Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Organize Your Spending to Reduce Stress

It's a new year. Are you comfortable with your money income/outgo? Are you a bit nervous because you sense all is not right but you are not sure exactly why or how much? Make a plan for this year to be more organized and under control.

Develop a vision of how you want this year to look and feel. Make some notes. It could look like:
  • I want to be confident that my money will last until the end of the month.
  • When I make a fun purchase, I want to be sure that I won't regret it later.
  • I want to know that if something breaks or goes wrong, it won't devastate my finances.
Next brainstorm all that you can do to make this happen. Some ideas are:
  • I will track everything I spend - even that cup of coffee during break.
  • I will group my costs - car, food, housing, clothing, entertainment, gifts - and see how I am spending my money.
  • I will use my calendar to note when each monthly bill comes due and the approximate cost.
  • I will set aside in envelopes the amount of cash I plan to use for the month on items like groceries, entertainment, gifts.
Once you have developed your brainstorm list, set yourself a timeline. You may give yourself a year to develop a good budget plan, but also plan some benchmarks along the way. Set dates to call phone companies or cable and try to find ways to reduce the cost. Set dates to call or write your creditors if you would like to have specific due dates that fit in with the dates you receive your income. Note what months you will spend extra because of holidays or birthdays and then develop a plan to put back some each month in advance for these occasions.

Once you have a handle on where and when you spend and on how much you spend each month, develop your budget. Then track. You will know if in any month more goes out than comes in.

Now all you have to do is maintain that spread sheet or budget. Once you know exactly what is going on, you will feel more in control and have less stress.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Clear the Clutter from Your Desk - Action Files

It seems no matter how hard you try, papers pile up all over your desk. There are the notes to make phone calls, the folder to complete, the bills to enter or pay, the report to complete, the papers waiting to be filed, etc., etc., etc.

So what's a poor working girl (or guy) going to do?

Set up desktop or action files.

What files do I need to set up?

That depends on what is lurking on your desk.

  • If you have bills to pay or enter, set up a file that says "pay" or "enter."
  • If you have papers to file, set up a file that says "file."
  • If you have notes about making calls, set up a file that says "call."
  • If you have unfinished projects lying about, set up a file saying "projects."
You get the idea. The file names entirely depend on what is lurking on your desk. If you can't keep stuff from accumulating during the day, at least make a clean sweep of your desk at the end of the day so that you start each fresh new day with a clean desk.

The only tricky part is to remember to visit those folders on a regularly scheduled basis and take care of the tasks that you have tucked away.

Now you will not dread coming into your office in the mornings with your cup of coffee to start your day!

For more help on organizing your papers, come to the free workshop, From Paper Piles to Files, at Finders Keepers on Feb. 1 at 9:30. http://www.consignatlanta.blogspot.com/

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Containers and Letting Go

When we hear the word "container" we usually conjure up the mental picture of plastic bins or baskets to hold our "stuff." But actually a container is any object used to hold things.

For the purpose of this blog, let's imagine closets, bookcases, filing cabinets, drawers, kitchen cabinets, as well as baskets and bins.

Then, how do containers help us let go of objects? When working with clients, I often tell them they can keep as much of any particular item as long as they have room in the designated container to comfortably hold it.

How does this look?
  • You can have as many shoes as will fit in the designated area/shelves in your closet.
  • You can have as many cookbooks as will fit on the designated shelf in the kitchen.
  • You can have as many plastic food containers as will fit into the designated drawer or shelf.
  • You can keep as many files in your filing cabinet as will comfortably fit.
  • You can keep as many current magazines as will fit in the magazine stand.
  • You can have as many t-shirts as will fit into the designated drawer or shelf.
  • You can have as many magic markers as will fit into the designated bin.
If you own more of any one thing than will comfortably fit, you chose the ones you love the most and let go of the rest. If you just cannot make yourself let go of some items, then you must find another container that will hold the excess and it should fit somewhere that makes sense.

This is a revelation to some and can really be very enlightening. It can be very satisfying to sort through the category and choose the very best to comfortably fit your container and let the rest go to others!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Zone Plan - Organizing Your Office

When a new year starts I develop a plan to organize or work on the maintenance of my home. I divide my home into 10 zones. Each month, except for July and December, I work on organizing one of those zones. I give myself July and December to work on other projects and to catch up if I have fallen behind.

January is set aside for my office zone. My plan is to revisit my vision for my office and see if I am still on track. I touch everything in my office and make decisions about what stays in the office, what stays but is stored outside of my office zone, and what I going to be tossed, donated, recycled, or shredded.

This past year I have moved, so my office is in a new location and has different dimensions. The vision for the area has also changed. The room is larger now, so I now have room for meetings in my office. The room has less built in storage, so I must decide what I need to store in this zone and what I will store elsewhere and what I no longer need to keep. I continue to want the room to be open and inviting both to me and to my guests.

I start with clearing out all of my files in my desk and filing cabinet. Some papers are moved to archival storage, some are tossed or shredded, some are set aside for tax preparation, and some return to the file folder. It is important that my files have plenty of room for the papers that will gather this year.

Next, I clear out my remaining drawers in my desk. Extra supplies are donated or stroked elsewhere. Tattered or broken work tools are tossed.

I continue around the office, clearing out the bookcase, the storage cabinet, and updating my vision board. My project bins are updated. I schedule daily and weekly maintenance to make certain that paper is not accumulating on my desk or on other surfaces and that I am keeping my action files working properly.

By the end of the month, I reward myself with a fresh flower on my desk. I feel ready to tackle another year.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer