Friday, January 28, 2011

Junk Mail- Just Stop It!

Your name, address, and buying habits are tracked by companies and sold and traded on the open market. It’s usually a dead giveaway when some group misspells your name and then 20 more solicitations with the same misspelling crop up.

For those mass lists, here are a few tips to keep from being on shared lists.

1. Whenever you donate money, order something, or fill out a warranty card, write in large letters “Please do not sell my name or address.” Some organizations have a box to check.

2. When you donate to groups like the Audubon Society, you can request that they only send out an annual renewal reminder.

3. If you get information from your investments via mail, you can request on-line reports or CDs instead.

4. Avoid filling out warranty cards if you do not require them. They are often for obtaining information and targeting direct mail.

5. If making a phone order or donation, retest that your account is noted that your name is not traded or sold to other companies.

6. Avoid “contests” where you fill in entry blanks.

7. If something comes to you via first class mail, cross out the address and barcode, circle the first class postage, and write “refused: return to sender.”

8. For credit card offers, call 1-888-5 OPT OUT.

9. For catalogs, call the company’s 800 number. Have your catalogs in front of you when you call.

10. For much junk mail, send a postcard of letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Assoc., PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643. Include your complete name, address, zip code and a request to “activate the preference service.” This will stop mail from all member organizations that you have not specifically ordered products from.

It takes some investment time to clear the junk from your mailbox. The amount of junk mail sent is staggering – some 4 million tons, nearly half of which is never opened. Even reducing some of it helps our environment.

Would love some input on how others stop junk mail.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Action files

In several previous blogs I have referred to Action Files - also known as desktop files. These files serve the purpose of keeping your desktop clear.
Almost every piece of paper that ends up on your desk needs an action. It is up to you to determine that action and either carry out the action (if it takes less than 2 min.) or place the paper in an easily found place so that the action can be done at a later date.
Let's look at how that works. Pick up the first piece of paper in your stack on your desk or counter. 1. Identify the paper - bill 2. Identify the action - pay it 3. Identify where you are now going to place the paper - in the "To Pay" folder.
Repeat with the next piece of paper. 1. Identify the paper - copy of your recent car insurance 2. Identify the action - file 3. Identify where you are now going to place the paper - "To File" folder. Repeat with another paper. 1. Identify the paper - flyer from the High Museum 2. Identify the action - decide if you want to go to that exhibit 3. Identify where you are going to place the paper - "Pending" folder.
Slips of paper with addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses can go into the "To Contact" file. Short articles or items you have printed can go into the "To Read" file. Notes to yourself reminding you to go to the library, pick up dry-cleaning, or clean out the gutter can go in the "To Do" file.
It is important to decide what the first action will be. That car insurance paper might first have gone into the "To Read" folder and after being read into the "To File" folder.
Ads, catalogs, and magazines you don't intend to read should go directly into the trash and not even get laid down. Magazines and catalogs you want to read will go into a basket or bin near where you sit to read. Some items will need to be shredded and these can go into a basket or have a file of their own.
Let's talk about that "Pending" file where I put the flyer from the High Museum. I had not yet made up my mind on that exhibit. I wanted to look it up and call a friend to see if they could go with me. I put the date I plan to do this in my calendar and then dropped the information into my file. I use this file for items that I have not yet decided on and I also use it for events I have decided on but the event has not yet happened. I'll drop theater tickets in here after putting the date of the program on my calendar. I'll place invitations in here after I have accepted the invitation and put the date in my calendar. I keep the invitation so that I can refresh my memory on the exact time, place, and what I need to bring.
Now once everything is neatly filed - don't forget what is in those files. Here is where your calendar is your friend. Every "to do", every "pending" should have an entry on the calendar committing to when you are going to do or make a decision on an event or task. All other folders should be looked into on a regular basis - so once a week, have on your calendar - check the "To____" folder.
Remember though, if you can do the task in under two minutes - just do it instead of filing it.
If you want more assistance with filing, email me and register for my workshop From Paper Piles to Files on January 29 at Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Clean Desk

A clean desk cues you that work is going to get done. There are no distractions to take away your focus. The clean area on your desk commands your attention.
Keeping your desk clean is a constant battle. Think of your desk top as prime real estate. Whatever is on that desk should be something you use daily.
Keep your office supplies close by. Drawers and pencil caddies are convenient ways to keep often-used items handy.
Keep files, paper, and other resources that you use on a daily basis within arms reach. If your desk has drawers, the items can go there. Otherwise, have a bookcase or shelves within reach.
Organize your current projects into folders, files, or binders. Take time to label each project. These can be stored on a nearby shelf or in a tub or container near your desk. Pull out only one project at a time and then restore it to it's home before pulling out the next project. This keeps your desk clear of all but the current project but makes it easy to find your next project when you are ready for it.
Keep your desk clear of excess personal items. It is good to have one picture or a flower to make you smile, but not so many things that it begins to eat into your working space.
You should also pay attention to the floor space under or around your desk. This is an easy place to dump clutter. These distractions will only hinder your from your goal of keeping a clean desk.
With your desk area clean you will have more time and energy to devote to more important tasks.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Office Zone

If you follow my zone plan, January is a great month to organize your office or the place where you keep your files.
First study your office. Are there some "hot spots?" What is bothering you in this area? How would you like your office to look and feel? What about your office area do you really like and enjoy? Make a list of all the things you want to do to fix up and organize this area.
For me,I want my office to be inviting. I want my work areas clear of clutter. I want my ongoing projects to be in bins or files so that I can pull out one at a time and then "clear the decks" when I am ready for another project. I want my file systems current and easy to access. I want to feel in control when I am in my office.
Plan to complete this area by the end of the month. I like to divide the area into 4 sections and work on one section each week.
The first week I will tackle the wall that has my desk. I will clear everything off and out of my desk and give it a good cleaning. I will purge duplicates and things I no longer need or love. My files will get cleaned out. I will archive old files that I still need but aren't current and leave lots of room in my file drawers for growth.
The second week I will work on the wall with the cabinets. I will get rid of old binders I no longer need or archive ones that I may need but don't use often. I will organize the hanging files in this area. I will look at my accessories and decide if I want to change some of them.
The third week I will work on my bookcase. This will be an easy week because I only allow as many books in the case as will fit and constantly get rid of old books when new ones come in.
The last week I will do the wall with the bench and a project file. The bench holds some supplies that I will look over and see if I currently often use these supplies.
At the end of the month I will put fresh flowers on my desk and just stand in the doorway and admire it. My office is fresh and ready for the new year.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer