First ask yourself why. Why take the steps you are considering taking to get organized in your financial life? Will you feel better mentally and emotionally by reducing clutter? Will you save money and time by being able to find important papers when you need them? Will you be better able to address financial challenges that come up because you have a household inventory, a net worth statement, or other important documents filled out and can find them easily? It is important to determine the WHY getting organized matters to YOU so you follow through and accomplish your goals.
Avoid becoming overwhelmed. Whether it is organizing important paperwork, creating a household inventory, or getting done other important financial tasks needed to get your financial house in order, it can be challenging just to get started. So keep a few important points in mind to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed: 1. Break big tasks down into a series of little tasks; 2. Don’t try to do too much all at once; 3. Recognize each small success; 4. Realize that small steps are still moving you forward. You are more likely to accomplish what you set out to do by doing it in small parts rather than trying to do too much at once.
Break any task into small, bite sized pieces. Determine how long is reasonable for you to keep at it during a session – 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes? It is better to start small when trying to accomplish a challenging task, or develop a new practice or habit. Make an appointment with yourself for the same time each day or week – for example, early Saturday or Sunday morning each week for 15 minutes. Give yourself permission to get up and do something else when the time is up – and recognize your small success in following through.
Arrange the task in a way that you can leave it after your designated time is up, but you can easily pick up where you left off the following week. If you are going through and organizing paperwork, create a space out-of-the-way of traffic that you can come back to easily each week – near a trash can and shredder. You need to start somewhere. Pick a pile and start sorting. Ask yourself what would happen if you did not keep each piece of paper.
Remember many small steps lead to reaching goals. If you are doing something like creating a household inventory, pick a room and do it in sections, or pick a subject matter/category and start with the contents contained in one room each week. If you are trying to create a net worth statement or take care of other financial paperwork, start by collecting related documents or information you need with each 10 or 15 minute session, then move on to sorting and starting to record the information.
Here are some resources to help you move forward:
http://extension.missouri.edu/explorepdf/hesguide/famecon/gh3831.pdf – Managing Family Records publication from MU Extension. What records to keep, how long to keep them, and where to keep them.
http://extension.missouri.edu/explorepdf/commdm/emw1024.pdf MU Extension publication on Replacing Important Papers – i.e. – car title, birth certificates, etc.
http://missourifamilies.org/features/healtharticles/health115.htm – article on reducing clutter
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-iXOvkyAOk – Dan Heath’s video on shrinking change (work and personal life related). Dan Heath and Chip Heath wrote the book Switch: how to change things when change is hard.
http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/flying-lessons/decluttering-15-minutes/ – Decluttering and getting organized website mentioned in Dan Heath’s video above.
https://insurance.mo.gov/Contribute%20Documents/HomeInventoryChecklist.pdf – Home Inventory Checklist from Missouri Department of Insurance
https://knowyourstuff.org/ – free household inventory software and app – Insurance Information Institute
MyHome Scr.App.book – free household inventory app from National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Find more info on http://www.insureuonline.org/insureu_getready_newhome.htm