She’s So Organized: Managing the World of Paper

So the time of doing our taxes is here again and this has triggered my new challenge/project this week.  This for a lot of people including myself can be a tedious and time-consuming task, and even for someone who loves organizing not so fun!   If you haven’t done it in a while it can be a bit overwhelming to say the least.  So as I started my new project I began to ask myself how I could come up with a better solution than the one I currently had and of course needed to blog about it :).

Below are some tips that I’ve been using and as always I hope they can help you!

1) Quick Sort

Don’t get into the mud by going through each paper in detail, review quickly and determine if the item can either be thrown out, shredded, or needs to be filed and separate accordingly.  Refer to my link below for a reference document to know how long to keep your paperwork.  Once the quick sort is completed, move the trash and shredded items out of the room, you can discard or shred later.  By doing this you have now removed them from your eye site, which can lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed and prevent you from quitting.

2) Sort items by category

Once you have removed the items that need to be thrown away you can begin the real sort.  I have found sorting items into three or four general categories at first really helps to keep it simple, and prevents you from getting overwhelmed.  The word we would always use K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Also, determine a color code for each category so you can label appropriately later on.

Below are examples of three categories that I use.

  • Financial (Green)
  • Household (Blue)
  • Vital Records (Yellow)

3) Create To Do Folders

These folders will not be used for items that will be immediately filed but for actionable items as well as for new incoming mail.

  • To Pay
  • To Review
  • To File

4) Create more detail folders

For each category I created a manila folder with the proper colored category label described above.  Use removable labels and pencils to always label your folders, this allows you to change if you need later on. 

Examples for Financial:

  • Mortgages
  • Stocks
  • Medical Expenses
  • 401K

Examples for Household:

  • Receipts for Major Purchases
  • Contacts
  • Vacation
  • Auto Maintenance Records
  • Home Maintenance Records

Examples for Vital Documents:

  • Health Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • Social Security
  • Taxes (Folder per Year)

Make sure you to do this at least once a year…I find there are a lot of documents you can purge at tax time given the guidelines below.

http://www.shrednations.com/articles/personal-records-retention.php

To get through this tedious task, I highly recommend turning on some enjoyable music!!

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She’s So Organized: Bluelounge – CableBox: Out of sight, out of mind

I  had to share this site and new tool I just discovered.  They have great products for organizing and disguising those messy looking cables for your computer(s).  I made sure to add this CableBox to my WishList.

She’s So Organized: SmartPhones

So in a previous post I talked about leveraging technology to stay more organized and one of the best tools out there now for staying organized are smartphones!  Before your cell phone was your phone, well now this new cool tool  functions as your phone and your planner.  To me there isn’t a reason to carry around those bulky planners anymore, everything that planners did smart phones do plus ten times more.  As we all say there has to be an App for that!

If you never heard the term apps basically these are applications that may already exist on your phone or that can be downloaded onto your phone and there are thousands to chose from.  The thing I love most about my phone is not the phone itself but the apps.  They really do make my day to day life a little easier and to me it is honestly exciting to find a new app that can make my life more organized :).

Below are some of my favorite apps that keep me organized:

1) Calendar – This app really isn’t an app that you have to download but comes already on your phone.  This tool lets you create your appointments right on your phone and gives you the ability to set reminders so you don’t forget that next doctor’s appointment.  I love it when I setup a new doctor’s appointment and they ask me “Do you need a reminder card?”, nope got it in my phone!  For me it is one less thing for me to have to keep track of.

2) Occasions – This app keeps track of all my friends birthdays and anniversaries from my phone.  It reviews my contact information on my phone and Facebook and notifies me a week and the day of the event.  This allows me enough advanced warning to make sure I buy that birthday or anniversary card and they are sent out on time.   It also links to my phone’s calendar so I don’t even need to go into the app.

3) iRxHelper – This little prescription application is so simple yet for me keeps me on top of making sure my prescriptions are ordered on time before we run out and that I always have the information I need.  When the doctor asks what prescriptions my children or I am taking and what are the strengths?  Before I would always answer “I will need to get back to you on that”, not anymore.

4) ToDo – I have all tasks (work and home) all listed in my ToDo Application.  This nice little app let’s me setup recurring tasks and setup alerts to push notifications to me at particular times of the day.  So on Mondays when that daycare paycheck is due I receive my reminder on my phone while I’m getting ready.  No more need for that post it note!

Also, there is no scrambling to find my to do list or a pen and paper when I need to add something to my list.  The second I think of that crucial thing that needs to get done, I grab my phone and start typing.  Wala my to do item will not be forgotten!

5) GroceryIQ – I mentioned this app in an early post but it is still one of my favorite applications.  I used to always forget my grocery list at home and struggle to remember what I need (my memory is horrible)….well not anymore!  This app let’s me create my grocery list in minutes and allows me to grocery shop in half the time.  It also saves me having to tell my husband what he needs to pickup from the grocery store and  where it is located.  The app syncs with his phone and tells him exactly what aisle everything is in.  Have I mentioned lately I love this app!!

A couple others tools on my phone that keep me organized are of course my email,  contacts, and the ability to text.  I am not sure how I lived without having my email and contacts always on me but I definitely know I wasn’t as organized then!

If you own a Smartphone have fun app shopping, if you don’t own a Smartphone get one it will honestly transform your life.  If not for to keep you more organized at least to enjoy a game of AngryBirds!

She’s So Organized: Products I Love!!

One of my favorite things about organization is being creative and finding new solutions to staying organized.  Unfortunately this also includes having to shop ;). I have put down a few of my favorite organization solutions that I have found over the years that I don’t know how I lived without.  I hope some of them inspire your creative side or help you find a solution to your organizational challenges.

This product is so simple yet so effective in organizing. No more storing DVD, CDs or game cases... DVDs, games and CDs are easy to access in separate binders. I have a separate binder per category broken out by Kid DVDs, Adult DVDS, and XBox Games. I no longer have to figure out where to store all those awful plastic cases, YEAH!!!

So technically it is designed to be used to store formula, snacks and baby food on the go. But this product can be used for so much more! I use it in my pantry to store all my baking decorations together and I have one upstairs that stores all my small hair clips and bands. It could also be used to store rubber bands, paper clips, medicines. I am obsessed over this product, I constantly think about new ways I can use it to stay organized.

Command Hooks are the best invention since ok I'm going to say it sliced bread! I have these all over my house to hang up purses, jackets, robes....just about anything you can possibly think that needs to be hung up I have a command hook for. They are wonderful little tools that don't cost a fortune , and they are cheap and reusable. So if you decide you don't like the location you can move the hook without destroying your house and place it somewhere else.

I love this product from IKEA for organization! It offers so many endless possibilities when organizing. I currently use it to store all my gift wrapping and craft supplies and also use one in our media room to store Gaming controllers, DVDs and Games. Although it can be used for so much more. It would be great to store kids craft projects, puzzles, art supplies, magazines and of course any type of files.

She’s So Organized: Conquer Catalogs and Magazines

Magazines and catalogs can make even some of the most organized people insane, they can take over your home and if you are anything like me drive you absolutely crazy!  I’ve struggled for years to manage the hundreds of catalogs and magazines we had in our house and spent way to much time and money trying to find solutions to hide them.  My husband is a bit of a reader,  ok that is a bit of an understatement.  Below are some tips that I personally use to conquer the catalog and magazine clutter.

1) Divide and conquer – When you get the magazines and catalogs or magazines from your mailbox,  immediately recycle the ones you don’t want.  Put the ones you are keeping in an accessible bin or basket designated for the incoming magazines and catalogs.

2) One comes in at least one goes out – Once a week take the magazines or catalogs from the designated bin and replace (recycle) them with the old ones.

If you keep up with this at least once a week it doesn’t become a chore and its not so overwhelming. Trust me!

3) Rip out articles – After you are done reading,  rip out the articles you like and put them into a personal notebook with sheet covers, and recycle the magazine.  A lot of times we end up keeping magazines because we like a couple articles and most of the time we forget about those articles and never see them again.  If you keep them in a folder, that important article doesn’t get lost and you don’t have to worry about storing the magazine.

4) Go Paperless – We have a huge advantage today, we have this wonderful thing called technology.  Most Magazines are now available online or through tablet applications which will allow you to save money, trees, space and your sanity.  In our home, we have been able to eliminate all of our subscription magazines (which was around 12!) by using the iPad.  We also get all of our newspapers this way as well.  This wonderful tool has brought so much peace to my home  :).

Hope these tips help and bring a little peace to your home as well.

She’s So Organized: Label Pictures

Pantry Labels - Used Index Card, Scrapbook Paper, Punch and Binder Clips

Toy Bin Labels - Used Ribbon, Scrapbook Stickers and Gift Tags

She’s So Organized: The Art of Labeling

Being organized is very helpful but without the help of labels, you may know where everything is but no one else has any clue.  Labeling provides people in your household as well as people outside your household direction.  It helps limit the number of “Where is?? ” and helps others put things back where they belong (which can be huge!).  I admit I have a problem, I am a bit of a label addict…ok maybe extreme.  The other day my husband mentioned that he could clearly see the push pins in the draw, and asked me if it was really necessary to label them. Of course my response is Absolutely!!  You don’t have to label everything in your house like me, but think of some of the big things that would really save time in your household if you labeled.  For example, maybe a cubby for your family’s shoes, toys that need to be grouped together, drawers or bins which items are hidden from view or to high to see inside.  Labels are quick, easy tools to save you time and a lot of headaches.

I know sometimes the thought of labeling can sometimes be a little blah…but labels don’t have to be boring looking.  You can make labels more interesting and bring out a little of your creative side.  I have been able to find a lot of ways to make labels more visually stimulating with just using some simple tools (index cards, scrapbook paper, a scalloped punch, ribbon, and some binder clips) around the house.  I plan on posting these examples to the site this week, but until then have fun labeling!

In regards to my addiction, I plan on working on it.  It is one day at a time! 🙂