Minimizing and Organizing Junk

Minimizing and Organizing Junk

I wanted so badly to turn our “catch all” room into a sleek and functioning office space. All that stood in my way was a monotonous amount of clutter we had managed to collect over the years. You’d be surprised how much junk you can fit into a 12 X 12 room.  Here are some ideas, tips, and tricks on how to organize those stubborn junk piles in your life.

My first task was to identify the major groups taking up valuable space in my future office space. Then (with the help of google and Pinterest) search for ideas on how to organize, eliminate, and/or store the excessive piles of clutter. After accessing the mess, I found these groups to be the largest issues:

-Documents and Other Paper Clutter

-Magazines

-Memorabilia

-Photographs

-CDs and DVDs

-Craft supplies

Documents and Paperwork

What you’ll need:

  • Hanging Folders
  • File Labels
  • Manila File Folders
  • Tabs
  • Hanging Folder Tabs

Unfortunately, I had outgrown the fire safe filing box I had been using since my senior year of high school. It was crammed full of anything I deemed “valuable” and thought I needed to keep. I wanted a real filing cabinet but the price tag had me hesitating. Luckily my husband found a functioning filing cabinet sitting on the side of the road with a free sign attached to it! Perfect! A nice scrub and a few coats of spray paint and we were in business! I went through every document and shredded what was old or unnecessary. The remaining piles were then sorted into a few different categories. The goal is to be able to quickly and easily find something if I need it.

Vehicles: Titles, loan documents, proof of insurance, repairs

Documents: birth certificates, marriage license

Mortgage Documents

Property Taxes and Insurance

Medical Information: Hospital bills, health insurance

Income Tax Returns

To be filed – this is to keep future paperwork safe and contained until i can get around to properly examining and filing

I printed off file labels to create a more uniformed and organized look but you could easily use a sharpie to write directly on the folder (this was the method I used previously). I like the idea of being able to change the name without throwing away the folder.

Magazines

What you’ll need:

I managed to collect an obscene amount of magazines over the last couple of years. The sad part is I’ve probably read less than a quarter of them. The fact that I paid for them AND the length of time I had kept them made it difficult to just recycle them. I quickly scanned each issue for anything I deemed worthy. When I found something I liked, I simply tore the page out. I then organized the pages into categories like home decor, health, pets, vacations, parenting, etc. Using the paper trimmer, I cleaned up any rough edges and then put the page into a sheet protector.  I created labels for the binders that corresponded with the original categories and placed the pages in the correct binder. Ta-Da! This whole process was pretty time consuming but all and all I think it was worth it. Organized clutter! I love it!

Craft Patterns

What you’ll need:

  • Sheet protectors
  • Binders

With the magazine concept in mind, I assembled one binder to hold my crochet patterns. Each pattern is placed in a sheet protector. Pretty simple! I really like this system because I can take the pattern out and use it while keeping it protected and together. I can also easily keep notes or other information about the project with the pattern.

Loyalty Cards

What you’ll need:

  • Ring clips
  • Hole punch

I’m not sure if this is just a personal problem or a common household issue but I have an abundance of rewards and loyalty cards. Some I probably don’t need. Not the point! I decided I needed a system for those so I could actually access them when I needed them (otherwise, what’s the point in keeping them, right?) I sorted them based on size – either business card sized or keychain sized. A majority of the keychain sized cards already had holes in them so I just slipped them on a ring clip. With the business sized cards I just lined them up and punched holes in them (I was careful not to punch a hole through valuable information or the magnetic strip if it had one).

Coupons

What you’ll need:

For my coupon collection, I divided the coupons into categories and labeled the tabs on the accordion filer. Be sure to select categories that make sense for your family and make the coupons easily found. 

Baby -baby related items

Grocery -manufacturer coupons, good anywhere coupons are accepted

Internet -online retail (i.e. Shutterfly, mixbook.com, etc.)

Target – I shop at Target a lot.

Meijer – I have an abundance of Meijer coupons

Shopping – (Kohl’s, Barnes and Noble, Gordmans, clothing stores, etc.)

Restaurants – fast food included!

The filer is small enough that I can take it into stores without looking ridiculous. Usually, I can fit it right in my purse or keep it in my vehicle for easy access.

Greeting cards and Memorabilia 

What You’ll Need:

  • Scanner
  • Scissors

While going through my things I discovered I had quite the collection of greeting cards. I seriously found birthday cards from my first Birthday. No lies! I decided to incorporate them into my “yearbook project” by scanning them or “digitizing” if you will. With this method, I think I’m more opt to look at them in the future if they are in an album instead of in a shoebox somewhere in the basement.

Maybe this is a personal problem but I like to collect things – flyers, maps, and pamphlets when I travel. I bring them home and they sit in large piles throughout my house. Sometimes I move them around the house but that’s the extent. Same as the greeting cards, I plan on digitizing the memories and placing them with the event or trip they go with.  This is something I haven’t quite started. Like the photographs, this will be time-consuming but worth it!

Photographs

What You’ll Need:

  • Scanner

Over the years I have collected quite a few pictures. Before digital photography, smartphones, and the internet, the thing to do was purchase duplicates. Oh boy… the mess I had.

I had boxes and boxes of unorganized printed photos. Not ideal for viewing and reminiscing. On top of that, I had those terrible sticky albums that turn your photos yellow. Not cool. My goal – to digitize the photos and then create photo books.

The first thing I did was collect all the printed pictures I had. I gathered my infinite boxes and tired, old photo albums. Then I began going through them. All of you sentimental people reading this, brace yourselves… I actually threw pictures out. You’re probably thinking “what!?!? Is she insane! How could you throw out a memory?!?!” Think about it. If the photo holds no significant value there is no point in keeping it. There. I said it. Photos with horrible quality were also trashed. Oh yes, the era of disposable cameras left me with tons of terrible images.

The second step was to sort the photos. I’m not kidding when I say I had years of photos jumbled together. Basically from birth to college. It wasn’t pretty. First I separated them into stages of life (childhood, high school, college, etc.) and then organized those into events (weddings, graduations, holidays).

Next, I scanned. This is one of the most time-consuming parts of the process. I used a flatbed scanner (HP). I had debated on purchasing a portable scanner but decided against it. The benefit did not outweigh the cost and I have no regrets.

DVDs and CDs

What You’ll Need:

  • CD/DVD sleeves
  • CD/DVD box

I’m not even going to count how many burned CDs I have. It’s ridiculous. I found and collected 2 large boxes… I’m pretty sure I burned a new CD on a weekly basis when I was sixteen. Wasteful, I know! Now I’m surrounded by old CDs. Some even unusable. The first step was minimizing. I threw out anything that was severely scratched. The rest were examined and uploaded to my computer if they were deemed worthy. I had some questionable taste in music during some points of my life. I did the same thing for the DVDs. The system I used to store things during my youth was pitiful.

To keep this from happening in the future,  I purchased this box and some CD/DVD sleeves. Now my plan is to backup home movies and photos by year and keeping each disc safely in a sleeve inside the box.

Craft supplies

I dreamed of a large peg board beautifully displaying all my supplies, readily available for the next creative project. I finally talked my husband into the idea and he created my vision (love him for it!) It’s pretty great but I’m still playing with the organizational scheme. My yarn collection was placed into a three drawer plastic organizer. All fabric was condensed and organized into a plastic bin and stored in the office closet for future use. 

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to tackle organizational nightmares?

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