Organization 101

I found this little gem of a book at the Office Depot going out of business sale.  (By the way, did everyone else know that Circuit City was shutting down?  I had not idea until we drove past it tonight and Aaron told me.  Kind of sad to see all these businesses going).  Anyway.  This is the book:

Of course you know I noticed it right away because it said “Simplify” on the cover!  I picked it up and was immediately drawn in.  The book is about organizing your life and using your time wisely so that you have more time to actually LIVE.  Each chapter offers a new idea that you are suppose to try for 21 days or repetitions.  It takes repeating something 21 times for it to become a habit.  So far I have picked up some very useful information!

She challenges readers to create new habits that will save them time.  I had one of those Ah-ha! moments while reading this book.  I think I always try to complicate things and then I can’t stay organized because it’s too much to keep up with.  Like with the mail and the bills.  Her solution is that you make it a habit that every evening for 20 minutes you sort through your papers and mail.  If it takes 5 minutes or less to complete a task then do it immediately.  If it will take longer or you need to think about it then file it away.  Her tips for filing include the following categories:

  • Calendar–anything that correlates to an event on your calendar (invitations, etc)
  • To Do–obvious of course!
  • To Decide
  • Information–kids school calendars, soccer team rosters, etc.

So simple right?  Then why do I make it so hard.  I wait until there are stacks and stacks of papers lying around then I spend hours trying to sort through them.  We all suffer because of this.  I lost (and then found today!) a check that Aaron needed to cash.  I have forgotten to send lunch money to school with Annagrace for several days at a time (it’s okay–they still feed them if they don’t have money on their account!), I have forgotten birthday parties, I have misplaced bills.  The list goes on and on.  I have tried so many times to get organized in this area of my life but until I read this I couldn’t find a way to do it that made sense to me and that I would be able to keep up with. 

Today I worked in the office all day straightening, decluttering, filing and organizing!  I started my files using several of her filing recommendations.  I put the bills all together and made a bill paying station in the office armoire.  I also started a family calendar so that we can all keep up with what each of us is doing.  Before Aaron would use on calendar, I would use my planner, then we would refer to the school calendar for Annagrace and Madalyn.  So now everything is in one book together.  I went through and marked all the teacher work days in it in pink for AG.  Aaron’s activities are in red, mine are in black and Madalyn’s are in blue.

I am excited about using my file system.  Marsha recommends using manila folders in her book.  I am using regular hanging files because we happen to have an area for that in our armoire.  It looks so nice and neat now!

Here is the armoire.  I even have a nice place for my work laptop to go and my work bookbag (I have to carry my laptop, BP cuff, stethescope, and notebook among other things in that bag–I love that I can put it in here out of the way!).  Excuse the little bit of clutter that still remains.  Gonna put that stuff away tomorrow!  


  CD Organization

Another BIG chore that I finished today was organizing our CD collection.  We love music.  A little too much I think.  We have hundreds of CDs and they take up so much space.  About a month ago I got the idea to get rid of all of our CD cases.  I decided to take out the inserts and put that and the CD in an organizer together.  I had no idea how big of an organizer we would need.  In the end I had to buy two large ones with a smaller one for the Christmas CDs.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to part with the cases (some of them have neat pictures on the back) but I was able to throw all of them out without a care.  Well–I did save one.  It’s a classic Johnny Cash photo that Aaron said we should frame.  I couldn’t part with it.  (I don’t think it is appropriate for my blog though and I don’t think we will be framing it either!)  Here are my organizers:

Found these at Walmart for a shade over $22.00.  They hold 208 CDs each but if you add the CD inserts then you will not be able to fit that many in.  My full one has 170 CDs in it and can still zip without any problems.  I divided my CDS up–one case holds our rock CDs.  Here is a peek inside:

Can you tell we like Korn?!  I have pretty eclectic taste.  You will find everything from Pearl Jam to Prince to New Kids on the Block to Fiona Apple in there!

My other one holds Christian, Praise and Worship, Country, Rap, R&B, Comedy and everything else in it.  I had to make tabs for it so it would be a little easier to locate things.

(Oooohhhh–and doesn’t our new carpet look nice in these photos!)

I can’t believe how GOOD that felt to get rid of those CD cases.  It wasn’t the cases I was attached to but the actual CDs.  I only found 2 in the whole bunch that I wanted to get rid of.  I have so many memories tied to music that I have a hard time parting with any of them!

And because I am all about reducing, reusing and recycling I am going to donate the old cases to Madalyn’s preschool.  I asked one of her teachers and she said they definitely can use them for projects.  They usually send some type of CD home each year with photos or songs on it so I am sure they can use them.  I did throw out a few that were broken but most of them were in good shape so they will be getting over 200 CD cases from us next week!

If you get rid of your cases and don’t have a school to donate them to you can also try your local library (so they can replace broken ones) or you can make a nifty calendar with it.  My mom made me one last year and hand stamped something different on each month’s card.  It was adorable! 

Here are a couple photos of some that I found online: 


(I love this photo one!  I may have to make some myself!)

I feel like I accomplished a lot today!  It feels so good to declutter and to organize.  How much time do I waste looking for things (CDs being one of them!).  With a few steps in place and the habit of putting things away when I am done I know I will save so much time! 

What type of organizational things do you do around your house?

4 Responses to “Organization 101”

  1. 1 Heather January 18, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I love the CD/DVD storage folios. We did one of those last year and still stored the cases for the DVDs in the attic. All those movies now fit in one notebook. I still have my CDs in cases, but they are in ABC order in long, slender storage boxes. I don’t think I’ll convert those, because I read the cases from cover to cover, finding out everything I can about the artists, the musicians, the producers. I’ve always done that!

    Great job, you are working hard. I also pitch any junk mail as soon as I walk in from the mailbox. It takes SECONDS, not minutes. I use the free pocket calendars from Hallmark to record what bills are due when and I store that with the bills. Right now, I’m using a very chic spice organizer to hold bills. I try to sit down with those at the start of each week so I don’t get charged late fees.

    This week I will be hitting closets hard, as we move our room and Brandt’s room. I will not have a dresser in our room, so it’s time to get super creative.

  2. 2 lsaufley January 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I’d love to see your spice organizer/bill organizer! That sounds interesting!

    I wish Aaron would let us put our movies in an organizer but he loves his movies! We converted our coat closet into a ‘media’ closet and it’s shelves top to bottom filled with movies! We did have our CDs in their (in alphabetical order!) but it was taking up so much room! I kept the written stuff inside the CDs so really all that I threw away was the back covers. I was going to alphabetize the ones in the holders but I reminded myself that this was about SIMPLIFYING and that if I alphabetized them and then bought a new one it would take forever to move them all back one to keep them in order! So I’m okay with it like it is. I’ve let the alphabetizing go!

    Our kitchen bar gathers all of our mail and I have got to change that. I am trying to start all these good habits so that when our house goes on the market it will be ready to show in a moments notice!

    I don’t have a dresser either and Aaron only uses one drawer in the one that we do have. I hang everything up including my jeans and t-shirts and my ‘unmentionables’ and socks are in my bathroom vanity drawers right by the shower. It’s very convenient to have them there!

    You sound very busy as well!

  3. 3 Cribb January 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Doesn’t it feel GREAT to organize stuff?!? I had Friday off and Reber and I got a lot done in the basement. It is getting closer to being a use-able space. As for bills, I love having the laptop down here because I pay bills online so I just get a bill, pay it, and shred it!! We also have a mail basket on top of the fridge that has been a LIFESAVER. It gets annoying when it gets full but it keeps all the loose papers from laying around. When we get the basement set up and rearrange, we’ll have a computer desk up here with a built-in file drawer (YESSSS). Right now our file drawer is upstairs and I hate filing so I rarely make the effort to walk up the stairs and put one paper in the right place. I am also working on better organization for our FOOD (you know my sharp shopper habit). We also have a crapload of CD’s. I tried your method but only bought 1 big organizer and then realized it wasn’t close to big enough. Gotta work on that still. Whew. Good job and good luck!!

  4. 4 Lacy January 18, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Hey Laura,

    I found you via Frugal Hacker…..

    My husband and I have started a website called I’m creating a blog wall, full of useful blogs that have a frugal christian perspective! I’m one of those crazy couponing ladies, and if you’re interested let me know!! If you could link us back that would be great too….more traffic for all!!!

    Here is the blogwall url:

    We have created a coupon database.

    If you have any questions please shot me an email!



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January 2009

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