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.

Did You Resolve To Get Organized This Year?

How is your New Years resolution to get organized this year going?

Like most resolutions, we make, probably not well. Getting organized is one of the most popular resolutions that people make each year. I am not one for setting new years’ resolutions. In fact, my resolution this year was to not make any resolutions!

I believe we set ourselves up for failure when we put expectations upon ourselves when we’re not ready. It’s like quitting smoking or going to the gym. You’re just not going to be successful unless you are mentally prepared. It’s no wonder that less than 10% of those that make new years resolutions keep them.

Until that time comes here are a few things you can do to start the year off right.

One in, one out rule.

This is the perfect time to implement this rule with all the new items you purchased or received over the holidays. Did you receive a new item of clothing that you kept? Great! Did you donate, give away or toss a piece of clothing to make room for it? Follow the simple one in and one out rule to reduce the clutter that accumulates and keep clutter at bay.

Do you really love it?

Over the last few years this has become a mantra of mine. Unless I really love something I won’t buy it. This doesn’t just apply to clothing but to all of my household purchases. Why purchase something that you really don’t just love?

Go paperless.

Paper can be the biggest cause of clutter in a home and we work with a lot of clients reducing their paper clutter and setting up a system to maintain a streamlined and clutter free system.

Most of your bills can be automatically paid through your bank now with receipts and even advance reminders coming to your inbox. And you don’t have to worry about losing a bill or being charged for a late fee.

Be charitable this year.

Charities are always looking for donations to assist those that are less fortunate and can use what you no longer require. Locate your favourite charity in town and feel good about helping others.

Hire a professional!

Just like hiring a gardener or a handyman, a professional organizer is trained in all facets of organizing and downsizing and follows the rules and a code of ethics set out by our association. We have the skills and the contacts to help you downsize, organize, move and much more.

When you’re ready, you’ll know it. Until that time comes, try one or two of these tips to start the process. As always, we are here to help. Just contact us here.

Get Organized Month

ClutterBGone is a proud member of the POC (Professional Organizers in Canada) and the National Association of Professional Organizers in the U.S. who have declared January “Get Organized Month”. Many of us here in Canada are also promoting this month long event in order to promote the benefits of living and working in an organized environment.

How organized are you?

Did you know that the average person spends just under one hour looking for things? That’s a lot of time every day that you will never get back.

Organized people know where things are and spend just a fraction of that time looking for items.

This may shock you.

Almost 80% of what we own we never use. We NEVER use!! Take a look through all of your closets, drawers and cupboards with this in mind and see if that number compares to yours. If not, I’ll bet it is very close. Now think about the space you can save and the money you have spent on these items. When purchasing something ask yourself “do I love it?”. If not, take a second to think about it.

Do you pay bills late?

Almost a quarter of adults surveyed (23%) admitted that they regularly paid bills late because they lost the bill. And almost all of these had incurred late fees as a result. A system needs to be set up so you have instant access to your unpaid bills and you know when they are due.

After that, a filing system needs to be in place to file these paid bills. Save money and protect your credit score by paying your bills on time.

The clutter impact

Clutter has a significant impact on the stress in your life. It distracts you from what you need to focus on. It makes it almost impossible for you to relax. It creates feelings of guilt and embarrassment restricting you from being social. It can just plain be a downer. Get organized and see your stress levels drop.

This statistic comes up every year. Almost 90% of us are planning on organizing a part of our life this year. The majority of you are doing so because you’re tired of clutter and its effect in your life. I’m not one for making New Year resolutions but this is one I can get on board with. A new year and a new clutter free environment will improve your productivity, give you back some much needed time, save you money and reduce your stress. Who wouldn’t want that? Let’s start the new year by getting organized. Let me know how you make out and, as always, we are here to help.

Want To Get Out From Under Your Clutter Once & For All? Follow These 7 Tips

contemporary / very well decorated / show home living room

How do you do it? What is the secret? Why does clutter continually accumulate in my home? These are all questions I get asked continually when I meet with prospective clients. The answer is quite simple and when I work with clients we work out a system that enables them to keep clutter at bay. But there are tips or rules, that you need to follow.

Know why you want to de-clutter

Really think about this. We all know the benefits of de-cluttering whether it’s for safety reasons, embarrassment when having guests over, peace of mind, etc. Whatever the reason, know what your motivation is and think about that each time you begin the process. It will give you the drive to continue.

Do you really love it?

We all purchase on impulse and sometimes regret the purchase afterwards or worse, don’t even use the item we purchased. When I shop, other than for food, I look at the item and determine if I really love it or really need it. If the answer is no, then I don’t buy it. Regardless of whether the item is on sale or not this rule has rarely failed me.

Create a sorting system

Create a system that can be used each time you organize. As you organize you will want to place items in one of three piles – keep, give away (donate, sell) and toss.

sort

Your system can be something as simple as three signs or 3 baskets or large boxes. Whatever system you use, keep it and use it each time.

Keep flat surfaces clear at all times

It’s so easy to lay something down on a table or a counter with all the good intentions in the world to look after it later. Flat surfaces are like a magnet for clutter. Make this a rule in your home and enforce it. Soon everybody in the family will be on side with it.

Involve others

Like so many other issues in our lives there is not much we can do without the help or support of others. Family members all need to be on side in order for you to stay clutter free and educating them on the benefits will help you with this. Friends too can help by either digging in or giving gentle reminders when things need to be “tuned” up.

Continually donate

As fashion changes or clothing items become unusable (hey! We all change sizes now and again) I like to give to a local charity that I know passes these items on to others that can use them.

give

I keep a bag in my bedroom closet and everyone knows that items to be donated goes into this bag and about once a month the contents get delivered to the charity.

Don’t click those ads on line!!

Shopping habits have changed with many of us doing a lot of shopping on line. Whether it is an on line retailer or a social media site, almost all of these sites track your “clicking” habits and tailor ads specifically to you. The less you click the less you will be enticed to purchase something you don’t need. Delete your search history and cookies periodically to help.

Follow these tips and I can guarantee that you will live a clutter free life giving you more time to enjoy the things you love.

Be Ruthless – Pare Down And DeClutter – Get Organized

organized-living-room-2

Clutter just doesn’t appear. It slowly accumulates and takes over your drawers, closets and surfaces. It can make you feel defeated and just the thought of having to tackle it can be overwhelming.

Here are several tips to help you be ruthless with your approach to getting out from under the clutter.

Is what you’re holding on to adding value to your life?

Holding on to items simply for the sake of holding on to them is a common cause for clutter. We can’t bear to part with things but also can’t justify keeping them. You spent good money on an item so you feel you have to keep it.  Is keeping it going to get that money back?

Let someone else in the family enjoy the item or sell the item if it’s of some real value. Then use the funds to indulge in something you can really use.

Items you know you are never going to use again

Another reason people hold on to items is the thought that they can use them again. Do you have clothes that you love but can’t fit into? Have styles changed? Do you have items that you intend to fix some day? Some day is today.
procrastination-stop-it-now-not-later
Think real hard about those clothes and if you really can’t see yourself getting into them in a few months let them go. Besides, if you do change sizes you are going to want to celebrate with new clothes. And those broken items are not going to fix themselves. Out they go.

Here’s a decluttering technique you can use to pare down: Ask yourself this question. “If I saw this item in the store today, would I buy it?” If your answer is “no”, then out it goes.

Keepsakes

Do you have memories of loved ones packed away in boxes somewhere? When is the last time you looked at them? Are you really honouring those memories in a box sitting in the dark somewhere?

Try making a memory box out of some of the items so they can be displayed and give you memories each time you see it. See who else in the family would like to have some of the other items. You’d be surprised at just how grateful other family members may be to receive them.

Keep up with technology

Photos in the cloud, digital music, e-readers. All of these things have changed our lives. The times they are a changing as Bob Dylan once sang. Are you holding onto your CD’s but listen to music on your phone or other digital items? When was the last time you brought out those old photo albums? How about receiving and paying some of your bills electronically?

e-reader

I recently switched to a digital reader thereby greatly reducing the amount of books that gather dust in the house. There are a lot of ways to reduce clutter with all of the new technology that is out there.

Don’t let clutter get the better of you. It’s easy for it to do just that. Be ruthless and reduce the clutter in your life. You’ll thank yourself and feel that you can breathe again.

Do You Have Too Much Paper Clutter?

too-much-paper

In this digital age it‘s still surprising to see just how much paper is generated. Bills, newspapers, documents and of course those endless flyers and marketing cards.

With the holidays just around the corner you can bet there will be an increased amount of paper being deposited on your doorstep, mailbox and brought into your home by others.

So how do you deal with all this paper clutter?

Junk mail

Our mail is delivered to one of those super boxes. Every time I pick up the mail there is more junk mail, by far, than there is actual mail. I think real estate agent postcards are on the rise in most areas.

As soon as you get home separate your mail into a pile you need to look at and a pile that goes straight to the recycle bin.

Coupons and flyers

There is nothing wrong with saving some of those coupons and flyers that you receive as long as they are used as a reminder for you and you actually intend and have a plan to make contact with those that own the flyers. Many have expiry dates so check them often and toss the expired ones into the recycle bin.

Receipts

I know many people keep their receipts, and for good reason. But I see a lot of clients who keep almost all of their receipts of every possible type for whatever reason.

coupon-electronic

If you do keep your receipts make sure they are kept for tax reasons only. Otherwise discard them after you have compared them to your bank statement or credit card statement. Shredding them is best. And don’t forget, you can scan your receipts so you have an electronic record of the really important ones (for warranty purposes or otherwise). Less receipt clutter = less mind clutter.

Family systems

With many adult children still living at home it is a good idea to have one central filing system and assign a drawer to each household member. I know from experience that adult children seem to keep their paperwork in one place – all over their room!

Filing systems

Decide on a filing system that works for you. Most of you will file strictly alphabetically according to name. Sometimes we like to use subsections like “Banking”, “Utilities” , “Leisure”, “Investments” and then file alphabetically within these groups.

filing

That way all similar types of expenses are together. Still others will develop a colour-coded system. Find what works best for you.

Paper was supposed to have been reduced a great deal since the advent of computers but it seems to be on the rise. Don’t get caught drowning in paper clutter. We have assisted a lot of clients with their paper jungles and we can do the same for you.

Paper Organizing In The Office – 6 Tips to Gain Control

Man buried in paperwork and bills. All you see of him are his hands waving a surrender flag. White background with clipping path.

Way back when as computers were first introduced we were told that these marvellous machines were going to save a lot of trees with the paper that was about to be saved. That hasn’t happened yet, has it?

We are creatures that like to be able to look and feel what we have created so we continue to print and file a lot of paper, probably more now than ever. If you find yourself under a mountain of paper here are a few organizing tips to help you manage the paper tiger.

Does it really need to be printed?

Whether you purchase the original ink cartridges or the knock offs or even take your cartridges in for refilling, the cost of ink for printers is crazy! For this reason, alone think before you print. If the document is not something you need to access on a regular basis just file it electronically where it will always be accessible. If it is something really important or you feel anxious about a computer crash then back it up to an external drive and/or to a cloud service. Don’t know anything about a cloud service? Just ask me.

Scan it

Bills and correspondence that you receive can be scanned and saved electronically thereby reducing the amount of paper that needs to fill your filing cabinets. Utility bills and letters can be scanned this way and will always be there when required.

scanner

Bank statements too can be saved on your banks’ website or downloaded to your computer. In many cases, you don’t even need to scan these documents anymore as more and more banks and utility companies are keeping your statements available online for many years.

Shred it

Invest in a good cross-cut shredder to destroy any personal information that may get in the wrong hands. When discarding paper, have a recycle box and a shredding box together. Shred your discarded documents at least weekly to avoid a mound of papers later. You can even get your kids involved!

Get FAT!

Be diligent when papers arrive on your desk. File it, Act on it or Toss it right away. A lot of people set paper aside and have all the good intentions of getting back to it to review it or file it away and end up with a mountain of paper on their desk or in their in-tray.

papers-on-desk

You end up duplicating the time you handle the paper so take care of it once and save this time for things that are really important.

Have supplies ready

In order to organize your paper and reduce the clutter, you need the supplies. Make sure you have file folders, a recycling and shredding bin, stapler and highlighters available. Without the proper tools, you will end up putting paper aside creating a mountain you may never get out from under.

Set aside the time for maintenance

Set aside a half hour each week to go through your inbox and to review all the newspapers, magazines or articles that have “appeared” on your desk. Recycle past issues of magazines and yesterday’s newspapers and file or scan the clippings that you want to save for future reference.

I don’t believe we will ever be truly paper-free and I see so many people wasting productive hours handling paper over and over again. With a little planning, you can get ‘paper organized’. If you feel that you are drowning in paper, contact me here for a chat on how we can help you.

Get Organized Week

get-organized-sign

Get organized week just past, being the first week of October. Now’s a great time to take part in Get Organized Week with Thanksgiving just over and the Christmas holidays approaching fast. What did you do to get organized?

Being organized isn’t just having a home that looks neat and tidy and where everything has a place. It is also about being able to easily retrieve items you need, not needlessly spending money on items you already have, not having any safety hazards in the home and not wasting precious time. Here’s a quick list of benefits that I promise you will see when you are organized.

Increase your productivity

How many hours do you spend looking for things? If you are part of the national average you are spending one year of your life looking for things. A recent IKEA survey showed that we spend 6 minutes on average looking for our keys in the morning! Newsweek says that we spend 55 minutes each day looking for things we own but can’t find. Get some of that time back and be more productive with your time by being organized.

Improve your health

We all know that stress is a killer and stress can be caused by something as easily as not being able to find something important when you need it.

stress

When you’re organized you will have less stress resulting in more relaxation time or time to do just about anything you want to do. Sound good?

Save money

How often have you gone out and purchased something that you just knew you didn’t have, only to find out shortly after that you did indeed have that item? Now you own more than one and sometimes you will never get any use out of the second one you have.

Do you pay late fees because you can’t put your hands on your bill? You do know that late payments reflect poorly on your credit rating. Get organized and save money.

Be an example to your family

Often when I make an initial visit to a client I find out that they came from a family of disorganization.

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Their parents were disorganized with clutter and they didn’t know any way else. Being organized is a skill that will benefit your children throughout their lives in school, at work, and in their own home.

This is just four of the many benefits to being organized. Get Organized Week may have just past but it is not too late to become organized. Give us a call and we can let you know of the many more benefits to being organized.