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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Creating Efficiency in the Car

I don't know about you, but I spend a tremendous amount of time in the car. I don't use a cell phone in the car as others do in the name of getting things done and efficiency. When I'm out, I want to be phone-free and computer-free. I much prefer to listen to the radio, talk with my kids and their friends who are along for the ride, and simply concentrate on driving.

This year I've created a "Car Office" and a month into the new school year I am happy to say that it is working well.

What should everyone have in their car office:

A File Cabinet: When Office Depot was running a 100% Worklkife Rewards promotion on plastic file boxes with a nice closed caddy on top, I picked one up to complete my "car office." I immediately hung hanging folders and put in files for things I need to keep organized in the car. I have folders for client errands. I also have folders for each type of coupon circular. I no longer cut coupons I might use because it was no longer efficient for me. I now cut just the coupons I plan to use right there in my car and when the coupons in the circular expire, into the trash bag they go (yes, I should probably have a trash bag and a bag for recycling. There is always room to improve). I have folders for Groupons, Smart Source, Red Plum, Random Stuff, and P&G.

Plastic Bags: These are great for throwing away dirty trash when you are out. They hang nicely on the hooks for garbage bags. Next step: encouraging the kids to use them better. One of my 5 minute tasks I like to go is purge the car every other week of any trash including work they brought home but didn't really value enough to get inside the house. I'm not the most sentimental type. A few art projects can be retained and notebooks that are valuable. The rest can't take space up. . . especially not car space!

Office Supplies: In the caddy at the top of my file cabinet are some office supplies. I keep additional supplies in one compartment in the car. I have a pair of scissors, especially important for last second coupon cutting. I have a few pens. I keep a stack of business cards around. I'd be remiss without a roll of tape and some sticky notes. Keeping office supplies nearby is important for me to function optimally. I used to have an open box which was easy to access, but the kids would "borrow" and I could never find what I needed when I needed it. Plus, it created more cleaning work.

A Binder: My binder fits in the file cabinet nicely. I like to have some paper (contained in the binder) for jotting down thoughts and ideas that come to me and making lists. The binder is great to store things that I use so often that I don't want to play with file folders. Things like a school calendar, a phone list, etc are all in my binder.

Rubbermaid Box: I'm the type of mom that cannot get out the door with a the things I need. A rubbermaid box is my friend. In it I keep things I won't get out the door with but that I should have. The rubbermaid box is a great place to keep some warm blankets for the winter when the kids are freezing and the heat hasn't kicked in yet. It is a great place to keep a change of clothing for kids that might need one. It is a great place to keep a soccer ball, some coloring books, and some small games for when we are stuck on an errand. I probably should add a first aid kit too.

GPS: Goodbye piles of maps and yellow pages. This is an amazing invention! Try to nab an inexpensive one. You don't need to pay retail.

Other Nice Things to Have: A few CDs, a tehillim/bencher/siddur, a little extra change, a few toiletries, some plastic silverware and a can opener.

Please share your "car office" tips. I know I'm not the only parent trying to make my carpools the most efficient possible.


Caroline said...

Here's a tip I learned from one of the home organization TV shows: every time you put gas in your car, take the time RIGHT THEN to throw away the garbage in your car. There's even a trashcan right there by the gas pump!

It's not an office tip, but it will keep your car clean. :)

tesyaa said...

My kids are bigger and I don't spend as much time in the car as I used to, and I've never had a need for a car office. But how could you not mention a roll of paper towels?? Almost everything else I need fits in the glove compartment (insurance cards, pens, maps - yes I still use them).

Also, I can't imagine giving my kids blankets to warm up with if the car is cold (isn't that why they have down jackets??), BUT they'd be super useful in case of a breakdown in winter or getting stuck in snow. You'd be better off in an emergency than I would, I concede.

JS said...

How do you have any room left over for people! :)

My car essentials are far more limited. I have a flashlight, a first aid kit, jumper cables, jack, tire iron, and a spare tire, and snow brush in the winter.

Anonymous said...

Although the stuff that you list for the kids are great ideas, I like to keep the adult stuff to the bare necessities (flashlight, tissues, 1 bottle of water, gps, umbrella and ice scraper in the trunk, some cd's) since I like to keep the car free of extra stuff and have a small car. Anything I might read or work on while stuck in the car waiting usually would be in my purse or briefcase. If I ever got an ipad or kindle or similar devise that would be a great space-saving way to get more work done or have something to read, but I don't want to pay for one . . . yet. Alas, I don't have a smart phone either.

KatieL said...

A few packaged snacks that won't go stale, water bottles and some children's pain medication with dozing cup. Also, the snacks go in the trunk , out of kid's sight, only for emergencies.

Ezzie said...

If you have an Android phone and a good data plan, DON'T get a GPS. Buy a good dock for $25 that is meant for your phone and use Google Navigation. It's a built in GPS that works exactly like a GPS, but also shows you traffic, etc.

People who get in my car and then see my pull down my "GPS" at the end are surprised and then realize "Oh, that was your phone? Wow."

Worth paying the extra money for a better phone just for that, let alone other features.

Anonymous said...

I recommend keeping spare sunglasses in the glove compartment for you and your passengers. Having to squint into glaring sun for extended periods will ruin a ride and is harmful for the eyes.

JRKmommy said...

A few bottles of water and some non-perishable kosher snacks are important.

If you ever have a breakdown or get stuck, they can save your life.

I like to always have a water available while driving, because a dehydrated driver is a drowsy driver.

Having basic snacks (granola bars, Slimfast, etc.) on hand also eliminates impulse junk purchases, and tames wild hungry children. I've also found it useful for those times that I'm running late to an appointment, or travelling some place without readily available decent kosher food.

Bara said...

My most used item in my car is a refill bag of baby wipes. Not a box, it dryes out. Also i make sure to have a big box (costco) of chewy granola bars. We started that after the kids wanted to give something to homeless people waiting at intersections. I do not give out money but the bars seem to be appreciated.

Amital said...

I love baby wipes, too. A stocked diaper bag is a necessity for me, but wipes come in handy even with only the bigger kids. For the younger set, I keep an extra booster for picking up friends and a stroller.

For everyone, I would add an old cell phone in case of emergency (you can always dial 911) and a list of emergency contacts. If something happened to your phone and/or you (God forbid!), these things could be so important!

I need to get a first aid kit. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

How about a first aid kit for when all that junk goes flying and hits someone G-d Forbid?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

The contents of my car are quite staggering:

EMT Basic life support + oxygen
Semi-automatic Defibrillator
Portable stretcher
Bullet proof vest (level IV)
Extra long clip containing 35 9mm bullets
CD collection
automatic tefillat haderech player

However, one of the most useful things in the glove compartment is a spare kippa. You never know when someone needs to borrow one...(including kids who might lose one out the window)