If there’s one thing I miss about my home in California, it’s the multitude of closets, shelves, nooks and crannies. Everything had a place. Aside from the mess of kids toys, I never felt like my life was filled with clutter. Yes, we had lots of stuff, but it was neatly tucked away on shelves or organized in drawers.
If you looked at my desk now, you would wonder how I manage to find anything or get anything accomplished. It’s pretty simple, I’m a stacker. No, not slacker. Stacker. Everything is in a pile somewhere. It looks like a mess, but I know what is in which pile. Nobody else can make sense of it except me. It’s not a good system, but when you don’t have a good system of organization and a serious lack of storage space, you find ways to make due.
In conjunction with Staples, we decided it is time to unpile, unstack and unclutter. As an accountant, I like to keep things. Probably more than I really need to, but that’s neither here nor there. The key is that what I DO keep, I need to get organized and maintain some organization. Here are 10 tools to help in the process.
Not everything needs to be kept. Actually, quite a lot can be tossed. However, anything that contains pertinent, personal information should be shredded. If you’re unsure whether it should be securely disposed of or not, tear it apart. As an example, whenever we receive something in the mail, we remove the address portion of the envelope or packing slip, send it through the paper shredder then toss the rest in the recycle bin. We also go through our files every once in a while and shred things (we have previously decided to hang onto) that now aren’t worth keeping.
We’re living in a digital age. There is a lot of paperwork that can be converted to digital format to save space while allowing for easy future access to the information. If you haven’t already started receiving bills and investment paperwork in digital form, it’s worth considering. Saves space, is easy to organize and (as a bonus) is better for the environment. A quick search will turn up a number of fancy document scanners on the market. I’m going to tell you why my favorite is an HP Envy All-in-One printer. It is a multi-purpose addition to your home workspace. Not only is it a printer, it also doubles as a scanner. As a bonus, you can print the latest crossword puzzles, coloring pages or even photos straight from your smart phone. The primary purpose of the HP Envy 5530 is as a printer. The fact it scans also is icing on the cake.
If you start going paperless and plan to utilize digital storage options, you’ll want to have a backup plan. Literally. In addition to the copy on your computer, save a backup copy on an external or portable hard drive. If you prefer to keep your computer’s hard drive from getting too bogged down, save the original to an external hard drive with a second portable hard drive used as a backup. They aren’t very expensive and the value of having your data backed up is priceless.
Let’s face it. Some things have to be kept in their original paper form. We currently maintain original invoices/bills, warranty information, investment paperwork, medical records and tax documents.Thank goodness for file cabinets to keep it all neat, orderly and easy to find.
When we moved into this house, industrial shelves were on the top of our priority list. It was one of the best things we purchased for getting organized. Quality shelving can hold off-season decorations, canned goods, keepsakes, games along with cookware, bakeware and small kitchen appliances that aren’t used very often.
Shelves stay organized better when items are individually separated. A child’s keepsakes, family photos and equipment owner’s manuals can each have their own bin. It makes for easy access when you’re looking for something in particular. Smaller plastic bins or even decorative bins are perfect for organizing linen closets and first aid area. Someone get a cut? Grab the bin that contains the antibiotics, peroxide, bandages, scissors, gauze pads and tape.
You don’t have to go overboard like Sheldon and label the label printer, but there’s definitely benefit to identifying other things. Those storage bins on the shelves and in the cabinets are easier to grab when you know what is in each. Use the label printer to tag anything that has a specific place, including files, file drawers and shelves. One of my favorite things to have labeled would be cords and cabling. From the cords running behind the desk to the random charging cables in the drawer, if they are labeled there is no question as to what they are for.
If you’re going to save something, make sure it is being stored in a way that will keep it together in the long run. In other words, multi-paged documents should be stapled together. Preserving a receipt for a high value purchase? Staple it to the warranty paperwork or owner’s manual. Prefer to store the actual receipts instead of converting them to digital? Want to guess what I’m going to say? That’s right… staple it to the credit card statement. A stapler is your friend.
Random clippings, articles and recipes clipped from a magazine don’t need to be stray. Grab a 3-hole punch, a piece of paper and some tape. Organize the items in a way that makes sense then put them into the binder. As an example, if you’re looking to get in shape, cut articles, exercises and recipes from health and fitness magazines then compile them in a binder.
Document what your processes are, what you’re keeping where and why. If someone needs to take care of things during a time of need, having things organized for them to find (and complete properly) can make a big difference. A journal can include important information about where specific documents are stored as well as emergency contact information. We maintain an emergency list that includes phone numbers including our cell phone numbers, doctor and dentist, poison control, non-emergency police number along with pertinent information regarding the kids. This includes height and weight, allergies and medications.
Whether you incorporate only a few of these 10 tools to get organized or all, anything you do to organize your physical world will help your mental world stay organized as well.
What is your organizational weak point?