Organizing Facts & Tips

The following information is from the NAPO website:

The Children's Place
  1. Have bins and boxes on lower shelves so that a child can put away the toys. Have the child label the bins and boxes.
  2. Provide low hooks to hang up sweaters, pajamas, jackets, book bags, etc.
  3. Take children with you when you go to donate unused items. This helps them learn to part with things.
  4. Encourage your child/teenager to choose their outfits for the next day before they go to bed at night.
Make the Garage and Storage Work for You
  1. Determine how you wish to use the space. Is it a workshop? Is it a storage center? Is it a sporting goods center? Is it both? Stick to the floor plan.
  2. Get rid of things that don't work!
  3. Sort, purge, and then decide the proper storage containers or fixtures for the treasures that you must keep. Clearly label both the tops and the sides of the containers.
  4. Consider floor-to-ceiling possibilities for shelving, racks, stackable drawers, hooks, and pegboards.
Love Your Closets
  1. Go through your closet today, and pull out everything you haven't worn in the last year. Clothes tend not to improve with age.
  2. Decide what you want at your fingertips and what can be hidden away in containers under the bed, on top shelves, or in drawers.
  3. The closet should be bright and inviting. You should be able to see what you have in your closet. Consider installing good lighting.
  4. Hang like items together-group shirts together, pants together, dresses, etc.
Customize Your Kitchen
  1. Things that work together should be stored together, such as baking pans, electrical appliances, plastic containers (with lids), pots and pans, and large platters and bowls.
  2. Drawer dividers are a good way to keep utensils in order.
  3. Rotate food staples out of your pantry. Create menus to use up dated canned goods.
  4. Feel the flow of activity in your kitchen. Place glasses near the sink or the refrigerator. Put snacks in a convenient drawer or cupboard.

Office Organizing Tips - Manage Your Time
  • Use a planner to track appointments and tasks. It can be a paper-based notebook, a computer software program, or an electronic handheld device.
  • Create at least one hour of uninterrupted time per day to tackle projects and action items.
  • Allocate twice as much time for a task as you think it will take. This accommodates for interruptions and stopping to get more information.
  • Break large projects down into small, sequential steps. Schedule these steps into your day with your planner.
Tame Your Desk
  • Keep only supplies you need on a daily basis on your desktop.
  • Create a paper flow system for your incoming documents.
  • Use your in box only for items that haven't yet been reviewed.
  • Avoid looking at documents and placing them back on the desk. Follow through with the decision you have made about the document.
Supercharge Your Communication
  • Write an agenda before making a phone call so you don't forget the important points.
  • Keep a record or schedule follow-up calls of what you've delegated so it doesn't fall through the cracks.
  • Be clear about the response you need when sending messages to colleagues. They can then provide a full response, even if they don't reach you directly.
Conquer Your Filing
  • Create a filing system for your electronic documents that mirrors the one you have for paper. Sort, file, and purge electronic information regularly.
  • Keep a file index (a master list of file names). Check the index before creating a new file to avoid making duplicates. Also use it when deciding where to put new documents.
  • Refer to your company's records retention plan for guidance on how long to keep documents.
  • Keep the most recent papers in the front of the file. Whenever you open it, the current information will be on top.

Getting Organized - Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to get organized?
Organized people save time and money and reduce stress and frustration levels. There is no one right or wrong way to get organized. The amount of information available to us continues to grow at a rapid pace, as do the number of demands on our time. Organizing systems help you deal with everything from your paper to your professional responsibilitIes and give you parameters on what to keep, what to toss, and what to take action.

What is the best way to get organized?
Experts in the organizing industry agree: there are no "cookie cutter" solutions. There are many different personality types, work styles, and environmental influences, so each person must find the system/s that work best for him or her. The number of organization-related products and services is continually increasing. Determine the areas in which you want to improve, such as filing, clutter control, time management, maximizing storage space, or juggling projects and priorities.

How long does it take to get organized?
Organization is a process, not a state achieved in one day. Think about it as "being organized" or "staying organized," not "getting organized." An organizing system can be set up in a few days. After that, the challenge is to continuously maintain it and work on it one day at a time. The good news is, once you learn good systems, habits, and tools, change becomes easier, as does bouncing back from an unexpected detour or period of feeling overwhelmed.

How can I make better use of my time?
Time management is a misleading term, since we cannot manage time. We can only manage ourselves. The best we can do is make decisions about the priorities in our lives, have our own personal and professional goals, and align our activities to reach these goals. Review how you are spending your time and make adjustments according to your goals and priorities.

How can I cut down on paper in my life?
Sincerely question whether you need to keep each piece of paper that comes into your life. Make a habit of tossing unnecessary papers (shredding those that contain personal or financial information); scanning documents and storing them electronically when possible; canceling subscriptions to unread publications; and getting yourself removed from mailing lists. One effective way to reduce paper is to create a records retention schedule that specifies how long documents such as tax forms, bills, and financial statements should be kept.

Will there be a paperless society?
While there have been great strides in the fields of document imaging and electronic data storage, it is generally assumed that the "paperless society" will exist far in the future, if ever. Because some technological devices make it easier than ever to generate paper, however, some speculate that the amount of paper in our lives will continue to increase in the near future.

How do I select a planner?
A planner is a tool for scheduling appointments, tracking action items, and managing contact information. There are many from which to select. The first step is to evaluate your needs and style: do you prefer a paper-based system or an electronic handheld organizer? Do you primarily need to manage a to-do list, or do you prefer the ability to take a lot of notes? How do you prefer to view your calendar: by day, week, or month? Whichever system you select, be sure to customize it.

What are some of the best computer organizing products?
Some of the best computer organizing products are the ones you already have-it's just that many people don't know their software programs' capabilities. Invest a few hours learning some of the shortcuts and customizations available. Also, check out other time-saving devices such as personal information managers, handheld devices, scanning and electronic storage, online communications software, and electronic filing systems and schedulers.

Retention Schedule

Credit Card receipts
Sales receipts for minor purchases
Withdrawal slips
Deposit slips

Paycheck stubs
Monthly bank statements, credit card and brokerage account statements
Social security benefit statements

1099s tax return
Receipts and other back up papers to taxes
Year-end credit card statements
Year-end financial statements
Major purchase receipts (or as long as you own the item.)

Tax returns
Real estate records
Anything that shows proof of payoff
Wills and trusts