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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter
Ring in the New Year with Organization - (but ring gently and steadily)

It's right up there at the top of our New Year's resolution list, isn't it? Somewhere among our annual December 31st pledges to lose weight, quit eating junk food, and go back to the gym is our pledge that the coming year will be the year when we finally, finally get organized.
We're sick to death of the piles.  We can't fit the clothes we actually wear into our closets (because they are full of the clothes we don't wear).  We've wasted days looking for papers buried on our desks.  We've wasted so much money buying duplicates of things we already own (because we can't find the originals).  We're not going to live like that anymore, we boldly declare!
But then…January happens.  The excitement of the holidays ends.  The kids go back to school and we go back to work.  Our resolutions quickly become forgotten as "business as usual" takes over our consciousness.
Is it even possible to make some positive changes in our lives, when life as we've known it gets in the way?  Can't we just hit the "pause" button, get ourselves organized, and then push "play" again? 
The answer to the first question is unquestionably "YES".  If I didn't believe that to be true, I would not be a professional organizer.  Even though we can't Tivo our lives, we can learn to slowly and steadily incorporate some new habits that will help us begin to live more organized lives.  Yes, there is hope for you.  You CAN make these changes if you choose to do so – but you must choose to do them today, tomorrow, and every new day:
ü    Start small.  Aim to create one pocket of order at a time.  For example, designate one bin in which you'll drop all financial-related papers and mail as they arrive this year.  When you've established the habit of using your financial bin, then organize another area.
ü    Evict intruders.   Move items you will use elsewhere to their proper destinations (but don't organize those destinations just yet; stay focused on creating your pocket of order)
ü    Put like with like.  All bank statements together.  All income tax statements together.  You know the drill.
ü    Put stuff away.  Give everything a proper home.  
ü    Maintain order.  Spend a couple of minutes each day tidying up your organized areas.
ü    Don't go it alone.  It's a myth that organizing should be a solitary activity.  Professional organizers help folks like you every day.  Get help if you need it.
The National Association of Professional Organizers (www.napo.net) recognized our desire for a fresh start at organized living when they designated the month of January as Get Organized Month.  According to the NAPO website, "Get Organized Month is a national industry-wide event dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of getting organized and of hiring a professional organizer. NAPO's dozens of chapters and thousands of members will hold public events throughout the country. Look for Get Organized Month events in your community including reuse-and-recycle events, volunteer organizing events, vendor showcases and expos, shred-a-thons, seminars, panels, presentations, workshops, school outreach, and contests. Programming will take place in local libraries, bookstores, and community centers."  Visit the NAPO website to find an event near you, or to locate a professional organizer in your area.
A colleague of mine wisely stated that the difference between those TV shows about organization and organization in real life is MAINTENANCE.  On TV, we only see a snapshot of the finished, organized product.  It will surely never look better than it did at that moment.  Why?  Because it is only a snapshot of the so-called "end" of the project.  In real life, there is no end to the project!  The secret to living an organized life is in the MAINTENANCE of the systems you (or you and your professional organizer) create.  So this year, be kind to yourself.  Develop and maintain one organizing habit at a time.  Then keep going.

posted on: 1/6/2008 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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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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