organized file drawer

No One Loves Filing

Believe it or not there are some Professional Organizers I know who love filing and organizing paperwork. I’m not one of them. In fact, I think the majority of homeowners and business owners would agree with me that the less paperwork we have to file, the better. So how can we file less? The answer is two-fold, reduce the amount of paper that comes in and manage the amount of paper that gets filed.

In order to reduce the amount of paper that comes in, we have to stop it before it gets to our doorstep. What papers can be refused and stopped from coming in? Here are a few simple solutions. Go paperless with credit card statements, bank statements, financial statements, and monthly bills. Get electronic receipts. Remove yourself from direct mail lists and weekly circulars. Have a paper recycle bin in the garage, and toss as much as you can before entering the house.

Once we reduce the amount of paper that comes in, we want to manage the amount of paper that gets filed. There are two actions required to accomplish this. The first one is to educate yourself on what paper is worth keeping and for how long. For your convenience, I have
office and paper messa detailed list in a previous blog with that title. Just remember everyone has their own comfort level on what’s important and what’s not. Please use your best judgement and if you have questions consult another document professional, such as an accountant, financial advisor or tax lawyer.

The second action required to manage the amount of paper that gets filed is to create your own filing guidelines. Here are a few simple guidelines that I use. File, don’t pile. Label files with titles that make sense to you. Some titles I use are Auto, Bank, Medical, Taxes. Store files virtually and alphabetically by titles. Only file information that you know you’ll reference again. Store vital documents, such as passports, deeds, and licenses, in a special place away from your daily files. Continually remove papers that are outdated, unimportant, incomplete, or not relevant to your current life. Shred paper every week.

Let’s all file less. If you have a helpful paper guideline or need help with reducing, please contact me.

©February 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

What lists can do for you

I like lists and use them for a variety of reasons.

Lists help me remember things. We all need a memory jogger now and then, and the older I get the more helpful lists are to me. It’s much easier to refer to a list than it is to stress about remembering all the things that need to be addressed. I create shopping lists for the super market, checklists for household chores, and honey do lists for home improvement projects. Creating a list helps me recall the information exactly when I need it.

Lists help me de-stress and clear my mind. I write things down in a list format to get the information out of my head and onto paper so I spend less time churning those thoughts and ideas around in my mind. Some people call this a mind dump. I create lists of books to read, websites to check out, future projects to accomplish, and goals to pursue. My stress reduces when I write my thoughts down and have something concrete to refer back to when I want it.

Lists help me organize, prioritize, and plan action steps. After all, a list is just words on paper, or a device, unless we use them to prompt us to take action. What really helps me take action is attaching the item on the list to a specific date and time on my calendar. I’m a bit old school and like a paper planner. The one I use has a space to document daily to-be-done items. The system I’ve created for myself looks like this. At the end of each week I organize the action steps to take place during the following week. I assign a day for each action, and then prioritize every action at the beginning of each day. It’s important to be realistic and limit myself to 1-3 top priority items per day. I admit it took me a few months to perfect my system. Now it’s habitual.

There are a wide array of lists, from grocery store lists, to vacation wish lists, to lists of business goals. I encourage you to make lists and use them to help you remember, de-stress, organize, prioritize, and plan action steps.

©January 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®  All Rights Reserved

How to Create Organized Craft Space

You may already know that I’m an avid scrapbooker. I love creating decorative pages with photos and paper embellishments to highlight my family stories and milestones. I also love sharing my creations with family. They joke around and say I’m a scrapbook pusher, but I know they like looking at them. Thanksgiving or any family get together is a great time to share my scrapbooks. I always bring one to push into their hands and invite them to look and reminisce.

Before that finished scrapbook is ready to share, the creating process happens. Things get messy when I’m creating, and I think that’s typical of most people. When you’re in the creative groove, organization is not a priority. However, I think an organized craft area helps us be more productive. Don’t we all want to quickly and easily put our hands on the tools we need for our project? Wasting time searching for our supplies is frustrating.

So, how do we set up an organized craft area? Whether you have a whole room devoted to your crafts, or you have to pull them out each time you use them, you can create an efficient crafting space with the Reach Ability Factor. It is a system that helps you decide the best location for things based on how frequently you use them.
There are 4 sections in the Reach Ability Factor. Use them to set up your crafting workspace.
Section A:  Items in this section are tools and supplies that are used all the time. It depends on the craft, but some examples are scissors, pencils, cutting tools, and adhesives. Place items in section A within easy reach, so little effort is needed to reach out an grab them.
Section B:  Items in this section are tools and supplies that are used frequently, but not on every craft project. Some examples may be, templates, patterns, and instructions. Place items in section B within comfortable reach, which requires us to get up and move a little.
Section C:  Items in this section are tools and supplies that are used occasionally. Some examples may be special fabric, paper, and markers. Place items in section C within uncomfortable reach, which requires us to exert more effort to reach.
Section D:  Items in this section are tools and supplies that are used once in a while or on special projects only. Some examples may be unique supplies that require more time to use, and items that are for a very special project. Place items in section D within difficult reach, which requires us to move other things to get at them.
Whether you have a designated craft space or you set up shop wherever you can, the Reach Ability Factor can help establish crafting order. By using it as a guide to set up your crafting workspace, you place yourself in the center circle and your tools according to use in the concentric circles around you. This enables you to create without having to waste time searching for tools and supplies. Enjoy the creative process.

The Reach Ability Factor can be used in other areas as well, for example a home office, the kitchen prep and cooking areas, and a homework area.

© November 2020   Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®   All Rights Reserved

scary pumpkin

Organizing Tricks and Treats

In the spirit of October and Halloween I thought it would be fun to share some organizing tricks and treats. Are you wondering what I mean by that? It means I’ll be sharing some organizing tricks I personally use to help me stay organized on a daily basis, and I’ll be sharing the treats (benefits) I receive from staying organized. Here goes.

Tricks:

  • Have a “do it now” attitude. I don’t let things pile up and get out of control. I keep on top of clutter and mess. I do this by reclaiming order often. When I feel the need to reduce and de-clutter I tackle it quickly and thoroughly. It’s also crucial to have a place for things. If there is no designated spot to put things there is no way to establish and maintain order.
  • Look for simple solutions. I create as much order as I’m willing to maintain. For example I don’t color code* my clothes. To me that’s too much fuss. However, I group my clothing into categories and store them together. For example I hang all my tops together in this order, sleeveless, short sleeved,  3/4 length sleeves, and long sleeved tops.
  • Reduce down to manageable amounts. I constantly evaluate the usefulness of my belongings. We all have a tendency to keep things and come up with excuses for doing so, but I challenge myself to weed out the unused, unwanted, unneeded as often as I can.
  • Take time to plan. Have you heard the phrase, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Planning takes practice and discipline, but I work at it everyday. I plan daily tasks, my work week, my outfits, meals, shopping lists, exercise, and most importantly time for myself. This helps me get things done and prevents me from over-scheduling myself.

Treats:

  • Life without clutter. Don’t get me wrong, I have my piles and messes just like everyone else. However, I keep them to a manageable amount.
  • Less stress in my life because I’m organized. I can find what I want when I need it. Isn’t this what organizing is all about?
  • Ready for guests with just 15 minutes notice. When you have a home for things and don’t let the clutter get our of control it’s easy to pick up quickly.
  • An environment that is calm and peaceful.

*Color coding works great for some people, especially kids, but it’s one more additional step that I’m not willing to do.

©October 2020  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®   All rights reserved.

 

10 Things You Can Automatically Get Rid Of

My mother-in-law shared this article with me, 10 Things You Can Toss Without Thinking Twice and after I read it I declared, “I can think of a lot more things to toss without a second thought.” So here is my list of 1o .

1.Used gift wrap
I grew up saving gift wrap, tissue paper, ribbons, and bows to reuse again and again. Sometimes it got used and other times it didn’t. So, my current guideline is if it doesn’t get reused within a year it gets recycled or used as filler in packaging. If I over buy and have a surplus amount I donate to Birthday Wishes.

2. Expired medications
Many people ask me about the authenticity of expiration dates on medications. Here is an article that addresses that issue, but ultimately you’ll have to make a decision on the best practice for you and your family. Two places I’ve used for medication disposal are the police station and CVS stores. Your local police station will take back medications and dispose of them properly. Some CVS stores have disposal kiosks inside by the pharmacy for convenient drop offs. The CVS I use in North Attleboro, MA has a kiosks.

3. Plastic grocery store bags
I’ve collected a ton of these since March 13, 2020. How about you? I’ve been itching to recycle them, and I’m happy to see that stores are now taking them back. I brought mine to Target and Stop & Shop for recycling.

4. Boxes for items purchased
The only boxes I hold onto for 6-9 months are technology item boxes. All the other boxes get broken down and recycled within a month.

5. Old text books
Do you know anyone who has ever referenced their old text books? Textbooks for Change is a great organization to support by donating your old text books.

6. Past calendars and date books
It’s tempting to keep old calendars and date books because they provide snapshots into our past. Even though we feel nostalgic about them most of us never look at them again. I keep them for as long as it takes me to create a scrapbook for that year, because they help me remember specific dates. However, once my scrapbook is complete they get recycled or shredded.

old keys7. Keys you don’t know what they open
Random keys have a way of showing up, and we’re convinced that they will open something, but do they? Locks get changed and we often forget how many keys we had for it. A great option for your questionable keys is Keys For Hope. They collect keys to feed the hungry.

8. Batteries that you don’t know if they’re good or not
All batteries don’t need to be recycled but they can. Let’s keep them out of the landfill. Recycle at Interstate Batteries.

9. Adapters that don’t go to anything
It seems like there is a new, updated version of our latest technology purchase, already in stores before we can figure out all the features of our current model. Such speedy advancement leaves us with a lot of adapters and plugs that don’t work. Most Best Buy stores have recycle programs and have bins for recycling in their store entrances.

10. Random screws, nails, and hardware
Where do random bits of hardware come from? I’ve seen them in my home and every client’s home I’ve ever been in. We collect them in a bucket and then recycle the contents of the bucket as scrap metal.

mail boxWhen I was writing down the previous 10 things I realized I kept thinking of paper items that can be tossed without a second thought. So I came up with a list of 10 papers you can automatically toss.

  1. Junk mail addressed to current resident or occupant, unsolicited advertisements, offers, political notices, and charity requests
  2. Paid utility bills
  3. Pay stubs beyond current year
  4. Manuals for items you no longer own
  5. Expired warranties
  6. Previous versions of insurance policies
  7. ATM slips older than 2 months
  8. Outdated mailing lists or contact sheets
  9. Used check register
  10. Medical explanation of benefits as long as the bill has been settled

For more details on what papers to keep or toss read my blog on the subject.

©September 2020   Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®   All Rights Reserved