Welcome to this wrap-up of our March Organized365 tips and ideas. We are one quarter of the way through 2018!
Tax Time Tip!
Compiling documents for your accountant can be a challenge. If you are not sure what records they need to accurately prepare your tax return, please do ask them.
Our accountant, Mary J. Himsel-DeGroot, CPA, offers this additional advice.
"Sort and total your receipts as you prepare your papers. Group receipts by type, for example, pulling all receipts for charitable donations together and totaling them or collecting receipts for moving expenses together and totaling them."
This step on the front-end will save your tax preparer time and improve the accuracy of your tax return. Organized records benefits you whether you file yourself or use a professional!
Routines and reputation both rely on being where you said you would be, when you said you would be. Consistently late arrivals appear as lack of caring and consideration. Friends, family and colleagues want to know that they can count on you.
If you struggle with being late for appointments and meetings and/or missed deadlines, stop and consider the cause. Do you lose track of time? Are you trying to squeeze in extra errands? Have you said 'yes' but wish you had said 'no'?
Figuring this out will require being brutally honest with yourself. Once you identify the cause of the problem, you can begin to address it.
Cleaning out debris, it's not just for gardens.
In much the same way that leaves, branches, and weeds accumulate in your flower beds and gardens, debris can accumulate in your home, basement, and garage. Cleaning out unneeded, unloved, and forgotten items is an important part of spring cleaning. The results can be as refreshing and renewing as having newly raked flower beds ready for planting.
Have a travel routine that ends strong. Whether a quick weekend getaway, travel for work, or a 'real' vacation; how you arrive back home will have a serious impact on how the next few days unfold. Avoid digging for necessary toiletries or work outfits by unpacking as soon as you set foot in your door.
If the timing of your arrival means that making dinner or running errands takes precedence, place your unpacked luggage on your bed. The strategic place will significantly increase the chance that unpacking will happen prior to bedtime and you will wake up to start the day feeling organized.
Avoid the Paper Chase
Tax season and spring cleaning offer great motivation to make sure your 'papers' are in order. Are vital hard copy documents (birth & marriage certificates and titles to homes & cars) in a secure location?
Can you readily access the financial papers you need for tax returns, flexible spending accounts and insurance claims?
Consider the appropriate storage for your important papers and have procedures in place for maintenance and easy retrieval.
Take Spring Break's Temp
Obsessively checking the temperature in your destination location, not only builds excitement for your upcoming vacation but allows you to make plans appropriate to the weather conditions.
The clothes you pack and the activities you plan are impacted by the weather legitimizing your constant referencing of your weather app.
Meetings Not Monologues
Sharing should be the primary purpose of any meeting. If you are running a meeting for the sole purpose of sharing information without seeking input or feedback, you could send an email, you don't need a meeting.
Legit meetings require give and take among those present. No monologues, not from the facilitator, not from attendees. As the leader of a meeting, not only should you not engage in a monologue, it is your responsibility to redirect anyone else's monologue. Redirect, interrupt, get back on track!
Fashion Foot Forward
Lay out the clothes you plan to wear tomorrow before heading to bed. Moving through the contents of your closet is both relaxing and productive. It gets you away from those insomnia producing screens and sets you up to hit the ground running the next morning.
Halt the Laundry Dig
Pawing through a pile of not quite dirty clothes in search of something wearable is a stressful way to start your day. Planning what you will wear in advance gives you time to toss an item in the wash and have it ready to wear the next morning. You will feel fresh and ready to face the day.
Advanced Outfit Prep
Take your pre-bedtime preparation a step farther and plan the jewelry & purse or tote you will pair with your next day's outfit. Thinking ahead on these details will allow you to switch out contents on purses/totes as necessary, putting you on an swift path out the door.
Spring Break Shopping
Vacation destinations provide great opportunities to purchase unique gifts for giving throughout the year. Gathering clothing sizes for the children of friends and family in advance, allows you to make spur of the moment decisions on gifts for birthdays and holidays. Keep an eye out for that perfect, funky, eclectic find for the friend who has everything.
Spring Break: Packing Loot
Packing considerations include weather and activities at your destination, of course, but don't forget to anticipate souvenirs you will purchase while away. If you are traveling by car this is a less urgent concern but when traveling by air, planning for space and keeping airline and TSA regulations in mind is crucial.
Anticipate the Predictable
Have you ever arrived for a weekly meeting unprepared? Missed a loved one's birthday? Are you currently wishing that you had organized your financial papers as they arrived to ease tax preparation?
These occasions are predictable. The birthday is going to come on the same day next year. The weekly meeting will take place again next week. And, as one of the 2 most predictable occurrences in our lives, April 15th will mean you need to pay taxes again next year.
Act while your remorse is high. Schedule in an hour to prep for next week's meeting, put that birthday on your work AND your personal calendar and implement a filing system to help you collect the records you need to promptly complete your tax return.
These situations are a lot like playing Dodgeball, if you keep standing still you are going to get hit.
Spring Break: Packing Essentials
It is easy to overlook or under pack critical items (socks!) when gathering items for a long-ish vacation. While it may make sense to pull clothing items together by type (ie: shoes, then toiletries, etc.) another route may help you make sure you have it all.
Pack by day and gather items chronologically.
This spring break, I have a late flight and will be going to bed immediately, so pjs. In the morning I will want clean undies, shorts, t-shirt....you get the idea. Work though your entire trip using this method, then pull all your shoes together, group socks, jeans, etc. and actually pack.
Toiletries are easy to pack if you put your toiletry bag on your bathroom counter and after you use each item the morning of departure or the evening prior place them directly into the bag. As you leave your bathroom the final time, zip, grab, and pack.
Spring Break: While You Are Gone
Call in favors from friends, family, and neighbors to make sure plants, pets, mail, newspaper, etc. will be cared for in your absence. Agree upon payment for these services or purchase thank you gifts while traveling.
Self Care at Work
One of the easiest ways you can ensure your comfort at work is to have some personal care supplies handy. Suggested items include: cough drops, gum, an emery board, OTC pain reliever, dental floss, mints, bandaids.....
What's in your desk?
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!
Save time and spare yourself frustration by only adding green food coloring to edible items. Beer and cupcakes = YES, DIY crafts = NO.
And a good time was had by all!!
Schedule a Retreat Day (or hour)
Retreat Days are great for making time to focus on a project, to develop a long-range plan, sift through odds and ends or whatever is most needed. Select a specific focus. This is not the time to multi-task.
Decide when, where and for how long. Gather the resources and tools you need. It is amazing the clarity that setting aside this time can bring.
Wipe Down that Fridge
Freshen up your fridge with a quick clean out. Toss old leftovers, reorganize containers, and wipe up spills.
Make a daily or weekly wipe down a habit to prevent unfortunate discoveries later.
Keeping your fridge clean and organized also helps you use food before it spoils increasing your return on grocery expenses.
Final tip, don't forget to wipe in the crevices of the rubber door seal. Gunk loves to hide there!
Double Duty Dryer Sheet
Use your fabric softener dryer sheet to clean glass shower doors. Wipe down with sheet while doors are wet, rinse and dry. Faster and less smelly than using glass cleaner.
This tip comes from Dave Edwards, master shower cleaner.
Tis the Season to Sell (your home)
Prepping your home to sell? Get a jump on your move AND be Open House ready by packing non-essentials now. Clear as much out of closets and off of counters and floors as possible. Less is absolutely more in this situation.
Buyers need to be able to envision your house as their home. Clear the way!
Deep Dive for Dirt
Congratulations, your house is on the market! It's time to track down every last speck of dirt and wipe it out. No buyer wants to see someone else's dirt in their new home. Moving into a new home is exhausting enough without the prospect of having to clean that home first.
Presenting a home that is spotless not only is a great help for them but makes your home much more appealing when being shown.
The Daily Swipe
You have your home sparkling for showing. Anticipate unscheduled showing and keep it in top shape with an easy pass through before you leave each morning.
Wipe down counters and appliances, remembering the coffeemaker. Make beds, fold and put away laundry, hang towels in the bathroom and wipe down that shower.
It's spring so make sure you check floors for muddy pet and kiddo footprints as well!
The Nose Knows
Don't let a funky smell stop your potential buyers in their tracks! To test your home for smells that may go undetected by your familiar nose, ask a trusted friend to do a walk thorough with you and encourage them to be candid. This is news you want to hear from a friend, allowing you to address it before buyers are providing feedback via a lack of offers.
Have Product Will Travel
Use this trick to have the skin product you want in easy to travel with amounts. Take old contact lens cases and put your lotions and potions in them. They are designed to be spill proof and are super easy to fit into your luggage even when traveling light.
This trick came from Robin Wall and is endorsed by tester, Vonda Meyer. Thanks friends!!
Tag that Bag
Carry-on bags are often ones that we use every day for traveling back and forth to work. As a result, it is easy to overlook the need to put a luggage tag on it. Tagging your bags will not only help if you, for example forget to grab it from an overhead bin, but can also come in handy when traveling no further than work or the local library.
Schedule Regular Checkins
Some online accounts require regular use to remain active. Add a login reminder to your daily calendar. Relying on your memory can result in an inactive account and a painful reinstitution process. Spare yourself the aggravation!
Avoid Password Panic
Balancing security and ready recall is a password 'Catch 22'. Rotate through several standard passwords with a memorable structure, then document them in several spaces with hints that only are relevant to you. Do not document the actual password just a prompt to jog your memory.
Rummage through every zip pocket, nook and cranny in your bags. While it makes sense to tuck tiny souvenirs into the coin pocket of your wallet that also makes them easy to forget. Locate all of your loot to keep track of and share your fun memories.
Anticipate Vacation Catch Up
Letting your vacation planning end with prepping for departure sets up challenges when you return. Look ahead a day or two after your scheduled return and take care of as many tasks as possible to ease back into your normal routine.
Renewing or returning library books, setting out agendas or documents for meetings, having something in the freezer for dinner your first night back, all of these can prevent stressful moments, allowing you to bask in the glow of vacation adventures.
Last Day Review/Refocus
Convenient merging of the last day of the week, month, and quarter makes this a great reminder to use such milestones to review and refocus. Basing your plans on the passing of weeks, months, and quarters allows for a nice balance of long and short term goal setting and progress checking.
We are hoping this will also signal a shift in our seasonal weather from winter to spring bringing a nice transition in our planning for outdoor maintenance and activities!