Opting Out of Catalogs

Now that the holidays are behind us, you may have noticed that you are receiving new catalogs in the mail simply because of your recent holiday shopping patterns.  There's a way to opt out of receiving most of these catalogs without having to contact each individual retailer.  Catalog Choice is a free service that offers opt-out requests for individual companies from one web site.  I used this service when they first came on the scene in 2007 and have noticed a drastic reduction in the number of catalogs landing in my mailbox.

The are also now offering a premium service where, for an annual $20 donation, they will communicate opt-outs to the third-party marketing companies that trade your name and personal information based on your buying history and behavioral characteristics.  This stops more mail at the source and enhances your privacy protection.  You may sign up for up to four name and address combinations that you want Catalog Choice to submit for unlisting. 

Save trees, stop catalogs from cluttering up your home, and protect your privacy by signing up at www.catalogchoice.org. 

Free Community Shred Fest

For those Better Organized readers who live in the Atlanta area, there is a free shredding event scheduled for Saturday, January 22 from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Toco Hill Shopping Center.  The event is co-sponsored by real estate agents Joan Kaplan and Tammy Martin along with professional organizers Michelle Cooper and Linda Lanier (who you may recognize as one of Creative Order's Lead Organizers).

Look for the Eco Shredding truck near the clock tower by Kroger.  To guarantee that your sensitive documents are definitely gone for good, you will be able to watch your papers being shred.  Even better, there's no limit to how much paper you can bring!  If you've got a bunch of shredding that you've been stockpiling, save your poor little office shredder and bring your papers to the Shred Fest.

This Shred Fest is being held in conjunction with the National Association of Professional Organizers'  Get Organized Month which occurs each January.  Declutter and make room in your file cabinet for your more current and active files.  This is the perfect opportunity to get rid of those boxes of old papers that have been piled up in your home or office! 

For more information about this event, you can reach Michelle Cooper at 404.784.2100 / michelle@put-it-there.com or Linda Lanier at 404.435.8425 / linda@put-it-there.com.

National Clean Off Your Desk Day

Photo by VirtualCourtney on flickr.com

Every second Monday in January is "Clean Off Your Desk Day" and what a great way to start off the new year!  Here in Atlanta, we're buried under about five inches of snow today making this the perfect time for my local organizing clients to tackle their desks at homes.

Here are a few tips to get you started:
  • Gather your supplies:  big trash bag or garbage can, a small box or container for the paper to be shredded, another box or laundry hamper for those items that need to be moved elsewhere in the house or office, hanging or manila file folders, depending on how you prefer to manage your files, and a label maker.
  • Start with a bird's eye view of your office and quickly grab anything that isn't supposed to live on your desk or in your office.  Put these items into a "MOVE" hamper/box.
  • Notice whether there are any other extraneous items on the top of your desk.  This includes framed photos, freebies from trade shows, excessive quantities of Post-It notes, etc.  These items need to be off your desk and placed elsewhere in your home or office.  The only thing on your desk top should be items and files that you use often.
  • If you don't have a supply drawer, create a makeshift one using a drawer organizer insert that sits on top of your desk.  Or you can use the upturned top of a decorative organizing box to house commonly used office supplies, which is what I do.  The supplies I use less often live in the bottom drawer of a rolling file holder that sits next to my desk under my printer shelf. 
  • Now combine all of your paper into one pile.
  • Start with the top piece of paper and work your way down.  For each piece of paper on your desk, decide whether to Keep, Shred, Throw Away, or Delegate.  If you are keeping it, add it either to your FILE pile if it's reference material or to your ACTION pile if there is an action that you need to follow up and do related to that piece of paper.  Remember to put paper that can be delegated into the DELEGATE pile with the person's name who you're delegating to on the top of the page or on a Post-It note.  If the paper is home-related, feel free to delegate it to appropriate family members.
  • After you get through your paper pile, if you have the energy and brainpower left to continue, file the paper in your FILE pile creating either manila or hanging files for your file cabinet or desktop holder.  If you don't have a file cabinet, a plastic file box with ridges for hanging files will suffice.   These are often on sale at your office supply store during tax season.
  • THEN, if your brain has not yet exploded, decide how you want to handle your ACTION pile.  Prioritize the action items by how critical they are and when their deadlines hit.  Many people find a tickler/reminder system such as the 43 Files system that David Allen writes about in "Getting Things Done" which is the one that I prefer.
  • Finally, deliver all of the items in your MOVE hamper to their appropriate rooms in the house or office.
If all of this is too much for you to take on in one day, go ahead and make this your "Clean Off Your Desk WEEK" and break it down into smaller steps.  Then enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a clean desk!