Don't knock it til you try it, the saying goes, and in this case it applies. While some of the things I'm suggesting might sound insane or perhaps a little (okay, a lot) OCD, they're tricks that work, and hey, isn't that really the bottom line?
Keep a marker in the freezer: If you're the type of person who cooks a lot and freezes the leftovers, or someone who likes to buy in bulk, keeping a marker in the freezer might mean the difference between "what is this?" and "here's the pasta sauce I made last summer when the tomatoes were at their peak". Use it to label and date whatever you're freezing. Bonus: no more frozen mysteries, no more wondering where to find a marker to label stuff.
Collect pint size versions of your favorite toiletries and store them in your suitcase: This is one of those silly ideas that I used to scoff at until the TSA changed the rules and mini became the rule. Whether it's a flight across the country, around the world, or a quick overnighter, keeping small size versions of your toiletries in your suitcase means you're always ready to go. Since all the things I like and need don't always come in small sizes, I pick them up whenever I see them. Bonus: No last minute scramble, and they don't take up valuable real estate in your already crowded linen closet.
Pack up your beach or ski stuff: As for traveling, so for sports. In my beach bag I store sunscreen, a towel, a blanket, bathing suits; my ski boots share space with my ski clothes, handwarmers and another stick of sunscreen. Bonus: always ready to go.
Hang your keys on the back of your front door or have your lock changed so that it's one of the kind that you have to lock from the inside: When I moved into my home it was already equipped with one of these locks. Not only do I always know where my keys are, but I don't have to worry about accidentally locking myself out (something my neighbors have done). Bonus: safe, sound and, with no morning key scramble, sane.
A pen and a pad by my phone's charger: I used to keep them by my landline, now I keep them by the charger. Same purpose — taking notes — different era. Bonus: Being prepared to write down every detail, whether it's directions or a grocery list.
Arranging the medicine chest by how things are used: Yeah, this one's had me called crazy, but since I no longer rub toothpaste into my palms thinking it's handcream, the last laugh may be mine. Especially if you're as blind as I am without my glasses, this little bit of organization brings a lot of order to your morning. Bonus: a faster morning.
Having a place for everything in the refrigerator: Especially if you bake a lot or live with someone else, having a place for everything not only brings a little more sanity to your cooking times, you can see, right at a glance, if you actually have enough eggs or milk or butter — whether it's for that cake you were thinking about making or for breakfast. Bonus: no more overbuying.
Keep your daily meds in the refrigerator: Vitamins or prescriptions, I keep them in the fridge next to the milk. I know I'll be reaching for the milk for my morning coffee and when I do, it'll remind me to pop my pills. Bonus: Less chance of forgetting whether you already took them today.
Have a box for your first aid supplies and medications: If you have kids, keeping meds in the refrigerator might not be a great idea. But then, neither is keeping them in the medicine chest. Sure, you might want to make a place for your cough medicine if you're right in the midst of battling something nasty, but most of us have stuff around that we only grab on occassion. Stick it all in a pretty box (or a lock box if you have wee ones in the house). You may want to date stuff (even medicine has a shelf life); in which case, do as with the freezer and keep a marker in your box. Bonus: a medicine cabinet filled only with things you need, and knowing where everything is when you actually need it
Keep a set of cleaning supplies in the bathroom and in the kitchen: Avoid a marathon cleaning session by wiping down the sink (and, if you shed as much hair as I do, the floor) each morning with a rag and spritz of cleanser, or try those packages of pop up wipes. Supplies in each wet room means you're more likely to have them at hand, keeping these rooms clean. Bonus: Saturday mornings having brunch instead of cleaning.
Empty your pocket change into a jar by the door each night: This is one of those silly things a friend told me they did once when I asked them where they'd found the money for something (we were both equally broke at the time). It may seem super old skool (and it is) but it's also a painless way of saving and avoids the rattling hangbag or ripped pocket syndrome. Bonus: change for the laundry and less guilt about a splurge for the home.
Clean while you're on the phone: Whether it's doing the dishes, swishing the toilet, Swiffering the floor or feather dusting the counter tops, here's a simple way to multitask. Bonus: no mindless phone eating (my personal downfall).
The next time you line your trash can with a new bag, stick an old dryer sheet in the bottom and line the bin with all the trash bags at once: Then all you have to do is pull out the old bag; the new one's already in place. Bonus: come party time or a big mess, at least you won't be scrambling for trash bags.
Keep your laundry supplies at the bottom of your hamper: Are you sensing a theme here? Guilty. Also guilty of not having a lot of storage space. Also in my laundry bag: a roll of quarters, stain stick (it's right where I need it so I can treat a stain before it goes in the hamper). Bonus: the detergent and the laundry sheets also act as deodorizers for my dirty clothes until I get around to washing them.
Store your bedlinens under your mattress: I don't know about you, but I don't have loads of extra space to use for storing sheets and pillowcases. Instead, I fold up everything and stick it underneath the mattress (or between the mattress and the boxspring), next to my life savings (just kidding, though I'm sure you're thinking this idea's just as insane). (In the same vein, I also store my towels by hanging them on the back of my bathroom door). Bonus: Everything's close at hand, and I get that ironed look without ironing.
Got any crazy tricks of your own? Share them in the comments!
MORE TIPS FOR GETTING ORGANIZED ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
• You Can Do It: No Fail Ways to Finally Get Yourself Organized
• Pro Organizer Tips: What NOT To Do When Decluttering Your Home
• Yes, I Hired a Professional Organizer: Tips & Tricks
(Image: Adrienne Breaux / Shannon's Soothing Mix of Styles House Tour)
Re-edited from a post originally published 7/10/12 - JL