Getting Organized in 2017 & Staying That Way
Do you feel like there is always way too much to do and to keep up with? Do you find yourself making numerous lists only to misplace them or not have the list when you need it? Below are some suggestions for getting organized and staying that way.
Junk Mail: Is your mailbox filled with junk mail on a daily basis? Does it end up in a large pile on your kitchen counter, in your car, or in the corner of the living room floor?
- Don’t bring it in the house or take it to your car. If you have a PO Box, toss it before you walk out of the post office. If you have a curb side box, toss it in the outside receptacle immediately. Another bonus is if you toss those catalogs immediately, you won’t be tempted to purchase something you probably don’t really need anyway.
Grocery lists, Christmas lists, to-do lists, etc.: Do you find yourself in the grocery store realizing you left the grocery list on the kitchen counter? Do you struggle with remembering peoples sizes when shopping? Do you ever find yourself in Walmart and can’t remember what size air filter you use?
- There are more “To Do” apps available than you ever thought possible, the vast majority of which are free, I use Paperless. Find one you like and use it. I’ve got lists for books and movies people have recommended to me, errands I need to run, a pharmacy list, a parts number list, and even a vacation packing list.
Things you don’t want to forget, parts of conversations, medical records: Have you ever realized you didn’t write down an important date regarding a child’s first activity? Do you struggle to remember when you last got a flu shot or figuring out how much weight your child gained since his doctor’s appointment last year? Do you wish you had written down that memorable phrase your child said or things they did when they were small?
- I keep tons of information like this using the Notes feature in my iPhone, which conveniently also appears on my iPad and backs up to the cloud. Every time I take my son to the doctor, I record the date, reason for the visit, and his height and weight. I simply email the note to myself and place it in his medical binder. I do the same thing with memorable things he did or said, emailing it and printing it to place in his baby book.
Paying bills & tracking expenses: Are you still using paper checks and using snail mail to pay your bills? Do you have to go back through all your records come tax time to tally numbers for your CPA or hunt down receipts/amounts?
- I’d strongly suggest using an app or some other cloud based software for your personal finances. Use either a software application that will integrate electronically with your bank feed or simply log into your bank website and use the available add-ons. Most bank websites have add-ons that will allow you to classify items as they to post to your checking account. This feature will allow you to print a report that can be used to tally your tax items and assist you with your household budget.
- Cloud programs that will integrate electronically that offer tons of features include Xero and QuickBooks Online (QBO). The more information provided, the more the software will do for you. You can also use applications to pay your bills, I use Bill.com. It allows you to scan and email bills directly and the items will then integrate with Xero or QBO automatically recording everything. You will then be required to simply approve bill payments – they handle everything else.
Bills/receipts/other paperwork: Do you find yourself searching for bills when it’s time to pay them? Do you devote a whole room in your home to sorting and storing paperwork? Do you find yourself buried in stuff that needs to be filed/organized?
- Opt to receive bills electronically to prevent having to store paper copies. Scan paper copies received and save them to the cloud. When you receive a bill electronically (or if you scan it), develop a naming system and organization system so you can find everything when you need it! Many programs are available to assist you – Dropbox, Amazon, OneDrive; I use Dropbox. One noteworthy benefit of using a cloud file cabinet – when sending documents to your CPA for your tax return, you can simply pull up Dropbox on your phone and email them. You have them all in one location and can simply share that one folder with your CPA. No more keeping up with paper receipts, maintaining bulky file cabinets, and best of all no more clutter!
I’d strongly recommend using a password on your phone and tablet. I also take pictures of every item in my wallet just in case it’s ever lost or stolen. I do this with my phone and keep those items in a specific album so I can locate them easily.
I hope these suggestions are helpful in keeping you organized in the coming year. If you have one that I missed that is greatly beneficial to your sanity, I’d love to hear about it.