Organize Your Paper Mountain

organize paper

Whether you go to work in an office or work from home, chances are you have a small mountain of paper that needs to be addressed. Did you know that a sheet of paper is roughly 0.004 inches thick? Hardly noticeable but when you start piling paper up it can be quite messy and ominous to tackle. ClutterBGone gets a lot of calls to help with paper. Here’s our tips to keep your paper from becoming a mountain.

Act on it right away

When paper arrives don’t let it rest on your desk or table. Create a system to get that paper off the surface. Use a labelled file folder, an in-box or any other system to move the paper along. Keep trying a system until you find one that works for you.

Delegate

Whether at work or at home there will be somebody who needs to know that, that piece of paper has arrived. organize paperWho pays the bills? Who responds to invitations? Whoever is responsible for the paper or the accounts or whatever action needs to be taken needs to know what has come in and needs an action. Pass it along, with a note if needed, so it doesn’t rest on your desk needlessly.

Make a decision right away

A lot of the paper that crosses our desk is not needed at all. I go to my mail box and most of what is in there is junk mail – flyers and ads. Out they go right after a quick peek. Don’t hang on to them for others to see unless you really believe they will be worthwhile or used.

Out with the dated

If you still have magazine and paper subscriptions consider an electronic version. organize paperIf you still need the feel of paper (and I do with a good book) ensure the previous issue is recycled when the new one comes in. If you really need to refer back to an article or story then take a picture of it with your phone. It doesn’t take up any space.

Set aside a bit of time

This would apply more for the office but set aside a bit of time to ensure that your desk or workspace is cleared of paper each day. You will feel more organized and productive when working at a clean and organized work area.

Go digital

A lot of us are still receiving statements and paying bills via paper. I myself switched as much as I could to digital copies. I can receive and pay bills online and electronically “file” a copy of the bill on my computer. It’s always there in case I need it. With the vast majority of paper that we file never getting looked at, doesn’t it make sense to go digital at home?

Even in this electronic age, paper is everywhere and accumulates quickly. If you don’t stay on top of it you will have a mountain of paper before you know it. You don’t have to scale that mountain alone. ClutterBGone has assisted many homes and offices in reducing the mountains of paper that come and go and devising systems to keep it that way. Just reach out to us here to see how we can help you.

Time To Get Your Taxes Organized

Well, February has passed and you should have all the documents you need to get your taxes prepared. Whether you do your taxes yourself or you have someone else do them, just getting your documents ready can be a stressful time. Taxes are something that you should be thinking of throughout the year but unless you are running your own small business I’ll bet tax time is the only time you think of them.

How long do I keep my tax records?

Keep your tax records & supporting documents for six full years.

Even if you do not have to attach certain supporting documents to your return, or if you are filing your return electronically, keep them in case your return is selected for review or audit. Revenue Canada may request documents other than official receipts as proof of any deduction or credit you claim, such as cancelled cheques or bank statements.

This six-year period starts at the end of the tax year for which you are filing. So, if you are filing your 2017 taxes shortly you will need to keep files from 2017 back to 2012.

What do I do with older records?

After the six-year mark (2011 files can be safely disposed of after your 2017 taxes have been filed) you can safely destroy older files. organize your taxes

Ensure that they are properly disposed of by shredding them! Do not leave anything to chance. If you don’t own a shredder most office supply stores will provide a shredding service for a nominal fee. I recently stopped into my local office supply store and had a box of documents shredded for just a few dollars.

Notice of assessment

You will receive a notice of assessment from Revenue Canada once your taxes have been filed and reviewed. It will confirm that your return was assessed and whether you owe taxes, whether a refund is owed to you or if there is a zero balance. If there are no discrepancies between your filing and this notice, then file it away with the taxation year that it applies to. You will need it for your next tax year when you file.

Filing throughout the year

Throughout the year you are going to accumulate receipts for many different items that you may or may not require for tax purposes depending on your individual circumstances. Open a file and label it according to the current tax year.organize your taxes Papers and receipts you need for taxes should be placed in this file. This current year folder will make it a lot easier to keep track of important documents you get throughout the year, like donation receipts, etc. All the papers you need to prepare your taxes will all be in one place.

You can even go one step further, especially if running a small business, and separate your tax receipts into categories like health expenses, business expenses, car expenses, office supplies, etc. to be even better organized for the upcoming tax year. You may want to separate your paperwork this way anyway if you want to track the cost of running your household on an annual basis.

Tax time can be pretty stressful but if you plan ahead and have an accessible file with everything you need, things will go a lot smoother. ClutterBGone loves organizing paperwork. It’s not too late. Tax time is here, are you ready?

When Is It Time To Organize Your Office?

organize your office

The environment in which you work has a drastic affect on your productivity. Working in a messy, disorganized space is distracting and will have negative effects on work results. What signs do you see that tell you it’s time to organize your office?

You can’t see your desk

OK, this sign may seem obvious to most of us but many of you work at a desk that is literally covered in paper and your excuse is that you work better in a cluttered state. The simple fact is that mess leads to stress. Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity and sends signals to our brain that the work is never done.

You can’t find the tools you need

How much time do you spend looking for your pen, stapler or whatever else you need to do the job? Having to pause what you’re working on to find something breaks your concentration and increases the amount of time you need to complete the task at hand.

You’re in and out basket is 3 feet high

I’ve seen it. You get busy and so your inbox becomes a drop zone. organize your officeYou’ll get around to sifting through it to see what came in that is important. Likewise, your outbox should be labelled “I’ll get around to filing sometime later” box. There are important items in each of these boxes and putting it off only creates more stress and decreases productivity having to look through for something you need later. More importantly there may be important items you haven’t seen that are needed to produce quality results. Set up a system that allows you to address both of these boxes daily.

Where did your screen saver go?

Putting shortcuts on your desk top is a great way to save time. Too many can have the reverse affect when you can’t find the short cut or file that you require. Limit these shortcuts to just the really important files that you access daily.

Organize your email

Your electronic files may be more important than your paper files. We constantly access our email throughout the day. Organize your email just like your paper files to improve productivity. If you don’t need an email delete it now. Schedule times throughout the day to review your email and turn off notifications so you can concentrate on the task at hand.

A well-organized work area gives you a sense of accomplishment. It also allows you to be more productive, accurate and to complete the task quicker. ClutterBGone has organized offices for home and for small businesses. Contact us here to see how we can make your more productive in the office.

Time Management And Getting Organized

Organized home office

We love working with small offices in the Greater Toronto Area to help you get organized so you can work more effectively, find things easier and work in a less cluttered state. Once this is done the challenge now becomes how to manage your time as time management and organization do go hand in hand.

Here are some time management tips to get you on the right track.

Busy vs. overwhelmed

You are normally judged on the actual results you produce rather than the number of hours you spend doing something or “looking busy”. Stay focused on the task at hand and minimize multi-tasking as few of us are actually very good at being able to give your all to more than one task at a time. Clutter around you is a distraction that often interrupts your focus and reduces your effectiveness on the task you’re trying to complete.

Priorities and prime time

You know when you are at your peak during the day. Time managementWhen do you feel the most productive working? Are you a morning or an afternoon person? Save the really important stuff for this time so you can give it your best. If it is really important don’t give it anything less.

Maintain balance

Work easily consumes you and can have a negative effect on both social and family lives. A Boston College Center survey confirmed that executives who are able to balance work and personal life are less stressed, feel more successful and can manage both their work and personal lives much easier. Whether you’re working in Toronto or York Region, find the balance, reduce the stress and enjoy life!

Benefits of setting goals

Whether it is your business operating in Toronto or Richmond Hill or any other area of York Region, or your personal life, setting goals is important for all aspects of your life. How else can you identify the priorities or the things that require your time now and what can wait?

Schedule time for yourself, write it down in your planner, and use that time to work on those priorities. Block this time out and ensure that you’re not disturbed. Setting goals will make you work smarter and allow you to manage your time more effectively. Achieving those goals will give you a sense of accomplishment and increase your chance of success in your personal and business life.

Personal policies

It’s very important to establish your own personal policies in both your personal life and your work life to stay organized.  These policies can help you achieve your goals and should be policies you believe in and live by.

A business policy to stay organized, decluttered and functionally well could be simply that you will not work on weekends or no more than 2 evenings a week in order to help balance your work and family time. Or perhaps you’re always working on large projects so one project must be handed off if another more important project is brought to you.

Personal policies can include not snacking after dinner or donating a certain amount to your favourite charity each month. Policies should be used as guidelines and feel free to change them as circumstances dictate. There may be times when working more than you want to is required and will benefit the family life.

Use these tools to bring more balance to your life in Toronto, to get you more focused and organized and to reduce stress. Let us know how you make out!

5 Steps to Control Your Paper Monster

organized office

Now is a great time of the year to gain control of your paper monster at home or in your office. Do it now before the end of the year arrives with all that it brings. New technologies were supposed to reduce the amount of paper we create but I’ll bet if you are anything like me you haven’t seen a decrease in the amount of paper that comes in your home or that you generate.

Follow these steps to control your paper monster in your home or office.

Gather it all up

Get all the papers together. organized officeCheck all of your drawers, coat pockets, desks, bags or piles you have lying around in your home or office and put it all in one place. If you have already filed a lot of paper away that’s great. We are just talking about all the papers that you have lying around.

Can you define what you really need to keep?

Now separate this big pile into two piles. One pile for what you need and one for what you don’t need. It may seem like common sense and easy to do but many of you hang on to paper for many reasons. “I may need to refer to it”, “maybe I need to return it” are reasons I hear a lot.

Take a good hard look at each piece of paper and put it into the appropriate pile. Anything in your discard pile should be shredded just to be on the safe side.

Receipts are a major source of paper clutter in many homes. If you have purchased a piece of clothing and it fits or you have consumed a food item then you don’t need to hang on to the receipt unless you need it for tax purposes.

Speaking of which, anything you need for tax purposes should be filed in your tax file right away. When you get home take the receipts out of your coat, pocket or wallet and slide it into your current year tax file for your accountant to deal with next year.

Which filing system is best for you?

Now you can divide your keep pile into categories. There are many different ways to file paper but I personally like to file them according to the type of paper that they are. organized officeFor instance, I have a Utilities section where I have created files for cable TV, hydro, etc. I have an Employment section where I have opened a file for every member of the household to put their pay slips, reviews or anything else employment related. I prefer this method as you can zero in on the category and have fewer files to go through to find what you need.

Label your files clearly and ensure you have enough room so you are not jamming the paper into your file folders. Your files should move freely in your drawer.

Assign a space for new paper

In order to keep your home free of paper clutter, assign a place for all paper and mail to be placed upon arrival into the home. This can be a small tray, bowl, basket or anything you like.

Stay on top of it

As you file your monthly statements or bills away you may want to discard the oldest one so that only the last 6 months are always on hand. Don’t forget to put discarded papers through the shredder for privacy.

Paper clutter is a common sight in many homes and a major contributor to clutter everywhere. Don’t let the paper monster get a hold of you. Contact ClutterBGone to see why we love attacking the paper monster.

What Is Virtual Organizing?

Virtual organizing

You’ve heard the term virtual applied to a lot of different things, mostly as it relates to virtual reality where you can interact within a seemingly real or physical way. A great example is where you make funny faces into a looking glass to get immersed in another world. Well, who would’ve thought it would be applied to organizing? Virtual organizing is here and you don’t need the glasses for the real experience, just the electronic device of your choice!

Virtual organizing is just another way to get organized without the need for a physical organizer at your home. We help you get organized through videoconference. Virtual organizing works well as a compliment to a client who has already implemented an organizing system and just needs a little maintenance now and again or a self-motivated individual that like the DIY projects

Benefits

There are many benefits to virtual organizing for our clients. You all have busy lives. We understand that so why not make it easier? Arrange a virtual organizing session around your timetable and forget about travel costs and parking. Without having a physical organizer travel to your home or office there is less cost associated with the process. Virtual organizing GTAFor those that live in more rural areas you now have better access to a professional organizer.
Organizing can cause stress to our clients. Sessions can leave some clients feeling overwhelmed and pressured to make decisions quickly. Virtual organizing allows you to move at your own pace.

How we do it

First, we’ll “e-meet” to determine your needs and timeframe. Next, we will agree on a plan as to how and when things will be completed. We’ll make contact at agreed upon intervals to gauge your progress and receive any feedback. At that point we will set your new priorities for the next timeframe. All the way through this we are sharing our experience in space planning, organizing tools and other resources to transform your space.

What you need to know

Virtual organizing won’t be for everybody. A lot of ClutterBGone clients like to have someone working beside them or just aren’t capable of performing the work themselves. Virtual organizing GTAYou must be able to perform the physical work and be able to stay on course. Virtual organizing works well for those who are self-motivated individuals and the ones that like to DIY.

ClutterBGone has assisted many clients over the years to transform their homes and offices into fully functional spaces. If you require a little tune up or are on a bit of a budget, why not try virtual organizing?

Develop These 5 Habits For A Clutter Free Office

clutter free office

Offices can be one of the most cluttered areas. Whether you work from home or go to an office each day, it’s so easy to accumulate clutter, which affects your productivity. Here are a few simple habits to adopt to keep your office clutter free.

The one touch rule

This is an easy rule. When you touch something, act on it. You can delegate it, toss it, file it or recycle it but if you can follow one rule, this is the one. This simple rule alone can eliminate future accumulation of clutter. ClutterBGone has implemented this rule many times.

Set times for daily tasks

Your email, the snail mail that comes in, filing. All of these daily tasks need to be done but don’t necessarily need to be done as soon as they come in. home office organizingSchedule to look at your email at 2 or 3 set times per day. Schedule to open your snail mail at the same time each day (and remember the one touch rule). You have several tasks that you take for granted and perform each day. By scheduling these you’ll be more productive and accumulate less clutter.

Limit computer distractions

Just having a cluttered looking desktop can cause distractions. Keep your screen wallpaper simple and keep any icons to a minimum. Email notifications are the worst. Turn them off unless you are waiting for a life or death email to arrive. It’s too much of a temptation to look at your email too frequently. Things get left undone, you start working on something pertaining to the email and before you know it you have a cluttered desk full of unfinished work.

Keep a clear, unobstructed work area

You know what you use several times throughout the day. organized officeKeep these handy and put everything else away. Files you aren’t working on should be filed away. Unless you’re an artist you don’t need 10 pens on your desk. Staplers, coffee mugs, personal photos, newspapers, etc. all add to the cluttered look. With a cluttered work area it becomes too easy to add to the clutter and greatly reduces your productivity.

Set aside time at the end of each day

Set aside just five minutes to clear your desk or work area and prepare it for a clean start the next day. Your office will stay more organized, there will be less clutter and you will feel more productive the next morning. We implement this at all offices we work with.

Adapt as many of these 5 habits that you can for a clutter free office. Contact us to see how we can reduce the clutter in your office.

How To Know It’s Time To Organize Your Tax Files

The date for receiving all your T4 slips and contributing to your RRSP’s has past. Perhaps you owe the government money or are waiting for a refund. It may seem a bit early to focus on this year’s receipts and paperwork but the earlier the better. Avoid a mountain of paper next tax year and the stress of tax season.

Do you need to create files for your receipts?

Receipts and statements are accumulated throughout the year. Without a proper filing system, you, or your accountant, are going to spend hours sifting through mountains of paper and sorting into categories. Time costs you time and money. Let ClutterBGone show you how to set up a filing system that will save you time and expenses later in the year.

What’s your year in review look like?

Do you have all your statements and receipts in one organized file? Is everything you need for one year in one place so you’re not scrambling looking for your papers?

organize taxes

We hope so as any questions or an audit (!!!) can be solved quickly and easily. We have performed this task for many clients and it has saved them so much time and expense. Just ask us how.

Are you in the digital age?

For those that are in the digital age there are a lot of apps that allow you to scan and store your receipts in the cloud. If you do your own taxes, some accounting software comes with apps that will do this. Keep in mind that clearly legible electronic receipts are OK with Revenue Canada but they can ask for the original during an audit and some receipts fade over time.

organize tax

We at ClutterBGone know that some people are comfortable with new technology and some are not. We work with the system that works best for you.

Do you maintain your filing system and paperwork for tax season?

Your filing system only works if you use it and maintain it. Leave your newly created tax file in a place that is easy to access and place your receipts and statements in the appropriate file folders when you get them.

At ClutterBGone we can help you be prepared for the next tax season before it’s arrival. Tax time is stressful enough without the stress of having to find information and dig through mounds of paper. Be organized and be ready. Contact us to learn how we can assist you and ease your stress levels.

Organize Your Home Office Day

 

organized office

Did you know that one in four North American households have a home office? A home office isn’t just for the self-employed or for those that work from home anymore. They are used for a place to sort and pay bills, do work at night not completed during the day and for doing homework.

Having a designated spot for these tasks and others can make things go more smoothly and help you stay clutter free. It can also create more clutter. March 14th was Organize Your Home Office Day so let’s see how you can do just that to be more productive in your home office.

Keep only the important things within reach

How much time do you waste looking for something that you know is on your desk but you just cant put your hands on it? I know many people whose desk top has almost every pen and gadget they own on it. Do you waste time looking for a document or other items? Keep your desk clean and clear to be productive and to maintain focus.

Reduce the paper sitting on your desk

The average time it likely takes you to retrieve one piece of paper is ten minutes. Your desk should not be your filing cabinet but yet a lot of people can’t see the top of their desk for all the paper that is there.

organized office

Keep just the paper associated with your current task out and the rest filed away. You’ll save a lot of time and be a lot more productive and in the office a lot less.

File it now

Don’t put off the filing or you’ll see the paper accumulate. Once it accumulates it becomes too easy to do it “later” and you know when later comes. Much later. Design a filing system that works for you and file it right away.

Functionality is key

Will your office meet your requirements? Are you left or right handed? What side of the desk will the phone and computer sit?

organized office

Which drawer will hold your supplies? Where should the filing cabinet be placed? These are all questions to ask yourself in order to be at your most productive. We look at all these scenarios and many others when we set up your home office.

Tools you have to have

Make sure you have an in and an out basket. Find the best spot for them, even if they are not on your desk, and use them. They will help keep your desk clear which aids your productivity. Don’t forget to have your out box emptied by the end of each day. A calendar too is a must. How else can you keep track of what needs to be done and what you have accomplished?

A home office has become a necessity for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. With increased usage, will come increased clutter and disorganization. Let us help you organize your home office as we have done with many others. Contact us here to find out how we can help you.

Clean Out Your Computer Day

Since 2000, the Monday of this week has been designated as National Clean Out Your Computer Day. What a great time to take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to perform some maintenance on something that we use, and depend on, every single day.

There are a lot of reasons why your computer isn’t running the way it used to and I will leave the technical assistance to the professionals but the reason we love this day is it gives you the chance to “organize” your computer and your electronic files and “downsize” the number of programs that you no longer, or never did, use.

It’s also a good opportunity to physically clean your computer. I’m sure most of you don’t give it much thought throughout your busy day. Make sure you computer is turned off and give the screen and the keyboard a good cleaning. A can of pressurized air will get all that hair, skin and other foreign objects out of the spaces between the keys. Yuck!

Your desktop

The first thing you see when you turn on your computer is your desktop. Many people create short cuts to programs they use often and keep it on the desktop. It’s easy for your desktop to get out of control.

Before you know it you have a visually distracting view that takes time to find the program or file you need.

If you really need all of the shortcuts you created then try to create files like News, Entertainment, Finance or whatever else you require. Then drop the short cuts and addresses into these folders. It will drastically cut down on the time you spend looking.

The interior

The interior of your PC also needs a good cleaning. It attracts a lot of dust and debris. After your PC is shut down take the back off and clean it with compressed air and a soft brush. If you are not comfortable doing this, have a professional do it for you.

Programs you don’t need

The more programs you have, the slower your PC may run. Some of them can also take up quite a bit of space. Keep in mind that deleting them will not, in most cases, get rid of them. They need to be uninstalled or removed using the disk you installed them with.

Email

This is the biggest problem area. With the number of emails we receive, both valid and trash, our inbox quickly becomes a catch all for everything.

Delete the emails that you don’t need to keep right away and create folders for the rest. Only keep the emails that require your immediate attention in your inbox. Ensure that they are looked after by days end.

Virtual Organizer

Virtual organizing is becoming more and more popular for those that may not require a lot of work or want to minimize their cost. Assisting with cleaning up your PC is perfect for this option. A virtual organizer will sign into your PC and clean up your desk, organize your files and help with your emails all under your direction. This is a service we are offering soon!

Tips going forward

Restart your PC at least once a week to clear out the memory and to ensure that any background processes are shut down. Keep the number of browser tabs open to a minimum as this can slow down the speed of your PC. Make sure your anti virus software is always up to date. Of course, periodically clear your browsing history to prevent a build up and maintain speed.

Take this time to perform the same maintenance on your tablets and phones as well to keep them operating in top shape.

You really are dependant on your computer both for work and for home so take this time to ensure your investment is running in top shape. If you are looking for a solution to be more efficient with your time and ease the stress of disorganization, contact me here and we can chat.