Do You Have A Storage Unit? Do You Really Need It?

Okay people. Let’s start this conversation right now. No beating around the bush. Let’s just get right to it. There are only a few good reasons to have a storage unit and even those are limited.  Here they are:

  1. If you are remodeling and are using a storage unit to keep your furnishings clean and safe during the renovation.
  2. If you are moving and using it to store your things for a SHORT period of time until your new residence is ready.
  3. If you need it to keep inventory for your business.

That’s it. There’s really no other reason to have a storage unit for an extended period of time. Sorry but that’s the truth. 

 

As a Professional Organizer, I have to say that if you haven’t used it (whatever “it” is)  in 6 months to a year, chances are you won’t and don’t need it.  Further, having the option of putting things in storage enables and may even subconsciously tempt you to acquire more since there’s “somewhere” to put it. Finally, knowing what storage can wind up costing, I can assure you that it is not worth it. Just do the math!

Here are some questions for you to think about: 

  • If you’re storing things that you have no room for, how important can those things be?
  • Why don’t you have room for the items you’re storing?  
  • Can you get easily access the things you need that are in storage?
  • How long have you been storing these things?
  • When was the last time you went to retrieve something from storage and were able to find what you were looking for?
  • How much money are you spending on storage?

Here’s the facts:

  • Storage costs a lot of money!
  • People usually store things because they can’t decide what to do with those items. 
  • Most of the items that people store never find their way back into the homes of those that stored them.

So, before the weather starts heating up and it’s just too hot to even think about going through your storage units, let’s do this now, together! This is how we can help:

  • We will empty everything out of the unit so that you can see everything;
  • We will go through each and every box and/or item to determine what to keep, what to donate and what to toss;
  • We will facilitate each of these options;
  • We will do this in one day!

Sounds good right? So don’t put this off for another day.  Let’s do this!

Organizing When You Live With Other People

Organizing means different things to different people. What one person considers organized may not necessarily mean the same thing to someone else. In fact, it rarely does. 

Some people like things put away as they don’t like clutter. Others like things out so that they can see them. 

When I lived at home as a child, my Mother’s way of organizing meant being able to access what she needed when she needed it so it didn’t matter if something was in the “right” place.  She spent a lot of time in the kitchen and, therefore, a lot of things that didn’t “belong” in a kitchen were there because it was easier for her to not have to go to another room in the house to get them. It worked for her and she knew where everything was. She was organized in her way and it worked for her.

 

When I started living on my own, I organized so that like items were with like items. Everything had its’ place and there was little, if any, clutter.  That is what worked for me and still does.

There really is no ONE right way.  

When we live with other people, whether it be a roommate, your children or a significant other, we need to figure out what works for everyone. Here are some suggestions that I believe will help so that everyone living under one roof is on the same page to avoid conflict (and, not necessarily in this order):

Mutual Respect: We all need to respect the people that we live with. We “should” pay attention to their needs and wants and, in turn, we can hope that they will respect ours. Example: If leaving your shoes in the middle of the floor irritates someone in the house and they’ve asked you to put them away or at least out of harms’ way, the respectful thing to do is to put them away or at least out of harm’s way. It doesn’t take long and it’s not a big deal. More importantly, you can avoid an argument or possibly an injury. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. 

Compromise: I think we can all agree that compromising is key. Sometimes we do things that we don’t necessarily want to do BUT it will keep the peace in the house so it’s just easier to do. Example: Men “should” put down the lid to the toilet seat if they’re living with a woman and sharing a bathroom. Yes, it’s an extra step but it’s important. Or, if there’s another bathroom in the house perhaps having different bathrooms might work. 

Combined effort: Having a plan in place is a great start. Discuss your wants, needs, expectations and together you can devise a plan that works for everyone. Chores can be divided so that all of the housework doesn’t fall on one person. For example, in my house, the agreement has always been that the common areas of the house (kitchen, living room, den) are always to be left clean and tidy after use. Examples: Dishes go directly into the dishwasher.  Beds are always made before leaving the house. Do whatever works for you but, having the conversation/understanding and an effective plan is a great way to avoid conflict.

Realistic Expectations. Like I mentioned above, everyone has their own way of organizing and their own level of organizational skills.  You can’t expect everyone, or anyone for that matter, to do things exactly like you do or when.  Come up with ways to divvy up the tasks so that they are commensurate with skills/likes of those in the house. Setting a schedule is also helpful so that everyone knows when they need to get their chores done.  

If you find that you need assistance with Organizing, Downsizing, De-Cluttering or Relocating please give us a call. We’d LOVE to be of service!

 

 

Ugh! Paperwork

It’s the time of year when we need to start getting our tax documents together.  We’re all, or most of us are, getting ready to either prepare our taxes or meet with a CPA to have them prepare them for us.  Fun times!  

April 15th, the deadline to file taxes, is only two months away.  Even though that sounds like a lot of time, it goes quickly.  Also, remember that if you’re using an accountant, they are probably wanting you to get your appointment on the calendar now as they’re getting booked up.

I know NOBODY looks forward to preparing or paying taxes but, we all have to do it.     Good thing is, tax time does not have to be stressful!  If you have your financial documents together things will be soooo much easier.  So, if you’re not organized this year and you’re stressing over it, why not get your sh*t together now.  This would be the time!

As a quick reminder, paperwork is one of my specialties. Having spent 30 years in the legal industry as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal before starting OCD, I can implement a filing system tailored to your needs.  I can go through your files or piles and make sense of them.  I can gather up the information/documentation needed for your CPA to file your taxes.   I know the IRS retention guidelines and know what to keep, what to shred, what to archive and what to toss.   If you need help, please give me a call.

While you’re dealing with paperwork, this is also a great time to review your important documents to make sure everything is up to date. Think of it as Financial Spring Cleaning. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure that your legal and financial documents are in order.

 

Insurance:

When was the last time you looked at your insurance policies?  Do you understand your coverage?  When was the last time you had your insurance policies reviewed?

It’s a good idea to have all of your insurance policies reviewed annually.  Get quotes to make sure you’re properly covered and that your rates are competitive.

More importantly, if you’ve gotten married, divorced or had children you might want to consider changing/updating your beneficiaries.

 

Estate Plan:

Do you have an Estate Plan?  When was the last time you updated your Trust and/or Will?

If you already have a Trust or Will in place, talk to your attorney every few years to make sure that everything is up to date.  Laws change and your estate needs to be updated accordingly. 

Further, if you’ve married, divorced, had children since you initially had your Estate Plan done, these documents need to be updated.  I’m sure you wouldn’t want your ex to inherit your assets or make important decisions about your healthcare if and when necessary.  These big life events are emotionally charged and making changes can slip through the cracks.  This is a gentle reminder.

If you don’t have an Estate Plan and have property and/or children, you might want to consider meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney.  Otherwise, your heirs will have to go through probate which is both costly and time consuming. 

Further, most people don’t know this BUT, if you have a child that is 18 or over, they SHOULD have a Health Care Directive in place.  Even if your child still lives with you or is in college and you support them, you do NOT have the right to make decisions about their healthcare unless you are the designated person on their Health Care Directive once they attain the age of 18.

 

Retirement Plan:

Do you have a 401K or other Retirement Plan in place?  Perhaps you forgot to roll over your Retirement Plan from a prior employer. 

Do you have any investments? Consider meeting with a financial planner to make sure that your investments are sound.  Again, things change and your portfolio may need to be re-allocated.   

If you’ve gotten married or divorced or had children you might want to consider changing your beneficiaries or the amount allocated to your beneficiaries.

I know paperwork is tedious. I also know that many people avoid it because they don’t really know what to do with it all.   If you need assistance, please give us a call.  We would love to help! 

Finally, if you need a referral to an Insurance Agent, CPA, Estate Planning Attorney or Financial Advisor, we would be happy to refer you to the right professional.

Organizing Is A Necessary Evil

need help get organized San Fernando Valley Los AngelesWhen it comes to organizing, most of us will hit a brick wall at some point with something that needs to be organized.  For whatever reason, that particular organizing chore is just too daunting and, therefore, probably won’t get done.  For some people it’s the paperwork, for others it’s the random files on their desk.  For some it’s the garage and for others it’s the craft room or mudroom. 

Of course, there’s also countless reasons as to why that particular organizing chore isn’t getting done.  Maybe it’s lack of time or maybe it’s lack of skill.  However, when the clutter or disorganization gets out of hand, most people will feel overwhelmed and may be unsure as to how to get it together or, back together as the case may be.

In the world of Professional Organizers, January is “Go” month.  It’s the beginning of a new year and it’s a great time to get organized to start the new year on the right foot.  In fact, it’s one of the top ten New Years’ resolutions year after year after year.  So, obviously, organizing is a constant and very necessary part of our lives.

That said, you can’t just get organized at the beginning of the year and expect things to stay that way. Organizing is something you need to do all year round. Maintenance is sooo important to keep things from spiraling out-of-control.  If it looks good and feels good, you’ll be more inclined to keep it that way.  All it takes is a few minutes a day! 

Why wait for things to spiral out-of-control?  Start organizing an area that’s making you crazy.  Start small!  Tackle one drawer, one closet or one cupboard at a time.  It’s better to organize one small area at a time so you can concentrate and finish the task.    I suggest staying in the same room until you’ve finished all areas in that room.  Then, move on to the next area when you’re ready.

Although there may not be a deadline, it’s easy to get side-tracked so make sure you put time on the calendar each day for a few minutes to organize.  That’s right…make an appointment with yourself to set aside time to get whatever organizing task you want to get done. 

There’s always something to organize.  We organize all the time, every day, without even thinking about it.  Putting the dishes away, filing a document into a folder, folding the clean laundry to put it away.  It’s part of our everyday life or, at least it should be.  

Think about it, people vow to get “better” organized in January to start the new year off on the right foot.   In February we start getting our papers organized to prepare our taxes or get them ready for our accountant.  At the end of March, we begin the Spring-cleaning craze.   Then, April starts moving season, which goes on through to mid-summer.  Those people that are moving will probably want to downsize and get rid of the excess so that they are organized and ready for their upcoming move.  Mid-Summer parents are getting things ready for their children to start school or planning a vacation.  Then Fall starts off the holiday season which has its own organizing challenges, i.e. hosting guests or planning events, purging to make room for all the Christmas décor, gifts and company. 

All of this requires some degree of organizing!

So, what’s it gonna be?   Are you going to start the year off on the right foot?  Will you implement a badly needed filing system?  Purge old papers?  Get the boxes of photos in the garage scanned or made into a beautiful album so that you can get rid of all those boxes from too many generations?  Purge the garage so you can park you car in there? Go thru the bins and bins of your grown children’s memorabilia to determine what they actually want or need? Organize your closet and get rid of the clothes that no longer fit or suit your current lifestyle?

Whatever you decide to do, I can guarantee that if you’re organized or even better organized than you are right now, you’ll be more productive and efficient.  Inevitably you’ll wind up having more time and, you know what “they” say…Time is money! 

GO FORTH AND CONQUER!  If you need help, give us a call.  We’re ready when you are. 

Are You Ready for 2021?

We’re finally at the end of the year.   2020 is almost done.  Yay!   I know we are all hoping for a better 2021.  I mean, it’s gotta be better right?

It’s been a long hard year on so many levels but, there have also been so many silver linings.  I know for me it gave me time to pause and think about what I was doing and why both personally and professionally.  Personally, I realized how much I love and need my friends and family. Even though I wasn’t able to see them in person as much as I’d like, or at all, I made it a point to stay in touch more than before.  Professionally, I stopped working 24/7 and I am getting the same, if not better, results.  I am more efficient, more focused and using my time wisely.  

I hope that you too realize that there was some good that came from this unprecedented year and that you can move into 2021 with a positive outlook.

Different times require different actions.  So, I thought I’d write about something different for this newsletter.  Instead of organizing tips, I want to share some statistics about organizing instead.  You will probably relate to one or more of them.  If you do, perhaps this might be a good time to turn some things around.  

STATISTICS:

-The average office employee spends 1.5 hours a day (6 weeks per year) looking for things (Courtesy of organizedworld.com) 

-A 2008 survey of 400 consumers nationwide showed that 27% said they feel disorganized at work, and of those, 91% said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized. (Courtesy of NAPO-National Association of Professional Organizers)

-The typical executive wastes 150 hours a year, almost an entire month, searching for lost information. For someone earning $50,000 a year, this loss is equivalent to $3,842 annually. (Courtesy of Forbes ASAP)

-A startling 25% of people with 2-car garages couldn’t put a car in it because they use it to store other things. (Courtesy of The US Department of Energy)

-80% of the items we keep are never used. (Courtesy of NAPO).

-80% of what we file never gets looked at again. (Courtesy of NAPO)

-Getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework in the average home. It also reduces the stress associated with a disorganized living space. In other words, purging is a passageway for feeling more calm and clear-headed. (The National Soap and Detergent Association)

-On average we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items. (Courtesy of NAPO)

– 23% of adults admit to paying bills late because they lose them. (Courtesy of Consumer Agencies and Harris Interactive)

-We wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. The rest hangs there, just in case. (Courtesy of NAPO)

 

The New Year is upon us so set your New Years’ resolutions to change those things that aren’t working both personally and professionally. 

Organizing is one of those things that can only help. There is no downside so why not do something to get “better” organized. 

If you need help with organizing, downsizing (or rightsizing as the case may be) or moving, give us a call.  We’ll be working through the holidays!

In closing I’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. 

Set Yourself Up For Success When Working From Home (Part II)

For those of you who didn’t receive or read last month’s newsletter, this is a continuation, Part II, of my article “Set Yourself Up for Success When Working From Home”.

The following are some great tips to follow to be more productive and efficient when working from home.

1. Work Center: The first thing I would highly recommend is to create a centralized work center:
• This area should contain everything you need 90% of the time.
• These items/supplies/files need to be accessible.
• It would be best if you can set this up so that what you need is within arms’ reach.
o If that’s not possible always make sure to have what you do need before starting your work to avoid unnecessary distractions, interruptions or delays.

2. Connect: While working from home, we don’t have the same opportunities to build and maintain the personal connections that we would normally have when working with the same people in person. Therefore, it is extremely important to be vigilant about staying in touch with clients, colleagues and other associates.
• Do something every day to maintain relationships and form new ones.
o You can call, text, email. Send a note via facebook or Linked-In.
• When it’s appropriate and safe to do so, meet with people face to face.
o In the meantime, use whatever works for you, i.e., zoom, facetime

3. Contact Management System: Having a way to funnel all of your contacts and other pertinent information into one place allows information to be easily tagged and retrieved.
• On-line contact management systems and CRM’s have become increasingly more popular and there’s a good reason. It works! I use a CRM in my business daily and in so many different ways that I can’t imagine running my business without this tool. The possibilities are endless. Some of the ways that it can be utilized:
o Data Bases:
 I have data base lists for: my clients, one for vendors, one for each of my networking groups.
o Reports:
 Ability to run reports for just about anything: income by day, month, year and/or client; who referred business and when.

4. Paper Processing Center: Whether your office is the kitchen table, a converted closet, or a corner suite, you need a quick and easy way to handle paper.
• Until you’re completely paper-less, it’s a good idea to have one place for paperwork, i.e., an inbox. Incoming items like meeting notes, business cards, bills and items to read should be placed in your inbox, rather than dumping them in a pile on your desk.
• It would be great if you had a trash can and shredder located at this designated “place” to avoid the build-up of unwanted paper (flyers, solicitations)
• Create and implement a simple filing system.
o The most important thing to remember is that whatever system you create should be practical to YOU.
o The key to an efficient system is your ability to find and retrieve your files quickly.
 It is imperative that you name/label your files so that you can easily find what you need when you need it.
• Keep your current project(s) and active file(s) in a vertical¬ desktop file holder or file drawer within easy reach.
• Schedule File Time:
o No one likes to file paper but, it is a necessary evil. Set a weekly appointment on your calendar to go through your inbox and process the items inside.
 Keep in mind your inbox is a holding spot that’s meant to be emptied. It’s not a file cabinet!

5. Master Calendar: Too many of us use several calendars, or sticky notes, and invariably lose information, dates, appointments and contacts in the madness.
• Decide on what calendar system best serves you and use it consistently. Remember there is no right or wrong way.
o When you find something that you like, use it for at least three weeks to see if it works for you.
 Whatever you choose, you must be willing to use it consistently.