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Decluttering Tips & Family Circle

Have you been procrastinating and putting off those home organizing projects you wanted to tackle in 2014? It’s not too late to start. To get you motivated, I’d recommend reading Clutter-Free in 31 Days in this month’s Family Circle. It has some great decluttering tips and tricks from over a dozen mom bloggers.

decluttering tips // simplified bee

And yes, I’m thrilled to say that I was asked for a tip or two for the article. My tip for day 10 is above. You know I love those trays, so here are a few of my faves…

Happy organizing,

Cristin

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Read full story By on January 17, 2014 in Decluttering, home organization, Organization, organization tips, Organizational tips, Tips/Tricks

Organizing a Closet in 5 Steps

shoe organization

Are you longing for an organized closet, but don’t know where to begin or have a limited budget? Today, I’m contributing at Wayfair’s blog,  My Way Home and sharing five simple, budget-friendly ideas for making your closet more organized. Several of the solutions are free and you can do right now! Head to My Way Home to find out more.

Happy organizing!

Cristin

* photo credit: BHG

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Read full story By on December 10, 2012 in Closets, Decluttering, Organization, organization tips, Organizational tips, Tips/Tricks, Wayfair

5 Steps to Organize Your Home Office

When it comes to organizing my home, my office seems to always be last on the list of priorities. This year however, stream-lining my home office is high on the list of things to do. Is it on yours? If yes, here are five simple steps to making your office space functional and beautiful…

home office jan showers{image from Jan Showers}

One: De-clutter

Start by removing all clutter. Toss, recycle or donate the items that are broken, not being used or don’t hold any sentimental value. Perhaps all those dried up pens and broken pencils? How about donating that extra calculator to a local school? When is the last time you read or referenced that book? Purging will help fight  exhausting visual clutter in your office and is an easy exercise to perform monthly or quarterly.

organized home office desk
{image from Rue Magazine}

Two: File

Don’t over complicate your filing system. The simpler the better. Think about how you look for a particular file or piece of paper. What would be the easiest way for you to find it?  Then create a file system that works for you. Don’t worry about it being perfect. You can always go back and modify later.

In our home office, I prefer the FreedomFiler – a self-purging file system. It was a recommendation by another professional organizer and now recommend it to my own clients. FreedomFiler has compiled a wonderful {and free} learning center that explains the art of filing successfully.

how to organize home office
{image from Coco+Kelley}

Three: Purge a File or Two

Pick a file drawer and shred all documents that you no longer need to save. Here is quick overview from Bankrate.com of which records you need to keep and which ones your need to toss {shred}:
  • Taxes – Keep seven years. The IRS has three years from your filing date to audit your return if it suspects good faith errors and six years if it thinks you under-reported your gross income by 25 or more.
  • IRA contributions – Keep permanently.
  • Retirement/Savings plan statements – From one year to permanently. Keep the quarterly statements until you receive your annual summary; keep the annual summaries until you retire or close the account.
  • Bank records – Keep from one year to permanently. Throw away checks that have no long-term importance, but keep checks related to your taxes, business expenses and housing and mortgage payments.
  • Brokerage statements – Keep until you sell your securities.
  • Bills – Keep from one year to permanently. In most cases, when you receive the canceled check, the bill can be tossed. However, you should keep bills for big purchases (e.g., jewelry, appliances, cars, collectibles, etc.) for proof of their value in the event of loss or damage.
  • Credit card receipts and statements – Keep from 45 days to seven years. Keep the statements seven years if they document tax-related expenses.
  • Paycheck stubs – Keep one year. If your W-2 form matches your stubs, you can toss your stubs.
  • House/Condominium records and receipts – Keep from six years to permanently.

In addition, its a good idea to create a “life” folder or binder that contains the important legal, medical and financial documents {i.e. will, trust, power of attorney, marriage license, etc.} that family members can access in case of an emergency. The WSJ has comprised a comprehensive list of documents your should include. It is also advised to have a copy of these life documents kept with your attorney or in a safety deposit box at a bank. 

    lonny home office
    {image from Lonny}

    Four: Organize a Desk Drawer

    Desk drawers tend to be dumping grounds. Another way to help streamline your home office is to organize  desk drawers. Start by taking everything out of it and sorting through the contents and placing in groups (i.e. pens, note pads, paper clips, etc.). Items that belong in other areas of the home should go in a box temporarily and put away at a later time. Sort through the contents, donating, recycling or tossing out whatever is no longer useful. 
    Using containers or dividers to corral supplies not only adds function, but can add a touch a style to your desk.  There so many organizing tray and divider options for drawers. Before you purchase any drawer dividers however, measure the drawer {width and height} to know what will fit. Also, keep in mind the sizes and quantities of the items you want to store to ensure you purchase the best option. Once you have decided what works for you, then arrange the office supplies back into the drawer using the different containers or sections of the organizer tray to keep things neat and easy to find.

    eclectic home office organized

    {image from Lonny}

    Five: Stream-line Your Desk Top

    The easiest way to do this is to remove all items from your desktop except for items that are absolutely necessary for your work (i.e. phone, computer, task light). Determine which items you use on a daily basis (i.e. pen & pencil holder, letter tray) and place them back onto the desk. Add a personal item or two (i.e. family photo, decorative figurine or small plant). The other items that you have removed will need to find a new home (i.e. desk drawer, filing cabinet, recycle bin).

    It might take a few organizing sessions for you to complete all these tasks, but you will be so happy with the results!

    Happy organizing!
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    Read full story By on January 9, 2012 in Decluttering, home organization, office/study, Organization, organization tips

    How to Hold a Successful Garage or Yard Sale

    Spring cleaning is in full swing and for many of us that means it’s garage sale season. Hosting a garage or yard sale is the perfect time to edit items from your home that are no longer used or fit your lifestyle. In addition to de-cluttering your home, a garage sale is a great way to make a little extra money.
    Holding a garage sale however takes organization and pre-planning. Here are some tips for hosting a successful garage sale:
    successful garage yard sales{images by Thayer Allyson Gowdy via Real Simple}
    Select the Right Day & Time.
    1. Typically the best months for garage sales are in the spring and summer. Steer clear of holidays and summer vacation months {i.e. July & August}.
    2. Saturday is the most popular day for garage sales, but a Friday or Sunday might also work for you. Go with the flow and see what day is trending in your neighborhood.
    3. Serious garage sale shoppers get up earlier, so set a start time no later than 8am.
    Consider a Multi-family Sale.
    1. Inform family and friends about the garage sale and encourage them to participate. Ask them to help out on the day of the sale and assign them a task {cashier, helping customers, keeping merchandise neat}.
    2. Let neighbors know about your sale. If they too want to have a garage sale the same day, share marketing efforts {signage, Criagslist posting, etc.}. Multi-family garage sales always pull in more traffic.
    stylish yard sale displays
    Determine, Organize & Price Items to Sell.
    1. Schedule a day {or two} to go room by room in your home to de-clutter and make a list of items you would like to sell.
    2. Don’t sell items that are damaged beyond repair or have been recalled. In fact it is illegal to resell items that have been recalled – go here for a list of recalled items}.
    3. Make a note as to what price you would like to sell the item. If you have no idea how to price an item, you can always look up a similar item on eBay or Criagslist.
    4. Set up a holding area for the items you will be selling. Typically this is in the garage, because it eliminates moving the sale items multiple times. You’ll be able to move the items easily out the day of the sale.
    5. In the holding area, group sale items into plastic bins {clear ones are best because you can see the contents inside} and boxes. Be sure to label the bin or box  {i.e. toys, DVDs, 0-3 month girls’ clothing, etc.} and price the items in the grouping the same.
    6. Save time by minimizing labeling each item. Instead label the tables, bins or racks {i.e. $5-$10, $1 or Less, $25 or Best Offer}.
    Supplies Needed On-site for the Sale.
    1. Shopping bags and small boxes to make it easier for customers to take away the goods.
    2. Tables, clothing racks and shelves for displaying items.
    3. A calculator for adding up sales.
    4. Spare light bulbs, batteries and extension cords plugged in to show that items work properly.
    5. Tape measure, pens and scissors.
    6. Trash can.
    7. Paper towels, tissues and hand-sanitizer.
    8. Pre-made sticker labels or color coded stickers for pricing items.
    9. Newspaper to wrap fragile items.
    10. Cash-box, hip-pack or apron with pockets to hold cash and change.
    cute yard sale signage {image via Yard Sale Bloodbath}
    Advertise the Sale.
    1. Create a listing one week prior to the sale on Craigslist or a similar on-line site. It’s free!
    2. Inquire about placing ads with various local newspapers. Ask how many words, how much it will cost and when you need to submit the information by.
    3. When listing your ad, include your big items and/or categories {i.e. 1940s oak dining table, baby gear & clothing}
    3. Create signage to be placed at large intersections near your home.
    4. Signage should include the date of the sale, your address {cross streets can be helpful too} and the sale hours. Use foam board and make the signs large enough for them to be read easily by drivers.
    5. Consider making smaller directional signage if you think people may have difficulties finding your home.
    successful garage sale tips
    {image by Thayer Allyson Gowdy via Real Simple}

    Display items with Style.
    1. Remove or cover items in the garage you don’t want to sell.
    2. Organize your items and display them in an interesting and easy-to-view format.
    3. Use clothing racks {consider renting or borrowing some} to hang items such as dresses, jackets and suits. Group clothing according to size.
    4. Place like items together and make signs so customers can easily find what they are looking for {i.e books, housewares, boys clothing – sizes 2T – 3T}

    apron for garage sale
    {image via CountryHome}
    Managing the Money.
    1. Go to the bank ahead of the sale and have between $75 and $100 in small bills {$1s, $5s and a few $10s} and a couple rolls of quarters.
    2. Designate a person to handle the cash-box at all times. If this isn’t possible, have one person where an apron or hip-pack to mange the transactions.
    3. Have a “Cash Only” rule. It’s no fun to get a bounced check!
    free stuffed animals to kids
    Fun for the Kids.
    1. Encourage older kids to earn extra cash by selling donuts, bagels or cookies.
    2. Set out a box of gently used stuffed animals labeled “FREE – Kids Take One” for customers with  young children. Used stuffed animals are rarely accepted by charities, so this is a great way to pass them along! You will have some very happy, little customers too 🙂
    After the Sale.
    1. Do not bring any unsold items back into your home or garage.
    2. Immediately after the sale, pack unsold items into your vehicle and drive them to the nearest charity or donation center {be sure to get a receipt for a tax credit}.
    3. Place unsold items curbside with a “FREE” sign.
    4. Schedule a date and time for one of the local thrift stores to pick up items that are too big for you to hall away {have them leave a receipt for a tax credit}.
    5. Remove all posted signs from the neighborhood.
    If you don’t have a yard or garage for a traditional sale of this kind, try TagSellIt. It’s a traditional garage sale in a virtual format.
    igaragesale yard sale app for iphone
    I don’t tend to host garage sales {too much work, my hubby says}, but I love going to them. Just downloaded the iGarageSale app for my iPhone too. The reviews are glowing.
    Tips for Holding a Successful Yard or Garage Sale - Simplified Bee
    Planning a yard sale this year?
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    Read full story By on May 26, 2011 in Decluttering, garage sales, home organization, organization tips, Organizational tips, Tips/Tricks