More of Your Best Organizing Tips
Real Simple readers share their easy tricks for keeping everything in order.
The only way to get my family out the door in the morning is to organize everything the night before. Backpacks, lunches, outfits, after-school-activity items, my pocketbook, coats, hats, gloves, etc., are placed right by the front door on our catchall ottoman. In the morning we get ourselves ready, then just grab our things and go.
River Edge, New Jersey
I toss my keys on the same table every time I come into my house. Even if they end up under something, I know they’re there.
A few months back, my family decided we wanted to actually eat at our kitchen table rather than using it as a central drop spot. I conquered this awful dilemma by sorting through the pile, putting bills with bills, shredding junk mail, and so on. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the pile diminished. But that was not the hard part―the hard part is maintaining. Every day I immediately go through the mail and sort paperwork as it comes in. Whatever papers or bills I need to keep around for a bit, I store in a hand-painted wooden tray on my table. It keeps everything together and looks neat.
North Kingstown, Rhode Island
I keep one folder on my desk for every kind of unfiled paper, whether it’s a recipe I want to save, a parking ticket to be paid, or an invitation to RSVP to. Having it all together and not scattered on my desk makes it look easier to tackle.
Throughout the year, I make sure to keep track of documentation for tax preparation by filing my receipts diligently in Manila envelopes. On the outside of each envelope, I glue a blank spreadsheet that has columns for dates and amounts. Separate envelopes are created for individual categories, such as medical expenses, business expenses, home equity, and so on. Along the way, I total the columns for the spreadsheets and add the numbers to the outside of the envelopes. Because I file and log totals regularly, the task of tallying totals is less cumbersome at tax time.
On the day the grocery store starts its weekly sale, I make a weekly shopping list and menu. It saves money―and my family knows what’s for dinner and has even been known to start cooking if I’m not home yet. If you spend an hour once a week thinking about what to cook and looking to see what you need as you make the list, the week runs so much more smoothly. No more getting the water boiling for pasta, then realizing there is no pasta.
Marie Grass Amenta
I create a premade grocery list, categorized by aisle. As you shop and go down the aisles, you know everything you need and don’t have to run back and forth through the grocery store.
I often tear out magazine pages that feature a recipe or cooking tip I’d like to try. Until recently, the pieces of paper would inevitably end up in my junk drawer, never to be seen again. I bought a three-ring binder with clear plastic inserts to keep the recipes splatter-free and dividers so I can separate appetizers, main courses, side dishes, and desserts. Now when I’m trying to find that recipe I read about, I know exactly where to look.
Winter Garden, Florida