Monday, March 27, 2017

Tax Preparedness: Gathering Essential Documents

It happens every year. Taxes are due. People everywhere are eagerly awaiting their W2's so they can file their tax returns. Right?

Maybe not - there are a lot of people that put off getting all of the needed paperwork together until the very last minute. Why?  Because they aren't organized. They can't find the information they need. It's not in a convenient location or in a convenient format.

Receipts have been misplaced or are non-existent. Stress builds up and all thoughts of taxes are pushed out of their thoughts. Until April. And then the panic sets in. Again.

This happens every year. So why not break the cycle?

Put together a list of all of the things that are needed to file your taxes. Then make folders and as these things come into your home - put them in the appropriate folder.

Make sure that you have a "donation" folder - for all of your donation receipts.

Have a folder for your investment information. A folder for your medical bills. A folder for children's expenses. A folder for major purchases.

The system has to work for you. Each person is different and has different information that they need to capture.

Use this year - as you get ready to prepare for your taxes - as a learning tool for what kind of information you will need to capture for next year.

By being organized - by having all of the needed information in one place - your life will be much less stressed.

Tax time is not a fun time for anyone - except tax accountants.  So take the stress out of the equation by being more organized.

Keeping good records throughout the year will make year end and tax time a breeze.

So take a deep breath and get your paperwork in order and resolve to make next year a better one.

Read an article from the IRS about some of the documents that you should keep:  Tax Preparedness: Gathering Essential Documents

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life 

Organizational Consulting Services

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spreadsheets for Organizing Your Life

Being “Organized” takes on many meanings. By documenting information that you use over and over again it makes your life easier.  I have created numerous forms and spreadsheets that will help keep you organized and keep important information together at your fingertips. Each grouping comes with an instruction sheet.

·         House Expense List - an Excel spreadsheet to track monthly / yearly expenses  
·         Donation List - tracks donations for the year
·         Grocery List - Alphabetic Food & Household Items to make grocery shopping easier - 2 pages
·         Automobile Service Record - lists basic services for your car

·         Babysitter Information Sheet - important information needed in case of emergency
·         Children’s Chore List - basic list of chores for kids –  track your kids progress weekly
·         Vacation List – What to Pack – never forget an item again - (Beach & Snow)

·         Medical Information – List of Providers (basic form to list your doctors)
·         Medical Information – List of Doctors / Providers (different format – more space)
·         Medication List – keeps track of all medications
·         Medication / Allergies / Health Problems – keeps tracks of important info

·         What to Pack & Buy for living at College – (6 pages) – Use this list year after year so that your child doesn’t forget anything.
*  Clothes                      Personal Care          Dorm
*  School Supplies          Medications              Miscellaneous Items

·         Home Inventory List – (24 pages) – broken down by rooms. Enough pages for a 6 bedroom / 4 bathroom home.  Tracks everything in your home so that you have an accurate list of everything that you own in case of a disaster.  Don’t be caught by surprise when your homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover something. 

                              Spreadsheets for Organizing Your Life

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life 

Organizational Consulting Services


Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Break - Keeping Your Sanity When Your Kids Are Home

It's that time of the year!  Spring Break!  The kids love it - an entire week off of school and parents are pulling their hair out!

By stepping back and planning out the week you can get through it in one piece and with some sanity left!

First, take a look at some of the events and things that are available in your area. Depending on the age of your kids and what they can do with or without supervision - there should be a lot of things that can take up their time - and leave you with time for yourself.

Start by looking at all of the free things - like hiking and checking out some of the museums in your area that you never have time to go to. There are probably some programs at the YMCA or at the University that would be of interest to the kids.

Find another parent that you can swap with to take your kids for the day (or 1/2 day) - to give you time to yourself - for running your errands, shopping, or just having the day to yourself. Then it's her turn.

Ask the kids what types of things they want to do. Make them responsible for their own fun.

Plan out the week - like you would a job.  Morning for reading. Afternoon for a movie. Game day. Craft day. Hiking by the river. A family bike ride.

Look at your calendar - and write it all out. That way it's planned and the kids have something to look forward to.

Don't worry - the week will eventually end and your kids will return to their normal schedule. Not soon enough for most parents!

Have a great spring break!

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life 

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 13, 2017

Organize Your Office Day

Tuesday, March 14th is "Organize Your Office Day".  Yes, there really is such a day!

So how do you start?

First, clear everything off of your desk. Either put it all into a box or find an area where you can set everything into a pile. Have a garbage can or bag handy.

Second, clean off your desk. You probably haven't done this in a while. Depending on what your desk surface is made of - either use some furniture polish or wipe it down with soap and water. You know this will be one of the few times this actually happens.

Next, you go through everything that you put into your box or pile. If it's garbage - throw it out.

Make four (4) piles:
             * action (something needs to be done with it - you need to make a decision, send an answer...)
             * pending (you are waiting on something or someone else before you can deal with it, or it is  due later)
             * file (put it into an appropriately labeled file)
             * read (articles or things that you need to read)

Next, you through your drawers (where you probably have a lot of "junk") and sort everything into categories. Throw out the garbage and things you don't need or use (you all know you have it). Get some drawer dividers and put in only the things that you really, really need. The dividers can be as simple as using checkbook boxes or other small boxes. Anything that will divide the drawer into smaller compartments. You don't need to buy fancy or expensive things.

If you have files in your desk - go through all of those and make sure that only things that you still actually need/use are in the files. Get rid of (or store if you are required to keep them for tax purposes) things that you are not currently using. Be sure to shred things that have your personal or identifying information on it.

After everything has been gone through, sorted and gotten rid of - it's time to start putting things back. But - only put back what you really need. Don't clutter your desk with a lot of useless stuff - or things that take up too much room. You need room to work.

An uncluttered desk gives you room to work and presents a more professional image.

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life 

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 6, 2017

Seniors - Downsize/Rightsize - Do It On Your Own Terms

As people age and their family size decreases (kids grow up and out) - they tend to need less room and don't want the responsibility of having to take care of a large house.

Downsizing - or rightsizing can help them get rid of the extra work needed to run a larger home.

The problem with a lot of seniors (and all people really) - is that they have a hard time letting go. They have collected items - precious items - over the course of 50 or 60 or 70 years - and it's hard to let go. Their things mean something to them.

However - they might not (and usually don't) mean anything to anyone else. It's all in the eye of the beholder!

Another issue to consider - is aging and medical issues that force people to give up their homes and move into assisted living or senior apartments. They are then forced to make some very hard decisions and get rid of things - very quickly.

So - do it on your own terms!  Start downsizing/rightsizing as you age.  Instead of waiting until you die to give things to people - do it over time - on your own terms!  This way you can see them enjoy your prized possessions. And if they don't want them - you have the chance to give them to someone that does!

Take control of your life and your possessions!  Don't let someone make these decisions for you!

Downsizing can be a tough process for anyone, but especially for seniors who find themselves with a large home. More and more are tackling the huge job of downsizing their living spaces. In fact, about six percent of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 move each year, according to the Over-50 Council of the National Association of Home Builders. As seniors reach the time to downsize belongings and move into smaller, more manageable homes, many have a hard time figuring out what to do with all of the “stuff ” they’ve accumulated over the years.

To have a more simplified lifestyle many seniors decide to move to a smaller, more manageable home.

Following are some tips for seniors downsizing:

• Get rid of the guilt factor — Many seniors feel they are the “keepers” of their family heirlooms and have a hard time getting rid of items for which they no longer have room. And even adult “children” have a hard time with their parents leaving the “family home” thinking that their childhood memories will be gone forever.

Instead of waiting to give your children some of your possessions that you would most likely leave them anyway - give them these pieces now, especially if you are not using them on a regular basis anyway. They will be able to enjoy them now and you will be able to watch them enjoy them!

However - please don't guilt your family members into taking things that you like - but they don't. Parents have a tendency to want to give things to their kids - that the kids don't want or have a use for. You might think that you are being kind and generous - but consider the other persons taste and lifestyle. Not everyone uses good china anymore. Don't let your feelings get hurt if they don't want the item. Give it to someone that will appreciate it. It's your choice.

If younger family members are not interested in taking the items then consider donating them to a worthy cause. Some organizations purchase furniture, high-end clothing, and porcelain, and then sell those items to raise money for specific causes or charities.

Professional organizers can help seniors sort through household items to strategically figure out what will work in their new space. They also can help seniors identify which organizations to turn to that are best at finding new homes for family heirlooms.

Find movers specializing in senior needs — Moving is stressful for everyone, but some moving companies specialize in making the transition easier for seniors, and professional organizers can help find the perfect “mover match” for a client. A professional organizer can help pare down items before the move and make the process easier at moving time.

Some professional organizers will also help with things such as helping the clients hang pictures on the walls for clients unable to do so themselves, handling the change of address and utilities, setting up electronics at a new home, and much more.

• Have a professional organizer reassess every five to ten years — As seniors get older, modern appliances or high shelving can become more difficult to use or simply unnecessary considering their lifestyle changes. Hire a professional organizer to evaluate and reassess your needs every five to ten years to make sure your home is still working for you.

For example, seniors who usually eat dinner alone should bring two to three sets of dinnerware to their level instead of keeping everything in out-of-reach cabinetry. Sometimes seniors don’t realize everyday activities and household chores can be made easier just by adjusting the setup in their homes. Professional organizers are great resources to help identify easy ways seniors can simplify to improve their overall quality of life.

Less Clutter = Less Stress SM     in your home, your business and your life 

Organizational Consulting Services