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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Part 3: Taming The Paper Monster

Ok, for now, the final paper management entry...I MUST mention the unmentionable...The family file cabinet..EVERY home must have one...a sturdy one..and one with some size to cheap little one drawer thing..just doesn't work long term! Chasing after paper costs time, money and adds unnecessary stress to our lives! But just to have one is not enough...You must manage it! This may seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Here are a few suggestions:

Of course, as previously mentioned, set a realistic goal, straighten up the house, be fully dressed and get to work! (I think it is fun to tell a close friend what you are doing too! Keeps ya honest) Remember, that usually, all organizing tasks take, on the average, 2 times longer than we think it will take us!

~Gather supplies: pad of paper, pen, new file folders and a labeler!

~Yes, you must first actually OPEN the drawers. Take a brief look inside and make a list of the files that you have currently. Now, close the drawer(s). At this point, I would sit don and think about what files you need to add and what can be taken away. 

~If your files and their labels are old and ratty, start with new ones! And as always, label things attractively...I always prefer a labeler over hand written!

~Make all new files with labels.

~Now, yes, you must re open the drawers...ugh! Go ahead~Purge and re file contents, taking one file at a time. Again, I sit on the floor with a trash can and shredder near by!

~Alphabetize the files..this will make locating a file a snap!

~Make yourself an appointment one year from when you tackle this to do it again! 

~Don't forget to file from your short term filing system into the main files at least once a week..and you may find that you need to add files as life changes...


Studies show that most of us keep papers WAY too long!  Here is a general guideline for the average household: My suggestion would be for you to copy this on an index card and tape it to the inside of the file cabinet..

Receipts—1 month
Bank Statements—1 year (save annual statements for 7 years in case you get audited)
Credit Card Statements—45 days to 7 years. Throw out statements once you confirm that receipts match up with statements; keep for 7 years if tax-related
Loan and Mortgage Statements—For the length of the loan or mortgage, plus 7 years
Medical Bills—1 year after they’ve been paid off
Tax Documents—7 years
Home Improvement Receipts—Until your house sells. Proof of spending can sometimes be used to lower your taxes, and you may need proof to the buyer of how recent the improvements or repairs were
Investment Statements—Indefinitely~ I have to say that I don't agree with this one. We can access all of our statements online and we are paperless in this area.
Utility Bills~If you feel it necessary to keep these, 6 months at most...I shred them. Once again, you can access all of the info that you may need in the future online!

If you need guidance, accountability, or just someone there to keep you on task, call me and we can set up an appointment!..   

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wanted: The Simple Life!

With each passing year, I yearn for simplicity more and more

Okay, so if you are hoping for some concrete "to dos" today to make your world more organized, just go ahead and hit the "delete" button now. Yesterday was another one of THOSE days that I had all lined up..gym, volunteer at school, lunch with new friends and then the afternoon at the barn (my 2nd fav place to be)! But God had different plans for me! Seriously?
Yup! You see, I had the distinct honor of spending the day with my 92 year old grandfather! Isn't he handsome? So he needed a ride home from the hospital..and I just happened to be "free". I was? Yup! So, I woke at dark, poured a nice cup o Joe and headed off to the country! Right away, I was greeted by an amazing sunrise and then the knowledge that I had a few hours alone in the car started to settle in..All plans had been cancelled and taken care of, and I began to look at the day through a different lens! I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 am fully expecting to see my grandfather in the bed looking "tired and 92", and to wait around for hours while discharge paperwork was done at "small hospital pace". But yet again, my assumptions were dead wrong. There is my grandfather, in a chair, fully dressed, looking dapper, waiting expectantly for me! No way? We were discharged within minutes and he refused a wheelchair! Yup, that's how he rolls! 

So I won't bore you with the details of my day, but it turned into one of my most profound in quite some time. Best part: I was able to hold hands with my grandfather. He lives a "simple" life, some would call boring..he gardens, fishes, visits with neighbors and is active in his little church...not sure there is much else to do in his parts..I left him yesterday longing for more of the "little" that he has.
Take a look at how simple and beautiful this "little" church is! When I stopped to take this picture, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I want my life to look just like this. Simple, clean, and pleasing to God!..Just one of many of my "moments" yesterday...If I told you all of them I would be here writing all day!

These stacks of fresh picked cotton..had to take picture of them when I realized that I bet my girls have never seen cotton before it becomes their tee shirts! Geez..I need to get them out in the country more..where kids still play outside until the sun goes down. 

My Pa Pa's swing, where there has been countless hours of love, laughter and conversation...

And on the way home, I did get to do some pickin'! 

Who's with me? 

Out of Clutter
Find Simplicity
From Discord
 Find Harmony
In The Middle Of
Difficulty Lies
~Albert Einstein

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Part 2: Taming The Paper Monster

Okay, so what to do with the mounds of paper that you have right now! A few simple steps that have proven to work:

  • Block out a day on your calendar to stay appointments, no interruptions. Do not answer the phone unless it is your spouse or your child's school. NO EXCEPTIONS!!
  • Wake up early, take a shower, have your quiet time, and your cup of Joe..and if you are like me, make all of the beds! I can't seem to be super productive around the house unless it is pretty-fied!
  • Turn on the music that makes you feel alive, light a candle and GET TO WORK!!
  • Remember that your primary goal is to rid your drawers and counter tops of unnecessary and unwanted paper. (We will deal with purging filing cabinets on another day!)
  • This may sound crazy, but this has worked for myself and several clients..hang with me. Go room by room, start in the kitchen...gather ALL of the papers that have accumulated in that given room. Sit down (I love to sit on the floor and work) with your trash can and/or shredder near by..AND START PURGING! Be real with you really need it? Will you really ever look at it? Can you easily access it online? Dispose of the papers immediately..if you have to ponder it, you don't need it!
You will end up with a pile of keepers..(hopefully about 1/3 of what you started with) leave it, and move on to another room..most people only have 2 or 3 rooms where paper accumulates. Ours are our home office and kitchen..but I often have to check the girl's bedrooms for fly aways!  

Next, you will:

  • Choose a spot to set up your processing station for incoming paper.  Most people use the kitchen or home office, but you could also put it just inside the door where you come in and out of your house. NEVER leave it in your car!
  • Create categories that fit your lifestyle. Most incoming paper falls into a few categories: To Do, To File, To Read, To Pay or To Destroy.  Sort your current papers into these will then use your other categories from your previous "where does my paper come from" lists. (another post) For instance, I have one category titled For Fred, One for each child, one for a women's group I facilitate and so on...Another example is that I have one client whose kids are very active in a ballet school. She was always getting mounds of notices, flyers, etc from them and all the time losing them...she created a file folder labeled ballet! You get the point!
  • Designate a logical spot in your processing area for each category to live using file folders or wall bins.  Label each organizing tool, so everyone knows what kind of information lives there and what kind of information doesn’t live there.
  • Set up mailboxes or folders for other family members, so everyone can become responsible for their own action items.  When you process incoming paper, be sure to put everyone’s items into their own mailbox.
  • Don't forget, always make your tools appealing to look at, yes, pretty! And if at all possible, use a labeler! Weird, I know, but I promise it makes a difference!
My Short Term File Box For Incoming Mail

Finally, there are two secrets to controlling paper clutter as I have mentioned before. The first is processing your incoming paper regularly.  Daily is ideal, but if that’s not realistic, at least get to it once a week.  If you are not going to get to it immediately, have ONE designated place for it. The second secret is to make notes in your calendar to remind you to take action on the items in your action file. Otherwise, they may sit there untouched for weeks. Like all organizing systems, you must tend to them after you have put them in place..They will not run themselves. 

If you feel like you need help with this, get some! Many people (no, you are not alone) just need someone there with them to keep them focused, on task and accountable! Call me if you are in the Atlanta area, or another organizer..just call someone! And one final thing! I just have to add this amazing photo that I just uploaded. It was taken at a party that we took our youngest daughter to..a group of families with children from China...aren't they amazing? What a gift! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How a sick child can be a beautiful thing...

Isn't it a beautiful thing....we have our crazy day planned out..gym, ladies group, grocery store, bill paying, laundry...all things that seem pressing..and THEN...something happens..a sick or injured child, a friend in need, lost keys...whatever. After a moment of panic, you realize, that we CAN slow our lives down. We CAN stop dead in our tracks. Has it occurred to you, as it has for me today, that we should not wait until something "happens"? Our endless "to do" lists don't always have to get done, do they? You see, today, I am at home with a sick child, and I had a "list" today.... But, instead, I all morning, I have happily been by her side rubbing her head, holding back her hair, and tending to her every need. I have been right where I need to be..Feeling VERY un~cluttered, and not worried a bit by my to do list! (Until tomorrow) My challenge to myself, and to all that bother to read this is: Let's try and un~clutter our schedules a bit every now and then. Our culture tells us to go go go..spend spend spend, do do do. All the while we run around with knots in the pits of our stomachs hurrying from here to there so that we can fit it all in. I want to raise my kids knowing how to stop and smell the roses, not just see them as we wiz by them! I want them to know how to sit on the back porch swing and just talk, how to love stillness and quiet, and more importantly, how to stop dead in their tracks to help and love on someone that needs them. You see, part of being un~cluttered on the outside MUST begin with un~cluttering ourselves on the inside. So are you with me? Let's help ourselves, and this next generation to grow up with a head start on the de~cluttering process!!!

"A porch without a swing is like tea without the sweet..."in honor of my mother, who taught me to love swings, sweet tea, and screened doors!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Part 1: Taming the PAPER MONSTER!!!


First Step: Figure out where it is all coming from?
Start by making a list of the types of paper that you handle every day. Common clutter culprits include the following:
  • mail-junk, bills, mass marketing
  • school or work papers
  • magazines
  • catalogues
  • coupons
  • receipts
  • newspapers

It has been my observation that we probably need to keep about 20% of the paper that comes through our doors! Ask yourself these questions?

  • Do I keep things I don't ever look at again? 
  • If the answer is yes, then you must be willing to actively eliminate the sources. Could you discontinue a newspaper subscription and read it online instead? Cut down on the number of magazine subscriptions? Apply for ebills(I LOVE ebills)? 
  • A HUGE source of my clutter is catalogs...They drive me nuts! Not only are they a huge waste of paper and fill up the landfills, they tempt me to buy things that I do not need! Go to to make sure you get only the ones that you want to get! Most stores have online stores..No need for catalogs! 

These are just a few things that are easy to begin! Follow these tips to start with, and you will notice a difference in your paper monster right away! Next post, we will talk about what to do if your papers are already spilling out of every nook and cranny of your home!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some Garage Inspiration to Get Your "Wheels Turning"

Ok, so how many of us have garages that look like this? I don't, but wow, would I love if I could pull in after running around in a frenzy all day and see this!..Ok, so maybe this is only how Martha Stewart's garage looks, but we can go for something close, right? I love that the walls are painted...we should try and treat our garages as an extension of our homes, right? After all, our dearly beloved cars sleep in there...Who is with me? Fall is a great time to go for it!

Ok, so this next picture has...yes, white walls like the vast majority of us. BUT, notice the similarity..Nothing much is on the floor..Love that. You can then actually sweep all of the nasties away! The other thing that makes these garages look so neat is the continuity of shelving type..When you have a bunch of mis matched types of shelving, it is just naturally not as pleasing to the eye..causing things to always look disorderly..

So how did I do for my first Life~Uncluttered Blog? Did it get your "wheels turning" about what you can do in your garage? Now I just need to see about getting some followers! Off to bed..Going to The Beacon of Hope tomorrow to help organize staff spaces!