Are You Suffering from March Madness
By Sue Crum, Ed.D., Professional Organizer
Yikes! It’s March already!!
We are heading to the end of the first quarter of 2013 and with that looming deadline there’s one right behind it…
Which deadline is that, you ask?
As we’ve all heard there are two things we can count on in this world: death and taxes!
Leaving death alone for now, we are right smack in the middle of tax season.
Does this year have you MAD again at yourself that you are MARCHING through the house looking for all those important papers from 2012?
If so, now is the time to grab hold and say – “NO MORE!”
Paper management continues to be a problem for most people. While a paperless society has been discussed since the 1970s, many of us are still drowning in it. If that is you, here are a few quick steps to get you marching through the mayhem without all the madness!
If your papers are everywhere:
Grab at least six banker’s boxes. These are available at any office supply store. They are easy to assemble, come with lids, and are made of cardboard and very inexpensive. If you have papers in every room, you will need more than six boxes.
When we are drowning, what do we need? We need to build… R A F T S
Label the five boxes as follows:
- R - Reading material;
- A - Action items: You need to do something with this – pay a bill, call someone, give to tax person, etc.;
- F - File: You have taken action but now just want to file for reference;
- T - Toss or recycle;
- S - Shred.
Line up these five boxes in the room with the most papers.
Can you see the word RAFTS?
If so, you are ready to begin, once you put on your favorite dancing music and set a timer.
Start with 30-45 minutes of time. Grab a stack of paper and get sorting!
Do not stop to read the magazines or catalogs or long articles you haven’t had time to read yet. Simply quickly drop then in the R box for reading.
Do not stop to complete any action item. Just drop it in the A box for action later.
Keep working and stay focused. When the timer goes off after a block of time, take a five minute break, and begin again.
Continue this with the papers you have. The time this will take you will depend on three things
- the volume of loose papers you have,
- your energy level and
- the amount of time you schedule for this.
When papers are sorted into these five categories, place the R box by a comfortable reading chair; put the T box out for trash/recycling; put the F box in the room with your filing cabinet. If your S box of shredding is not full, set aside to keep adding to it later. If you have several of these boxes for shredding, be sure and contact Mike at www.TotalSecureShredding.com and see which plan fits you best. Tell him “hi” from me!
Now you are left with the A box only. On the same day or another day that you put on your schedule (depending on your energy level), go back through the A box, and remove any paper item tied to taxes for 2012: W-9s, 1099s, stock transactions, business receipts, charitable contributions. Put all those in the sixth box and label it 2012 Tax Papers.
Hooray! Congratulate yourself that you have marched through the madness and schedule time to meet that April 15th deadline!
“Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.”
-Margaret Mitchell, author, Gone with the Wind
Sue Crum is an international speaker and founder of De-Clutteryourlife.com and the owner of the RED team. She consults and shows people how to de-clutter and organize their lives for better productivity. Her forthcoming book, De-Clutter Your Life – 50 Ways to Organize Your Life, Home or Business so that you can be More Calm, Focused, and Happy, will be available this spring. Call her to speak to one of your groups or help you with de-cluttering and organizing. 760.803.2786. To receive her latest EBook, Red Hot etips List for De-Cluttering Your Life, sign up at www.de-clutteryourlife.com. You will also receive monthly RED Hot etips for energized and efficient people and learn where Sue is next presenting.