TURN YOUR HOT SPOT INTO A HOTFILE
Most of us have at least one hot spot in our home. Where’s yours? On your kitchen cupboard or the corner of your dining room table? It is the spot where short term temporary paper accumulates in the homes of busy families.
The scary thing is that in that pile there can be things from one extreme to the other – junk mail on its way to recycling or a cheque for $300 that came in the mail that day.
Remember…….everything needs a home and that includes your short term/temporary paper.
Our suggestion is to turn your hot spot into a Hotfile.
Get yourself a file caddy. HOM sells our version as a kit. You can purchase the kit through us or put your own together.
In addition to your file caddy you’ll need hanging files, a couple of file folders and some file tabs.
Sit down with your hot spot and go through it…….give every category of paper a “home”
Here are three must have categories to include when you create your Hotfile:
- Red Hot file – use a red file folder so it stands out. This is the “oh my gosh” can’t forget about this …….file. Discipline yourself to check it everyday. If you don’t check it you won’t trust it, and if you don’t trust it you won’t put anything in it and the system will break down.
- To Read File – use a manilla file folder so it is portable. This is the spot where you put the little bits that you’d like to read at some point, such as the school newsletter or inserts from your bills. Grab the to Read File and take it along when you’ll be waiting at the doctor’s office or for your kids at piano lessons. Catch up on your reading. Recycle when you are done and drop the folder back into place in your Hofile.
- File for each member of the family
Here are some categories that may make sense for your family:
- Committees/clubs that you are involved with
- A file for the week’s grocery flyers
- Items for income tax as they accumulate throughout the year
- Take out menus
- Items you are researching to purchase
- You get the idea – sit down with your hot spot and give everything a home.
Then…..follow these 3 Rules
- Check your Red Hot File daily (do it at the same time you take your vitamins or drink your morning coffee – so it becomes a habit) *remember…..if you don’t check it you won’t trust it, and if you don’t trust it you won’t use it!
- Store your Hotfile in prime real estate. It needs to be close to the action. We are basically lazy. Put it too far away and you’ll never use it.
- Set-up categories in the Hotfile that are appropriate for your family
The Hot File is a great system – that works – for handling your short term/temporary paper!
THE ELASTIC TRICK
You know how you buy a large bag of flour and it doesn’t all fit in your flour container……or you buy a bulk container of basil and it doesn’t all fit in your little spice container? Try this!
- Open the new package and fill your container.
- If it doesn’t all fit in then put an elastic band around the container. This is a visual cue for you that you have more of that product stored elsewhere.
- Place the remainder of the product in a bin marked product overflow and store it somewhere that is not in prime real estate….. perhaps on an upper shelf or in your pantry.
- When the container with the elastic is empty, then go to your product overflow bin. Grab the remainder of the package and re-fill your container. When the original package is empty, it is time to remove the elastic. No elastic on the container is a visual cue that you don’t have anymore in storage and need to put the item on your shopping list.
- This works great for all kinds of items. We even use it for our different types of cooking oils. They are often in large jugs or tall bottles that are difficult to store in the kitchen. Put some in a smaller jar, and store the larger containers elsewhere….don’t forget the elastics!!
ALL ROOMS NEED GARBAGE AND RECYCLING
By having garbage and recycling handy it sets the expectation for us and our family to put things in the appropriate spot rather than leaving them sitting around on their way to……garbage and recycling.
Walk around your home and have a look…….what rooms are missing this critical piece. For Rhonda and I, one of the last rooms to come on board was our family rooms. It is so important in these areas, because we spend so much time there.
Keep in mind that the containers you use don’t have to be the traditional garbage cans and blue boxes. In my office I use a nice wicker basket for my paper recycling and a brass planter for my garbage can. Be creative!
Another area where it is especially important is in your computer area or home office. If you don’t have a receptacle there it is easy to create a recycling hot spot……a pile of paper on its way to recycling. It can easily get covered over with other paperwork and then a day or two later you’ll need to reacquaint yourself with what it is…..only to find that it is the recycling that you meant to take care of a day or two earlier.
Always be sure to open your mail right beside the blue box. Then you won’t have to handle the recycling more than once.
Be sure to have a spot for your garbage in your vehicle too. Even if it is something as simple as a plastic garbage bag hanging over the head rest. Remember……everything needs a home, and that includes garbage and recycling!
PUT VALUE ON ROUTINES AND CHECKLISTS
Do you have any tasks that you do over and over?
Are there things at your work that you have to complete monthly?
Are there routine tasks that you need to accomplish weekly at home?
Instead of relying on your memory and holding it in your head, why don’t you write it down or create a template on your computer. If you need the checklist in front of you until it becomes routine then print out the list, put it in a page protector and use a dry erase marker to check off each step as you accomplish it. Then you can use the same checklist over and over. This is a great strategy for children. If you have a list of things they need to do in the morning to get ready for school, or a list of weekly chores, then make a template with either words for older children or pictures for those who can’t read. Then they can literally check off each task as they accomplish it. This sets you up for success on consequences as well. No more nagging. If children don’t do what is expected of them before or after school (by following the checklist) then it is reasonable for you to enforce consequences.
- Do you go to the same cottage each summer? Could you make a packing list and use it year after year?
- Do you send out Christmas cards to the same group of people each year? Why not make a template of everyone on your list?
- Should you come up with a checklist of everything you could do the night before instead of leaving everything to the last minute in the morning? Brainstorm with your family to make this checklist.
It is amazing how much comfort there is when you get everything down on paper! One less thing to keep in our head!
MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR TIMER
Are you like many of us and sometimes find it easy to procrastinate when there is a big job that you need to tackle?
Here is a strategy that you might want to try…….make friends with your kitchen timer.
Often times a task seems huge because we think we need to work at it for a long period of time. The prospect of that is no fun, especially if it is something we don’t like to do.
A favourite example for me is cleaning up the kitchen. Sometimes it seems like such a huge job and I just can’t face it…..but if I set my timer for 15 minutes and work hard and fast it is amazing what I can do. When the timer goes off usually one of two things has happened. Either, I’ve accomplished what I need to do and I can move onto something else, or I’ve got over the biggest hurdle which is getting started. I can easily continue on with the job until it is completed, because I’m on a roll.
This technique is helpful in lots of different situations…….
Maybe you have piles of filing and paperwork to catch up on and you are doing everything possible to avoid it. Set your timer and promise yourself that you only need to work at it for 15 minutes. Any of us can survive for 15 minutes.
Maybe there are some jobs around the house that could be accomplished easily if the whole family helped out. Be sure everyone knows what their assigned tasks are. Set the time for 30 or 60 minutes and go to it. If everyone works hard and fast it is amazing what you will accomplish as a team. At the end of the allotted time, reward yourselves with a walk to the park or a family movie night.
Make friends with your timer on a regular basis and you and your family can accomplish great things.
STORE SHEETS IN THE PILLOWCASE
Store your complete sheet set in one of its pillowcases. This includes the fitted sheet, flat sheet and extra pillowcase. Everything is together and you don’t have to fuss with the hard to fold fitted sheets
If you are happy with the end result, take a picture and hang it on the inside of the door so that the model picture inspires the family to keep it that way.
MAKE IT EASY TO PUT AWAY
It is important when you are deciding on storage options that you make things easy to put away. Most of us are fairly lazy by nature, and if it isn’t easy to put it away, we won’t bother.
We often say that just because a bin comes with a lid doesn’t mean we need to use the lid. Put the lid underneath the container and then you can simply toss items in. A great example of this might be a storage bin on a closet shelf. If we need to take the bin down, remove the lid, put the item in and then put the lid back on……how likely are we to do that? On the other hand if there is an open bin sitting on the shelf we are more liable to toss the item in to put it away.
Same can be said in a storage room. If we have sorted items and stored them in large rubbermaid tubs but then stacked them one on top of each rather than investing in some shelves we might also set ourselves up for failure. If we have an item that needs to be returned to the bottom bin in the stack how likely are we to unstack the bins and put the item away? Not very……more likely that we set the item on top of the stack or on the floor beside. In turn if those tubs were sitting on shelves and we could simply lift the lid and tuck the item inside we’d be more liable to follow through and put things away.
Another area where we can set ourselves and our family up for success is to install hooks wherever we can. Entry ways, closets and bedrooms are particularly good spots. How much easier is it to hang your exercise clothing, around home clothes or sleepwear on a hook as opposed to folding it up each time and returning it to a drawer or hanging it on a hanger.
Give items such as your purse, keys and cell phone a home too. That way you can train yourself to put them away each time you come in the house. It will save you the last minute frustration of lost or misplaced items.
ALLOW FOR MORE ROOM IN YOUR FILES
Here is a little trick of the trade. Some of you may be aware of this little tip . . . I was an elementary school teacher before I became a professional organizer and I wish I had known this little gem a long time ago? Do I have your curiosity peaked? Did you ever notice those lines near the base of your file folders or at the base of your hanging files? There is a reason for those . If you fold along the lines you are able to create a file with more capacity. You can create a box bottom file. You can go out and buy specialty box bottom files but you will pay a lot more per box. I am sure you have a filing cabinet that is filled with files that are SO full that you can’t see the file name. This little trick is a great way to accommodate some of your bulkier files in your drawer and still allow you to see your tabs.
REVERSE ON THE BAR TRICK
This is a quick & easy tip that will give you some real insight into what items in your closet you really wear on a regular basis.
Today…..go to your closet and switch all your hangers so that your clothing items are hanging backwards on the bar.
Then as you wear each item and return it to its hanger, switch the hanger and hang it the proper way. At the end of the year, or the end of season you’ll know that anything that is still hanging backwards you didn’t wear.
It can be very revealing……the stat is that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, and we know its true. We all have our favorites…..the most comfortable…..the things we look the best in.
I gave this a try last spring. I made sure that when I got my summer clothes out that everything I hung up (backwards) were things that fit me and that I liked. It was amazing at the end of the season how many things were still hanging backwards. Things I liked, but just didn’t wear at all that season.
As women it is easy to look in our closet (or closets) and say ‘’‘yea – I wear all that stuff”. Try this backwards on the bar test. You might be surprised at the results.
Men……you aren’t off the hook for this one. In our business we see lots of closets and know that men can have quite a collection of clothing. Switch your hangers around too and a year from now if there are still things that are hanging backwards maybe you’ll decide to get together a bag to pass along as donations.
Do you have children/grandchildren that bring home their masterpieces on a regular basis? Do they like to build sculptures out of clay, lego, or cardboard?
Do you have antiques or boxes and boxes of stuff from Great Aunt Mary or your parents or grandparents – filled with stuff that you will never use?
Our recommendation is to take pictures of those large masterpieces.
Take a picture of your child/grandchild with their 3D castle made out of toilet paper rolls.
Take a picture of the flower vase from Great Aunt Betty that you will never use.
We are not suggesting that you have to get rid of everything , but why not take a picture of those things that you are never going to use? Keep the picture in a photo album or scrapbook . . and then BLESS someone else by donating it to someone who will actually use it. You could make a special remembrance album of some of Aunt Betty’s possessions. You could make a scrapbook of your child’s preschool art . . and then it allows you to throw out or recycle those things that are much too large to keep.
Another idea . . . have you taken the time to clean out the games closet. and everything fits so nicely and it looks organized? Take a picture of it and post it on the inside of the closet door so that everyone knows where everything goes!!