September Organizing Tips

Whew! We're now a good chunk of the way through the year! For many, September feels like a fresh start, because it signals a new school year for children. It's a great opportunity to review your goals and refresh your resolve to make changes in areas that you feel need work -- whether that relates to organizing or any other aspect of your life.

So often with families during the school year, the car becomes a place to keep things, a room unto itself as you shuffle from work to home to sports games, band practice and more. According to some reports, the average North American spends 15 hours in a car per week. This month, let's take a look at some ways to make sure your "mobile" life is organized.

  • Take a few hours to reorganize your car. Just as with any other room, start in one area, such as the space between the driver's and passenger's seats. Purge all the trash, oddball pens and items. Check all the car pockets, visors, glove compartment (did we really once keep gloves in there?) for old receipts, invalid insurance cards and more. Check the trunk/cargo area for shoes, bags, sporting equipment and other items that may belong in the house or garage.
  • Use this opportunity to do some cleaning on the car. Ask your children to pitch in, since they're often the source of many car trips. Vacuuming the carpet and wiping down the windows and dash will make it feel fresh and more pleasant.
  • Next, think about how you use the space. What items need to be in the car at all times? It might be helpful to keep a few small trash bags tucked into a passenger seat pocket. Are you often in the car waiting? Consider putting two items from your enormous "to read" pile in a seat pocket and then rotate them out each week or two. Do you work from the car? Be sure you have chargers for your phone and laptop. Some mobile entrepreneurs even keep file boxes with them. Kids doing homework? Keep a stash of related items in the middle console or glove box.
    • Caution: It's easy to get carried away with stuff you "might" need someday. (This occurs often with briefcases, backpacks and purses.) Be sure you're keeping items in the car you actually use. Luckily, the car itself is a boundary because it will only hold so many items and still leave room for your family and your legs. You can also set other boundaries within the car using the pockets and cubbies provided. If it doesn't all fit in there, you might have too much.
    • If you find something you're not sure about, ask yourself, "When was the last time I used this? Under what circumstances will I use it?" If it's been more than six months, it probably belongs in the garage or basement, to be added to the car once in awhile for a special trip.
  • Select Success Tools:Use a back-of-seat organizer to store school supplies, baby items or other things. Maybe you'll find a car organizer useful for storing items in your trunk or cargo area, such as windshield scrapers for winter or sports equipment that stays in the car year-round.
  • "Mobile" doesn't just mean your vehicle. When was the last time you reorganized your cell phone? Next time you make a phone call, spend five minutes before the call deleting old numbers and contacts. Next time you're going to use an app on your smartphone, delete some of the old ones. The number of germs on our smartphones far outnumbers the number on office toilet seats, so feel free to wipe it down, too!
    • Also mobile: Don't forget about your briefcase/purse as discussed in our January organizing tips.

Bonus tip:

  • Start the school year off right inside the house with a designated place for school and/or office supplies for the whole family to use. That way everyone knows where to find an extra pen or sheet of paper. Designate homes for children's backpacks and a place for them to put permission slips and other items they need you to review. Make sure they learn how to organize their school papers. Work them them to set aside time after each semester to sort through old papers, selecting a few for keepsakes and recycling those that they no longer need.

It's never too late in the year to get organized. Check out our workbook, "Get Organized This Year!" with tips and ideas for each month of the year.