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Using a calculatorOne of the most important benefits of being a generally organized person should be that we have our budgets under control.  Do you? 

What is it that will make us not have to worry about money?  It’s easy really, in theory.  Like most things, it’s about decision making, and if you’ve made the best possible decisions and followed them, you should be able to relax, knowing that you’re doing what you need to be doing with your money.

To stop worrying about debts, you simply sit down and work out what you are able and willing to do – with help if necessary from a financial adviser – and make a plan.  You then stick to the plan and forget about it.  Ta da, debt worries finished.

But of course, sticking to your plan can be difficult to do.  And that’s where the guilt and worry comes in.

Unexpected bills just seem to keep turning up, and that can throw the best plans right out the window.

In order to eliminate the ‘unexpected bills’ phenomenon and make a budget that really works, we need to know EXACTLY where our money is going, and what expenses we can expect.  This is not as simple as it seems.  This is the preparation work that makes a really good budget.  It can take quite a bit of time to get all this information together accurately, especially if you’re starting from scratch.  Even if you have this information already, it may not have been updated for a while as prices have increased and your income has changed.

There are a number of different ways you can record your spending, and I’m not in a position to recommend any at the moment – I use a book keeping software package that’s a bit outdated at the moment, and it has some limitations, but it has gotten me into the habit of recording my spending in categories, which I have done successfully for the last 10 years. 

Whether you record your spending with pen/pencil and paper or on your computer, what matters is that you are able to get a realistic picture of where your money goes. 

Household filing systemFiling is a habit we hopefully start as early as primary/grade school, as we keep our homework, schoolwork and artwork organized.  Or, as often happens, we can somehow struggle through to adulthood without really having a system in place.

No matter how messy or non-existent your filing system is, if you really think about it, there probably is SOME kind of system going on, even if that is just a series of piles.  Yes, even dumping papers onto a pile that just stays there is a system of some sort.  You know that the newer stuff is probably on top, unless you’ve disturbed the pile by rummaging though it looking for something.

Getting a filing system in place can be a bit scary to contemplate for some, but really it’s just about categorizing.  You need lots of folders, and you need them now!  Keep spare ones on hand too.  Even if you have hanging suspension files, use folders inside them so you can remove the folder without the whole file, and you can see exactly where it goes back.

Folders are simple, magical and wonderful objects which are capable of creating order.  Their usefulness is often underestimated and they are often underused.  Folders can make keeping any kind of papers so much easier.

Filing is about creating categories, and having a habit of putting things away in the correct folder and maintaining those folders.

CATEGORIES

You don’t want too many, too few, or titles that you will forget you’ve got (and accidentally start another one the same with a slightly different name).  So it needs to be re-assessed once you get going and updated from time to time. 

If a folder is getting too fat, ask yourself if you’re keeping things for longer than you need to, or if that folder needs breaking up into further categories.

Household categories will be things like:

Busy Working MumRunning a home when you also work full time means you need to pay particular attention to your life balance.  Your work life balance is what your sanity depends upon, and needs your attention. 

The following is an example of an email I seem to have written quite a few times in response to readers who, like me, struggle to do everything when they work full time as well as run a home:

Thank you for your email.
 
It sounds as though you have a full time job as well as running your home, and I know that makes it very hard to get everything done and still have time to relax.  You certainly don't want to be doing housework at 11pm.
 
From what you tell me, I think you probably need to lower your standards to a more realistic level, delegate chores to your family, and make a new timetable that works better for you. 

You should be able to see on paper when you write it all down whether it is going to take too long or not.  Having the reality of your life set out in front of you can help you see what the situation really is so you can make some decisions about things that are within your control.
 
Remember the section in the book where I talked about prioritising, and the thing about the rocks in the jar?  And time boxing?  You decide how much of your time each week you're happy to spend doing housework, and make a plan around that - not thinking of what you would need to do to have a perfect house, and then fitting your life around that.  Do you see what I mean?  Time for yourself to relax IS a priority.  It's all about balancing how you spend your time, and making decisions.
 
Hope that helps.
 
Kind regards,
 
Yvette

The main point I want to make here is that many of us are sucked into having unrealistic standards and expectations of ourselves about how we keep our homes.  Unless we can clone ourselves, there are just so many hours in the day, and a number of different categories of activities we want to devote time to.

A Room Full of Junk - ClutterOf all the emails I get, one of the most common things readers ask about is how to get rid of clutter in your home.  How to to declutter, how to make decluttering easier, how to make a start, how to stop it building up again and so on.

There is a section in my e-book Organized for Life about how to get rid of clutter in your home and I’m working on a new e-book just about that topic alone!  But I have been promising a newsletter article about it, so here goes.

Decluttering is a habit.  It needs to be a lifelong habit, because it’s never finished.  You will always have new things coming in, and you will always have to make decisions about what to keep, and when things are no longer worth keeping for you; you must learn to declutter as a regular habit.

The reason some people seem to manage to keep their lives free of excess stuff which is not in place and is not being enjoyed and/or used is that they developed habits to keep it this way..  If you don’t make it a habit, then you can have a big cleanup, but it will creep back.

Reducing the amount of mess and muddle involves sorting and organizing things, and making decisions about them.  Making decisions is hard, which is why I like to write about it.  It’s hard because we doubt ourselves and don’t trust our own judgement.  It’s hard because we are often not in the habit of making certain decisions on a regular basis, but we are in the habit of putting those decisions off, lest we make a bad one.

There are many ways you can approach your decluttering, depending on the volume of stuff you want to shift, but they all involve making decisions.  Depending on your situation, you may have a number of categories into which your stuff may fall, but the basic ones are always the same:

-    Throw away – garbage, rubbish, trash, recycling, no good to anyone
-    Sell or give away – good for somebody else, but no good to you any more
-    Keep and put it where it goes, or find a place for it

These three things may have sub categories, but that’s basically it.

If you need to, you can add a fourth category for items you’re undecided about.

Now, given that I’ve said it needs to be a continuous, ongoing and never ending habit, you may as well set in place your own systems for where to put each item when you’ve decided which category it belongs to.  

For example, you hopefully know where your garbage and recycling goes, but there may be instances where you need to arrange for extra rubbish removal, a trip to the tip/dump, or for specialty recycling people to collect something (for example old cars, scrap metal etc).  You may need to allocate a place to put rubbish/trash/garbage temporarily until you have built up enough to arrange its removal.

For things to sell or give away, you need a permanent place in a closet, attic, shed, garage or basement where you keep these things, and you need regular trips to the charity shop to unload it as it builds up.  If you have decided it’s worth your while to sell some items, they need a dedicated storage place where they go, and you need to be prepared to move some items from the ‘sell’ to the ‘give away’ category if it becomes clear you can’t sell it or it isn’t worth selling it.

For things that go to charity, if you are not in the habit of doing this regularly, you might not even know who to call or where to drop it off.  This will hold you up, so you need to address this and find a convenient charity bin or the phone number of a charity which will collect, and speak to them to find out what they will accept.  Charities are not there to provide a rubbish removal service – you need to check that the items are actually useable.

A potential hold up with the ‘give away’ category is thinking you must give the items to family or friends rather than charity.  Don’t waste a lot of time on this and get bogged down in it.  If it seems appropriate, let your friends and/or family know you have a stash of stuff you will be giving away, and invite them to come and take what they want before you move it on.  Set a definite time by which you will give the stuff away, and remember, other people don’t necessarily want or need your old junk.  Leave the choice with them, and don’t wait too long.  If they really are interested, they will show up and have a look through it.

For things you want to keep, move it first to the correct room then fine tune its exact location as you go along with your normal home tidying.  Remember, when finding a place for everything, that things generally logically go in the room in which they are used, and like items, or items used for the same purpose, should be grouped together.

What about things you’re really having trouble deciding over?  They might be sentimental items, letters, essays, ornaments, gifts, things that look like they might be really useful ‘one day’.

Think about how much space they are taking up, whether you are getting enjoyment from them, how they make you feel, how exactly you think it might be useful.

Some things are worth keeping, in my view, for historical and family history reasons.  Things like photos, home movies, letters (letters can be a touchy one, and sometimes they do need getting rid of – but they can often be a fascinating insight into someone’s life, or a unique view of a period of history.  If in doubt, KEEP letters.)  If you have a lot of study papers, you might find that copious notes are not worth keeping, but some of your essays would give you pleasure to glance at in the future.  If you’re not sure, or not in the right frame of mind to confidently decide, box it and label it clearly.  

Ornaments, knick knacks, furniture and decorative items are a matter of taste.  If you are not really enjoying an item but it is sentimental, just take a photo of it and let it go.  If you have boxes of pretty things your grandmother left you, but you don’t like it all or have space for it, just choose a few of your favourite items, and put the rest away in clearly marked boxes until you are ready to decide.

Always clearly label any boxes of stuff that you put away.  Label them very clearly and legibly, and in detail.  You’ll thank yourself later.  You could even photograph the contents of the box with a box number or title included in the photo!  Then you can see what’s in there without unpacking.

Now, about when to declutter.  Yes, you might set aside a Saturday morning or afternoon to work on an area like the garage as a project, but this alone will not work in the long term.  You need to be doing it constantly, regularly.  It needs to be part of your routine.  

In my e-book I recommend a room rotation system for the ‘fine tuning’ tasks of keeping your surroundings nice.  That includes detailed cleaning and removing items which are no longer of genuine value to you.  This system is recommended by the lovely Flylady, who follows Pam and Peggy’s Sidetracked Home Executives system, but the system is way older than that.  It’s a very sensible and practical way of getting the details done without spending inordinate amounts of time on it.  We want clean, organized surroundings, but we don’t want to give up our life to it!

There are a number of ways of doing this, but basically you concentrate on one room at a time (perhaps one room a week, with a set amount of time allocated, not too long all at once), and do what you can do in that time.  You do some sorting of items to let go of, then move to dusting etc.  This is a separate task from your normal daily and weekly cleaning routine, and the goal is to LIMIT the amount of time you spend on it, but keep it up REGULARLY.

By the time you come back to this room, enough time will have passed that a little dust and cobwebs have crept back, and there might be some more clutter items to get rid of.  Or if it was really bad to start with, you will just be gradually reducing the clutter.

What will happen though, is that you will establish a habit of spending regular time on this.  You must limit the time!  You have other important things going on in your life, and this is just part of it.  Keep the balance, and refer to my article about time boxing.   

If you feel the need to make a dramatic difference very quickly to lift your spirits, concentrate on one main area where you spend a lot of time, for example the living room/lounge room.  Move out whatever you can that does not belong here, group things, then start sorting and making decisions.  Go for large items and items of greatest quantity first, so you can see fast results.

Making a start can be the most difficult part of getting something done we have been dreading.  Deciding to do it for just a few minutes is a strategy that works for me when I have this problem.  I might then stop, and do the same thing again later, or I might continue for a bit.  Either way, I get past the inertia this way.  

Organize your life - get the ultimate guide here

Related articles:-

Feeling Overwhelmed

Closet Organization

What Affects Our Self Esteem

Motivation From Knowing What to Do

Storage

Molehills, or Mountains?Following from my previous article about de-cluttering, I’m going back to how we often feel before beginning the task of turning back the tide of clutter.

Feeling overwhelmed is often the main reason why people avoid making a start on de-cluttering, and it can also be the main hindering factor in getting started on or continuing with a lot of other things.

It tends to start slowly and creep up on us, just as those unattended to things have crept up on us slowly.  Sometimes we might not even notice it, putting that odd, annoying feeling out of mind, until it has built up so much that we feel noticeably paralysed.

Father and child with folded clean washingYes really.  I know, it’s so much trouble, it’s hard to do, it’s often much easier to do it all yourself.  And of course if you do it all yourself you can feel all self-righteous, you can complain, you’ve got an excuse for being tired and grumpy, and you know it’s being done RIGHT.

Hmm, something doesn’t sound quite right about all that does it.

The people I’m talking about delegating chores to, your children, your partner, or others with whom you share a home, NEED to share responsibility for household chores.  Sure, they might not realise this until they have left and had children of their own or been responsible for running a home of their own, but they do.  And if it’s your children, it’s your job to provide the leadership they need by making sure they do share in the chores.

It’s easy for collections of things such as books, CDs and DVDs to become jumbled up as we use them, and the more you have, the more daunting the task of sorting them out as they get messy.

Having our collections in a mess can hinder our enjoyment of them, and sorting them out can actually be really fun. 

You collected these things presumably because you liked them and they interest you, so let yourself really enjoy them.  If the idea of getting them in order doesn’t appeal to you at all, consider whether you are still really interested in keeping them all.  Perhaps you’ve moved on, and are interested in other things now, and this stuff is just getting in your way.

I have a friend with a large collection of music CDs, which often look messy, but are actually re-sorted every week as he prepares for his radio show.  He enjoys them so much that it’s no chore at all to go through them, and because of frequent use they are often not sorted alphabetically on shelves, but in piles on the floor according to themes and styles and release dates.  From time to time though, they do go back into alphabetical sorting.

I like to keep books, even if I’ve read them already and may not be likely to read them again.  I like the look of them, I like to be able to get something out to refer to it if I want to, and I like the reminder that I read all those books.  Many of them are things I do enjoy reading again, and think my family might enjoy too.  Once in a while, I purge some of those I’m not interested in keeping.  This helps slow down the need for more and more bookcases.

We’ve started to get quite a few DVD movies in the house too, and these are kept in two basic sections – those suitable for children and those which are not.

Our desk if we have one, can be our most valuable resource for being organized.  After all, it’s here that we attend to our paperwork and administrative tasks, here that we keep our computer, and in this area that we keep our filing and stationary.

What, you don’t have a desk?  Just a box of papers and the kitchen table or bench?  Just your laptop on the bed?  Just a corner with a table?

Well, it doesn’t matter where it is, but everyone needs a desk or a designate place where they can do their paperwork.  This is the place you open mail, do your filing, fill in forms, fill in your calendar or diary or planner, make phone calls, do stuff on the computer, write down your goals and plan your time. 

Keeping it all in one place is the first thing, and keeping that area tidy and organized so that it is most useful to you is the next thing.

So, all your kids’ school notices, all your mail, your diary, your notebooks, your computer, your pens, paper, calculator, scissors, stapler, envelopes, stamps etc, all go here.  Not some of it on the kitchen bench, some of it in the car, some in your bedroom.  All in one place. 

Like anything else, keeping an organized desk means an allocated place for everything.  All your filing filed, all your pens and pencils together, printer paper and writing paper together, a place where all incoming paperwork and mail lands and stays until it has been dealt with, a place where your children’s incoming art and school work lands and stays until it is dealt with, a place for your drink, a place for your glasses.  If possible you should have a phone on your desk.  This is often also a good place for a charging station if you have room, for your re-chargeable batteries and your mobile phone and your cameras.

We get disorganized because things we need to do are left undone, put off, not planned for, not made room for.  The answer to this is routines.  If you’re a fan of FlyLady you know all about them, and if you’ve read my e-book you’ll know it’s the basis for my approach to being organized too.

Routines are about designing your life.  Yes, you can have your own custom designed life, incorporating all the things that matter to you, in order of priority. 

When you see people who just seem to have it all together so effortlessly, no dramas, no last minute rushing, no regular crises, do you think it happens by magic?  What about the things in your own life that are working well.  They happen because you have made a conscious choice to do things a certain way.

The things that are not going so well – those are more likely to be an unconscious choice, no choice, just reaction, just letting things slide.  We can choose not to live like that.

Simple routines and habitual ways of doing things make life much easier.  It’s not something that can be set up in one day, because there are so many little things we need to do every day to keep our life running smoothly.  It takes time, and habits need to be established.  The idea is to establish routines and habits for ourselves that get things done in a way which is most efficient and convenient for us. 

Establishing these things requires that we first accept that we actually want to do them.  If we are in a constant state of rebellion against our mail or the kids’ school notices or the dishes or the laundry or putting things away or using our calendar/diary/planner, we’re not going to get it together. 

If there are things that you don’t exactly have under control at the moment, think about them and whether they matter.  Are there things you want to let go of that are not really necessary, or is this stuff that really is essential.  If it’s basic, essential stuff that needs to be done for your life to be how you want it to be, then think about it and embrace and accept those things.  It might sound a little silly, but then how silly is it to rebel against your own decisions?

Why do you want to be organized?  What does it actually mean?

Is it about tidiness?

No.  There are people who appear to be very untidy, yet they are still organized.  There are also people who are very tidy, but still disorganized about some things.

Is it about cleanliness?

No.  There are people who are not bothered by dust and dirt but are still organized.  There are also people who are obsessively clean, but are still disorganized about some things.

So what does it mean then?

There are different categories of being organized.

With regard to your belongings, it means you know where everything is and can find things quickly and easily.  Your things don’t become lost or damaged un-necessarily.  You can find your keys, your phone, the TV remote, those papers you need, your clothes, the glue, the spare light bulbs etc.

With regard to your time, and your ability to get done the things you need and want to get done, it means you know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and why you’re doing it.  You’re not floundering in indecision and self doubt.  You feel confident that at any given moment you are doing what you need to be doing – the best thing to be doing at that moment.

Testimonials


"I am grateful to Yvette for the changes that she has facilitated in me. I feel that my learning from Yvette will stay with me for the rest of my life, and has brought me to a brighter, positive more confident and happy place in my family and work life."

Anshula Ohri, Toronto,
Canada

"Before I met Yvette I had many opportunities in front of me but I was feeling overwhelmed and I had no confidence in making the decisions.  I was feeling stuck and confusedd.  My career has progressed in a positive direction and I am now functioning better in physical and emotional health.  Thank you Yvette for your help.  This was one of the best decisions I have ever made."

 

Sarah Grudzien,
Melbourne, Australia

"The coaching with Yvette was very beneficial. In just a few weeks I had achieved so much. I am so thankful. I found Yvette to be very patient, professional and reassuring. I would definately recommend NLP now that I have seen the difference it has made to my life. I have left the past in the past and I am happier within myself."

Gemma,
Western Australia

"Your belief in me gave me the confidence to work out ways of improvement, knowing how important it is that these answers be found by me within me to enable them to be so powerful and successful. I loved the CD you sent as your voice is so easy to listen to and reassuring as it imparts great words of wisdom and strengthens the concepts taught within your life coaching sessions. These life skills are amazing!"

Lynne from Lowood,
Queensland, Australia

"I consider myself very fortunate having chosen Yvette for coaching.  It has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I started from a place where I was stuck in procrastination and everything seemed so overwhelming that I didn't really know where to start.  I love the freedom and empowerment I now feel.  Yvette's methods are personalised and very effective.  I have looked forward to every coaching sesssion."

Heather
Melbourne, Australia

"Yvette is a great coach who inspires you to overcome the obstacles that she finds in working with you.  She is highly motivated and has worked hard to increase her knowledge in many areas that in turn help her clients.  Yvette draws on her own real life experience adn studies to help those of us who have to juggle many responsibilities and mangage the conflicts in thinking that come from that.  I am looking forward to working with Yvette again in the near future"

Liz Jarvis, CSI Business Solutions, 
NSW, Australia

"Through my coaching experience with Yvette I was able to shift my awareness onto my value system as opposed to staring at my circumstances each day and feeling pulled in a hole.  It's powerful because I want meaning, I want to live up to my values and what's right and good for me!  So, I truly learned the value of letting go and receiving the abundance of knowledge for every situation that gives life, love and meaning to who I am and what I can do, with this fearless self awareness."

Keri, 
New York, USA

"Yvette.  Many thanks for a wonderful experience... Our sessions were productive, really interesting adn I so looked forward to them each week with anticipation of what I can learn about myself and my behaviours.  Every session seemed to flow right on topic of what was present in my relaity at the time and your effortless guiding of my strategies never ceased to amaze me.  I highly recommend you as a life coach and thank you again for the experience."

M Shears, 
Melbourne, Australia

"I really questioned my future career ambitions and thanks to Yvette I changed direction from something I felt I had to do, to something I know I will love to do.  I was stuck on this topic for quite some time and Yvette really helped me shed light on this.  I changed the MBA I signed up for and feel excited about my careeer and all the opportunities in the future."

Sabine Mascarenhas, 
Wollongong, Australia