CALL US NOW (773) 678-9793

The Home and Office Organizing Blog
Monday, August 15, 2005

How to Say Goodbye

One of the most difficult parts of organizing is saying goodbye to items. It is easy to identify when there is too little space for too much stuff, but agonizing to decide what must go. Here are a few tips and ideas on how to determine the things you get the most enjoyment and use from, and the things that should go.

1.) If you are really undecided on some items, pack them up and put them into storage for a pre determined amount of time. I recommend no longer than a year, and for most items 3 to 6 six months will make the point. After the storage period is over ask yourself if you thought about the item, needed it or missed it. These questions will give you an indication of just how useful that item is to your life, and if it is worth the precious space it takes up.
2.) It is difficult to make decisions on items that hold sentimental value. The general rule of thumb is that you should display items that have meaning. Items with sentimental meaning provide little satisfaction sitting in a box on a shelf somewhere. When going through your sentimental items decide what you want to display. For the items that will not be displayed, think about alternatives to packing it up again. Is there a friend or family member that will display the items? For pictures and memorabilia technology can offer some great solutions. Scan images of those items and pictures into your hard drive, and then make a screen saver, so that you can enjoy them on a day to day basis.
3.) Consider donating items to charities. Sometimes parting with items is easier knowing that it will go to good use. For example, music instruments were made to make music, so shouldn’t they be in the hands of a budding musician instead on a basement shelf collecting dust?
4.) Some of that stuff may be worth a lot of money. Sticking with the music instrument theme, my husband played trumpet in high school. He bought the trumpet at a garage sale for around $50. After college the trumpet moved from closet to closet for ten years getting dinged and more tarnished every year. Then one day he decided it would better for someone to be playing the trumpet, rather than it age in his closet. He sold it on eBay because it had a new case and he thought it might be worth $50. One week later he received a check for over $1,800. He had no idea the trumpet was worth that much money and was very pleased that he could say for that month, that music paid the mortgage.

I hope these tips help you clear the clutter from your home or office. Our spaces should be enjoyed, not enslaved by our things. So decide what you have room for, and what is meaningful, and use those items to create the space you deserve.

For professional help Organized With Style can be reached at 877-447-3697

Labels:

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Organizing E-Mail

Email has become an important part of many people's lives. We use it to communicate with friends and family, business associates and can use it to receive data from about any informational service out there. Banks can now send daily account summaries, most utility companies have electronic billing options and the major news channels offer to email articles that fit our own personal interests. With all these different communications coming through to our email addresses it is important to have a system for organizing all the information.

Most email programs and web interfaces provide the ability to use folders. This allows us to setup a folder for filing email away that we want to keep. Depending on your email situation, options will vary, but there are a few tips that every system should be able to adapt to.

  1. Have a way to separate business from personal. If you use a separate email address and program for each, then this step is already taken care of for you. If not, make a folder for each.
  2. Setup a folder system in both your business and personal categories that fit your life style. To get you thinking in the right direction, here are some options for both business and personal folder categories.

Business

  • Folders by Client
  • Folders by Department
  • Folders by Week or Month
  • Folders by Business function, i.e. A/P, A/R, Invoices, Sales Leads,

Personal

  • Receipts (good for e-tickets, online payments and online purchases)
  • Friends - can use sub-folders for each friend
  • Family
  • E-Statements - use sub-folders like Finance, Car, Home

Everyone thinks of paper in different ways, so put some time into thinking how your folder system will work best for you. The great thing about email folders are that they are easily renamed and hundreds of files can be moved from one folder to another with a few clicks. So don't get discouraged if your first few attempts don't' work. Each time you learn what does not work, you are closer to finding what will.

Take care and happy organizing!

Labels:

Monday, August 08, 2005

Finding your own scheduling style.

There are a lot of tools to help people organize their daily schedules. Planners, notebooks, calendars, PDAs, computer programs, Post It Notes, our short term memory and even scratches of paper. I once met a man that wrote down his to do list and daily schedule on the front page of his newspaper with a black Sharpie. It worked for him becuase it fit his style.

The key to a success is to find the style that works for you. Experimentation is usually the best way to start. But there are a couple of questions you can answer for yourself that will help guide you in the right direction. First it is important to discover your peak performance hour. Some people concentrate best in the morning while others prefer evenings. Whatever time you are able to focus with the least amount of effort, that is the time you want to set aside each day to prepare your to do lists and daily schedule. Second ask yourself how you view your day. Do you understand your day as a series of tasks or as blocks of time? Are you deadline concious or a perfectionist with little regard for due dates? These questions should help you form ideas on what kind of system will work best for your own personal style. Once you have an idea, start to make connections between the options available and your preferences. People who think in lists often like diary books. Place the date in the upper right corner each day and use the free space as you wish. Some people like the structure of a defined system that uses To Do lists with project connections and priority ratings. Whatever you try, ease into it. Don't go out and buy an expensive planning system without trying it for a week or two. Many systems sell filler packs. Buy one of those to see if the system fits your lifestyle before buying the whole package.

When experimenting, remember that there are common traits that many successful system share. Always plan your day at the same scheduled time. Routine is a must! Second, spend time analyzing your schedule. How many tasks are too many? When is the best time to break? What tasks do you continually write down, but never complete? And third, try to avoid keeping several schedules or calendars. Having all your information in one place will help to avoid confusion.

I hope these tips will help you find the scheduling system that fits your personal style and helps you to reach your full potential. Happy Organizing!

Labels:

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Telephone

For a busy professional who spends a lot of time talking on the phone, they know it is an indispensable piece of equipment. And yet many people do not take full advantage of the features today's technology has to offer. One piece of advice I give my clients is to spend a little time with the office phone's manual. About a half an hour of reading and playing around can reveal several useful functions. This allows them to take control of the day. For instance many office phones have a Do Not Disturb or Screening function. These are invaluable for those times when focus is needed. With Voice Mail and Call Screening we can set aside time for important tasks that require uninterrupted attention, and still be available for emergencies. Several phones have Call Forwarding which can facilitate needed breaks to the corner coffee shop by simply forwarding calls to a cell phone. Remember that breaks are important in keeping momentum and a good attitude. Don't let the threat of missing an important call keep you locked up all day long. Other features like Speed Dial are designed to save time, but many people only use a few of the available banks. Go ahead and program numbers until you either run out of banks or run out of numbers. Don't worry about memorizing the Speed code, with time the important and most used numbers will stick. Clients are often amazed at how a little time up front spent learning their phones capabilities can pay off in little ways for years, making each day just a little bit easier.

Labels:

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tips on Managing Mail

The mail is a common source of stress and clutter. Use these simple tricks to manage your mail, and put an end to letting it manage you.

  1. Make the mail a regularly scheduled event. Set a time every day that is for taking care of the mail. Make sure you set aside enough time so that you can attend to any items that may need immediate attention. If on some days you do not use all of the time allotted, then treat the extra as a well deserved break.
  2. Set a place for handling the mail. Designate an area for handling the mail. It can be your desk or a kitchen counter as long as it will accommodate the task. Have a trash can close by and open your mail over it so you can drop the junk in it right away. If you receive lots of credit card applications and correspondence with sensitive information, get yourself a shredder and place it next to the trash. Also keep any commonly used items like an envelope opener, your check book and your calendar so that you can quickly attend to the mail.
  3. Set a system for handling bills. If you like to pay them when you receive them, write the checks during your allotted mail time. If you like to hold onto them until they are due, set up a filling system by date. File the bills as you open them. After opening the mail, check your filing system for any items requiring action.

Labels:

Home Home Organizing Business Services Office Organizing OWS in the News About OWS Resources & Links Organizing Blog Contact Copyright © 2007. Organized with Style, Inc. Chicago, IL