Try to develop efficient organization and storage systems by following these principles of work simplification and energy conservation:
- Store frequently used items, such as pots, pans, and utensils, close to the work area or surface.
- If possible, place supplies and equipment between eye level and hip height to avoid unnecessary bending, reaching and lifting.
- Store heavier items on counter tops or within easy reach.
- Eliminate clutter by removing infrequently used items from the work area.
- Return all equipment and supplies to the appropriate storage area when you finish cooking.
- Whenever possible, avoid lifting or carrying heavy objects.
- Use equipment with wheels, such as shopping, laundry, or microwave carts.
- Push or slide heavy objects along counters or floors.
- Allow sufficient time to perform cooking tasks in order to reduce stress and fatigue. Try to balance work with rest.
Another way to become more organized is to eliminate clutter throughout your home:
- Dispose of older and unwanted clothing and accessories.
- Separate seasonal clothing.
- Dispose of never—or rarely—used household or personal items.
Concentrate on reorganizing clutter-prone areas, including:
- Medicine cabinets
- Kitchen cupboards and surfaces
- Kitchen drawers
- Desks and bookcases
- Workshops and hobby areas
Consider using the following supplies to help you organize and store household and kitchen items:
- Shoe boxes
- Ziploc bags
- Ice cube trays
- Egg cartons
- Film canisters
- Craft boxes
- Fishing tackle boxes
- Multi-drawer hardware storage units
- Aprons with multiple pockets
- Baby food jars/glass jars
- Storage boxes/clothing bags
- "Sock Tuckers" can help sort socks for laundry. You can find these and a variety of other products in Sources of Assistive Products on this web site.
Organizing and Identifying Kitchen Items
There are many different methods for organizing and identifying items in your kitchen:
- By weight: A container of breadcrumbs and a container of powdered drink mix have the same size and shape, but are easily differentiated by weight.
- By location or placement: Try any of the following methods: grouping similar items together, such as fruits, soups, or vegetables; placing frequently-used items toward the front of shelves and cabinets; storing foods or supplies in alphabetical order.
- By sound: Use auditory cues to differentiate items that have the same size, shape, and weight. For example, a can of fruit cocktail sounds very different from a can of tomato paste when shaken.
- By size and shape: A can of tomato paste differs in size and shape from a can of stewed tomatoes.
- You can also label household and kitchen items by using regular household materials or specialty labeling products. You can learn more about labeling techniques and products at Find Labeling Products and Labeling and Marking on this web site.
Organizing Mail, Bills, and Documents
Try some of these organizational hints for mail, catalogs, bills, and documents:
- Identify a trusted friend or family member to help you read and sort your mail.
- Commit to reading, sorting, and filing all new papers once a week or at a regularly-set time.
- Designate a specific drawer in the kitchen or a basket on the counter to hold your mail.
- Create a designated location for pieces of mail that are most likely bills and letters.
- To sort your mail, use file folders in different colors or sizes, giant/medium sized manila envelopes, or in/out stacking trays.
- Larger catalogs and magazines are usually easy to distinguish from regular-sized envelopes.
- Advertisements often come in odd-sized envelopes, but if you are in doubt, place these in the same location as your bills and letters and ask your reader to sort through them with you.
- The choice of system is yours, but try to be consistent when setting up and using whatever mail organization system you select.
- Invest in a simple paper shredder. Shred all "throw-away" documents, especially those that include your name, address, Social Security number, or financial information.
- Shred and purge documents, bills, and papers that are more than seven years old.
- Consider keeping one-of-a-kind documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies, in a locked fire-safe box.
- Give duplicates of important documents to a family member or use a safety deposit box at your bank.
Additional Resources for Household Organization
If you would like additional instruction in household organization techniques, you can contact a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. See Vision Rehabilitation Services on this web site for more information.