Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Organizing Your House: The Box

InboxAs promised, this month I'm posting tips on household organization. So much about being organized is establishing habits that work over time and many of the things our family does are things we've done so long that I don't even recognize them as habits anymore, they're just things we do.

BUT--here's something I've just picked up, a brand new habit that I can't believe I didn't know about before and it's all my husband's doing. He was reading a book titled Getting Things Done and one of the suggestions it makes is to get yourself an inbox.

If you work in an office you've got an inbox and my house operates like a small business with me as CFO and COO so you'd think that I'd have thought of this years ago. Apparently I'm proof that there's always room for improvement.

This is how it works (and stick with me here, it's not as obvious as it sounds): Get yourself some kind of a box or basket where you can collect things, ours in on the wall in the kitchen above the phone. Be careful--this isn't a place to throw your junk mail or unopened bills, this is a special contained place, accessible to everyone, where people can put things that will need attention in the next week, maybe month.

My husband throws his receipts or ATM withdrawal slips in there for me to enter in the budget, that way the receipts aren't lying on the counter where they can be knocked off or accidentally thrown away. My children use the paper and pencil I keep nearby and write down things they need for school, things they'd like to see on the menu or places they need to be during the coming week. They write them down as they think of them rather than yelling to me while I'm simultaneously on the phone, cooking dinner and running the garbage disposal: "Hey Mom I need a dozen cookies for the Valentine's Day party next week!"

I use it for things that need to be taken care of--not my bills, they go in a separate area--but things that I need to address like making calls about an insurance issue, mailing a letter, or reminding myself that I need more rice and oregano. Right now there's a CD I need to give back to my sister, a slip of paper asking that we have Cheetos for dinner (as if!) and a few miscellaneous receipts yet to be entered into my budget.

The great thing about it has been that it's an easy way for the kids or Andrew to coordinate things with me without putting them off to the last minute. They think about something they need, they write it down and stick it in the box--it's that easy. The kids come to me and start with: "Mom, I need you to . . . " and I just say, "Stick it in my inbox." And it deals with it right then.

It cuts down on the verbal reminders and last minute panics when those verbal reminders were forgotten. Less hassle, less mess, more peace. Can't beat a deal like that.

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31 comments:

Lei said...

and it's so cute, too! (is that a longaberger basket?)

:)

Lei said...

and wow,i don't think i've ever been first... what's my prize? lol.

Cocoa said...

This is on of those "Duh! Why didn't I think of that?" ideas.

Org Junkie said...

Terrific idea, I'll definitely have to link to this for my readers. Awesome!!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I need this- if only to spare our poor "scary drawer!"

Steph

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Ah yes, I've had an "inbox" for a while...sometimes it works, sometimes things still escape my attention. I also keep a notebook...if it's not in the book, heaven help me :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Great idea! We have the same basket, somewhere in this house -- time to hang it on the wall and put it to good use....

Robin (the PENSIEVE one) said...

Hey Michelle,

This is a great idea; I think it helps if it's an "attractive" inbox--it reminds everyone it's there. Good idea from your Hubby (via GTD).

If you have use or interest, I wrote a post with a few organizing tips that have made a difference in my life (and that of our family)--or, if you start a Mr. Linky, it'd be one I'd want to include. It's from an organizing carnival, and I posted again for WFMW, but since people are still landing on this page through Google searches, I thought I'd pass it along to you, too (even though it's recycled).

Organization 101

Thanks!

:)

Jacki said...

I can agree that having an Inbox sure helps!

Judy said...

Terrific tip - thank you!

chelle said...

What a fabulous idea!

Tami said...

We have started the same thing recently...with a small basket on our center island. My husband also read the same book.

Daisy said...

Staring at the pile of papers next to my computer -- this is a great idea! I use boxes at school all the time. Why not at home?

Marcia said...

I LOVE that book and your basket. It looks beautiful :)

Marcia, Organising Queen

mumple said...

Great idea....if I can get it to work. The Mumpledom seems to preclude any kind of serious organization.

Janet said...

I have that very basket hanging in my bathroom. It holds our combs and hairbrushes. My inbox is on the bar in the kitchen and isn't actually a box, just a pile. The basket is a great idea. I'll have to find another one!

LAHansen said...

Awesome idea...awesome blog!

Tara said...

now THAT is a great idea!

Mary Green said...

No need to respond to me, I just wanted to say thanks for posting this, I bought the GTD book and never got around to reading it all. From what I understand it has been a huge fad and people love it. There are tons of sites and blogs about it. This particular post about the inbox is great. I think I will put a bill inbox right next to it.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

LOVE this idea as a means of communication. So many times my kids ask questions at the wrong time and so I give them a shrug off answer. This way I could give proper attention to their requests. I've been wanting one of these wall baskets for awhile and now I think I have enough reasons to get one.

Shannon said...

I love it and I am definitely going to do it!

luvmy4sons said...

Anything to help keep track of it all. Good idea!

luckyzmom said...

I have a drawer by the door that my husband is suppose to put his receipts in. The key word here is suppose to%~}

Holding It Together said...

That's really neat - I may have to try it. Now I need a way to keep the pad of paper to stay by the phone and not disappear every other day!

nottryingforaboy said...

That's a great idea!

Babystepper said...

Well, you're assuming, of course, that we would check the inbox periodically. This is the problem.

At least this way I'd know where to look for the bills I didn't pay.

=)

jubilee said...

This is a great idea and as soon as each family member can write, it'll work even better. Thanks.

cheeky said...

What a great idea. I'm thinking you check it daily, if not every other at least and organise accordingly?
I especially like the idea of giving the kids a place to put what they'd like for dinner and them having a specific place for needs/requests/wants,etc. Cheetos! Popular I guess and funny! I had a one time, and one time only, request for those from a child passenger on one of my flights. I got such a kick out of it. Rootbeer, orange and grape soda are regular requests but Cheetos was a first. So specific I could not help but laugh. They think we have a pantry onboard. If only they knew.

Heather said...

Genius! I have some trays on my desk in my room like this. Maybe I can spare one for my kitchen! Thanks!

Amy said...

Oh, this is a wonderful idea! We have one, but it is too high up for the kids. I am looking forward to more posts like this!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

This is much more attractive than my drawer.