Tips to Being Organized

The fun and excitement of the holidays are over leaving us asking What to do.Why, get organized, of course! Actually, I'm quite serious. And so is NAPO (national association of professional organizers), which announced January a national organizing month - can you believe it?! So in this spirit, I wanted to share with you some of the things that I do to stay on top of my game. Hey, I don't claim to be an expert and have the total know-how - nobody does. What I do know is that I get frequent compliments on how organized I am and questions of how I do it.

So here it goes - from me to you. 1. Make lists (and save them). a. I keep my to-do list as an electronic file (I use excel, others use outlook, there other programs as well), so that tracking progress and changing priorities is efficient. The key word here is 'changing'.

Our to-do's are ever changing, so it's important to manipulate the list in such a way that it stays clean, accurate, and easy to grasp at a glance. b. I do my best to keep one master list. Having said that, I also need to tell you that I keep a note pad by my bed and in my car - for that unexpected moment when a brilliant thought strikes me (surprising they didn't come up with a pad for the shower - isn't it where most ingenious work happens?). While I write everything down on my small note pads, I also then transfer it to the master list and prioritize. c.

Those lists that will repeat themselves every year are saved. Here is an example. Vitali and I host Thanksgiving dinner every year. As much as I love being creative, I also know that mashed potatoes are sure to make the dinner table. So is the salad, cranberry sauce - you get the idea.

I made a dinner list and a corresponding shopping list three years ago titled "Thanksgiving Dinner 2005" - since then 2006 and 2007 have been added. Same list - less repeat work. 2. Block out time.

I block out three hours every other week to write this newsletter. I block out two days a week for all my customer appointments. I have one day for all my installations.

I block out time to do my e-mail and time to disregard it (I have to tell you sometimes NOT succumbing to checking e-mail is the hardest task of all - I know you know what I mean). Blocking time allows me to concentrate, instead of being random and chaotic. 3.

Use technology. Whichever technology you use, make sure to know its capabilities. On the advice of a good friend, I recently discovered the most brilliant feature of Outlook - Rules and Alerts. I now forward e-mails from specific senders or with specific key-words in to predetermined folders. I'm sure it's only one of the great many features that I didn't know - and I consider myself pretty fluent in it - go figure.

My point is there are some things that are worth spending time on learning - they will save you a lot of time later on. 4. Be ruthless. With your stuff that is.

If I have a piece of clothing that I haven't worn in a year - it will be donated. If I have piece of paper (old brochure, etc) that's been lying on my desk for over two weeks, it will be thrown out. Also if I get a new piece of paper (mail, print-out, another brochure) and don't know fairly immediately which folder or designated place it belongs, it will most likely be thrown out. 5. One-touch approach.

I know you've heard of it. Very difficult to do, but very effective, at least for me. If an e-mail is opened, it's either replied to, filed away, or deleted. Those that linger in the in-box for over few days, end up there for a long time, usually followed by "I'm so sorry to get back to you so late" message. Same principal with snail-mail. Same with voice-mails - I use the reply function on my phone (for me it's #8) address the message, then delete it.

6. Have a designated place. I have folders for everything. Physical folders for hard copies.

Folders for e-mails in outlook. Folders for word, excel, etc documents on the hard-drive. This also applies to personal things: important or trivial.

There is a designated place for each thing. 7. Have multiples of frequently-used stuff. This probably sounds counter-intuitive and strange in light of what I talked about above.

Here is what I mean by this. I have a pair of scissors on every floor (sometimes two or three per). I have a stapler in three different places.

The cleaning supplies are on two floors. Whichever items you find yourself needing on a regular basis, make sure to have them handy. Ok, I don't follow 100% of these tips 100% of the time. I am still a work in progress. I am 100% committed to getting 100% better.

Vita Vygovska, Owner of V2K Window Décor and More, a full-service custom window treatment company, will transform your ordinary window to extraordinary with professionalism from beginning to end. To set an appointment or receive your free Special Report: Top 10 Know How's on Custom Window Treatments plus the 'Curtain Call' ezine, visit .

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