How to organize warrantees, manuals and receipts in a binder

Have you ever bought something expensive and knew you had to hold on to the paperwork, instructions, CD and receipt for it? How many times have you put that paperwork in a drawer never to be seen again–especially a year later when you really really need it because you’re moving or need to reprogram something? If you’re anything like me (before I got organized), it’s probably happened more times than you can count.

If you’re a renter who tends to move around a lot, it’s so important to keep this type of paperwork organized. You’ll need user manuals to know how to program and reprogram your electronics, instructions so you can assemble and disassemble large furniture and receipts and warrantees incase things break. Make sure you’re prepared for any future move and set yourself up a warrantees manuals and receipts binder.
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First, I would like to say that I cannot take credit for the genius that is this binder. I completely stole this project from my inspiration for all that is organizing, Alejandra Costello from alejandra.tv. She’s a professional organizer and had tons of great videos full of tips and DIYs for organizing the spaces of your home–if you haven’t checked her out yet, now’s the time.

Also, I’ve linked all of the products I used in the body copy of this post. Just click on the name of the product and it will direct you to a site where you can purchase the items! Let’s get started.

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First, you’ll need a binder. I used a 3″ Better Binder from Staples. This particular binder is really high quality, large and sturdy enough to hold several poly envelopes.

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For the cover, I just slipped a piece of scrapbook paper into the front clear pocket and put a Martha Stewart Collection label over top of the plastic and used my labeler with some clear tape to make a label.

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Inside, I used clear poly envelope inserts for each item I have paperwork for. The “home” section has manuals and receipts for all of our home items, such as our bed frame, George Foreman grill, blender, etc.

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Make sure your poly envelopes have solid closures. These have velcro to keep everything inside the pocket and not all over the place. Also, if you have large manuals, instructional CDs or anything similarly bulky, you’ll want your pockets to be expandable as well.

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I just used a post-it sticky tab to the top of the poly envelope and used my clear label tape to label each section. There are so many different colors and styles of these that you can color code as you see fit.

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Don’t forget to fan out the placement of your labels so you can see them all at a glance!

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Taking the time to set up a binder like this might seem time consuming, this one small project will save you so much time later on. Never waste another second searching through a pile of papers and set yourself up with one of these bad boys, today!

If you’re into organizing, decorating, or are experiencing the growing pains of being an aging millennial, please subscribe by submitting your e-mail address in the sidebar. Also, you can follow me on Instagram @lifeinorder for pictures of the latest happenings in my highly organized life, or find me on Twitter @LifeInOrderBlog for 140 characters of amazing, 4x a day. Catch you next time!Signature

Organizing the Pantry on a Budget

Before we get into the pantry stuff, I wanted to let you guys know that Life In Order now has it’s very own Twitter and Instagram accounts! So please follow me on Twitter @LifeInOrderBlog and on Instagram @LifeInOrder (you can also click the icons to the right to connect with me). And don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on bloglovin’!

Anyways, let’s get to the good stuff.

When we moved into this apartment six months ago, one of the things I was most excited for was to have a pantry! We didn’t have one in our old apartment and I couldn’t wait to tackle organizing this new space. I learned the challenges it posed pretty quickly: what things to put at eye level and which to put up high or down low, how to properly store food, and building one step systems for quicker meal times–I had it under control for the most part. But about a week ago, I decided to take it all one step further and really get a handle on the space. So here’s the infamous before and after of our tidy little pantry:

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Please excuse how dark and grainy these pictures are – my pantry is very far away from any natural light!

At a glance, it’s not so different. But it functions SO much differently than it did before. It’s easier to cook and putting ingredients back is a breeze. You can see the subtle but huge differences by taking a closer look at each shelf:

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What’s Different:
The lazy susan on the right hand side of the shelf stayed exactly as it was, but the bin on the left changed. I purchased the container from Walmart and use it to hold our drink mixes like hot cocoa, tea, and iced tea mix. I like it because it’s narrow, deep, and has a handle, so no inch of space is unused. Behind it, I put extra Brita filters and our electric knife; things we don’t use everyday or need to access often.

Why it changed:
The space to the left of the lazy susan wasn’t reaching its full potential. I kept things in the front that weren’t being used very often, and that piece of real estate is just too valuable to go untouched. So, I pushed things we don’t need to use to the back, and made more room for things we do in the front.

Why it works:
Every single inch of this shelf has a purpose and there is no wasted space. The lazy susan creates a one-step organizing system, making things easy to grab, use and put back. Also, it let’s me see and access things all the way in the back with just a flick of the wrist–I’m only 5’1″ so it’s a pretty big help.

What products I used:
Clear Bin: Walmart, $6
Lazy Susan: Garage Sale, 25 cents! (the person who sold this obviously didn’t know what they were doing)

Total = $6.25

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What’s Different:
Actually, nothing is different about this shelf. It was functioning perfectly just the way it was. Other than some purging, it stayed exactly the same, hence the lack of before/after picture.

Why it stayed the same:
I’ve seen a lot of people organize beautiful Pinterest worthy pantries where everything is out of the box and put perfectly into color-coordinating containers. But, for me, this works just fine. I am far too lazy to take cereal, crackers and pasta out of the package each week after grocery shopping to put it into a separate container. Why would I do that when I don’t have to? That just sounds exhausting (and a little unnecessary).

Why it works:
Although you would never catch a pantry that looks like this on the cover of HGTV Magazine, that’s okay. It works well for me, and is cheaper than paying for containers. Just because you keep things in their original packaging doesn’t mean you’re unorganized–it just means your practical (as long as a space functions well). It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work for you.

I used no products for this shelf!

Total: $0

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What’s Different:
I didn’t change this shelf too much either, I more tidied it up. I switched out my high school looking binder for a nicer, brighter, Martha Stewart Home Collection binder (that I already had) for our recipes. I added a mason jar for chip clips and wine stoppers and moved some things to other shelves where they fit much better.

Why it changed:
I felt like I could make better use of the space by clearing things out, and making sure I could see everything on the shelf. With the popcorn bag in the way and the jars of salsa and sauce that were all the same, I wasn’t making the most of the tiered shelving.

Why it works:
I can now see all the labels on the shelf. It really makes it a lot easier to grab and put back.

I used no new products for this shelf!

Total = $0

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What’s Different:
This shelf probably underwent the most change of them all. It’s completely different–but it needed to be. I took everything from that green bin and moved it up to the clear container on the top shelf. I unloaded the bread crumbs and quick oats into new, air-tight containers and moved the spice packets to another shelf. I used mason jars that we had around the apartment for smaller quantities of baking and cooking supplies and put cans of sauce behind them.

Why it changed:
I wasn’t using the space to it’s full potential at all. I just kind of threw things on this shelf willie-nillie, and broke my own rules of organizing. I’m pretty ashamed. I knew I could fit much more on this shelf with a little rearranging, and rearrange I did!

Why it works:
I moved everything to inexpensive air-tight containers to keep them fresh and staying good longer. The simple switch from round to square containers let me fit everything on the shelf so much better and gave me the extra space I needed for more items. I can take the lid off, scoop out as much of the ingredient I need and then put it back. I used to keep some of these things in plastic baggies, and it was really a pain to get them out when cooking–but I don’t have the problem anymore!

Chalkboard labels allow me to change the contents of the container easily without having to peel off labels and reapply. If I want to switch it up, I can just wipe off the chalkboard marker and rewrite it.

What products I used:
Clear Containers: $35 for a set of 3, $7 for additional tall container
They are from Walmart Better Homes and Garden’s Brand in the kitchen section if you’re interested!
Decorative Chalkboard Labels: $2 for 2 packs
Mason Jars = free!

Total = $44

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What’s Different:
In the before picture you’ll see that I have all our baking supplies inside ziplock bags and thrown in that red bin to be forgotten. The old setup made cooking a complete hassle.

Why it changed:
 I couldn’t get anything out of the bags without making a mess and it was difficult and heavy to take out the whole bin and put it all back, so I usually just ended up taking out one thing at a time and then throwing it back on top of the heap. Not good.

Also, Matt never put anything back in the right place with these stackable bins, so we needed some order and some labeling.

Why it works:
We rearranged the contents of the stackable bins according to usage, which is how onions ended up on top. It makes it easier to access the things we use more often. Also, we put the flour and sugar in cereal containers, ideal for such a narrow, yet tall space. The new containers make it easy to grab what we need, use it, and then put it back while keeping things fresh and mess-free.

What products I used:

Clear Containers: $8 each

Total = $16

The grand total for this pantry overhaul came in under $70, $66.25 to be exact! That’s a small price to pay for the amount of time it has saved us in the kitchen and the longevity we will get out of those beautiful air tight containers.

It helps to shop the house first when you’re trying to organize on a budget and use what you’ve already got before going out and buying new things. But when you do buy new things, make sure that you’re purchasing items that are worth the investment. The Dollar Tree is great, but when it comes to keeping your food fresh, you’re going to want something air-tight. The cost of replacing your food each time it goes bad is going to add up quickly if you don’ have the right tools to store it all.

If you want to cook, but you’ve given up, consider re-organizing your pantry and think about one-step organizing systems. This means one step to take it out, and one step to put back. It will help maximize your kitchen efficiency and may even help you turn into a pro in the kitchen (am I over promising?).

I hope I’ve given you some ideas and inspiration to try and tackle organizing your own pantry on a budget! Leave me a comment below if you have anything to add or share. I love learning from other people who are getting organized to live more productive lives!

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If you’re curious about how I organize something in my apartment, let me know! I would be happy to show you if I haven’t already. See you next time!

Controlling Paper Clutter: How to Organize Mail and Random Papers

Facebook The one thing that I have had the hardest time trying to organize is paper clutter. It’s seriously been the worst, especially without having an entryway and a place to drop the mail. But I finally found a good system that works for me and I’m so excited to share! This pretty pink paper box I got from Staples for around $5. I love the pink color and it was just what I needed to get everything together. The box itself only has 3 separate sections, and I knew I was going to need something else to separate all the different categories of paper I have. So, I went to the promised land–Target–and got these adorable file folders only 3 for $1! Whoot whoot!Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.04.11 PM 1. In the front, I keep two file folders: One for “action” items and one labeled “file.” The “action” folder is for papers that I need to take action on, such as call, schedule, a bill I have to pay, etc. Once a week or once every two weeks I will sit down and tackle whatever is in this folder. In many cases, the papers from “action” will get moved to the “file” folder, where I’ll put paper that needs to end up in my files–obviously. About once every two weeks or once a month I’ll pull out that folder, bring it over to my filing box and go to work.

2. The second section hold things I use most frequently, like my planner stickers, blog planning sheets, and labels. Planner stickers I use once a week on Sunday when I’m setting up my planner for the week (you can see how I decorate my planner by following me on Instagram @lifeinorder–or if you want to see a planner post, let me know!). The labels folder holds chalkboard labels, flags, etc. I use these things when I need to label something quickly, and sometimes I use them in my planner as well. They’re good to have on hand in an easily accessible place. My monthly blog planning sheets are essentially just calendars that I plan all my blog posts out on for the month before I transfer the final editorial calendar into my planner.

3. In the very back, I keep an accordion file with coupons–so nice for when Ulta, American Eagle or Victoria’s Secret coupons come in the mail. I just open them up and drop them into the accordion file. When I go shopping, I grab the whole folder, put it in my bag and go. I also keep the Welcome packet to our apartment complex for emergencies, an extra notepad, and my extra Freedom Filer tabs.

The key to making this system work is maintenance.
Sort through the mail the second you walk through the door.
It’s so key because if you let the paper settle somewhere else, it’s going to create clutter. Put it in the garbage or in the right file, don’t just set it down on the table, or it will stay there cluttering your life, and ultimately, your mind. Don’t be a victim to dreaded paper clutter! Try setting up a mail system that works for you, don’t settle for throwing your papers on the kitchen table–you’re better than that! You’re reading my blog all about organizing, so you’re already thinking about it. Now is the time to do it!

I hope I’ve inspired you to tackle paper clutter around your house. Do you have any ways you organize paper clutter that work for you? Please share them with me in the comments! I’m alway looking for new ideas, especially when it comes to getting Matt on board with clearing his paper clutter. If you’re interested in more creative, organized spaces, places and inspiration, follow me on Instagram, @LifeInOrder or on Twitter at @LifeInOrderBlog. Don’t forget to subscribe in the right sidebar or follow me on bloglovin’! Until next time!Signature

The Struggle Sunday: Doing Laundry with Animated GIFs

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Doing laundry is the worst. Laundry for a week can take a whole afternoon to do and that’s so annoying. Sundays are for brunch and Netflix. It’s hard enough to go grocery shopping, how does the world expect me to wash and fold all of my clothes on top of that? Being an adult it like some sort of sick joke. Sometimes, I’d rather just not do it.

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Not only is doing laundry terrible, but for those of us unlucky fools who have to go to the laundromat, it’s even worse. You have to haul everything from your apartment, into the car, out of the car into the laundromat, and back again, whether it’s raining or snowing or sleeting. You barely get started before you feel like giving up.

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Not to mention having to wait at the laundromat for your clothes to wash is so boring but you don’t want to leave just incase someone wants to steal your $15 Target yoga pants and stretched out sports bras.

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And you have to do all kinds of sorting and folding, and if you don’t do it the way your mom taught you, it turns out to be a hot mess.

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Yep. Laundry really does suck, but with a little organization, we can get through it one load at a time.

The first thing you can do to make going to the laundromat a little bit easier is put together a “laundry bin” that consists of everything you need to bring with you to do laundry.

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Mine has detergent, dryer sheets, a mason jar of quarters and scent boosters. I put it all in a dollar tree bin and keep it in my closet right by the door so on laundry day I can grab it and go before my brain realizes what I’m actually about to do.

Another thing you can use to help make laundry day feel less like going into oral surgery is to invest in a triple bag laundry sorter, like this one:

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If you’re sorting all your clothes out as you throw them in the hamper, it takes care of you having to sort them at the laundromat, because let’s face it, if you have to spend 10 more minutes there, you’re going to scream.

The individual bags allow you to just grab them from the frame and put them into your car. Also, you can usually fit two of the bags into a regular plastic laundry bin, making the hauling process that much easier. And yes, you do need to bring a standard laundry bin because it makes transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer a million times easier and faster than doing it by hand.

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Another thing you can do to make it better is go with a friend or make your boyfriend go with you, treat yourself to Starbucks on the way there, or bring a book to read or some headphones to keep you busy while you wait.

Laundry day is probably going to be terrible no matter what you do, but I hope these tips have helped you make it a little less of a pain. If you’re prepared, it doesn’t have to be so bad … maybe.

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Don’t forget to follow me in the right sidebar for organizing updates delivered to your inbox, or follow me on Instagram for quick tips and photos of my organizing adventures @lifeinorder. Let me know if you have a struggle you’d like to talk about for next week by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @lifeinorderblog. See you next time!

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Organize Any Space: A Six Step Process

Today, let’s get back to basics. Spring is coming, I can tell because there is less ice and more puddles (but still a lot of snow – ugh). When spring rolls around we start thinking about all the ways we can clean, re-organize and de-clutter our homes for the coming warm months. So to help you get your spring cleaning on, here’s a tried and true six-step process for organizing any space.

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1. Figure out your budget and due date

It’s important to figure out not only how much money you have to spend on the project, but also the amount of time you have to dedicate to it. If you don’t set a due date, the project might to sit unfinished for days, weeks, months or even years. Set reachable goals for yourself at the onset so that once you reach them, you can use that momentum to organize more spaces!

2. Take everything out

Yup–everything. Every last thing needs to come out of the closet, off of the desk, out of the drawer, the pantry–you name it, it’s gotta go. Take this time to clean the space if it’s accumulated some nastiness (you know what I’m talking about). This will help you see the space clearly in order to put things back where they make the most sense. It also helps speed up the process of grouping, rearranging and squeezing value out of every last inch.

3. Purge

The hardest part, yet most essential part of the organizing process. Think really hard about the things you’re putting back. Do you still have use for them? Have you used the item in the las six months to a year? If not, it’s probably time to get rid of it so you can make more room for things you actually need and use.

4. Sort whatever is left into piles or groups

There is no sure-fire way to process things into groups, because it’s about what makes the most sense in your head and fits your needs. You are the one who has to live in the space everyday, so go with what you feel to be best and most efficient for you. It’s important to not think about how your groups are going to fit into the space just yet. Your primary focus should simply be to sort and pile.

5. Gather your supplies while keeping your budget in mind

Take a look at the groups of things you’ve just made. What resources do you already have that help organize the space? Do you need bins, baskets, boxes, pockets, folders or cups? Go out and get the things you need–but don’t break your budget! There are , stores that carry organizing products at low prices, The Dollar Store, Target and Walmart to name a few. You may even need to get a little crafty and inventive with what you use to organize your space. There are a lot of DIY organizing projects out there just waiting for you to try out!

The key here is to make sure you take measurements of your space before you go purchasing or creating all kinds of things. The last thing you want is to try and put it in the space and realize it doesn’t fit or isn’t right. I’ve learned that heartbreak the hard way.

6. Put it all back in like you’re solving a puzzle

Is there anything better than coming home with new organizing products in tow? I can’t really think of anything that brings me more joy. Use whatever you found, made, invented or bought to put all of your stuff back into your space. When you’re putting things back, think of it like a puzzle. How can you make all these pieces and elements fit together in the best way possible to maximize space? Arrange and rearrange until you get it just right. This step might be the longest part of the process, and is certainly one of the most challenging, but the rewards are worth it.

Organizing takes time, more time than a lot of us are willing to take out of our day (especially the weekend), but taking two hours to organize a space now, can save you a lot of time later. Being organized makes our lives more efficient, even if it only saves us two seconds here, or a minute there, it all adds up to a more productive life overall. Just don’t forget to maintain and put things back where they belong

Spring has almost sprung! Go out there and organize your life, so that when summer rolls around, you’re not digging and searching for something you need and you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the sunshine–I know I will be! Is anyone else sure excited to turn the clocks ahead this weekend? I can’t wait for extra hours of daylight after work!

I hope you found this six step process helpful and use it for your upcoming organizing projects. Is there anything I left out? How are you organizing your space? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @qqquimby016. See you soon!

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For photos of organized spaces and places, fun organizing finds, and weekly planner updates, follow me on Instagram @LifeInOrder.

How To Organize Jewelry

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If you’ve ever tried to organize jewelry before, you know how hard it can be, especially with all the different shapes and sizes. Bulky bracelets, bangles, baubles and rings–nothing about it is uniform. Also, having a system that works with your habits can be tricky. Some things you wear regularly, others are only for special occasions, and some are things worn a few times a month to work or with the perfect outfit. Here’s how I organize my jewelry to fit my life, habits and style.

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My frequently worn jewelry and rings live here–in a jewelry box my grandma gave me when I graduated from high school. It fits my Alex and Ani bracelets perfectly, and has room for my rings (I don’t have many). It site on top of my dresser and works perfectly because I can close the lid to avoid visual clutter.

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This is my “I wear it so much that it’s stupid to put it away nicely” spot. This cute and simple antique milk-glass bowl holds my watch, and some of my most-worn stud earrings. I wear these things so much that I needed somewhere to dump them when I’m in a rush to the gym after work and somewhere where I could remember to put them back on in the morning. I got this little dish from an antique store for only a few dollars and I’m pretty much obsessed with it. I makes me feel really unique and original and it’s reminding me that I want to shop at more antique stores in the future. #resolutions

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I keep all of my fashion jewelry and delicate, easily-tangleable (that’s a word–right?) necklaces hung on the wall in my closet. I got the rod and S hooks at Ikea for under $15 and the rack above it from Michaels. Michaels is AMAZING for jewelry organizers. They have boutique-like jewelry display items, like the ones found here. I got this rack for $7 using a 50% off coupon. Never, ever shop there without a coupon. Ever.

The pieces of jewelry above are things that I like to pair with certain outfits. Having them hanging in my closet helps me pick out my outfit and any special jewelry in one swoop, making my morning routine easier.

There you have it. I don’t have a streamlined system to my jewelry to keep it all in one place and looking Pinterest-perfect, but I have a system that works for me and my habits. That’s really what getting organized is about–tailoring your organizing systems to maximize efficiency for your life. A little time organizing jewelry now, can save you a lot of time when getting ready in the morning. And you can see all of your jewelry so you no excuse not to accessorize.

This weekend, come grocery shopping with me and see how I put my meal planning sheets to good use.Signature