TIPS FROM THE PROS
Tips Are Compiled by NAPO-LA Golden Circle
Business and Home Office
Great first step to paperless: find PDF owner's manuals online and save them to Evernote, then recycle the paper ones! —Deron Bos, Bos Organization
Keep an envelope in your purse or briefcase to keep track of tax deductible receipts. —Mishele Vieira, CPO, Away with Chaos
Review that stack of business cards eliminating the obvious unnecessary ones. Store them in clear business card holders or boxes for easy reference. File them by name of person, name of business or type of service/product provided by that business. Find the categories that are logical to you. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Schedule, on your calendar, to spend 10 to 15 minutes a day deleting junk emails from your computer. If it is going well...try 10 minutes more. Making appointments with yourself can really help to stay on top of the load of emails appearing daily. Go for it! —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Use a small address book to keep track of your million onlne log-ins and passwords. Keep it at your computer and lock it up when you're away from your desk. —Anonymous
Store insurance policies together in the file cabinet for easy accessibility. Print labels on folders with the same format (Auto - Ford; Auto - Mazda; Health - Jane, Health - Robert; Life - Jane, Life - Robert). For even quicker recognition, color-code the labels by type of insurance. —Donna D. McMillan, McMillan & Company Professional Organizing
Color-code labels on your tax files, income one color and expenses another. Save time each year and create labels using Avery or compatible labels and the label template in Word (Tools->Letters and Mailings->Envelopes and Labels->Labels tab->Options, then choose your Avery-compatible label number). Type the year, the category, and the description (e.g., 2013 INCOME - [month], 2013 EXPENSE - [payee]). Next year, just Search and Replace with the new year. —Donna D. McMillan, McMillan & Company Professional Organizing
Use magazine files laid on their spines to hold action files or project files on the desktop. They're just the right size for regular folders. —Cynthia Smith, Your House In Order
Use empty water bottles as boot inserts.
Plan to spend 1 hour a week purging one clothes closet of items you do not wear, that do not fit, are out of season or out of style. Many people need your unwanted items. Charities welcome them as do women's and men's shelters, churches, etc. Next week do the same.
Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
If you have way too many of an item, say socks, organize the drawer to hold a comfortable amount. If you just can't bear to part with the rest, put them in a bin called "sock department," and store it out of the way. Then, when some of your current socks wear out, you can go "shopping" in your sock bin.
When sorting/purging closet of clothes, hang all the "undecided" items on distinctive (preferably ugly wire) hangers. Hang the clothes you love and want to keep on uniform, strong and attractive hangers. If you don't wear the "undecideds" within a designated period, out they go to donation or consignment. The hangers make them easily visible. You feel secure the decision has already been made and does not have to be revisited.
Place a small table or shelf by your front door with a small trash bin underneath. Stop and sort your mail each night when you get home, Recycle all junk mail immediately. Leave keys and change in a dish. —Tina Studier, K.Marie Design
Out with the old in with the new. I implemented this plan when my 4 children were younger. They are now in their 20s. For every item, toys, clothes, that came into the house, one item had to go with my approval. This reduced Happy Meal toys in our house by 100%. —Mary Anne Lantieri, Apparent Priority
Never leave a room empty handed. When walking from one room to the next pick something up and put it where it belongs. —Anonymous
Where do you start organizing? Keep what is working, change what is not! —Anonymous
Make your bed every day. Do your dishes every night. —Regina Lark, Ph.D., CPO, A Clear Path
When organizing your wallet, photocopy the front and back of each card in there. Keep in a safe place so you will have all the info you need on hand in the event your wallet is lost or stolen. —Jodie Watson, Supreme Organization
Buy a red wallet for your purse. Everytime you need to fish it out of the many items in your purse you will be able to easily find it and reach for it. —Esther Simon, The Traditional Home Organizer
By every telephone, keep a notebook and pen with friends, family, and emergency phone numbers taped to the inside front cover (do this on the computer so you can keep it updated). This is good for taking quick notes and messages. —Karen Fulks, Organizer Extraordinaire
Pick up a plain black wallet from any office supply or dollar store. Inside, put a copy of your auto registration, your insurance card, and a list of emergency numbers. Stick this in the glove compartment. —Karen Fulks, Organizer Extraordinaire
If you're constantly running out of cash, hide a $20 bill behind your driver's license, in your car visor, in your running shoe - wherever, just remember where you put them! :) —Karen Fulks, Organizer Extraordinaire
As you think of questions for your health care provider, jot them down on a sticky note and place it directly on your medical card. Then when your appointment comes up, there will be no doubt that you will have it with you. —Sally Hulem, In-House Organizing
When packing for a trip, pack chargers and electronic wires in a zip-type plastic bag labeled "chargers." Not only will they have a home in your luggage, but having the bag will remind you to collect them when you're packing to come home. —Fay Wolf, New Order
Keep bathroom supplies and refills in each bathroom for easy access. —Lori Gersh, Leave It 2 Lori
Never store clothing bins in attics, basements or non-temperature controlled areas of the home. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
As children outgrow their clothing and toys, consider donating them to a friend/family or a children's home. Involve your children in the process, reminding them of the needs of others. If possible have the child join you when you visit the donation center. They may be more willing to give them up when they see that they are helping others in need. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Start teaching your kids about the importance of filing by giving them their own folder in your filing cabinet. Tell them to file their important papers right away. It's so much fun to see what they consider important. For example, my daughter files notes passed to friends, tests (only the ones with good grades;) pictures, a napkin with a drawing. —Brenda Lam OrgTech, Inc.
Put soapy water in a dishpan early in the morning and every time someone finishes a dish they can start soaking it. —Esther Simon, MSW, The Traditional Home Organizer
Make a pot of vegetable soup in the beginning of the week and leave it in the refrigerator so there is always something quick to eat. —Esther Simon, MSW, The Traditional Home Organizer
Make a Drawer: Use Clear Plastic Boxes that are the depth of cupboards. Use them like you do a drawer for easy access to items in the back of cupboards. —Donna McMillan, McMillan and Company Professional Organizing
Check expiration dates on canned and packaged goods in your cupboards and disaster supplies. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Take an inventory of the freezer contents. Keep what's "safe" to continue storing. When in doubt … throw it out (for instance, is it worth the cost of a trip to the emergency room to use those expired chicken breasts?). Post the list where it can be seen to help create the next grocery list. Add items to the list as they are purchased and delete the items used. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Too many plastic grocery store bags each week? Purchase cloth bags to reuse when you visit the store. Keep them in your car for easy access. Even if you forget to take them into the store, you can run out to the car to retrieve them while they ring up your groceries. Ask the person bagging your groceries to place meats in plastic bags first to keep them cleaner. You will need to launder them occasionally. The planet will thank you. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Take 10 minutes to clear the dishes from the sink and counter tops, load them in the dishwasher...or take 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher. Never run the dishwasher before bedtime or when leaving the house. A broken pipe/hose, etc. could be disastrous. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Plan 2 main meals a week (dinner or lunch depending on your schedule or lifestyle. Start by planning to use supplies in your pantry, freezer or refrigerator. Planning will save money by eliminating take out or order in meals. When that becomes comfortable, try to plan 3 meals a week. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Keep a running list, posted on a kitchen cupboard door, of groceries and supplies needed on your next grocery store visit. Check the refrigerator and freezer also to eliminate buying food you do not need. Keeping a tally of freezer items will also be helpful. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
For Halloween, make a bake ahead meal for an early dinner so you can get the kids out to trick-or-treat. —Anonymous
Keep a piggybank on /near the washer/dryer to collect those coins that inevitably are left in your kids/husband's pockets. —Brenda Lam, OrgTech, Inc.
Sort laundry loads in baskets. Stack them up near the washer and drop a load when you can. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Donate "old" used towels to a local animal shelter or vet clinic. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Laundry room organization: With supplies clearly labeled and grouped, your laundry room will feel more spacious. —Christie Gelsomino, Vision to be organized
When mail is delivered, sort through and toss junk or unwanted mail away immediately, even if you cannot open the mail right away. —Jenn Solomon, In Its Place
Purge two file folders at a time. Toss outdated information, and shred when possible. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Create a single mail-opening station consisting of 4 containers: a trash can for throw away items, a shredder for personal and confidential information, a container for paper and other recyclables – you can make money on this, a to pay/keep container for bills and items for follow up. Open your mail only in this one spot and deal with mail each day. —Janet Fishman, Janet Fishman, Professional Organizer
Create a "mail station" in your home. When mail arrives place it at your "station" for future sorting. Attend to the mail ASAP by tossing the junk mail immediately into a recycle bin near your "station." Place other items where they can be either read, bills paid or information noted on a calendar, etc. Don't pile the mail...deal with it. —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Make a commitment—add it to your calendar—to do one of these each week/day:
- Purge one file folder a day, keeping the valuable ones and toss or shred the rest.
- Recycle 3 magazines a week. Donate them to hospitals, retirement homes, doctor and dentist offices. Or place in your recycle bin for weekly city pick up.
—Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
To store phone books and catalogs, hang them in your file cabinet by using the wire from the hanging files. Tear off the top two inches and hang the book over that and discard the rest. —Anonymous
Tackle memorabilia one box (or container) at a time. Gather all the boxes and start sorting and categorizing. Delete as much as you can, and label the container. Store it out of the way, but still close enough to add to as needed. —Esther Simon, The Traditional Home Organizer
Time Management 101: Support yourself first, whether that means delegating your to do list, scheduling some down time or pursuing creative endeavors. You will get more done when you feel complete. —Michelle Powell, Some Like It Organized
Do something for YOU first thing in the morning. Then set out to take care of others by priority and do hardest task first. —Michelle Powell, Some Like It Organized
Eat an Elephant: When confronted with a large, complex job, approach with a view of breaking it into small manageable pieces. Much like eating an elephant - one bite at a time.
Barb Schmit, Pendaflex —
A benefit of getting organized: you can become more productive and efficient. —Christie Gelsomino, Vision to be organized
Write a To Do list before you go to bed so you can start your day with a focus! —Susana Enriquez, Downsize and Get Organized
When you can't decide whether or not to do a task and you are having a conversation with yourself about why not do it, cut the conversation short and set a timer for 10 minutes and just do it. You can do anything for 10 minutes. —Chris Reiter, Time Strategies
Use a timer set for 5 minutes. Purge as much as you can in your kitchen "junk drawer.” Tomorrow do it again for 5 minutes. When the bell rings, quit!! —Ann Gambrell, Creative Time-Plus
Make time for you! Are you putting everyone else's priorities ahead of yours? Make time with deliberated attention. Take 20 minutes a day to dedicate to something that is important to you! Do this by timing 20 min with uninterrupted time. Can you do more than 20 min? Do it! A happier you is a better you for everyone. —
Deborah Kawashima, CPO, The Creative Organizer
Tips for the Pros
Use "Sidewalk Chalk" to temporarily label bins or cardboard boxes while organizing - comes right off with hands or paper towel. —Nonnahs Driskill, Get Organized Already
Use blue painter's tape to temporarily label. It's stickier and less expensive than using post-its. —Nonnahs Driskill, Get Organized Already
When sorting paperwork and possessions, use the inexpensive cardboard file boxes, available at any office supply store. Use stickies and a black marker for temporary labels, using categories of "like items" (office supplies, photos, taxes, papers to sort, etc.). Boxes are reusable, stackable and storable. Happy Organizing! —Donna D. McMillan, McMillan & Company Professional Organizing