Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Paper, Paper, Everywhere!

Paper, paper everywhere! Where does it all come from? How do we make it go away?

We all dream of having that clutter free office and clutter free desk. But somehow that dream often eludes us.

Where does this paper come from? As I look around my office, I see a presentation I am working on, some notes on a potential client, a client folder from a client I worked with today, an itinerary I printed on a trip I am taking this summer, a report from my Feng Shui consultant, information on an event I may want to see this weekend, and my calendar. I have just recently disposed of today's mail. At other times I have had coupons from a store that sells office supplies, a receipt to enter into QuickBooks, a card to send to a client, a magazine, and menu ideas. Paper continually invades my space.

Fortunately, I do have a plan in place. I have action files and project bins nearby that will allow me to clear my desk before I leave it this evening. The presentation notes and the Feng Shui notes will go into project bins that are held in my cabinet. The itinerary for my trip will to into my pending folder. My notes on the potential client will go into my call folder. My today's client folder will go into my desk drawer file of current clients. This evening I will discuss the event with my husband and we will decide if we are going to attend. If we decide to attend, the event will be noted on my calendar and then the information will go into my pending file. If we decide not to go, the information will go into the recycling bin. The calendar lives on my file cabinet next to my desk.

Those coupons I was talking about went into my purse. My receipts went into a labeled envelope after being recorded. The card was addressed and laid out on the landing pad to go out in the mail the next day. The magazine was dropped into the magazine holder in the living room. The menu ideas went into a folder in the kitchen.

Yeah! No visible papers in my office. The point of this is that, yes, paper continually comes into my office zone but I do have a plan. Daily maintenance is very important if I don't want to feel overrun by paper. Clearing the paper and thinking you are done is foolish. That's sort of like washing the dishes and thinking you are done with that task. It all needs to be done again the next day. But, it's all in having a plan and a schedule.

For more information on handling paper, come to Diane Quintana and my presentation on From Paper Piles to Files on February 14 (9:30 am) at Finders Keepers (2753 East College Ave., Decatur, GA 30030).

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tax Prepartion - Setting Up the File Now

Now is the time of year when tax forms come in the mail. If you have not already done so, set up a tax folder to hold all of these important papers. I find it useful to keep a tax folder in my file drawer all year round so as I make contributions, the documentation goes directly into this file.

The information in this blog comes from a newsletter I received from Tarantino & Co, CPA (http://news.resourcesforclients.com/?u=nXgAnmPNPASd&issue=65). They have given me permission to use their very helpful lists.

Watch the mail for your tax forms. W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, and the new 1095-As will start arriving. If you used the new Affordable Care insurance exchange to purchase your health insurance you will receive the new 1095-A form that recaps this activity.

Collect any receipts that you will use to document deductions.

Also look for:
  • any other forms that disclose possible income (jury duty, unemployment, IRA distributions, etc.)
  • business K-1 forms
  • social security records
  • mortgage interest statements
  • tuition paid statements
  • property tax statements
  • mileage log
  • medical, dental, and vision expenses
  • business expenses
  • records of any asset purchases and sales
  • health insurance records (including Medicare and Medicaid)
  • charitable receipts and documentation
  • bank and investment statements
  • credit card statements
  • records of any out of state purchases that my require use tax
  • records of any estimated tax payments
  • home sales records
  • educational expenses (including student loan interest expense)
  • casualty and theft loss documentation
  • moving expenses
  • contribution records
If you are not sure if something is important for tax purposes, retain the documentation. It is better to save unnecessary documentation than to later wish you had it.

While looking at your W-2s decide if now is the time to have your employer update your withholding amounts.

Coordinate your deductions. If you and someone else share a dependent, confirm you are both on the same page as to who will claim the dependent. This would include single taxpayers, divorced taxpayers, taxpayers with elderly parents/grandparents, and parents with older children.

At this point in time, just put everything you find in your tax folder. As you start to prepare your paperwork for your CPA or yourself, pull out last year's tax form to match the items you have with what you had last year. This way you can see if you are missing something.

Now, set a date on your calendar to actually do the grunt work of adding up your contributions, adding up your mileage, and putting all paperwork in the proper order.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, January 9, 2015

Using the Zone Plan - Home Office

It's a new year! Time to get organized! I love for my home to be organized and clean. It would be lovely to wave a magic wand and on Jan. 1 my home would be perfectly organized to start the new year. However, that isn't going to happen and I refuse to knock myself out to even try and attempt it. What I do instead is make a plan for the year using my zone plan. I divide my home into 10 zones and then tackle one zone every month - giving myself July and December off.

January is my office zone.

By the end of the year, my office tends to feel crowded. Files are busting at the seams. New organizational books clog my bookcase. Project bins are overflowing.

Now is the logical time to organize and clear out the files, drawers, bookshelves, and project bins to allow for breathing space and new growth. I will take the entire month to work on the office zone. I divide my office up into four parts and tackle one area a week. My desk and file cabinet are the most time consuming, so I usually do this the first week when I feel highly motivated and usually have less client hands on time scheduled.

Some papers are moved to archival storage, some are tossed or shredded, and some are set aside for tax preparation. The remainder of the papers returns to their files. I also go through my desk drawers and toss supplies that no longer serve me. My bookcase and credenza will follow in the next week. Anything that I don't use on a regular basis will either be tossed or moved off site. I have one shelf in the laundry room that holds some binders and crates. I count this shelf as office and will work on it next. My office also has a meeting room area and that will be my last section.

As I work through these areas I hold to my vision of how I want this zone to look and feel. I want my office to be attractive and welcoming both to me and to those who visit. I have recently bought a new vibrant piece of art that reinforces my vision for this area.

By the end of the month, I will call whatever has been accomplished, "Good enough" and move on to the next zone. The office is now ready for just regular maintenance until the next year. I always celebrate by buying fresh flowers for my desk.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer