Can’t you just feel the excitement in the air? The season is upon us…TAX SEASON that is. It’s that time of year when weary eyes abound and refrains of “where did I put that?” can be heard uttered through out the land. Most of us are fortunate in that we can hand over documents and information to a qualified accountant (who mysteriously understands the language spoken by the IRS) and thus magically transforms it all into a completed IRS tax return. I certainly am not a qualified accountant…I am not even an unqualified accountant. But I am an office organizer who specializes in home offices and in my travels I hear a lot of confusion about this issue…so I sought out advice from tax expert and CPA Marietta Z. Courtney who helped me understand the “home office” tax deduction…explained simply.
I love reading about organizing case studies, looking at office designs and tools, and exploring ways to be a better business woman. When I first started my business, I subscribed to any newsletter or blog that gave me some inspiration to improve Claiming Space. At first, it was easy keeping up with the information flowing into my inbox. If I couldn’t read it, that was okay, I saved it to read later. But later never came. More newsletters and blog posts showed up. I got behind, and the more behind I got, the more guilty I felt as valuable knowledge piled up in my inbox, unused. Digital clutter was taking over my life. It got to the point where I hated opening my inbox in the morning knowing there were 7-10 emails full of webinar alerts, newsletters, and blog posts that would get added to my to-do list that I was never going to get to.
We have so many gadgets nowadays on which to read our email. I applaud this technology for its efficacy. But it can be tiring living in a world that’s always on. There has never been a better time than now to conquer the chaos in your virtual mail box. Using the 6 Basic Principles of Organizing, you can keep your Inbox empty for the long term.
Create 4-5 folders in your e-filing cabinet located in you email program. Start sorting the items you are keeping with generic labels, such as New Folder 1, New Folder 2, et cetera. Use generic labels first because to create a functional system, labels must match the actual content of the emails rather than imposing a system of labels. Content guides the creation of the system. Use the Trash and Archival functions for non-active items that you no longer need or want to store. Categorize by choosing general subjects into which each email fits and putting “like with like”. Chances are there will start to be a pattern. Once you’ve completed the drag and drop sequence, all of the emails will be contained in your e-filing cabinet, as well as the Trash and Archival functions.
You’ve probably head the saying “making something out of nothing.” Usually, this sentiment is offered when someone is making a bigger deal out of something than necessary. However, when it comes to organizing, I say, “make something out of something else.” It can be a very effective creative philosophy to hold when attempting to organize your office, home, or life in general.
For instance, you know that shoe holder that hangs over your closet door but rarely holds shoes? Why not think outside the box and use it instead to organize your paperwork, or kids’ toys and books, or office/craft supplies?
When I was a little girl, my family came up with a motto: “We like it when we’re home. We do not like it when we are not home.” I am a home-body through and through. I love working from home. I love working late at night when my body is naturally more awake. I love being able to eat lunch at home. I love being able to take a break by taking a nap on the couch.
But as I’ve been working from home more and more lately, I’ve realized that I’ve been letting the boundary between work time and home time get blurry. It’s been gradual and unintentional, but it’s resulted in a pervasive sense of anxiety. By not giving myself permission to be “off duty” even though I didn’t physically leave the office and drive home, I wasn’t allowing myself the down time which we all need to do well at our jobs.