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Friday, December 10, 2010

How to start the New Year Organized

Do you ever wish you could just live a simplified life?  A life where there was no messy pile of papers, no inbox full of messages, no toys piled up waiting to be tripped on?

I am afraid that life only exists in dreams!  But wait, there is a solution!  SMEAD OrganomicsSMEAD has wonderful ways to help you get organized and stay organized in the new coming year.

   For scheduling and time management at home:
Trying to coordinate your family’s schedule can seem like a monumental task. Work responsibilities for mom and dad, extracurricular activities for the kids, trying to fit in chores and family time – how can you possibly manage it with only 24 hours in the day? All it takes is a little advance planning!

Set Up a Family Calendar
There is really only one way to avoid scheduling conflicts and last minute scrambles – and that is to set up a “family calendar.” Hang a large wall calendar in a high-traffic area of the house (kitchen seems to work well, because everyone goes there daily). Label each family member’s activities in a different color (Susie in blue, Jimmy in orange, mom in green, dad in red) for easy recognition. Then take a second to record every single upcoming activity for each person in the family – meetings, social engagements, sporting events, doctor appointments, you name it. Every time someone brings home an invitation to a party or permission slip for a field trip, write it down. Every time the school sends out a calendar of upcoming days off, transfer it to the family calendar. When your boss asks if you can work late or your child’s piano teacher wants to switch from Tuesday to Wednesday, change the calendar. Get in the habit of putting EVERYTHING related to your family's schedule in one place. To get started, try out the Smead Organomics Family Calendar.

Get On the Same Page
The next step is to block off a regular weekly meeting with the entire family to go over your upcoming schedule. Take a look at any activities occurring within the next couple of weeks – address conflicts (ex: mom’s got to work late and Johnny needs a ride home from the game, so he should make plans to go with a friend), decide on any shopping trips you need for supplies (so you can bake cupcakes for the school party or get Jimmy’s diorama put together), and add the week's chores to the calendar. If you carry a personal planner or PDA, this is also the time to update your portable calendar with the current info (it doesn’t do you much good to plan out the week if you can't see the schedule while you’re out of the house!) Your stress level will drop by a factor of ten, just having each person's to-do’s and responsibilities written down in one visible place.

Get Ready The Night Before (Or Sooner!)
Now that you have your schedule in order, you need to work on your daily routines. Getting ready in the morning is much easier if you start working on it the night before. Have your children spend 15 minutes before they go to bed packing everything they need for school into their book bags. Ask each person to pick out the clothes they plan to wear the next day and lay them out on a chair. Make everyone’s lunches in advance and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Also consider setting up a “launching pad” – a table, chair, basket, or other container located near the door where each person can put the supplies they will need the next day. If your kids can never seem to remember what they need for school, create a standard checklist for them – homework, band instrument, gym clothes, sports equipment, supplies for any extracurricular activities, library books, whatever. You can even make a note of where they tend to leave things if that helps – “Gym Clothes: check the laundry basket.” The goal is to have everything in one place when it comes time to hit the road.

For the office
No matter how crazy or chaotic your work life feels during the last quarter, the start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to clear out the clutter from your office and regain control over your schedule. Here are a few simple suggestions for starting 2011 out the organized way!

Clean Out Your Files
It’s easy for your cabinets and folders to become overstuffed with outdated paperwork, so it’s important that you take time once a year to purge the old and make room for the new. Start with your reference, client, and financial files. Ask yourself whether or not those documents will be relevant to your work in the coming year – completed projects and last year’s receipts should not be living in your active files! If you might need to refer back to those papers at some point in the future (for legal, tax, or other reasons), move those items to an archive file out of your office in permanent storage. But obsolete journal articles and memos that serve no real long-term purpose can be tossed or shredded. And if you find papers that have no logical home in your filing system, create a new folder with the appropriate category. When January 1 hits, you should be able to file any new document in seconds!

Take A Look At Your Office
Office clutter can take over throughout the year – you get busy, create a few piles here, a stack over there, and suddenly you can’t see a single horizontal surface! Go around the room and collect up every homeless item you find, creating a set spot for each:

 Supplies and equipment: Only keep what you use on a regular basis at your desk - then store the “extras” in a cabinet or closet.

 Books and periodicals: Store journals in a magazine holder grouped by title or topic.

 Reference manuals: Keep loose brochures and sets of papers in expanding files or 3-ring binders with Index Dividers between topics. Try Smead’s durable TUFF™ Expanding File® for frequently accessed items.

 Multimedia: To save space, remove CDs and DVDs from their jewel cases and store them in file folders with self-adhesive CD/DVD pockets.

 Blank stationery items: Neatly stored in either stacking trays or a document sorter.

 To-do’s: Set up a desk file sorter or hanging files with categories for each type of action – “to call,” “to pay,” “to file,” “to read,” etc.
Having an assigned storage space for everything makes it easier for you to maintain order after the first of the year. Just take a few minutes at the end of each day to put things away (not hard when you know where everything goes!)

Make Some Plans
If you’re ending 2010 wishing you had accomplished more, now is the time to take a look at what got in your way. Endless interruptions throughout your work day? Or did you just have a hard time getting started on those bigger, more important projects? Decide now what you would like to accomplish in the next year, then plan some uninterrupted time in your calendar to work toward these goals. Let your boss know that you would like one day (or a half a day) each week to work on capturing a big account, implementing a major marketing strategy, or completing a large research project for the company. You might need to shut your door, turn off your phone, ignore your email, or even work from home on that day – but your boss will probably be so thrilled at your initiative that she’ll do whatever it takes to help you succeed!

These are just a few ways that SMEAD Organomics can help you enter 2011 a little more organized.
Don't forget to follow SMEAD on Facebook for other great tips.
Disclaimer: I was compensated with a gift card to Target for writing this post.  Thanks to SMEAD and Alicia at Buttoned Up, Inc. for the opportunity.


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