Monday, November 8, 2010

Are you “Organizationally Challenged?”

How many of the following things could you locate in five minutes or less?
  1. house keys
  2. auto insurance policy
  3. children’s school schedule
  4. current phone bill
  5. favorite subscription magazine 
  If you DON”T know where ALL these items are right off the bat, you’ll get frustrated and probably waste far too much time looking for them.. Misfiling or misplacing important papers is a common and unnecessary problem. 
    Lack of organization in the home is not only frustrating, but can be costly.  Add up the late fees or interest penalty fees on bills you’ve forgotten to pay, overdue books from the library, and even the cost of buying duplicate supplies, because they were misplaced. All that money, and even more importantly, all that time, should and could still be yours.  When you are organized, you will enjoy a new feeling of freedom: that comes from having control over your possessions, instead of your possessions controlling you.  With extra time and energy on your hands, there’s no limit to the new opportunities that will open up to you.  You will be able to pursue personal exercise goals, participate more fully in community projects, take on part-time work, or explore the hobby of your dreams.
If you have neglected your home or home office for too long, you can easily feel overwhelmed by the task, Take heart! Just like with physical exercise, you will be amazed at what you accomplish in as little as 20 minutes per day.  Begin with small goals such as going through a single drawer of a file cabinet.  If your desk is buried under two feet of clutter, begin this task by clearing off one small corner.  Set reasonable goals and you will be on your way to being delightfully de-cluttered.

Esther will help you learn how to do this, so you can enjoy a clutter-free home and spend more high-quality time with your family and friends.

    Esther Simon, The Traditional Home Organizer, specializes in organizing the home and home office.  She will help you make a difference in your life by reducing clutter and chaos.  During the initial consultation, Esther will show clients how to prioritize organizing tasks.  No task is too difficult for her.  She specialties in empowering her clients to manage a broad range of organizational issues, including the endless paper trail, efficient space planning, user-friendly filing systems, and flexible time management.  Esther can provide expert training in your home to teach you how to eliminate the clutter and take back the control in your life.  As a mother of seven, Esther’s own immaculate home is proof positive of the effect that a well organized environment can have on one's life.  She will help you plan a realistic daily routine whether you are a stay-at-home mother of any size family or a wall street executive.  
Esther holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.  She applies her social work skills and extraordinary organizing talents to the home environment. 
Topics discussed include: Taming the paper jungle
Developing a touch-it-once mail sorting system
The user-friendly file system
Storage and retrieval of important documents and appropriate retention time.
Creating an efficient kitchen (she has first-hand experience in kosher kitchens)
Beautifying your closets and drawers 
Simplified schedules for painless event and Holiday planning
The Efficient Minute

Opportunities of communication have never been greater. With home phones, cell phones, faxing, tenting, paging and computers, our personal time is spent in a telecommunications conundrum. So, are the opportunities to waste time.
Learn how to prioritize your use of the phone.  Learn to maximize conversations in short time.  This will let you and the caller get to the point quickly, complete the purpose of the call or return the call at a more convenient time.  The caller’s convenient time may not necessarily be convenient for you.

Also, caller ID, call waiting and answering machines are for your benefit. Utilize them efficiently.  Don’t answer the phone unless you have time to take the call.  Some people almost never answer the phone and opt to retrieve messages at the end of the day.  You can be business-like on the phone without being curt, and save yourself excess time over the course of a week.
The Clean Sweep-Stakes For Your Children
Most parents struggle to get their children to keep their rooms clean, to keep them from eating in their rooms, and in general to exhibit more tidy behavior.  Unfortunately, most kids are wired to be messy.  When a room gets out of control, make a game out of cleaning it by making a “Sweep-Stakes” contest.  Gather your kids together, and tell them you will give prizes for the best cleaning jobs.  To prevent an unfair advantage going to the oldest child who can do the most, give prizes according to effort, or simply establish separate prizes for different children.  You can turn on a kitchen timer for 10 minutes and see how much trash they can collect or how much they can tidy before the bill rings.  You’d be surprised how far this little incentive will go!
It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your day went?
You’ve put in a long day, and you’re beat.  Before retiring for the night with a good book or magazine, take a few moments to ensure that tomorrow will yield even better results: Write down your goals for the next day (successful people keep written goals for the week, month, and year!).  Think about the week’s likely errands, and try to map out the most efficient way of getting them done. Try to resource your best energy for morning or afternoon, and plan your agenda, without chopping up available blocks of time. Finally, one of my most important tips for maintaining order in the home is to set aside twenty minutes each day to straighten out your home, particularly your papers.  This will help you get a fresh start for the morning. 


The “Touch it once” Rule
    Many people lose time and important papers by taking in their mail, dropping it on a table, and getting to it “later”.  Sometimes, when “later” comes, an important bill has been misplaced or accidentally tossed out.  My rule to keep mail organized and  “touch it once.” If you don’t have time to sort through it when it arrives, keep it in a designated spot…one location and don’t move it.  Then, when you do have time, be ready to toss out junk mail in the recycling (you might want to shred paper with your name and address) and sort the rest in your “To read, To file, and To Pay folders. Get rid of catalogs (a major clutter) that you don’t want, and keep those you do want in a magazine rack or a file (if you collect editions of a particular catalog or magazine).  Mark down invitation dates in your day planner to avoid overbooking that particular day or forgetting an important event (Gee, sorry Uncle Sam, didn’t realize your 80th birthday party was today!). 
Don’t Pile It –File It
Filing is one of the easiest, yet most frequently delayed, methods for keeping important papers organized.  Here are a few tips to set up a logically classified filing system.
Start by making a list of file categories you will need, with relevant sub-categories (i.e. INSURANCE, with sub-categories of HOME, LIFE, AUTO, DISABILITY).
Choose color-coded labels that are visually appealing and can trigger what the file contains.  For example, a green label could refer to financial files. Red could refer to medical files or health insurance
Attach the labels to the files and alphabetize them. Put your sub-categorized files after the main file.  For example, after AUTO you would have the subcategories of “DMV”, “Parking Violation”, “Registration”, “Repairs.
Depending on how much filing you need to keep up with, do it weekly or monthly. Remember, much of what you file hardly gets looked at, except when you really need it.
I don’t want to throw it out, but I don’t know where to keep it…
Many of my clients like to keep selected newspaper or magazine articles on various topics without having to keep the entire publication.  If you like to save articles on specific areas of interest tear them out and put them in sheet protectors, which can be kept in binders.  You can easily add subject tables in the binder to quickly access the topics of your choice.  This is also a great technique for saving phone lists and rosters.

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