Household systems that work for you?

I suppose I can best illustrate what I mean by “system” with an example. My wife and I used to have trouble keeping track of batteries. When something died, we’d find we had 14 AAA and 0 AA when we needed AAs, never any Ds, etc. The end result was either cannibalization of remotes (“hmm, we don’t change the channel THAT often…”) or convenience store runs to pay outrageous prices.

Battery Central has changed all that. It’s what we’ve dubbed the space in one of our cabinets that systemizes our approach to battery storage. It consists of rechargeable batteries of every size in the proportions we use them, multiple chargers, and two colored plastic bins, one red and one green. Discharged batteries go in red, charged in green. It’s worked out great. The long battery nightmare is over.

Inspired, we’re are having fun trying to find things to systemize such as grocery deliveries, savings, whatever.

Do you guys have any household systems that work particularly well for you? We’d love to steal some ideas.

When the guys in the rubber suits show up with high pressure hoses attached to a vat of muriatic acid, we know it’s time to clean the science experiments out of the refrigerator.

I got nuthin’ for ya.

we keep all of the paper and plastic bags in baskets for easy grabbing.

I have a shelf (wire) that is too high for me to reach above the washer and dryer. So I took a couple of open face baskets (has a bottom and three sides) and zip tied them to the bottom of the shelf. I stuff stain removers and dryer sheets and other little laundry doodahs there. I did the same thing in my closet to store my shoes.

I have a small bucket where all clothes pins and bungee cords are stored (I use them extensively in the dishwasher).

I have three baskets for baby food items: One for reusable bottles, one for disposable bottles (different nipples and things), one for cup-sized zippy containers and sippy cups. (When I was pumping, I had two other baskets for pumping supplies and gerber style-bottles)

I have clear shoe boxes in the fridge for storing cut ready-to-eat snack foods (fruits, veggies, meats).

I bought one wire rack (6ft tall, five shelves) for storing pots and pans. At grown-up height. No more rummaging below the cabinets for the damn things.

We’re supposed to create some kind of system? Ok, my system is the continued use of “Junk” drawers. Junk drawers can contain anything from batteries to condoms, washers to bent up butter knives that were used for a screwdriver. Whenever I need something around the house, a junk drawer is usually one of the first stops.

Well, ime, it doesn’t really matter what kind of system you use; just about any system will work if you consistently work the system, and no system will work if you don’t work the system. It doesn’t matter how many color coded baskets I have for sorting my laundry as it builds up if I’m just throwing all my dirty clothes in the bedroom floor, you know?

I’ve found that just periodically going through and tidying things up so you can find them helps as much as anything. One time I found three nearly-full boxes of brown sugar in one kitchen cabinet. Evidently, we’d find a recipe that called for it, not be able to find it in the cabinet, and go buy a new box. Now I try to go through and weed things out and tidy up what’s left. This is helpful in all the rooms, really, and it gives you a chance to see what you need to restock on before you run out. (This is especially a big deal in the bathroom. Being completely out of toilet paper is not a happy experience.)

elfa shelving

It’s sounds absurdly simple but having a hook for my keys (and training myself to always put the keys on the hook first thing) made a huge, huge difference in my frustration level. Sad that it took me ten years to figure that out…

Other than that, I’m insanely disorganized.

Oh, God.

My purse and my lunch bag hang on the back of my bedroom door.

We have a half-wall between the kitchen and the living room. On that half-wall is a long wooden tray. That’s where my keys go.

My cell phone gets plugged in and put on top of the hutch when I get home.

We occasionally make menus for dinners, but depending on how Ivylad is feeling, that can fall by the wayside.

I’m the only one who seems to remember that Mon and Thurs are garbage days, so garbage cans must be by the side of the road Sun and Wed night.

Bills go up on our corkboard, so we can easily find them when the checking account gets refilled through the magic of Direct Deposit.

Well back a few months ago, I was forced to clean out my drawers. Soon enough I found that EVERYTHING in them didn’t fit, or I never used anymore. So that freed up all 6 drawers in my dresser. So now one drawer has all my ‘electronics’ like CD players, cds, movies, etc. Another has all my nail polish, lotions and such, one is my dance drawer that has all my dance clothes, and so on. So by putting all this stuff in drawers, I was able to see my flooring. Which is a really pretty colored wood floor.

Oh, yes, the “launch pad” concept–having one place where everything you’re going to need the next day gets put, ready to go out the door with you. Our front closet has an elevated floor in it, which makes it just perfect for this purpose. As soon as my keys come out of the door (or the ignition if Dr.J is home and the door’s unlocked), they go in the front pocket of my purse. As soon as I beat the dogs back enough to open the closet door, the purse goes in. I let the dogs out, then go to the bedroom and kick my shoes into the closet. Like TremorViolet said, it makes a huge difference in my frustration level and saves sooo much time. (I’ve probably frittered away a good six months of my life hunting for shoes, purses, and keys over the years.) As I think of things I need to take with me (books, lunches, stuff for the dogs, etc.), it gets set in the closet next to the purse.

Of course, like I said earlier, the system only works if I work the system. All it takes is for me to forget and toss the keys on the counter or kick the shoes off in the living room, and we’re back to the running around screeching about being late.

There were some really good ideas in this earlier thread on the subject. in

Well, without trying to sound like an anal-retentive jerk (which I actually am), I’ll tell you I have a system for damn near everything. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. They all make perfect sense to me. Car keys go on thier own hooks. Wallets and sunglasses go where they go. Tools go where they go. Nothing gets lost that way.

My wife, on the other hand, can’t seem to play along. Constantly looses everything. Sets of keys, countless pairs of glasses, leaves my tools scattered around the yard to get lost and rust or get torn up otherwise. She has empty CD boxes that she lost the disc to and discs floating around that she lost the boxes to! She actually managed to lose the kid’s diaper bag! :smack: The other day, I go to cook dinner. I open the cabinet to grab the frying pan. Hum, not there. After searching about 20 minutes, I find it in a place it has never been, did not belong and made no sense for it to be there. :confused: I opened the fridge. I wanted the butter. Hum, not in the little “butter dome” on the door. A search found it on the bottom shelf behind a bag of lettice. Lettice that should have been in the vegatable drawer.

How many years has this woman lived with me? When has the butter ever not gone in the “butter dome”? Hell, even the people at Sears knew this and put the word “Butter” right there on the damn thing!

I love her anyway, even if she turns my life into a scavenger hunt daily. :smiley:

[temporary highjack]
Hey Maastricht: Are you a Nederlander, or an American living there? I used to live in Leefdaal and worked out of a facility in Paal. Nice country, nice people. [/end TH]

Of course, that would be Belgium, where I lived, not Holland, but I travelled to the Netherlands quite often.

This may not be what you’re thinking of, but I make a point placing “pay the bills” at the top of my to-do list for payday. Barring a fire or family emergency, it’s the first thing I do after I get paid.

It’s embarrassing, but I have a history of putting off paying off my debts, then scrambling to pay them on time or letting them go late. A while back, I overheard someone who ran a small construction company say that the first thing they did when they received a check was to call their subcontractors to tell them to stop what they were doing and come over to get their share of the money. This may be a no brainer for some, but I finally understand how much freedom this gives me.

Oh yeah, I also (finally) got an inbox to hold the bills until payday.

Having a binder that holds everything for running the household. It has, in sections:
Stamps and coupons
Chore schedules, and lists of big jobs that need doing
Phone number lists, one personal and one business. Business cards/receipts/etc.
Pantry list, for grocery shopping readiness
Christmas stuff: list of Xmas card people, gift lists, and copies of former letters

I also have binders of ideas for ‘stuff to do with the kids,’ usually art, music, or science.

This has cleaned up so much of my paper clutter, and made my life a lot easier. Also, I got to buy office supplies, which is always a good thing.
A housecleaning schedule has also made life easier. I don’t have to think about what needs doing, I just do the job for the day and I’m done. Less guilt, nicer house, and all for less effort! Meanwhile, my towels and sheets are always clean and ready, I can let people enter my house, and I don’t run out of clean underwear.

How do we compare to Alaskans? :wink: Yup, I’m Dutch and live in Maastricht. Nice to read you’ve got good memories of your time there.

Oh yeah. I love to throw stuff out, get rid of junk we’re not using, and so on. That’s great to do. But the other good thing to do is to buy enough of stuff you really use all the time. Buy lots of pens and scissors, and put them in every room.

Likewise, I finally have enough tote bags that I don’t have to dump one out and refill it with something else once a week; I have a tote bag for every need (for me, I need one each for: scrapbooking, church, gym, and library–and when I finish a library book, it goes right into the bag, so I don’t have to hunt all over the house for them when I want to go). Each tote bag is filled with the right stuff, and I just pick it up and get out. It’s just ridiculous how much easier you can make your life by spending $10 on a couple of extra tote bags and some scissors…

Or, if you don’t have a walk in closet:

Cover the existing sheetrock walls in your closets with Slatwall and get some of this neat hardware

Ah, but elfa shelving is not just for walk-in closets. It can go in your basement, your garage, your kitchen. It can go everywhere! And it so easy to set up and take down.