It’s tough being an adult. You have to do stuff, take care of stuff, and sometimes take care of other people and their stuff. But it’s always a challenge when you have to deal with your own stuff.
Several years ago, I did the adult thing and wrote up a will using software recommended by our work attorney. I will admit that the best part of creating the will and all accompanying paperwork was deciding which Duran Duran and Rick Springfield songs I wanted played at my memorial service. I also freaked my brother out when I handed him a copy of all of my papers to keep, but I was glad it was done.
There’s been one area of adulthood I’ve trying to avoid: retirement planning. I’m too young for that, right? Wrong. Even though I often joke that my nieces and nephews are my retirement plan, it was time to be a big girl, suck it up, and figure out if I was going to spend my golden years eating cat food or not.
The kind HR folks at work have been offering a series of retirement seminars based on our generation. So, I finally decided to take the bold step and attend the Generation X retirement seminar.
As I entered, Courtney, The Bubbly HR Chick, was there checking us in. You could see the guilt everywhere. All of us were slinking in like we were entering the principal’s office.
I told Courtney: “Okay, Courtney, I’m here to be totally depressed by how ill-prepared I am for retirement.” Courtney, ever bubbly, said, “No, no, it’s empowered. You are going to feel empowered.”
I thought to myself how I was going to need more caffeine if I was going to feel empowered.
The Guys in Blue Suits talked to all of us about retirement plans, the stock market, Social Security, and all sorts of money things. Guy in Blue Suit One talked about how the recession was the perfect time to buy stocks since they were so low in 2008 and 2009, and several of us looked at each other. During the Great Recession, people were worried about their jobs and paying mortgages, not how many cheap stocks they can buy.
Blue Suit Two was a bit more down to earth when he gave us the details about the retirement funds we could set up. Math is not my favorite topic so numbers get a bit jumbled in my liberal arts head, and I still had visions of cat food in my future.
Okay, so it was good information to hear. I also checked the information box that I wanted to set up a meeting to go over my retirement plan options. Blue Suit Two showed up to my office a week later, and he ran the numbers and showed me nifty graphs and such.
I was relieved. Turns out I won’t have to eat cat food since our state pension fund is pretty good. I even opened up a 403B with Blue Suit Two.
After he left, it struck me. I was feeling something. What was it? Oh, dear. I realized I was empowered.
Since we met on a Friday, I took the weekend to make sure I felt empowered. By Monday, I was still feeling relieved and empowered. Holy crap. I’ve become an official grown-up. With a freaking retirement plan.
I called Courtney, The Bubbly HR Chick. “You were right,” I said. “I met with Blue Suit Two and I am feeling empowered.”
Courtney was thrilled. “That is great,” she said. “I’m so glad you called to tell me.”
I felt good and empowered, and Courtney was happy and bubbly. Okay, so maybe this grown up stuff isn’t so bad.
Many thanks to James Anderson sharing today’s post.
For some, moving in to a new home can mean the first foot towards a newer and more organized lifestyle. Gone are the junk drawers, storage rooms, and cobwebbed attics that look three yard sales overdue. But for many, moving into a new home can be more of the same. And, without changing your habits, a clean new space means nothing in the long run for your organization.
To prepare for your move, here are some tips that will help you make your fresh start an organized one.
1. Prep your new home with organized spaces
The smart way to make your move organized is to prepare your new space. Before moving anything, make a list of some categories that you anticipate you’ll have to sort out in each room and anticipate each need with appropriate storage. Sit down with your family or housemates and brainstorm the items that will be needed for each room.
- Living Room: Movies, books, magazines, remotes, toys, knick-knacks
- Kitchen: Pots/pans, dishes, utensils, spices, pantry-goods, garbage can
- Bathroom: Cleaning supplies, soaps, razors, medication, toothbrushes, towels
- Bedroom: Shirts, undergarments, shoes, personal belongings
For each category you think of, account for your possessions and figure out how much space each category requires. Consider how you can use shelves, drawers, storage lockers, and closets most effectively. And, if you’re a DIY type, you can find inspiration to make your own storage containers.
2. Label everything
As you are packing for your move, every box and bag that should be tagged or marked to indicate what they contain and the room they should go to (kitchen, basement, bathroom, master bedroom, etc.). Consider the categories you and your family came up with and try to fill boxes according to those. This makes sorting through your belongings much easier. When it’s time to move in to your new home, you can simply place each box in the appropriate space and begin to unpack without unnecessary confusion or clutter in the way.
3. Leave no box unopened
You might be tempted to drop your heavy load of boxes at the front door of your new home, grab the essentials, leave the rest, and crash on the couch − especially if your move entailed a particularly long drive or flight. Resist! It’s tempting to leave things you don’t need boxed up and stowed away, but waiting to sort through them simply creates clutter.
After you move, it will be very helpful to unpack your boxes right away and store all the contents in the spaces that you have prepared. Boxes of winter coats and Christmas lights shouldn’t be in the way in the middle of July. If you don’t have a use for something and don’t anticipate needing it in at least three months, it can be an ideal candidate for donation.
About the Author
James Anderson is a freelance writer from West Virginia who enjoys blogging about home and workplace organization. He enjoys spending his time in the great outdoors camping and hiking. He currently writes for School Lockers.
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It’s vacation time! You may have already blocked out a week or two for a relaxing summer trip to the shore, a family excursion or touring a foreign country. Regardless of your destination, you will want to minimize the amount of time you spend working while you are enjoying your time away. Making the most of your time in the office by getting organized prior to your departure can make all the difference as you clear your desk and cross task after task off your to-do list.
Here are some organizing tips for keeping and making these last weeks in the office before your vacation extremely productive.
1. Create a Plan. Your countdown to vacation should begin two to three weeks prior to your last day in the office. That’s the time to make a list of all of those tasks that need to be completed before you take off for your well-deserved vacation. Be sure that your list is as complete as possible, and recognize that you will probably have to add a few more to do’s to the list over the next week or two. However, this is not the time to take on any new projects unless it is an extremely urgent situation.
2. Prioritize Your To Do’s. Now that you have created a list of all of the tasks that need to be addressed, it is time to review the list with a very critical eye. The only tasks that should remain on the list are those that MUST be completed by you before your vacation. Any tasks that can wait until you return should be added to your post-vacation to-do list along with a tentative completion date.
3. Delegate. There is nothing like an impending vacation to create a sudden desire to delegate. While you probably should have been doing this all along, take full advantage of the timing and delegate tasks to staff, colleagues, or an assistant. In all probability, some of these tasks can be permanently delegated so this would be a win-win. You can get the tasks crossed off your list and your staff has the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities.
4. Block Time. You have a very real deadline for getting all your work done before leaving for vacation. In order to ensure that you can walk out the door without worrying about the loose ends that still need to be tied up, you should assess the amount of time needed to complete all of the key tasks or projects. Then, proactively block time on your calendar to do the work. You may want to over-estimate the amount of time needed by 15-20% as it is best to have extra time set aside than to have to carve out additional time to complete the work.
5. Post-Vacation To Do’s. As your departure date gets closer, inevitably there will be tasks that pop up that will have to wait to be addressed upon your return. This is a great time to start a post-vacation to do list so that you don’t forget what needs to be done upon your return. In addition, as you are reviewing your to do list during those last couple of days in the office, there are bound to be tasks that you haven’t gotten to that can really wait until after your vacation. Add them to this list as well.
Genius Scan is a genius little app! It is an app that offers a very quick and easy way to “scan” something without an actual scanner or computer nearby. It is fantastic and I’ve used it for both business and personal reasons.
Here are some of its handy features…
Forget the scanner and the computer. With Genius Scan, scanning a piece of paper is as easy as taking a photo with your mobile device. It takes all the work and the waiting out of scanning.
Once you’ve “scanned” something, you can enhance the colors as well as crop and straighten the document. No need to worry if the photo you took was a little crooked.
Once you’ve edited your scanned image, it will save as a PDF. With this feature, you can group documents together to make multi-page PDFs.
Assign your document a title AND tags. This way you can search for a specific document and find it in a snap.
Share any documents you’ve created with others by simply using the email feature in this cool little app.
There are even more features like a nice user interface, advanced image processing, and backing up via Wi-Fi…and it’s all FREE! If you want more features, you can upgrade to Genius Scan+ for only $2.99. What a deal!
Now that you know how cool it is, here are some ways I’ve found the app helpful.
Business – I was leaving a client’s house and received payment via personal check. Instead of going home, making a copy of the check , and then going back out to the bank, I used Genius Scan. I took a photo of the check with my iPhone and “scanned” it. Then, I emailed it to myself, so I had a copy for my records. It was simple, quick, and easy!
Personal – My husband received a crazy medical bill in the mail, and we wanted his mother to take a look at it since she had experience dealing with this sort of thing. She asked us to scan and e-mail the bill to her. While my husband was still on the phone with her, I used Genius Scan to do just that. It was in her inbox before they hung up!
Words don’t even fully express how easy and convenient this app is. You really have got to try it!
Communicating regularly and creating strong connections are very important for your family. Time together can often be in short supply because of busy family schedules. Prioritizing the family meeting makes everyone feel more a part of the team and work together, as well as learn valuable organizing skills.
Start each week with a family meeting. The meeting not only helps to capture important information (like event dates and times), but is also be a time for family members to spend time together. Consider scheduling a family meeting once a week or every other week and ask all those living in your home attend to share what’s going on. This can also be a time for you to make decisions together about upcoming events and occasions and take time to be together.
Here are five more ways you can make the most out of your family meetings:
- Choose a time that works best for gathering together. It can be Sunday afternoon, Saturday morning, a weeknight, or any time that works for everyone. Family meetings typically include 30 minutes of meeting followed by family fun. Having enough time to meet and play together is important. Consistent meetings will make for success, so hosting this get together weekly is best. Our family hosted our family meeting every Sunday at lunch. My kids, who now in their 30′s, remember them well as a truly important time together.
- Get everyone in the game. Give family members advance notice and share the reasons why this meeting is important. Be sure your partner or spouse will not only be available, but also on board with this plan. If needed, you can have an incentive for your kids.
- Choose a month-at-a-glance planner (digital or paper) to record dates. Go person to person to have everyone talk about upcoming events and activities so that you can include them on the calendar. Once recorded, post a paper copy in the kitchen (or highly trafficked area) where everyone can see it all week. Having your family see the calendar makes for powerful time management modeling.
- Talk about logistics. Family meeting time is also time to strategize about upcoming vacations, holidays, and chores. Be open to ideas that your children share so that everyone feels that their ideas are heard.
- Make time for family fun! Simple, back to basics, family activities can include a bike ride, making your own ice cream float, a family game, or a Wii tournament are all great ideas and can be fun for everyone. Families that enjoy time together will also be creating a team, building cohesiveness, and promoting clear communication with each other.
When will you get started with your family meeting?
Ah, the funky fork. We all seem to have one in our silverware drawer.
I’m not even sure where my funky fork came from since it doesn’t match the rest of my silverware and is a little smaller and thinner. But I digress.
My friend Carol and I had a conversation about funky forks. The funky fork is a true test in friendship. If you’re down to two forks and a friend comes to visit, do you give them the funky fork or the good fork?
If you like them, you give them the regular fork and use the funky one yourself. If you don’t like them, you give them the funky fork and use the regular one yourself. It’s very simple.
Because my brain centers around the world of organizing, I kept thinking about the real question: Why do we keep funky forks when they are annoying? And what other funky forks of life do we have floating around our homes?
It comes down to habit. We keep things because they become part of the landscape, and we stop seeing them. Well, until it annoys us.
A few examples of funky forks:
- Catalogs you’ve looked at, marked pages in but never ordered from
- Email newsletters you haven’t read
- Make-up you tried, didn’t like and still have
- Magazines and books you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t
- Clothes and shoes you don’t wear or like but keep
You get the idea. We let stuff hang around because we’re too busy to deal with it. It’s easy to let it stay and build up until company comes over and needs to use a fork.
If you want to get a handle on your funky fork situation, take action. Do it in 15-minute (or even 10-minute) chunks of time. In 15 minutes, go through the stack of magazines or catalogs, your shoe collection, or your make-up drawer.
It’s amazing what you can do in 15 minutes. Then, you won’t have to worry about funky forks.
If your plasticware is usually a jumbled mess and you’re always searching for the matching lid and container, the new and improved Easy Find Lids (affiliate link) by Rubbermaid will help you to keep them organized. I received an in-person demo from Erin at the NAPO2013 Conference a few months ago and was very impressed.
Here’s a quick look at how they work:
“Salary.com surveyed over 3,200 people from February to March 2012 to investigate what they do at work when they’re not working productively.
The survey focused particularly on social media (SoMe) activity, but guess what – when people answer questions about ‘wasting’ time at work, SoMe comes well down the list. Here’s how respondents rated their own wasted time:
- 47% attending too many meetings
- 43% dealing with office politics
- 37% fixing other peoples’ mistakes
- 36% coping with annoying co-workers
- 22% busy work
- 20% returning pointless work emails
- 18% surfing the internet/SoMe
- 14% dealing with bosses.”
Time Management is a Waste of Time | SmallBusinessCan.com | 6.10.13
Wasting Time at Work | Salary.com | 3.2012
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What immediately comes to mind when you hear the term prime real estate? If you are like many, prime real estate conjures up an image of a spacious, well designed, extremely expensive office space in the heart of your city or town’s business district. A building with plenty of amenities might come to mind. Proximity to the best restaurants and coffee bars, as well as accessibility to major transit hubs or highways for easy commuting and for facilitating the scheduling of meetings with key clients and suppliers would all be part of the vision.
In the same way that you would want a physical office location that is extremely accessible for commuting and meetings, this concept of prime real estate can also be applied to your actual workspace or office. In particular, you would focus on your desk and that area that is within an arm’s reach when you are seated at your desk.
Imagine sitting in your desk chair, extending your arm completely out at shoulder height and spinning around in a complete circle. Everything within this radius is considered your office’s prime real estate. The objective is to organize your office so that you utilize this space for those items that are used most frequently. By doing so, you’ll positively impact your productivity.
Here are three tips to organize your office and maximize your prime real estate:
1.Storage Locations: Assess those storage locations that are most easily accessible when seated at your desk. In all probability, the primary storage will exist in/on the desk. Pay particular attention to the size and number of drawers, filing space, and the actual size of your desktop. In assigning placement for those items that need to be kept in your prime real estate, be sure to place or store items that are used together in close proximity of each other. For example, store an extra ream of paper near your printer.
2.The Essentials: Make a list of those items that are used most frequently, as these are the ones that will need to be kept in/on your desk. Your list will probably include your computer, phone, lamp (if overhead lighting is not sufficient), in-box, pens, stapler, and so on. Give serious thought to whether or not a specific item really needs to be given a prime location. For example, your printer could be across the room if space is at a premium, leaving room on your desk for a to do box.
3. Minimize the Excess: While keeping a small supply of extra pens, file folders or binder clips on your desk is a smart move, a lifetime supply clutters up your limited storage space, taking away room that could be used for more necessary items like your phone charger or spare Post-it Notes (affiliate link). Your goal should be to minimize the number of times during the day that you need to disrupt your work flow to go across the room to retrieve a key file or staples for your stapler.
What items do you keep on your desk?
*Original image from Amazon.com