of the fridge or in a large frame, suggests Stobbe. From there, artwork can periodically go into a decorative box kept close at hand so that kids can take things out and look at them from time to time. At the end of the year, decide what to save in a long-term storage box. Take a photo of the rest so that you can remember them without taking up space, Stobbe and Schmidt recommend.

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