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Organizing yourself and your life is a fine balance. Too many tools and devices and you spend more time managing the tools than you do your life. Too few tools and you lose time trying to find things and stay organized. Let’s explore the basics and ten tools everyone needs to get and stay organized.

#1 Planner/Calendar

This may sound like a no-brainer but there’s a difference between having a planner and actually using it. You want to find a planner that you will use consistently. Take a look at paper, computer-based, and mobile device planners and find one that fits your needs and personality.  Keep in mind, actually writing something down has been shown to be more effective than typing when goal setting.  You may want to choose a hybrid approach like writing down your goals and to-dos, but putting events and commitments, in your mobile device calendar.

Additionally, consider creating or using different planners for different purposes. For example, your business planner, personal planner, homeschooling planning (if applicable), and family planner do not all have to be on the same system – they just have to work for you.

#2 Overflow bin

An overflow bin is a bin that collects items that don’t belong. For example, many people keep a basket at the foot of the stairs. Anything that belongs upstairs goes into the basket. Once a day or once a week the basket is emptied and items are placed where they belong.

#3 Media command center

The media center is often a source of chaos. Remotes get lost, DVDs are broken and it can be a frustrating area. Create a media command center. All remotes are placed in the command center when they’re not being used. DVDs and other media are all stored in a box or drawer for easy access.

#4 Phone/Electronics command center

If you’re like many the phone recharging are is a nightmare of chaos. Phones, cords, and even keys and wallets get all jumbled. It’s a mess. Create a single location for all rechargeable media. For example, there are caddies that can house anywhere from three to five mobile devices. Each device space can be labeled and the cords can be organized from the back.

#5 Cleaning baskets/storage

Create a basket for each room that stores the room’s cleaning supplies. This is particularly important for rooms like the kitchen and the bathroom which tend to require a lot of cleaning supplies.  You’ll also save time spent lugging products and tools back and forth from room to room.

10 tools everyone needs to get and stay organized

#6 Chore Chart/Family Organization Area

A family organization area is important to keep track of where everyone needs to be and what they’re responsible for. One idea is to use post-its on a large calendar. The post-its can be easily removed and replaced as needs change.  Get your children involved and hold them accountable for marking off their responsibilities as they do them.

#7 File Cabinet

The file cabinet should house all of your family or personal documents. Bank statements, tax information, and receipts are particularly important. You can also scan these items and store them on your computer. There are portable scanning devices designed specifically for this purpose. Just make sure to back up your computer information to a place like Dropbox.

#8 Task List

Create some sort of task list system for yourself. It can be pen and paper, mobile device or other option. The key is to make sure it’s easily accessible and that you use it.

#9 Binders

Binders are excellent for storing information that you use often. Recipes, schoolwork, and even receipts can be organized and stored in three-ring binders.

#10 Twenty Minutes, Minimum, of Free Time

While free time isn’t a tool per say, it is essential to get and stay organized. A cluttered mind cannot organize effectively and efficiently. Take time each day to clear your thoughts.  A great idea is to start journaling at the end of the day what went well, what didn’t work out, and brain dumping tomorrow’s priorities before you go to sleep.

What tools do you use to keep yourself and your family organized?