organized mail
Decluttering, Organizing

Spring is Here!!! Quick Tips to Start the Organizing Process

Spring is Here! These tips will help you stop procrastinating and get organized today! Inspire and motivate yourself with the “Quick Start” projects. Each of these should take no longer than 30 minutes. Next, try the “Keep Going” tips to really put clutter and chaos in its place!

Kitchen

Quick Start: Take everything out of the refrigerator. Toss anything expired or mysteriously fuzzy. Clean the shelves. Then replace food items, grouping similar things together.

Keep Going: Tackle each kitchen cupboard and drawer the same way. Remove everything, clean, and toss anything not fresh or useful. Give most-used items your prime, easiest-to-reach space. Put infrequently used items up high or way in the back.

Clutter

Quick Start: Set a timer for 15 minutes. Grab a garbage bag, walk through your home, and quickly remove ten things you no longer use or love. Also, recycle newspapers older than one week and magazines older than 12 months, plus expired coupons and junk mail. Dispose of the bags immediately.

Keep Going: From here on out, put things in their proper places right away. Before buying something new, ask yourself if you really need it. If you decide to purchase, get rid of two similar items to make room.

Paperwork

Quick Start: With the exception of bills to be paid and truly important documents, grab all the paperwork you can find into one big pile. Plop it in a big box, seal it, and write today’s date on it. If you haven’t missed any of it two months from now, recycle the entire box without opening it.

Keep Going: Set up a new, easy filing system starting with paperwork you receive from today forward. Think of broad categories of papers you receive on a frequent basis: bills to pay, people to call, medical, school, etc. Get a desktop filing box, keep it in the kitchen, and file only what you’ll truly need to reference later. Be ruthless in your paper disposal. (Shred sensitive documents.) Review file contents weekly.

Touch paperwork only once: Open mail, and immediately act on it and recycle the paper, or file it in the appropriate spot.

Kids’ Stuff

Quick Start: Every evening, set a timer and have the family do the “Ten Minute Tidy-Up.” Holding an empty laundry basket, each person grabs anything out of place, and returns it to its correct home.

Keep Going: Limit clutter with the “new item in, old item out” rule. If you buy a new toy or clothing, get rid of at least one old one. Limit school art and paperwork. Save only the best, and keep them in an under bed storage box or portfolio.

Time Management

Quick Start: Set your watch ten minutes ahead. You’ll have a built-in buffer for running late.

Keep Going: Any task that can be completed in five minutes or less should be completed right away. Schedule a chunk of time each day to handle paperwork. Don’t schedule appointments too close together.

Email

Quick Start: Move everything more than two weeks old from your email inbox to a file marked “Holding.” Keep it for two months. Then, delete everything you haven’t needed in that time.

Keep Going: Treat your inbox like a real mail box. You’d never leave old mail sitting in there! Take the time to set up files where you can immediately move new emails. As emails arrive, either read and delete, file appropriately, or put in a “to do this week” file.

Garage/Attic/Basement

Quick Start: Set a timer for 30 minutes and toss/recycle dried out paint and chemicals, and anything broken, musty, or moldy.

Keep Going: Sort the space into zones. For example, a garage might have areas for sports, tools, gardening, and recycling/garbage. Group like items in those zones. Use appropriate storage containers and label clearly.

(courtesy © 2013 Articles on Demand™)

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email bankruptcy
Digital Organizing

Declaring Email Bankruptcy

This week I declared email bankruptcy! What is that? Well, I have five different email accounts spread across a few platforms. They are all aggregated onto my cell phone, yet I do not manage the emails, except to read them or respond, via my smartphone. And I am on my smartphone all the time.

The problem wasn’t having a lot of unopened emails – the problem was having one email account dating back 7 years, and a few business ventures, that had not been cleaned up. Yes, I had put filters into place to move emails and label them, but that didn’t affect the majority of the incoming email.

Here’s what I did:

1. I have three gmail accounts. To feel a sense of accomplishment, I went to the least used gmail account and selected all the emails and deleted them. I then went to the next gmail account and did the same thing. For the big kahuna gmail account (the one dating back 7 years!), it took me the longest because I sorted the email to show the oldest first. I then selected page display by page display (usually 100 emails at a time) and deleted them. Gmail has some hiccups and there were a few times when NO email was listed at all – if you hit the refresh icon button immediately above the display of emails (not the refresh icon in your URL menu bar), it would then refresh and keep the emails in the correct sort order.

2. I kept emails for the last six months and carefully culled through them, deleting as I went.

3. I repeated the process for my Exchange email.

4. I repeated the process for my web-based email account through GoDaddy. This was the most cumbersome not due to volume but Firefox continually crashed during this email purge process.

The Result: It took me almost 3 hours and I deleted over 31,000 email messages. This included unsubscribing from email lists.

Going Forward: I am now deleting emails as I read them on my smartphone. I have also setup a monthly calendar reminder to review and delete emails.

I challenge you to declare email bankruptcy and clean out those emails! If someone sent you something that they needed your response, they will either send it again or call you about it. If you’re really concerned, then setup an auto responder stating that you have purged your email inbox and if there is an urgent item that you did not respond to, to please resend the email.

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