Extra Tips: Pam Socolow
Pam Socolow tells how to develop good organizing habits.
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How to Develop Good Organizing Habits
Professional organizer and Mission: Organization guest Pam Socolow offers web-exclusive tips.
Create appropriate systems
- Get in the habit of putting things away in a designated area. If you don't have a designated area, create one. For example, if you are forever misplacing your car keys, create a "home" for them. Hang hooks near the door, or put an attractive box in a convenient place — whatever works for you. Try to establish a routine of always placing the keys in the designated spot.
- Setting up a bill-paying system is a good way to avoid late charges and eliminate massive piles of statements accumulated over time. First establish a place to store the bills as they arrive. The checkbook, stamps and pens should also be stored in this area so that everything to get this job done efficiently is in one place. Then, after paying the bills, file the statements in pre-labeled file folders, arranged by company. I keep up to two years' worth of statements and toss all the rest. Check with an accountant to see what is recommended for you.
Throw out paper that you don't need on a regular basis.
- Information that has expired or has no value are examples of the kinds of things that can be tossed.
- Do not keep paper around just in case you might need the information at a later date. If that's the case, write down the information in a designated place or enter it into a computer system.
- An excellent product for keeping information in one central location is the Family Facts Family Life Organizer (www.family-facts.com). It's a resource center to be used for telephone numbers, health information and home-maintenance records. Pocket folders are included to organize the paper, and formatted sheets are provided to record the information so you have it all when you need it.
Create a Schedule
- Put your "to-dos" on a calendar, and allocate a realistic amount of time to accomplish each task. For example, if you are scheduling a trip to the grocery store, keep in mind the time it takes to get back and forth to the store, select the products and get through the checkout.
- Break down a project into a realistic amount of time. For example, to convert to a computerized contact system from an alphabetical business-card filing system you first need to figure out how many contacts you can input at a given time and how much time you can allocate to that task every week. Then, schedule time to do it as you would a conference call or a meeting. This will result in less stress and more efficient use of your time.
Write it down.
- Jotting things down releases the stress of trying to remember every detail.
- Actually seeing a list or a schedule (on paper) can eliminate errors and oversights. With so much long-term information to keep in our head, do yourself a favor and write down daily and weekly schedules.
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