Monday, October 18, 2010

To throw away or NOT to throw away…that is the question!

While organizing papers with our clients, we are constantly asked, “Do I need to keep this?” when we come across bills, receipts, financial and medical documents.

Here are some definitive answers you can apply now to get your files into shape, and then moving forward for the rest of your life.

Toss Every Month:

-ATM & Bank Deposit Slips AFTER you’ve checked your on-line statement.

-Credit Card Receipts AFTER you’ve checked your monthly statement.

-Sales Receipts for minor purchases AFTER you make sure you have no intention of returning the item or if it has no warranty.

Toss After One Year:

-Monthly Bank and Credit Card Statements (if you don’t itemize deductions.) You can also get all this information ONLINE.

-Monthly or Quarterly Brokerage and Mutual Fund Statements (as long as your year-end
statement clearly shows the total amount you’ve paid in interest and property taxes over the course of a year.)

-Phone and Utility Bills (as long as you don’t claim a home office on your taxes.)

-Paycheck stubs (your year-end W-2 serves as proof of income for the year)

Toss After 3-5 years:

-Explanation Of Benefits Hang on to EOB forms at least until you are sure that a particular medical bill has been paid in full from all sources (e.g., a combination of Medicare and supplemental insurance or primary and secondary health insurance policies). This may require confirmation from the original medical provider with a statement showing a zero balance. After your bill is paid in full, you might want to keep EOBs in an inactive storage file for up to three to five years longer "just in case." It is not uncommon for some medical providers to send bills long after a medical service has been provided. Having EOBs on file can help document the status of previous medical claims.

Toss After 7 years:

-W-2 & 1099 Forms

-Year-End Statements from Credit Card Companies

-Canceled Checks & Receipts/Statements For:
Annual Mortgage Interest and Property Taxes
Deductible Business Expenses
Child Care Bills
Out of Pocket Medical Costs
Any other Tax-Deductible Expense


-*Annual Tax Returns* (you can toss after 7yrs but never to just be safe OR ask the preference of your accountant)

-Year End Summaries (from any financial institution)

-Confirmation Slips that list the purchase price of any investments you own

-Home-Improvement Records

-Receipts for Major Purchases

-Beneficiary Designations

We hope this clears things up. Print out this list and put it in the front of your file drawer so there is never any doubt!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Every house needs A....

Repeatedly at clients’ homes, I request certain items to use for de-cluttering or organization or just getting things together. People don’t seem to have these things and so little and big tasks and projects don’t get done. No judgment here- not everyone has everything at all times. To help get everybody in order, I have compiled a brief list of items every home should have. See how many you’ve got and add the rest if you don’t have them! Let us know what you went and got!

Here they are!

SHREDDER- In the age of ID Theft, this is totally necessary. Don’t decorate your hands with paper cuts by ripping paper. Invest in a shredder- and don’t skimp! You get what you pay for with these! If you get a cheap one, you will pay for it in time and frustration, as it constantly overheats, as you have to change the bucket way too frequently, as you have to turn it off and pull shreds out with your hands or some tool which is dangerous and unnecessary. Get one with at least 8 sheet capacity, even better the kind that can shred a credit card and cd, and especially one that has a larger bin to catch the shreds, for less frequent dumping. Ever spill the contents of the shred bin onto the floor while trying to dump it out? Yes, let’s avoid doing that too often.

LABELMAKER- Labels change people’s lives. They all but eliminate different members of a household putting things in different places. They make you remember where things go. They make your filing cabinet make sense, and look good, which helps promote more frequent filing.

EYEGLASS REPAIR KIT- Or do you want to spend even one minute walking around with a safety pin holding the arm onto the frame? Nerd.

BATTERY TESTER- Each time I find a stray battery at a client’s home/office, we end up throwing it out because we’ve no idea if it is old or good. IT’S a pain to try to stick it into a device and see if it works, as another battery inside could be the culprit if it doesn’t. Getting a batt tester changed my life! Keep it with your battery supply and pat yourself on the back every single time you test a battery and it is good!

CHANGE JAR that you can fill and take to TD Bank or Coinstar- You have money lyingaround everywhere in your house, maybe even in a bunch of shallow dishes in different rooms. Get a decent jar to keep all those coins in one place. Not too big a jar- it will be impossible to carry, and the smaller the jar the more frequently it fills up and the more you turn it in for dollars you can use to pay for an organizing session as many of our clients do! You’re welcome!!


GOO GONE- Or you could spend an eternity trying to peel sticky labels off your new products. Been there, done that, broke a nail!

SENTIMENTAL BOX-A nice box or large file to store sentimental stuff that is not flat and able to fit in an album or scrapbook. We all have stuff like this. I keep my memorabilia in a pretty trunk that is a joy to open up now and then to see old photos and love letters (yes, I have gotten some!)

TWO-DRAWER FILING CABINET (both drawers the same size)- Firstly, you need a place to put your paper documents. Don’t fool yourself buying one with that smaller drawer on top and the bigger file drawer on the bottom. That top drawer will soon be holding your files in a stack that you aren’t bothering to put back into the bottom drawer. I have seen this over and over. Get the same size drawers and you can set up your files one for adults and one for kids, or one for one person and one for another, or one for serious business stuff and one for hobbies and interests..etc.

ZIPLOC BAGS- FUNDAMENTAL! If it is sorted and zipped up in a Ziploc Bag- IT IS ORGANIZED!

Ok – Print out this list and take it to the shops. I guarantee you will have some great results in your home and/or office if you put these various tools to work!
Feedback welcome!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Re-think ways to Go Green

We’ve been talking about this blog for a while as Genius Organizing practices the “Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse” mantra. We would like to share with you some really cool green products that go along with this philosophy and make your life easier. These are some big picture ways to help the Earth and cause less buildup in your life, thus continuing to help you be more organized.

Food Storage:

So you constantly struggle with where and how to store those boxes of sandwich bags-well, say goodbye to throwing more plastic and cardboard (packaging, don’t forget packaging!) into the Universe and say hello to LunchSkins. Not only is this a great green product but it is a COOL looking, well-designed product as well.

These bags are made in the USA, dishwasher safe and particular models even give 5% back to organizations that support cleaning up our planet. So you are double-timing it on earth goodness if you buy this product!!

What’s worse than storing multiple boxes of sandwich bags is the dreaded stack of plastic containers. The lids breed, we all know that. If you microwave the plastic it gets icky and discolored and the big AND is that eventually you throw it away.

As more people are getting rid of plastic water bottles and replacing them with stainless steel, so goes the way of the plastic food containers.

This set, from Kids Konserve, nests so as not to take up a ton of space and the containers are leak-proof so they can go from home to work or school without disaster. Downside is, you can’t put them in a microwave, but plastic in the microwave is questionable for your health anyway; upside is a more beautiful planet!

Furniture & Household:

Not only is this furniture from Legare made from Moso bamboo which is the most sustainable bamboo in the world, since it regenerates over 100 feet in height in less than 6 months, but this stuff goes together without hardware!

Goodbye crazy directions that only make you angry!

Hello, beautiful, responsible furniture that leaves you headache free.

Cork flooring is an exceptional alternative to rugs, tiles and wood flooring. Cork is great for Mother Earth, as the outer layer of bark on a cork tree can be stripped off the tree without harming the tree in any way.

It is a tremendous acoustic and thermal insulator.

Cork has a memory like an elephant and will bounce back 99% if you decide to re-arrange.

Unlike carpet, cork doesn’t harbor dust or absorb dirt.

Expanko makes numerous designs that could compliment any home.

Extra ways:

Paperless Post is a couture version of e-vite. You can do all the same things like design, email and monitor invites but the designs are 100 times classier and with a lot less hubbub than e-vite.

Making a conscious decision to go paperless…all the way paperless…forces you to think creatively about every paper-using opportunity you encounter. Paperless Post helps!

Start thinking big picture about your efforts to make a change in the world. When you think about organizing, going green can be a part of that. With some of these creative tools Genius helps you get started.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting Past the Block

Have you ever started an organizing project only to, hours or days later, feel completely helpless? Have you abandoned a project altogether because it is just too much to handle? Well…you aren’t alone. AND, good news, you can overcome this block!

Today’s Tip: Getting past the block

If you get hives just by looking at a messy closet you should pay special attention to today’s blog. Here are some simple tips in overcoming fears and anxiety surrounding organization.

Tip One: Forgive yourself

You don’t have to be perfect and no one is expecting you to. Extreme feelings of doubt sometimes cause us to self-sabotage by not completing a project. If you find yourself getting close to finishing a task and giving up before the end, or never even getting started, most likely your subconscious thought is that once you succeed and finish this problem, it will no longer be in your way. Then you will have to face other possibly harder, more important problems. It can all be overwhelming. Forgive yourself for feeling this way, and stay on target. You CAN finish. You SHOULD finish. Keep giving yourself timed sessions to work at it. Stay focused on ONE small area and get through to the end. Even if it is a relatively unimportant project, you need to feel a sense of completion.

Tip Two: Don’t take on the world

You don’t have to do it all at once. Pick one small project a WEEK, get a success under your belt and THEN you can move on to the big stuff. Its like Thanksgiving Dinner…when you pile your plate so full of different foods, you overeat and end up not really enjoying but powering through- resulting in a bloated, tired, uncomfortable day. The same can be said about organizing. When you have a list of 50 items and you try to do it all, you end up not finishing, and feeling tired and uncomfortable.

Tip Three: Create small accomplishments

Make a list of the things you have to do to complete a project and put ABSOLUTELY EVERY STEP on the list. Crossing items off a list gives us a sense of accomplishment; accomplishment creates good feelings and momentum. For instance, say you are organizing your junk drawer. Here are some of the things that might go on your list:

1. Take everything out of the drawer
2. Wipe down the drawer
3. Line the drawer with liner
4. Throw away unwanted items
5. Sort all pens
6. Sort all tools
7. Sort all paperclips/rubber bands/matchbooks…
8. Put in dividers or divider tray
9. Put items back in the drawer

When you complete a part of the whole task, cross it off! You will feel a heightened sense of accomplishment, creating momentum to keep going to completion. Keep crossing items off. Know that the end result is a clean drawer and a lighter heart!

Tip Four: Call in the troops

At some point you may not be able to succeed on your own, and that is OK. It really is. Does everyone work alone, only on his or her goals? No.
Think of an office. Many people are working together to reach a goal. Call a caring friend to come by and help the task seem less arduous. It will also help you stay on target by having someone by your side that knows they are there to help create accountability.

If you have a lot of stress and embarrassment due to your disorganization, a professional may be in order.

We believe in you…now believe in yourself!

Don't forget to come see us LIVE to learn FREE organizing ideas and address your own clutter issues!

Solas Bar
232 E. 9th Street
btw 2nd & 3rd New York, NY 11218
Join us to discuss your clutter and hear innovative ways to get started on your most pressing projects.

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307 Flatbush Avenue
at Prospect Place Brooklyn, NY 11217
Join us to discuss your clutter and hear innovative ways to get started on your most pressing projects.

Nicole and Julia