An organized desk… nothing beats it. This is the one area of my humble abode that has a tendency to sometimes get out of hand. Like most things, the battle is in the maintenance. Here are some of my favorite tricks to keep a desk organized. Like all tips that I pass along, please feel free to integrate what works for you and disregard what doesn’t. Also, please feel free to add your own tips, as well!
1. A filing system is essential if you want to get and stay organized. Anything from a traditional filing cabinet to a filing box to some of the newer, stylish filing options that will work are available at many stores, including Target and The Container Store. Be sure to label each of the folders and stick only what belongs in each file. I keep all of my files in a filing basket from Pottery Barn. I have files for everything ranging from coupons and receipts to manuals and menus.
2. One filing must is your financial records. Keep in mind, anything that you may need for your tax records (i.e. pay stubs, receipts for write-offs, etc.) you should keep for a minimum of seven years. The good news is, most of this stuff you can request additional copies of, but it is better to save and not need than to toss and eventually need.
3. As far as statements go, personally, I save all statements (credit cards, banks, electric bills, cable bills, etc.) and then record them on an Excel spreadsheet titled “Expenses – 2007.” On the spreadsheet, I have columns itled “Amount,” “Date” and “Confirmation Number.” On each row, I have every bill that I pay monthly and when that bill is due.
4. If you’re someone who “forgets” to pay your bills, most companies offer automatic bill pay which allows you to set up an account where each month your amount due is automatically taken out of your bank account or billed to your credit card. (Side note: If you’re someone who doesn’t always carry a bank balance, you may want to think twice about this option. The banks charge major fees for overdrawing your account.)
5. Online banking is one of the best things ever. Most banks offer it and with it you can check your balance, transfer funds, pay bills, see when checks have been cashed and/or cleared, etc. Contact your bank to find out how to get started. Please note, most online banking sites are extremely user friendly and confirm everything before changes are made, so those of you who are fearful about experimenting, there is no need to be.
6. Set one area aside as your “Inbox.” This can be a corner of your desk, a basket, a box… whatever work for you. Use this as an area for all incoming mail, documents, etc. that require future attention.
7. Remember the OHIO rule… Only Handle It Once!
8. The minute you realize that you don’t need something, toss it or shred it. (Side note… A shredder is a very wise and inexpensive investment, especially if you live in a large city and your garbage goes on the street.)
9. As far as magazines and catalogs go, you have four options: tear it out, save the whole thing, replace it or recycle it. If you like only a few pages, tear the pages out. If you enjoy the entire magazine, save it on a bookshelf. (<-- This is what magazine boxes are made for!) Keep the magazine while it is current and when the new issue arrives, replace it. Lastly, just recycle/toss it as soon as you finish reading it! 10. If you’re like me and receive children’s catalogs or catalogs that are not of interest to you, simply call the retailer and asked to be removed from their mailing list. Not only will it decrease clutter in your mailbox, but you’ll also be saving a lot of trees. 11. For small things that you have no use for, but don’t want to part ways with, a “memory box” is a great option. I have one sitting next to my desk that I save all of my ticket stubs and cards in. 12. For extra things, such as, stationery, printing paper, supplies, etc. there are several styles of plastic stacking drawers that can easily fit under or next to your desk. This is a perfect solution to hide things, but still have them easily accessible. Please feel free to make comments, add your suggestions/tips, ask questions, post organizing questions, etc. I hope these tips help! Editor’s note: With this post we say thanks and goodbye to Amanda who will be returning to full time studies. If you’d like to blog for us about your first apartment experience, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org, using subject line “I’m Your New Blogger.”