At a class last week, a participant asked: What can you suggest for organizing my car?
A little background on the participant – she is a busy teacher and mom. She reports to being in her car up to 3 hours a day, with getting her kids to school and daycare, helping out her own mother and commuting to and from work. Plus, she and her husband are a one-car family, so she and her car really do get a workout!!
And I appreciate her honesty. The first thing she did when she parked next to my car in the lot was to look in my windows, to see if I was truly organized. Everyone does, I like that she admitted it!
So, what can I suggest? Here goes….
Start with a clean car. Check out this blog I wrote on Organizing Your Car, outlining the basics of cleaning and clearing out your car. Schedule an hour this week to get this done.
I think this participant was really asking for higher level organizing ideas, to make the process run more smoothly. So, once the car is clean, how do we keep it clean and uncluttered, and streamline our commuting process?
Keep it uncluttered:
- Establish a place in your car for your vitally important pieces, like your cell phone and wallet or purse. Every time I get in the car, my purse goes in the exact same place.
- Make sure to keep your purse or wallet off the empty passenger seat beside you, for safety’s sake and to discourage smash and grabs while stopped at stoplights.
- Commit to emptying your car every day. Keep things moving in and out of the car. Trash, clothes, paper, outerwear, sports gear, whatever. Your car is for transportation, not long term storage.
- If you have stuff to pick up or drop off to other locations today, make a list and keep the list visible. Better yet, keep the items visible if you can, like in the foot well of the passenger seat.
Streamline the Commuting process:
- Keeping the car and commute simplified starts inside the house, at your back (or side) door.
- Near your door, set up a Staging Area, a flat space for your items staged to leave. Line up briefcases, and handbag, errand bag, school backpacks, activity bags, etc.
- Keep activity gear in specific bags, like band instrument and music in it’s own bag, or the softball gear for practice, to encourage your family members to get their stuff and in out of the car. If your child is old enough to be in an organized activity, they are old enough to carry their own bag and be encouraged to help out. (I say this, and yes, my sons still forget stuff. We are human and we are working on it!)
- I always have an “errand bag” hanging by the door for receipts and return items, mail for the post office, library books or other items to drop off with friends around the neighborhood. I add to the bag inside the house as things come up, and then take it with me when I run my errands.
- Check your schedule the night before and in the morning, make sure you have what you need, and make sure the Staging Area is clean (meaning everything is loaded) when you leave the house in the morning.
- Don’t load items you need right away into the trunk or back of the car, for fear of forgetting them back there!
- If you run errands for others, try different colored shopping bags for each destination.
- When you or your passengers leave the car, listen to the flight attendants in your head. “Secure your tables? No. “Restore your seats to the upright and locked position?” Well, no, not really. I meant “check under your seats and around you for your personal items, and make sure to take everything with you when you go.” Create a verbal check list / chant for everyone: “coat, backpack, lunch, coat, backpack, lunch…” or whatever works for you.
- When you pick up, repeat the chant so bags and outerwear come home from work or school, and repeat the chant again when you get back home, to bring everything back inside the house!
So, I guess the moral of today’s blog is to clear out your car, and then focus on the commute process to make things run more smoothly! See you on the streets!