You may be scrambling around trying to find all of your paperwork for your 2011 taxes. Why not plan ahead for next year’s taxes now. I’m sure you already have paperwork coming at you that you have to keep for 2012. It’s not too early to determine a home for your 2012 receipts to live in for the year.
Second to junk mail, gift cards are one of the things that drive me nuts! You’re probably wondering why I would feel that way. They seem like such a great idea for the person that has everything or the person that you’re not quite sure what to buy.
Now that all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas has passed, take the time to prepare for next year’s Christmas by:
Don’t you just love those TV shows about organizing and home make-overs where the house or office is completely transformed in a matter of 30 minutes or so? Unfortunately, organizing someone’s entire space for them and all at once does not work. At least not for any length of time.
If you’re like most of us, you’re spending the day today with family and friends if you’re lucky. Everyone has eaten more than their stomach could bear and now they’re kicked back with their feet up, and their shoes off, relaxing. Well tomorrow will be a completely different story if you plan to start or finish your Christmas shopping on Black Friday. Here are a few tips to get you through it.
A very big part of getting, and staying organized, is weeding constantly – everywhere. Rather than looking at your entire house or entire office and thinking how you have to weed all of it, break it down into manageable pieces. This way you can tackle it in little bits rather than thinking you have to give up an entire day to weed out unwanted stuff.
Did you know that 80% of a recently polled group said that they ate dinner at home just 3 or fewer times last week! I’ve got a hunch that not having the time, or taking the time, to do meal planning may play an important role in that.
The first step in getting organized is to determine what your vision is for the space or system you are working on. My vision for the junk drawer is to be able to quickly find what I need, quickly retrieve it and quickly return it so I can easily find it next time I need it.
A big part of getting organized is determining the zones for each area you are working in and then only allowing those things that belong in that zone to live there. What do I mean by zones?
Happy Wednesday everyone! Today is a great day to review the goals and plans you had for this week (hopefully you jotted them down somewhere—and can find them) and see how you’re doing on them.
We’re expecting a big storm in St Louis today. This is another situation where it pays to be organized and all it takes is a little planning ahead.
- Make sure your wiper washer fluid and gas tank is full in your car.
- Keep an ice scraper, bag of kitty litter (for traction in case you car get stuck) and blanket in your car.
- Have a snow shovel and salt handy.
- Have a well-stocked refrigerator.
It’s not too early to start getting the paperwork together that you need for taxes. If you have been using a FreedomFiler, your tax papers are already together for you.
I’ve been spending alot of time working on next year’s budget, marketing strategies and business plan. To be honest, it’s a lot of work. Most of my fellow small business owners are doing the same thing.
As a small business owner there are so many things to keep track of for your taxes. One of which is keeping track of your mileage. It can be a struggle to make sure it is tracked and documented all year. Either you forget to mark it down, you forget to bring a piece of paper to mark it on, or you lose the paper you marked it on.
Do you have gift cards, coupons and frequent buyer cards scatterred throughout your home or office? Do you miss great deals and savings by never having them with you when you need them? If so, here’s the solution; the Card Cubby.
Getting organized is a very detailed process that can be accomplished very simply if you have the ability to break things down into manageable chunks, and not look at the big picture.
If you take the time this morning to map out a plan for the week, you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you’ll be. It will only take you about 15 minutes. Think about what goals you want to (need to) accomplish this week. Then schedule or plan time in your calendar to get those things done. You will be the most successful if you tackle the toughest things first. It’s also good to plan a reward for yourself such as telling yourself after I work on this project for 2 hours, I will get my favorite coffee from Starbucks. Let me know how you do.
As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I have the opportunity to chat and learn from other Professional Organizers all over the country. This recent post by Robin Harisis of Room Service Personal Organizing in New York really caught my attention. She was able to capture exactly what I try to share with Moms in such a perfect way. With her permission, I am copying it here.
I live an organized life because I like a sense of calm. I want to feel comfortable if guests drop by unannounced. I want to find my phone and my keys instantly. I want to put my hands on a much-needed document at a moment’s notice. I want to locate the perfect outfit in my closet. I want to grab all of the ingredients for my dinner recipe. And I want to do all of these things (and more) easily, quickly and in a relaxed manner.
It’s not too early to begin preparing for the holidays. As a matter of fact, it’s a fantastic idea to get started now before the stress and rush of the holidays is upon us. Here are a few things you can do in advance to get a head start on things:
As much as we all hate to admit it, here in St Louis, winter is coming. Take this weekend to prepare.
- Disconnect hoses and store them for the winter.
- Turn off outside water supply.
- Cover or put away patio furniture and decor.
- Get lawnmower tuned up and prepared for next season.
- Find snow shovel and put it in an easy to reach/find location.
- Clear garage so that you can park in it for the winter.
- Fill windshield washer fluid in car.
- Make sure you have a windshield scraper.
Did you know that each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s one million tons of extra household trash is generated every week? Here are some great green suggestions for wrapping and packaging to cut down on the excess trash.
What little area in your home or office is so disorganized that it’s really creating havoc in your life? Why not tackle it this weekend? Here are some little projects you should be able to complete in 3 hours or less. And by taking the time now to tackle those areas, it will save you time and stress in the future.
Have you ever wondered where you would find a fork, or where the fork should go when you’re finished with it? I doubt it. That’s because the fork has been assigned a home in your house. Getting organized simply means finding a home for everything, so that you can find it as easily as finding a fork, when you need it. And you know exactly where it goes when you’re finished with it.
Goal setting is very important. And putting your goals down on paper can’t be stressed enough. Until you take the time to MAP out your goals, they won’t become a reality. Because we are creatures of nature, we normally spend our days doing the same things over and over. Once our goals are written down, and then broken down into manageable steps, we can begin to take action on them.
Preparing for a move is the key to a successful, stress-free move. You can begin preparing months before you move by determining what items you know you won’t use before you move and packing those right away.
So many people ask me if my home looks perfect because I am a professional organizer. The answer is a resounding no. Being organized, and functioning efficiently, does not have to look perfect, it just has to work. The bottom line is that you take the time to assign a place for everything to live. That way you know where it goes when it comes in, and you know where to find it when you need it. Eventually it becomes second nature and you don’t have to even give it a thought. Getting organized reduces your stress, increases your productivity and gives you peace of mind to name just a few of the benefits.
- Use only one calendar. If I were only allowed to offer one time management tip, this would rank high on the list. It is imperative that you combine all of the sports schedules, school schedules, social schedules, daycare schedules, etc onto one calendar. This way you can readily see well in advance any scheduling conflicts that you may have and you can address those immediately AND it allows you to discard that big pile of paper schedules that you normally have to shuffle through.
- Plan and lay outfits out the night before. This also helps to cut the anxiety level down in the morning for everyone! I know with two daughters, we had several outfit changes before they were happy each evening. Imagine if all of that took place in the morning!
- Go through book bags the night before. Set up a time each evening to go through bookbags, review and sign everything and then place them by the door. We usually did this after dinner & washing dishes each evening. Be sure to merge any new or changed activities to your calendar immediately.
- If you have a few extra minutes, leave early. One of the biggest mistakes people make is they have a few minutes left before they have to leave and so they decide to do one more thing before they go. Avoid this trap if at all possible. One more thing NEVER gets done in those few minutes and almost always results in you rushing out the door late.
Routines and habits can help us live a more ordered, effortless life which ultimately cuts down on our stress level too. Your children will learn these valuable habits from watching you and will ultimately be able to carry these same habits through life with them as well. As a single parent for most of my children’s school years, I can attest to the value of these much needed time management tips.
- Plan for the unexpected. As a rule, have your children arise 15 minutes earlier than normal every day. This extra time allows the children to wake up and prepare for school in a more relaxed way which ultimately will send them out of the door more prepared to learn & face the day. This also is an added cushion in case little Suzie spills koolaid on her school outfit and you need to quickly change her or Billy suddenly remembers there is one more paper he needs help with.
- Prepare the night before. One of the most valuable tools I taught my children was to always put their bookbags and other school items by the front door the night before. This way we were never running around frantically in the morning trying to collect not only their book bags, but everything that goes in them. We just casually grabbed their bags as we walked out the door.
- Plan and pack your lunch the night before. If you plan and pack your lunches the night before you can just grab those as well on your way out. The other big reward of doing it this way is that it adds a nice and relaxed time for the family to “hang out” together and have fun preparing the lunches together. As your children are eating their lunch at school, they’ll be reminded of the time you spent together preparing them.
I bought my house 3 years ago. There are two trees in the front yard that have been growing very haphazardly the entire time I’ve lived there. They look very messy and unkept. I finally tackled the trees this weekend and trimmed out all of the branches that were growing between other branches, going in the wrong direction or were too low. When I was finished, both trees looked like they had taken on a new life and a new direction. Finally free of the cluttered branches that weren’t serving them, and were actually harming them, they will now be able to grow stronger and more healthy.
If you are a small business owner like me, chances are that you wear many different hats. You are the sales person, the marketing person, the administrative person, the research person and the person that goes out on the job. With so many tasks to manage, it is very important to plan your week, to allow time for you to work in the various roles. It is equally important to come up with systems and procedures of how and when you will execute each task.
There’s no denying it, every school year starts off the same; an overwhelming amount of paperwork is brought into your home from school within the first few days. If you make plans now for how you are going to deal with it, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is.
- Leave your schedule open. Don’t make any plans for the first week. You can count on making a trip to get school supplies you didn’t know they would need. You’ll need time to deal with the paperwork and to discuss school rules, etc with your children.
- Use one central calendar for everything. Take time within the first week to merge the various school schedules onto the central calendar, and then toss or recycle the individual schedules. These schedules might include sports, lunch, days off, picture days, etc.
- Prepare for the paperwork. Gather insurance cards, immunization records and emergency contact information before school begins. This way you’ll be prepared to complete the paperwork when it arrives and get it back to school.
- Designate a place for school papers to land. It’s important to have a central location where all of the paperwork that needs your attention will land each day. Make sure your children are aware of the plan and that they know what they need to do.
When you stop to think about how much time you waste (lose) searching for things, and the amount of stress it causes, you will understand the value of taking the time to get things organized. You will gain back the time you spent getting organized in no time, and you will save lots more time and stress on top of that!
As I’ve mentioned before, getting organized and dieting, or eating healthy, have alot in common. A big part of being successful in both areas is taking the time to make a plan. Once you take the time to make the plan, the execution is much simpler. Here are some healthy back to school tips from Dr Matt Wheeler with Corrections Chiropractics (You can sign up for their e-newsletter which always features lots of simple healthy tips.):
Recycling doesn’t end when you put your recyclables at the curb. If you follow the tips provided by the St Louis County Health Department listed below, you can make a positive difference:
Being more productive at home just takes planning. If you take the time to map out your day in advance, you will get so much more accomplished, and you will have more time to spend doing the things you love to do.
If you want to be more productive at work, it takes planning. What do I mean by planning to be more productive? That means taking the time in advance to:
- Determine every task, paper or project that comes across your desk.
- Establishing a home for each task, paper or project. This is where it will live until you have the time to work on it.
- Do like things with like things. Make all of your phone calls at once, pay all of your bills at once, etc.
- Create a schedule for when the work will be done. Normally tackling the biggest project, or the thing you dread the most, first thing in the morning when your energy level is at it’s highest, is best.
- Combine tasks. Is there a way to get two things completed at the same time?
- Clear your desk at the end of each day so that when you return in the morning you will start your day feeling inspired and motivated, rather than overwhelmed.
Being overweight is a daily downer; your clothes don’t fit, you don’t feel good physically or mentally and you have less energy than you would otherwise. Unfortunately, I know this first hand.
I am so excited to have Simplified Living Solutions and my tips included in a back to school article for getting kids out the door on She Knows.Com. Raising two children as a single parent, I saw the benefits first-hand of being organized and having plans in place to simplify everyday activities, reduce the stress and keep things running smoothly.
If you don’t believe that you can be taught organizing skills, think again. My oldest daughter (23) was recently preparing for a trip out of town. She began planning (organizing) for the trip about 2 weeks ahead of time by starting a list of things she needed to bring or do before the trip. She had learned these organizing skills by living with me. Some of the skills were taught and some of them she just observed me doing. As a professional organizer, I got such a kick out of her list that I just had to share her outline.
- Things I need to do before I go. This included such things as laundry, buy film, get passport.
- Things I need to pack. This included clothes, jewelry, make-up, etc.
- Things I shouldn’t pack. These were the items that she would be wearing or needed to use the day of her flight. She would pack them after she got ready in the morning.