Organizing Your To-Do List

An overflowing to-do list is always a source of stress. We’ve complied our favorite methods for organizing, planning, and executing the tasks on your list in a way that is both efficient and easy.

1) Like with Like: Write out your to-do list in a way that groups like tasks together. Potential categories include: phone calls, computer work, physical errands, personal errands (dentist appt., nail appt., etc.)  and requests from others and long-term projects.

2) Consider Location: When organizing your list, consider the locations of where physical errands need to be completed. If there is a shopping center that contains multiple stores at which you have tasks, get them all done at once instead of making multiple trips.

3) Timing is Everything: When planning the execution of your to-do list, take into consideration the timing needs of the various tasks. For example, calls to vendors need to happen during business hours, while internet research could take place after hours. If you plan ahead you won’t find yourself pushing off tasks due to an inability to complete them during your free hours.

4) Prepare Yourself for Success: If certain tasks on your list involve physical processes, such as returns, prepare for the possibility of getting them done when the opportunity arises by placing the items (including receipts) in your car. This concept is also true for all other tasks that need to be completed while out and about.

5) Enlist Help: If a task on your list would take you twice as long as it would your husband or a friend, hand it off. In the same respect, if your hourly worth exceeds the cost it would take you to outsource the task to a personal assistant, it likely makes sense to pay for it to be handled instead of doing it yourself.

What are your favorite to-do list tricks?

TWOW

Living with Less: How to Regulate the Amount of ‘Stuff’ in Your Home

One of the main ways we become overwhelmed with disorganization is by accumulating more ‘stuff’ than our spaces can accomodate. Over time, even the most conscious consumer can find themselves in excess if they do not take steps to regulate the inflow and outflow of things. In order to assist our readers in managing their personal collections we’ve put together a few rules for regulating the amount of ‘stuff’ in our lives.

1)  Know What You Have: If you are planning a shopping trip to the grocery store or the mall, before you leave, take an inventory of what you have and what you need. This will help you to avoid buying duplicates.

2) No Spend Commitments: Often times, homes will have packed pantries and freezers and still continue to bring in more food each week. Committing to one week of eating only the items in your home will help you eat down the current stock and save you money. This process is great for using food items that may be expiring in the coming months.

3) Borrow & Share: If you just need the use of something once or twice, consider borrowing the item from a friend or family member instead of purchasing it. This trick works great for specialty cookware (i.e. pasta maker), tools, special occasion clothing, and sports equipment.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Return: One common issue we see in homes with disorganization problems is that they have a lot of never-used items that are in someway wrong. Instead of keeping those items indefinitely, make an effort to return them asap. To help you do this, immediately place the return item in your car with the receipt once you decide it is not needed.

5) One in, One Out: The one in, one out strategy is fantastic for maintaining the right amount of things for your space. The way it works is before you bring something new into your home, you must first let go of something else. By employing this method you’ll be encouraged to eliminate the things you don’t need and also monitor the incoming items.

6) Scheduled Purging: It’s easy to get distracted and push organizing projects to the bottom of our to-do lists, but if you commit to a regular purge you’ll begin to develop a more clutter-free existence. We recommend setting aside a Saturday once per quarter to complete a full-home round up of all un-used, broken, and unnecessary items.

Good Luck!

TWOW

9 Things to Review & Do in 2013

A New Year means that certain items in your life may require attention. We’ve put together a list of the most common tasks to complete or review as soon as possible.

1) Prescriptions: Review prescriptions and toss any that have expired. Make note of the ones that are in need of refill and contact your doctor to process the order before it becomes urgent.

2) Documents: Take a look at your passport, driver’s license and any other documents that expire to determine if they require a renewal in 2013.

3) Annual Appointments: Schedule annual appointments for doctors, dentists, optometrists, and accountants.

4) Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Change the batteries on the detectors and mark on the calendar when the next change will occur.

5) Pantry & Fridge Contents: Review the food in your pantry and fridge for expired goods. Purge anything that’s expired and make note of the items that have upcoming expirations so that you can use them soon.

6) Filters: Change the filters in your HVAC unit and mark on your calendar the next swap out date.

7) Credit Report: Get a free annual copy of your credit report and review the past year’s changes.

8) Policies: Review any policies that may require updates or renewal in the new year, such as insurance and product warranties.

9) Taxes: Take a look at your income tax withholding from last year and determine if your personal situation has changed in a way that affects your number (i.e. marriage, divorce, children, etc.)

Good luck!

TWOW

5 Steps to Help You Actually Start & Complete that Project

We all have projects and tasks that we’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Those items at the bottom of our to-do lists that for one reason or another we’ve procrastinated getting done. Perhaps it’s an organizing project or maybe it’s finally getting to that filing from last year. No matter the task, we’ve outlined some basic steps to help get you started.

1) Review the Project: Although you may have a general idea of what needs to be done, it helps to get a fresh look at the scope of the project. Determine how long it will take, what you need to complete it, and how you will work.

2) Make a Plan: Once you have a basic idea of what needs to be done, it helps to have a specific agenda or outline of how you will work. For example, if the project is to organize your filing cabinets, decide ahead of time, how many years of documents you will keep, what types of docs will be trashed vs. kept vs. shredded, and if you will need input from others during the process.

3)  Schedule the Time: Putting an allotment of time on the calendar is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure completion of a project. If the task will require several chunks of time, schedule the entire process. Don’t forget to leave yourself enough time before and after to keep distractions from creeping in.

4) Gather What You Need: Before you start the project, gather the necessary tools, supplies, and information. This will keep you from using the excuse of not having what you need to put the project on hold mid-process.

5) Focus on Completion: Once you finally get into the actual work, commit to seeing it through to the end, or the pre-determined stopping point. It’s easy to get distracted or frustrated with things, but if you mentally commit to a goal you’ll find it easier to see it through. We also find that a timer set in brief, but effective time intervals can help.

We hope this 5 step process helps to inspire you to get some of those bigger projects started this year. As always, if you need a little extra help, The Well-Organized Woman is happy to assist.

TWOW

Reassess Your Resolutions

It’s the end of February! Time to reassess your New Year’s resolutions.

We ran a feature in our most recent newsletter about planning your goals for 2012.  We wanted to help you plan in a way that will set you up for success over the course of the year.  The end of February is the perfect time to evaluate what is and isn’t working and make positive adjustments to our goals! These adjustments can help get you back on track to achieving your organizational goals without abandoning them altogether.

I recommend taking just 30 minutes of quiet time during a weekend when you’re more likely to feel calm, rather than during the week when you may already be anxious due to work and home duties. In that half hour, pick out the resolutions that are completely off track. Are they relevant to where you are in your life anymore? If not, it’s okay to remove them from the list completely. Let them go. If the goal is still one you’d like to achieve, leave it on the list.

Remember to be realistic in how much time it will take to reach this goal and give yourself a little more time beyond that to get there. Reset your deadline and remember to work backward in setting your milestones. Check that newsletter for a crash course in doing this.

What else? Check back in with your buddy! Let her know that you’ve reassessed your resolutions and the goals you’d like to achieve have changed a bit, but you’ll still need her support in getting there. Set weekly check-ins with each other.

This is your year to reach your goals with diligence. At the same time, be gentle on yourself by performing a resolution reassessment every so often. Readjusting your 2012 to-do list will set you up for continued success over the rest of the year. Priorities change, and so should your goals!

Here’s to 2012, again!

-TWOW

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