When it comes to getting organized, we are our own worst enemies. We keep things because we persuade ourselves we’ll need them, even if we haven’t used them in 5 years and don’t quite know where we’ve put them. There is some type of imaginary security blanket in just knowing they’re around…somewhere.
Here are some basic helpful tips to follow routinely in both your personal and business life. You should find them useful in getting you on your way to being and staying organized. After the hard work is done, the benefits of organization are ten-fold, from hours of time saved, frustration gone, and a sense of self-accomplishment and feeling good about what you have achieved. This information should be especially useful to those that may be considering listing their home for sale, as you will want to make sure your home and your life are very organized during that time.
Open your mail every day. Or at least make a weekly appointment with yourself to open all your mail and pay all your bills, and don’t break it! When you pick up your mail, always throw the junk mail out immediately. That leaves a smaller pile to deal with.
Shred everything with your name, address, and any personal information, especially credit card offers and anything with your social security number.
Once you have looked at a paper, take whatever action is needed right away. Don’t set it aside for “later”.
Set up a weekly appointment with yourself to do the food shopping, and create a meal plan for the week (Sunday works best) with all the necessary groceries, so that you won’t need to go to the supermarket all the time.
Always put the ball in other people’s court. The overall goal is to have no papers on your desk at all. In order to do that, act on all your open files; do your part and you won’t have to think about the project, task or questions, until the others get back to you. Put the papers you have acted on in a Pending File with a note as to the action taken, when and with whom. Then input a date in your calendar with an alert so that you can follow-up if necessary.
Get virtual. Anything that you can keep as a document on your computer, do it! Do not print out anything, unless you will need it outside your home or office. Always back up important information from your computer onto a flash or backup drive.
Organize your computer. Get files off the desktop, they are visual clutter. Reserve your desktop for the files you access every day. Create folders in your Documents folder to include a range of files: Clients by Name, Legal Documents, Events, etc. Create categories and subcategories that make sense to you.
The biggest obstacle between you and your organization is your reluctance to throw things out. In your business, throw out all tax papers older than 11 years; individuals can safely throw out all financial papers older than 7 years. Do keep birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, driver’s licenses and passports, along with your Will (hopefully you have one), deed/title to your home, homeowner’s insurance, etc. in a safety deposit box or in a fireproof safe and/or with copies to your lawyer/financial advisor (if your relationship has been a long-standing one). Whoever you have named to be the Executor of your Will, make sure that person(s) knows where the original of your Will is kept.
You must be willing to throw things out! Get over the roadblock that is keeping you from getting organized. We believe there is no one’s home or office where something can’t be thrown out! If there’s an item you haven’t used in 6 months, chances are you won’t ever use it; it’s only taking up space, so get rid of it.
Go through your items quickly and make snap judgments. That first inclination is generally a good one. Then repeat the process. Often, you will find more items that you can live without. If you are holding onto something in case you “might” need it in the far off future, get rid of it! You can always buy whatever it is when you actually need it.
If you truly can’t throw things out, we suggest getting those items out of your life in stages. Put the items in a box with a destroy date written onto it, about 6 months from now. If you find yourself needing to go into it to find something, and you end up actually using that item, not just taking it out of the box, put it with the items to keep. Anything left in the box at the end of the time should be thrown out.
If you are a frequent traveler, have a travel bag all ready to go according to airline regulations on allowable liquid sizes. The bag should include toothbrush and miniatures of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body cream, liquid body soap, sunscreen; razor; brush/comb. Carry on extra socks for use on the plane, extra medication and prescription, hand cleaner. Pack anything liquid, creamy or potentially messy in plastic zip lock bags.
Create a To Do or Task List, if possible on your iPhone or similar device. Prioritize items and assign all a due date. If a task needs following up, set a date to take further action.
Back up your computer at least weekly and make sure any other device you use to store important information is also backed up regularly. There’s nothing worse than DATA LOSS! You will then always have a copy of your address book, calendar, task list. It is a brain source, once you put it in you don’t have to think about it until it tells you to!
Start by picking one thing that needs to get organized, the smaller the better: papers, computer files, clothes, linen closet, kitchen, mail, children’s room, and work on that one thing until you are content that it is sufficiently organized. Then move onto the next item. Never attack the whole house or office at one time, as you will fail in your overall goal.
Once you’ve mastered the Art of Getting Organized, remember that like anything, it must become an ongoing habit, not just a passing urge. Stay and Keep yourself Organized and you will experience a much more positive daily outlook both personally and in your business life.
RE/MAX Showcase has three offices in Lake County with more than 80 professional real estate agents who specialize in both Residential and Commercial properties. RE/MAX Showcase is also licensed in Wisconsin.
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