Using Amazon.com as an Organizing Tool

Using Amazon.com as an Organizing Tool

Did you know that Amazon.com can be an organizing tool? No, I don’t mean that you can or should buy organizing products there. I mean the site itself. Here are a few ways Amazon makes my life more organized, more systematized, and less cluttered.

Using Amazon.com and Amazon Prime as an Organizing Tool

July 11, 2017 is Amazon Prime Day. Check it out.

It’s hard to remember that Amazon started as an online bookseller back in 1994. I’ll admit, I didn’t jump on the electronic book bandwagon when my own book was published in 2011. It was really only after getting my iPad and downloaded the free Kindle app that I had the ability to read books anywhere. So yes, that means that I don’t own a Kindle, but I read via Kindle on my iPad. Follow that? But I was all in after discovering that my library system had a robust electronic book lending library, which is driven partly by Amazon and uses the Kindle app. Fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles are all accessible with a click. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Save money by accessing all the books that your library allows.

Some of my favorite recent reads are:

And for the kids,

With an Amazon Prime subscription and an actual Kindle device (not just the app), you can use the Kindle Owner’s Library through Amazon Prime to borrow one title a month for free.

Another option for heavy readers is the add-on service called Kindle Unlimited, normally just $9.99 a month. From the Amazon site: Look for days when Prime Members in the U.S. can save big on a Kindle Unlimited membership. Enjoy unlimited reading from over one million titles on any device, including all seven Harry Potter books, the Wayward Pines Trilogy, The Man in the High Castle, the Paper Magician trilogy, over 300 Lonely Planet travel guides, and Kindle Singles from top authors such as Jodi Picoult, Nelson DeMille, and Hugh Howey. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Save money! You practically can’t buy even used books for less than $5 a month.

I like the Kindle First program, where every Amazon Prime member gets to download¬† and own forever one free title from a small group of new books offered on the first of each month. These books are pretty good, or really good in many cases, and just by requesting my free book each month, I’ve built up a little unread library that is perfect to dig into when I’m traveling. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Always have something to read in the airport.

Which underscores the biggest organizing benefit of the Kindle…you can read ALLLLLLL the books, without having to organize them or worry about avoiding late fines at the library. Sure, you can argue that you love the feel of the pages and the smell of the ink, but there’s no denying that it’s easier to travel with 20 books in my iPad than in my suitcase. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Store fewer physical books.

Amazon, however, has gone way beyond books, and evolved into the world’s largest retailer of almost everything, changing the way most of us shop, forever.

When Amazon Prime was introduced, it was touted as a way to avoid shipping fees. Many items are marked with the PRIME icon on screen, and are shipped to you with no fee, usually within 1-2 days.

My favorite thing about Amazon is that their shopping cart knows who you are. That means that you practically never have to make a shopping list again. Assuming that you mostly access the web on a private computer or your mobile device, if you log in once to Amazon, it will remember you. That means the next time you browse to Amazon.com for, say, the newest (and hopefully best) travel pillow, you will see everything else that you’ve recently put in your shopping cart but haven’t bought yet. Your items will stay in your shopping cart indefinitely, until you are ready to check out. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Save time, cut down on errands by putting things in your shopping cart when you think of them, like right after getting out of the shower.

Once you are ready to place your order, if you decide you don’t really want one of the items, you can simply delete it from your cart.

If you decide you want it, but not right now, you can click “save for later,” and it moves to the “save for later” part of your list, while the other items get shipped. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Instant shopping list. You don’t have to remember everything or keep paper scraps with notes of things to buy.

Once you order it, it’s always in your history, so you don’t need to keep the box from an old item to remind you. For instance, my humidifier needs a certain filter. Because it’s in my order history, I only have to scroll back to that item and click “reorder” to get the exact same item next winter. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: No need to save empty boxes to refer to size or specs.

But that’s just the start. A relatively new Amazon Prime benefit is called Prime Photos. If you are already a Prime member, and don’t have any other backup solution for your photos, then definitely start using this ASAP. It’s a good place for a secondary or even third backup of your photos. Remember, there are always risks with digital files, and storing them one more place that is already included in your Prime Subscription is a no-brainer. (Please note that I continue to caution against using “free” cloud services as your only photo backup solution, but it can certainly be part of your solution!) Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Added peace of mind for your photos.

Don’t you love shopping from wedding registries, when you know everything on the list is valued and wanted by the bride and groom? Wouldn’t it be great to do that for yourself? Have you ever wanted to start a birthday list for one of your kids, or maybe a Christmas list for the family? Head to the “Add to List” section you’ll find immediately under the yellow checkout button, and you can create any number of lists for yourself. Then, if you choose, you can email those lists right from Amazon to other people, like grandparents who always want to know what they should buy for your little ones. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: You receive the toys and gifts you really want your kid to have.

These lists are great for all sorts of things. Let’s say you are planning a trip, and you are getting great advice on things that you might want to have for your trip. You can look up all of those items on Amazon, and then add them to your list called Travel List. They will wait patiently for you, even for years, allowing you to add and delete items at will. They even have some helpful starter lists, like that dreaded school supply list! I’ve even started a Favorite Organizing Products List for things that people ask me about all the time. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: These lists become great planning tools.

Amazon is a digital giant, with huge music libraries, so it’s no surprise that you can get your music there. Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Even though most of our music went digital in the last 10 years, a few of my downsizing clients recently were persuaded to toss old scratched albums and fragile cassettes in favor of downloading a quality digital copy if they ever wanted to listen to it again.

Entertainment in general is being simplified with digital and Amazon. Remember when we used to buy entire boxed sets of disks? And before that, VHS tapes? Oh, it hurts to declutter and throw those out. Here’s a better option. Use your Amazon Prime to watch great shows for free. Here are some of my favorites over the last year:

I paid to watch the last season, but now even season 6 of Downton Abbey is free with your Prime Membership.

 

I recently really enjoyed this quirky short series, which gave me a mini-escape to the Greek islands:

Organizing with Amazon Benefit: Save space in your home by not storing outdated media types, and keep them from the landfill.

The last way that Amazon can help you organize is by delivering just what you need, when you need it. Honestly, their options for household necessities are a little confusing, so let me break it down for you.

Prime Pantry lets you order a large mixed box of low priced essentials in everyday sizes delivered to your home for a single low flat rate of shipping (currently $5.99). It also makes reordering your favorites a snap (or a click, as it were).

With Subscribe & Save, you can have your favorite items delivered to your door once a month. You can also save up to 15% on your entire order, enjoy free shipping on each subscription, and cancel anytime.

Amazon Dash for Prime  sends you a literal button to push and magically reorder when you are running low on staples, so you never run out of your favorite products.

Amazon Elements for Prime is Amazon’s own line of everyday essentials with a conscience.

There’s a lot more benefits to Prime, and they are changing all the time, so check out this handy little grid on Everything included in Amazon Prime.

Organizing with Amazon Benefit: put your most important household staples like laundry detergent, diapers and toilet paper on autopilot using one or all of these options.

There’s no word yet on how Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods is going to integrate. Time will tell.

This actually just scratches the surface of the Amazon offerings, many of which are made even more attractive paired with the Prime membership. I’ve found it more and more useful over the years.

But remember three things if you are truly trying to organize:
  1. Just because you get free shipping, doesn’t mean that you should order something new every day. Try to batch your orders together so, if possible, you’ll get fewer cardboard boxes to open and dispose of. Boxes still need to be stacked together, stored, and disposed of with your recycles, whether you have a weekly pickup service or a building trash chute. They can be a big source of clutter!
  2. Just because Amazon is always open doesn’t mean that you should order everything! Don’t browse without a plan and end up with impulse buys. Limit your purchases to what you actually need. Use the 24 hour-rule to make sure you really want new things in your life. (Wait 24 hours before any purchase to decide if you really need it.)
  3. Clothing is a hit-or-miss category online. If you, like me, can’t buy clothes that fit online, limit yourself to categories that are a little less personal, so you aren’t saddled with returns.

This is already disclosed elsewhere on my site, but if you happen to click the link below to shop or purchase a Prime membership, I may be compensated, but you don’t pay more for all the great advice and tips here. I’d love to hear how you use Amazon and Amazon Prime in the comments below.

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