You probably experience this year after year - you think you're ready to file your taxes, but finding them and ensuring you have what you need is difficult and time-consuming. If your tax preparer spends more time sorting through your receipts and documents than preparing your taxes, you have a problem. Why not get started off on the right foot for next year?
When it comes to setting up a system, simpler is better. But, simpler does not mean everything thrown randomly into a cardboard box - or a plastic bag (yes, I've seen this)! If you create a storage system that is too complex, you won't use it. It becomes cumbersome to file anything away, so you resort to the box method. One of the better methods that works for most people is either a very small file box with hanging files, or an accordion file folder. The one listed below is great because it closes, has enclosed sides and is very portable. Or, if you need something that's heavy duty, choose the plastic banker's box style.
Aim to have only 7 or categories, as you may find it too difficult to manage if you go beyond that. For example, instead of having separate files for your retirement account and your non-retirement related investments, it might make sense to combine those into one file, just labeled investments.
Speaking of labels, be sure you do label your tabs or folders. It does no good to come up with categories if you don't clearly label things. Trust me, I know people who don't label... and they end up getting very confused. When you only have a few categories, labeling can be quick. Labels can be as simple as a post-it note stuck on the tab, or as fancy as a machine made label. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as the label doesn't fall off and is clear to you what is contained in that file.
So, do yourself a favor for next year and get this ready now. It will only take you a few minutes, but save you a ton of time next year. If you aren't sure how to get started, get in touch. I'm happy to help!
I must confess, I don't have an emergency kit in my car. I live in Wisconsin - it's winter... snowstorms happen, accidents happen. What am I thinking? Apparently, I'm not. I've lived in this state for more than 20 years and I've been lucky enough that I've had good Samaritans stop and help when I've been stuck. But, I'm sure my luck will only hold so long. Not to mention, I have 2 teenage boys driving now. It's definitely past time to get emergency kits for the cars.
So, what do you need in your emergency kit? Think things that will keep you warm, safe and nourished.
As a professional organizer, I’m always interested in hearing new ideas about organizing. Because I tailor my methods according to my client’s needs, I tend to read a lot about what other organizers do and how their methods help clients in specific ways. Enter Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In case you haven’t heard, she calls her method the “KonMari” method… combining her first and last names.
To be honest, I’ve been a bit skeptical of her method since I heard about it, because I didn’t think it really would work in most American family households. Of course, I hadn’t actually read the book, so before I started discounting her work, I wanted to learn about it myself. Now, I am by no means trained in the KonMari method (and yes, there is an actual certification for this), so please keep that in mind. Realize that my opinions are based only on my reading of the book and not through taking her classes.
The very basics of her method are that you start with the premise that you’re deciding only what to keep, not necessarily what to discard. And, you only keep those things that “spark joy.” You do all your tidying by category and you do it all at once. You also verbally thank and appreciate the objects in your home.
Some of the tenants, I certainly agree with. Kondo asserts that the “tidying” must all be done at once. At first, I was laughing hysterically. If she’s been in some of the houses I’ve been in, all at once would have been a marathon 3 week undertaking with no breaks. But, that’s not what she means. She means for you to decide to tidy up and work continuously at it and complete it within a certain amount of time - 3-6 months, for example. That makes more sense to me, and I agree with that. You don’t want to start organizing and then take months off in between. You’ll undo anything you’ve started.
I also agree that it’s best to sort like items at the same time. She insists on it. I don’t. This is where we part ways. This works fantastically well for some of my clients - if their homes aren’t cluttered to the point that they simply don’t know where all their clothing is, for example. So, I would take her advice and modify it to fit my client’s situation. We sort by category as much as possible but realize that we may need to do a second sort once we’ve gone through the bulk of the home.
As far as thanking the items for their service, I think I’ll pass. But I definitely can take this and put a more culturally acceptable American spin on it. I do believe, just as Kondo states, that the things we own can be easier to get rid of if we accept that they have fulfilled their purpose in our lives. We may not have realized what the purpose was when we acquired that object, but it could have been as simple as providing us a certain amount of happiness when we found it for half price in the store. We don’t necessarily have to hang on to something just because we haven’t gotten “full use” out of it. Sure, you did, you just didn’t realize it at the time.
Overall, I enjoyed Marie Kondo’s book. I did laugh to myself a few times when I envisioned trying to work through some client’s homes the KonMari way. Surprisingly though, I did learn new ways to help clients make decisions on what to keep. So, her book has served a purpose in my life. And I can, with joy, let it go.
What do you think? Have you read her book? Has it helped you tidy up, or did it just give you a good laugh (or a little of both)? Let me know in the comments!
A few clients admitted to me recently that they were embarrassed. One was embarrassed because she had engaged my services. Another was ashamed of her home and was very humbled to have someone in when it was so cluttered (in her mind). Their embarrassment stemmed from two different reasons, so I'll try to address each one of them.
A professional organizer is just like any other "service" professional. You probably wouldn't hesitate to hire an electrician, real estate agent, or auto mechanic, right? Not everyone has the expertise or time to organize their home or office. And that's ok. I'm sure you do many things that I could never dream of doing - because you're more of an expert than I am. That's what makes the world work!
You should never be embarrassed to have a professional organizer in your home - whether it's mildly cluttered or it meets the standards of "hoarding." The vast majority of professional organizers are kind, empathetic individuals who are in the business to help. To be honest, I don't know of any organizers who are critical of their clients! We strive to keep everything we do for you and everything about your home as confidential as possible.
I have found that using the services of a professional organizer can help release you from your stress and tendency to withdraw. Creating a clean, uncluttered space can boost self-confidence and motivation. Give it a try!
I see it every day - friends and acquaintances posting every day on various social media sites how "broke" they are. Yet, I see those same people posting about how much fun they have at the bar every weekend, or how they bought the latest iPhone.
Maybe they're thinking they deserve it because they've worked so hard. I'm not denying that. Unfortunately, we can't always get what we feel we deserve. Having a little bit of will power to put off getting the latest gadget could have huge rewards later on. For example, if you take the money you were going to use for the new phone and put it towards your debt with the highest interest rate, you may be able to pay it off, rather than continue to pay interest. That $600 could make thousand of dollars difference.
Think about other ways you can create a free or cheap alternative for the activities that are most costly. If your bar bill is $50, you could think about spending $20 on a mixer or a case of beer and invite friends over for a game night. You still get to hang out and enjoy a beverage, but at less than half the price.
It's not always easy making the tough choices to live more financially responsibly, but it is necessary if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck. You can still have fun and get some of the things you want - you just have to be creative and patient to get there. For more free and cheap entertainment ideas, check out my book Living Within Your Means: A practical guide to financial freedom. I'd love to personally help you live a more organized and stress-free life - contact me for a free estimate.
New clients often ask me what should they purchase to get organized. My answer - NOTHING! Well, at least in the beginning. The problem is that you don't really know what you're going to end up with to actually organize/containerize because you need to go through all of the "pre-organizing" steps first. You know - sort (figure out what belongs here vs donate vs move to another space) and remove (take out garbage, take donated items to charity and move things you're keeping to other places they belong).
Once you know what you have left, you can assess what makes sense to buy. I don't necessarily have any specific products that I always use. Each home or business is unique in what they have chosen to keep. However, I do have some suggestions that I think help just about everyone as they organize.
My number one piece of advice - know what you need to organize before you buy anything. Have a specific purpose for that storage bin, basket or shelf before you purchase it. That way, you don't end up with an organizing solution that doesn't work for your organizing problems.
A lot can happen in a year, right? I know it's been 9 months since I've posted a new entry - and I can give you lots of excuses. But, that would be just what they are - excuses, not reasons. The simple fact is, I didn't prioritize writing my blog over other things I had going on. Some of those things were important - like writing my first book, Living Within Your Means - A Practical Guide to Financial Freedom. Some, not so important - like watching every season of Survivor and Doctor Who available on Amazon Prime!
So, this post is about setting priorities. How does that fit with organizing? Well, when we're talking about organizing anything, we have to choose to make it a priority. When I work with my clients, most often, I hear lack of time as the reason for not being able to get organized and stay organized. But, I know from experience (both personal and professional) that most of us choose what we do with the time we have. And we typically don't choose to spend it on organizing.
Why is organizing important? Because it impacts pretty much all aspects of our lives. I'm not just talking about the physical space around us. Think about it! We have to organize our schedules to get where we need to be. We have to organize our finances so that we pay our bills on time (and we have enough money to do that). If you're a business owner, you have to have routine processes that everyone follows - that's an organized way of doing things.
My company is called "More Than Organizing" because I wanted to get across the point that my business is more than just 'space organizing.' I believe so strongly that organization can change lives that I wanted to help people in all those areas. Ready to get started? Give me a call, or complete the contact form to let me know how I can help. I'd also really love to see your comments and questions. Come on, be the first! :)
I have to apologize for the long break in posting. It's been a very busy few months and the time is flying by. For those who don't know, my husband and I are remodeling our house, so that's been taking up quite a bit of my time. And, business is picking up (no complaints here!), so time is short to write blog posts.
Over the past few months, I've read some really cool posts from other professional organizers. They have really "fancy" blogs with lots of sponsors. Jealous much? Yep.... but, then I started thinking about all the time and effort that must go into those blogs. And, I think about the amount of time it would take for me to do that sort of thing. I arrive at the conclusion that is not what I'm meant to do.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy reading what they write and reading about the "cute" organizing tips and tricks, but that sort of thing is not why I became a professional organizer. My purpose is to help you in a practical way. Can I suggest some fun or beautiful ways to organize? Sure! But, that's not my primary goal. I truly want to help you clean out the clutter or find a better way to file documents or think about a budget. My goal is to help you be a better you and live a more productive life.
I know this post didn't give practical tips & tricks (maybe I should link to a few of my fellow professionals here), but I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I wanted to be very clear about my purpose so when clients sign up, they know what they are in for - a practical-minded, thrifty, creative organizer... who does way more than organizing!
Are you interested in my brand of organizing? Contact me so we can start working together to get your life/house/business on a better path. I would love to hear from you!
When I think of organizing, I generally only think of my indoor spaces, but there's a lot to do outside as well. Ideally, much of this is done in the spring so you're ready for the growing season... but life gets busy (including my own) and sometimes we get started a little late!
Depending on where you live, you could have yard items, tools, furniture, etc to organize. Spring is the perfect time to clean up outside and make your outside spaces clutter-free.
Starting in the yard:
For yard tools:
Of course, as I said before, this should be done earlier in the spring-time, but pretty much anything but the planting can be done at any point. With these tips, you should be able to easily work your way through the "organizing" so that you can enjoy your outdoor living.
Ever Google yourself? What comes up? Is that how you want to be portrayed?
For some, their online presence can be the kiss of death when it comes to a new job. According to CareerBuilder.com, 43% of employers used social media when making a decision about an applicant - and 51% of those that used social medial found a reason not to hire that candidate. While you KNOW that employer will be looking at your LinkedIn profile, many potential employers will also review your Facebook page, Twitter feed or Tumblr blog (not to mention those fantastic YouTube videos) to determine if the you will be a good fit.
Scared now? Good! It's time to organize your social media! While there are people that make their career in creating a new online brand for you, there are some things you can do for yourself.
Organize your professional Social Media
1. LinkedIn is for professional posting only! LinkedIn members often policy each other, but please keep in mind this site is not meant to share your personal information. Keep anything you post on here professional -whether or not it's job related. What I mean by that is you can post or link to something that is thought-provoking or interesting that doesn't happen to completely line up with your current job. Just make sure that it is in line with something you would have no trouble talking about in an interview with a prospective employer.
Clean up your personal Social Media
2. Facebook is for your personal life! Except, of course, anyone who has a separate page for their business. But, it should be a separate page. Do not mingle the two. You may write a bit about your personal life on a business page, but keep it short and sweet - nothing related to your all-night beer pong you played last weekend. Speaking of things that probably should remain private - it's usually a good idea to not publish these items publicly on Facebook. Lock down who can see your posts and pics. There is a smaller chance that these will be available for the world to see. This doesn't prevent your friends from sharing and tagging you, however. So, be sure to ask them to remove any tags if it's not something you want shared.
3. For both Facebook and Twitter, delete posts you've made that portray you negatively. Not that your posts have to be boring, but don't dis your current boss, or flaunt the fact that you were sleeping on the job...again (unless naptime is sanctioned by your employer).
Not sure where to begin?
If you've started looking at your online image with a more critical eye and figured out it's not the best picture of you are, take action now - before you're trying to land your dream job. Have you done a social media clean up? If so, share with your readers in the Comments. For those of you having trouble getting started, let. me help. Call, email or complete the Contact Form today to schedule a time to discuss how you can put your best "tweet" forward!
Jennifer Raschig loves to share thoughts on creating restful spaces and presenting your best self every day.