A-Z Survival Guide to Life
O – Organize
This is the fifteenth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.
I really wanted to title this post O – Onomatopoeia, or Onomatopeeting myself (translation- I’m not repeating myself) – but when I tried this out on the our family last night, I was told in no uncertain terms that it was almost as lame as the N-Nothing post. It reminds me of the time my Mum and I were in a small town up in northern Illinois walking down the main street. We passed the Armageddon Barbershop and I said to my Mum – Armageddon a haircut.
Of course, none of this has nothing to do with being organized, but being that the topic of organizing is kind of a bland subject, I thought I would offer up some humor (and I am sure you are thinking I failed epically).
Organizing – this is probably the stepping stone for surviving adulthood. One has to be organized. Some of us figure this out early on in life, and others spend their entire lives trying to be organized and never quite accomplish it. I think I might be somewhere in between.
Organizing your life just relieves you of the last minute scrambling to find things, being late on bills, losing important paperwork and just avoiding the added stress in general. I offer up several areas where organization may be very helpful.
Important paperwork – Always keep your important paperwork in a safe place. This includes your birth certificate, passport, Social Security card and anything else you absolutely cannot afford to lose. My suggestion is that also have copies of these, in another place. Not that copies of these types of documents are usually accepted, but in the event you have to replace them, you can offer up a copy as evidence. I lost my birth certificate in all our various moves, and unfortunately don’t have a copy of it. I did, at one point attempt to replace it, but it is such a nightmare (as I was born in Australia) trying to figure out how to do it. Luckily, I still have my Naturalization papers, and that seems to do the trick, but it makes me nervous not having an original Birth Certificate.
And if you do need to remove these important files, from the filing cabinet, or safe box, make sure you return them as soon as you get home. Don’t put them in a pile somewhere, thinking you might file them safely away again at a later date. That is a bad idea.
Taxes – Tax time sucks. To make life easier, have a file or a box where all your papers and receipts needed for tax time are stored. Even if you have someone doing your taxes, you are still going to have accumulate an enormous pile of receipts to present to the accountant, so they can do your taxes properly. The better your files, the more likely you will receive something back, a refund (hopefully). Keep all your medical receipts, any receipts from large ticket item purchases, your house sale documents, donation receipts, receipts for things you purchased for your job (licenses, certifications) and the list goes on and on and on. To make matters worse, even when tax time is over, all of these papers, receipts must be kept for 3 years. Here is a quote from our friends at the IRS (who never have a straight, easy to understand answer for anything:
Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
Does that clear things up?
Having been audited twice now, I know from experience saving your tax papers from previous years will save your butt and your pocket book.
Bills – Bills suck too. But they have to be paid, and they have to be paid on time. Many companies no longer send out bills, they offer up the “green – save a tree” paperless option, which means you don’t get a bill each month in the mail. I am sure that saves these companies a boatload of money under the guise of saving the trees, reducing their carbon footprint. Don’t be fooled by this, this is not a kinder, gentler way of doing things. They still want their money on time, and in fact some companies want their money by a certain hour on a certain date, but you have to remember if it is Eastern Standard Time, Central Time, or Mountain Time – depending on where the company is based. So…if a bill is due on the 15th of the month at say 9PM Eastern Standard Time, and you pay it at 9:01, you will be charged a late fee. Money grubbing bastards.
Keep a log of when bills are due, with the bills that come in paper form on your desk, near your computer. Know when your bills are due, and if you do have paper bills, file them immediately in your files (you should purchase a filing cabinet for all this stuff, because it builds up pretty darn quickly). Do not let little piles of paid bills build up around the house – it will get overwhelming after a while.
Per the recommendation of Millie Schmidt – who mentioned this song is her “personal anthem”, I have included the following video, Bills by LunchMoney Lewis, which is brilliant!
Organizing your morning – I think we may have learned how to organize our mornings from having spent so many years in the military. Both your Dad and I are pretty good at having everything ready. Organizing everything you need in the morning the night before will minimize the amount of thinking and scurrying you have to do in the morning. And that’s a good thing.
Put your keys, your wallet, and your bag in the same place every day when you come home. Never change things up and put them somewhere else. You will hate yourself the next day, and you will be late. If you really don’t want to think about anything in the morning, lay out the clothes you are going to wear the night before, pack your lunch. Set your coffee cup out next to the coffee machine.
Tidy the house up the night before, so you aren’t trying to do it the morning. This means putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Have your toothbrush, your hairbrush and anything else you might use to prepare for your day in the same place. Remember, the less thinking you do in the morning, the better off the rest of your day will go.
Organizing your morning routine – Do the same thing every morning. Then you will just automatically do the things you need to do and you won’t have to think about anything. Don’t try and add new activities or tasks into the mix, this will just throw everything off. Occasional but necessary maintenance issues, such as cutting fingernails, eliminating uni-brows should be done over the weekend. Don’t t try and do this in the morning when time is of the essence.
I have reached my word limit, or actually exceeded it for this post. Bottom line is – the more you can streamline your routine, the easier your life will be. It has taken me years to learn all of this, and I am still practicing on how to be organized.
PS. Make sure to have one drawer in your kitchen set aside as a junk drawer – this will become a treasure trove of completely useless items, but it will keep them contained in one area.
Photo credit – quotesgram.com