Anne is a nonprofit executive and graduated summa cum laude from William Woods University with a BS in business management.
Organize Your Home, Health, and Life
Here are some helpful tips that I have tried to follow to maintain order in my life. We all have those times when we get off track, but the important thing is to get back on. So, if you struggle with any of these issues, I hope that you’ll find this article helpful.
Each aspect of our lives needs organization:
- Virtual Space
- Home Filing
1. Our Home
- Throw out, donate, or sell anything you haven’t used in the last 12 months.
- Have a designated place for deliveries, mail, coats, and purses.
- Decide what to keep or not keep and shred anything with personal info on it.
- Clean out the fridge once a week to be sure everything in it is not old or expired.
- Clean your home once a week, focusing on a different area for deep cleaning each time.
- Clean your house from the top floor down, ceiling to floor.
- Place items in proximity based on use on counters, in drawers, and in closets.
- Take pictures of outfits with accessories and keep those pics in the closet. This will save you time putting things together in morning. Update your photos once per month.
2. Our Car
These are the necessary items needed and where they should be placed in the vehicle.
- Handbook for the car
- Insurance documentation
- Registration and list of important numbers like insurance agent
- Maintenance receipts
- Cell phone car charger
- Wet wipes
- Emergency and first aid kit
- Blanket in winter
- Ice scraper
- Umbrella: seat pocket
- Rosary and prayer book: console of car
- Lint brush or roller tape: side door pocket
- Expandable file folder: place between the two front seats and keep it for papers and documents while traveling
- Keep a handled sack folded in the expandable file folder to carry things from car to house or office.
Tips for Keeping the Car Clean
- Always empty trash and take anything you are finished with into your house or office after the last trip.
- Vacuum car out regularly and wash once a week.
3. Our Virtual Space (Social Media/Online Research)
- Prioritize what your goals are for being online and be sure to include in your daily to-do list. It may be researching for work, keeping up with friends, blogging, etc. Know what you want to do and then set parameters. Otherwise, you can be easily drawn into spending hours instead of minutes.
- That which is strictly social, have a goal and organize friend lists in social media so you are focusing in on relationships that are important.
- If blogging has a regular time to do such and a time limit.
4. Our Office
- Create and review “To Do” list each day.
- Every meeting has a designated chairperson who creates an agenda.
- Each should also have a goal for the meeting and a set time limit.
- The Chair uses Outlook or other software to invite attendees and then sending those attending the agenda and allow a short window to get their input on such.
- Keep things on the desk in proximity based on use.
- Organize cords.
- Place files in drawer or cabinet that doesn't cause you to have to move away from the desk to get to if they are used regularly. They can be placed further away if used less often.
- Store those items or files that you haven’t looked at in more than 2 years.
- Phone calls – organize calls to vendors, constituents, stakeholders, and staff. Give vendors a specific time of day you will take their calls and anything not pressing, give staff a specific time of day also.
- Only check email 6 times per day. You could spend a whole day sometimes just responding to email.
- Prioritize tasks and work from most pressing to the least.
- Plan an annual calendar working backward from major events to organize key tasks for each that also need to be on the calendar. Transfer annual events in December of each year.
- Review the calendar in the staff meeting with your department or afterward each week to get updates/changes, etc.
- Organize your office for optimum efficiency and create an environment that helps you stay focused.
- Delegate anything that doesn't require your judgment.
- If possible dictate letters while in the car driving. Have a list of correspondence on to do list and keep with you if traveling. Typing your own letters – which is a trend now, is a time vacuum. Fingers on computer keys are less efficient than dictation if you have someone else (assistant) who can type it.
- At the end of the day have the desk in order to begin the next day.
5. Our Time
- Make Lists and set a time limit for tasks.
- Time analysis allows you to see what you are spending the most time on. For two weeks write down what you are working on in half hour increments. Analyze results and determine if there are some things you are doing that needs to be stream-lined or eliminated.
6. Our Calendar
- Keep a daily calendar on a smart phone or hard copy and keep it with you. This is the one that holds everything.
- Keep a calendar at home on the wall and encourage family members to have their own calendar too.
- This will help children to learn organization skills.
- Keep a wall calendar at work as well.
- Have an annual calendar at the office also.
7. Our Exercise
- Set a specific time of day and stick to it don’t let anything invade that time even if traveling. You can always walk if nothing else.
- Keep exercise gear in a specific place so you don’t waste time looking for this or that.
- If you want to join gym find the one closest to home (my preference since my time is in morning).
8. Our Diet
- Fix food for the week on weekends (especially if you work) and heat up throughout the week. (3 main entrees, 2 sides). Home cooked food is more wholesome and generally better for you.
- Purchase a salad spinner and make salad up on weekend. Spinner uses centrifugal force to remove all water from lettuce. create individual salads in mason jars. Dressing and wettest items (tomatoes, cucumbers) on the bottom to driest (lettuce) on top.
- Take vitamins with supplements every morning with breakfast. Keep pill organizer full and in a specific place in the kitchen.
- Plan menu based on your dietary needs once per week and then create a grocery list.
- Keep a standard list and just check off what you need.
- If traveling, take key items in a cooler like yogurt, Melba toast, tuna, dressing if trying to stick to a restrictive diet. Also, get a hotel room with a mini fridge and microwave if possible. I did this during a period I was on a diet. I took my own items for snacks and necessary things to add to salads. Also, made sure I had water with me all the time.
- Get 7 – 8 hours of sleep and try to go to bed same time every night. Melatonin every day can help.
- The night before prepare lunch for next day that you want to take to work.
- In the morning have a specific spot to place your lunch, phone, purse, etc. that needs to go out the door with you. Put that in its launch spot after you have had breakfast and heading out for exercise.
9. Our Finances
- Have one place that bills are placed when they arrive in the mail or better yet, with recurring bills - go paperless.
- Designate who in the home is responsible for managing bills (everyone helps though).
- Keep a list of current regular bills/payments/due dates in a lock box with the unpaid bills and on a computer. Keep it updated with payment amounts.
- Have a specific time(s) during the month when these are paid.
- Set all to automatic that allows for such.
- Have a prepared budget and meet with family about it as needed.
- Have a long-term, short-term plan and a “Disaster Plan.”
- Safety Deposit Box for important papers/items with one key to those with responsibility for such if something happens to you.
- Every new years day, update the letter to those responsible, outlining necessary points/items/bills/special requests/concerns and replace the previous letter that is in the box presently.
10. Our Purse
- It should weigh no more than 3 pounds tops.
- Small accordion organizer for receipts.
- Keys (car, home, etc., but not keys that you don’t use regularly).
- Medicine – if have to take in an emergency especially. I get Migraines so I always have that medicine available.
- Pocketbook – only have 1 or 2 major credit cards, use Apple pay or similar (which is stored on your phone) and cash. (clean out coins often. This adds to the weight). Photocopy cards that are in pocketbook and keep the copy on a home computer in case stolen or lost.
- Pocket umbrella.
- If it doesn't fit in a pocket, then put it in another kind of small organizer. Don’t leave anything loose.
11. Our Home Filing
- Action Files - Papers that need a response from you in some way. Some categories to divide them in are to read, to file, or to respond. These are the files that remain out where they are easily accessible or on the computer in Household file.
- Reference Files
- Financial Files
- Bank Accounts – checking, savings, money market
- Credit Card Accounts – make a separate folder for each one
- Mortgage Information
- Loans – include any second mortgages or home equity loans, or car loans
- Investments or brokerage accounts – keep a separate one for each one
- Budget or Financial Planning
- Homeowners or Rental Property Insurance
- Auto – keep a separate file for each car
- Other Vehicles – such as campers, boats, motorcycles, ATV
- Home Improvement Receipts – any large investments such as new roofs, water heater, siding for example that have warranties need to have receipts to get paid if a claim is made.
- Appliances – stove, refrigerator, freezer, washer and dryer, dishwasher, microwave
- Office Items – computer and related items, fax machine, copier, phone.
- Resume – keep copies handy if needed
- Employee Benefits Package Information –
- Paycheck receipts and other documentation
- Estate, Power of Attorney, Copy of Will, etc. (also keep in safe deposit box).
- Computer Service
- Cell phone
- Medical Information
- Insurance Forms
- Medical History
- Doctor/Dentist Names and Locations/Directions
- Tax Records
- Keep a file of all tax receipts needed to file your income tax for the year. Some subcategories are as follows:
- Income Pay Stubs
- Medical Out of Pocket Expenses
- Childcare Expenses – Daycare, Preschool, After School Care
- Charitable Donations
- Interest and Dividend Statements
- Mortgage Interest Statements
Organization keeps stress levels down and things running smoothly. I did my best dieting and running when I am organized in all other aspects of my life. We all get out of sync with one thing or another now and then – or with everything. When faced with those times, give yourself 2 weeks to re-organize/re-group. Then begin again.
Most Disorganized Part of Your Life
© 2012 Anne Carmichael