IntroductionFor millions, including this author, organizing things at home, to eliminate search time, is a huge work in progress. This often happens due to laziness. It also happens because even if our life partner is as careless as we are in this vital aspect of living. Yet, we all need to use our common sense and learn from others who are very effective. The six practical tips are a) have a drawer for keeping essential things b) Index vital files c) Have a separate shelf for vital documents d) Give children their own spaces e) Go in for space saving wooden furniture and f) Always maintain a diary of expenses. g) Throw out unwanted things.
Have a drawer for keeping essential thingsA simple three drawer wooden cupboard, customized to occupy little space, is the best. This should always be kept in the main bedroom. When building the house, it should be ensured that the hall is small, but the bedroom is big enough. As a thumb rule, the main bedroom should be at least double of the hall. This is absolutely essential, as all the confidential things are talked only in the bedroom and the ATM cards, as well as the dairy-containing Net banking passwords, is stored only in this place. In the first drawer, one should always keep watches, ATM cards, cell phones and in the second drawer, laptops. This should be religiously followed. If your wife is very good at organizing, you can escape all the scolding if you are a bit more careful in this respect. Please note that this cupboard should not be kept in the hall. Once we follow very strict discipline, things will fall in place.
Index vital files Files having details of investment made, original documents relating to birth, educational qualifications, experience and so on, should compulsorily be indexed. It should be known to all so that in our absence, any of our family members can access these documents if there is any need. Indexing the vital files will save a huge amount of money in searching for the files and also enable the family members to know everything that is vital. For example, once the son or daughter reaches the age of 16, he or she should be compulsorily educated about such documents. There could be a financial crisis in the family. We might have to mortgage the house property to get a loan. In such cases, grown-up children should be part of the entire process of making the arrangements.
Have a separate shelf for vital documents In several houses, the biggest mistake is made when the bookshelf of the children also doubles up as the place containing all original documents, keys of safety lockers and so on. This is very unwise. Children are children. They might pour ink or even coffee on such documents. Till they reach the age of sixteen, the children need not know anything. It is absolutely essential that a separate shelf ( preferably wooden) is devoted for this purpose and everything should be kept under lock and key. This cupboard should never be kept near any electrical point. This is because there could be a fire accident due to a short circuit, and the documents could be gone. This is exactly why, when they go out station, the intelligent family members put off the mains. They would empty the refrigerator, as it can be put on fresh when they enter the home after their stay in other places.
The keys to this vital cupboard should be known only to the wife or the husband.
Give children their own spaces In 2019, we already have only nuclear families with just one child, in most cases. It is fine if the child is given a small room with all amenities for himself or herself after she reaches the age of eight. Even younger children can be given such a space so that they learn how to become independent from a very young age. This will also make them more responsible and they will not bring their school books, notebooks and so on, to the other places where the vital documents are kept. Children are themselves highly individualistic these days. Giving them the physical space to grow is just in order to satisfy their urge to become independent.
Go in for space saving wooden furniture It is not without reason that Mumbai is the best city to live in India. Even 500 square foot houses look like 1400 square foot houses. One has to understand how it happens. The answer lies in the space-saving furniture that is part of every Mumbai household. Everything is made of wood. Even the main doors have slits that store cups and saucers!! One has to learn about such space saving furniture, given that flats and apartments are the only way of life in most cities.
Always maintain a diary of expenses How will you what to buy and not to buy, if you do not have a record of expenses? Once we have a record, we can know what exactly we have spent and then go about systematically organizing things that we have or provide for space for things that we need to buy. This becomes essential even in matters concerning children. For example, some children have a tendency of overstating the requirement of notebooks. We ought to understand that this can cause huge constraints on space. When we do a reality check we will notice that the need is actually far lesser than what was projected. This also becomes essential to make the children know that we are keeping a tab on whatever they are doing.
Throw out unwanted things Stale vegetables, unused groceries, old papers that have no utility ( like for example, the receipts pertaining to some life insurance policy that has already matured and cash accrued in our bank accounts), should be mercilessly thrown out. The "will do it tomorrow" attitude is the main culprit. The time to act is now. We will find space only if we act fast and immediately.
Conclusion Everything is based on common sense in this world. Organizing things at home is also one such. We should remember that we need to use only this common sense to the maximum extent to make our lives that much more easy and manageable. The aforesaid things have all been drawn from real life experiences. It is always a work in progress.
The importance of organisation at home would be realised only when we search for bills before filing our tax returns or when we misplace an ID proof and it's getting late for work or a train journey etc. All it needs is a little time and planning to avoid delays and arguments.
Apart from what the author has already mentioned, I would like to add the following points-
1) A separate file be maintained for the home needs like gas booking, telephone bills, maintenance, water, electricity bills, monthly payments made, milk and groceries etc. This can be accessed easily without needing to disturb the rest of the vital documents.
2) In addition to giving children their space, we need to get them involved in organizing the house. Taking them along to the bank or to pay our utility bills etc will give them first-hand knowledge of handling such things.
Here I would like to add that harmful chemicals should be kept under lock and key especially if there are toddlers at home to avoid accidental ingestion and the potential risk to the young lives.
3) Expenses dairy is very important to know how much we spend. It brings in discipline and adjust our finances to our actual needs. When we need to stretch the budget in a specific month, this record comes useful to wean out unwanted or non-mandatory expenses.
It would be worth mentioning in this connection that we are living in the digital era. We have many valuable tools like portable storage disks, pen drives, cloud storage etc all of which can be put into use. Important documents listed above need to be scanned and stored in duplicate. Memories of children, family events etc can be stored. Old family photographs can be digitalised and stored. One set of documents can be loaded into a pen drive and carried during travel for emergency access and use. There a virtual digital vaults that are available for online storage or we can invest usefully in a couple of 2TB storage device.
It's very important to have an organised home. It becomes a mess up when things are not kept in order at home. I would recommend a few points apart from the points mentioned by the author:
1. Use walls. Normally we don't use the walls of the house. We can hang canvas bins from hooks, either in a row or grid pattern, to free up space on the floor to keep books, magazines or another item in it.
2. Teach your kids about organising the home. Give kids their own alarm clocks and the checklists of things they need to do before going to school. That will make them more responsible and help you to organise things at home.
3. Teach the "One In, One Out" rule. You should teach your kid that at a time he or she should take out one toy from the shelf and put it back before taking out another one.
4. Utilize Dead Space Over the Door. You may hang towels or clothes at the back of the doors by using hook rods.