If you haven’t given your files a glance recently, it’s likely time for a purge. You may have stacks of paper all over your house, or you may have papers languishing in your files that you no longer need. Either way, take some time this week to sort through your files and get them in shape. This will help you find what you need, when you need it. (and maybe even make tax time easier for you next year!)
If you need to create a filing system, follow these steps. How you sort and label each category and subcategory depends on what paperwork you have and what you need to keep track of (yourself, partner, 3 dogs, 4 kids, etc.)
- Gather all of your paperwork into one place.
- Sort papers into high level categories (Auto, Health Insurance, Health Information, Home Improvements, etc.). Create labels / hanging folders for each high level category.
- Where necessary, sort high level categories into smaller subcategories (one for each car, each person’s health info, etc.). Label these folders.
- Put all paper you are keeping into their labeled folders.
- Recycle or shred the paperwork you don’t need.
I suggest keeping your system simple so it’s easy to maintain and expand. Feel free to color code, but keep in mind it needs to be easy to add more categories and subcategories.
No matter the state of your files, take some time to go through each folder, purge and shred what you don’t need, and catch up on your stack of filing. If you need guidance on what to keep or toss, ask your financial advisor or do some online research. Turn on some fun music, listen to your favorite podcast and get busy!
Sometimes you may be so used to the stuff around you that don’t even know you have clutter. So, how can you become more aware of the clutter you have? Read on for a few ideas.
- Take a picture. Then look at the picture. It gives you a different perspective and allows you to see the clutter you may be missing in person.
- Put stuff in a box. And date it. Clear rarely used items out of your kitchen utensil drawer (spatulas, knives, etc.), put them in a box, and put the box somewhere else in your house. If you truly need something from the box when you’re making a meal, then go get it. That item can now stay in your kitchen. After a certain amount of time (1 month, 6 months, your choice) donate everything else in the box. Use this technique for other items in your house you’re considering getting rid of.
- Turn your hangers backwards. If you have a lot of clothes in your closet that you are not sure about, turn the hangers backwards so they are facing the wrong way. If you’re like me, and most of your stuff sits on shelves, consider putting them on hangs for awhile anyway. Then,as you wear a piece of clothing, it gets put back on the shelf or the hanger gets turned back around. At the end of the season, you can see what you haven’t worn. Simply take these clothes out and put in your donation box.
Take a few minutes and think about how you can become more aware of your clutter!
The 3rd week of March is National Clean Out Your Closet Week. How are your closets looking?
You may be thinking about switching out your Fall / Winter clothes for your Spring / Summer clothes. Here, in Colorado, it’s been in the 70s for the last few weeks and we (likely) will see snow in April or May. So it’s hard to put away all of our warm clothes and we’ve all pulled out the t-shirts and sandals by now. But, it’s still a good time to clean out your clothes. As you’re switching your closets over and making warm weather items more accessible, think about the following questions. If your answer is ‘no’ to any of them, toss those clothes in your donate box (and create a donate box if you don’t have one).
- Have I worn this recently? Will I wear it again?
- Do I love it?
- Does it fit me?
As I’m cleaning out my clothes, I’ll make a list of things I need to supplement. What shoes, necklaces, etc might I need to make sure I wear a certain shirt or pair of pants. Then, when I’m out shopping, I’ll know what I need and won’t end up with a closet full of clothes that I don’t wear because I don’t have anything that matches.
Let’s also talk about your linen closets. As you’re pulling your warm quilts and blankets from your bed, take a look at your linen closets. Are there items that need to be replaced? Does the closet simply need to be straightened up? Take a few minutes to make sure your linen closets are in order too.
The 2nd week of March is National Procrastination Month. Procrastination impacts us in many ways. It is incredibly draining if we’re ignoring something we don’t want to do, or need to do but for some reason keep putting it off. What could you be doing with that time and energy if you could just get that task off your list? What is holding you back from getting to that project? Here are 5 tips for getting started, dealing with that project, and battling procrastination.
- Break it in to small pieces. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Can you break the project into small pieces? If you just moved and are overwhelmed by boxes, tackle 1 box a day. If you want to get your house organized but don’t have a full weekend (or several), tackle 1 drawer or shelf at a time. Spend 15 minutes a day (or 5 or 10) cleaning something out.
- Invite guests over. It’s like setting a deadline. Host a dinner party or a backyard BBQ. Last spring, we hosted a baby shower and used it as an excuse to get a bunch of yard work done. Don’t just stuff everything into a closet. Schedule the time to clean out and find homes for everything.
- Find an accountability partner. Do you want to get up and exercise before work 3 times a week? Find a friend to join you. Or report to a friend each time you do it. Your friend can report to you about something he or she is doing and you can support each other through the process. There’s motivation in being responsible to someone else.
- Turn it into a game. Put on some music, set a timer, and see how quickly you can get something done. Hate putting away your laundry or cleaning the kitchen? Time yourself and see how fast you can do it. Or listen to a book on tape or your favorite podcast while you’re organizing your closets. Find a way to make it fun and it won’t seem like such a chore.
- Tackle a small to-do first. Or, tackle the biggest one. Sometimes I just need a small win before I can get going on other projects. I’ll pick the easiest thing on my list, maybe sending a birthday card to a friend. The satisfaction of crossing something off my list gets me motivated to continue on to bigger projects. Or, I’ll tackle the biggest project on my list. If I just make that phone call I’ve been avoiding or sit down and do the research I need to do, it will remove the stress and mental drain.
What steps can you take today to get past the procrastination and get started on a project?
Ok, you’ve spent all this time getting your house organized and I bet you want to keep it that way. This week, we’re going to look at maintaining your beautifully organized house.
- Never leave a room empty handed.
- When going upstairs (or downstairs) or to another room, take something with you that belongs elsewhere. My daughters clips end up all over the house and I’m constantly bringing them back to their box in the kitchen.
- Straighten as you go.
- When putting away laundry, pull out clothes that don’t fit and make sure clothes (and linens) are neatly put away.
- Connect a task to another habit.
- Clean old food out of the refrigerator when planning your meals for the week (or when it’s trash day).
It’s also a good idea to identify routines and systems you need to have in place. Ask yourself the following questions.
- How often do you clean our your closets? Paperwork? Refrigerator? Pantry? Storage spaces?
- What does your weekly routine look like? When do you buy groceries? Run errands? Clean? Plan meals? Do laundry? Pay bills? File?
- What does your morning routine look like? Do you make sure dinner is defrosted? Clean up breakfast dishes? Get a load of laundry in the dryer?
- What does your nightly routine look like? Do you pick up toys? Make lunches? Pack bags for the next day? Take some time for yourself?
This week, take some time to plan how you are going to maintain your newly organized projects.
Are you feeling overwhelmed, like your time is managing you instead of you managing your time? Are you feeling busy but not productive or you’re just not sure where your time goes? Then read on for some ideas on better managing your time.
I recently realized that I had overcommitted my time. I had commitments 9 nights a month, which was bordering on too much for me. Those commitments didn’t include time with friends or family or simply relaxing on the couch with a good book. So, I decided which of my commitments made the least sense for me and I uncommitted myself.
There are many tools, books, and tricks on managing your time. You will need to decide what works best for you. I think saying ‘no’ (politely) is one of the most important skills out there. This article talks about the importance of saying no as a great time management skill: One critical time management skill: saying no.
It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed at times. Sometimes, we simply have too much going on. A few weeks ago, my kids were sick for what felt like the 80th time this year. By the end of the week, I was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I hadn’t gotten done that week. Laundry had piled up, I was tired of cleaning the kitchen, toys were everywhere and I was tired. So I prioritized what needed to be done, asked my husband and my (now healthy) kids for help, and got to work on the piles of stuff around the house. This article discusses how to deal with feeling overwhelmed: Overwhelmed? Eight steps to help you regain control of your time.
And, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some help with time management, organizing your house, home office, or routines, call in a professional (that includes me)! Sometimes a little outside perspective is all you need to get headed in the right direction.