Doing paperwork can be a beast. We all drag our feet a little when we sit down to pay the bills or respond to emails or when we have to look up information on the mortgage. But it has to be done. Being organized helps the process go quicker and easier. So I created a document to organize all of the information.
Click HERE to get it.
This is a pretty thorough document but if you want to edit it or customize it a bit more, feel free. Just copy and paste it into your own document software (Google Docs, Word, etc) and edit away. This document is straight and to the point, none of my company branding on it (I hate wasting ink on that stuff).
I printed it off and added in the all details for each bill, policy, account, etc. I put it all together and now I have an awesome go to binder whenever I need it. No digging through files and papers to try and find that account number or login info for me!
It is all there at my fingertips.
*Note: This binder is an updated version to one I made previously. In the first one, I used a spreadsheet and filled in all the information. I grabbed the spreadsheet form online somewhere (this was many years ago so I have no idea where). The problem I have with the spreadsheet is that over time, some of our policies have changed and now the information is dated and there is no room to add new policy information. So this time around, I thought it would be better if each policy had its own sheet so I can just pull out the policy page that is out of date and insert a new one if needed. I am just going to keep some blank forms in the front of the binder and it will be so easy to update and keep current. Love it!
I have another binder with all of our official documents like birth certificates, shot records, marriage license, social security cards, etc. I have scanned those documents so I have digital versions of them as well. Some people call these binders a Grab and Go Binder or an ICE (In Case of an Emergency) binder. Whatever you want to call it, it is a great way to get organized and prepared.
Remember, take the time upfront to get organized and it will save you time (and a headache) in the long run.
Don’t we all want our bedroom or pantry to look as pretty and put together as a Pinterest picture? Is it possible or even realistic? There are three aspects that play into a home having that sort of “with it” feeling. A home needs to be clean, organized and styled. I am lovingly referring to these as the Three Sisters. Each one plays a part in the overall feeling to the home and each one is important.
The first sister is Clean and she can be quite demanding (especially if you have kids). She requires frequent attention and supplies to keep her happy. If you leave her alone too long, your home will start to smell and very unwanted things will start growing in the bathroom or other places. If you need help with Clean, a lot of people enjoy FlyLady. She coaches you through cleaning and sells cleaning supplies. For me personally, I set a goal to work on one thing in my home a day (in addition to dishes and laundry). So one day I will vacuum, another day I will clean the bathrooms, etc. I am not on a tight schedule. I like the flexibility to work on what needs to be done that day.
Another sister is Style. She can be quite fickle as fads come and go. Just be careful because she can cost you a lot of time and money. But she sure does make things nice! She helps you let people know who you are and what you like. It can be challenging to get to know Style. You really have to observe yourself and recognize what you are drawn to. If you need help with Style, check out School of Decorating by Jackie Hernandez.
The last of the three sisters is Organize. She is the worker of the three sisters. She makes everything function and work together. When you give Organize the love and attention she deserves, she keeps giving back to you. You can spend some money on Organize but you don’t have to. She can be thrifty so don’t discount her as being out of your reach. Improvise and she will go along with it. I obviously see the need for organizing and I hope you will gain insight and skills here to help you with this area.
These sisters love to play with each other and can often share things. So the baskets you use for Style can also be used by Clean and Organize. Or Organize’s bulletin board can be done in such a way that Style would be proud.
Clean, Organize and Style live in each of our homes. It is easy to tell if you give them enough attention. Best of luck as you work on each of them.
Change. No one can tell you to do it. Oh sure, they can try. But it doesn’t do much good until YOU decide to change. Personally, I am working on some things in my life and here are some observations as I have gone through the process.
1. Recognize your own habits, tendencies and weaknesses. Be an observer of your choices and actions. Be inquisitive and curious about why you do the things you do. There are reasons. What are they?
2. What is bothering you about how you do things? How do you want to be?
3. Surround yourself with people and sources that support the ways you want to change. Listen and learn from what they are doing. For example, do you struggle with organizing? Hang out with organized people. Find out their ways. Read about their thought processes, habits and how they go about things.
4. Start implementing what they are doing. Warning: this is going to feel foreign/unnatural/uncomfortable. Why? Because it is. It is going against your own natural way. This requires concerted intentional effort. You aren’t just going to stumble into this new great trait or skill.
5. Get comfortable with messing up and starting over. Whenever we are learning something new, we aren’t going to get it perfect on the first try. But we often get upset and frustrated when we don’t. Some of the things we struggle with, run really deep and are quite complex so don’t beat yourself up. Keep picking yourself up and trying again.
6. Have hope that whatever you are working on will become more natural with time and practice. I am personally working on my relationship with food. I have been at it long enough to know that my attitudes and habits are shifting but it still takes a lot of thought and effort on a daily basis. If I don’t work on it, I fall back into my natural habits. I have hope though that with time and practice, my healthy choices will just be my normal MO.
7. You are not alone. Turn to those who love and support you. In addition to the people I am learning from (see #3), I personally turn to God. He knows me better than anyone else so He gets where I have been and where I am trying to go. He knows the intents of my heart.
If you are struggling with something, be it organizing or something else,
I welcome you to the human race.
We all struggle with something.
We all have areas where we could use some improvement.
I wish you all the best in whatever you are working on.
We got this!
So I was busy, busy, busy this morning. Getting my boys fed and dressed. Getting myself fed and dressed. Throwing in a load of laundry before running to pick up my daughter from orchestra at 9:00. My Yoga class started at 9:15 so even though we were a bit late, I thought I would make it there just about the time people were done rolling out their mats and getting into position.
BUT when I got to the school, my daughter was nowhere in sight. I jumped out of the car, hoping she was just inside and didn’t see me pull up. Nope. I checked the music room, the bathrooms. No. Finally, I start calling her name out and I hear a reply from a classroom. By this time, I am frustrated and I yell at her, “I am late for YOGA!”
The funny thing is, Yoga is all about calming yourself and finding stillness.
I dropped her off at the house and I was right- I was late for Yoga. But the whole time during my Downward Dogs and Half Lotuses, I was thinking about how I yelled at her and how frustrated I had become and how I really needed to recover. I needed to make things right with her.
It is a life skill to be able to recognize situations where we need to recover. To recognize and acknowledge that we need to hit the stop button and rewind and try again. We might as well get comfortable with the process of recovery because we all make mistakes. We all trip up and need to start over.
If you are tripping up in regards to organizing, you are okay.
Recognize it. Pause. Recover.
Recovery Part 2
I have been thinking about recovery and how it is not a passive thing. For example, when someone has had knee surgery, they have to be proactive about getting better. They have to make the appointment to see the physical therapist. They have to get to the therapy session to work out. They not only work out their weak leg but their strong one as well. They have to stretch and do strengthening exercises at home.
Is recovery work? Yes.
Can recovery be annoying and disruptive? Yes.
Is the pain because you aren’t taking recovery seriously, work? Yes.
Is the pain uncomfortable, annoying and disruptive? Yes.
So recovery can be work, annoying and disruptive. Well it can also be work, annoying and disruptive to not recover. It is up to you.
Can organizing be annoying, painful and disruptive when there is so much stuff? Yes.
Can not being organized be annoying, painful and disruptive? Yes.
I am just saying do your organizing therapy and feel better. Recover.
Guess what… you may find you actually enjoy it.
^ top of page
How do I stay motivated to organize?
A common problem I hear when talking to people about organizing is how to stay motivated to do it. For most of us there seems to be various reasons why we just can't seem to spend the energy, time, money, etc. to do it. Here is a list of techniques that I use in my life to help me keep up the motivation to organize.
I keep the benefits of being organized in mind. I can feel the difference in my life when my time, my effort, my stuff and my home is working well. When it is not, I want to spend the effort it takes to get my life in order. This is the biggest factor for me.
I put things in inconvenient places so they are in my way. Having the stuff in my way bothers me enough to make the effort to put it away.
I set goals and work on them regularly.
I will do "When, Then" scenarios. For instance, “When I finish sorting the art cupboard, then I can watch my show.”
I break things down into smaller projects so I don't feel like I need to accomplish so much at one time.
Sometimes, I just do it even though I don’t want to. This idea is like eating your vegetables because you know they are good for you. I have noticed that a lot of the time it was worse in my head then actually doing it.
I set up TRIGGERS. A TRIGGER is a predetermined time to do something. For instance, my trigger to go through our shoes and determine what to keep, is when they no longer fit in our shoe rack in our garage.
Hopefully, this just gives you some food for thought. Pick and choose what works for you. I bet you already do some of these things in your life. If not, try some of them out and see if it works for you.
Is it Organized?
This is a picture of my basement:
Is it organized?
Would you think I am crazy if I said YES?
What I want to point out is the difference between an area being clean, straightened, organized and styled. The above picture is sort of clean, not straightened, organized and not styled.
So let's define what I am talking about.
The area is free of dirt, dust, mold, stuck on food, smeared toothpaste- you get the picture.
Things are picked up and out of the way.
You know what is there and things have a designated place to go. The stuff is manageable and allows the space to be used in the way you want it to. The stuff that is there is intentional.
Your space looks like a magazine or an organizing blog. I want you to recognize that to have a styled space is nice but it is not essential to enjoying the benefits of being organized.
NOW.. the space is sort of clean (I didn't vacuum), straightened (things are out of the way), organized (I know what is there and the space is functioning the way I want it to) but is not styled (doesn't look super pretty).
Guidelines to Clean, Straightened, and Organized
This post goes along with our discussion about clean, straightened, and organized.
This is how I manage my time to stay clean, straightened, and organized.
PROJECT GUIDELINE: If you are doing a project and are done, take the little bit of time to put the stuff away instead of just putting it on the nearest shelf. This helps keeps things straightened and organized.
HOT SPOT GUIDELINE: Do you have a spot in your house that things just get dumped on? In my house, it is the counter right next to the refrigerator. It is the place I drop the diaper bag, the mail that needs to be sorted, the stuff that needs to be taken to other parts of the house, etc. I like to spend just a few minutes, almost everyday, straightening this area up and putting things away. If you don't have a hot spot and things just get dumped all over, create it so you have one area that is manageable.
A LITTLE SOMETHING GUIDELINE: Take a few minutes each day to work an area in the house that needs some attention. One day I might gather the shoes that are dropped all over (I have four kids) and put them back on the shoe rack that is in our garage. And then another day, I might refold the blankets that are shoved into the linen closet. And then another day, I might wipe off the empty shelf in the refrigerator. You get the idea. I am not on a set schedule. I just do things that I notice need to be done or are bothering me. This is NOT a deep clean, just a little something to help keep my space functioning.
A LITTLE BIT MORE GUIDELINE: Set aside a bigger chunk of time daily or weekly to do a larger project. I am a stay at home mom so I try to do one project a day. It might be an organizing project like going through hand-me-downs. Or it might be a cleaning project like scrubbing the toilets. Or it might be a straightening project like picking up the toys in the basement. If it is a big project, I break it down into smaller tasks. For example, we have a gigantic tree in our front yard. I am the one who usually rakes up the leaves but it would take me a really long time if I tried to do it all in one day. I usually don't have large chunks of time to devote to a project so I break it down into smaller tasks. To do this I might put a time limit on it (like 1 hour) or designate a certain amount I need to get done that day and save the rest for the next day.
All these guidelines used together help me keep my house clean, straightened, and organized- though it is rare if all three of those things happen at the same time! But that is okay because it is always a work in progress like so many other things in our lives.
The examples I give are from my life. They are about home and family because that is what I am involved in. However, these concepts can be applied to a work setting. Work through these guidelines with your office in mind. Do you and your coworkers put things away after a project/meeting/etc. is finished? Take the little bit of time to put things away. Are there hot spots where things tend to accumulate in the office or on your desk? Make the daily effort to take care of those things. What if you did just a little something each day to help your work-space function better like empty out the shredder? Can you set aside a little bit more time during the week to tackle some of the bigger projects like sorting out a storage closet or cleaning out your inbox? If it is a big task, break it down into smaller tasks. Just sort one shelf of the storage closet or spend 20 minutes going through your inbox.
THINK ABOUT IT.
The Principles Behind Every Method
A method or system is just the way you do something to achieve a desired result. There are tons of methods or systems out there that help people get organized. Behind all of these different methods there are principles that make them work. Methods and systems are these principles in action.
Principle #1- You value being organized. You recognize the need and it is important to you. Often times, being organized is portrayed as being easy but those of us who are organized know that it just doesn't happen on its own. Often times, we might have to deal with painful issues or bad habits about ourselves that hinder us from being organized. However, if we really value it then we will put in the effort to deal with the issues. But you value you organization, you understand your WHY to get organized.
Principle #2- You make organizing a priority. If something is a priority, you are willing to spend your time, energy and money doing it. You make the time to work on it. For those who are just starting to get organized, you may initially need to spend quite a bit of time, energy or money. Making it a priority is your HOW to get organized. It is your method to organization.
Principle #3- You understand that being organized is a continuous process. It is a way of life. If you look at any method to organizing, the often understated practice is that you will have to keep working on it. People don't want to emphasize this aspect but it is true! To be an organized person, you have to keep working your method. How often you do it, depends on you and other factors in your life. You might even have to fine tune your method to make it work for you.
These three guiding principles are interconnected and are working behind the scenes of every method of organizing.
You probably already use these principles in other aspects of your life.
Think about what is important to you. Do you value being a good parent? Being healthy?
Financial security? A nice yard?
Whatever it may be:
you value it,
make it a priority,
and are continuously working on it.
So if you are an unorganized person, it isn't that you lack the capability.
It is just that you haven't applied these principles to organizing.
I want you to ask yourself:
Do I value being organized? If you are, identify one area in your life you would like more organized.
How can I make it a priority?
How am I going to make it a part of my daily life?
I cannot answer these questions for you. And there aren't any "right" answers.
There are organizing skills to learn (just like learning what foods are good for you or what you should invest your money in or what fertilizer your lawn needs) but that comes after these principles are in play, not before. Those who value something, make it a priority and work on it regularly, make progress and find success.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Helpful Organizing Sites