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Be Organized in 2007

Still feeling frazzled from the holidays? Even though they have passed, your life probably hasn’t wound down as much as you had hoped. That’s reality, I’m afraid. Life is busy.

I think I may have found a good way to get organized this year and I share it with you to help ease your stress levels. There are no gimmicks, no filing systems or plump day calendars to buy or use. And this system works for everyone, regardless of gender or age.

The first step is to buy a notebook. Any size will do except for the teeny ones. At the top of the inside pages, begin jotting down one thing on each page that you need to do or take care of in your life: Home repairs, calls to make, trips to visit grandchildren, house cleaning, car care, college applications etc.

If you have a particular project to do, like cleaning out the garage, make a separate page for that, too, and then break down the project into doable steps -- (go through sports equipment; donate old golf clubs; find boxes for storage; buy shelving units for storage; put shelving units together, etc.).

At the back of the book, in your personal shopping section, title individual pages for the mall, discount and home improvement stores, bookstores, etc. 

Now you are organized!

You Now that the notebook is organized, you can be too. When the mail arrives, write down each item that requires an action from you on the appropriate page in the notebook. Things like renewing a warranty on your computer, using a coupon for 50 percent off at the sporting goods store or buying tickets for a local production.

On the “calls to make” page, mark down “dentist,” “auto body shop,” “Mary � Re: soccer banquet,” etc. Add phone numbers if you know them. When you have time to sneak in a few calls, turn to that page and begin checking them off as they are completed.

On the page dedicated to home repairs, you would write down “change light bulbs in bathroom fixtures” or “replace batteries in smoke alarms.” Then turn to the shopping section in the back of the notebook and list light bulbs and batteries on the page for the particular store where you will buy them next trip. When you do go to the store, you’ll have a complete list of items you need to buy. (When you decide it’s time to shop, you can take the whole notebook with you or rip out the page you need. Don’t even think about copying the list, a real time waster.)

There’s an additional step you can take with this system if you want to, which I admit I don’t do. Each day you can copy a short list of items from the notebook onto a “to do” list. I don’t do this. Instead I just keep the notebook handy and glance over it to see what job I can get done in the time I have. That’s probably not the most efficient way, but you can decide for yourself.

Never again miss an RSVP

What this organizing system also does is rescue all those many pieces of paper that require an action before we can toss them. Since they have all been recorded in the notebook, you can relax because you know you will get to them when you need to. You’ll never again miss an RSVP for a wedding, a deadline for ordering holiday cookies or forget that you really need to clean out the guest room closet before your brother moves in.

Another positive aspect of this system is that you can hold on to the notebooks when you have filled them up to keep a record of phone numbers, addresses, and the names of servicemen etc. for future reference.

You may have noticed one major shopping item missing from this system. Groceries. The easiest way to organize food shopping is to design a form listing the sections in your grocery store (in the order you shop them) and run off several copies of the form. Place one on your refrigerator each week and mark down items when you run out under the appropriate section. Then all you have to do is grab the already filled-out shopping list when you amass enough courage to go to the store.

Also, I keep a small separate notebook near my computer to record all of the user IDs and passwords I need to gain access to websites.

Here’s wishing you a totally organized New Year!

By Teresa K. Flatley


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