-- Heidi Smith, Richmond, VA
"I have a trash can in the garage near the driver's-side door. As I get out of the car, I throw away the trash, and I have my hands free for the things that actually need to go into the house."
-- Judy Smith, Niceville, FL
"To keep up with the constant singleton-sock dilemma, I keep a clear plastic bag in each child's drawer (and now my husband's). Every time we come across a party of one when putting away clean laundry, we check the bag. We either find the mate or put the newly single sock in that person's bag for the next go-round."
-- Anne Hedekin, Poway, CA
"I store loose recipes in a binder that I filled with vinyl page protectors and tabbed dividers (breakfast, lunch, dinner, side, and dessert). I slip the recipes into the page protectors, and then I can flip through until I find a recipe I like. Plus, splashes wipe off easily!"
-- Brittany Walls, Raleigh, NC
"I have several different caddies, all ready to grab and go for different cleaning duties. I have bathroom cleaning supplies in one large bucket (don't forget the scrub brush and rubber gloves), a caddy with dusting, disinfecting, and window cleaners (plus rags), and a bucket with floor cleaners and related items."
-- Amber Weaver, Robesonia, PA
Congrats! These five moms were the big winners in our recent Get Organized contest. Each of them gets these organizing products:
- A basket from Space-Savers (spacesavers.com)
- A hanging sweater organizer from Organize-It (organizeit.com)
- A wall mail sorter and file folders from The Container Store (containerstore.com)
- A lazy Susan from Organize.com
Great ideas from our runners-up
"After grocery shopping each week, I hang a new list on our refrigerator for the next trip. It has five categories: Produce, Dairy/Meat, Grains, Frozen, and Other. When we run out of something, I write it in the appropriate category. Then when I'm shopping, I'm not constantly backtracking down the aisles. It saves so much time at the store!"
-- Clara McFadden, El Cerrito, CA
"We file all manuals, warranty information, and receipts for important purchases by category in our filing cabinet. All furniture information is filed by room and other items are grouped by type (kid's toys/equipment, small/large appliances, etc.). The information is easy to find, and I always have the receipt."
-- Lara Timblin, North Wales, PA
"I have a document called Christmas List in my Word program and I maintain it all year long. When I hear or think of what someone wants or needs, I find the item online, then copy the link to my document. It helps with birthday shopping and allows me to buy more meaningful Christmas gifts, since I'm not pressed to come up with an idea at the last moment."
-- Deann Porter, Palermo, ME
"Only touch it once. When I sort through mail, I immediately throw it away if I know I don't need it, take it upstairs to be filed into my 'bills due' box, or shred it. The same holds true with toys or items that need to be put away. Instead of making piles for things to be put up, I do it right away." -- Emily McAllister, Bedford, TX
"Keep two baby stations, each stocked with diapers, wipes, baby wash, a towel and washcloths, changing pad, nail clippers, etc. This will help any exhausted new mom avoid unnecessary trips up and down the stairs with her baby throughout the day."
-- Carol Bauman, Winter Haven, FL
"When I have a job I don't feel like doing, I tell myself I only have to do it for fifteen minutes and then I can stop if I want to. That helps me get started, but once I get into it I don't usually want to stop at the end of that fifteen minutes. And even if I do, that much cleaning/organizing is better than zero."
-- Esther Wilhelm, Chattanooga
"My trick is tote bags. We live in an old house with small rooms (no space for clutter) and three floors. Instead of constantly running up and down to put stuff away, or leaving everything until my three girls go to bed, I hang tote bags at the top and bottom of the stairs and load 'em up as I go along. They take up a lot less space than baskets (which are often suggested) and, if you have pretty tote bags, can actually be decorative."
-- Joni Finegold, Alexandria, VA