It's the first day of a new year, so why not get started with a little organization that will simplify your life this year? Here are a few tips for simplifying that I've been working on putting into place this past week.
- Get rid of unwanted e-mail. As I sorted through thousands, yes thousands, of old e-mails, I realized I get a lot of stuff I never read. So I went through and unsubscribed to a bunch of advertising and subscriptions I never read. Each e-mail has an unsubscribe option down at the bottom and if you click, just follow the steps to unsubscribe. In most cases, it's just one click.
- Commit to managing e-mails as they come in. I have folders set up for a few main activities. For example, when en e-mail comes in relating to one of my speaking commitments, it goes into the speaking folder. But now, I'm adding folders for other e-mails to save such as receipts, family reunion info, etc. The rest, I plan to process and then delete. When an e-mail comes with a file to save, just right click on the file and save it in your documents, then delete the e-mail. If a message comes in that you need to respond to in a day or two, flag the message (different programs have different flagging features) and then make a note on your to-do list to respond to flagged e-mails by Friday. If you manage them as they come in and end each day with an empty inbox, you'll feel much less overwhelmed.
- Sort your home office and toss papers. Get rid of old mail, papers you don't need and stuff you haven't touched in forever. File anything that needs filing. Don't have a file system? Get started with a small file for monthly paid bills and important papers such as taxes from the previous years. It simplifies life! For example, just this past week, we were working on an application for a home equity loan to do our roof. With the file system I have, within minutes I was able to put my fingers on our home insurance statement, our property tax statement and our last 2 years taxes, as well as other pertinent info we needed.
- Sort your closets and give to charity. If you haven't used an article of clothing in over a year, say goodbye and let someone else benefit. Open your bathroom cabinet or linen closet. Did something fall out and hit you on the head? Then it's time to simplify and get down to what you really use.
- Have magazines and papers all over that you want to get around to reading? Gather them all in one basket and whenever you have a few minutes catch up on reading. I take a magazine with me when my kids have a dentist appointment, or I page through one when I'm on hold on the telephone. It's also great for grabbing when we're taking a short road trip. I use the time in the car to catch up on my reading pile.
- Pare down on books and movies. You can sell used books and movies on places like Amazon and leave them up for months without a fee until they sell. Or, you can swap them for things you've been wanting to read on a place like Paperback Swap Swap Books for Free - PaperBackSwap.com or Swap-A-DVD Swap, Trade or Exchange DVDs for Free! - SwapaDVD.com
- Read a good book on organizing and then plan to implement at least one technique. I just read "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen and I need to read through it once more to make a plan for implementing some great ideas.
- If something has always bugged you, do something about it. If you had the congestion by your front door, fix it. Think of a way to fix the problem. If your kitchen is inefficient, don't be afraid to relocate some key items to make it more convenient. If your system for keeping track of appointments doesn't work, create a new one. Make 2011 the year of efficiency so that you have more time to relax and enjoy life.