With January 2008 right around the corner, many people start to think of things that they can make New Year’s Resolutions. And let’s be honest – most of us never stick to them. But this year can be different if you focus on only one or two thing that you really need to work on. Promising yourself to never eat another donut is not going to happen; they are just too good! So make this year the year that you will focus on a really important thing – getting organized.
Whether it be your finances, your house or your life in general, getting organized can only make things better. If it is your finances, you will find that your bills finally get paid on time. If it is your house, you might not have to replace something you already own because you cannot find it! Getting organized streamlines many aspects of your life and it is about time to get it done!
The first step in truly getting organized is to purge. Purge, Purge, Purge – and then Purge again. I understand it can be difficult to throw things away, but do you really need that receipt from dinner back in 2006? Didn’t think so. Go through every drawer, every box, and every cabinet where you could be hoarding paperwork. Make three piles – TOSS, SHRED, FILE. These are the only 3 piles you are allowed to sort this stuff into. And once you have gone through everything and put them in the respective files, throw away the TOSS pile and sit back down with the 3 piles. Go back through the FILE pile and see if there is anything more you can get rid of. Throw away the TOSS file again and shred the stuff in the SHRED pile. You are now left with one pile – the stuff you are going to keep. Make sure this is all stuff you actually need! A big problem that hoarders have is that they feel like they cannot get rid of anything – and we are working on changing that, so make sure the pile is the bare minimum!
Once you think you have the three piles down to where they should be, it’s time to start organizing the FILE pile. Depending on your individual needs, you should create files for various things to separate them – Tax Purposes, Receipts, Automotive, etc etc. You can make these as you go, but pick up the first piece of paper in the FILE pile and make a folder for whatever category it falls into. Then as you go along, you can either file each piece of paper in an existing file or just create a new file for a new category.
Rinse and repeat until the FILE pile is gone and you have a bunch of folders with all your paperwork categorized nicely.
Really, that was the easy part. Can you keep it up all year long? Do you want to have to do this every year or do you want to stay organized all year? The key to staying organized is that each and every item should have it’s place. Whether it be toys, collectibles, art supplies, bills, etc – knowing where to put something is the key to staying organized year-long. When you get the mail, have a place for it. Put the bills in an INBOX for your bills that you created. Throw away the junk mail immediately after walking in the house. Put the magazines on the coffee table with the other ones so you will read them when you sit down to relax for a minute. Never just walk in the house and throw the mail on the table – days later you will have a big pile of mail to sort through and the goal is to eliminate these piles!
Being organized frees up your time, saves you money, and gives you piece of mind. For some people, it’s a way of life. Call it OCD or whatever, but knowing where everything is and where it goes helps me relax. I know I am not keeping junk and paperwork tucked into all the nooks and crannies of my house – it gives me room to breathe. You don’t need to go to the extremes that I go to sometimes (believe me, your spouse might not like it too much!) but just being generally organized will make you feel a lot better. You can use the tips above and apply them to organize anything – your garage, the playroom, the trunk of your car. Gather everything, separate it out into piles, and start throwing or filing. Eventually things will be in the right place. Don’t get overwhelmed – no one says it has to be done in one day. In fact, I encourage anyone with organization issues to start with just 15-30 minutes a day! That way you are encouraged to keep working at it and the slow but steady results will encourage you to keep going. And if you have trouble creating a system for your financial life, you can always buy (or make your own) financial planning organizer kit like this one.
For this New Year, make a resolution to get organized so you can live a saner more relaxing existence. Also, always keep in mind that it saves money, as we all like to save money!