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Organizing Conference Take Aways

Last week I was in Los Angeles for the National Association of Professional Organizer’s 2015 Conference. Each year about four hundred and fifty organizers gather to soak up education classes and industry trends. Thankfully the conference rotates around the country and we will be closer to Chicago next year in Atlanta. Since starting my organizing business eleven years ago, I have attended seven conferences. In the beginning I used to come back with a million new ideas and feverishly work all year to accomplish new endeavors and grow my business. Now, when I return I take a step back and analyze where I have been and what I need to do to stay up to date in organizing trends. I never want to get to a point where I’m not staying relevant to my clients’ needs.

For example, I was in a home this last week going through files. Ten years ago I was building filing systems and organizing paper completely different than I am today. The trend now and wave of the future is really going paperless, implementing scanning and getting rid of files altogether. Of course some families will be the exception to the rule, but I foresee less and less paper in homes and more and more documents being organized on our computers. It’s my job to make it simple for my clients, switch over clients that want to move in that direction and then work with those that have already made the switch over. Organizing documents on the computer isn’t super different than the physical paper. Creating buckets or folders with subcategories is still the way to go whether you’re in your email platform or just in your documents folder. Keeping up on “filing” the paper on your computer or scanning documents is the same as needing to file hard copy paper. It’s all about switching our thinking to digitally thinking in regards to going paperless.

The other buzz or trend in our industry I noticed for myself as I’m working with homeowners is digital photos. Yes, some families still have bins or shoe boxes of printed photos but our world has mainly gone digital. Gone are the days of printing pictures unless you have a specific use for them or a project that need a hard copy. Homeowners, families, and individuals now have pictures saved on their phones, in the cloud, on their laptop, tablets. How do you keep track of all of them? Get rid of duplicates? and organize them in a way that will help retrieve the picture you want easily? The same hard copy problems get transferred to digital problems. We still need to find the picture we want to view and we still want to store photos safely and long term without losing them.

Besides contemplating those two trends, I also took several classes on how we think about stuff, why we hold onto stuff, and how to transfer organizing skills to my clients so that they can maintain organization and think like an organizer. It’s always a good reminder that my standard of organization is not the same as any of my clients. I work to bring you to the level of organization you desire for your home or business. My expectations and my standards don’t really matter. Yours do. You’re the client. I’m just the tool to get you there. Making organizing practical, helpful, and useful is the priority so you can get the results you desire.

Here’s to another year of

organizing and great education from the National Association of Professional Organizers!

How to Use Debit and Credit Cards as an Organizational Tool

The mediums that help us spend our money can add much organization to our personal financial world. The ability to track what we spend, see what we’ve spent, and rely on that information to be correct is very valuable and useful. I almost never carry cash and never use cash in my day to day spending. When you and I spend money with bills and coins, there is no way to track what we’ve spent unless we write it down. I don’t know about you but I have better things to do then to write down on a notebook what I’ve bought or open an app on my phone to input something I bought with cash. I’d rather let my banks track my spending and sync up to their systems. They do a fine job on their own and I don’t need to make it more complicated that it needs to be.

First off, be knowledgeable. Figure out which credit cards are open under your social security and which ones you use. If you have no clue, run a credit report and find out. Start from scratch and make sure you close accounts and cards you aren’t using or have ignored over the last few years that have gone dormant. Just because you have several open doesn’t mean they have to remain open. Keep a few open that you use regularly and cancel the rest. Simplifying this list and amount of cards will make it easier for you to track your finances and spending.

After getting rid of all the accounts you don’t need or use, start to track the spending on the cards you have in your wallet. Note: don’t open new credit cards when they’re offered to you in checkout lines. This complicates things and defeats the purpose of simplifying your life financially. I say, less is more, when it comes to credit card and banking accounts. The more accounts you have open the more you have to track, be responsible for, and keep tabs on.

Tracking spending is super simple when you have all your passwords and usernames set up for each financial account you have. That’s the hardest, most annoying task. Once you have them all organized and signed up you can track your spending through computer software or an app on your phone. Software and apps need those usernames and passwords to sync up to. They are very safe and secure and pretty user friendly. Choose whichever one you’re comfortable with. I love Quicken for personal finances and Quickbooks for business finances.

Finally, the organizing comes into play with being strategic in which card you use for certain purchases. This is the step that can keep you very organized with your money. If you give to charities, pick one card to use to make tax time easier. If you own a small business, pick a card to use for business purchases only. If you drive for work, a salesman for example, a gas credit card might make sense. Regardless of your spending situation or lifestyle, categorize and compartmentalize your spending to work for your advantage. When you need to cancel a membership, return something or find specific information about your expenses and spending, it will be easy to pull the information and get the answers you need.

Photo © yekophotostudio / depositphotos

Source: chicagoprofessionalorganizer.com

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