My desk at home is a complete mess. I have a stack of coupons for random things — pizza places, Bed Bath & Beyond (one of my weaknesses, so I rarely go there), the oil change place. I have little cardboard Coke Rewards codes from the many 12-packs of Coke Zero I go through each month. I’ve got scripts for blood tests, gift certificates for NY&CO and restaurants, and a bunch of recipes ripped out of magazines. There’s even a Get Fuzzy comic that I clipped from the newspaper solely because that day’s strip was a play on my favorite poem, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”
Needless to say, every few months, my home office cries out for a reorganization — separating, filing, tossing, shredding. But being organized can not only help you find that receipt you need to return those too-small jeans, it allows you to be more efficient in managing your finances, grocery shopping and work duties. Life is hectic enough without having to dig through piles of papers to find what you need.
Have you missed a bill payment because you misplaced your statement? Then you know exactly how poor organization can affect you financially.It’s all about finding a method that works for you. It doesn’t have to be scientific — just put all of your bills together near your checkbook, and remember to pay them on time. I pull each statement out of its envelope and write the due date in large print on the top left corner, and then stack them in date order: soonest due date to latest. They’re all neatly under my checkbook on my desk.
Missing payments on your credit cards and loans can not only cost you money in the form of late fees, but your interest rates can be jacked up and the missed payment may be reported to the credit agencies — and no one wants that.
Knowing what’s on sale and having the right coupons when you’re at the grocery store can save you a lot of money. I routinely save 30%-plus off my order because I do my homework. I take a look at the sales flier and make my list according to what’s on a good sale, then match up coupons to those products. If you don’t have your coupons clipped or just bring a big envelope with you to the store, you’re bound to miss out on good deals. Years ago, that was me — and I didn’t save anywhere near what I save now on grocery shopping. Use an organizer to separate the coupons into different sections: dairy, nonfoods, frozen, and so on.
Declutter your papers by putting your files in folders — and the same goes for your computer desktop! I know people who have a billion icons on their desktops, and I have no clue how they know which file to work on. I like to use folders and subfolders to sort emails and memos. At the end of each workday, I put everything back in its place, both digitally and physically, so I can start the next workday efficiently.
Misplaced your keys? Can’t find the cheese grater? Missing your favorite sweater? Looking for things can take up a lot of time. I remember the days as a kid when I would “lose” my glasses right before I had to go to school, because I never put them in the same place (they should actually have been on my face at all times, but that’s another story). Create a routine where everything has its place, and be sure to put every item where it belongs. That way, you won’t have those crazed moments where you’re shouting to the heavens, “Where the hell are my keys?”