Do you listen to podcasts? They make excellent commuting companions and workout buddies because the time seems to fly when listening to something entertaining and educational.
If you want some extra inspiration and information for your organizing journey, try the Keeping You Organized podcast by Smead (maker of innovative home and office organizing products). The podcasts are 15-20 minutes long and cover a wide range of organizing topics such as paperwork, time management, and decluttering.
Find the Keeping You Organized podcast in iTunes or on the Smead website.
P.S. If you like podcasts, two non-organizing related ones that I enjoy are How I Built This, which profiles entrepreneurs and innovators, and The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe, which tells surprising stories about people and events you thought you knew.
Are you distressed by the huge volume of emails you get?
Are you tempted to shop whenever you get those deal of the day emails?
Are you distracted by from tackling important emails by solicitation emails?
It is so worth it to find that hidden "UNSUBSCRIBE" link at the bottom of the email and click on it!
Even though that takes a bit of effort up front, it really saves time in the future by reducing the amount of unwanted and distracting emails you get.
It'll also save your wallet because you won't be tempted to shop just because some "deal" you're being offered. You know you can just go on RetailMeNot and find a deal when you really need to buy something.
So click UNSUBSCRIBE and get yourself off of all of those annoying email lists!
But not mine, of course.
Way back in the fall (October 17th, to be exact), I wrote about how to set up a system to deal with all those pesky papers that come home from school.
The basic weekly system is this:
1. Immediately deal with any notifications (add to calendar, write a check, sign a form).
2. Recycle anything not worth saving (worksheets, scribbles, spelling tests, coloring pages).
3. Display this week’s artwork and accomplishments in your temporary display space (fridge, frame, bulletin board, clothesline strung across a window).
4. Stash last week’s displayed work in an art portfolio or other bin.*
*This is the time to weed out anything that, after one week’s display, can be recycled. Try to save only the best items, such as the unusually detailed drawing, the very clever essay, or the spelling/math test that was a true victory.
Now that you’ve been diligently checking the backpack every week and keeping up with all the papers, what do you do with the stash that has accumulated in the portfolio?
That’s what we’ll tackle today!
As soon as school is over for the year (Don’t delay or the time will get away from you!), make some space on a table or floor and dump out that stash.
Side note: It’s up to you whether you want your child involved in this sorting process or whether it will go more smoothly if you do it yourself. Just remember, you are really saving this stuff for you, not for your child. When kids are adults, they almost always say, “Why did you save all this stuff? I don’t even remember that!” It’s the rare adult child who wants any of it. You are saving these memories for you, so keep what is meaningful to you.
Ready...set...start sorting! Make one pile for recycling and one for the (possible) keepers. Try to go through it as quickly as possible. Right now, you are just eliminating the obvious non-keepers.
Shove that pile of non-keepers into the recycling bin immediately! Don’t look back!
Now for the hard part: finding the treasures.
During that first sorting process, you only identified the possible keepers, now you have to cull the collection even more, leaving only the true gems: the few pieces of art that show your child’s progress over the year, the story your child wrote about your family vacation, the test that was such a struggle but ended in triumph, the piece that completely sums up who your child is at this age.
In order to help you figure out exactly how much you can save and how much you’ll have to cut, you need a long-term storage solution.
I suggest either a pre-made school years scrapbook or a keepsake portfolio. The key is that it shouldn’t be too big (not a box, because you don’t want to end up with a dozen of those – one for every grade!). It should have pockets big enough to hold construction paper (even if you have to fold some) but not so big that you can avoid deciding what to keep and just shove everything in it. You also don’t need something with slots for every grade, Pre-K through 12, because after 5th grade the paper trail drops off considerably. Phew!
Click here for an example of a school years scrapbook.
Click here and here for examples of keepsake portfolios.
The scrapbook has the advantage of being something you can keep on a bookshelf and of having space for children to contribute thoughts about the past year (favorite subject, friends, school photos, etc.). Kids also enjoy looking through scrapbooks of their past school years.
The portfolio has the advantage of being able to hold larger (and more) papers and of being easier to fill because you just slip the papers in the large slot and don’t have pages to fill out.
Are you worried because your child is already in second grade and you don’t know what to do with the giant backlog of papers from past years that you have thrown into large bins to avoid sorting? Have no fear! Make a date with yourself (schedule it on your calendar) to go through the stuff, enjoy reminiscing about your child’s early years, populate your new school scrapbook or portfolio, and reclaim the space in those bins!
Do you get confused trying to remember all of your passwords for various websites?
Do you keep the same, simple (easily-breached!) password for every site so it's easy for you to remember?
Do you write down passwords in a book or keep hard copies of passwords in files?
Do you never update your passwords because it's too hard to remember new ones?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should check out a password manager such as LastPass.
After a couple of years of using my own complicated password system and having to manually update all of my passwords on a quarterly basis, I finally decided to give LastPass a try. After a brief learning curve, I now find it very simple to create, store, and update complicated passwords to any site I log onto and to use LastPass across all of my devices. You can even use LastPass to share password access to designated sites with family members or coworkers.
Organize your passwords with a password manager!
(Click here to read why The Wirecutter picked LastPass as the best password manager and here to read their opinion as to why everyone should use a password manager.)