It is hard to believe that it is already January! It is Get Organized Month and now is a great time to focus on your personal affairs. Rather than rushing in April to make sure that all of your paper work is in order, do it now and start off the year with a kick!
It is interesting to me that many entrepreneurs and business owners spend the majority of their time completely consumed by their business and totally neglect their personal affairs.
Many of my clients contact me to get their business organized, yet when we talk, they often admit that their personal affairs are as much of a "mess" or more than their business. They do not have systems for handling their most important areas of life. Their household papers are everywhere...piled in various corners and flat surfaces around the house. They are not sure where their hard-earned money is spent and they don't have solid plans for the future.
Its true that they are busy. VERY BUSY! However, sometimes they are so busy that they lose focus as to why they started their business, doing what they do, in the first place. When I ask "Why did you start your business?" I generally hear it is because they wanted more freedom to live a life they define. They wanted to make more money so that they have the ability to have more choice in life.
If you do not have your personal life in order, you may not be getting all of the benefits from your hard work! Now is the time! Now is the time to let go of the excuses that you don't have time, are too tired or don't know how. Here are a few tips to get started:
Set up a filing system to store and manage your paperwork
Your paperwork likely consists of three types of paper: 1) stuff you need to take action on 2) stuff you are saving for reference and 3) stuff that you needed to toss a long time ago, but haven't.
1 - Create an Action System
This is the system that manages all of the papers that are on your counters and other spaces that you have out in the open and in piles because you don't want to forget to do something. Then use the system. Read, sort and process your email and snail mail daily. Avoid backlog. Also, when you come across papers that are date driven, make sure to add an entry to your calendar/planner to remind you to do things. This system is the perfect location to store all of the bills you have yet to pay.
2 - Create an Effective Reference System
Did you know that the average person wastes 150 hours a year just looking for things? Imagine what you could do if you weren't searching! An effective reference system is one that you use consistently because you trust it. You trust it because it is easy to use and you can find information with ease when you need it. Different systems are going to work better for different people, so make sure you set up something that works for you. This system is a great place to store all of the bills you have paid. Here are a few for you to consider:
If you would like to go paperless with your home filing, this is definitely the tool to consider! I have the honor of being on the advisory board of AboutOne and I love how this company really listens to your needs. AboutOne was designed by moms and dads for moms and dads to make managing all that household information fast, fun, and easy. With just a few clicks your information is stored with bank-level security, and all your posts can then be combined or mixed together in new ways, saving you time on everyday chores like creating family newsletters, scrapbooks, hardcover photo albums, and creating and mailing holiday cards, or completing school forms, college applications, caregiver instructions, and tax returns. I personally LOVE how easy it is to manage all of the complex medical information we have in our family. AboutOne.com’s patent-pending service takes just seconds of your time and helps you save time, save money, and be prepared. You can sign up for a trial account here: http://www.aboutone.com/.
I have been a happy Paper Tiger user for years. If you don't want to go paperless, but you want an easy way to find anything in 5 seconds or less, then this is the tool. The tool gives you a powerful index search -- like how you would search on Google -- that allows you to find your information fast. However, you can use this tool for much more than filing paper! Anything that you can number you can put into the system. At home, we have "paper tigered" books, CDs, DVDs, binders, storage bins, and more. We love this tool because it does not matter how different my husband and I might reference information (for example, I might say Insurance-Car and he might say Country Insurance) we can find things with ease using the fast find button. Your information is secure and backed up too.
FileSolutions Home Filing System
If you like the idea of a color coded system, then you might consider the FileSolutions Home Filing System. The Home Filing System includes a booklet to guide you through the filing process by helping you select the appropriate files for your home. You can build 80-100 files for your home & family items using the pre-printed, color-coded labels for both vertical files and 1/3 cut file folders. The categories include: Personal, Financial, Taxes/Insurance, and Lifestyle. In addition, file your important papers & find them again using FileIndexTM,. With this unique system, you can index over 350 items. It will be the first and last place you look when you (or another family member) need to find something. Note, folders & hanging files not included. This tool is great for simple household filing. Consider or one of these great paper systems from OrganizedAtoZ.
3 - Let Go of the Rest
80 percent of what we keep, we never reference again. I see that theme repeat itself over and over again when I work with clients and help them through their decisions. If you have a hard time figuring out what to let go, consider using the DART system. If you would like a summary of what to keep and what to let go of for your home, get our Residential Record Retention guide.
Set up a financial management system
Know where your money is going.
If you are looking for a simple money management system, consider www.mint.com . This tool is very user friendly and allows you to know exactly what is going on with your finances. You can set budgets and alerts that email you when you are off track. You can also get very user friendly graphics to show you where your dollars are going.
If you have an iPhone, you will also love this ap http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mint-com-personal-finance/id300238550?mt=8
Eliminate your debt
It goes without saying that debt can be a weight that draggs you down for the length of time you have it. For some, they spend more time thinking about the mounting debt than time on getting things done. Eliminate your debt. The most popular method for revolving debt is the debt snowball method. There are many sites and smartphone aps that can help you with this. Many of them let you prioritize debts and see estimated times left to pay off each debt. They let you plan payments and view progress as you shrink what is owed. Many will also estimate the date you will be debt-free, so that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was reading an article on Mashable.com the other day that suggested Pay Off Debt by Parallel Focus was one of the better ones on the iPhone.
Most banks now have the ability to set up automatic bill paying. Consider setting up automatic payments for all of your regular bills. Your bills will be pain on time and you will save loads of time.
Set a day and time each week to review your personal affairs
By reviewing your situation on a regular basis, you are able to stay on top of any problem areas and make strategic decisions quickly.
Get educated and be proactive!
There are a number of outstanding professionals in your local area or on the internet that share helpful information on wealth creation. Attend classes or read books. Become informed. The better knowledge you have, the easier it will be for you to make decisions and have confidence to take action. Here is a great article On CBS about Getting Your Finances in Order in 5 Days.
Take care of yourself - you are the only you that you have
Get your health in order
We hear this all of the time, but it still holds true. Do you have some medical concerns that you have been ignoring? Find a professional that can help you get better. Need to eat better or exercise more? Create a system to make it happen. The healthier you are, the easier it is to manage every day activities. The longer you let "small" medical concerns slide, the faster they can become "big" medical things that tax you, your family, and your finances.
"The foundation of success in life is good health: that is the substratum fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick." ~ P.T. Barnum in The Art of Money Getting
There are a number of sites that are all over the net to help you and a nutrition/exersize coach can also make a huge impact. Here are a few of iPhone aps that could be of benefit too: Get in Shape: iPersonal Trainer or FitnessFree or CrunchFu. If you would like to quit smoking try: Quitter or MyQuitCoach.
If you take control of your personal concerns you will have more confidence and peace of mind that the right things are happening. It is important to learn how to manage your time effectively and get organized so that you can focus on the most important things in your life. If you don't, you will not be any further ahead next year.
One of the sayings that floats around frequently are:
Some people make things happen
Others watch things happen
Still others say "what happened"?
Who do you choose to be?
If you're not sure how to get your business or life organized so that you free up your time, make more money and experience life, I encourage you to take action and contact us for a telephone strategy session. Why be time-pressed and struggle when you can easily get more done with less stress.
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