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By Woman’s Day Staff

The meals, the kids, the housework, the job…the only way to stay sane is to get organized. Fat chance, you say? Remember, the goal of organizing isn’t to make your house pristine; it’s to make your life more functional. So don’t straighten for neatness sake—create an organized foundation for all the roles you play.

The Housekeeper

1. Assign specific living quarters to everything you own.

2. Put things where they work for you: vitamins by the juice glasses, coat hooks in the garage next to the car.

3. A small, open basket on the coffee table keeps remote controls from slipping between sofa cushions, says professional organizer Kathy Waddill, author of The Organizing Sourcebook: Nine Strategies for Simplifying Your Life.

4. Move all your CDs to a storage wallet. Say bye-bye to jewel boxes and CD stands!

5. Put wastebaskets in every room, suggests Waddill.

6. Whenever you run across anything empty, ripped, the wrong size or never used, immediately toss it in the trash or a charity box.

7. To stay on track, jot your cleaning routine on index cards and post them, says Debbie Williams, founder of www.organizedtimes.com.

8. Use a plastic caddy, not valuable shelf space, to store cleaning supplies for surfaces and floors. Keep it on the broom and mop closet floor (locked, if you have small children) and tote it from room to room.

9. Store sheet sets in the same room as the bed, between the mattress and box spring or tucked into an underbed box.

10. Keep a cedar chest (or a light-weight wicker basket if you have young children to avoid accidents) at the foot of your bed to hide blankets and extra pillows.

11. Tuck a whisk broom and dustpan in each bathroom for a daily dust-up.

12. Put a different color toilet paper than usual behind your stash of regular rolls. When a colored roll ends up on the spool, it’s time to buy more.

13. Keep real cleaning cloths next to your cleaning products, and ditch the box of ripped underwear you keep in the basement.

14. Just accept it: Place a tall, narrow basket for his magazines next to the toilet.

The Mom

15. Give kids their own alarm clocks and post morning checklists for them. (It’ll be less for you to organize.)

16. Move kids’ cereal boxes, bowls and cups to an “I can reach it!” lower cabinet. Also, put juice boxes, milk and other snacks in an accessible place in the refrigerator.

17. Leave a shoe basket by the front door (or the kids’ bedroom doors) to avoid those excruciatingly long searches through the house.

18. Have a two-compartment hamper in the kids’ rooms so they can sort lights from darks as they undress.

19. When switching kids’ summer/winter clothes, mark boxes with the date and sizes so you don’t have to paw through them to know if they’ll fit.

20. No room for a dresser? One or two sets of plastic or canvas hanging shelves in the closet make choosing clothes easier.

21. Leave a weatherproof, bench-style storage box outside for the kids’ outdoor toys.

22. Gather all balls into a large, mesh drawstring bag.

23. Keep some toys undercover in the living room with decorative, lidded baskets.

24. Stand kids’ paperback books in rectangular plastic or wicker baskets so they’re easy to sift through.

25. Photograph your child’s 3-D creations and save the pictures instead, says momcentral.com founder Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book.

The Chef

26. Post several weekly dinner menus on the fridge and alternate among them for easier grocery shopping and meal planning.

27. Don’t keep space-hogging cookbooks. Photocopy favorite recipes and slip them into plastic sheet protectors inside a binder.

28. Tape an envelope for pizza and other takeout food coupons inside the cabinet door nearest the phone.

29. Use a mini flowerpot with drip tray near the sink to stash sponges, steel wool and food scrapers.

30. A crock with a wide mouth keeps favorite stove-side utensils from tangling.

31. Put countertop flour and sugar canisters on a lower slide-out cabinet shelf. Or use a sturdy baking sheet or plastic tray as a slide-out.

32. Double cabinet space with two-tiered turntables.

33. Trade round storage containers for more efficient square and rectangular ones, says DeBroff.

34. To free up kitchen space borrow, don’t buy, things you rarely use such as juicers, waffle irons, melon ballers and rolling pins. Already have them? Sell them.

35. A second freezer makes you walk farther for the ice cream.

The Personal Assistant

36. Use a morning checklist; kids aren’t the only ones who forget things when they’re in a rush.

37. Create other essential checklists: what goes in your gym bag, what joint-custody kids need to take back and forth between houses, what to pack for trips, information for babysitters, etc. Keep them on your computer for updating and put copies in a folder near the kitchen phone.

38. Set your computer calendar’s alarm for the week before dates you need to remember, from an anniversary to the day you change the furnace filter. That will give you enough time to buy what you need.

39. Organize future events with a monthly accordion file. Put birthday cards, directions to a baby shower, a note to check on furniture deliveries, even vacation brochures in the appropriate months.

40. Put a clock in every single bathroom.

41. Always have backups: a spare set of car/house keys, a second deodorant, another way to get kids to school.

42. Make a standing monthly hair appointment.

43. Designate every Friday or Saturday as date night with your husband, and book a sitter for several weekends at a time.

44. Don’t assume he’ll keep those Honey-Do projects in his head. Post them on the bathroom mirror.

45. Keep a wish list of intriguing activities on hand so you don’t waste precious weekend time figuring out what to do.

46. File copies of important documents (birth certificates, car title, passports, proof of immunizations, insurance information, etc.) in a three-ring binder with zippered plastic pockets. If disaster strikes, you can grab it and go.

47. Add address book pages sorted by category: kids’ friends, gourmet food club, tennis friends, etc., DeBroff suggests.

48. Avoid a last-minute scramble to find rental videos by leaving unwatched and just-watched movies in a bag by your door.

49. Stock your nightstand drawer with pencils, notepads, a phone book and a flashlight.

50. Corral an unwieldy bedroom reading pile with a small bookshelf next to your nightstand.

…read part 2 on tomorrow’s blog 🙂

www.StLouisHomesByGina.com The Gina Koerner Team