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Easy Does It
If you don't have the time (or the will) to overhaul your home, don't panic. When you've got 15 minutes to spare, just tackle one of these quick organizing tasks -- that's all the time it takes to feel more put-together.
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This first step might seem almost too obvious, yet sometimes even making the bed can seem daunting. With Martha's advice, you can become an expert at the single thing that makes your bedroom look and feel twice as clean in one fell swoop. It's never too late to learn hospital corners!
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Purge Your Closet
There's no better time to clean out your closet than at the turn of the season. Follow the golden rule of closet organization: If you haven't worn it in a year, you probably won't wear it again. Quickly survey the closet, and bag all of your unwanted and unworn clothes for donation. Set aside those that have tears or missing buttons for our next tip.
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Tackle Your Fashion Fix-Its
Gather up your out-of-commission clothes (missing buttons, minor tears, etc.) and finally repair them so you can get them back into your wardrobe rotation. Learn how to patch holes, mend seams, and sew hems here.
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Don't let your sheet sets get lost in the linen closet. Instead, try this simple trick: Tuck a complete sheet set inside one of its pillowcases, and then stack according to size (twin, full, queen, king) or by the room you use the sheets in (master bedroom, guest room).
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Mini Medicine-Cabinet Makeover
Sure, it’s important to have remedies on hand for colds and minor cuts and scrapes, but if the kids are in junior high and you still have teething gel, it's time to toss it -- same goes for those prescription pills from 1997. Put all cabinet contents on the counter and toss anything expired or unnecessary. Then give the shelves a quick wipe-down and replace your essentials, putting daily-use items (like floss and moisturizer) front and center.
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Restock the Toilet Paper
There's no worse time to discover that there's no spare toilet paper than -- well, you know when. Do yourself and your guests a favor by storing at least two rolls on standby near the toilet in each bathroom (beautifully contained in a tall glass vase), and stock a few more under the sinks.
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Reclaim Your Refrigerator
If an unidentifiable funky smell hits you every time you open the fridge, then it's time to do some tossing. Remove and bag all items that are past their prime, then immediately throw them in the trash outside. Wipe the shelves, drawers, and door with a mix of hot water and baking soda. Let dry, and then breathe in a fresh fridge once again.
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Sort Your Mail
File your stack of mail into four categories: bills, subscriptions, invitations, and, for everything else -- miscellaneous. If you're feeling ambitious, pay the bills and renew the subscriptions now. If not, you've just made it that much easier to tackle it later or find them more easily on due dates. Keep the invitations on hand for our next tip.
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No one wants to be that wedding or dinner party guest who forgets to respond, forcing the host to hound them when she's got a million other things to do. Check your calendar and take care of all your invite responses now so they don't slip later. Once you've made the phone calls, sent the emails, and stamped the response-card envelopes, note the dates in your calendar that you've commited to -- and look forward to some partying!
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Make a Note of Birthdays
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Take Care of Returns
Do you have purchases or gifts that you need to exchange or return? Don't lose out by forgetting to take them back. Gather the items (and the corresponding receipts) and place them in a shopping bag by the front door so you can grab and go the next time you're running errands.
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If you're constantly forgetting the passwords for your online accounts, now is the time to set up an easy system to access them.
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Corral the Remotes
Go around any room with a television in it and gather all the remotes. If you don't already have a holder in each room for them, designate something now. Choose a pretty box, a small bin, or decorative tray -- basically anything that can be repurposed as a remote holder -- and the family will have a place to return the remotes to each time.
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Stock a Car Kit
Prepare for roadside emergencies by creating a car kit with paper towels, a first-aid kit, an auto fire extinguisher, duct tape, a flat-repair kit, bungee cords, flares, jumper cables, and other necessities. Also consider packing a messenger bag with bottled water, granola bars, a blanket, and warm clothing, in case of a breakdown.
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This quick trick is great for amassing receipts, tickets, and other important documents. Just attach envelopes with glue or double-sided tape to the inside of notebooks or datebooks to help keep must-keep papers on hand.