I am constantly being asked, “What should I do with all of my paper?” It is usually the biggest challenge for most people.

Since there is a very good chance you are working on your taxes right now (if you are done – way to go!) I thought this would be a great time to focus on filing. This is an opportune time to get rid of outdated documents by going through your old papers.

I must preface by saying I am an Organizing Expert, I am not an accountant or an attorney. These are systems that have proven useful for my clients and for myself. If in doubt, please contact your accountant or attorney for further professional advice.

Archive files are files that you rarely need to access. These files do not need to be in your office or in close proximity. They could be kept in the garage up in the rafters, in the attic or in the basement. They can be stored in a file cabinet, plastic file boxes, or corrugated bankers boxes. Whatever you decide to use be consistent and use the same kind. Doing this makes it easy for storage purposes and you will utilize your space efficiently.

Go through all of your files once a year. I like to do it at the end of the year, typically the week between Christmas and New Years. The reason to go through your files annually is get rid of the old and make room for the new.

Be very choosey on what you keep and remember most of this stuff will never be used again!

Some examples of what may be considered to include in archive files:

  • Annual tax returns and supporting documentation  – keep 7 years
  • Audit reports – keep forever
  • Year-end financial summary statements – once you have received the year-end statement compare to your quarterly statements. Assuming you approve the statements, shred the quarterly statements.  Keep with your tax records
  • Bank statements – Keep only if needed to prove deductions with your tax records
  • Credit card statements – keep only if needed to prove deductions with your tax records
  • Receipts – keep only if needed to prove deductions with your tax records
  • Loan documentation – can get rid of once the loan is paid off
  • Mortgage documents – as long as you own the home
  • Receipts for home improvement/home repair records – as long as you own the home
  • Receipts and warranties for any big-ticket items  – keep the life of the product
  • Memorabilia – be reasonable here.  This category can get out of control really fast. Assign one bin per family member. When the bin gets full, something has to be removed before something else goes in. Do not have multiple bins per family member!
  • Personal health records – keep indefinitely. Purge as necessary

I will write about other kinds of files in future blogs.

Happy Filing,

 

I absolutely love what I do. I live a pretty great life and I am surrounded by people who love me and support me.

I have the opportunity to truly change people’s lives through the work that I do, I absolutely love being a Lifestyle Manager. I am very passionate about helping people live more organized lives, be more productive at work and feel confident that their home is being managed properly. It brings me such great joy when I am helping someone learn to live a less stressful life by letting go and taking back control of their surroundings.

I am here to serve my clients, I am here to help make their lives better and I work hard to build a relationship of trust and respect.

Are you ready to finally stop with all of the excuses?  Are you ready to get serious about reaching your lifestyle goals?  If you think you’re ready to break through whatever it is that has been holding you back then let’s chat.  Click here to get in touch with me.

I want you to love, love, love your surroundings!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Did you know that the month of February is Canned Food Month?

There are so many people in need.  You can help someone less fortunate by donating canned food to your local food bank.

There are plenty of places that will gladly accept your non-perishable items.  Your donation will help put a meal on someone’s table, how great is that!

Perhaps you are willing to organize a food drive at your place of worship, your school or at your work.

If you have non-perishable food in your pantry at home that you know you are not going to eat, don’t just let it sit there and eventually expire – why not donate it to someone who will put it to good use?  Plus you are clearing out space in your own home!

Some ideas to get you started:

  • You could make it a competition to see who gathers the most food.
  • You could get your neighbors involved, a quick way to gather a lot of food!
  • If you have recently lost weight you could donate the amount lost in food.  For example if you lost 20 pounds you could donate 20 pounds of food.
  • You can also donate money or your time.

I suggest searching the directory of food banks and more to find a location near you at FoodPantries.org.

Thank you for your generosity,

 

Well, January is almost over.  How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?

Year after year I would have a list of resolutions and the only thing that was consistent was me not keeping them, year after year.  So I don’t do them anymore!

I do, however, set goals for myself.  I reach my goals by breaking them down into doable tasks.  Completing the tasks over the allotted time I have given myself helps me reach my goal.

I suggest you do the same.  If your resolution is to “get organized this year” turn it into a goal “I will organize one room a month”.  Then break that goal down into tasks.  Work in the space every day, every weekend, etc. for 30 minutes, 1 hour, an entire afternoon, you get the picture.  Whatever amount of time you decide on, honor your decision and don’t forget to use a timer to keep yourself on track.  Completing your tasks will help you achieve your goal of getting that given room organized in a month.

If you do this you will be completely organized by the end of the year.  What a great accomplishment!

Cheers to you and to a season of new beginnings.

You write with your left hand?

I didn’t know you’re a lefty.

You are writing with the wrong hand.

You are writing upside down.

You write weird.

Look at the Southpaw.

These are just some of the comments I have heard in my life when people see me writing. I personally have never understood what the big deal was – yes, I am left handed.

Early on in my school years I had a teacher who constantly told me I had to write with the correct hand, my right hand. She would embarrass me if front of my classmates and make me put my pencil in my right hand which was a huge struggle for me. I would go home, cry to my mom and tell her what was happening at school. Now, my mom was not one to argue with any of the school staff, they were smart; they were figures of authority. But I was upset, I was falling behind and so this made my mom upset…very upset. She went to have a “conversation” with my teacher and ever since then I was able to write with the correct hand for me.

I looked up Left Handed on Thesaurus.com to see what other words were used to describe being left handed. I was surprised & somewhat disheartened but mainly amused to see how negative most of the descriptions were.

  • Ambilevous – having the ability to perform manual skill tasks with both hands.
  • Awkward – Lacking skill or dexterity. Lacking grace or ease in movement. Lacking social graces or manners.
  • Clumsy – Awkward in movement or action; without skill or grace. Awkwardly done or made; unwieldy; ill-contrived.
  • Dubious – Doubtful; marked by or occasioning doubt. Of doubtful quality or propriety; questionable. Of uncertain outcome.
  • Gauche – Lacking social grace, sensitivity, or acuteness; awkward; crude; tactless.
  • Insincere – not sincere; not honest in the expression of actual feeling; hypocritical.
  • Maladroit – lacking in adroitness; unskillful; awkward; bungling; tactless.
  • Sinister – threatening or portending evil, harm, or trouble; ominous. Bad, evil, base, or wicked; fell. Unfortunate; disastrous; unfavorable.
  • Sinistral – of, relating to, or on the left side; left (opposed to dextral). left-handed. (of certain gastropod shells) coiling counterclockwise, as seen from the apex.
  • Southpaw – a person who is left-handed. Sports: a player who throws with the left hand, especially a pitcher or Boxing, a boxer who leads with the right hand and stands with the right foot forward, using the left hand for the most powerful blows.

Something to chew on – If the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body then left handers are the only ones in their right mind. Right?

Here’s to all of the flattened-out spirals on notebooks, ink smudges on the side of our hand, bumping elbows at the dinner table, sitting in right-handed desks in school and learning how to use a right-handed scissor.

When dining out, I get dibs on the chair at the end of the table, so I can move my left elbow freely without bumping into anyone and oh, by the way, I like my handwriting!

Happy Left Handers Day!

by Dengarden on AUGUST 7, 2012

Organize Your Attic, Basement and Garage

It is time to tackle the junk havens – the storage areas of many things you probably don’t use or need. Tips:

  • Broken furniture – Schedule a time for it to be fixed or get rid of it.
  • Clothing – If you store seasonal clothing, go through it all to weed out what does not fit or look good. Hang up coats and other clothes on a portable hanging rack to save space.
  • Holiday decorations – Store in large plastic bins and stack them together.
  • Luggage – Keep only the suitcases and bags that you honestly will use. Donate the rest.
  • Sports gear – Make sure tents, sleeping bags and other equipment are packed tightly and consolidated in one area.

You house is almost completely decluttered, and the only area left is the garage. For some, this may be an all day job. Here are some tips for getting your garage organized:

  • Peg boards are good for hanging tools on the wall.
  • Use large hooks to suspend bicycles or other large items.
  • Hang garden or yard tools (shovel, rake, hoe) on the wall.
  • Shelves are a great way to organize the garage. Consider installing shelves along the walls or purchase plastic shelves from a super center or home improvement store. You also may find some sturdy wooden shelves at second hand stores.

by JUDY OZMENT on AUGUST 6, 2012


Clutter cutting questions to ask yourself:

Do I love it?
If not, why are you hanging onto something that you don’t even like?  Let it go!

Do I need to keep it?
Think tax returns

When was the last time I used this?
• If you have not used something within the last twelve months, chances are you don’t need to keep it in your home.
• There are a few exceptions to this:  seasonal items, formal wear, big serving pieces i.e.: punch bowl.

What do I want this room to look like, how do I want to use it?
• Do you want to have a meal with your family at your dining table?
• Do you want a more restful night sleeping in your bedroom?
• Do you want a functioning office?

What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of this?
Can you find it somewhere else?  Bank statements, utility bills and the like are available on-line.

Does it have a home?
• Remember “A place for everything and everything in its place”.  Everything you have must have a designated home.
• Are you willing to let something else go in order to make room for it?
• Remember, you only have so much space.

Please be brutally honest with yourself.  Letting go is very liberating.

by JUDY OZMENT on AUGUST 5, 2012


Create an evening routine to tidy up

The goal here is to pick things up and put away where they belong.   Doing this task each night will help your next morning run smoother.

Use a timer and give yourself 15 minutes to complete.  If you need a little more time, fine, but 30 minutes max.

Get the kids involved & make it a game with them.  Whoever gets their stuff picked up and put away first gets a simple prize.  They get to pick the family movie to watch, pick their favorite meal to have, pick their favorite dessert, etc.

Some ideas for your routine are:

  • Load & start the dishwasher
  • Recycle the newspaper
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Take out garbage & recycling
  • Put remotes back where they belong
  • Wipe down kitchen counters
  • Put away books, toys, etc.
  • Put away any clothes that were worn throughout the day

Tidy up as you go and before you know it you will be having sweet dreams!

by JUDY OZMENT on AUGUST 4, 2012


Follow the One In, One Out Rule
If your home is busting at the seams from too much stuff,  read on because this tip will help simplify your life immensely.  Let’s face it we only have so much space, right?  For every new item you bring into your home, one old item needs to leave your home.

• A new pair of shoes in, donate an old pair
• Purchase a new book, pass an old book onto a friend
• Buy a new set of dishes, donate the old set
• New magazine comes in, old magazine gets recycled

You get the idea.  This rule is crucial to help you maintain the simpler, clutter-free life you want.  When something new comes into your home, something old needs to go out – simple.  If you really want to get ahead of the game, go crazy and remove two items for every new item brought in!  Seriously, you will see light at the end of the tunnel much sooner.

Remember those that are less fortunate than you.  They would be thrilled to receive your donations and put them to good use instead of collecting dust in your home.

Remember, you only have so much space, right?

by INTEGRIS MARKETING on AUGUST 3, 2012


Go through  your mail DAILY!

• Have the right tools on hand:  letter opener, trash can, recycling bin, shredder and in-box.
• If you do not have a shredder I strongly urge you to get one.  You can find a reasonably priced one at your favorite big box store.  Look for a shredder that has “Cross • • Cut” or “Micro Cut”.  These offer a higher level of security and it would be extremely difficult for someone to try to reassemble the pieces of paper.  A lot of shredders can also destroy CD’s, DVD’s & credit cards.
• Stage these tools all together in one area in your home.  Common areas are the home office or in the kitchen.
• After you get your mail do you enter your home through the garage?  If so, consider going through your mail before you go back into the house.  That way only the important mail that you need to act on enters your home.
• When going through your mail throw, recycle or shred what you don’t need.  When opening bills only keep the bill and envelop if needed.  Recycle the “guts” – all of the offers that are included in the mailing.
• Put the rest in your in-box to act on during your set time.
• Dedicate a time to go through your in-box and stick to it!  Put it on your calendar.  Daily or weekly, whatever works for you.  Notice that monthly is not an option.
• You can cut down on the mail that you receive.  Visit my Opt Out page for ideas on how to reduce incoming mail.
• Sign up for e-billing with your credit cards, utilities, and banks.  Eliminating these monthly paper statements will help reduce the amount of mail coming into your home.