Organizational Tips

At a recent hsing conference, Donna Jean said that asking her to speak on organization is like asking the woman who has been married seven times to speak on marriage because she’s such a great wedding planner.
I wish I’d said that.

Some of you will be familiar with the personality types based on Gary Smalley’s writings. There’s a lion, a beaver, a golden retriever, and an otter. Lions take charge. Beavers are organized. REtrievers are very sensitive. Otters are playful. Of course, there’s much more to it, but this is a blog post, not a feature length article (I know, I know, all my posts are feature length articles).

A while back our family took a personality taste based on those types, and I was astonished to see how high I tested on the Beaver side. I did not believe it. I am not organized. My house is always a mess. I can’t find things. I never know where my car keys are. I make great shopping lists and then accidentally use that list to wedge under an uneven table leg and go to the store without it. I have seventeen jars of paprika because every time I have been to the grocery store in the last year I remember that we are out of paprika, but I never remember that I already bought a replacement can. Sixteen times.

My children assured me thought, that the test results were accurate. They said, and I quote, “You are a beaver wanna be. You want things to be that organized, you just can’t keep them that way by yourself.”

No, Children, I can’t. Ahem.

Mrs. Happy Housewife recently had a post where she mentioned that she labeled her pantry shelves. Let me confess my organizational fetishes:

I put my spices in alphabetical order.
I use a grease pencil (also called a china marker) to label the refrigerator shelves and drawers and the things that go on them. So milk goes on the first shelf- I write an A on the shelf and an A on the milk carton. Supposedly this keeps the scattiest of my progeny from opening three jars of mayonnaise in three days because she ‘can’t find’ the previously opened jars. Mayo goes in the door. On shelf 3. If anybody is interested in following my brilliant system.

When we move into a new house I label all the kitchen cupboards- I just use index cards and tape for this, but next time I think I’ll use some new sticky note pads I have that have borders of cherries.

I write my shopping list in the order that the shelves of the grocery store are stocked.

I put my history books in the shelves in chronological order- with labels on them denoting their time period.

I make up math worksheets on the computer, print them out and put the math pages in plastic page protectors and the kids use china markers to write on them.

Our bathroom items are sorted by function in baskets. The first aid basket has tweezers, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, and so forth. There’s a basket for asthma medication, inhalers, and the little dohickey for measuring their breathing. There’s a basket for lotions, and one for ointments for rashes and hives.

Half of our books are stored in totes, because this house is too small for us and our books. But the totes are each numbered. I have a stack of index cards with the number of each tote and the titles of each book in that tote listed on index card.

Memory verses are taped to the bathroom wall.

We each have a towel (or two, if we have longer hair), and I write names on the towels with fabric paint. The theory is that this prevents certain people from using thirty towels in a week and throwing them all in the dirty clothes after one light usage.

When we had about twenty people staying with us for a couple of weeks I bought washclothes at the dollar store and used fabric paints to trace a simple design on each one (a whale, a sea star, a boat, a sun, a seashell, etc) so we could each tell our washcloths apart.

I keep our schoolbooks on a bookcase behind the couch, so we can sit on the couch and get out our books. This way we don’t have to waste valuable school time hunting for books.

I write our initials on our socks, and Jenny Any Dots sews a bit of thread, different color for each person, on the toes so we don’t lose them. This does not help much.

When we notice that we are out of something we write it on the ongoing grocery list on the fridge. I don’t think this is a big deal, but I still haven’t recovered from the shock I got 22 years ago when a young mother told me that this little tip had revolutionized her household. She was also shocked that I planned our menus in advance.

If my bathroom is the right size and layout, I keep a bulletin board on the wall right in front of the toilet. This doesn’t actually help with organization, but if the jokes, articles, and cartoons you put on it are interesting enough, it might keep your company from noticing how disorganized you really are. AFter all, the bathroom is the place company spends the most time alone.

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  1. Posted August 30, 2005 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh, my. You are a beaver.

    I’m a pure golden retriever. Let me tell you that being a golden retriever who wants to make everyone happy is NOT a good thing to be when you’re a homeschooling mom.

    Right now, the boys are upstairs watching TV with their dad. And then they’ll be finishing either math and writing or reading.

    That wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s 8 pm. Why aren’t they done with their school work? Because Momma let them have too many breaks today.

  2. Posted August 22, 2007 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I have to say that I’m a retriever. BUT I do use some of the things you list – grocery list on whiteboard in kitchen, meal planning, but I keep my car keys in a small glass dish right inside the front door. Keeps ’em handy!

  3. Posted August 23, 2007 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Great post! …off to buy a bulletin board!

  4. Posted August 24, 2007 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I love this idea! I love the idea of distracting company :)

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