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5 Steps to a More Organized Life

By Marie Fahey

1. Make an Appointment with Yourself. Schedule some "me time". What you do with this time is up to you. Block out some time for writing, organizing, reading, or anything. It can be work related or it could be personal time at the spa or an hour at the park with your kids. If you get in the habit of marking these blocks of times for yourself in your calendar, you'll find that your days will become more productive.

"Try to schedule at least 30 minutes a day for yourself and do something you enjoy.

2. Plan Your Day. In addition to scheduling personal time for you, there are also other personal, family and business tasks and appointments to plan.

"Purchase some type of daily planner. There are many on the market today, some have a week at a glance others month at a glance. Purchase the one that most works with how you do.

"If you have children, a family calendar is necessary. In addition to your day planner, a family calendar will help you to remember all of the things that are scheduled that have to do with the kids and family. It may seem redundant to have these on the family calendar and your daily planner, but in the morning when everyone is rushing for the school bus a family planner that can be glanced at quickly could save the day. A one-month, dry erase calendar works best. You can keep the current month on the refrigerator or in a central location where everyone can view it.

"You'll need to set aside at least 10-15 minutes each morning to plan, enter and check daily planner. Try to schedule a week at a time and this will cut down on your daily time spent planning. If you schedule a week at a time, you may need to set aside an hour on a Sunday to sit down to schedule your week.

"Enter all of the important things first - days at your child's school, doctor's appointments, meetings, bill paying, grocery shopping, etc. Then fill in the less important tasks that you'll need to keep your home and your business running.

"Don't forget the weekends. You'll need to set aside time for planning for the next week, household chores and anything "big you have coming up for the upcoming week.

"Remember, unplanned things can happen. Leave some flexibility in your schedule to be able to overcome obstacles throughout the day. Once you've disciplined yourself with this time management process, you'll find that your life becomes more organized and less stressful.

3. Clear Your Workspace. A clean workspace is just what you need for creativity, motivation and inspiration. Clutter does not stimulate those creative juices. Set aside some time - see step number one - and get started. Also, remember organizing your workspace can be a big undertaking. Divide workspace into more manageable tasks - top of your desk, drawers, filing cabinet, under desk storage, shelves, etc.

"First thing, clear off your whole space. If your desk has drawers and shelves, clear them off/out too. Find a large, clear spot away from your workspace to place all of the items you've cleared.

"Now, begin your sort. Place like items together to make it easier to see what and how much of the same things you have. Try to keep your piles in sections. Office supplies in one area, personal files in another and so on.

"Get yourself three boxes or bins and label them - keep, donate, and trash. Start with one area, such as office supplies and work from there. If you have paperwork (business or personal), you can go to www.irs.gov to find out how long you need to keep records such as bank statements and receipts. Purge as much as you can. (If you have 3 years worth of magazines, you're never going to have time to read them, so recycle them. Try to keep only 2 months worth at all times.)

"Now figure out what type of items you'll need to store the items you've decided to keep. If you have drawers, drawer organizers can help you to keep them from becoming junk drawers. Remember to measure and list what needs to be stored, so you'll purchase the correct organization components you need. Never purchase organizational tools before you start organizing or you may purchase things that aren't necessary or don't work well in your space.

"To keep organized, remember to always circulate and purge. For instance, if you own many books and you intend to purchase more, you'll need to purge as many as you purchase.

4. Don't Procrastinate. Putting tasks off is something that we all are guilty of from time to time. The longer you leave something, the bigger the pile will get and looking at this large pile becomes stressful.

"Tackle the biggest or most disliked job first. We tend to do this one last and have "lost steam by the time we're ready to do it.

"Divide each job up into manageable tasks first. Even the most disliked task becomes a little less load to bear when it's divided into smaller more manageable tasks.

5. Hire an Assistant. We can all use an assistant, but we usually don't feel that we have the resources or enough work to give to an assistant. Not just for business anymore, an assistant can be used for personal tasks that need to be done too. Think about what tasks (work or personal) you put off each month. We all have things we don't have time to do. Here are some facts about Virtual Assistants:

"VA's are independent contractors, who work from their own offices. They pay their own taxes and don't require vacation pay or sick pay. Your VA can live next door or across the country and can give you the same results.

"Many VA's don't require a monthly minimum, meaning if you just have a couple of hours worth of work each month it's possible to hire an assistant to do it.

"VA's have all types of talents from bookkeeping, event planning, secretarial services, organization, and even personal shopping.

Using these steps, even the most disorganized person can find organization fun and easy. If you feel that you can only handle one-step, time management is a wise choice.

Depending on how much (or how little) organization you have in all aspects of your life will dictate the length of time you'll need to become organized. Remember, organization isn't another word for neat or clean. Even the tidiest looking home can be disorganized. Don't be discouraged, it can take weeks and even months to become organized.

You will get there!

About The Author
Marie Fahey is a Virtual Assistant based in Massachusetts. She is a wife and mother of two who enjoys balancing working at home and family life. Marie's clients are professional people who require assistance in a multitude of business and personal tasks. You can find out more about her services at www.MarieFahey.com or contact her directly at Marie@MarieFahey.com.


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