14 Tips for Organising Your Paper Clutter
Posted in 'Clutter, Organising' on August 23, 2016
Many busy parents have the same problem. Piles and piles of
paper. The problem is, when paper piles up then things get lost.
The trick is to question the right of each piece of paper to
be in your home, and then make a decision about its future before it slides
into a "someday” pile. You want to sort all your paper into Toss, File or Act.
Questions to ask for
each piece of paper
need to be actioned soon?
Bills, invitations and school notes all have to
be actioned so deserve special treatment.
Can I get
the information elsewhere?
Few bits of paper only exist in one place. If
you can get the information somewhere else online if you need it, then toss it
Do I need
the information for my tax, warranties, legal requirements?
If you do, then
keep it, BUT work out if you need a hard paper copy or if a scanned copy will
information still current?
Unless a letter or invitation has sentimental
value, if it is out of date then bin it.
Here are some specific
tips to help tame the paper monster in your home
1. Urgent stuff - Have one in-tray or
folder in your home for bills that have to be paid, school slips that need to
be signed and invitations to be responded to. Nothing else goes in there. Ever!
You get extra bonus points if you clip the papers together with a bulldog clip
(so they don’t blow away), and super bonus points if you put them in date order
so you know that the ones on the top have to be dealt with first.
2. Recurring Bills – Add each recurring or
regular bill to your electronic calendar and set it as an "recurring event” so
you know when to expect that once a year RACQ bill or quarterly electric bill.
3. Manuals – Download an electronic copy
of your product manuals to one folder in your computer and then bin the paper
version. If possible, scan the receipt for the item and store it with the
manual in case you need it for a warranty claim down the track.
4. Shred – Invest in a good quality
shredder so you can shred any personally identifiable bits of paper such as
envelopes, receipts etc. Either pop the paper into a shredding basket and
merrily shred once a week, or have your shredder next to where you open your
mail and empty your wallet and shred as you go. Add the shredded paper to your
garden as mulch when you are done.
5. Filing – Keep your filing system
simple. Most people create too many folders and subcategories for expenses.
Keep your categories high level and simple.
6. Security – Invest in a quality
fireproof safe, and store your passport, insurance policies, birth certificates
and other important records in the safe. Keep a photo of your insurance policy
number and company details in your phone in case of emergency.
7. Tax receipts – Scan or photograph all
receipts you need for your tax rather than storing mounds of paper.
8. Recipes – If you like collecting
magazines for the recipes, then rip out the important pages, scan them and then
ditch the magazine. Some magazines have their recipes online, so simply
download the relevant recipe from the site and store it in a recipe folder on
9. Magazines - Keep all magazines that you
are still reading to just one magazine rack or one box. If the rack or box
overflows, it is time to throw away old magazines before buying new ones.
10. Photos – If you have drawers full of
old photos that you want to keep, scan the negatives (if you still have them)
or scan the most important photos into your computer (and make sure you have
offline backup to keep your precious memories safe).
11. Kids art – Not all pieces of art are
Picasso worthy. Display the best ones and photograph the rest before sneaking
them into the bin in the dead of night or recycling them as wrapping paper for
12. Old homework & schoolbooks – Do you
REALLY need to keep all of the old schoolbooks for your children? Most old
schoolbooks can disappear into the bin at the end of each school year. If there
is a particular poem or story that has deep meaning, scan it and store the
photo rather than the book.
13. Takeaway Menus – These can also breed
if you are not careful. Keep only the menus of places where you regularly phone
in your order for delivery or pick up. Ideally keep all the menus together in
one place – either on a bulldog clip or in a plastic envelope.
14. Clear flat surfaces – If it is flat, it
attracts clutter. Tables, benches and counters are magnets for paper piles.
Have one paper location in your home (ideally near your computer), and put
pretty things such as an ornament or flower arrangement on the other surfaces.
If the space is blocked, it is harder to pile things up.
5 Quick Tips for Getting Your Finances Organised
Posted in 'Organising, Tips' on June 7, 2016
Even the most organised person at work may still have
challenges with getting their personal and household finances sorted. They may
have their to do lists tweaked within an inch of their lives, but would rather
take 20 kids filled with red cordial to a theme park than declutter their
Given the end of financial year is racing up on us faster
than a horde of teenagers when you say the word "pizza”, here are a few tips to
get your finances prepared and organised.
1) Sort The Shoebox of Receipts
Hands up who has a shoebox crammed to overflowing with
receipts that possibly, maybe, potentially relate to your tax return?
The most expensive way to handle this is to deliver it to
your accountant or bookkeeper to sort and do their thing with. It takes them
hours to comb through your receipts to try and work out what is valid. They
then have a few days of backwards and forwards emails or calls trying to answer
questions with you. All of this work is billed in 15 minute increments at
premium rates – especially during peak times of the year. Yes, it works, but
there are other options.
If you are super busy and can’t tackle this yourself, you
could hire a VA, temp agency admin person or personal concierge to tackle this
task for you instead of your accountant.
There are even technical solutions on the market. Shoeboxed www.shoeboxed.com.au is an innovative
business that has been around for a number of years. You just send your
receipts away to them in one of their magic envelopes or via snapping a photo
of your receipt, and they sort them out and digitise them ready for you to
import into your preferred accounting software.
Whichever option you choose, now is the time to get that
shoebox sorted. Handing anyone a massive shoebox in a month’s time and
expecting a fast turnaround in readiness for your tax return is a recipe for
voodoo dolls being created in your image. Get in now before the rush!
2) The Bulldog Clip of Relevance
Not all receipts are tax related. Clothes, shoes, electronic
games etc., all may need to be returned if they are faulty within their
warranty period. For receipts for items with a shorter warranty period, just
clip the receipts you may need as proof of purchase into one big bulldog clip.
Every few months go through and throw out receipts that are no longer needed.
3) Build a Bill Station
Over 25% of people admit to being late in paying a bill
because they misplaced it somewhere in the home. With bills hitting us via
paper, email, and BPay view, it is easy to lose track of what is due when.
Late payments create problems with your credit rating and
can attract late fees. A little bit of organising can make the difference.
Set up a bill station in one part of your house. It can be a
large magnetic bulldog clip on the fridge, a plastic envelope type folder (so
things don’t drop out), an old fashioned spike or a ring binder. Just don’t
throw your bills loose into an in-tray as they will get mixed with other things
– whatever solution you choose, it needs to keep your bills together.
As a new bill comes in – print it (if it isn’t in hard copy)
and add it to the bill station. Keep your bills sorted by due date, with the
closest due date at the top, so you know which bill has to be paid next.
The easiest location for your bill station is right near
your computer and printer. That way there is less distance for you to travel
and you are more likely to add the bill to your Bill Station.
4) Create a Mega Bills Calendar
Most fixed bills such as electricity, rates, rent/mortgage
are not a surprise. They come around regularly each month or every few months.
One way to keep track of what is coming up is to create a
mega bills calendar. This can be a hard copy calendar which means you need to
create it each year.
The easiest solution is to simply set up your bills as a recurring
event in your Outlook/Google/Other digital calendar and colour code the events
with a special colour that you only use for bills.
You can build your calendar over the year as you receive
your bills, or you can invest some time into building it once for the whole
year by combing back through your past bills for the previous year.
Whichever way you create your bills calendar, you make your
future financial years easier as you can see at a glance what bills you will be
receiving and how much each bill is likely to be.
5) Get into a Routine
Routines are essential for busy people. Carve out a set time
each week or fortnight to pay bills, update your account balances, plan for the
coming week, work out your budget, empty your purse of receipts, write notes
and file those receipts that are tax related and shred receipts that are no
Link your routine to a particular event to make the habit
more likely to stick: The evening of payday; The first day of the month when
you change the calendar over; Sunday nights when you prepare for the week
ahead. Set it as an appointment in your own calendar and stick to it.
Fixing your financial clutter is the perfect new financial
year resolution. It doesn’t need massive filing cabinets and thousands of Kikki
K folders and planners (unless you want it to). It can be as simple as a few
bulldog clips and a simple routine.
Have You Ever Considered A Career As a Concierge?
Posted in 'Organising' on February 18, 2016
While most of you know that I am a Personal Concierge for a
select handful of wonderful clients, not many people know of my other business –
as Co-Director of the Institute of Concierge and Lifestyle Managers (iCALM) and
co-owner of the Diploma of Personal Concierge Services.
Today, I thought I would give you an exclusive look at the
other side of my world.
A Quick History of
Most people when they think of Concierge's, think of high
class hotels. The Concierge is the person you talk with to organise theatre
tickets, get a reservation at booked out restaurants, rearrange travel
arrangements, and sort out parcel deliveries … along with a host of random
Need a private dinner party catered by a top chef? Want five
dozen roses delivered precisely at 7.10pm to coincide with you popping the
question? Want your mini-bar emptied and refilled with vegan snacks and drinks?
That's where a good Concierge comes in.
A Concierge is the ultimate "go to" person, and
has a long list of contacts available to solve every issue or crisis.
In recent years, Concierges have moved out from the hotel
lobby and into private homes.
Concierges now work with individuals, couples and families
and take care of everything from getting quotes on repairs, through to making
sure there is bread, milk and groceries at home when the owner flies back from
their overseas trip or FIFO role.
You can also find Concierges in banks, hospitals, retail
stores, private clubs, academic institutions and commercial buildings.
People have realised the lifestyle and productivity benefits
that having a Concierge to assist you can bring, and it is now a fast growing
industry sector world-wide.
Australia Was Left
The demand for Personal Concierges has skyrocketed in
Australia and New Zealand in the past decade.
The problem was that the professional industry bodies that
existed were based over in the USA and focussed almost exclusively on USA
issues. Being on the other side of the world has its drawbacks when trying to
build networks and solve local challenges.
In May 2011 my fellow Director Adele Blair and I founded the
Institute of Concierge and Lifestyle Managers (iCALM). Our goal was to support
fellow Australian and New Zealand concierges through networking, education and
iCALM sets a high Code of Ethics for our members and we have
worked tirelessly to provide networking and development opportunities to build
the skills of people within our profession.
One of the key issues we found as part of iCALM was that
there was no consistent training offered, and concierges had to pick up their
skills as they went along.
There are private courses and professional development
opportunities offered in other countries, but there was no one who offered an
accredited qualification. Until now.
In 2016 iCALM launched the world’s first accredited Concierge
We have partnered with Entamio Education Group and have
jumped through every hoop to have a Diploma of Personal Concierge Services
formally accredited, with our first students starting in early 2016.
The Diploma of Personal
The Diploma is self-paced and offered via online learning,
with direct support by Adele and myself to our students
Students will complete 20 units covering core skills across
business, project management, professional development and finance well as units
specific to the role of a Concierge.
Completing the Diploma gives Concierges a well-rounded entry
into the industry, backed by an accredited qualification.
Who Becomes a
People choosing to become a Personal Concierge have a
variety of backgrounds. Many concierges have had early careers as event managers,
personal assistants or nurses and become a concierge as part of a career change.
If you are organised, a "go to" person, are great
at juggling multiple projects and priorities and have high levels of
discretion, then being a Concierge is the ideal career.
The other key skill needed is the ability to form close
networks. Being a Concierge is being part of an industry where turf wars and
competition is an alien concept. Success only comes from working closely with
others in the industry and pooling networks and expertise to help deliver
results for your clients.
Combining your background and skills with formal training,
opens the door to an exciting new career where no two days are the same.
If you would like to know more about the Diploma, visit the
iCALM website http://www.icalm.com.au/the-diploma/.
Christmas Planning Without the Tears
Posted in 'Organising' on November 26, 2015
The shops have been filled with tinsel and trees since September.
Santa has taken up residence in all the shopping centres and Christmas craft is
starting to make its way home in the schoolbag.
You are already having nightmares about trying to find
presents in shopping centres resembling roller derby competitions at its worst.
The thought of decorating the house and creating gourmet meals while still
looking super cool, calm and collected is turning you to drink.
Before you reach for another Chardonnay, here are some tips
to help you plan out your Christmas and stagger out the drama into manageable
- Budget: Work out your budget for presents, food
and wine to help reduce New Year bill shock.
List: Write out a list of the people
you need to buy for either on paper that you can keep in your wallet, or in a
note on your smartphone. Remember to include present ideas, sizes and colour
Online: This is the best week to shop online so your parcels arrive in time
for the big day.
Presents: Buy/make gifts for teachers and fellow classmates, as well as
adding in a few smaller gifts for unexpected presents that crop up.
- Groceries: Buy your puddings and cake this
week (if you don't have them already or are not making them). The good ones
sell out quickly. Also buy your cards, gift tags and gift-wrap this week so you
can wrap your presents as you go rather than doing a marathon on Christmas Eve.
babysitters: If you have any Christmas functions in December without the
kids, lock in your babysitters this week (and your hairdresser, dog washer,
house-cleaner, gardener and nail salon).
- Sort Your
Calendar: Write in all your family Christmas parties, carols, and school
functions into one calendar to keep track of everything.
back: Remember to add a few items for charity food collections or wishing
trees this week. It makes it easier for charities to distribute to those in
need if they receive donations early in the month rather than closer to
- Decorate:While we would all love a home that is Pinterest worthy, the reality is
that a Christmas tree is the only real essential. Anything else is a bonus.
Remember to take a photo of the kids decorating the tree every year - it makes
a great memory.
cards: Write and mail out your Christmas cards this week unless you were
one of those super organised people who did them back in November. Buy post
office preferred cards to reduce mail costs.
- Presents: This week is when you get present shopping in
earnest. Remember to keep to your budget. If you can, try and get all your
shopping done in one shopping trip (… this is where a great babysitter comes
into play, or swap caring for your friend's kids while they shop and then visa
versa. Shopping with kids in tow at Christmas is not fun!)
- House Preparation: Having guests stay over Christmas? Time
to get the spare room clean and ready for guests and to check out if you need
any new towels or sheets.
- Groceries: Plan your Christmas cooking menu and order your ham, turkey and seafood is
week. Add in bonbons and Christmas napkins to your shop.
gifts: This is the week to make
and package up any homemade Christmas gifts that won't spoil.
- Post all
out of town presents: Christmas is
the busiest time for Australia Post, so get in early with your presents for
friends and family.
week: Stock up on wine, brandy and other drinks for Christmas this week so
you avoid the crush at the bottle shop in the days before Christmas.
- Groceries:This is a great week to add in any longer life items such as Pavlova
shells, biscuits and nibbles. Top up all your AA, AAA, C, D and 9V batteries
this week so there are no tears on Christmas day if toys don't work.
Preparation: Clean out the fridge in readiness for the onslaught next week
and prepare the BBQ.
Light Displays: Avoid the Christmas week craziness and check out the
Christmas lights this week.
- Groceries:This is the week for fresh ingredients. Aim to be at the shop when the
doors open to avoid the crowds. Remember to add in cookies for Santa and
carrots for the reindeer into your shop.
Preparation: Wash and prepare all the Christmas crockery and glasses you
only use once a year, and give the house a deep clean in readiness for your
Preparation: Recharge the batteries on your digital camera or video
recorder in readiness for capturing the magic moments.
- Presents:Run out of ideas? Gift cards or vouchers are perfect last minute gifts.
Coles and Woolworths stock a massive range of cards for loads of stores and
experiences, or get in touch with your favourite service or concierge business
to give someone the gift of time.
Take advantage of the post-Christmas sales to stock up on cards, wrap and bon
bons for next year.
Christmas is naturally a busy time of year. With a bit of
planning, you can reduce your stress and serenely sail into the silly season.
Important Phone Numbers (Printable)
Posted in 'Organising' on October 15, 2015
Have you ever considered how much of your life is in your
mobile phone? When you need a contact phone number, you zip your phone out of
your handbag and open your contact app.
But what happens if your partner needs to contact someone on
your phone contacts app when you aren't there? Or your babysitter? Or when your
phone goes flat and the power is out?
This is where having a central, old-school pen and paper
version of your family's most important phone numbers stuck to your fridge or family
organisation board is worth its weight in gold.
Emergency Contacts Printable
I have put together a detailed printable designed for
Brisbane families. It has spaces for all of your regular essential contacts, as
well as spaces for critical contacts relevant for Queenslanders including the
SES, your friendly local snake catcher, and your gutter cleaner.
It also has spaces for you to record the key details of your
insurance policies. We heard of many locals who went through the Brisbane
floods and storms of recent years, who lost their insurance policies in the
disaster. It caused them additional stress trying to track down who they were
insured with and their policy details. By having all of these details in one
central place, you will be able to access them quickly in case of emergency.
How To Use This Printable
There are a couple of ways that you can use this printable:
Take some time over the next week to review the list and
fill in your details for your household. I suggest laminating your finished
version to stop it curling over time.
Add It To Your Emergency Kit
Laminating your list also helps to make it durable. Just
throw the completed printable into your emergency
kit at the beginning of storm season/fire season and you are ready to go in
case of emergency.
Finally, take a photo of your completed list and share the
photo with the adults in your household to save onto their mobile phones. (Let's
be honest - how many of your household will key in all the contacts you have in