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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Routine = Efficiency

Do you ever wonder what makes some people more productive than others? Well professional organizers think about it all the time and one common bit of wisdom is routine = efficiency.

When our minds are faced with the same tasks week after week or day after day, they naturally find the most efficient method of accomplishing that task. It is the reason why Henry Ford was so successfully with assemble line manufacturing. If a worker needed to complete thousands of tasks to build a car, each task would require memory recall, a shift in focus and mental and physical setup. But if 1000 workers were each assigned just one task, they would each find the most efficient process making the entire process more efficient.

We too can employ assembly line efficiency in our lives to become more productive by identified all the rote tasks in our lives that we must complete, but are not necessarily enjoyable. And keep in mind - assembly line tactics should not be used on those tasks that are meaningful and deserve thought and attention. Do not mechanically pet your dog three times before leaving for work in place of your meaningful time together. But instead find tasks like sorting the mail, paying bills and doing the dishes and develop a routine that helps you make those tasks as efficient as can be so that you have more time available for meaningful moments.

Here are some tips on creating routines in your daily, weekly and monthly schedules so that you can get more out of life.

Paying Bills
Very few people like paying bills, and it seems that every year brings more bills and more complications which means less time to enjoy. Setting up automatic payments and withdrawals can really help to simplify your life and even help a family stay on budget. Almost every utility, credit card, mortgage company or bank offers an automatic method of payment, and some even offer discounts when choosing an automatic pay plan. And banks are providing free online access to checking to make the setup simple and pain free. Take a look at the list below of common bills that usually offer auto pay options.

Phone Bill
Cable Bill
Mortgage
Home Insurance
Car Payment
Car Insurance
Cell Phone Bill
Electric Bill
Gas Bill
Credit Cards
Internet Service


The trick to monitoring these payments easily and ensuring you have enough money to pay the bills is to pick a single date or small date range in which all the payments will be made. Then total up the dollar amount of all the automatic payments. Be sure to leave room on this number because some payments may fluctuate with usage, like a cell phone or electricity bill. Some people are surprised to find out how much their bills total which makes this a great step in becoming financially organized. This step provides a reasonable estimate of your fixed expenses each month. In the process you may even discover some expenses that are no longer worth the cost.

Once you know how much each month your expenses total and you have setup all the payments to be taken from your checking account in the same time period, it easy to monitor. Most checking accounts have online access these days so you can log in and make sure the payments went through on time.

The Mail

Come rain or shine your mail box gets paid a visit. If you don't have a daily routine for handling the mail, chances are that you have piles of envelopes stacked somewhere in your home or office.

Handling the mail should be a daily routine. A common time to handle the mail is when you get home from work. Spend just a few minutes at the garbage can throwing out the junk right away. Then have a set place for "To Do's". It is also a good practice to respond right away for items that require a call to action. That way you leave room for tomorrows incoming correspondence.

The little things

We waste a lot of time looking for things on our way out the door. Designate an area for keys, wallet, and umbrellas and get into the strict habit of placing them only in that area. You will find this helps you get out the door on time and reduces the panic of finding your keys when late for an appointment.

Cleaning

No one likes to clean, which is the very reason why cleaning tasks should be routine tasks. Set a schedule for vacuuming, making the beds, laundry, kitchen and bathrooms and stick to it. You find that after a couple of weeks each task actually takes less time because you will have naturally found the most efficient processes.


I hope some of these ideas inspire you to install some routine into your days that will free up wasted time and help you to enjoy each day a little more.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

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

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