A Few Tips to Help With Home Office Organization & What to do with Manuals?

I really believe that everything needs to have a place.  I find that drawer organizers really help keep drawers organized.  Not only are these in my office, they are also in the kitchen.

When I pay bills, I have an in-basket and an out-basket.  The in-basket are bills that are waiting to be paid.  Once they are paid, they get moved to the out-basket.  Anything in the out-basket is ready to be filed.
I pay bills once a week.  This is the easiest for me.  I also pay almost everything online. 

I keep a shredder next to the desk in my office.

For the longest time I saved manuals in my file cabinet (a nice wooden, two-drawer cabinet).  Well, I've run out of room and needed some place else to put my manuals. 

What I did isn't pretty, but it works.  I got a large shoe box, and stuck all the manuals in them.  I labeled the shoe box "Manuals".  I taped a sheet of notebook paper on the top and wrote what manuals were in it.  The shoe box is on a shelf in my basement. 

This works for me because I almost NEVER need to use the manuals I have. However, I'm afraid to throw them away because some day one of those manuals might come in handy. 

There are a few other options.  If you have a large file cabinet, you could have file folders for manuals.  If you didn't want them to each have their own file folder, you could classify them by rooms or by category.  Another option is to have a large binder and put each manual in a page protector.

Reducing Clutter- Keeping Surfaces Clear

I never watch Oprah; the timing just isn't right. However, today I had a second, and Peter Walsh was on helping organize a house.  I had never heard of him (where've I been???)  He had tons of great ideas! I'm going to have to start watching him on the OWN channel!  The biggest thing I heard was "keep surfaces clear!"  This would be tables, floors and counter tops.  By keeping surfaces clear, clutter can't build up. 

What do you do if you've got lots of clutter?  Find homes for what you've got or get rid of it. 

Check out this Peter Walsh tip: Tidy up in 15 Minutes!

Organizing Coupons- Save Money in 2011

I have tried envelopes. I have tried purse size coupon organizers.  Frankly, I stink at organizing coupons.   I did some research, and the The Frugal Free Gal helped me.  I am now the proud owner of a coupon binder that is organized!
You'll Need:
Zip-up binder
3 Packages of baseball card holders
3 sets of dividers

This video from the Frugal Free Gal will show you how to put your coupon binder together.

Even though they are a bit more expensive, you do need a zip-up binder.  It makes a big difference, and you won't lose anything. 

My daughter loves helping cut out coupons (thank goodness).  My rule is that I only cut coupons that I will use.  Besides the Sunday paper, there are a few other places I get coupons.  About twice a month, my grocery store sends me coupons based on passed purchases.  This is an easy way to save money.  Target also has online coupons that you can print out.  I also make sure to keep my 40% off Justice Coupons and my Kohls coupons in the zipper part of the binder. 

The Ultimatest Grocery List

This grocery list is great.  It has everything you could ever want and more!  Plus, if there is more you want you can add it.  Most of it organized the way grocery stores are set-up.  The only exception for me is the snacks and the canned goods.  They span multiple aisles.  
The website I found it on has quite the sense of humor and lots of collections of grocery lists they have found!


You don't have to leave it in the cart when you are done!

Menu Planning & Grocery Shopping

I am REALLY trying to do a good job in 2011 with menu planning, grocery shopping, using coupons and remembering to bring my reusable bags at the grocery store.  My plan is that I will be more organized and save money.  Since it is just January 4th, I'm not sure if I can measure my success very accurately.  However, other than a trip to pick up medicine, I haven't made any extra trips to the grocery store!  

I made up this menu/grocery shopping planning page with the intent that I look at what I already have in my pantry/freezer/refrigerator when planning my menu.  Since I'm still trying to figure out how to get a PDF into my blog, the best I can do is give you a link:

Step 1- Fill out the yellow section with foods you already have.
Step 2- First, plan your daily meals trying to use up the food you already have. 
Step 3- Make a grocery list with everything you will need.

At my house, breakfast is usually the same, so I combined it with snacks.  If you are into elaborate breakfasts like omlets and need a special breakfast menu, I don't think my plan will work for you.  If a bowl of cereal or a frozen waffle is good enough, then I think my menu plan will work great! 

You can always Google "Menu Meal Planning Grocery Shopping" and there are lots of free planning tools on the Internet.

P.S. Maybe by 2012, I'll be able to have a PDF embedded into my blog

Apps to Help Keep You Organized

I think my iPhone is the coolest invention ever (well that and my Nook). I always try and get free apps or 99 cent apps (call me cheap). Here are some reviews of my favorite apps that keep me organized:
My first favorite app, isn't really even an app, it is the calendar on my iPhone. I put everything here, and sync it with Outlook. I still keep a calendar on the fridge, but my phone is with me everywhere, so I always feel like I know what is going on!

I also like Stick It, 2Do and ShopShop.
Stick It simply creates sticky notes for you. I use this all the time when I'm making "To Do" lists."

2Do really is great for projects. I use it quite a bit for my job, but I've also used it when planning parties or events.  It is a more expensive app, but I have 2Do Lite, and love it. 

ShopShop is an easy, quick grocery list maker.

For traveling, I like MapQuest and AroundMe.
MapQuest is like a built-in GPS! It has been great, especially traveling in unfamiliar big cities.
AroundMe identifies your position and allows you to choose the nearest Bank, Bar, Gas Station, Hospital, Hotel, Movie Theatre, Restaurant, Supermarket, Theatre and Taxi.

Probably the app that has saved me the most time and money is RunKeeper. I used to run a new route, then have to drive it to figure my distance. This app calculates your time, distance and gives you your current pace. I use it when biking, walking and running.  It was free and worth every penny!

Since I'm a big fan of Mint.com to help with budgeting, the Mint.com app is another favorite of mine!

Cables: A Pet Peeve of Mine

It seems like every piece of electronics comes with a USB cable. They are something you NEED, but I want them out of sight!

For cables that I don't use very often, I keep them in ziplock baggies that are labeled and store them in a pencil box.

For the ones I use frequently (camera, ipod, Nook), I keep in this little Case Logic case I found at Walmart. I've had it for about 4 years. It works great for traveling. I just throw it in my backpack and I have every cable that I need!
This is a "newer" model:


Other ideas are:
toilet paper rolls
velcro wrap
twist ties

*Just make sure not to bend the cables too much or you can damage them.