Sometimes I read tips by the upper echelon of organizers (you know, the ones Oprah made famous, or who’ve written best-selling books) and I think, “Hmm. That doesn’t seem very practical to me.”

Just because “So-And-So” says it’s a great idea doesn’t automatically make it the right  solution for you. There are no cookie-cutter answers – at least there shouldn’t be. What works for one person might not work for another, and a good organizer should be able to help figure out a solution for you based on your needs, your style, and your stuff.

A recent tip in an online newsletter suggested this way for dealing with receipts:

To organize receipts, a simple, low-tech solution is to use two bankers’ spikes. Get in the habit of cleaning receipts out of your wallet or purse daily. Place receipts on one of the spikes as they come in. When one spike is full, start the other. If you haven’t needed any of the receipts by the time you fill up the second spike, throw out everything on the first spike.

First of all, I would never recommend banker’s spikes in a household with small children or pets. Those things could be lethal in the wrong hands!

Secondly, not all receipts are created equal. Receipts for consumables that cannot be returned? I get rid of them once I’ve verified that the right amount showed up on my credit card. It’s not like I can return the gas I put in my tank or get a refund on the pizza from last month, right? BUT. What about the receipt for patio furniture that has a 10-year warranty? Just because I might not need it by the time the second spike is full doesn’t mean that I won’t need it three years from now if a leg falls off my table.

Do you want to rifle through all your receipts when reconciling one credit card statement – you do reconcile your credit card statement, don’t you? – or would it be helpful to separate them by each credit or debit card used?

I’m also not a big fan of this oft-repeated tip about kitchen utensils: expandable utensil drawer

Not sure what you use and what you don’t in your kitchen? Here is a tried and true way to find out. Empty the contents of your kitchen utensils drawer into a cardboard box. For one month, put a utensil back into the drawer only if you take it out of the box to use it. If it’s still in the box after four weeks—you don’t need it. Pass it on to charity.

What about my turkey baster? Or the whisk I use for hollandaise sauce? I don’t use those things monthly or even quarterly – but I use them. I think a more practical way to thin down your utensil drawer is to sort “like with like.” Once you realize that you have seven spatulas, you might decide that you can whittle it down to four. If you’re an avid baker, you may need more measuring spoon sets than I do – one set is plenty for me.

Go ahead and read those tips, but if they don’t seem logical or practical, no matter who’s offering the advice, maybe “Because I said so…” isn’t a good enough reason to incorporate it into your daily routine.


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