how-to-guides

Some say that clutter is simply a product of postponed decision-making. Which is why beyond simply being an eyesore, too much clutter can turn into a mind-clogging, desk-hogging burden invading your home.

“Life is so chaotic and stressful these days,” says MaryJo Monroe, professional organizer and owner of reSPACEd in Portland, Oregon. “Most people take refuge from this stress in their homes. But what if your home is an additional source of stress in your life because it is so disorganized? Then you have no refuge and no place to go that feels safe and comfortable. Without some sort of refuge, most of us suffer emotionally and even physically. Having a home that is organized is crucial to your quality of life.”

If you’re ready to stop the madness, accept the error of your ways and make a small change or two (or ten) for the better, you’re going to need some help. Here’s our handy list of easy tools, apps and gadgets that are sure to help anyone organize just about everything in their lives, from the crazy daily chore list to that unruly toaster cord.

Keys

It has been said that the average person spends roughly 10 to 14 minutes every day looking for lost possessions, which equals about one year in the average person’s life spent searching for keys, wallets and remotes. Get back a little of that lost time with this wall-mounted, stainless steel Key Board by Blomus, a hip, modern take on the classic hook.

“Items that we tend to take with us wherever we go need to be stored someplace near the door, because they are frequently the first things we drop off as soon as we walk in and find a flat surface,” says Monroe. “The solution to this is to designate a home for each item and then be diligent about returning each item to its home every day, no exceptions.”

Phone charging station

If you are one of the people constantly fighting the kitchen countertop or desk clutter, the G.U.S. Phone/PDA Charging Station might very well be your answer.

This sleek device charger holds up to three phones, cameras, or other portable devices. Plug them all into a separately purchased 10-inch power strip, which is secretly stowed behind the sliding door. The charger mounts on the underutilized wall space and keeps those dangling cords out of sight.

Family calendar

Whether you have a family of 2 or 10, the award-winning Cozi family organizer will help you coordinate your family’s sporting events, birthday parties, shopping lists, meal plans, doctors’ appointments and more.Cozi is a free app that syncs Outlook calendars with iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys and offers each family member a designated color. The family to-do list feature can accommodate family chores, as well as individual kids’ chores. The family journal feature is akin to a blog to which any family member can add messages and photos.

Grocery shopping

If you don’t need all of the organizing bells and whistles of the Cozi, but do need a little help with grocery shopping, make it fun and uber streamlined.  GroceryIQ is a shopping list and coupon app in one that can be tailored to your favorite stores.

In addition to boasting a database with millions of products, you can simply scan the bar code of an item you are running out of to add it directly to your shopping list. You can even customize your list and sort by aisle, according to your most frequented grocery store’s layout.

Gift giving

Never forget another birthday, wedding or anniversary gift with the help of Karma. This smart little app, recently acquired by Facebook, interfaces with Facebook’s birthday alarm reminder to allow you to send a gift to someone right from the program, even if you don’t know their mailing address. The gifter has the option of sending the receiver a text, email or Facebook message with a card and information about the gift. The receiver inputs her mailing address and, if applicable, color choice and style. The perfect gift is then wrapped and shipped by Karma. Genius.

Gardening

GardenTracker, by Portable Databases, is basically a digital gardening journal on steroids, for us geeky gardening types. In addition to giving you the power to design up to 2,500 square feet of garden space, the app allows you to choose from over 50 preloaded common vegetables and herbs and offers general watering and care information for those plants, including days to harvest, days since you last watered and fertilized. If you don’t see your veggie listed, just snap a photo of the seed packet and easily enter it on your own. Perfect for square-foot gardening.

Pets

If you love your canine, feline or small critter, MyPetEd , is a universal app that holds all of your pet’s vital info, vet appointments, vaccinations, vet contact info and more in one place. Gone are the days of trying to remember where you put the vaccination files before boarding your dog or cat while scrambling to get out of town. The app also gives you interesting articles to read and can even help you find a pet to adopt and a vet in your area.

Electrical Cords

If you’re someone with a few electronics (and we’re guessing you are), your home probably has some tangled, unsightly cords hanging around.

Applecores look like tiny apple cores that enable you to wrap excess cord around them to tidy up a work area. Small, medium and large sizes accommodate everything with a cord from tiny earbuds to toasters. For incredibly easy traveling with your wire, just unplug your earbuds, hair dryer or mobile device (not your toaster) and take them with you all wrapped up.

Receipts

Store away the dust-gathering paper receipts forever. Neat Receipts is a receipt scanner that can also handle those stacks of business cards, vendor receipts and other docs for taxes, rebates, merchandise exchanges and returns, and more.

The super-sensitive character reader extracts the important information and files it away cleanly and safely. The information is searchable by key word on your computer, so you have it all at your fingertips when you need it. The Neat software allows you to export data to PDF, Outlook, Excel, Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax.

Snail mail

Even if you opted out of receiving junk mail and you get most of your statements delivered to you electronically, there’s somehow always still an intimidating stack of papers and mail sneering at you from the corner of the room.

“To organize mail, I recommend everyone purchase an incline file sorter and place it wherever the mail pile tends to accumulate,” says Monroe. “Fill the file sorter with attractive file folders labeled with the action each piece of mail needs.” Monroe says to choose labels that will best suit your own personal needs, but for starters, try “To Be Paid”, “To Be Filed” and “To Be Contacted.” She says to be sure to choose one day a week to go through the sorter and perform the action required of each piece of mail. That way, mail doesn’t sit forgotten in the mail sorter for weeks.

Goal motivation

If your goal is trying to become more organized (yes!), lose weight, quit smoking or all three simultaneously, Streaks, by Fanzter, can help you get there. Streaks will track how many consecutive days it takes to reach a certain goal. The user has to check in daily and, if a single day is missed, the person has to start over at the beginning. The motivational calendar app can keep track of current, past and longest running streaks and is perfect for keeping your goals squarely in your field of vision.