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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter
Playing to Your Strengths

I'm in an airplane right now, on my way home from the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization's annual conference. (www.nsgcd.org)  The speakers talked a lot about people with Attention Deficit Disorder, because a large percentage of those folks have struggled with disorganization for most of their lives. 
One of their suggestions struck a chord with me:  We should all, ADD or not, play to our strengths.  Does that mean that we can't learn to live more organized lives because organization does not come naturally to us?  Of course not.  But we all have different talents, interests and abilities different activities and occupations get us "jazzed-up".   
I love to organize, and most of all, to help other people get organized.  Organization comes naturally to me.  I love to read about it, go to conferences about it, and teach other people about it.  Some people, however, get the equivalent of "brain freeze" when they even contemplate tackling a disorganized space.  Some people define themselves as creative persons; for them, the very idea of sorting stuff is B-O-R-I-N-G.  They would much rather be spending their time creating something beautiful or interesting.   But, alas, the mail must be opened, the bills must be paid, and the tax returns must be filed regardless of how interesting we find those activities to be.
The solution lies in making those necessary (but sometimes boring and even frightening) activities catch our interest.  Let's face it:  If you'd rather be ANYWHERE but facing a bunch of unopened mail, you're going to have to put your best creative foot forward to make that task compelling enough to tackle it.  Here are some creative solutions that could work for you:
!          GET CRAFTY.   Instead of using boring file folders or officey-looking stacking trays for sorting your mail, why not create some beautiful containers into which you can put your mail that requires action.  For example (and I'm not very crafty, so I'm sure you will come up with even more creative ideas!) you could get an open-top basket, spray paint it green, and hot glue foam cutouts or scrapbooking decorations related to money on it and then use it to hold bills you need to pay.  You could decoupage an IRS Form 1040 onto another container to hold your tax related paperwork.  Go wild!  When you create specific containers for specific uses, it will be more FUN (yes, it's true organizing can be fun) to sort your paperwork and pay your bills!
!          CHANGE YOUR SENSORY EXPERIENCE CHANGE YOUR FOCUS.  It usually takes me a long time to write an article like this one.  Why?  Because I get distracted by my dog barking, the sound of the TV in the background, my husband talking to me, and because of all of the other things I'm thinking about that I could be doing instead.  But right now, on the airplane, my words flow more freely than usual.  Instead of barking and talking, all I hear is the "white noise" of the airplane engines.  The change of "auditory scenery" has enabled me to focus on something I would ordinarily procrastinate on.   What kind of environment makes you most productive?    Studies have shown that playing certain kinds of classical music actually change the pattern of your brain waves and enable you to concentrate better.   Do you enjoy spending time in a particular room or area of your home?  Why not use that area to work on your paperwork?  If you enjoy the scent of a particular kind of candle, or of freshly-brewed coffee, create that aroma before you begin working. 
!          DON'T GO IT ALONE.  Organizing need not be a solitary activity.  There is a concept called "body doubling":  The quiet presence of another person in the room acts as an anchor and a mirror for the other person.  The person acting as the body-double keeps the other person on task simply by his or her presence in the room.  The body-double can quietly assist with sorting of paperwork, and "mirrors" what the other person should be doing.  A supportive friend or family member can be your body-double, or a professional organizer can assume that role, while giving you needed guidance through the process.
!          TURN IT OVER.  Play to your strengths.  If you think that your time would be better-spent on your job, your family, or your other interests, that's OK.  Many of my clients simply gather their paperwork in a bin that has my name on it.  I pick it up periodically, open the mail, pay the bills, and file the paperwork.  Done!  Look for a Daily Money Manager (www.aadmm.com) or a professional organizer (www.napo.net) who specializes in personal bookkeeping in your area.   

posted on: 10/5/2008 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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Discuss This Post

by Niki on 11/17/2008 3:17:45 PM:

I recently attended my first POC meeting and sat on a discussion group for chronic disorganization. Fascinating and it takes a special person to takle this sort of client. Love the tips for staying focused. More than ever I need an office.

by chantix on 5/18/2009 7:38:55 AM:


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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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