Tax Preparation and Filing Systems. Good Times!

Seems like every article I’ve received for the last few months has been about tax preparation.  So as not to inundate everyone on my email list with yet another article about tax preparation, I chose to write about other things the past few months. However, now that “tax time” is over (for most of us), I thought it would be a good time to put this information out there. 

First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who wouldn’t rather be doing anything else besides getting their taxes ready or “doing” their taxes.  I know, and I’m sure you know, a lot of people that have to scramble or spend many hours to pull their paperwork together to file their taxes year after year. So many people just can’t seem to get it together timely and have to file extensions even though we all know that every year on April 15th we have to file our taxes. 

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances and some do have to wait and file in October, but, for the rest, in my opinion, filing an extension just prolongs the agony of having to get this paperwork done.  

Think about this…What if it only took an hour every year to pull your tax documents together? Don’t you think that most people wouldn’t dread it as much? Of course nobody wants to give the government their hard-earned money BUT, I’m thinking it wouldn’t be such a dreadful task if it only took an hour to pull it together.  Truth be told, it should not take more than an hour to pull your tax documents together.   

Here are some suggestions as to how to make tax preparation and other paper challenges less daunting:

A.  If you don’t have a filing system, start one that is easy to use and maintain:

  • Think about what kind of system would work for you:
    • Alphabetical, Numerical, etc.

B.  Get all of your supplies together:

  • Files: make sure you have the right size files for your cabinet or container.
    • Decide if you will use interior files, hanging files, color coded files.
  • Labels: Use a label-maker or labels that you can print from your computer
    • Make sure to name the files correctly so that you can find what you’re looking for.

C.  If you already have a filing system but the papers are busting out of the filing cabinets, purge to make room for the current files:

  • Talk to your CPA to ask how long you need to keep your documents before tossing or shredding anything.

Putting a filing system into place isn’t that difficult. Moreover, once it’s done it’s done!  All you have to do is use it and maintain it.  If done right, it’s just that simple.  Then, whatever you need is there when you need it. No more wasted time looking for papers.   

If you don’t have the where-with-all to do this, CALL me.  I can and want to help. I started Organizing Concepts and Designs 9 years ago after spending 30 years in the Legal Industry as a Paralegal and Legal Assistant. I am familiar with the IRS Retention Guidelines and am well aware of what documents to keep, what documents can be tossed, which ones should be shredded and what needs to be archived (and for how long).  We can implement a filing system tailored to your needs.

Bottom line is…keeping your paperwork organized will save you a substantial amount of time and money.

Top 10 Times to Hire a Professional Organizer

“Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life.”    ~ Christina Scalise ~

If you are going through a major life transition that’s left your home in disarray, have a big move in your future or are simply overwhelmed by clutter, a Professional Organizer could provide the help you need.

Here are the 10 top reasons/times why people should consider hiring a Professional Organizer:

1.You Want to Get Organized But Don’t Have The Time:
· Decluttering and organizing, whether a single room or an entire house, are time-consuming.
· If and when you are able to devote time to your organizing project, it’s always better, quicker and more fun with help. It also helps to get another perspective.
· If “getting organized” has been on your to-do list for weeks, months or even years, consider whether it’s time to finally make it happen.
· A Professional Organizer can guide you through the process, handle the removal of unwanted items and put systems into place so that you can make the most of your space.

2.You’re Moving:
. Hiring a Professional Organizer to help before, during or after a move can be a lifesaver. Leading up to a move, an organizer can help declutter and organize your home and stage your home for sale which can, in turn, help you get more money for your home. A survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. found that staged homes spent half the time on the market than non-staged homes and sold for more than 6% above asking price.
· Scaling back before moving also means less weight and less space in the moving truck, which results in a less costly move, something that can have a significant financial impact, especially if you’re moving long-distance.
· Finally, an organizer can help you unpack your belongings in your new home and set up systems so you’re organized from the get-go.
· We make sure that your new home is organized so that things are accessible, functional and look great too.

3.You’re Remodeling:
· Make the most of your new space by hiring a Professional Organizer to optimize every shelf, cupboard and drawer so that your new space functions as beautifully as it looks.
· As much as we’d like to believe that our gorgeous new kitchen will never have piles of clutter on the counters, the truth is that without a plan, we’ll just fall back on our old habits.
· An organizer can make sure your space is set up in a way that encourages order, so it’s easier to keep things organized, even months or years down the road.

4.You Work or Run a Business From Home:
· Whether you telecommute one day each week or run a business from home full time, staying organized can help you stay at the top of your game.
· Office workers waste an average of 40% of their workday. Not because they aren’t smart, but because they were never taught organizing skills to cope with the increasing workloads and demands, Wall Street Journal Report.
· A Professional Organizer can help you rein in a messy home office, organize files and paperwork and set up your space to best support your business.

5.You’re in a Major Life Transition:
· When big life changes are happening — health challenges, the death of a loved one, divorce, the arrival of a new baby, aging parents — the last thing you may want to focus on is organizing. Yet when you have other things going on that leave you without the physical or emotional energy to keep your home life running smoothly, that only adds to the stress and chaos.
· A Professional Organizer can help bring a sense of order to your home when you need it most. Here are just a few ways we can help in a trying time:
o Organize baby gear for new parents
o Help aging parents who need to downsize
o Help you sort and organize a deceased loved one’s belongings
o Get a fresh start and reclaim your space after a divorce

6.Your Papers Are a Complete Disaster:
· Are piles of unsorted papers the bane of your existence? Instead of putting off organizing them yet again, consider hiring a Professional Organizer to help you sort through them.
. Paperwork has been voted the biggest burden for small businesses.
· A Professional Organizer can help you figure out what needs to be kept and which documents can be safely discarded. We can then set up a filing system uniquely tailored to your needs and help you discern which paper management system works for you.

7.One Area Is Driving You Nuts:
· There might one area in your home that just feels disorganized. It could be the garage, attic or basement — or even a storage unit you’ve been renting for so long that you hardly remember what’s in it.
· Professional Organizers are not fazed by overstuffed spaces! We can help you tackle even the most daunting storage area and transform it into a functional space.

8.You Want to Make Everyday Tasks Easier:
· Proper organization can go a long way toward making everyday tasks and routines run more smoothly.
· If you want to eat more healthfully or cook more meals at home, a Professional Organizer can whip your fridge and pantry into shape, making it easier to find ingredients and prepare meals.
· We can also help create a neat laundry room, streamline cleaning supplies and set up routines and systems to make your household run more efficiently. You can then spend your time doing more of what you want to be doing and less time managing your stuff.

9.You Need Accountability:
· If you really want to get organized but you’re just not getting it done on your own, accountability could be the missing piece.
· The great thing about hiring a Professional Organizer is that this person can also act as an accountability partner. Simply knowing that someone will be checking up on your progress can be enough to spur you into action between visits.

10.You’re Totally Overwhelmed:
· If clutter is taking over your home and you just can’t take it anymore, a Professional Organizer can immediately begin to ease your burden.
· You don’t need to feel embarrassed by the state of your home. Most Professional Organizers really have seen it all. Further, as a Member of NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers, we abide by a code of conduct and ethics. We do not pass judgment. We’re there to help you.

How we can help: Office organizing

Having an organized office can do wonders to your productivity and work performance. Ensuring your office is physically organized and clutter-free can allow you to focus your time on completing tasks that are important rather than spending essential time looking for items and files.

Office organization is IMPERATIVE and will help on so many different levels: financially, physically, and emotionally. If you look around and are overwhelmed with the amount of clutter, including unfiled papers and disorganized desks, then it’s already evident that you need to put some measures into place to organize effectively. Disorganization can take a toll on various aspects of your life including your mental health as well as the success of your business. Therefore, it’s important that you take care of the problem before it becomes more difficult to manage.

B&A_homeOffice

Increase efficiency and productivity by organizing your office. Once you’ve implemented proper storage and organization techniques, you’ll feel much better about the space you’re working in. Additionally, your time management skills and your productivity will be positively impacted.

Get more done in less time. Once your office is adequately organized, you’ll notice that completing tasks will become a lot easier. The things that once took hours to get done may take a lot less time because you know where to find the things you need and you’ve got a clear work area to carry out your operations effectively and efficiently.

Get your office organized with our effective systems. Uncertain about what measures need to be put into place in order to increase your productivity? That’s where we come in! We can implement systems and strategies uniquely tailored to your needs to get you organized and help you stay organized.

We can put systems into place which can be easily maintained. For many people, maintaining the organization and clutter-free environment is a challenge. We can help you develop a system that makes it exceptionally easy to keep your office organized.

Call us at (310) 560-5060 to get more information on how we can help you effectively organize your office space.

How to productively manage your employees

Many businesses face challenges when it comes to bringing their employees together and increasing their productivity. Unfiled paperwork and disorganization is not uncommon in businesses and the need to seek the assistance of a professional often arises.

Help your employees understand the importance of efficiency and productivity. In order for your business to function smoothly, your employees need to be on board. Inform them about the importance of maintaining productivity and how it can benefit both them and the company. Ensure that they have an up-to-date and detailed planner, effective time-management skills, and a de-cluttered workspace. By having these very essential components addressed and taken care of, you will be providing your employees with a work environment that promotes efficiency.

Increase the value of your business by effectively managing your employees. Of course, your role in the company plays a big part in the success of your business and it’s important that you know how to effectively manage your employees. The lines of communication need to be clear and your employees need to know your expectations and how you want tasks to be carried out in the office. After all, it’s your business and there’s no one who wants it to succeed more than you do.

Business team

Properly managing employees can keep everyone better organized. Organization is crucial when it comes to operating your business smoothly and efficiently. Encourage your employees to maintain clean and organized desks by implementing organizing systems that make finding files and documents more accessible. Clearly assigning your employees specific tasks and ensuring that they are well executed can maintain a productive work environment. Keeping a day-to-day planner can keep your meetings and appointments scheduled and organized which will, in turn, improve your time management skills.

We can put systems into place so that employees can get more done in less time. Notice a decrease in your employees’ work productivity? This is where an organizing professional comes in. We can help your employees and management get rid of their workspace clutter and take proper measures in implementing systems that work effectively for each employee. Whether it’s setting up proper storage bins for their files or clearing up space on their desk, you can rest assured in knowing that your business will see a noticeable increase in productivity.

With a Professional Organizer, employees can incorporate better time management, filing systems, and space planning. A messy work environment can take a toll on employees’ ability to get work done. All the things that your business needs to operate at the highest level can be heightened by employing the talents of a Professional Organizer. The office space of your employees will undergo a positive reconstruction, one that will make them work harder, help manage their time properly, and boost your business’s success.

Call us today at (310) 560-5060 to help get your business and its employees better organized.

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.
  2. 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 catch-all 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.

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!

Getting organized and staying organized

When you make the decision to get organized it will be easier because you have a goal in mind. The goal is getting organized.

The key to getting organized is to have a designated place for everything. There’s a popular saying amongst organizers: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” If you don’t have a designated space for something, the rule of thumb is to either make a space for it or get rid of it. If something doesn’t have a home, it will always be considered clutter. If you want to get organized and stay organized, this premise will help you to cut down on clutter and know exactly where to find things when you need them.

Another important key to being organized is maintaining the systems that you have put into place. If you don’t want to keep starting from scratch, you’ve got to maintain your systems.

My advice is to designate a few minutes every day for maintenance so that things don’t get out of control. In the beginning, you might want to try setting aside time and marking it in your calendar just as you would any other appointment. As mornings tend to be the busiest, perhaps you can spend a few minutes when you get home or before you go to bed at night picking up after yourself:

    • Hang up the clothes you wore that day and throw the dirty ones in the hamper
    • Clean the dishes and/or put the dirty ones in the dishwasher
    • Go through your mail and remember to do the following:
      • Toss the junk mail
      • Shred any mail that has your personal information on it that you don’t need or want
      • File the things that you can
      • Put the rest in action files (Bills to Pay, Events to RSVP To, To Do File, etc.)

Call us at (310) 560-5060 to discuss how we can help you get organized and stay organized.

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