Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Favorites - Linen Closet Love

Linen closets like these make me super jealous that we don't have a linen closet in our home.

I guess if I really wanted to I could store some linens in our front hall closet, but it wouldn't make logistical sense since it's neither near the bedrooms nor next to either of our bathrooms!

So I'll just drool over these...





Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Filing System

Paper Clutter. My arch enemy. Filing papers....very closely related. Either way - yuck, right?

I've adapted my filing system over the years, and I believe I have one now that works really well for me.

When I first started really filing stuff, as a recent college grad with my first "real job", I pretty much just had a different file for every company that I paid bills to, as well as files for stuff like my student loans, my car loan, and my apartment lease & rent receipts. I continued filing the same way after Hubby and I were married.

Then one day I came across the FreedomFiler systems while browsing online. They are designed to be self-purging with different color-coded general categories for permanent files, files that have documents that are replaced when new documents arrive (like declaration pages for insurance policies, no need to keep any other than what's current), etc.  There was also a statements/bills folder for each month of the year, instead of an individual folder for each company. I studied the FreedomFiler system online, and created my own system loosely based in theirs, making many adjustments along the way.  I was so proud when I finished; everything was color-coded & organized.

Over time, though, I realized there was just too many files, and I felt overwhelmed by all of the categories I had created. That, and the only place in our house to store file cabinets is the basement. And to be honest, I just don't spend a lot of time down unfinished basement isn't an ideal place for small children to "play" while mommy works on stuff. So I just didn't file. Instead, I created piles of papers that needed to be filed, and occasionally carried them downstairs & put them on top of the filing cabinet. :)

After we had water in our basement last spring & quickly had to move everything of value off of the floor, I decided I really didn't want to store our files down there anyway; not only because it was inconvenient, but for their safety too. So I nabbed a large plastic file box that I had used in college, which I knew would fit in our front hall closet. I threw my whole filing system out the window (not literally, of course) and started from scratch. Simplicity was the key this time.

Now my file are simply alphabetical, no different categories. I was always confused about where to look for certain files when they were in different general categories (permanent vs. replace). The files really do go left to right across, I just removed a few files before taking the photo (for privacy's sake), so that's why there's a few gaps.

If you're interested in what specific categories I used (and can't see it well enough in the photo), here's a list:
Auto Records
Education Records
Home Records
Insurance, Auto
Insurance, Health
Insurance, Home
Insurance, Life
Loans, Auto
Loans, Student
Medical Expenses
Medical Records
Tax Info (current)

I kept the idea of the statement/receipt files. I think it's easier to do this than to have a separate file for each company that you have bills for. I did decided to pare down to quarters instead of a file for each month. We really don't have a gazillion bills each month, so if I need to find one, it's not a problem to look through 3 months worth at a time to locate the one I'm in search of. 

A few random notes:

I do still maintain my desktop filing box, with a folder called To File, so that I have a place to collect the "every day" sort of random papers, and then I file in the big plastic box when the folder gets full.

I also create new file folders as needed. When I'm filing & I don't know where to put a paper, I place it in a temporary pile and then go through that later & either decide where it should go, or create an entirely new file so it won't be a question next time. I actually have a pile of these that I haven't gotten around to since the last time I filed, so I need to do that soon.

The folder entitled Tax Info only contains only current stuff, like any papers we collect throughout the year that I know I'll be looking for at tax time, and our property tax statement. Our tax returns are still stored in the basement (high enough to not get wet), using a method that FreedomFiler uses: 10 folders, entitled Tax Year 0, Tax Year 1, Tax Year 2, etc.  The 2009 return is in Tax Year 9, 2010 return is in Tax Year 0, 2011 will be in Tax Year 1, and so on. You're supposed to keep returns for 10 years, so by the time you cycle around again, it's time to toss that return.

What kind of system do you use for filing?  Any great tips or tricks to pass on to my readers? Please share!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - One Laundry Load a Day

Awhile back, I posted this question to you all, looking for input on your laundry routine. I was trying to figure out what would work best for me & my family.


Until recently, I had been setting aside one or two days a week as my "laundry days"...simply because one of my neighbors does it that way & she has 5 kids, so I figured that must be the way to do it! I didn't focus on much else around the house, just worked on getting as much laundry done as possible. But, I always struggled with getting all of that laundry folded (my girls' clothes usually didn't even get folded) & it usually didn't get put away until several days later....which was always a source of stress for me, and I was constantly running out of clothes baskets. So it wasn't working for me.

Recently, I started doing one load of laundry each day, occasionally two if really needed, and weekends are optional (or as necessary). I've found this "system" to be much less stressful - I totally have time to get one single load folded and put away, and even if there's enough to do another load or two (or three!), I can simply tell myself that I don't have to do it until tomorrow! I think it's working well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Decluttering Kitchen Utensils

Is your kitchen utensil drawer looking like this?  (That's not my drawer, by the way...)
It's time to declutter!

Consider which utensils you actually use on a daily or weekly or monthly basis. Perhaps items used often could be stored in a pretty crock on the countertop. Or not - it's up to you & the space you have.

Utensils used infrequently (the turkey baster you only use at Thanksgiving) could be afforded a different space, perhaps in your pantry, a buffet, or even a small box in the basement; somewhere not "in the way", but easily accessible when a utensil is needed.

Also ask yourself if you actually need every utensil? When is the last time you used ______________? Be honest, and if you find that you really don't use a utensil, donate it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bad Blogging...

I'm a bad blogger this week. I've promised posts on both my filing system & another closet reveal....but I've been busy taking care of a couple little girls who are feeling under the weather. So, my apologies! They'll be coming soon, I promise!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Organizing Digital Photos

Here's the method I use to keep our digital photos organized:

Within the master photo file (My Pictures or wherever you keep them, ours are on an external hard drive), create a folder labeled for each year. Within that folder, I create folders for each month...but instead of naming them January, February, etc. I date them with the last day of the month - for example, 1-31-2011. This way, they always remain in correct numerical order, whereas if you spell out the month names they will sometimes alphabetize.

Here's a screenshot to show you what I mean:

How do you keep your digital photos organized? Any tips to share?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Favorites - Things About Fall

Decorating with pumpkins & cornstalks
Visiting the Orchard
Making Apple Crisp

Playing in the crunchy leaves

Going to high school football games
The beautiful foliage
Lighting apple & pumpkin candles around my house

"Swetta Wetta"  (bonus points if you can name where that saying is from!)

What are some of YOUR favorite things about Fall, that I didn't list here?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Don't Put Off Filing

This Quick Tip is coming from a personal place today. I can admit it, I procrastinate at things that I don't really want to do in the first place, like filing for example. Though I do know the two reasons that I put it off:
1) We don't have a "convenient" place to store our main files; somewhere that I can access easily on a daily basis as papers trickle in. I've adapted by using my easy access desk filing box with a folder entitled "To File".
2) The only time I really have in a given day without children running around & getting in to everything is after they are all in bed for the night....and that's my time with Hubby, to relax & talk without shouting over the noise!

So in my honesty, I must admit that the "to file" folder had transferred to a "to file" basket in the closet where our files are stored. I'm not even joking. It's embarrassing to admit. Not a giant basket, mind you, but a basket nonetheless. I should have taken a picture of it, but wasn't thinking of a blog post at the time!

So anyway, this afternoon I was clearing some clutter from the landing of our stairs, some of which went in to said closet. I noticed the basket there and thought, "You know, if I put that & the file box up on the table, I could totally start filing while the kids are running around."

So I did.

And it took me all of...15 minutes?  Maybe 20?  And there was 5 months worth of paperwork in there too!  I'll have to remember that next time my folder is more baskets ...just DO it!

It's such a good feeling too; knowing that those papers were waiting for me has been weighing on my shoulders for months. I feel much better knowing that everything is put where it's supposed to be, and that if I need to find a paper I won't have to be worried about it.

Speaking of filing - I will be sharing my filing system with you all sometime in the next week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tip Coming Tomorrow...

Sorry folks, I didn't have today's Quick Tip prepared ahead of time, and it's just too busy around here today for me to get it done! If you're really lucky, I might write one tonight, but most likely sometime Wednesday afternoon.  :-)  Thanks for being patient!