weekly organizing Tips

Brought to you by Beautifully Organized

Month: November, 2013

Functional Filing Cabinet

Image

As I promised last week I am going to offer tips and tricks for your filing system. This is how I process my files, however, with that said, I am trying to go as paperless as possible so I’ve trimmed my needs way down. I’m working on a post for that and will offer tips and tricks to get your home or office paperless as well – it’s coming, I promise.

First things first, as with every organizing project, you must sort through existing files and paperwork determining what you have and purging what you no longer need. Consider your needs and what is available online. There is no need to keep a paper with information you can find online – utility bills, phone bills, payments made through online banking, just to name a few. Once you have your files whittled down and other papers that might be lying around the house without a home together you’re ready to create your system.

I have my filing cabinet set up in two organizational strategies, color and categories. The colors help me quickly identify the category and the label on the folder helps me identify exactly what it is. For my personal files I have four general categories: Shared, Sage, Jeff, my husband and Jackson, my step-son. Any purple file is mine, which helps me quickly identify my personal files. Within the shared personal files, all yellow folders, I have items like: Insurance, Warranties, Travel, Household, Pending, Bills, Harry (our dog) and Car. Two things I would like to point out in my shared files: Pending and Bills. Pending means it is actively being worked on and is not complete. This is not a file to stuff things in and forget about them. This is an active file that needs a thorough review once a month on minimum. It can be an effective organizing tool if used properly. Notice I just have a file for bills not individual files for bills. For the paper bills I receive, which are only a few, I only keep the previous month’s bill. When I receive the next month’s I review the information to make sure everything is correct and I either shred the old one or file it with taxes if I can write it off.

My personal files include: bank accounts, canadian residency, personal documents and taxes. The only thing to point out for this is the taxes file is the current year of taxes. I keep information in this file to pass along to my accountant at the end of the year. Once it is filed I keep all previous tax filings in a separate archived folder. I keep my personal files simple and streamlined only keeping the most necessary paperwork.

For my business files I have marketing in green, administration in blue, clients yellow and banking in purple. I am just as lean with my business files as I am with my personal. If I don’t have to keep it on paper I recycle it. I keep my files general as most of the paperwork is used for end of the year taxes. In marketing I have strategy, ideas and reports. In administration I have labeled one file with the current year and any administration paperwork would go into that folder. I also have a POC folder for the trade organization I belong to. My client folders have shrunk over the years as I have started keeping electronic files of client appointments and interactions. In the purple banking folders, again I have them labeled by year and any banking receipts or statements go into this folder. I also keep an accordion folder with receipts for tax purposes sorted by month. I don’t think the sorting by month is necessary, but it makes me feel better.

As a general rule when considering categories and file names keep it simple. Go for broad categories that are easy to remember and only keep the most necessary information. If it can be found online get rid of it.

I found a few sites with good info about what paperwork you need to keep and what can go. Check these out for general guidelines, but check with your accountant for your specific needs before starting. Purge Paper ClutterManaging Household Records and How Long to Keep Documents

Image

Ok, now that you have your guidelines on what to keep and what can go it’s time to start purging those files! Be ruthless. Paper is a monster and quickly multiplies so don’t hold back.

Once you have your paperwork purged and your categories selected you’re ready to set up the filing cabinet. The supplies you need are hanging folders, filing folders in different colors and file labels. Use one hanging folder per file. Even if you think there is room for more than one file. It will prevent files from sticking together and give you room to grow without reorganizing the whole cabinet. Give each general category a different color folder. If you have to reuse colors try to keep them out of the same drawer to ease confusion.

Once your system is set up test it. Live with it for a few weeks and see how it functions. The most important thing is that you use it. You actually open it up and file things. I keep a weeks worth of filing in a basket. I add to it as mail comes in, receipts are generated or general paperwork needs to be filed. Every Thursday evening I pull the basket out and file everything away. The filing system will only work if you work with it. Now, last step, open up your calendar and schedule an appointment with yourself in six months to purge your files again. The good news is it will be a quick process because you just did all of the hard work. Also don’t be afraid to add folders as you need them. Tame that crazy paper monster that creeps into your house and get a good filing system working for you!

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Leave your file success stories or questions in the comments below.

Happy Organizing!

Advertisements

Increase Workspace Function in 15 Minutes

Desk before and after

Today I have a quickie, but a goodie! Sometimes the simplest solutions have the largest impact.

Whether you work from home or in an office this tip is for you.

At the end of the day give yourself 10-15 minutes to clear off your desk preparing it for the next day. When your desk is cluttered your mind is cluttered and when that happens you can kiss productivity good bye.

Above is a before and after of my desk at the end of the day. I keep piles there to remind me what I need to do/file/note etc. once that activity is complete I dispose of the paper or file it. Paper is the biggest villain in an office and if you can come up with solutions to tame it daily you will be in control of it in no time. Cleaning up your workspace every day is a great place to start. You will see the difference 15 minutes a day can make.

Try it for a week and see how you feel. Need help setting up a filing system? Check out my tip next week for step by step instructions to set up a simple functional system.

Small changes everyday can help you tame clutter and get your desk back under your control. Notice the difference it makes in your day and your productivity level.

Happy organizing!

Shorten your to do list and get more done

Image

It been a while since I gave an organizing tip, what can I say? It’s been a busy few months. Between client work, an event I’m planning for the Spring and household duties, my to do list is overflowing. Some days I feel like burying my head in my pillow and forgetting the ever growing list. However, like most things in our lives, if we don’t take care of them they don’t go away they grow and create even more stress and anxiety.

My problem can be that sometimes I overbook myself and I become so overwhelmed that I don’t get half of my list done and then I feel bad. Stop feeling bad and cut your list back. Don’t overbook yourself – that’s a recipe for failure before you even start your day.

I was discussing this with my husband a few weeks ago and he had a brilliant solution. He takes his top three priorities every day, writes them down where he could see them and focused on completing those tasks everyday. Brilliant!

This is a solution everyone can try. If you focus on the top three things that need to happen everyday then you will always move projects and to dos along. It might feel like a slow process somedays, but try it for a week and see what you accomplish.

I would love to know if you try this system and if it works for you.

Happy organizing!