September 11, 2017
We are in the midst of weather chaos; Hurricanes and Wildfires causing massive destruction. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by these tragedies. Disasters make us think about what is really important in life. If you lived in Houston would you have been prepared? I can definitely say that I am not fully prepared. Here is the short list: Do you have the proper insurance, do you have photos and other memorabilia saved in digital format, do you have vital records scanned and saved in a digital format, do you have a list of all of your insurance policies, credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts and other important items saved digitally, is your hard drive backed up to the cloud, and do you have an inventory of your possessions; if you need to file an insurance claim? I can answer yes to some but not all of these questions. It's not just having them saved digitally but saving them in the cloud. If you have them saved on a Jump Drive and that is destroyed then it defeats the purpose.
I highly recommend saving photos and scanned copies of vital records to a cloud based account such as:
There are so many choices! How do you choose? Here is an article, The Best Cloud Storage and file-sharing services of 2017, by PC Digital Magazine that can help you decide. If you worry about your files being secure... well, there are no guarantees in life. Equifax was just hacked into; everything is a risk, doing nothing is a risk. Don't forget to back up your computer hard drive too. I use Carbonite and it backs up everything automatically.Here is an article about the best backup software to use. I may want to switch because Carbonite is not listed.
If you want to learn more about protecting your treasurers, Organize for Disaster, is available at Amazon. Disasters strike in many different forms. Don't keep telling yourself, "it won't happen to me," because it might.
Chief Executive Organizer
Simple Solution Organizing
It’s hot outside, 90 degrees in Athens today. If you are spending more time indoors then why not spend it organizing? When is the last time you organized your address book (paper or digital), business cards, files (digital and paper), junk drawer, sock drawer, kitchen, craft area, photos, wrapping paper, book shelves, basement, attic, garage and much more?
A few years ago I challenged my Newsletter readers to organize 1 particular area of their home or office each month and I want to bring that back. Are you up for the challenge?
I challenge you to organize your address book(s) this month. All of your address books: paper and digital. You may have multiple books for different areas of your life:
Contacts in your address books need to be organized in a way where you can find the information you are looking for. As you can see in the list above it can get complicated quickly. I certainly can’t remember the names of every person I associate with or have done business with. It is imperative that I organize my address book in a logical manner for me. I no longer use a paper address book and I’m sure many of you do not either.
How to Organize an Address Book (paper and digital):
If you decide to play along and actually organize your address book this month….or in the next few months I would love to hear from you.
Tidy Home, Tidy Mind. Your physical environment has a profound effect on you, physically and emotionally. Clutter in your surroundings can cause you to feel overwhelmed and tired, even depressed. If you’ve ever spent time you could have better used elsewhere searching for something in a pile of papers, a crammed closet, or a disheveled drawer, you know how frustrating it is to deal with clutter.
Here are several good reasons to be more tidy.
Benefits of Being Tidy
This is an article printed in the Spring 2017 MetLife Life Advice newsletter. Their source is Marie Kondo’s book: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
If you are struggling with de-cluttering your home or office we can help.
I want it to be perfect. I can’t….won’t get started until I have enough time to make it perfect! I have to wait for XY and Z to happen before I can get started on organizing my home. I hear these excuses regularly. I know people that never get started on a project (organizing an area or room(s) in their home) because they don’t feel that they have enough time to complete it perfectly. I can assure you that perfectionism has no place in organizing, especially if it is holding you captive from progress.
Perfectionism is a very different excuse than procrastination and both are stifling. The definition of perfectionism according to Dictionary.com is: A tendency to set rigid high standards of personal performance and the demand for the highest standard of excellence. Procrastination is the act of delaying. Both of these excuses keep people in a state of stagnation.
My advice is to just get started. Nothing is perfect! If you think you only have 15 minutes to devote to the project…just get started. How do you get started? Great question. It depends on what you want to accomplish. Set a Goal and don’t make it too ambitious. A good goal: I will organize my living room in 1 to 2 days and donate items I never or rarely use. I want to do this so I can invite friends and family over and not feel ashamed. An over ambitious goal: I will organize my entire house in a weekend. When you set a goal for yourself you can continue to go back to it to keep yourself accountable. Halfway into your project your negative thoughts may creep in and try to sabotage your efforts.
How to get started. This applies to any room in your home.
My daughter, Jessica Gross, graduates May 6th from Berry College in Rome, Georgia with a B.S. in Finance and Management. My family is very proud and excited for her. She has a job in Manhattan at BlackRock and will start working in July. She will share a small (very small) Upper Eastside apartment with a roommate, friend and colleague. What’s important to move when you have very little space? We have been pondering…questioning what is absolutely needed to survive in N.Y.C.? Probably some mace and a baseball bat, but seriously, what is necessary? Not much.
Do you ever ask yourself before you purchase something, “Is this really necessary”? Will it enhance my life or become a burden (clutter)? If you live in a small space you have to choose essential over superfluous. Why not apply the small living constraints concept to our larger roomier homes? We might be happier and wealthier if we adopt the less is more rationale.
When you have less furniture, less clothing, less stuff your home looks and feels inviting. When you have a place, a neat organized place, for everything you own; life is less stressful. I would much rather own less and live more. I want to surround myself with things that I use and things that are valuable to me. They don’t have to be valuable to anyone else. I also want things that hold value to be out on display not hidden somewhere in a box, in a closet, or a storage unit. If it is important enough to keep then it is important enough to use or have on display.
Milestones will come and go. They give us an opportunity to pause and reevaluate our lives. It is important to assess and make beneficial changes in our lives: changes that will enhance our quality of life. I encourage you to pause after reading this and decide on a project that you want to complete or a change you would like to implement in your life. Once you have decided on something write it down and apply a completion date to it. You are in charge of your life and you only get one life. Live it to the fullest.
Finding, tallying, and reporting tax deductible deductions are a worthwhile endeavor. Itemizing deductions, if you qualify, can make a substantial difference to the amount of taxes owed. So why do so many people wait until the last minute to figure them out or not bother to calculate them at all? We all know the process is NOT fun, unless you are getting a refund, however those days are long over for most of us.
Do you still do your own taxes? My husband and I switched to a CPA many years ago when we received a dreaded letter from the I.R.S. about an error on our return. My husband and I decided to hire a Professional. Our taxes were becoming more complicated each year.
A large portion of my business is prepping taxes for clients. I get their tax forms and deductions summarized and ready for their CPA’s. I work with these clients on a regular basis. They appreciate not having to compile everything themselves.
Here is a list of some common tax deductions:
Printing and keeping track of your own deductions is becoming more commonplace. There are many companies that don’t mail tax forms. Here are a few examples: Student loan interest, if you or your child paid interest on a student loan and you did not get a form in the mail go to your online account and print it. I contributed to my son’s Georgia 529 plan this year and last year but Path 2 College did not send me a tax form. This saves my family a lot of money on our state taxes. This is upsetting but it is just the way it is. You have to be your own tax advocate.
Did you pay a fee for your IRA, Brokerage or any other Investment Account? Make sure you claim it. You may need to “find” the fee on a yearend statement. Investment companies have not had to divulge all of their fees but that is changing in April 2017. Are you over the age of 70 1/2 and not taking your Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s)? You will be penalized. RMD’s are only required on regular IRA’s not Roth IRA’s. This happened to one of my client’s. Do you have older parents? Find out if they are taking their distributions.
Did you donate items to a non-profit this year? Claim a realistic valuation. If you have no idea what your items are worth here are some options. Here is Goodwill’s Tax Deductible values and Salvation Army’s. According to the website Charity Deductions.com taxpayers are leaving $42 Billion unclaimed for non-cash donations. I was surprised when I looked at Salvation Army’s valuation guide; I was undervaluing everything I donated.
Tax deduction forms and some tax income forms are not sent out. My daughter had an internship last summer with a large corporation. They did not send her a W-2 (It is a significant amount of money). She had to call the company to find out how to get it. I thought companies had to send out W-2’s? I know they sent it to the Internal Revenue Service……
Anyway the moral of this blog post is to be your own Tax Saving Advocate. It is worth your time to go through all of your check registers, credit card statements and investment statements to look for your hard earned deductions.
Happy Tax Organizing,
Chief Executive Organizer
Why is stuff so important to all of us? I want more…give me more! More food, drink, bigger home, bigger car, more cars and trucks, boats, RV’s, vacation homes, furnishings, sports equipment, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, stuff, stuff, stuff. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. As I type this I’m in my bed sick with an awful cold and all I wish for is to be well. You can take my stuff away; I just want to feel better. What matters in this life? What matters to you? I think that family and health would be ranked at the top of most people’s lists; definitely at the top of my list.
My husband and I recently watched a documentary entitled Minimalism A Documentary About the Important Things. I recommend watching it. We viewed it on Netflix. I appreciate the philosophical views that are stated in this film and I think it is good to stop, think, and be reminded of what is really important in life, on a regular basis. I take a yoga class on Sunday afternoons; the Yoga Instructor, Helen, ends every class by telling us, “be thankful for everything we have in this world.”
It’s good to be thankful for what we have and feeling thankful is a very healthy emotion. I love this quote: "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." -- Oprah Winfrey. Here are more thankful quotes. The Minimalism movie focused on many important aspects of how and why to choose a life with less things. According to the movie, making a conscious choice to live with less equals more joy. They gave examples of how more stuff can lead to more stress in your life.
Overflowing closets filled with tons of clothing, accessories and shoes is not always a good thing. Waking up and walking into an overflowing overcrowded closet starts your day off chaotically. It can be very stressful deciding what to wear when you have so many choices. In addition, not being able to find items in a disorganized overcrowded closet is frustrating. So one of the systems brought up in the movie is a Capsule Wardrobe: a wardrobe consisting of 37 pieces per season. Less things, equals less choices, equals less stress.
Defining Minimalism is different for each person or family that practices it. For example, not everyone will want to buy or live in a “tiny house.” I certainly don’t want to. However, my current 3,400 square foot house is a lot to clean but we love the extra space for entertaining our friends and our children’s friends. So what does minimalism mean, how is it defined? According to Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, known as “The Minimalists.” “If we had to sum it up in a single sentence, we would say, Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
I’m intrigued and interested in learning more because I agree with these values. I’m attending a teleseminar by Joshua Becker, Minimalist Expert, in a couple of weeks. I plan to share more with you.
Happy Valentine’s Day ---- I don’t need flowers but I do want dark chocolate.
Chief Executive Organizer
Simple Solution Organizing
The Life Organizers Top 5 Organizing Tips
2. Passcodes in 1 Place
Do you use the same password for every account? Do you struggle to create passwords and struggle more to find them when you need them? Stop the insanity and come up with a system. Experts advise not to use the same password for every account. When you use a password manager program you only have to remember 1 password and the program creates very strong passwords and stores all of your passwords in a secure online vault. Here is an article with additional tips on passwords by Connect Safely.org.
If you hate digital use a notebook or the back of an address book or Rolodex to keep track of them.
3.. Inventory Digital Files
Do you store file folders in multiple places? Most people do. If you are searching for a file folder in Google Drive but it is saved in Dropbox you won’t be able to find it. Work on a plan to organize your digital file folders. I need to do this too. What program is working best for you? Use as few places as possible for storing files. Take the time to inventory what files or where. An Excel worksheet works great for this. Digital Clutter is a huge problem. This is a good article on how to protect and organize digital files.
4. Plan Ahead & Set Goals
Spend your time wisely, creating personal and business goals. Spending time evaluating what is going well, what can be improved upon, and what you should do in the future is vital. Some people spend their entire lives allowing life to dictate and navigate their future instead of personal intention and goals.
5. Just Do It! – Daily, Weekly, Quarterly and Annual Maintenance
Maintenance is not fun but it is necessary. What do I mean by maintenance? Putting things away in a designated place and creating places for things when they don’t exist. This procedure applies to file folders and practically everything else you use including tools, clothing…stuff! Just imagine if your digital files went to a To Be Filed box every time you used them. That is a very scary thought. Paper files often end up in a To Be Filed box, or even worse, they end up somewhere else entirely….the black hole. They need to be filed as soon as possible to keep clutter at bay.
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December 29 2016
Do you often think about creating a photo project but get discouraged because you just don’t know where to begin? If your digital photos are unorganized that is the place to start. I completely understand feeling overwhelmed about a photo project if your photos are all over the place.
Are your photos important to you? If so, begin the process of going through them where you can locate and enjoy them. Photo collages, photo scrapbooks, photo books, and photos in frames make very special gifts. Photo projects take time. The 1st most important step is protecting your photos by backing them up. Are your photos protected? Are your documents protected and backed up? APPO, Association of Personal Photo Organizers, recommends using Backblaze to automatically back everything up. I currently use Carbonite but I plan to switch over to Backblaze. The 2nd most important step is getting all your photos in one place and organized.
Just get started. Go to each device where you have photos and begin to organize by year. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you have a plan of action. I recently organized my desktop computer photo gallery. I have folders for each year and a folder for each person in my family. Some photos are extra special so I make a copy of those and put them in the person’s folder in addition to the year.
Just like printed photos your digital photos are kept in several different places.
Purchase an External Hard Drive (EHD) just for photos.
There are software programs available to find duplicate photos and programs that use facial recognition.
Want a little help with this project? Give us a call.
Chief Executive OrganizerSimple Solution Organizing
I want to share some inspirational excerpts from a book I just read, “Do The Clearing”. I was contacted by the author, John Benz, to read and write a review on Amazon about his book. I said sure, send me the book. Here are a few excerpts that I really like:
No matter what is happening in your life, understand that when your senses take in your surroundings, you are influenced. The things around you affect your mood, your attitude, your energy, ambition, and willpower. Whether a possession is prominently displayed or hidden somewhere in your home, your office, or wherever you keep your things, if a part of you is consciously or subconsciously aware of it, it’s having an effect on you.
This statement definitely rings true for me. Every time I go on vacation I am motivated to make changes in my life. I read that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon Inc., created the concept for Amazon while driving cross country.
I share a similar philosophy to Benz’s. His book encourages people to clear possessions that harbor bad feelings and items they just don’t like. It’s a little similar to “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up” by Marie Kondo but with a different slant: power. Benz asks his readers to ask themselves if items in their home create or deplete their power.
Why weigh yourself down with objects that bring fear or guilt into your life or trap you in self-imposed obligation or with an identity you find uncomfortable and that has you repeating the same mistakes over and over again when you are working so hard to be happy and create the life you want?
I have definitely told many of my clients this exact same message. I hear things like “I can’t get rid of this; my deceased mother gave it to me.” Really?! You are an adult you can get rid of anything you want to. Many people fear clearing possessions from their home for many reasons. Here are a few of the most popular reasons: it cost a lot of money (okay, so it cost you a lot of money and now it is cluttering up your home and you look at it every day and it reminds you that you spent so much $$$ on it and there it lies). Sell it on Craigslist, Let Go, or just give it away and take the donation. A relative or someone special gave me the item (Don’t you think that person wants you to be happy? They don’t really care what you do with it.)
You may not realize it yet, but the only thing your fear is protecting you from is feeling good. The more you tell yourself where you want to go, the more you see yourself at the destination you want and as the kind of person who is successful, the more your surroundings tell you that this person is you, the greater your connection will be to the potential inside of you.
When you allow yourself to part with things that you don’t like, or drain your power, you open your life up to new opportunities. The book is “Do The Clearing” A step-by-step guide to living a happy life and getting what you want by John Benz.
Are you ready to do a clearing? Contact me. I would like to help you with this life changing process.
Simple Solution Organizing