HOW TO ORGANIZE MAIL

Before you start organizing your mail, I recommend gathering a few important supplies:

  • A shredder
  • Recycling bin
  • Trash bin
  • Calendar
  • Two trays (one for incoming mail and one for outgoing mail)

I highly recommend setting up a mail station wherever you keep your files.

Keep in mind that there’s really only four options when it comes to incoming mail.  You can: Toss it, Shred It, File It or Put it in an action file (ie. To Do, To Read, To Pay, etc.)

If you are not in the habit of going through your mail daily, try scheduling a time in your appointment book or calendar so that you make the time to open your mail every day.  This will prevent the mail from piling up.

When going through your mail:

  • Immediately toss all junk mail
  • Shred anything that has your personal information on it that you are not interested in (ie. credit card offers)
  • File all statements or other mail in their appropriate files (which should be right there next to you)
  • Any items that need attention should be filed in your Action files.  If it is a bill then put it in your “Bills to Pay” file, if it is an invitation, put it in your Upcoming Events file,
  • Finally, don’t forget to put any important dates or due dates on your calendar!

This whole process should take a few minutes.  If you take just a few minutes each day, you will ultimately avoid having the mail pile up day after day.  It will also avoid needless late fees or penalties from unpaid bills.

Remember to keep it simple! 

HOW TO ORGANIZE AN ENTERTAINMENT CENTER

You may want to consider getting some supplies to help with the process or organizing your entertainment center.


 DSC05474I like to use pull out drawers, like the Elfa systems (you can find them at the Container Store).  They are easy to put together and provide easy access to everything.  Or, you can use stackable bins or baskets.

1.     The first thing is to empty it out completely.  Yes, everything out.  This is important as this allows you to see everything that was in there.  You can then determine what should and should not go back.

2.     Now that everything is emptied it out, start to purge!  Go through your old tapes, CDs, and DVDs. Toss or donate the old tapes if you no longer have a tape deck in your home or car; donate the CDs or DVDs that you no longer want or need.  While you’re at it, toss the clickers from old TVs or other electronics that you no longer own.

3.     The next step is to sort the remaining items into categories  keeping similar items together.  For example, keep all remotes in one place, all CD’s in another, on so on.

4.     You can now start putting everything back.  The important thing to remember is to keep similar items together.   Depending on the amount of room you have, you may want to use one shelf or drawer for your CDs and the other for DVDs so that you can find them easily.   You might even consider breaking it down further by alphabetizing your CD’s by the last name of the artist or sorting them into musical categories.  Again it should be organized in a way that is easy for you and makes sense to you.

5.  If possible, label the drawers or shelves so that keeping this space organized is easy for anyone in the house.

 

Remember to keep it simple! 

HOW TO ORGANIZE A BATHROOM VANITY

Before you start, make sure to have all of your supplies ready.


There are so many great organizing products on the market, however, I like to try and use items that I already have. For example, you can use a lazy susan to make things easier to reach under the sink. You can hang a hook instead the cabinet door to hang a hair blower; use empty bottles to corral small items, store toilet paper in a basket; use a bucket to corral cleaning supplies under the sink. Of course, bins are always a good option as well but make sure they’re clear so you can see the contents. If you’re handy you might even consider installing a roll out storage shelf under the sink.

1.   The first step is to empty everything out completely. Yes, completely.   Everything out!  This is important as this allows you to see everything that was in there and determine what should and should not go back there.

2.   Next step is to sort everything into categories keeping like item together: all lotions together, all hair products together, all grooming supplies together. You get the idea.

3.   Now go through everything and purge! Toss out any empty bottles, expired lotions and, of course, anything that you no longer need or use.

4.   Utilize your organizing products to corral the items that are similar (see #2 above)

5.  Now for the fun part, at least for me, is putting everything back in an organized way so that you can see what’s there and get to it easily.

Remember to keep it simple! 

HOW TO ORGANIZE A FILING SYSTEM

1.     Before you start, I suggest getting all of your supplies ready.If you’re starting from scratch, you’re going to need a box of standard hanging file folders, a box of standard hanging file pockets,a box of third cut manila “interior” files and a box of file labels or a label maker.

organizing files2.     The next step is to empty the cabinet completely. Yes, completely.   Everything out.  This is important as this allows you to see everything that was in there and determine what should and should not go back.  You can put everything into a bankers box while you’re going through your files.

3.     To create more space, look for any items that can be tossed,  shredded or archived such as old tax records.  Archived files  should be placed in a properly labeled Bankers Box and stored somewhere else.  If you are storing these boxes in a basement or attic or offsite storage facility, you might consider buying airtight storage bins to protect your archived items from the elements.  They cost more but it’s worth it if these documents are important and need the protection.

4.     There are many ways to categorize files, but what I think works best is to break things down into five or six major category sections for easy identification.

5.     I also recommend using different colors of third cut manila files so that it’s easy to differentiate between the different categories.  For example, for Active Files use – Red; Financial Files – Blue; Personal & Family – Green; Home & Personal Property – Orange, and Legal and Taxes – Purple.

6.     Each section is then broken down into sub-categories which can be alphabetized.  For example, under Active Files (Red files), you might have the following sub-categories: Bills to Pay, To Do List and Upcoming Events To Attend.

7.     Name your categories or sub-categories according to how you will look for them and try, whenever possible to use generic folder names.  For example, Under Utilities, name the file “Telephone” rather than “Verizon”. This is so that if you ever switch companies, you don’t have to create a whole new file. Simple, right?   One more important tip:  avoid vague names for your files.  For example, don’t name any file “miscellaneous”!  Why? Because it will wind up being a catchall for all items.

8.     Once you start putting files back into the cabinet, be sure to leave plenty of space so that you can easily find and file documents.

9.      Finally, go through the contents of your files approximately 2-3 times a year. This will help you to stay organized especially around tax season.

10.  The most important thing is that it should be organized in a way that is easy for you and makes sense to you.

 

Remember to keep it simple! 

JANUARY IS “GET ORGANIZED” MONTH

As most of you know, I have been a member of The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) since starting Organizing Concepts and Designs in 2010.   For those of you who are not familiar with NAPO, NAPO is The Organizing Authority®!


Since forming in 1985 as a nonprofit professional educational association, NAPO has grown to nearly 4,200 members.  NAPO leads and advances the organizing and productivity industry and is dedicated to serving its members and the public by providing professional educational opportunities, industry leadership, productive partnerships and expert information and solutions to foster growth and fulfillment for all who work within the organizing and productivity industry or benefit from its service.

 

      NAPO established GO Month in January 2003 to focus national attention on how getting organized empowers people to take back control over their time, in-boxes, paperwork and possessions.

     

     For businesses wishing to implement a more organized and structured system, NAPO offers these tips:       

 

  • Create a list of priorities for your business and determine what needs immediate action. A professional organizer or productivity specialist can review your priorities and recommend a plan for getting started, without interrupting your daily business workflow.
  • Practice better time management! A NAPO member can help both you and your staff hone time management skills and increase productivity in the workplace.
  • Evaluate your space. Does it feel productive and calm? Physically setting up better-functioning spaces can help employees reduce stress and feel motivated. A professional organizer or productivity specialist will help create the ideal balance so your workspace feels energizing, yet relaxing.

      Employees report feeling more satisfied as a result of a supportive employer providing the tools to improve productivity and reduce stress.

Organizing does not end in the workplace. Families are busier than ever before, and being organized can help reduce stress which helps lead to better health and an overall feeling of well being.

 

NAPO offers these tips for organizing yourself, your routine, and your family calendar:

  • Decide that you deserve it! Understand that you deserve to have more control over your time, your surroundings, and less stress due to feeling overwhelmed. Commit to adding structure and stability to your life.
  • Create one calendar for scheduling  the activities of everyone in your household, and daily/weekly/monthly checklists for each member of your family. Display the lists and calendar in a central location of your home, like the refrigerator or mudroom.
  • Prioritize your organization wants and needs. What room or space needs immediate attention? Talk to a NAPO member about your organization or productivity needs. He or she can help you get organized, but teach you skills to keep you that way.
  • Set realistic goals for organizing. With the help of a NAPO organizer or productivity professional, you can reach your organizing goals in a systematic way that will keep you motivated and empowered to success. You can achieve your organizing and productivity goals by creating a plan and sticking with it over time. 

  So, jumpstart January feeling powerful, productive and organized!

 

KIDS, IT’S TIME FOR SCHOOL

Unbelievable! August has just begun and everyone is already talking about “back to school”.



When I was growing up, school started just after Labor Day and we enjoyed a full 8 weeks of summer.  Obviously much has changed since then.

What hasn’t changed is what we have to do to prepare ourselves and our kids for going “back to school”, whenever that is.

Here are some great tips to help you and your family get ready to get “back to school”:

 

  • Get back on a schedule two weeks before school starts:   Routines are good as everyone knows what to expect.  Get your kids back into the groove by reintroducing the ground rules.  That means getting to bed earlier; having them read and/or write a little bit every day; taking a few minutes before bedtime to clean up and get organized for the next day.
  • Make sure that everyone is getting enough sleep:  Getting your kids to bed earlier at least two weeks before school starts is a great way to reset their internal clocks.
  • Have them read:  If they haven’t been reading all summer, have them start again.  It is one of the best ways to keep a child’s mind sharp. 
  • Make it fun:  Take them shopping to get their school supplies and some new clothes. There are a lot of sales right now so take advantage of them.
  • Get a calendar and put it in a place where everyone in the family can see it and have access to it.  Check it every morning before school to make sure everyone knows what the activities of the day are.  Check it again at night to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on the next day so that they can prepare accordingly. 
  • If your child is attending a new school, visit the school before the first day so that he/she can get a feel of the surroundings.  This will definitely alleviate some anxiety as the first day in a new school can be a bit scary no matter how old they are.

The following are some more tips for when school actually starts:

  • Have them pick out their clothes the night before.  Make sure they have the appropriate attire for the next day’s activities.
  • Showers and/or baths should be done the night before as well.  The less they have to do in the morning, the better it will be for everyone.  The warm water will also help them unwind and sleep better.
  • Check homework and make sure that assignments have been completed before bedtime and especially before TV time or any other leisure activities.  Get backpacks ready the night before as well.  
  • Stick to your morning routine. When the same things are done the same way, as much as possible, kids will automatically know what they are expected to do.  There will less fighting and fussing and the mornings will be more pleasant for everyone.  
  • Make sure that going back to school is something your children look forward to!