3 Reasons to Stay Organized (And How to Get There)
Do you ever take a look at the state of your everyday life and think, “If only I were better organized?” If you’re like me, you do. Whether it’s your finances, your career, or your daily routine that could use some neatening up, improving your level of personal organization has plenty of benefits. Here are five reasons why you should get your life in order today, and some quick tips on just how to do it.
Why You Should Stay Organized
1. Save Money
Organizing your finances can actually save you money, believe it or not. Knowing exactly what you pay for all of your monthly services, for example, can help you make better decisions when teaser deals come around. Plus, if you have your monthly statements on hand and easily accessible, it makes it that much easier to check for billing errors and get them fixed. By getting yourself on a budget – another organizational idea – you can reduce your monthly expenses by closely examining them and discovering ways to limit or eliminate spending.
2. Save Time
Have you ever struggled to put your tax return together because your receipts are haphazardly stored in a shoe box? Or, do you have to comb through credit card and bank statements to determine where you’ve spent your hard-earned money? If you itemize deductions, create a file for each category – unreimbursed medical expenses, work expenses, and charitable donations, for example – and file your receipts accordingly throughout the year. You’re going to be surprised how much faster you can complete your return, and how many fewer potential write-offs slip through the cracks, when you’re well organized.
3. Reduce Stress
A disorganized work station can actually cause significant stress. If you’re constantly searching for documents, you’re going to be less productive, and your boss may eventually have something to say about that. Clear off your desk completely and discard anything you no longer need. For the rest of your papers, file them appropriately. Maintain this effort as new documents find their way to you, and keep your desk neat and clean at all times.
How to Get There
1. Establish an Organizational System for Your Documents
Choose an online organizational system like Dropbox or store all important documents in a dedicated file folder system. Organize it by individual monthly bills, tax deductions, insurance and investment documents, and anything else relevant to your financial picture. Just be sure to empty out your files on a regular basis – every six months or so should suffice for your monthly billing statements, but do hold onto your tax-related documents for longer. The IRS recommends differing lengths of time depending upon the document in question and your personal tax situation. Check the IRS website for more details, or to play it safe, simply keep your tax documents forever.
2. Create and Follow To-Do Lists
Creating a to-do list on a daily basis is a great way to stay organized in both your work and personal life. Categorize your tasks in three tiers: what you absolutely have to get done, what you should get done, and what can wait until tomorrow. Cross items off your list as you complete them and move whatever you don’t accomplish to your next day’s list.
3. Eliminate the Unnecessary
Skip unnecessary phone calls. Start by putting your number on the National Do Not Call Registry to avoid telemarketers. Let other unimportant calls go directly to voicemail, get your work done, and respond to them as your down time allows. Resist the urge to browse your private email and social media accounts during work hours and watch your productivity get a significant boost.
4. Use Mobile Apps
Several apps have been developed that can aid you in your quest to stay organized. An app called Remember The Milk helps you manage your daily tasks and another app for your home PC called RescueTime tracks the time you spend on websites and provides you with a synopsis – you may be surprised how much of your day goes toward procrastination. To help avoid those distractions, use RescueTime to block access to certain websites if your own willpower isn’t quite as cooperative.
Once you achieve a certain level of organization, it’s important to understand that the job doesn’t stop there. Continue to analyze your daily habits and processes, cut out unnecessary time, and find faster ways to complete your tasks. Switch to online bill pay and bundle monthly services so you have fewer checks to write out each month. Try doing a better job organizing your errand runs to save time and avoid having to make more trips than necessary. Staying organized is an ongoing process and by keeping it at the top of your radar, you can live a more productive and fulfilling life.
What ways can you think of to stay organized?