Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 2

March 27, 2013

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 2

Hey – welcome back for Part 2 with lots more information on organizing your paperwork.

Once you complete the sorting process and take care of all those postponed decisions, I’m betting there will be a big pile in the “file” box. Now anyone can go through their files to file things away, but the hallmark of a good filing system is being able to keep track of your documents for easy recovery where and when you need something.

Other ideas to help you with those paper piles:
• Create a vision or plan and set up time to implement the systems you have developed to change your situation.
• Keep bills in a separate folder and pay them on time.
• Get a large waste container for your office. It’s impractical to have a small decorative waste basket to compliment you office décor. When it’s too small, throwing one thing away will fill it up. Then you have to empty it more often and you’ll be discouraged from throwing things away.
• Get in the habit of filling up the recycling bin with all the appropriate items that can be recycled.
• Use your shredder often – be careful of identity theft.
• Unsubscribe from periodicals and industry publications you never get around to reading. Subscribe to online e-newsletters and periodicals instead.
• Set time aside every day, or at least one day a week, to stay on top of your mail and filing. Once a month go through your files and purge the unread articles and unused “just in case” papers that you really no longer need.

Getting your paperwork organized can immediately reduce the stress in your office, will definitely save you money, and it un-clutters your space. Learn to be decisive and readily let go of the papers you don’t need to keep. Set up your goal to have a clutter-free environment in your office and never give up on that vision.

Don’t find yourself saying, “I’ve got to get organized!” again. Simplify and reach your goals with help from S.O.S.

What are some time saving tips you have developed for handling papers in your office?

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 1

March 26, 2013

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 1
In 1995, experts made the prediction that by 2005 we would be the “paperless society.” Have you looked around your office lately? Is it paperless? Unless you have been scanning everything into your computer and shredding day and night, the answer is a resounding “NO!” In fact by 2005, it was estimated that there was 50% more paper being generated than there was in 1995 and that was eight years ago!!

Disorganization costs businesses valuable time, money and energy every day. The time that is wasted each day in the workplace is estimated to be between 30 minutes to two hours per person. In some cases it can add up to more than 150 hours a year. Time that is spent looking for “stuff” as a result of disorganization definitely detracts from an employee’s ability to concentrate, focus on what is really important, and know how to prioritize their work.

If piles of papers are overwhelming your office, it is time to make a date with yourself to get organized. Having decided to tackle this monumental task, the next question is, “Where do I start?” Before diving into the piles it is very important to set up a useful work space. The goal is to have a “home” for all your papers. Setting up a home base will greatly aid you when you are starting the sorting process, which can very easily become overwhelming to most people.

Create three areas, boxes or trays to hold the following:
• Inbox to capture all the paper coming into your office
• Outbox for a place to hold items leaving your office
• “To File” location for everything that needs to be filed

Set up a small desktop filing system to handle the immediate papers that bombard you every day. Be sure this system will hold your daily mail as well as follow-up papers. You can set up this system in a small plastic case that will hold a few hanging folders. This is not meant to be your entire filing system, just a stop-gap measure to help you deal with the mail as soon as it comes in. You can also use your desk drawer to set up this system. Keeping it at your fingertips is very efficient. You’ll be less distracted because you won’t have to jump up and down to go to a filing cabinet across the room.

Remember: convenience plays a huge role in getting organized – and if you make your system convenient to use, there is a better chance you will use it.

Labeling your hanging file folders with descriptions that mean something to you is another important part. You can say “To Pay,” “To Do,” “To Call,” or you can use more descriptive labels such as “Do it or Get Fired,” “Warm Fuzzies,” “Appreciation,” or “Someday, Maybe” folders. Either way you are trying to set up a process so that as soon as the mail comes, you make decisions and file the papers in this temporary system. An “Action” folder should be included to help you organize your action and to-do items.

To be continued – come back for more information in Part 2……………………………………

Using Your Brain Power to Overcome Your Clutter and Get Organized

March 20, 2013


Feeling Overwhelmed? Frustrated?
Join the crowd. Lately when I have met with new or prospective clients, those two words, “overwhelmed” and “frustrated,” come up all the time. People are reading organizing books, attending seminars or buying a new gadget to help them get organized. They are searching for an answer to their clutter and organizing dilemmas. If they just buy another piece of software, a new PDA or five more plastic containers, they’re convinced that will be just the thing to get them organized.

What they don’t realize is that each of us already owns the most powerful organizing tool they will ever need. What is that? Your brain! Getting organized begins with your mind. When you finally get to that point when you are tired of the mess, being late because you can’t find your car keys, or forgetting important meetings or appointments, and you decide you are going to change your situation, you are on your way to changing your life.

Many clients often hand me a stack of organizing books which they have accumulated over the years, hoping each one would give them the tip they needed to finally get organized. But just reading a book will not do it. You can’t lose weight by simply reading a diet book and you can’t learn to drive by reading a driving manual. You have to read, get some ideas and then try them out. Some ideas work and others don’t but you’ll never know until you try. Remember too that it takes between 21 and 30 days to convert a routine into a habit. Don’t give up too soon. Repetition is the key to success.

You have to identify and change the habits that are creating the disorganized part of your life if you want to get organized. Simplify your life as much as you can. A client recently bought a new Palm Pilot but then spent days not using it because she did not have the time to sit down and learn all the new features. She wanted a crash course in using it without spending time to learn it herself. When you buy that new Palm Pilot or piece of software or some other new gadget, remember that it comes with a manual on how to use it, but it does not come with a guarantee that it will make you an organized person overnight.

Only if you constantly work on your habits will you make a lasting and constant change. Think in terms of habit-based solutions as opposed to gadget-based solutions. When you maintain these habits, you will considerably increase your chances of getting organized and staying organized.

Since the average person spends 30 minutes to two hours a day looking for things in their office, think of new ways to do your work. People often can’t let go of their old way of doing something so they lose the opportunity to get rid of their frustration. Look for old ways of doing things that are keeping you from getting organized. Let them go and try something new!

10 Ways to Have a Great Day

March 7, 2013

Have a great day not just a nice day but a great day! I’m talking about having one of those days where everything goes right. You’re not late, the traffic lights are all green, you accomplish something that makes you feel like you’ve finally got a handle on things, and someone says, “thanks for a job well done.” Wow, what would that feel like?

Well everyday can’t be a great day but here are ten tips to at least give you ideas on how to turn an ordinary day into a great day.

1. Start off with a plan. Write a to do list, prioritize it and ask yourself what one thing can you do that day that will help it be a great day.
2. Be mindful – focus on what you are doing. It’s great to plan for what you’ll do later but try and stay present in what you are doing now.
3. Do first things first – set your priority on the most important thing you need to do that day.
4. Connect and spend time with those you love. Even if you can’t see them in person – give them a call.
5. Lighten up! Everyone needs some time to goof off or play. Make some time in your day to enjoy yourself even if it’s just for a few minutes.
6. Reward yourself – how about some flowers, a cup of great coffee, a nice lunch or even a walk when the sun is shining on you.
7. Learn something new. I always learn something new from each of my clients. Whether it’s about a new organizing product or a new way to use a plastic bag – it’s a learning experience.
8. Complete one thing – set some time aside to do something you’ve been meaning to do and finish the project.
9. Do something nice for someone and do it anonymously. Hopefully they’ll pass it on to someone else.
10. Be instead of do. Set aside some time to do nothing. Be a human be-ing rather than a human do-ing. You’ll feel refreshed and recharged by doing nothing.

Try some or all of these tips and set yourself up to have a Great Day – everyday!
Do you have any tips for others to have a great day?

The Number One Home Danger

March 5, 2013

Do you know what home accidents send the most people to the emergency room each year?
No it’s not getting burned on the stove or even using power tools inappropriately – it’s falls.
Falls on the stairs, ramps, floors and off ladders.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that falls lead to more than 2.3 million emergency room visits each year. They are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death.
Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear can cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their risk of falling even more.

Here are some easy ways to avoid falls:
1. Get rid of the clutter on the stairs and floors in your home. Papers, magazines and newspapers on the floor can be very slippery and easily lead to a fall.
2. Make sure all staircases with more than two steps have sturdy handrails capable of supporting the full weight of an adult male.
3. Make sure all the stairwells are well lit so you can find your way during the night.
4. Block off all floors after cleaning until they are thoroughly dry and be sure to wipe up spills immediately.
5. Use slip-resistant padding under rugs and choose bath rugs with a gripper surface on the underside.
6. When remodeling a bathroom, select tile with small squares or textured vinyl flooring.

Be careful in your home and avoid those falls that could lead to a more serious problem. And remember to clear the clutter first.

Are you Shedding?

February 21, 2013

Are you afraid to make a change or hesitant to let go of the past? This is where shedding comes in. To move to the next phase of your life you have to “shed” the past. Shedding is a process that must occur in order for growth to be achieved in anyone’s life. Shedding isn’t always pleasant or easy – without it you get stalled. Clinging to old, irrelevant and stagnant ideas, clothes or whatever you are clinging to holds you back and confines you to a space that no longer fits because we are faced with changes happening all around us all the time. By letting go of your attachment to obsolete items in your life you can gain the energy and clarity to make change happen.

Here’s what S H E D stands for:

S = sort your treasures. Slow down and understand the emotional attachment you have to the clutter in your life. Identify and uncover the things that really energize you and you can value and keep because you use them, love them and want them in your life. Eliminate all the old stuff. If you continue to think of every object or activity as a treasure you can’t let go of, you won’t be able to free up any space for growth and change in your life.

H = haul out the trash. Let go of what’s not relevant to the new life you are planning. This goes for any activity, object or papers that are holding you back.

E = embrace who you are and never mind your stuff – it’s just stuff – remember that. Reconnect to your inner, authentic self.

D = dive forward – fill your space and schedule with activities, experiences and items related to your future goals.

By taking a good look at your current life and having a vision of the new life you want to achieve you can release the objects and activities that represent the past and you can more toward your new future. So make a plan to start shedding today.

Is your Clutter Causing You Stress – Part 3

February 13, 2013

Here are seven steps you can take to fight off stress and protect your heart so you’ll have a healthy 2013.

Exercise Is All Important
A great way to help get rid of stress is a good workout. Aerobic exercises like running, walking, swimming, and even dancing will all help your heart. Daily exercises will help you feel great, strengthen your heart, help with depression and lower your risk for diabetes. Exercise gets your heart pumping moving blood all around the body.

Stress-reduction techniques and exercises such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi have been shown to lower stress hormones and boost immune function. In one study, people who practiced yoga regularly experienced a decrease in some of their body’s inflammatory responses. Inflammation is a rising concern in heart disease.

Forget Perfectionism
Perfection does not exist so let go of your constant striving for it. Take a deep breath and relax and know that your clutter didn’t show up in your life last night. It’s been a long time in the making and by working on it slowly, you can reduce it and make a change in your life. Stop waiting for the perfect time to get started.

Get rid of the Mental Clutter – Don’t Hold Grudges
Hanging on to an old grudge won’t help you have a healthy heart. Research suggests that people experience more psychological stress and higher heart rates when they hold grudges than when they practice forgiveness. So let go of the grudges and forgive.

Limit Your Emotional Involvement
Not with people! But avoid getting too emotionally tied up in things that don’t matter that much. The clutter in your life in many cases is very emotional and psychological. Hanging on to items that bring back sad memories isn’t a good idea. Let go of some of the old items in your life to make room for new memories and experiences. Remember it’s just stuff! So don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that it’s all small stuff.

Eat Healthy
Eating right with a diet low in red meat and processed foods and high in fruits and vegetables will not only help your weight but will also help your heart. Healthy eating can help prevent or delay diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart trouble.

Many people these days are just not getting enough sleep and even when they are sleeping they may not be getting enough of the right kind of rest. It is recommended that each of us needs an average of six to eight hours every night. The quality of your sleep is also key to good health. Sleep apnea—a condition in which you wake up periodically due to interrupted breathing—has been linked with heart disease.

Hope you will use some of these tips to keep your heart healthy not only in February but all throughout 2013!

Is Your Clutter Causing You Stress – Part 2

February 12, 2013

Heart disease is a major problem in the United States. Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack and about 600,000 people die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 out of every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

What are some signs that you are getting stressed out?
When you face stress every day all day long and can’t even find peace when going to sleep, your body will start to give you warning signs that something isn’t right. These signs can be physical, cognitive, behavioral and emotional. All of these signs will point to the fact that you need to make some changes and slow down. If you don’t make some changes in your lifestyle and continue to be stressed, you can not only contribute to heart disease but can also make any chronic illness you have worse.

Listed here are some of the warning signs of stress:
Physical symptoms can include grinding your teeth, a clenched jaw, headaches, indigestion, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, racing heart, ringing in the ears, stooped posture, sweaty palms, exhaustion, weight gain or loss, an upset stomach
Mental symptoms include worrying constantly about everything, difficulty making decisions, loss of concentration, memory problems
Emotional symptoms include depression, mood swings, irritability, loneliness, negative thinking, nervousness, sadness, anger, anxiety
Behavioral symptoms can include compulsive eating, frequent job changes, impulsive actions, increased use of alcohol or drugs, antisocial actions

Here are a few ideas to start down the road of removing some of the clutter stressors in your life:
• Don’t become overwhelmed. Always remember that your clutter just didn’t accumulate last night. This is a problem and you have to take it one step at a time to correct it.
• Don’t go it alone. Ask for professional help from an organizer to provide the accountability, support and creative ideas that the client is looking for to save their situation. Or use a clutter buddy to help.
• Don’t feel discouraged. You have to start somewhere. Visualize what you want your space to look like once it is cleaned out and organized. Break your project down into small bits and pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed even more. Take a deep breath and plan to work on your project every day for a set amount of time.
• Don’t forget to reward yourself. Make a list of the fun things you like to do and plan to reward yourself for each and every change you make in your stress level. The reward can be a cup of coffee or a day at the spa.

Is Your Clutter Causing You Stress? Part 1

February 11, 2013

This is part one of a three part series of articles regarding the affect clutter has on your heart. How can clutter affect your heart you ask? Clutter causes STRESS in people’s lives and stress affects your heart. Are stress and heart disease related and does stress increase your risk of heart disease? Medical researchers are finding more and more evidence that stress does contribute to heart disease in some people. Stress is definitely a part of our lives today. Some stress is okay and can help you get a job done. However, if constant and continuous, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heart beats.

What causes stress?
When you are under stress your blood pressure goes up, you may overeat, or even become depressed. When you have to deal with piles of papers, unpaid bills (because you can’t find them), lost keys and irate co-workers, life can get pretty stressful.
When just getting up in the morning means navigating a mine field of clothing and shoes scattered all over the floor and not eating properly because you are late and can’t find what you need when you need to leave the house, stress can follow you all day long.

Things that make you feel stressed are called “stressors.”
Stressors can be minor annoyances or a big change in your way of life. It’s important to identify what stressors are affecting your life and change the situation to protect your heart for the future.
Here are some stressors that affect people:

• Clutter and disorganization
• Workaholic behavior
• A new job
• Unemployment
• Retirement
• Death of a relative or friend
• Serious illness
• Moving
• Tolerations
• Legal problems
• Money problems
• Perfectionism

Each person has their own set of stressors in their life. Do you have any of these stressors in your life? What kind of stressors do you face each day?

Four Sentimental Clutter Traps

February 7, 2013

Getting organized has a lot to do with how we feel about “things” emotionally and psychologically. Our clutter can be very emotional to us. We can give inanimate objects human-like qualities and be unable to eliminate them from our lives because they remind us of someone or some event we are afraid we will forget.

Here are four of the more prevalent sentimental clutter traps.

1. Too many keepsakes – Have you saved every greeting card you ever received? I know someone who did – every get well card, mother’s day card, Christmas card and birthday card. That can create quite a pile over 88 years! If you’ve got all those cards consider going through them and picking out the ones that mean the most to you. The ones with handwritten notes can be more important than the other cards. I kept a very beautiful card that my grandfather wrote to me because I know how hard he worked to learn English and how proud he was to be able to read and write it.

2. Is your problem too many heirlooms you have no use for or room for in your environment? Have your parents passed away and now you have a house filled to the brim with wall-to-wall furniture and sentimental knick knacks? Take a look around and see what items you can pass on to someone in the family who could really use and appreciate them. Don’t tie a lot of “strings” to the items you give away. Give it freely and hope that they will use it and enjoy it. If they decide they do not need or want it either, let them make the decision as to what they will do with it.

3. Do you have too many unwanted gifts filling your closets and attic? It is wonderful that people give others gifts but sometimes the gift isn’t quite what you want or need. If you cannot use the item, give yourself permission to let it go. It will be all right if you pass it on to someone else who really would like to have it and will use it. If you are the gift giver, try and give consumable gifts to others – things that will need to be eaten, drunk or consumed in some other way (wine, candy, fruit) – that way you know the recipient will use it up one way or the other.

4. Kids’ art projects! Do your kids come home from school with truckloads of art projects? Keep only the best of all they bring home. You can have your children pick out the keepers and the best ones to start a treasure chest of their mementos. The other projects they bring home can be photographed with the child holding them and then passed on to the recycling bin or trash, used to wrap gifts, or mailed off to the grandparents.

Don’t get stuck with too much sentimental clutter in your life!

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