Quick-Start Solutions: Simple Rescue Strategy for Rooms That Are Buried in Paperwork

Sick and tired of unorganized…*things*? Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of getting tackling that nondescript pile of stuff? I’m here to help. This exercise will help you move one non-painful, very manageable, highly productive step toward getting organized.

Problem: Help! My living room/dining room/bedroom/office/kitchen/the doghouse is overflowing with papers that are of questionable importance!

Solution: Go grab some empty file folders. If you don’t have any lying around the house, run to your nearest office supply store/drug store/grocery store…or scroll to the bottom to see some cool folders Amazon can have on your doorstep within 1 to 2 days…depending on your shipping preferences [note: affiliate links included].

If you don’t have folders right this second, you can still separate the papers into piles, but label the piles CAREFULLY, and clip the papers in each pile together using a paperclip or binder clip. Now. We’re ready to begin:

1. SET A GOAL, and determine how much paperwork you would like to clean up in your current session. Be realistic. If you know you only have the energy to work on the task for 30 minutes, set a timer for 30 minutes. If you can work for a full hour…POWER HOURRR! Let’s Go!

2. Create categories,  and label each folder according to the types of papers you have. If you can’t think of categories, try starting with these: Health, Home, Work, Finance, Bills, Leisure. Some of you may need to add a category for School. If you have kids, each child should have his or her own folder…but for starters, you can keep them all in one folder. For now. You WILL have to go back and separate everything out, though. So it’s best to just make a folder for each child if you have a massive amount of paperwork coming in from school, hobbies, etc.

3. Pick up one piece of paper. Determine which category the paper best fits. Example, if you pick up a car insurance bill, file it in the “bills” folder. If you can’t decide within 30 second, set the paper aside, and revisit it at the end. 

4. Repeat process until you can see the table/desk/floor/interior of the oven (yes, I’ve seen this before) or wherever your unruly papers have been landing. Advanced tip: (file your papers in chronological order as you add them to the folders; doing this now will save time when you need to access these papers later…and you WILL need to access your papers later: either to use them, to file them more permanently, OR to throw them away).
5. When finished, store the folders in a standing file box or file cabinet so you can access them later.
***If you still have remaining papers to clean up, don’t worry. Pull out your calendar, and schedule another time WITHIN THE NEXT 7 DAYS to continue the task. Write it down as an “appointment!” Keep repeating these “appointments” until all papers have been cleaned up and appropriately filed.
Maintenance: Set aside a general basket, bin, or letter tray to collect paperwork throughout the week. Choose one designated day each week to clear out the basket and file paperwork in its rightful folder. Eventually, the papers should go into a permanent file cabinet or drawer. But I will discuss that in a future post in the interest of keeping it simple and just focusing on quick cleanup strategies for now.
Recommended Supplies:

 

 

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Productivity Apps to Help You Get Stuff Done in 2K18

It’s a new year. We all, more or less, want to be healthier, wealthier, wiser, and more aerodynamic. I’ve highlighted a selection of productivity apps that will help you keep that fresh new set of resolutions you’ve recently made. All apps are available on Android and iOS.

Apps to Help You Save Time

Blinkist

Addicted to self-help books? Or perhaps you may simply feel like your self could use a loooot of help. No judgment. The Blinkist app may be for you! Blinkist works with non-fiction books and delivers a 15-minute audio or written summary. The app contains more than 2,000 titles by leading self-help authors in categories that include Personal Growth and Self-Improvement, Management and Leadership, Psychology, Communication and Social Skills, and Motivation and Inspiration.

Buffer

This one is for my entrepreneurs who use social media. Buffer is a social media management service that can be helpful if you manage multiple accounts. In addition to allowing the user to schedule posts, Buffer also supplies detailed analytics on Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and other networks. Users may manage up to three accounts free of charge and schedule up to 10 posts per account. There is a premium option which allows for more posts and accounts.
IFTTT

Derived from the phrase, “If this, then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate repetitive tasks. The app can message a friend or family member when you approach their location (useful when picking someone up after work or school or notifying a roommate or spouse that you are on the way home). IFTTT can also work with smart home features to program lighting to turn on upon your arrival and off when you depart for work each day. The “if this, then that” phrase refers to the app’s ability to program tasks that are dependent upon certain conditions (i.e. if I’m not home by 4, then text my sister to say I’m running late).

Newton

A super-charged email app, Newton has built-in tracking capabilities, a “Send Later” option, and can even remind you to follow up with clients. The app can also keep your inbox tidy by weeding out newsletters and other extraneous mail.

 

Productivity Apps

FocusList

This app may work well for people who are interested in using the Pomodoro method to increase their focus. The app allows you to write your plans for the day and allocate time for each task. When it is time to complete a task, the app directs you to work in 25-minute timed intervals of complete focus followed by 5-minute breaks until the task is done.

Google Keep

Similar to post-it notes, Google Keep allows you to post digital notes on your phone, which will remain visible until you have completed the task and no longer need the reminder.

Momentum

An app that is geared toward habit modification, Momentum utilizes Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” strategy to help users build new, productive habits. Each time the user completes a specified healthy behavior he or she would like to turn into a habit, the app adds a new square to form a chain on the display. The chain remains on display via the “Today view” screen and is visually satisfying as it increases with each successful completion of a positive habit-forming activity.

Before downloading a new app, be sure to think about your ultimate goal and evaluate how well the app will support you in accomplishing it. The new year just got started, and there are tons of apps under the sun. Stay tuned for more reviews to help you live your best life by staying organized and productive!

Update

I’m working on a much longer organizing-related post. But I felt like I OWED the blog a more immediate post in the meantime. So I will do an update. Updates are easy.

 

  1. I’m FINALLY working on the eBook. “Unpacking the Purge” is currently available in an online learning format, available on the Udemy platform. The next iteration of the topic of purging will be an eBook. It will be the first of several on various topics.
  2. OrganizeU…I promise I haven’t forgotten about that series. I will be adding more to it as I tackle my online course and eBook to-do list.
  3. EVENTS: I have very recently gotten back into sponsoring and organizing local events in NYC. A couple week ago, I helped host a full house of real estate industry professionals at a networking happy hour event. We will be hosting another real estate event the weekend of the 27th. Just this weekend, I was a cosponsor of an entrepreneurial and tech summit, hosted by NYC-based startup Illicit Mind.
  4. Sleep. I need some of that, so thus concludes this brief update. Stay tuned for more exciting developments!

Get Organized to Go Back to School!

Many of my clients are anticipating the start of a new school year for their children. Some are even returning to school themselves, either to teach or to work on earning a degree. This post is for those who are looking to map their route to success by putting an organized plan in place for the year.

[Note: The following products are available by clicking on the images, which will direct you to Amazon’s website. I am an Amazon affiliate; therefore, Amazon will pay me a small commission for all purchases made through the links from my site. The price for the buyer remains the same regardless!…Also…you can DIY many of these ideas should you choose to do so!]

Letter Trays

I am a huge fan of these, and I recommend them in various forms to virtually any client who owns and desk and uses it!

How do I get organized by using letter trays?

I’m glad you asked. For most adults, I suggest having three trays and labeling them as  follows: 1) urgent, 2) mid-term, 3) long-term.

As you may have guessed, the labels indicate the immediacy of the deadline by which you must address the items within each tray. Bills that are due within less than a month should go into urgent. Permission slips for next week’s trip to the zoo? Urgent. Choosing a new cable provider before the contract expires three months from now? Mid-term. A reminder that your yearly donation to your favorite non-profit is due by the end of the year? Long term. However, as a long term deadline nears, you should continue to move the item to the more immediate letter trays until the item is addressed.

I have seen this system work extremely well for even the most disorganized among my clients and those who absolutely hate structure. The key to staying on top of this system is to address the letter trays EACH time you sit down at the desk for the FIRST time within a 24-hour period, i.e. you should visit the letter trays once per day. If you follow these directions meticulously, I guarantee your desk will not overflow with paper.

This system also works well for older students who tend to have mid-term and longer term projects.

For young kids who have homework, I suggest using an inbox/outbox system. When the child arrives home from school, he or she should immediately place all homework in a letter tray labeled “inbox.” Ideally, the tray should remain on the child’s desk or work table. If the child works at a kitchen or dining room table, the inbox may be brought out when the child arrives from school and stored on a shelf or in another location out of the way once all the homework for the next day has been completed. Once completed, homework should be placed in another letter tray labeled “outbox.”  The outbox tray should be placed near the home’s entrance (also a good location for the child’s backpack once packed) to ensure the child and parent will not forget homework on the way out the next morning. One tremendous advantage to using this system is that it provides a very natural way for parents to monitor their child’s progress in school and to ensure homework completion.

Okay, sign me up!

Here are some letter trays:

A dual wall file also works well for a simplified inbox/outbox system when attached to the child’s door or in another prominent place in the home.

Organizing Letters from School, Permission Slips, and Miscellaneous Papers

Younger students often bring notices, conduct reports, permission slips, and artwork home from school to show their parents. For parental notices, I recommend using a wall file or letter sorter with multiple compartments. Each file or compartment can be labeled by document type (i.e. one for permission slips/things that need to be signed and returned, one for PTA announcements, one for artwork/completed work the child brings home, and one very clearly labeled for signed items/notes that are ready to be returned to the teacher).

 

 

Stay tuned for follow-up Back-to-School posts on lunch boxes, backpacks, and school supplies!

Starting Point

Probably the most common challenges people face after deciding to get organized is figuring out where to start. It is at this point that a person is likely taking in the view of the disorganization in its entirety and feeling overwhelmed. My number one secret to starting virtually any organizing project is actually quite simple: categorize, categorize, categorize.

The easiest way to begin categorizing a pile of “clutter” is to start by grouping “like with like.” If a closet requires more organization, gather all the shirts with shirts, pants with pants, belts with belts, etc. The basic act will bring clarity and allow the clothing to be further organized by season, fabric weight, color, casual vs. formal, or in any other way that will make the closet more visually appealing and accessible.

Organizing a “junk drawer” or items that may be stored on an exposed surface like the top of a dresser may seem more daunting. Nevertheless, the same principle applies. When grouping items in these types of situations, I highly recommend maintaining groups by using drawer dividers or small baskets/boxes/bins/drawer organizers that are of an appropriate size. A key advantage to creating and maintaining categories is by doing so, you will gain a better sense of which items can and should be readily purged.

By teaching yourself to quickly categorize the items in your living or work space, you will likely find that, after your first attempt at organizing, you will be required to spend less time maintaining your newly organized space. And when it is time to reorganize or purge, being able to assess items by category may also make the process seem less overwhelming.

The Pipeline

I have been conspicuously MIA in recent weeks, so I figured I would provide an update. Basically, business is growing, and I am finally able to shift my focus to creating the extensive knowledge base I have been envisioning! With that said, here are a few updates:

1. Definitive Guides: The Definitive Guide to Moving Supplies has received an overwhelmingly positive response and, frankly, has made life easier for me when I walk into situations in which clients are preparing to move. As a result, I have decided to create more Definitive Guides to streamline the organizing process and to better empower my clients to remain organized on their own. My aim has always been to “teach people how to fish…” but with shelving, decorative bins, and high-quality clothing hangers. 😀

2. More focused product reviews and recommendations: It occurred to me that I should probably post more real-world use cases for the products I recommend to give readers ideas on the different ways seemingly conventional organizing tools can be used around the home and office.

3. More video content!…More on that later.

Stay tuned, people! There is much, much more to come.

What is Professional Organizing?

Simply stated, professional organizing is a process through which a system is put in place to help individuals and businesses become more orderly. It is one of many very effective ways to improve quality of life and boost productivity.

What is the Rolanda L. Method?

Disorganization is typically a symptom of a larger disruption in an individual’s life. Sometimes the cause of the disruption may be minor and temporary like moving to a new residence or redecorating. In other cases, disorganization may have a root cause that is very chronic and persistent. Regardless the cause of a disorganized home or office, Rolanda L, Professional Organizer seeks to address each individual situation at its origin and to design and implement solutions that will ultimately set the client up for continued success. The Rolanda L. Method is a holistic approach to organizing!

What Can Be Organized (…Professionally)?

Closets, cabinets, shelves, paperwork, filing systems, you name it! Rolanda L. is also available to assist with furniture selection, room layout, and color coordination. Our clients also love our specialized relocation packing service, which makes moving to a new home or office much more efficient and generally more secure. Having a highly detail-oriented professional organizer handle packing during a move makes the entire process much faster and easier from start to finish.

But I Always Seem to Find Myself Needing to Reorganize… 

Solution: Work with a professional organizer to implement a system and/or layout that works well with your lifestyle and behavioral habits…We happen to know one if you’re interested!

If you are unable to work with an organizer, simply take inventory of your daily routine (even if it is somewhat erratic), and ask yourself if you have designed your home and everything in it in a way that supports you in achieving your daily objectives. If the answer is no, walk through each aspect of an average day in your life, ask yourself what could be improved to increase efficiency and peace of mind. Then modify your environment accordingly. Keeping a journal of observations and changes may be helpful.

Also ask about our affordable workshop events, where you can learn organizing strategies in a supportive small group setting led by Rolanda!

Put me in touch with your pro.

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