Contribution Author: NAPO GA Member Nancy Meck of Meck Organizing
August is a wonderful month for tranquility and transition. A time for soaking in the last rays of summer, the beginning of the school year, stores getting stocked with fall fashions, and National Relaxation Day on August 15 (hear, hear!).
Maybe you are not in the mindset for monthly home organization projects to add to your to-do list, but with the awe-inspiring Olympic Games, you might be feeling more determined than usual. (Nothing like the best athletes in the world to motivate us to make the most of our days and get organized!)
Since your home is where you rest, eat, play, create, and now work, why not focus your attention on making it more enjoyable?
Getting Started with Home Organization Projects
Not sure where to start in sweetening your home sweet home? Have great intentions but haven’t gotten to them yet?
Maybe all you need is a bit of refocusing and a great list! Here’s a list of home organization projects you can tackle monthly. That way you can focus on your health and wellness all year round.
Monthly Home Organization Projects:
Office & School Supplies – In preparation for the school year starting or because you have your own homework since working from home, take time for streamlining your home office products. Gather all loose pens, pencils, writing pads, rolls of tape and other desk supplies and set up your very own in-house Office Depot-type shopping experience so you know your inventory before buying more. If your desk has drawers, store the supplies in them to free up as much space as possible on the desk surface, and get drawer inserts as needed so things don’t roll around.
Set up a sleek calendar for capturing your entire family’s work, school, personal activities, special events, and other time-sensitive things. Ensure your computer, phone, printer/scanner, and shredder are in good working condition.
Linens– Whether you expect company during the fall/winter holidays or are wondering where your beach towels went in the past few months, fall is a perfect time for getting your bath, bedroom and table linens straightened out. Take an inventory to identify what needs to be replaced for the number you like having on hand. Clean any items that need it. Donate any bed sets that don’t fit mattresses you currently have. Use a pillowcase as the “bag” to store inside its matching fitted sheet, flat sheet, and other pillowcase. Turn into rags or let go of any towels and washcloths past their prime. Review table linens to ensure they are ready as your social calendar gets busier.
Toys/Playroom– Halloween planning means a deep dive into the toy/playroom area to dig out costumes. It’s a great opportunity to weed out those that no longer fit and toys no longer used.
Involve your child in the process as it works well for their age and development. Explain the benefits of letting go. For instance, they can more easily see and find the things they really like playing with; they have more room to play; they can make another child happy just like they get happy when someone gives them something. Use bins and labels to create a system for what-goes-where, and invest your children in the process so they learn where to find things and how to put them away. If donating toys and clothing, let them tag along as a lesson in philanthropy.
Kitchen/Pantry – Whether you are big on entertaining for Thanksgiving, or the most complicated thing you can make is toast, a regular review of the kitchen and pantry can ensure it stays fresh and uncrowded. Clean and disinfect the refrigerator and pantry. Let go of food items past their “best by” date, as this means they have likely lost qualities that make them optimal, plus you haven’t used them up in quite some time. Use lazy Susans, stadium shelves, drawer dividers, canisters, and other fun products to maximize use of space and enhance the look.
Organize what is kept into categories, for example baking, beverages, breakfast, sauces/rubs, sides, snacks, etc., arranging them so the most frequently used items are easiest to see and access. Place heavy items waist high or on the floor to avoid pulling down from overhead. Clear out all cooking utensils, pots, and pans no longer used, including unnecessary duplicates.
Match food storage containers to their lids, tossing or recycling any that are cracked or minus lids. Consider the number of dish sets in routine and special occasion use, storing those frequently used close to the dishwasher and others higher up or into a separate storage area. Inspect dish towels and hot pads, ensuring they are clean and have not accumulated to a number beyond what is needed for regular use.
Holiday Season – No better time than winter holidays to pull out your holiday themed items and decide which still make you jolly and which are just taking up space. Start early in the month so when you donate what you no longer love and use, it stands a chance of adorning someone else’s house this year. Allow the sentimental items a more prominent place than the ones bought “on clearance” by letting go of anything that you don’t find to be special or a big contributor to your holiday decorating.
Create a system of storing holiday décor so each holiday is grouped together and easily put back into its container. There are many custom products for things from lights to ornaments to wreaths, and there are DIY ways to keep things orderly, too, (i.e. using a ziplock bag for each strand of lights to keep them from tangling).
Health and Beauty – New Year’s Resolutions often include intentions for improved health and wellness, thus January is a perfect time to look at what health and beauty products are in the house and determine if they are the ones needed to support your yearly goals.
Let go of any expired products, especially medications, makeup and sunscreens. Clean brushes, combs, and makeup applicators. Discard any open lotions, serums, cleansers, and makeup more than two years old or no longer used. Organize items by category, like hair, face, body, dental, shaving/grooming, shower/bath, first aid, medications, supplements, etc. Use bins, drawer dividers, over-the-door organizers, and other storage bins as appropriate to ensure everything easily fits and can be readily seen.
Memorabilia – In this month with a holiday celebrating love, take time to go through photos and other keepsakes accumulated over the years and let go of any items that do not fill your heart with joy. If a photo features someone or something that would be more sentimental to someone else, go old school and send it to that person with a little note. Frame exceptional photos and put them out in the home so they can be enjoyed.
Use shadow boxes or other displays for showcasing items that make you happy and can blend into the décor of your home. Scan special photos for which you want a back-up copy. Create photo books for kids’ artwork you want to remember but do not need the original. Organize loose items by person, event, and/or year (ex: younger years, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, post-college, etc.), making sure containers used are big enough and you have enough to maintain this organizational system for years to come.
Paper – Review your hardcopy documents and decide whether to “stash or trash.” Ideas of items you may choose to let go of: expired membership records, policies, and warranties; invoices/receipts you don’t need for tax, insurance, or resale purposes; business cards after you’ve loaded those you care about into your phone’s contacts; supporting tax return documentation for years older than your accountant advises you to keep; kids’ homework not vital to their continued studies or wanted for the sake of memorabilia.
Stop the influx of junk mail by using an app like PaperKarma, registering with a service like dmachoice.org or catalogchoice.org and contacting the senders directly. Sign up to receive statements and bills electronically. Create a simple, comprehensive filing system, arranging files alphabetically so it’s easy to find what you need. Make a grab-and-go box of must-have documents to take in case of an emergency. Designate a critical tax document place to be ready for when tax return submission time arrives.
Garage, Shed, Basement, & Attic– Spring into spring cleaning and beat the summer heat by spending time maximizing use of space in your home’s key storage areas. Donate, sell, or discard anything no longer loved and used. Repair and clean anything that would be usable if in better condition.
In the garage and basement, use vertical space and even the ceiling to hang items so they are easily accessible and the floor is clear. Return anything that does not belong to your household (it’s impressive how much accumulates that isn’t ours, especially if you have kids!).
Move items requiring a temperature-controlled environment inside the home for optimal long-term storage, such as upholstered items, photographs, paper documents, and artwork. Invest in clear, stackable, lidded containers if needed to create order and store more in the space. Label containers, shelves, and drawers so everyone knows what is where.
Travel – Get your travel gear in gear before summer’s big trips or fast weekends away. Fix or replace travel bags and suitcases that are broken or torn now so they are ready for the next excursion. Think of how many bags you need for you and your whole family on the longest trip, then let go of the excess. Wash or discard dirty toiletry and shoe bags. Minimize your collection of travel-sized health and beauty products to just those you will realistically use in the next year.
Sports and Rec – Prep for fun in the sun by looking over your sports and recreation equipment and accessories. Inflate bike tires, basketballs, soccer balls, etc. Inspect helmets to ensure they are in optimum condition. Clean coolers and folding chairs. Stock up on insect repellent and sunscreen. Let go of any items that no longer work and won’t be fixed or are for activities your household has lost interest in. Organize gear by category or by person and ensure the entire household knows where to find it and how to maintain the order.
Clothes – Take advantage of those back-to-school sales, but only after editing wardrobes down to what you and your family still use and want. When reviewing clothes and accessories, each household member should consider if they are (1) comfortable, (2) needed for activities/events still current in daily life, and (3) look good when worn (i.e., suits their own sense of style and fit). Anything missing one of these traits gets altered, sold or donated. Then note “the gaps” in the wardrobe, make a list, and shop for just those items. This saves a tremendous amount of time and money that can be put toward other rewarding things!
May you find this list of monthly home organization projects helpful today and the year through! Follow your energy as you move through them...maybe you will get in a groove and double up some of the tasks to give yourself even more time to rest and relax! Need help getting organized or tackling other projects at home or at work? Visit www.meckorganizing.com for tips in the “Notes from Nancy” section and to contact us for more information and to book an on-site or virtual session.