“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~William James
Masters of Procrastination have the following charateristics:
- “I should have done it yesterday / now it’s today / maybe tomorrow”
- The floor of your home office looks like a paper recycling plant
- Your email inbox is overflowing with old messages
- You are consistently making late payments on credit card/utility bills because they get lost
- You avoid entertaining friends and family because your dining room or kitchen table has a “paper tablecloth” and the thought of cleaning it is too daunting
- You make excuses for missing appointments… “I wrote it on my calendar in invisible ink”, “I came down with a severe case of the Hong Kong Hangnails”, “The dog ate my PDA”, etc.
- You are envious of organized people, but don’t think you can emulate them.
Of course you can! Any bad habits can be unlearned, and you can be the organized envy of your colleagues and friends. A few simple steps will get you started:
- When you receive an email, either answer it or delete it. If it contains information you will need later, set up a folder on your computer (MLS info, Office Policies, etc.) and store it there. Clean the folders out once a month.
- Use a calendar… ONE calendar, and record all appointments, to-do items and daily expenses. You may want to use an online calendar (most email programs have them), which can also alert you of upcoming deadlines. I use the calendar on my PDA. If you have an IPhone, there is a new calendar app called Fantastical (on sale for $1.99 in the ITunes store). You can also use Google calendar for free!
- Sort those papers on the floor of your home office… trash, create file folders in a rolling filing cabinet, or shred papers with sensitive information. Think about going paperless. You can start by storing all your new files “in the cloud.” There are a number of free to inexpensive applications, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote and Box.net on which to store your documents.
- Get rid of the “stickies” all over your desk; send yourself an email with the info, file in your folders on Evernote or Dropbox.
- If you subscribe to magazines, when the next issue comes and you haven’t read the previous one, consider cancelling your subscription(s). You also might consider subscribing to your favorite magazines online and forget the paper version.
- Use the “handle it once” rule: when the “snail” mail comes, trash anything not needed into the recycle bin; shred the credit card offers; put the bills to be paid in a prominent place, and mark the mail date on the upper right corner of the envelope; put other action items in the “to-do” pile and deal with them asap. Mail organizers are available from any office supply store for $5 or less. If and when you get comfortable with online banking, consider paying your bills all online. You can cut down on a lot of unnecessary mail, checks, etc. and once you get the hang of it, you will wonder why you didn’t take steps to go paperless before now.
- Children’s treasured artwork: display one per child per month; replace often and store the older ones in plastic bins, clearly labeled per child. The same with those great candid photos from family picnics, school plays, etc. Consider scanning family photos and display them digitally.
- Clipped recipes or craft ideas: keep them in a three-ring notebook, scotch-taped to punched unlined paper. Use tabbed index dividers to organize them into “Appetizers,” “Salads”, “Entrees” or “Knitting”, “Crochet”, “Home Decor”, or whatever is appropriate. Clean them out periodically. No woman (or man) ever lives long enough to try all those recipes or craft ideas! (After I wrote this, I immediately went to my “try someday” binder of recipes… and got rid of most of them). Consider scanning your favorites and storing them in the “cloud.” In that way you will always have them accessible to you on any device.
- Taxes: Ugh! At the beginning of every year, start a new check register. If you need to search for a check from a specific year, it will be easier. Start a file folder for the previous year’s taxes, and drop in all receipts you will need when you file. If you file itemized deductions, use a file folder with multiple compartments, each labeled with the various departments… charitable deductions, mortgage interest, business expenses, home improvements, etc.
- When you bring something new into your home, it has to have a place… and you need to dispose of something it will replace.
These rules can also apply to the clutter (oh, excuse me! valuable items) in the rest of your home. Find a place for them, display them, or store them away. If you are thinking of selling your home, they need to go into storage or to charity. You can do this! Don’t you love your new clean and efficient home and office?
If you have your own ideas on de-cluttering, we would love to hear about them!