Use the Summer slump to get organized

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Why Not . . . Get Organized?
by Shannon Ables
The Simply Luxurious Life

It was recently shared in The Independent that the designer behind Céline, Phoebe Philo, works reasonable hours – arriving at the same time in the morning and leaving at the same time in the evening. When asked how she is able to follow this type of schedule and still produce what is necessary she credited it to being well organized.

I whole-heartedly agree that living a successful, balanced life is possible without working endlessly into the night every day of the week. The key is to be prepared, have a system and stick to it.

Beginning today, I will share ways to help you become organized, reveal the benefits of being organized and help you find a system that will work for you.

The catch about being organized is that you don’t always have that adrenaline rush of hustling to get things done at the last minute and then immediately seeing the benefit. While some people may enjoy this intensity, I consider it unnecessary stress, and if you’re willing to be patient, do the work that is necessary ahead of time, the results will reveal themselves in amazing ways and be much better than anything done last minute.

Today’s tips focus on creating a foundation of organization in your life. Let’s get started.

 

Use A Planning System

Whether you are techie or old-school, it is important to choose a planning system that works for you. For those who enjoy technology perhaps your entire daily, weekly and monthly schedule is on your smart phone calendar.  If you’re like me, I love having my planner from Franklin Covey where I can write down, cross out and doodle at any given moment. Either way, have a system where you write down your daily to-dos and upcoming appointments. This will relieve your mind from having to remember it all so that you can be in the moment. Each morning before the day begins I look at my agenda to see what I have in store, and each evening, I look ahead to the next day and plan out how I will make it all work.

 

Important Documents

Create a filing system to keep all your documents from your bills, invoices, insurance policies, financials, etc. Whether you have a filing cabinet or drawer in your house or a simple filing tote (which works great if you’re just getting started), organize it with folders, tabs and place in alphabetical order so any document you need at any given time will be easily accessible.

Now that you have a place for your documents, what should you keep and for how long? Following Consumer Reports advice, I stick to the following:

Keep for a Year or Less:
*Bank records (remember most banks now have online statements on file)
*Credit card bills
*Current-year tax records
*Insurance policies
*Investment statements
*Pay stubs
*Receipts
*Monthly bill receipts
– create an easily accessible file to place bills as soon as they arrive marked “Bills to Pay”. When the bill is paid, write the date on the receipt as to when you paid it and file it in its respective folder.

Keep for a Limited Time:
*Household furnishing paperwork (warranties, instructions, etc) – toss when you no longer have the item
*Investment purchase confirmations
*Loan documents
(keep in a safe-deposit box until loan is paid off)
*Savings bonds
*Vehicle records
(title, registration and receipts should be kept in a safe-deposit box and all maintenance information can be kept at home until you no longer have the vehicle)

Keep for Seven Years:
*Personal federal and state tax returns

Never Toss:
*Keep in a safe-deposit box – essential records such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, Social Security cards, and military discharge papers should be kept in a safe-deposit box.
*Estate planning documents
*Life insurance policies
*Defined benefit plan documents
*Safe-deposit inventory

 

Have a Hard Copy

In our ever technological world, more and more people are going completely paper-free. And while this is very environmentally friendly, there are a few things I would suggest keeping a hard copy of: contact information – addresses, phone numbers, etc, passwords and usernames, important documents saved on your computer that if inaccessible would be disastrous. By having a back up hard copy of important information, you will save yourself time, money and unnecessary stress.

 

Follow a Budget

As I have said many times in my Financial Food for Thought posts, by creating a budget and sticking to it you are setting yourself up for success.  And at the foundation of any successful story is proper financial planning.  Even though finances may be something you don’t enjoy dealing with, by carving out a set time each month – paying your bills (either electronically or by snail mail), you are being a responsible adult who is choosing to stand on their own two feet.

Save Time

A simple thing you can do to save yourself time and prevent running late to your next appointment or job is to designate a particular spot for your keys and anything else you need whenever you step out of your home (sunglasses, purse, coat, umbrella, etc). Use your creativity and be on the look out for a unique bowl or dish to place on your console table in which you will always drop your keys as you walk in the door, or create a nifty key hook system. Whatever you do, get in the habit of leaving these items in the same place so you don’t waste valuable time doing something that is completely unnecessary.

The above five tips are just the beginning of our Why Not . . . Get Organized? series that will continue for two more weeks.  Be sure to stop by next Wednesday when I will tackle specific ways to organize your home, shopping and life in general.