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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

10 Easy Steps to Organize Your Paper

Do you struggle to keep up with the influx of mail and other paper information? Here are ten quick and steps to organize a household paper processing and storage station:

1. Create an area in your home to process and store your paper: If you have a kitchen desk this is a good location, but any area where you can create a small flat surface with storage underneath will work.

2. Create an in-box: Designate something as a mail in-box such as a basket or tray and place this on the flat surface. It can be anything that will hold a week’s worth of mail but no more.

3. Add a recycling bin to your paper processing station: Place a recycling bin or trash bin under your flat surface and near your in-box so you will have easy access to throw away all the junk mail you don’t need to open.

4. Place a trash bin under the flat surface: For non-recyclable items that arrive in the mail.

5. Place a shredder next to the recycling bin: To dispose of any incoming paper that has personal information or account numbers on it. This will help reduce the risk of identity theft.

6. Designate a basket or tray for magazines/catalogs and place on the flat surface next to or stacked on top of your in-box: Separate bulky magazines and catalogs from your other mail. The container should be portable so you can easily move it around to where you read. The container should be big enough to hold a month’s worth of reading but small enough that you will get rid of the old magazines as new ones arrive. Donate and recycle old magazines to your local library, hospital or other charitable organization.

7. Create a file for bills to be paid: Sort your bills into a portable tote so that you can carry it with you to where you are comfortable to pay bills, such as the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, making it feel like less of chore. Keep a checkbook, pens, stamps and envelopes in the tote for easy access. Or, simplify bill paying further by setting up on-line bill pay with your bank.

8. Create a file for each family member: If you are the primary mail sorter in your household, but other people receive mail—set up a file and label with the person’s name. Add mail to their folder as you sort. Ask the person to check their file weekly or place it where they will take action.

9. Set-up reference paper storage: For your bank statements, insurance policies and claims, tax receipts and other important documents should you need to refer to them later. A file cabinet underneath your flat surface or next to is ideal, but any box that will hold files inside will work fine. Organize by broad subjects to simplify your system. Label your files and place in your storage alphabetically for easy access. Weed annually—after you have filed your taxes is good time to do this.

10. Create a household binder: For organizing the endless stream of paperwork that the kids bring home from school such as school/sports schedules, lunch menus, sports team information, and after-school activities. Also directories, emergency information, medical information and the all-important take-out menus. Keep it near the phone and you'll have easy access to all the information you need. It will instantly become "command central" for your entire family.

When you have completed these steps it might look something like this

If you follow these easy steps, opening your mail will no longer be that dreaded task.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Eat Frogs and Reach your 2011 Goals

For many, January marks the time to reflectively think about what we want to accomplish for the new year. And, for many this is a daunting task because we don't know where to start. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

Determine Your Goals. Time management experts across the board agree that one of the major causes of a crazy schedule is failing to set clear goals. Focus your energy towards achieving those goals that give you purpose. Goals are the foundation or bedrock of a solid time management program. Brian Tracy author of Eat That Frog outlines seven simple steps for setting and achieving goals.
1. Decide exactly what you want
2. Write it down on a Master To Do List
3. Set a deadline for your goal; set sub-deadlines if necessary
4. Add to Your Master To Do List everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.
5. Organize the list into a plan by priority (ABCDE – see below) and sequence
6. Take action on your plan immediately
7. Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal

Activity: On your Master To Do List, write down exactly what you want (goals), a deadline for each, and then prioritize your list.

If you are struggling with identifying your goals, then first identify your roles and what you want to accomplish in each. For example; my roles are spouse, parent, business owner, friend, teacher, and volunteer. My goal for my parent role this week is to find a math tutor for my daughter.

Activity: Or, you can do the quick list method Brian Tracy suggests. In thirty seconds write down your three most important goals in your life right now. You can expand on this exercise by asking the following questions:
What are your three most important business or career goals right now?
What are your three most important family or relationship goals right now?
What are your three most important financial goals right now?
What are your three most important health goals right now?
What are your three most important personal and professional development goals right now?
What are your three most important social and community goals right now?
What are the three biggest problems or concerns in your life right now?

Think about your goals and review them daily. Every morning when you begin, take action on the most important task you can accomplish to achieve your most important goal at the moment. Brian Tracy author of Eat That Frog terms this “Eat That Frog!” Your “frog” is your biggest most important task, the one you are most like to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the most significant impact on your life at the moment. This is the task you want to start with each day. Often when we procrastinate it is because the task seems too hard. But, if you did it first then the rest of the day is easy and you don’t have that frog croaking at you! You must develop the routine of eating your frog before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it.

Activity: Look at your Master To List what is your frog today? Eat it!

Practice the ABCDE Method
A = A task that is very important and something you must do. These are your frogs in life. You may have more than one “A” task. You can prioritize these by writing “A-1”, “A-2”, and so on. A-1 is your ugliest frog!
B = A task that you should do. These are your tadpoles of your life. Reviewing an unimportant phone call or reviewing your e-mail is a B Task.
C = A task that would be nice to do, but left undone would not suffer great consequences such as, phoning a friend or having lunch with a co-worker.
D = A task that you can delegate to someone else to free up more time for your A tasks such as, your teenage child doing his own laundry instead of you doing it.
E = An activity that you can eliminate altogether such as watching television.

Activity: If you haven’t prioritize your goals on your Master To Do List, review your list right now and put an A, B, C, D, or E next to each task or activity. Select your A-1 task and begin on it immediately. Discipline yourself every day to do nothing else until your A-1 task is complete.

Time management is really self management. It is taking control of the sequence of events—having control over what you do next and your ability to choose the task that you will do next. Your ability to choose between important (what you decide to do) and urgent (what others may try to dictate you do) is the key determinant of your success in life and work.

Activity: Before you begin any task today ask yourself, “Is this task going to help me achieve one of my goals (important)?”

If you have struggled to reach goals in the past, let 2011 be the year you reach your goals...get started today--eat a frog!

Do you want to learn more about successful time management habits? Check out my e-book 4 Weeks to Reclaim Your Time (free with the purchase of my book Get Organized Today!).

A bit about me...

I love to organize anything! I love to read anything on the subject of organizing. I especially love helping others learn the joy and simplification organizing habits and behaviors can bring to their lives.

Click here to learn a bit about me and visit our websites (organizing services), (training and education for professional organizers) and my book web site

Anne Blumer

Anne Blumer
Certified Professional Organizer, Certified GO System Trainer and Consultant, and Certified FreedomFiler Consultant

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Certified Professional Organizer

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