Archive for the 'Home Office' Category

Organized for Student Success, Part 4: Organize the Student

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

Give the students in your home every advantage by working with them to develop excellent organizational skills.

Organize Time and School Work

Help your student(s) develop a plan to organize their time. Most students will receive an agenda book. Hold your student(s) accountable to using it. Help them develop good habits. It takes approximately 21 days of constant repetition to form a new habit. Offer them grace, as you encourage them in forming this new habit. It will help them succeed as a student and they will learn valuable lessons of time management for the future.

Teach them organizing skills as you work with them to set aside specific places in their binder, notebook, or folders for homework, current work, and completed work. Many teachers will share their suggestions for organization with you and your students. Take advantage of their wisdom and experience. Finally, consider creating a file box at home to store completed work, filed by subject. When their binder or folders begin to bulge, they will have an easy and convenient place to file their work away, while still having quick access to it for future needs.

Organize a Study Area

A Functional Work Space from PBteen

Create an area in your home specifically for doing homework. This area should be will lit and quiet, with a work area and a supportive chair. It is also helpful to have storage for basic study helps and school supplies. This is the perfect time to inventory all your school and office supplies while reorganizing the area for ease of use. This is an easy process, which includes a few simple steps:

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function
  • Empty out any drawers, cabinets, bins or files that are storing office and/or school supplies
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as; Art Supplies, Paper Supplies, Pens and Pencils, Notebooks and Binders, Office Supplies etc.
  • Toss or donate any damages or obsolete supplies
  • Return the “keep” pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you many need
  • Finally, store often used supplies close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used supplies

Happy (and Organized) School Days!

Cheryl

Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: Saving on Supplies, Part 2: The College Years, Part 3: The Traveling Student, Part 5:  Organize Their Space, and Part 6:  Organize Their School Memories.

Organized for Student Success – Part 1: Saving on Supplies

Organize. Plan. Save. Simplify.

The stores are telling us that it’s Back to School time. The “Start of a new year”.  In my little world it’s still the middle of summer. Enjoy. Go to the beach. Get back in the pool. Remember the Lazy days of summer? Try to find one before it’s too late!

No, it’s not time to go back to school, but it is time to get yourself organized, so when it truly is Back to School time, you will be able to ease into those hectic weeks with grace, being more relaxed, and with a little bit of extra cash.

Follow these simple steps to prepare for Back to School:

Gather ALL your school supplies…..from all corners of your home. Check the closets, the kitchen cabinets, how about your kids cubbies? Pull out last year’s backpacks, and dig into your child’s study area.  (Speaking of last year’s backpacks, have you set up a School Memory Box for each of your children? If not, check out my “Organize Their School Memories” blog for a simple, low cost,  solution to a common clutter problem.)

Put Like with Like. You truly can’t see what you have, and won’t know what you need until you take the time to put all of your office and school supplies together. Take the time to divide supplies into simple categories, such as:

  • Paper……….Lined, Computer,  Colored, Craft, Construction
  • Pens, Pencils, Markers, Highlighters, Crayons………….all things that write, draw or color
  • Notebooks, Spirals, Composition Notebooks, Folders, Binders, Dividers
  • Book Covers, Rulers, Glues
  • Calculators, Compass, Protractors
  • Backpacks, Flash-drives…………..And the list goes on…………

Assess What You Have. Now you have a realistic picture of the school supplies that are already lurking in your home. And you’re well on your way to knowing what you will need for the coming year. Perhaps you won’t need as much as you thought!

Be Realistic and Start Saving! Now that you know what you have, it truly is the perfect time to begin taking advantage of the Back to School  sales. Office supply and discount stores are offering some ridiculously low prices on supplies that in-coming students will be needing. Take advantage of the sales, but keep in mind…….

  • How much storage space that you have. You are not purchasing supplies for an army, just your family. Buy accordingly. Don’t purchase more than you can neatly store, or that will most likely be used in the coming semester (remember, the sales will begin again in December).
  • You probably haven’t yet received the official “Class Supply List”, although, unless your child is launching into their first year at school, you most likely have a good ideas of the basic supplies that will be needed.
  • Your local office and discount stores will offer excellent deals to get you in their store. They are betting that you will wander in uninformed, purchasing their incredible deal, but then being pulled into the Back to School buying frenzy, and buying more than you could possibly need. Shop with a list of your needs, and determine to stick to it.
  • Check out the sale adds so that you know what a great deal is.
  • Every week, every discount and office supply store will be having some incredible sales on school supplies. Take advantage of those sales that are convenient for you. Don’t go out of your way, wasting both your time and your gas, to get in on all the sales. Take advantage of the best. Forget the rest.

Happy Summer (and Organized)!

Blog A Job! 2011 Part 3, The In-Home Consultation

If you have been following my blog, you met Jutz last week and you have gotten a glimpse of both her space and her personality.  This IS going to be a FUN job!

Life is Difficult for the Organizationally Impaired!

Always a girl with a sense of humor, during our 1st appointment, Jutz offered me a cup of tea. She handed it to me in a mug that read:

Life is Difficult for the Organizationally Impaired”!

But seriously, she is well aware that her organizational challenges are interfering with her productivity in her business.  And she is ready for that to change!

A Peak Inside!

Work Area is Lost to Clutter

Overwhelmed!

We will be focusing on her studio space.  She works from her studio within her home, which houses her business, JCM Studio of Decorative Arts . JCM Studio of Decorative Arts provides Decorative Painting and Faux Finishing. This creative, inventive, and inspired studio space will be the focus of our organizing work and the 2011 Blog A Job!.  During the In-Home Consultation, Jutz shows me her studio space, which is literally crowding her and her business out. Because of the accumulation of clutter, she is not able to function as she needs to run her business.

The consultation is a time for me to ask many questions, as I get a feel for what she needs to accomplish in the space, how she works, what systems she currently has in place, and how we might improve on them or create new systems. At the same time I’m trying to get a picture of her vision for the finished project. How would she like this room to function? What tasks will be accomplished in this room? I take pictures, both to refresh my memory throughout the process, and to motivate us both along the way.

Surrounded By Her Flair!

Style Shines Through the Chaos!

As you can see, even in the midst of the chaos, Jutz is a woman with flair and style. As we were talking about her space, she said:

if given a choice between form and function, I choose form every time.

This is not a surprising quote coming from such a creative soul. In other words, she is almost always more concerned with how her space looks, rather than how it functions. So, clearly, my job is not just to strip it of all the “stuff”, but rather to create stylish, cool, and appealing organizing solutions that Jutz will be able thrive in. In the end, it needs to be both appealing and functional!

With this information in hand and pictures in my camera, I can begin to create a plan of action.

During our next appointment, the hard work will begin. Next week we will get down and dirty.

It generally gets worse, before it gets better. But, as you will soon see, the results are definitely worth it!

Check out  Blog a Job! 2011 Part 1: Watch a Professional Organizer in Action!, and Part 2: Meet Jutz!, and then check back next week to see how our work progresses.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!

Cheryl

Organized for Student Success, Part 3: Organize the Student

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

Give the students in your home every advantage by working with them to develop excellent organizational skills.

Organize Time and School Work

Help your student(s) develop a plan to organize their time. Most students will receive an agenda book. Hold your student(s) accountable to using it. Help them develop good habits. It takes approximately 21 days of constant repetition to form a new habit. Offer them grace, as you encourage them in forming this new habit. It will help them succeed as a student and they will learn valuable lessons of time management for the future.

Teach them organizing skills as you work with them to set aside specific places in their binder, notebook, or folders for homework, current work, and completed work. Many teachers will share their suggestions for organization with you and your students. Take advantage of their wisdom and experience. Finally, consider creating a file box at home to store completed work, filed by subject. When their binder or folders begin to bulge, they will have an easy and convenient place to file their work away, while still having quick access to it for future needs.

Organize a Study Area

Create an area in your home specifically for doing homework. This area should be will lit and quiet, with a work area and a supportive chair. It is also helpful to have storage for basic study helps and school supplies. This is the perfect time to inventory all your school and office supplies while reorganizing the area for ease of use. This is an easy process, which includes a few simple steps:

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function

    An Organized Space by PB teen

  • Empty out any drawers, cabinets, bins or files that are storing office and/or school supplies
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as; Art Supplies, Paper Supplies, Pens and Pencils, Notebooks and Binders, Office Supplies etc.
  • Toss or donate any damages or obsolete supplies
  • Return the “keep” pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you many need
  • Finally, store often used supplies close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used supplies

Happy (and Organized) School Days!

Cheryl

Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: The College Years, Part 2: The Traveling Student, Part 4:  Organize Their Space, and Part 5:  Organize Their School Memories.

Register Today – And Turn Your Piles into Files!

Westminster Workshop – Filing Basics for The Home — Monday, April 12th

From Piles..........

Westminster Friends: There is still time to register for my 1 hour workshop, Filing Basics For The Home being held on Monday, April 12th from 7:00-8:00 pm in Westminster. During this quick, one hour workshop, you will take care of a major source of clutter and stress in your home, as you learn the basics of file management. You will learn about the 3 types of files that comprise a complete filing system (quick access files, basic working files, and archive files), how to set them up, and just as importantly, how to maintain them. Finally, you will learn how to adapt these general principals to your specific household.

To Organized Files!

Come learn how to go from Piles to Organized Files in one night! You’ll be glad you did!

Register online with the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks or call 410-386-2103 during business hours.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!          Cheryl

Paper Management, Part 5

File Tips, Tricks and Ideas

As I recommended in Part 4, Developing a Simple and Effective Household Filing System:

  • Make your system as simple as possible. You are much more likely to keep up with it.
  • Start from scratch. You will find it is much easier than trying to revamp your previous system. I don’t recommend purchasing a pre-designed filing system. It WON’T be simple. At least not for you. You will have to spend time fitting your categories into their categories. It is much easier to create your own categories, with titles that make sense to you.
  • Opt for a system based on subjects rather than filling alphabetically.  Filing alphabetically is way too much to remember. Is my VW Bug filed under V for Volkswagon, B for Bug, A for Auto or C for Car? It’s way too much for this pee brain to remember! If on the other hand, my filing system is separated into the 3 main subjects of Family, Personal, and Possessions and Finances, my car will be very easy to locate. Within the subject section Possessions, I will have a hanging file titled Automobiles. Within this hanging file I will have a manila folder for each of my Automobiles. Simple and easy to find!
  • Locate your filing system in a place that is both convenient to use and located away from the hub of the home.
  • Color–coding of your broad categories can reduce miss filing and stimulate your thinking. Again choose categories and colors that make sense to you!
  • Straight-line filing, with the tabs one behind the other, is not only easier on the eye, but also simpler to maintain than alternating tab positions.
  • After you complete your new filing system, make an outline or list of your system and use it until you are comfortable with it.

Purchase Basic Supplies

Invest in a sturdy filing cabinet.  Check out any office supply store.  The choices are limitless. Consider where you will be doing your filing.  Will you be in a home office where aesthetics are not an issue, or will your files be located in your family room for all to see? Will you need to roll it into a closet after use, or will it be a permanent fixture in your home?  You can purchase a mobile file unit that can rolled into a closet or a basic 2 drawer metal cabinet for as little as $50. Or, you can purchase a furniture grade cabinet for as much as $500. You can even purchase individual file boxes, which can be stored on open shelving. Ultimately you need to remember that if they are not easy to access, they won’t be, and your filing won’t get done.
Make sure you have plenty of uniform, sturdy hanging files and manila folders.

A Work In Progress.......

As you are developing a new system, use post-it notes as labels until you have your entire system complete. Use 2 different colors; one representing your hanging files and the second representing your manila folders. This enables you to quickly and easily change category titles, and subject titles as your system evolves.

When your filing system is complete, take the time to clearly and neatly label your files.

To label your hanging files, you can use the clear vinyl tabs included with them. I generally use 3 1/2 inch plastic tabs and label them with my brother label machine. This makes for easy to read and uniform labels. Alternatively, you can simply use a thin black marker to label your inserts.

To label manila folders, I generally use inkjet/laser file folder labels, and print them from my computer. Again, this makes for easy to read and uniform labels. Alternatively, you can simply use a thin black marker to write on your file folder labels and then stick them on the manila folder or you can write directly on the folder.

Remember, your filing system is dynamic and ever changing. Your interests, responsibilities and possessions will change, and so should your filing system. Don’t be afraid to drop and add categories as your needs change. Set aside time each week or month to actually do your filing. Then set aside time each year to purge and revamp your system. Don’t forget to use a Document Retention Guide, available online, and check with your attorney and/or accountant while purging.

A Job Well Done

Yes, setting up and maintaining a filing system takes a bit of work on the front end, but you will save yourself many hours of searching and much frustration in the long run. That, my friend, is priceless!

Happy Filing!

Cheryl

Paper Management, Part 4

Developing a Simple and Effective Household Filing System

Managing the piles of paper and multitude of important documents in our “information age”  is a major home organization challenge for most people. It’s time to tackle that challenge and your Basic Household Filing System. It’s time to change your thinking a bit, get organized, and simplify. Does it sound like a daunting task? It doesn’t have to be!

You should be able to retrieve any paper or important document in less than one minute—if that’s not the case, it may be time to revamp that old system and start anew. Unless you already have a system that’s at least 75 percent effective, I recommend starting from scratch. Then incorporate your old files into your new system.

If you can retrieve any paper in less than a minute, you have an organized and effective filing system and you can stop reading. Congratulations!

The first step in developing an effective household filing system is to understand both what it is and what it is not. These files are different than your Quick Access Files, which hold information that you need to access often and quickly. Many times, quick access files are used for a season and then discarded or updated. Occasionally, if they contain documents or information that you will want to keep in your permanent files, they can be transferred to your basic household filing system. Some examples of information found in your Quick Access Files are invitations, schedules, announcements, appointment reminders, and take out menus. You need to access these files daily and quickly, and for that reason, they should be kept in the hub of the home. Check out part 2 of my Paper Management series,  “Quick Access Files: Don’t Live an Organized Life Without Them!”

Your Household Filing System, on the other hand, does not need to be accessed as often. These files are your basic household working files, which hold current, important documents and records used for routine activities like bill paying, tax and financial statement documentation, medical information, and home maintenance. They need to be accessible, but not located in the hub of the home. Generally, when you are writing bills or dealing with your household paperwork, you need a bit of quiet. For this reason, consider finding space in your home office, or even a quiet corner of your bedroom.

The secret to a good filing system is to keep it simple. Whatever system you use should make it easy to find what you need, be easy to maintain, and make sense to everyone who may need to use it. If it isn’t simple and effective, it won’t get used.

Filing is not about storage, but rather it is about finding what you need when you need it. Instead of trying to figure out what you can toss, determine what you need to keep. There is a huge difference! 80% of the papers that we file away will never get looked at again. If you aren’t sure what to save, ask yourself the following questions – if you don’t answer yes, toss it.

  • Are there tax/legal reasons to keep it?
  • Will it help me complete a project I’m working on right now?
  • Do I have time to do anything with this piece of paper in the future?
  • If I ever needed it again, would it be hard to get from someone else?
  • Is the information up-to-date?
  • Would my work/life change if I didn’t have it?
  • Is the same information easily accessible online?

Document Retention guides are available online. Just google household document retention guides, and you will find a number of them to choose from.  Use them as a guideline, and be sure to check with your accountant or lawyer to get advice about a particular situation or document.

“Man’s best friend, aside from the dog, is the wastebasket”.      Business Week

Remember this truth and always have your friend with you when dealing with paperwork!

With these tips in mind, let’s begin!

First, separate your filing system into 3-5 basic subjects: I generally use 3 Main subjects: 1. Family and Personal, 2. Possessions, and 3. Finances. You can separate each category by placing them in separate drawers, by using separate color hanging files for each subject area, or by simply staggering the location of your filing tabs (Family and Personal to the left, Possessions in the center, and Finances to the right).

Your next step is to assign broad categories within each subject, and place each broad category in it’s own hanging file.

Family and Personal – Create Broad Categories for: Each Person in your family, Medical Insurance, Each Pet or Animal in your family, and Each Organization that you are associated with.

For example: Within the subject of “Family and Personal”, I may have hanging folders for the following broad categories:

  • Family Members (1 hanging file for each family member)
  • Pets (1 hanging file for each pet)
  • Relatives and/or Contacts
  • Memberships
  • Insurance
  • Church/Ministry
  • Volunteer Organizations

Possessions– Include anything you OWN – Create Broad Categories for Automobiles, Home Purchases, Home Improvements, Large Appliances, Small Appliances, Large Electronics, Small Electronics, Your Current Home, Home Utilities, Home Services

Finances – Include anything having to do with your finances – Create Broad Categories for Bank Accounts, Credit Accounts, Investments, and College Savings Plan

Finally, assign specific categories within each broad category and place each specific category in it’s own manila folder in the hanging folder. For example: Within the broad category of each family member, I place 3-4 manila folders labeled; Personal, Health, Education, and Employment. The Personal file will hold birth certificate, social security card, passport, and other important certificates. The Health file will hold important health records, dental records and immunization records. The Education file will house permanent test results, transcripts, degrees, letters of recommendations, awards, and any other permanent records. Finally, the Employment file will hold resumes, contracts, benefits, retirement information, and social security records.

Of course your family filing system will change as your life changes. You won’t have an Education or Employment file for your newborn, but can add those as the need arises in the years to come. Likewise, you may have additional files for the family member(s) who are in the workforce for a long period of time. You may have categories of Employment, Past Employment, Future Employment Goals etc. The beauty of creating your own, personalized filing system is the ability to tailor it to your own needs.

For this reason, I do not recommend purchasing a pre-designed filing system. It WON’T be simple. At least not for you. You will have to spend time fitting your categories into their categories. It is much easier to create your own categories, with titles that make sense to you so that you will be able to remember them. I also don’t recommend filing alphabetically. It’s way too much to remember for my pee brain! Is my VW Bug filed under V for VW, B for Bug, A for Auto, or C for Car?

It takes a bit of work on the front end, but your efforts in developing a household filing system will save you countless hours and frustration in the long run.

Happy Filing!

Cheryl


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Organizing Just Got Fun!
Now Scheduling Home Learning Parties for Summer 2011
Gather your friends, choose a topic, learn, simplify AND earn free and half priced products from the Clever Container Company! To schedule your party, call Cheryl at 410-259-1466 or email cheryl@inorderforlife.com

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