The Organized Tool Box
Are you always digging around for the right tool? Hammers abound, but why are the flat-edge screwdrivers always missing? Wouldn't it be great to have everything in an easy-to-find space? Here are some steps and tips to get you on your way.
Step 1: Inventory.
First, start by gathering all your tools. Make a list of the locations where you found your tools. Garage, kitchen, basement, car, truck? Lay them all out on a bedsheet or blanket. Sort them by type to get an idea of how many different kinds of tools you have.
Next, examine each tool and decide what to keep.
Tips For Organizing Your Monthly Bills And Paperwork
Do you get hit with late fees because you forget to pay your bills on time? Do you constantly waste time searching for that cable bill you left somewhere in the house? Spend an hour organizing your personal bills and papers now, and this will save you time and frustration in the future. Plus, this helps make tax time easier because you already have everything in one place.
First of all, have a place where you sort your mail every day. Junk mail gets trashed or recycled right away. Magazines and catalogs should go in a rack to read later. Open your bills, make a note of the due date and immediately put them on your desk in a small file until you write the check. A small letter file that sits on your desk works well- no need to buy any fancy tickler file unless you think that will work better for you.
It's best to start in January, but you can begin to set up your filing system at any time during the year. Use a filing cabinet or plastic storage box to store all your files. I prefer a plastic file box because at year end I can carry it to the basement to store with other old records.
If you have more than 10 bills a month, use a separate manila folder for each company you write a check to. I prefer to use the manila file jackets instead because they have closed sides that prevent small receipts from falling out and getting lost.
Create a folder for Miscellaneous for those people or companies you only pay once or twice each year, such as insurance or magazine subscriptions. You can also use this folder to keep those occasional letters you need to write during the year but don't know where to file them.
Make a folder for bank statements and another one labeled "For income taxes." As you pay a bill that can be deducted on your tax return (such as real property tax or medical bills), file it in this folder instead of your paid bills file. Name one folder "Investments" for any paperwork that comes regarding your 401(k) or IRA during the year.
If you pay less than 10 checks a month, you don't need a separate folder for each company-you can manage with only one file folder for all of your bills for the whole year.
Keep all your paycheck or direct deposit stubs in an envelope or folder, newest one on top. I use a regular letter envelope for mine, and always keep them until I verify that my W-2 is correct when it arrives in January.
Pay your bills as you get paid- either weekly or bi-weekly. If you are paid monthly, chances are you will have to pay some of your bills during the month, so schedule time to pay bills every other week. Be sure to allow a week's mailing time if you pay by check. If you pay online, this chore will be easier, and in most instances you can set up your payment in advance of the due date.
After you write the check or pay online, be sure to mark the bill "Paid" with the date and check number before you file it in the folder you have set up.
At the end of December, create new files so you can be ready for the next year.
By organizing your bills and setting up a filing system, you will wind up spending less time on this chore every week. And, next tax season all you will need to do is pull the file "For income taxes" to begin preparing your tax returns.
Family Friendly Solutions
The first step is finding room for the stuff. Kids come with a lot of gear, from the time they're babies until they're out the door and into their own place. In the meantime, you have to find ways to accommodate everything from strollers and building blocks to hockey sticks and Barbie collections. When there's a place for everything, there's a better chance that the stuff will get put away. Don't waste closet space. Add a shelving unit and storage bins, and put up hooks on the back of the closet door wherever possible. The small dresser that served your young child can be put into the closet at a later age.
Children's beds often come with storage compartments underneath, and nightstands can have either drawers or shelves. When children share a room, bunk beds and sleeping lofts are obvious choices for saving space. Teenagers, especially those 6-footers, may very well need a full size bed rather than the standard twin. Again, think storage space underneath or headboards that incorporate storage space.
Even if your school-age child has a computer desk, he or she may still not have enough room for spreading out books and binders at homework time. Consider a large desk if there's room, or maintain an open policy about using the kitchen or dining room table for homework. But remember that a young child's feet should touch the floor to prevent restlessness, so if the dining room chair is too tall, use a box or stool under their feet.
Toys and sports equipment can be kept under control by using storage chests, large plastic cubes, or shelving units with bins. Hall trees often come with a storage bench, and are a great solution for coats and boots and skates.
Save yourself a lot of trouble by painting children's rooms rather than using wallpaper. Children quickly grow out of cute prints, and new paint is a simple solution for changing tastes.
Keep living room and family room furniture looking good by choosing fabrics with a high thread count and tight weave that clean easily and hold up to hard use. Flat weaves are better than textured fabrics for durability. The new microfibers are a good choice for surviving kids and pets, and nothing is easier than slipcovers that can be removed and washed. By the way, sectional sofas are very versatile, able to adapt to any room and comfortable for everyone in the family. Add a set of nesting tables that can be handily moved from room to room for games and projects.
Don't trip over the stuff of family life. There's a way to make everyone happy . . . especially Mom.
Should You Hire A Professional Organizer Or Do It Yourself
A lot of people ask me if it's really worth hiring a professional organizer or if you're better off doing it yourself.
Both are valuable options, but either way you should understand the specific steps and strategies to having a more organized home, making little changes gradually to simplify life at home.
Well at first glance having someone do things for you can certainly seem better than doing it yourself. But there are some big IF's that need to be considered.
Remember, you are typically going to pay by the hour (the going rate for a professional organizer can range anywhere from $35 to $250 an hour. So you have to be selective in which small part of the process they'll help you with.
Just a few weeks ago I got an email from a customer of mine who recently hired a professional organizer and paid her for a full day.
And all she did was hang pictures for 8 hours!
Which brings me to another point ... how do you know, once the service is complete, you are going to be satisfied or if you are even going to be able to maintain organization beyond a week, a month or a year from now?
Now here's the thing.
If you really, really want to make changes to the way you live in your home, you need to start living your life a little differently.
You should be able to manage your "stuff" and understand what it really takes to start enjoying the benefits of home organization.
Learn what it takes to get organized from the inside-out and discover the basic and simple rules of home organization so you can enjoy more time, more space and a better, happier life at home.
Then, even if later down the road you decide to hire someone to help you, you will be more knowledgable, you will understand the process more and - combined with a few changes - you will be living in an organized home before you know it.
Choosing A Professional Organizer
Professional Organizer's are becoming increasingly popular, for a very good reason.
The past decade has seen life become increasingly sophisticated yet far less labor intensive for most of us. If you want to get and stay ahead, make use of professional organizer services, or what I call 'efficiency services'.
We outsource more and more tasks in our home to other companies just as if our home life was a business. A few of the efficiency services that you probably use include: Delivery services, car wash, launderette, various home maintenance, etc.
Now more of us can afford for those chores to be taken care of by others, what is there left for us to do? How can we use our money to maximize the opportunity of our time? That is where professional organizers come in.
Imagine what a professional organizer working for you could do for you personal organization. Everything comes from organization. As a professional organizer I consult with many people to organize everything in their life, organize goals, organize home, organize time, etc. I have chosen three core tips to help you choose a professional organizer that is suitable for you personally.
This may seem strange but I believe the skill of listening is one of the most important that a good professional organizer can have. If the professional organizer can not fully and completely listen to everything you are about and where you are coming from they will never be able to take you to a level of personal organization that satisfies you.
Choosing a professional organizer can be a cause for anxiety itself, which defeats the point of organization services. So here are some key insider tips from a professional organizer, on how you can choose a good professional organizer for your own style and way of doing things.
Make a list of 10 or so professional organizers by doing a search online or in a phone directory. Contact them by phone or email and let them know you are contacting 9 others to find one suitable for you. This lets them know they can not 'hard sell' you.
Take a look at their website, read some of their articles, and read their reply email or hear them out by phone. Tell them you still have the others to contact before making your decision. A good professional organizer will approve of your organized approach.
On your check list you need to score them on 'How good they listen to you and hear you out'. 'How interesting and thoughtful they're products and articles are'. 'How they're email response made you feel about them'.
Those three factors alone will give you enough to be able to at least make a short list and might allow you to choose a professional organizer in no time at all.
In modern life I believe time becomes so precious to the potential of opportunities and experiences life has to offer. Using a professional organizer will allow you to maximize the life opportunities you can take advantage of.
How To End Clutter And Make Home Organization Easier
I've spoken to quite a few people over the years who say they have very nice clothes they love but the don't wear them anymore.
But my question is this: If you value something so much...then don't you think you should be wearing it?
The reality is we are a society who likes to accumulate and, dating back to the Great Depression, we tend to keep everything we believe has monetary value when, in reality, it really doesn't.
For example, a pretty dress or a nice suit you bought ten years ago went for what can be considered a lot of money.
And the problem is you haven't touched it in nine years because, as most clothes do, it went out of style.
Could it come back in style someday? Maybe. Styles do often return.
But this is not a reason to hold onto things you don't use..."just in case."
You feel like, because you spent "good" money on it, you are throwing money away. But ask yourself this... is it putting money in your pocket sitting there in the back of your closet with dust on the shoulders?
Is it giving you anything? Do you benefit at all from keeping outdated outfits?
Now ask yourself one more question... will you gain anything by getting rid of it and donating it to charity?
Of course you will!
More space to be able to keep the clothes you are going to wear (we only wear 50% of the clothes we own, by the way.)
I might even suggest buying a new outfit for every three to five you get rid of.
Because new clothes make people feel good. I don't recommend buying new clothes for the sake of buying new clothes and throwing away your money. But you've got to admit putting on a new pair of pants that make us look better is a nice, uplifting feeling.
The thing is the items taking up space, yes, you paid for them.
But by keeping something you no longer wear or use you are not getting anything in return but more clutter and a lack of storage space you could be using for something else.
Here is something you should do right now with items (they don't have to be clothes) you are holding onto because you paid good money for them.
1. Go find ten items you own for one reason and one reason only... because you paid for it.
2. Grab a piece of paper and make three columns.
3. Write the items you are having trouble getting rid of in the left column. In the middle column, write "why I am keeping this item" and in the third column write "what will I gain by getting rid of this item."
My guess is you will have a lot more in the right column than you will in the middle.
Be specific with both.
If you can honestly fill up the middle column with more reasons of why you should keep it, and they are good, legitimate reasons, then maybe you shouldn't get rid of it.
But I'm willing to bet that won't be the case.
Clutter Quickly Grows With Procrastination And Even Kills
The most common problem most people have with getting rid of clutter and getting organized is not knowing how to begin or where to get started.
So it gets put off until...later.
Of course, the reasons are usually decent.
For one, there's a lot going on in our lives. We go in so many directions and there never seems to be enough time to get anything done.
And it's easier to put organizing off because you think it'll take up too much time right now.
The other priorities - like eating and sleeping (minor things, right?) of course take first on the list.
But getting organized doesn't have to take a lot of time every single day.
And if you don't start getting organized, even just a little bit at a time, there are some very real negative affects that, well, could kill you.
A little drastic... I know.
But the affect clutter and disorganization has on your health is very, very real.
It adds stress to your already busy life.
It sucks away your energy and makes you tired.
In many people, it increases the symptoms of depression.
But enough of the negative stuff!
Here's how we can benefit from being organized and getting rid of clutter...
-A better mood every day.
-Easier house management.
-Your bills get paid on time.
-More time to do things you actually enjoy!
This is all very real stuff and getting organized should not be put on the back burner any longer.
But I know...it's still too easy to put it off for "later."
I will admit, the here and now makes it easier to pile things on the counter, on chairs and tables or toss things in closets and drawers.
It's too easy to put things down and ignore my simple and important rule of "touch it once."
Though, like I said earlier...clutter can be deadly.
Back in January of this year a 62 year old woman from Washington was found dead under nearly six feet of dishes, boxes and "clutter" that apparantly collapsed on her.
A very sad, and very drastic story.
Take this poor woman's life back about thirty years. How many days went by when she procrastinated and said she would "get to it tomorrow."
Now I hope your situation is not as drastic but reality is reality. And unless you get things under control right away, you just don't know what a disorganized house can lead to.
At the very least I bet you're feeling stressed and a little frustrated with a real desire to simplify your life at home.
It's not a lot to ask, is it?
And we all know stress is not good.
But maybe your situation isn't so out-of-control, and you just want to get rid of clutter and get your things in order.
Or you need to manage papers better because once in a while you forget to pay a bill that was sitting somewhere in a pile (because you don't have a real system for your bills - which you need.)
No big deal, right?
After all, what's a $5 payment here or a $35 late fee there?
So how 'bout you take a step towards ending clutter in your home and getting organized...before it kills you?
You Need Your Own Reasons For Organizing Your Home
First off, you need to know organizing your home is different for you than it is for someone else.
Some folks don't have a lot of clutter and junk but need to know how to maintain organization and have a place for their stuff.
On the other hand, some homeowners have piles upon piles...a big mess, and still think it's just a matter of needing storage.
When, in fact, storage is the last thing you need. The first step is getting rid of clutter, rather than adding more storage just to keep more stuff.
The thing is, once you start organizing your home, you'll see how great and real the benefits are:
-It's reducing stress by having order and discipline.
-It's having more space by keeping clutter out for good.
-It's simplifying the way you live at home by creating useful systems that work for you personally.
-It's a way of being on time, and not feeling the strain of running against the clock.
Quite simply, when you finally start to make the simple changes of organization, it all adds up to give you more room to breath so you can enjoy your family and friends more.
Being organized isn't a matter of being rich or poor, young or old. We were never taught organization in school and, in fact, were taught to multi-task and go in too many directions at once.
This was how they told us to live.
Personally, I have always gone against the grain and never worried about keeping things we don't need. My wife Megan and I make sure if something is not being put to use or it's out-of-date... it's getting sold or thrown out.
We also utilize smart, affordable storage to keep only useful items and starting teaching our kids the value of being organized at a very young age. It makes it easier on them and on us to stay disciplined about organization.
The funny thing is I don't think I was raised to be organized. Nobody knew much about "organization" back then, although I was always a little "neat" as a kid.
But somewhere along the way I figured out it made the most sense. I like to be on time and being organized makes that possible. I don't like wasting time looking for things, like tools or ingredients for cooking or paperwork or bills.
Being organized makes it all a lot easier.
It's not going to make you ri*ch, but it will certainly save you money by avoiding duplicate purchases and late bills.
It's not going to make you any younger, but it will certainly give you more time to do things you might think you don't have time to do.
Being organized isn't going to give you a bigger house, but it will clear clutter and open up some space so you'll feel like you have a bigger house because there will be less congestion and "stuff" all over the place.
There may seem like there is a lot to getting organized and over the next few days I'm going to share with you even more tips and tricks to getting and staying organized.
Organized And Loving It Working At Home In Style
Over the years, I've tried it all, different ways to get organized, with much trial and error. Some worked, some didn't. I tried some of those fancy looking matching desk sets. They looked beautiful and for some, I'm sure they are perfect. But for me, they took up too much valuable space. Space I needed to proof my work, keep my reference books, or keep those essentials that I use on a regular basis. For me, when I work I want everything within an arms reach. I want to have immediate access to the tools I need to complete my assignments.
I have a corner desk, and on it I have my computer, printer, fax, phone, etc. Beside my desk I have a two-drawer filing cabinet. This was possibly the greatest thing I've ever done to organize my business. In it I have my files and supplies that I use on a regular basis, such as, client stationery, client files, a file for my receipts, all personal correspondence, paper, folders, etc. Whenever these files get bulky with client documents, I simply empty them into the main filing cabinet. For example, my main clients, whom I've been working with for 20 years, their files in the main cabinet are quite large. It's nice to have the smaller file close by with just their recent correspondence. Plus, when I need a folder, an order slip for my books, a copy of my stationery, it's all right there. AAAHHH, now that's convenience.
Now for the receipts' file. I keep it monthly. At the beginning of the month, I simply replace the file with the new month's file. That way, at tax time, I don't have to go through a whole year's receipts and divide it up. It's already separated.
Here are some other organizational tips you might find beneficial:
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