How to Organize ANYWHERE

I love easy-to-follow systems that let you organize anywhere. No two homes or businesses are the same, and over the years I’ve relied on the I CARE system to help clients get and stay organized. You can use it anywhere–homes, businesses–wherever there is stuff!

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Home Organizing Systems: Mindset, Lifestyle, and Momentum

Before we start talking about how to organize your home, you first want to understand what you actually want. The building blocks of creating and maintaining an organized home are lifestyle, mindset, and momentum.

Having an organized home isn’t a one-and-done project. I’m sure you’ve seen or heard of TV shows where a crew comes into a messy home, removes everything, sets it up, and leaves. This may seem appealing to you–many people are overwhelmed at the thought of going through their belongings, making a decision about each item, and then maintaining an organized home. Wouldn’t it be easier to have someone just come in and do it for you?

The problem with one-and-done organizing is that it doesn’t help you build new habits. Your home might look nice right then, but if the way someone else organized your things doesn’t suit you, and you don’t know how to keep it organized, the clutter will come right back. It’s a learned skill and one that anyone can learn. And there is nothing wrong with using an organizing service like Organize to Excel to help you with that on a regular basis. An organized home is much easier to keep that way!

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Practical Tips to Organize Your Financial Paperwork: Retrieving Paperwork

The whole point of saving paperwork (as actual paper or digitally) is to be able to refer to it later!. You need to be able to find it, or it’s just clutter! Here are some ways to make retrieving paperwork easy, navigable, and actually useful. 

Labels

Having nomenclature or “naming rules” for your paperwork helps you find things again when you need them. Use categories to simplify your files–but not too much! A file folder labeled “Home Expenses” packed with dozens and dozens of pieces of paperwork in it isn’t very useful. 

For paper systems: Create a hierarchy of categories and subcategories using hanging folders and interior folders. You could still use a “Home Expenses” folder! It just needs to be divided into subfolders like “Repairs,” “Mortgage Documents,” and “Yard Maintenance.” 

A good rule of thumb for folders is limiting the amount of paperwork to 5-20 individual documents in each folder. Any folder with fewer than 5 documents doesn’t need to be its own category. Any folder with more than 20 documents should be divided into subcategories. The 5-20 rule makes for easy retrieval, since you don’t have to sift through piles of paperwork to find what you need. 

For digital systems: The folder/subfolder system works just like paperwork, but you can use fewer levels of folders with digital filing because they are searchable through keywords. With that in mind, naming your files in a consistent, searchable way becomes very important!

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Practical Tips to Organize Your Financial Paperwork: Retention Guidelines

One of the most common problems I come across when helping clients go through their paperwork is keeping items because they’re unsure of when it’s time to let documents go. You don’t need all paperwork forever! For any specific questions it’s best to consult your CPA or attorney, but I have general rules you can follow to organize financial paperwork.

Forever

“Forever” documents should be kept your entire lifetime, and in some cases passed on to any beneficiaries you have. These are things like your social security card and your birth certificate. Keep these documents in a safe place so they can’t be lost or tampered with. Create backups online or in a separate location in case of a natural disaster or fire.

Permanent

“Permanent” documents are kept for the life of the item they’re for. These are things like documentation related to stocks and shares. Once you let go of an item, there’s no reason to keep its paperwork! Make paperwork a part of your overall decluttering process–if your vacuum is ready to donate, look around for any paperwork associated with it and let that go too. 

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Practical Tips to Declutter and Let Go of Stuff: Break it Down

Any large project looks easier when broken into smaller pieces, and decluttering is no exception! Here are three easy ways to break down the decluttering process so you can start with confidence. 

Categories

Categories: Narrowing your focus to certain types of objects is a great way to break through the where-do-I-start anxiety. Whether you’re working solo, with family, or alongside an organizer like me, you can choose a category of item to go through to get used to the decluttering process.

You can choose to focus on one room in your home, or go by item type. When you collect one type of item and bring it all together, you can see at a glance how much you have. I’ve seen it over and over: you had no idea you had seven hairbrushes until you got the ones from the downstairs bathroom, upstairs bathroom, kids’ rooms, and the vanity all together! It’s easier to let go of extra things when you know they’re really extra.

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Practical Tips to Declutter and Let Go of Stuff: Your House, Your Rules

Many people feel overwhelmed when they think about letting go of items to declutter their home, but I’m here to tell you that you have more power than you think! Actually, you have all of the power! After all, this is YOUR home you’re decluttering. That means you make the rules. You get to decide:

what goes in it,

how much goes in it, AND

what to let go of!

Imagine your ideal home. What’s it like? Is it cozy, filled with objects you love and display proudly? Is it functional, with everything you need and nothing you don’t? Is it sleek and minimalist, a place where you can think clearly and feel freedom?

How does your ideal home differ from your home now?

I’m asking all these questions to clarify what your goal is when it comes to decluttering. As famed inventor Charles Kettering said, “A problem well-stated is half-solved.” When you know what you’re working toward, it’s easier to see the path to it. Find useful questions to ask about your space, like:

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