Organizing with Binders: Clean Home, Fresh Start

Over the years I have tried many ways to control my paper clutter. I discovered that the binder system works best for organizing important files and documents in my home.

organizing with binders

I like binders for several reasons:

  • Portable: If you have ever moved file folders and the movers don’t pack them correctly (meaning right side up) you have a big mess when you unpack them at your next location.
  • Flexible: I have stored binders on shelves, in cabinets, and in drawers.
  • Cheap: Binders are a dime a dozen at yard sales, and even if you buy them new they aren’t very expensive.
  • Easy to use: For me, binders make it easy to file and keep track of papers. I can’t stand “flipping” through file folders with my head bent down over the file cabinet trying to locate an important paper.

Items needed for a using binders to organize your paperwork:

Extra items:

Page dividers

page dividers
Page Protectors

Pencil Pouch


Currently my binders are stored in a drawer in the office. I have a To Do folder that is kept in a convenient place for immediate filing.  Once a week (or sometimes once a month) I take the papers out of the folder and organize them in the binders.

binder organization

I use the page protectors to hold documents are more important and can’t have holes. I use the pencil bags to store small items like envelopes, used checkbooks, store cards, and receipts.

I printed labels on white paper for the spine of each binder, so I can easily see which one I need. I have binders for:

  • Investments
  • Banking
  • Insurance
  • Homeschool Records
  • Medical Records
  • Car Records
  • Household Records

binder organization

About every six months I go through my binder and shred unneeded documents.

I love my binder system. For me it is so much easier than digging through file folders to find paperwork. For the first time in my life, we have moved and I have not opened up a box of disorganized papers on the other end.

What filing system works for you?


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Organizing Toys

organizing toys

A question from Nicole via Facebook:

Do you have suggestions for kids toys? How long do you keep a toy? How many toys should they have? What about if you have multiple age levels of kids, how do you handle toys that are too little for the older kids, but too old for the younger kids?

I’d love some tips!

Kid’s toys…. I knew I’d have to tackle this question sooner or later. I’ll be the first to admit my kids have too many toys. We only buy toys on their birthdays or Christmas, but they seem to multiply overnight and take over my home on a daily basis.

Last year I decided to clean out the toy room because I had let it go for several weeks. You know those days where it is easier to close the door than deal with the mess? I had a about thirty of those days in a row.

It was awful! I even found a container of ice cream in an old backpack in the playroom. UGH!

ice cream in backpack


And yes, it was even grosser than it looks in that photo. Blech!

It took us two days to get the toy room cleaned up. I realized that I wouldn’t win the war on toys unless I was willing to fight the battle every day. Here are some of the things we do now to keep our toys in check.

How long to do you keep a toy?

Depends. We don’t have any babies in our house so I gave away most of our baby toys. I keep one bin of baby friendly toys to pull out when we have visitors. I tend keep toys until my kids outgrow them (and there isn’t another kid waiting to inherit it) or until they break.

However, I get rid of toys that appear in our house randomly (after trying to find the owner) and toys that do not get played with for extended periods of time. Unless the toy is really awesome, then I struggle.

For example, years ago I splurged and purchased my kids two very nice marble runs. My older kids played with them all the time. After a while they outgrew them and my younger children were not interested in marble runs, at all.

I’ve debated getting rid of the sets for a few years (every time we moved). I kept them because I thought the toys were valuable. Finally a few weeks ago my younger kids pulled them out and have been playing with them all the time.

Toy Tip: Rotate toys in bins every six months. Store half the toys and if they aren’t requested on a regular basis, it might be time to get rid of them.

How many toys should they have?

I’ve never known any child in America to have too few toys. I’m sure there are a few, but if you have a computer and internet to read this post your child probably has too many toys.

Toy Tip: I believe the more toys a child has, the less likely they are to play with any of them. I’d rather invest in a few good quality toys that get played with all the time, rather than purchase inexpensive toys that are just junk.

How do you handle toys that are too little for the older kids, but too old for the younger kids?

I keep one to three big rubbermaid storage bins in my basement or garage with good quality toys. When my younger kids are old enough to enjoy those toys I see what toys we already have and then make a decision as to whether we will keep or pass along those toys in storage.

I’m pretty picky about what I store, so most of the time we use those toys eventually.

Toy Tip: Toys are in ample supply at yard sales and consignment shops so don’t feel like you need to save everything. You can probably replace most toys for cheap, so if space is at a premium in your house pass along the toys and replace them in a few years.

What do you do with big kid toys when you have a baby or a toddler?

In my house baby and toddler toys stay in the main living areas. This is because I don’t trust my toddlers to play alone in the house. (Think sharpie, drinking windex, wandering outside, dismantling the fridge, etc) Since I’m usually in the main living areas my toddlers usually play on the floor with toys from their bin.

Once we got to the point when we had older kids and babies, all the big kids toys (Legos and Playmobil) went into their bedroom in totes. They could play with them in their room or bring them out into the main area when the baby was napping.

Toy Tip: Create safe spaces for your older kids to build and create and keep toddler friendly toys easily accessible for the little ones.

One easy way to keep toys organized is to store them in clear bins. Mom and kids can view the toys and it is easy to pull out the right bin quickly.

For more ideas to help you simplify and organize one day at a time, visit the Organized in 365 Archives.

Have you shared a great organizing tip on your website? I’d love to feature it on Submit your Organized in 365 tip.

Don’t have a blog, but have a great tip? Submit your Organized in 365 guest post here.

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Get Organized by Living With Less!

get organized by living on less

There are so many wonderful tips and ideas for getting organized. I’m kind of an organizational junkie myself. I like to read books and blogs about organizing and I love to organize my own things (and other people’s if they give me a chance).

The best tip I have for getting organized is not something you can buy at Ikea or The Container Store. The best way to get organized is to get rid of the junk! I once took a time management class and learned that if you don’t take care of something the first time you pick it up, you touch it 40 more times before you actually deal with it. What a total waste of time!

No matter how many bins, baskets, drawers, containers, files, and notebooks you own, managing these tools takes time.

The less you have, the less you have to maintain.

As someone who likes to save money, I have a tendency to hold on to things because I might need them in the future. Better to reuse something you have than buy something new, right? Well… that is sort of right. When you hold on to everything it becomes difficult to manage, things become disorganized, and you end up not being able to find the stuff you were saving.

In my life there are only a handful of things I wish I hadn’t thrown away or dropped off at Goodwill, and those few things are replaceable.

Here are a few ideas for living an organized life with less.


Stop holding on to all the these use to fit me in college outfits.

Seriously, if you ever fit into them again they will be so outdated you won’t want to wear them. Keep a basic wardrobe of items that fit you and your lifestyle. Clothes are cheap to replace at yard sales and thrift stores, so only hold on to pieces that fit well.


Paperwork clutter can drive a person bonkers! I created a notebook system to help me track all my paperwork. I keep only what’s necessary and shred the rest. Another way I simplify my paperwork is online banking and bill pay. I pay almost all of my bills online and this has greatly reduced the paper clutter in my home.


I’m plead guilty to toy clutter in the first degree. With seven kids it is almost impossible not to have a toy filled house!

Whenever the mover went into our basement she remarked that it looked like a Toy’s R Us, and that was after I had given several van loads to Goodwill.

I’m preaching to myself here, but kids don’t need every toy ever invented. They don’t even need .0005% of the toys invented.

My kids are happier and play with more of their toys the less they have. Toy clutter overwhelms kids and they end up not wanting to play with anything. Or, toy clutter gives kids the opportunity to make incredible messes with all the toys. Go on a toy de-clutter spree. Your kids will not notice and you will have a better life, I promise.

Kitchen Tools

I’m guilty of kitchen clutter too. I love kitchen tools! They are so much fun and helpful, when I can find them! Have you ever spent 10 minutes searching for that certain kitchen tool in the over-crowded drawer? I have. It isn’t fun, and it is a big time waster.

Go through your kitchen and get rid of things you have never used, then go through it again and get rid of the tools you haven’t used in over a year. You really can do more with less in the kitchen.


A disorganized pantry is a huge time and money waster! How many times have you cleaned out your pantry only to find several of the same item and not because you were stockpiling? Or perhaps you run to the store to buy that needed ingredient at full price, only to find another bottle unopened in the back of the pantry weeks later.

Have you thrown out food because it has expired or gone bad in a disorganized fridge? While it is great to stock up on sales at the grocery store, create a system before you begin. Meal plan so your family eats all the leftovers and nothing goes to waste in the kitchen.


Stuff, you know the things that clutter your home, waste your time, and rob you of your joy? The refrigerator magnet that came in an advertisement, the broken frame you know you are going to fix…. one day…, the books you will never read, the magazines you have already read.

Get rid of them. Give it away, throw it away, burn it in the wood stove, but get rid of the stuff you don’t need.

Having less truly is having more. More time, more space, more joy. This year get organized by getting rid of the things you don’t need so you can spend time on the things that are important.

Begin Organizing & Decluttering your home with these super helpful and inexpensive ebooks!

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What to do With All that Clutter


Many of us have been cleaning and decluttering this month, but what do you do with all the junk?

1. Throw it away

Broken, worn out, too old to salvage items need to find a home in the garbage can. Do not donate or pass along things in poor condition.

2. Recycle

Visit your city’s web page and see what items they recycle. You might be surprised at the amount of items that can be recycled these days. If your city doesn’t recycle, you can find the closest facility and take it yourself.

3. Donate

Many organizations will come to your house and pick up your unwanted stuff! The following organizations may pick up items in your area.

4. Yard Sale

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? Yard sales are a lot of work, but it is a great way to earn some extra money. Money Saving Mom has a great post on how to have a successful yard sale.

5. Craig’s List

Craig’s List is a great way to get rid of just a few unwanted items. It works especially well for bigger items that you don’t want to haul away yourself. I posted some tips last year for buying and selling on Craig’s List, it is my favorite place to shop!

6. eBay

eBay is a good option when you want to sell higher value or unique items. Just remember eBay charges fees, so take that into consideration before  listing an item.

7. Pass Along to a Friend

Many families are blessed by hand-me-downs and second hand items. I know when I was first married almost everything we owned came from someone else. We couldn’t afford to buy anything new and we were very thankful for the generosity of others.

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