Say goodbye to 2014 for good - taxes are filed, with copies and back up documentation neatly filed away.....or is it? If you took advantage of the "Tax Terror" special be sure to schedule your wrap up session to get those papers filed! If you didn't participate in the "Tax Terror" Special all is not lost - you can purchase an ala carte paperwork clean up session.
One of the most frequent questions I hear is, "What papers do I need to keep?" To save you time with your new filing system (you did put one together after last week's blog, right?) I've developed a downloadable "How Long Do I Need This" paperwork guideline just for you! Get your copy HERE. It's helpful to keep the guidelines near your filing system. Some clients have chosen to laminate their copy (a relatively inexpensive option).
As always, if you have specific questions about the necessity of keeping certain papers please check with your accountant and/or legal counsel.
April Fool’s Day was yesterday, which signifies (at least in my mind) that the U.S. income tax filing deadline isn’t far behind. April 15th is almost here – a date that strikes dread in the hearts of Americans. Even the carrot of a possible refund isn’t enough to motivate most of us to proactively tackle the paperwork in a timely fashion.
If you haven’t started your tax preparation, START NOW! Clear a space on the table or floor (one that doesn’t need to be used for a few days), grab a recycling container (or garbage can), a timer, and your pile/bin/box of papers. Set the timer for 15 minutes and proceed to do a quick sort of as much paper as you can on your flat space, being sure to weed out any non-essential papers.
If you are still gaining ground when the timer goes off, continue! If you are spinning your wheels than walk away and come back later – set the timer and continue where you left off in the last round.
Can't get over the hump and get started? Contact me TODAY for your TAX DAY TERROR special!
Digital calendars and planners have become both easier to use and to access. Smartphone apps put complex calendars literally in our purses and back pockets. The ability to access future commitments in seconds and have them graphically spread in front of us like artwork can be exciting, and possible a bit overwhelming.
The most important consideration when choosing a planner is what feels natural to you and helps you best stay on track. As with paper planners, there are specific pluses and minuses to using digital calendars.
Digital Calendar Cons:
+ Lightweight, compact and portable
+ Can hold a TON of information
+ Can program for reoccurring events (i.e. weekly meetings, etc.)
+ Easily search for data
Digital Calendar Cons:
- Requires you to rely on device being charged (or find an outlet)
- Higher learning curve – must learn the program or app
- Can be challenging for people to use who are visual learners or who prefer the tactile feature of paper planners
My advice for starting out is the same as with paper planners – choose the simplest option, master it, and build upon that mastery as your needs change. A formula for organizational success!
Do you use a digital calendar on your smart phone/tablet/laptop/desktop computer? I’d love to hear what program and what you love about that program! Please comment below.
What You Need to Know About Paper Planners
We've been talking about the advantages of using organizing planners - and choosing one that works for you. Back when I had fewer activities to track, I used the free Hallmark purse sized calendar – it went with me everywhere and was easily accessible. As my needs grew I graduated to a larger computer printed monthly calendar with repeating events, and today I use a DayTimer planner.
Choosing a Paper Planner
Paper planners come in all sizes and colors, and range from simple to complex. When choosing a planner I recommend going with a simple system in the beginning and adding, or adapting, to it as your needs change. Starting off with simple gives us the opportunity to master repetitive items before we tackle more involved tasks and activities.
Paper Planner Pluses:
+ Recording information feels “natural”
+ No batteries or electricity needed
+ Easily customized by using only types of pages you need (i.e. planning by the hour of day, or by the day of the week)
+ Minimal learning curve
Paper Planner Minuses:
- Misplacing or losing a planner is painful – there is no easy way to back up info
- Hard to share if other people need access to your calendar
- Recording repetitive information is time consuming
- Becomes bulky if lots of information is recorded or pages are added
Don’t think a paper planner is your key to time management? Check in next week for a post on digital planners, with tips for getting the most out of them. Already using a paper planner? I’d love to hear what kind you are using and what you love most about it – please comment below!
The natural next step from a To-Do list is a planner. Already using one? Perfect – read on for some tips on maximizing its potential. Haven't made the transition to a planner yet? Then definitely keep reading to see how planners can make the many tasks for which we are responsible easier to handle.
Choosing a Planner
There are thousands of different types of planners. Plain, pretty, complex, artistic, ones with witty quotes on each page, or graphics that make your eyes swim. How do you decide which one will work for you?
Very similar to creating a To-Do list that works for you, planners must work the same way you do. It isn’t so much what is on the outside, but how it is organized on the inside. Ask yourself the following questions:
These are all things to consider before buying a planner, instead of just choosing the one that looks great on the store shelf. With their crisp, clean, white pages just waiting to organize your life and make all those tasks seem effortless, planners are your friend in organization. It makes me want to buy one right now!
If you are really looking to find the perfect organizer, now is a good time of year to pick up different ones on clearance and you can experiment with them at your leisure. In the next two weeks I’ll cover paper planners and digital planners – each has pros and cons. The key, as always, is to find a planner that works with your strengths, and you’ll be a time management guru!
Once you choose your To-Do list method, prioritizing the tasks on your list becomes imperative! Otherwise there are a jumble of tasks that all seem equally important and pressing. When this happens we tend to practice avoidance and steer clear of the tasks we don't really want to do - it's just human nature! Avoidance leads us down the path of crisis management as the tasks we avoid become more and more pressing and important.
How Do I Prioritize?
So, how does a person prioritize? The first step is taking a look at the items on the list. Are some of them projects (multiple steps are needed to complete)? Projects need to be broken down step by step so the overall task is manageable.
Let's take spring cleaning as an example. If we write "Spring Cleaning" on our To-Do list most likely it will be an item that is avoided. :) It feels overwhelming and there is no clear direction about what actually needs to happen in order to cross the task off the list. So let's get rid of some of that To-Do list fog and break down our Spring Cleaning project.
If Spring Cleaning means washing windows and airing linens, write those two tasks on your To-Do list, AND THEN SCHEDULE TIME IN THE CALENDAR TO COMPLETE THEM! That is the key - getting bigger tasks on the calendar so there is TIME to complete them. Simple one step tasks (i.e. phone calls, appointments to be made, etc.) can be grouped together with a time aside in your calendar to complete them.
Tips for Prioritizing Your To-Do List
There are simple ways to visually prioritize your To-Do list.
How do you break down your projects for completion? I'd love to know!
welcome to our blog!
Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who