Easy Ways to Organize Your Bathroom

Small bathrooms can quickly become cluttered with personal care items, towels and other supplies. Martha Stewart offers 25 suggestions on how to keep such a small space more organized, such as a door-back towel ladder, sliding cabinet trays and magnetized organizers. And always think creatively to repurpose storage accessories used elsewhere in the home, Country Living says; for example, you can use wine racks to store towels, spice racks and shoe organizers to hold shampoo bottles, and office file boxes to organize small appliances.

Organize Your Holiday Gift-Giving

With less than two weeks left until Christmas, many people are starting to feel the stress of the holidays — especially if they still have gifts to buy. It was relatively easy to shop until this point in the season, but the pressure is now on to find, buy, wrap and give those special gifts for everyone on your list.

If you like to shop online (and who doesn’t?), you must allow time for whatever it is to travel from the warehouse to your door in time for you to get it under the tree. This year, Free Shipping Day — the day many retailers offer to ship purchases free of charge with the guarantee they will arrive in time for the holiday — is Friday, Dec. 15. After that date, shoppers will need to pay expedited shipping fees or brave the crowds in stores to get their gifts in time.

The organized giver, however, has a list of people for whom they will be buying. If you make such a list ahead of time and stick to it, says Step-by-Step Declutter, you can avoid overspending and slash the stress of shopping. Use a spreadsheet to track recipients, gift ideas, spending and progress, but don’t feel you have to buy for everyone. Sometimes, a thoughtful card will show you care without adding to the clutter.

Several apps can help you manage your holiday shopping. Santa’s Bag can track your shopping list and spending on the iPhone, while Christmas Gift List can do the same on the Android OS. Stuck for ideas? Invite the giftees on your list — especially the kids — to make their wants known with an Amazon Wish List, which functions like a bridal gift registry for any occasion throughout the year.

If you go shopping during the last two weeks of the season, get creative by going beyond the strip mall. Thrift stores — many supplied by generous donations to ClothingDonations.org — are a great place to find unique, vintage items at low prices. Or you can give a home-cooked meal, baked goods, fruit or flowers instead of something that just adds to the clutter, Cambria Mortgage’s gift guide suggests.

You can share your knack for decluttering and still score a gifting “win” by giving the people on your list an experience instead of a thing, says the Our Streamlined Life blog. Give an Airbnb gift card to inspire adventures for those who like to travel frequently, or sponsor an evening class to encourage someone on your list to build a skill that will last a lifetime.

Some people will want things, of course, and once you buy them, you can keep the household clutter in check by establishing a gift-wrapping station. Better still, keep those rolls of paper, tape and ribbons in a single storage bin that you can pull out and put away quickly for every wrapping session.

An organized gift-giver is a confident, successful and stress-free gift-giver. And who knows? Maybe your penchant for organization will spread, and the gifts you get will be great, too. Happy Holidays!

Getting Organized for the School Year Ahead

Schools across the country are reopening their doors this month, and no matter where you live, it will be back-to-school time in a matter of weeks. Parents know that organization is often the key to effectiveness at school, at home and in the career world, and there’s no better time to encourage your kids to develop good organizational skills.

Young children are bound to be a bit scattered, but you can inspire them to stay organized by making it fun to put things in their proper places. Populate your home with interactive chore boards, chalkboard bins, colorful clocks and other accessories to help kids manage time and clutter, Parents.com says. Designated reading nooks and homework “organizers” can also make learning more fun.

Middle school may be a bigger challenge. “Middle school often comes as a shock to the system, and it’s the wise parent who is prepared and ready to guide their kid through the transition from the relative stability and security of grade school to the somewhat chaotic environment found in many of our middle schools,” Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D. wrote on the Today blog.

A daily assignment sheet will help provide a framework for keeping track of academic activities, she says; the middle-schooler should record homework assignments and test dates in a day planner or notebook in every class. Establish set study times to encourage good habits, and load backpacks the night before to prevent morning headaches.

Maintaining order in the home helps, says GreatSchools; bins, folders and filing cabinets aren’t just for adult offices. Use a bulletin board and sticky notes to furnish reminders of the most pressing projects, and install a shelf, bin or cabinet dedicated to each kid’s school day near the front door for grab-and-go convenience.

By the time children get to high school, they’ll even have more books, sports equipment, musical instruments and junk to keep track of — and if they can’t yet manage their stuff and schedules themselves, the Spruce says, it’s time for them to start. Day planners, binders, weekly meetings, whiteboards and clear expectations are a few of the tools you can use to help your child conquer the chaos.

As you get ready for the school year, don’t forget to check out the local thrift store. Many are supplied by donations to ClothingDonations.org, and can help you save money on clothing and supplies while helping fund veterans’ programs. And if you happen to be cleaning out the things your kids haven’t worn or used lately as you send them back to school, schedule a pickup or find a dropoff location for your used goods.

With a little planning and organization, you and your kids can reduce the stress of the back-to-school season. And that, hopefully, will help them succeed in school!

Keep Your Second New Year’s Resolution

According to Google data, “Get Healthy” is the No. 1 New Year’s resolution in the United States this season, with 62.7 million searches through the first of the year, a 13.8 percent increase over last year. “Get Organized” came in second, however, with 33.2 million searches; if that’s one of your goals, the information that ClothingDonations.org shares this month will help you cut the clutter while funding valuable veteran’s programs.