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Top 10 Tips: An Organized New Year

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This is YOUR year! Welcome to 2013!

Many people tell me that they want to de-clutter and get organized this year but haven't a clue about where to start. How do you clear out the old and bring in the new?

The beginning of the year is a time for renewal, creating goals, and acting on particular projects. When you think about goals, be considerate of your physical, financial, and emotional resources.
Goals move you toward the completion of a project as opposed to a resolution which is an intent to do something). Most people can generally work on and complete 3 to 5 projects at a time. Before you work on your goals, start to de-clutter where you live in the present to get your place ready for your projects and plans.

Top 10 Tips for an Organized New Year

1. If you don't plan to use the holiday gifts you received, return them to the store or donate them. Gift givers don't want their gifts to become clutter! Separate emotions from possessions. The key to not cluttering is to remove the stuff you don't want.

2. Become more organized with your holiday decorations. Take it one step at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself with taking down all of the decorations at once. Re-use decorative boxes and wrapping paper. If you cannot re-use it, don't save it. You may want to purchase inexpensive bins with color-themed lids to store your seasonal stuff.

3. Stay away from bargains. Just because an item is drastically reduced after the holidays does not mean you need to purchase it. Ask yourself if you need it or if you have something similar.

4. Use a calendar. You should already have a calendar for the new year. Whether it is on your phone, in the workspace, or someplace in your home a calendar is the most effective way to keep track of events, plans, and meetings. Additionally, it would be a good idea to write goals and deadlines on your calendar as well.

5. Divide, organize, and label. Whether new gifts, food, household supplies, or other necessities in the home, it is important to keep things together, organized, and labeled so you know what is what.

6. Organize your finances. Ask these questions:

Have you recently paid a bill late because you misplaced it?

Do you have a list of all accounts, numbers, online IDs and passwords?

Do you have a list of all retirement accounts and life insurance policies including beneficiaries?

Do you have a recent copy of your credit report?

Do you know your credit score?

Do you have wills, living wills and durable power of attorney documents?

Do you have a specific financial plan for paying down your debt and building your savings, with specific dollar amounts, goals and dates?

Do you need a financial organizer, planner, or similar professional to get on track?

7. Create an organizing system that is an extension of your natural habits. If you organize your mail in the kitchen, set up a mail organizing station there.

8. Add more organizing efforts into your daily routine rather than subtract old ones. It is easier to add a habit than to subtract one. For example: immediately after you make a mess, clean it up.

9. Choose every day to stay organized. Take time each day to put items back where they belong. If an item has no "home," give it one and make sure it stays there. Clean along the way.

10. Take time to organize yourself and your mind. Do the best to create a stress free environment for yourself. Don't bite off more than you can chew by overbooking yourself. Set aside time each day to unwind and relax. If you believe are too busy to find time to relax, organize your schedule to set time aside.

Bonus: Deal with the paper clutter. Close out your checkbook and start a new one, keep insurance policies, wills/trusts, birth/marriage certificates, passports and other hard to replace documents in a fireproof safe box.

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