Organizing Tips I
Learned in the Library
His Desk, Her Desk:
Decorating a Home Office
The Benefits of an
Organized Home Office
I was wondering if anybody had any good organization tips. I need tips specifically on organizing small things like pens, pencils, paperclips, rubber bands, markers, rulers, tape, that kind of thing. It seems like we have these everywhere in our house and many times I have a hard time trying to look for a ruler, or tape, or that one pair of scissors. Thanks.
For the person who has trouble organizing things in the drawers: this has worked for me. My mother-in-law buys a lot of prepared foods, like lasagne, that go into the microwave in shallow plastic pans. She saves the pans for us and I have the kids go through the junk drawer and put all the things that go together, like tape, paper clips and pencils, into the pan. In the bathroom, we have hair clips, elastic bands and bobby pins in one pan, all things in tubes in another pan,etc. When you want to use something, you take the whole pan out, use the thing you wanted, then put the whole thing back. Your drawer is organized very fast and since the kids organized it, they not as likely to mess it up. In fact, the adults get reminded by the kids if we mess it up. If these pans are not available, there are other free things to use, such as an ice cube tray for earings or tacks, pins and stamps. Small boxes work, and so do empty margarine tubs, etc. if they are too high for the drawer, just trim them off with scissors.
I would like to pass on some hints on keeping an organized desk. Actually, I have 4 desks at home. One in the living room where I pay bills and do all my rental business work, one in the dining room with the phone, one in a bedroom where I do genealogy research, neighborhood business and write letters and then my husband has a desk in a bedroom where he keeps all tax records in a file cabinet beside his desk.
I have found that it is easier for me to duplicate the scissors, ruler, tape and pens than run to another desk to find it. One time I found fabric scissors on sale for $1 so bought one for each desk. On the desk by the phone, I covered a cardboard with wall paper and made a writing pad to fit the top of the desk. Then took 2 tin cans that had been cleaned and covered with the same wall paper to hold pencils and pens. In the other desks, I have picked up cutlery drawer organizers at garage sales and use these in the desk drawers to separate pens, pancils, clips etc. This is really handy and works well. I also buy a tape and sissors to keep in the box of gift wrap. When I take it out of the closet, I know everything is there and I don't have to go anywhere to find anything else.
Gather up all the pens, pencils and rulers and put into a divider drawer tray that fits into a junk drawer. You can buy them inexpensively (3/$1) at Wal-Mart. There are many good books on the subject as well as tips on the Internet.
In response to the query on organizing "the little necessary stuff" - pens, scissors, etc, the kitchen is undoubtedly the best place for us. As long as I've lived on my own, I've dedicated one drawer in the kitchen to the phone book, one or two pairs of scissors, thumb tacks and paper clips in a small plastic box, stapler and extra staples, a few pens and a tiny wire bound pad, a roll of masking tape and a roll of scotch tape, a small jar for change, and glue (stick, Elmer's, etc.) If you can keep this drawer clean of everything else, it becomes your one-stop place for grocery lists (pad and pen, scissors for coupons), comparison shopping (phone book and pad/pen), present-wrapping (scissors and tape), posting notes (tape or thumb tacks, and pad), etc. if you can't keep the drawer clean, it becomes the "junk drawer". I avoid the "junk drawer" phenomenon by cleaning the drawer out every once in a while, as it accumulates bits of watches, nails, anything that breaks off something else, buttons...if you seem to have a lot of something in the drawer, give it its own container.
I have always had a designated drawer for the things you mentioned (pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, ruler, scissors, etc...)...usually a desk drawer, but a kitchen drawer would be pretty practical as well. Almost any container will work for keeping items separate...pens and pencils work well in a cup, glass, mug, or anything heavy (to avoid tipping and spilling)...and you want the height of the pens & pencils to be taller than the container....we keep one container next to the phone. Other containers that you can use to keep things separate...shoeboxes & lids, soup cans & pasta sauce jars (with or without lables) are favorites here...coffee cans are great for crayons!!!! I have tacks and paper clips in their own little container...it's just a small plastic box and the lid separated into two containers....I think it is the box that the some of the tacks came in. Anyway, don't waste your money on little organizers...reuse things that you may have thought of as trash (or recycling).
I can't believe that I am offering a suggestion on organization. Believe me, this has been one of my biggest struggles in life. One thing that I have is something called, I think, a "locker organizer". I bought it for about $5 (Canadian) at an office supply store. It is a basket-type thing, with very strong magnets on the back (meant to stick inside a school locker). I have one on the side of my fridge (an office file cabinet would work, too). In it, I keep scissors, glue, a stapler, a pen or two, etc. It wouldn't work well for those little fidget-y things like rubber bands, paper clips, etc. - but I always know where my scissors are!
I bought a roly kit from QVC. It may seem pricy at first, but it has more compartments than I can fill and it rolls up for easy storage. The best part is that if you shake it everything stays in its place.
Try a sturdy tool box or tackle box to keep these items all in one place! The smaller items like paper clips can be put in small glass jars or in zipper bags if need be. Stash the "supply chest" in a closet and bring it to wherever you are working.
Lisa in Mississippi
I wash out my old soup cans and cover them with pretty contact paper. I have long hair, and so I have a can on my dressing table with bobby pins in it and hair "schrunchies" wrapped around the outside. I have another one for my makeup brushes, and still another one for my combs and hairbrushes. Baby food jars work well for screws and small nails, etc.
I take a narrow box (such as a cereal box), cut off the bottom part and tape up the corners for rienforcement, then place it in a drawer to hold pens, scissors and other "junk" that floats around. You can do the same thing by buying those long, narrow plastic "trays", but I enjoy the challenge of trying NOT to buy the solution, especially if it is something people will never see.
Another thing I do is invest in at least two pair of scissors - it is one item always in need and I hate tramping all over the house to find that one pair, so in simplifing my life I have them strategically placed in the den and kitchen.
Another organizational trick: I cut down moving boxes to become underbed storage boxes, like the kind you can buy. I store sheets there among other things. The best part is that the cut down boxes have no lids, so I need only slide them partway out to see if it's the box I need, and they are custom fit to the hieght of my bed.
This is for Matt who wanted to know about organizing things. I have a drawer organizer I got for Christmas. It was called a junk drawer organizer. It has differnent slots for each of your things and comes with labels for pins, pens, scissors, tape, screwdriver, rubber bands and just about anything else you would find in a junk drawer. And since it is labeled the other people in the family can put things back where they belong. I think it is by Rubbermaid but I'm not sure. You might just the organizing section at Walmart or Target.
I have a tip that helped me a lot. I bought an extra large fishing tackle box. It is 18 " high, 14 ' deep and 24 ' wide. In the top (under the lid I store envelopes, paper, stamps, stapler, and a calculator ). In the drawer underneath I store pen, pencils, rubber bands, buttons, rulers, and other small miscellaneous items. The divided drawers help keep things neat and orderly. I keep the box on a small table by the phone. When I need any small thing I look in the box first. And when I find a lost pencil ect. I know where to put it. The hardest part is teaching your family to put the items back in the box neatly when they are finished with them. I hope this tip helps.
I keep a pretty vase from garage sale by the phone, it has pens, pencils scotch tape scissors and scratch pad. :Looks good and everything is one spot where we use it most.
Organization Rule of Thumb: Return things to their place right after use.
If you first cut a piece of paper the size of your cupboard door and then lay the items on it, you'll get a good idea of how the arrangement will work out before you start putting nails or driving screws.
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