This week I am at the annual conference for the National Association of Professional Organizers in San Diego. It’s the place where everything organized happens. Professional organizers from all over the world meet up and the many products that help us organize are exhibited. There are many new and exciting products and ideas that I am learning about. The tote in the photo here is called LifeSTYLE File Tote. You can find it at www.jamieraquel.com. It holds standard letter-size hanging files in a very sturdy box form. It comes in seven colors and is very attractive looking, you don’t feel like your carrying around a file box (even though you are). Check them out, and stay tuned for more posts on organizing products I’m finding at the NAPO Conference.
Ziploc bags are an essential element in any organized home (we also find plenty of them in not-so-organized homes). We are mid-way through March and that means that many people are planning spring break get-aways. Ziploc bags are perfect for travel. Now that sectioning out your liquids into 3oz containers when flying is the norm, the Ziploc bag is more handy than ever. Even before we had to put liquids into clear bags for flying, they were still the optimal choice because they protect leak-ables from oozing onto other items. I always travel with an extra stash, they’re great for toiletries, food (that’s what they were meant for, right?), sectioning and sorting everything from tiny toys to papers and puzzles, the list is endless. There’s also Ziploc Big Bags which are great for sorting clothes, keeping sets of linens together, etc…what do you use Ziploc bags for?
It’s the first of March and the inevitable deadline is now lingering. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to get your tax related documents together. Here are a few tips to help you navigate through the chaos:
- Keep all important tax related documents in a file labeled 2010 taxes. After filing, keep your return in this file permanently.
- Resist the rapid refund urge. Instant refunds are really short term loans and they’re expensive.
- Invest in accounting software such as Quicken. It’s an easy way to categorize income and expenses. There is even a free online version.
- Don’t spend too much time shuffling through piles of paper, the internet has made it easy to track down missing statements and forms.
- keep a yearly charitable contributions file and save every receipt from donations made. If your records aren’t organized, you can miss out on important deductions.
- Here is the Records Retention Schedule our organizers use to help determine how long to keep documents. But always defer to your accountant’s recommendations first.
- Get a good system in place for 2011 now. Create files by following what you had categories for in 2010.
Of course, Chaos to Order can help you navigate through your sea of tax receipts and help put things in order.
This is a post from Leah, our terrific organizer in Atlanta, always filled with useful organizing ideas–thanks Leah!
One of my absolute favorite websites for organizing is a group that stops junk mail and catalogs. It is called 41pounds.org. 41pounds fittingly is the amount of junk mail the average American receives each year! The easiest way to organize your ‘stuff’ is to not even have it come into your house in the first place. I have been using 41pounds for about 2 years, and have gone from several catalogs a day, to a few a month (only the ones I really want). It is very easy to navigate, and at anytime you can email 41pounds to stop other junk mail or catalogs that are coming in (some companies are very persistent). It is much easier to remove yourself from the list and not receive the junk mail, than it is to spend time sorting through it all. There are added benefits, I’m not ordering as much from catalogs which saves money and, it helps to keep my house clutter free!
Do you have a bulletin board near your desk that has been collecting papers and dust for a long, long time? Take some time to reorganize and put it to good use.
- Take everything off the board and put the pins in a bowl. Look over all the papers and decide what is outdated. Rehang what’s current, keeping only a few treasured mementos. On a bulletin board, just like anywhere else around your home, if you keep too much, you can’t find what’s really important.
- Every few months look over the bulletin board and decide what can get tossed and what would be good to post and have accessible.
- If you have children, use a large board, give a section of the board to each child and keep their current school information, invitations and appointments posted.
- No bulletin board? Grab a sheet of homasote board and wrap some fabric around it. Secure the fabric with a staple gun and you have a decorative bulletin board that you can hang anywhere!