Sunday, October 19, 2014

Storing Photos

This is the view that greeted me the other day when I opened up the doors to our coffee table.  This is where a lot, but not all, of our photo albums are stored.

After peeling back the layers, this is the mess I found.

After years of sitting in albums, our photos are falling out, the pages are ripping and everything is getting jumbled.  You know how it is, don't you?  The problem is, as we all get older, we're trying hard to remember which baby that is in the picture.  They used to be sorted nicely by year, but once everything starts falling apart and things get mixed up, I sometimes can't recognize which baby is which!  Horrible, I know.

This is one project that is at the top of my list when the kids are mostly grown and out of the house and I have a lot of extra free time on my hands (ha!).  I've thought about other options in the past, like cardboard photo boxes or plastic storage boxes, but as of yet have not invested in any of them.  My biggest fear is that one of the boxes would get dropped or knocked over and we'd have an even bigger mess than we have now.

Since I've gotten my first digital camera (about 6 years ago) I haven't really printed that many pictures out.  I have a separate hard drive just for my photos, but even that scares me.  I really need to get some printed out in the event that my hard drive blows up or something.  I can say that they are organized in a very systematic fashion on my hard drive.  Does that count for anything?

I told you in the beginning it wasn't all going to be perfect here.  This is another area where I just don't have it all together.  Unfortunately, I think it might be one of those things that I will regret having not organized after something bad happens and it is too late.

How do you store all of your photos?  Does it work for you or not?  I am definitely open to suggestions on this one!

God Bless!
To see all of the posts in this series, you can go here. 
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sending Cards in a Timely Fashion

(Coming in under the wire with this one!)  One thing I'm not very good at is keeping up with birthdays.  I love to celebrate peoples' birthdays, however, I am not very good at getting cards in the mail in a timely fashion.  

I have one calendar in my kitchen, that hangs on my fridge, that only has family and friends' birthdays on it.  You would think that that would be enough to remind me to get cards ahead of time.  Well, it isn't.  That calendar was my attempt at becoming organized about birthdays.  It hasn't worked.

Heaven forbid you should be on my card list and have a birthday or anniversary within the first few days of the month.  I usually don't see those until I flip the calendar and then I'm already too late.

Ideally I should buy all of the cards I need for the month about two weeks before the month arrives, but, well, that never seems to happen. 

We've tried making cards.  This way I don't have to get out to the store.  Still didn't work.  I just don't think we're creative enough to make that idea last.

I'm always impressed by people who send cards to our house in a timely fashion.  I'll have to ask them what their secret is. 

Any ideas on how to make this more organized for me???  If so, please share, as I'd really love to be able to stay on top of this for more than one month.

God Bless!
To see all the posts in this series, click here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Love My Lists!

By now you might have figured out that I am a huge fan of making lists.  It's kind of like a hobby for me.  Lists on pretty paper make me even happier.  I was so excited when I got my Kindle and I could get an app that looked like a piece of paper and then I could have notes on there, too.  Of course I have Evernote on my computer and my Kindle, but sadly have not gotten into the habit of using it.  I have sticky notes on my computer desktop in multiple colors :)

I have been a list maker since college when things began to overwhelm me in life.  It was at that time my mom, in one of those desperate phone calls home, insisted that I start making lists.  I've been hooked ever since.

I also find that as I get older, my brain doesn't like to retain as much as it used to.  In the morning, I will have a plan of all the things I need to accomplish that afternoon after we are done with school.  I really need to start writing them down then, because by the time I've schooled two children, answered questions from two more and dealt with whatever else may have come my way, I have forgotten what it was I needed to do.  After lunch I find my mind a blank canvas.  Ms 15 yo, who is a daily witness to this, just shakes her head and laughs.  

Other than that, I love to make lists!  I make them when we have a party, as you saw yesterday.  I have a grocery list on the fridge so that we can jot down what we need as the week goes on.  I also make lists when we have a particularly busy week so that nothing gets forgotten.  I have an ongoing list on my computer of projects that need to get done.  On my Kindle, I keep a list of things I need from Sam's Club and our food co-op.

Lists are good and helpful if 1. you actually make them and 2. you look at them and utilize them once you have made them.  They are a cheap and easy way to stay at the top of your game.

Are you a list maker?

God Bless!
You can go here to see all of the posts in this series.
affiliate links included :) 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wanna Party? In an Organized Way, Of Course!

Both my husband and I have lived in the same area all of our lives.  The majority of our family from both sides still lives near us, too.  We both also happen to come from decent sized families that like to celebrate.

All of this means only one thing...big parties!  With seven kids, there is always something to celebrate and if there isn't, we throw a party just for fun.  When we lived out in the country we had a barn and every Fall we would throw a huge barn party.  It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

It was during this time of the barn parties that I really became more organized about how to throw a party.  Now that I'm in the groove, I follow this same basic plan for any party we throw.

1.  I keep a list of everyone that is invited to the event.  This way, the next time I throw a similar event, I can just pull out the previous list and work off of that.  I'm also less likely to forget people, too!

2.  I keep a list of what food people volunteer to bring as well as what food and drinks we will be providing.  For most of our parties people usually volunteer to help out, so that is a nice bonus.  We never cater our parties because it would just be too darn expensive, thus, it's up to me to figure out how to feed a lot of people for the least amount of money.  Keeping track of the food and drinks in a list helps me to save money because I can plan everything out in minute detail and don't duplicate anything.

3.  The week before a big party I make a list of all of the things that need to get done both inside and outside of the house.  Any cleaning, shopping, errands and phone calls all get written down along with the day that they will be getting done.  Once they are finished, they get crossed off the list - and boy does that feel good.

4. Then, finally, the day of the event, I make one last list with all of the things that have to get done that day and who will do them.  I also make a schedule of events so that anyone who is helping me can see what time things are supposed to happen, the most important one being "WHAT TIME IS DINNER?"

I have found that the more I write things down, the easier the whole planning and implementing process is and the more likely things are to get done on time.  This way, too, I can save my lists and use them to begin the planning stages for the next event. 

We enjoy throwing big parties so I had to find a way to make it as stress free as possible.  This system seems to work well for all of us.

God Bless!
To see the full list of posts in this series, go here. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Mom's Binder

Since we've been talking about things that are on and around my desk for the past few days, let's continue, shall we?

Do you have a Mom's Binder?  You know, one binder where you stick all of the important information that you have to hang on to for more than a day or a week?

Well, if you don't, you should consider it.  It makes a convenient, non-messy place to keep all those important things like: newsletters from your homeschool group, the meeting dates for the entire year for all of your clubs, your past Christmas letters so you don't repeat yourself (too much), important phone numbers or information like internet passwords or bank info.  These are just some of the things I've kept in my binder over the years.

Oh, how about one place where you can record all of the medical procedures and surgeries that you and your kids have had?  Not that we've had a lot, but with seven kids plus myself, I have a hard time remembering just when I had my gallbladder out or what year my daughter's appendix was removed.

I keep party lists in there, too.  This way the next time we have a big party I can just refer to a similar list to see who I invited and what I served.  This has been a big time saver and a help to my feeble memory.

What other interesting things could you store in your Mom's Binder?  If you have any ideas you'd like to share, please do so, as we all can learn from each other.

In my book, anything that helps to keep things organized without taxing my overfull brain is a good thing!

God Bless!
If you would like to see all the posts in this series, you can go here. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Personal Paperwork

Yesterday's mail becomes today's paperwork:  bill stubs, paycheck stubs, bank statements, donation receipts and medical EOBs come in day after day and stack up quickly.

If you don't have a plan, the whole thing can become overwhelming very quickly.

Here is the first place my paperwork stops:

What is left of the mail gets placed in the appropriate slot, with bills needing to be paid set in order of the date they are due in the second to the bottom bin.  Donations and church envelopes are in the bottom bin.  My business paperwork is in the middle bin, stubs and receipts and such from personal paperwork is in the second from the top and the top bin is reserved for papers that I need to deal with at some point.  Those bins up on top?  Those are where my students put their school papers when they are finished with them.

Once the second and third slots from the top fill up, the papers are brought downstairs to a large filing cabinet.  There they are sorted into the appropriate files: medical, donation, bank, paycheck, important receipts, etc.

Once a year I take all of the paperwork out of the files in the filing cabinet and put it all into a bankers box, label it and, you guessed it, put it in the back part of our basement along with all of the other years' papers.

I've been following this basic work flow for as long as I can remember and it seems to be working very well.  If you don't have a set routine for your paperwork, I'd recommend getting started on one soon!

Do you have any paperwork tips you'd like to share?

God Bless!
You can go here to see all of the posts in the series. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Organized Mail

Since today is a postal holiday, I thought we'd talk about how to deal with that daily pest...the mail.  I suppose some days there is a nice surprise, but around here it is mostly bills and junk.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I don't have a hard time hanging on to things, so as soon as I get the mail in I immediately toss all junk mail - any advertisements, sale flyers (except the ones I need for Wal Mart), political ads, miscellaneous requests for donations, etc.

That cuts the pile at least in half.  Next, I distribute any mail belonging to someone else in the house to them. 

Finally, I am left with bills and monthly donation requests.  I have a spot where I keep all my bills and donations to pay, so I file the necessary paperwork and corresponding envelope in the proper slot and I'm done.

Occasionally I might have a piece of mail that doesn't fit into any of the above categories so I'll just set it off to the side on my desk so that I can deal with it at a later date.

I almost never hang on to a magazine or catalog to look at later, for we all know that in a busy household "later" usually never comes.  I might save some newsletters for my husband to read, but usually those get stacked up in the family room, so after awhile I just toss the whole pile.  

I can't stand piles of paper for very long, so dealing with the mail as soon as it gets in the house is one of the best ways to stop that from happening.  If the piles never get started, there's nothing to deal with later.

Are you a mail procrastinator?

God Bless!

You can go here to see all of the other posts in this series.