Tax Time!

It’s NOT the most non-wonderful time of the year! (To be sang sans holiday joy.) Well, I guess it depends on your outcome. Did you get a refund this year? Woohoo! What luxurious vacation destination do you have in mind? Or maybe you’re buying that couch that you’ve needed in your family room…no wait, that’s me. Perhaps Uncle Sam wasn’t so good to you and you’ve got to pay up. Not fun. Whether I’m paying or buying that much wanted couch, tax time signifies something else for me. It’s my annual home office clean out!

     Why do I choose this time of the year to go through my office papers? Yes, it’s spring, time for that big clear out, getting rid of the old and making way for the new. But more importantly, at this time of the year we are going through our papers anyway, leafing through credit card statements (if you still receive paper), receipts, paper work for camps and daycares…all the documents that make our homes and work world tick and run smoothly. I am also an ASL/English interpreter and I work as an independent contractor, basically running my own business. There are plenty of documents that accumulate for this profession. So while I am going through all these papers, clearing away 2018, I may as well clear out all of the prior year, and get that desk and closet together too!

I’m working on clearing out five files each day, starting this evening. Note: no perfect labels but all my papers have homes.

     First I start with my files. While many documents are now stored online, I still find myself with a plethora of paperwork, be it for health care, the kids and school, home purchases or as mentioned before, my other day job. I’m sure you all find yourself with an abundance of items that need to be documented, so you get the picture. The question is, how long do you have to keep them? It depends on what the item is. If you go to www.irs.gov, you can find the guidelines for how long to keep tax returns and documents of the like. It is generally recommended 3-7 years, with different criteria being noted. The same runs true for bank statements. I keep my tax documents, though transfer them to a storage area in my home, and they are not at arm’s reach in my file cabinet anymore. Any other document pertaining to the prior year is shred. I can access all my bills and credit card statements on line, my various insurances have all been updated and I have new policies to file, my flexible spending has all been approved and taken care of at this point so I no longer need them, and the list goes on. Get my point? You do not need to have an abundance of paper dragging you down and stagnating your energy. Make way for 2019 and new blessings to come.

See the wooden knob? I will finally put it back on the drawer during this clear out.

     Next, clean out those desk drawers and cabinets. I tend to do little clean ups through out the year, and if you are keeping up with putting things in their proper “homes” this really doesn’t take too long. My kids are constantly giving me little tchotchkes throughout the year and I tend to store them in my drawer. When I open it up, I think of my cherubs. At the end of the year, some of these can be tossed but others continue to warm my heart and I get a little burst of joy when I look at them. Can you see that little morning commuter guy with the red shirt and coffee? My son Luke went through a phase where we played GeoTrax every morning for hours. That little figure (Hank…he had a friend named Talilah) reminds me of our time together and makes my heart sing.

No closet pic. It is a shared space with personal items. Note all the paper in the center…it’s paper I cut up and repurposed as scrap.

     Next, I will hit the closet. What items have accumulated but are no longer needed? What possessions are necessary for the functioning of our home and businesses? Is there anything in here that is no longer relevant? Wires from old phones or devices that we no longer need? All these I give away or bring to electronic recycle day at the township. Clear out anything that no longer serves you.

      I’d also like to share where I keep my warranties and appliance manuals. All of these documents are saved in this one file bin (see above) and kept it in the basement. Any time I need to look something up, I have it right there at my finger tips. It’s a great method.

        One last thing. If you are sharing your space, it may be difficult to accomplish this clear out if the other person is not on board with you. That is okay. Maybe your partner/roommate works on a different timeline or is not ready to purge and create new space. I’ve learned to stay in my own lane and do what I can to clear what space is mine and the items that are mine. Sometimes your office mate is then motivated and if not, no biggie. Once I’m cleared out I can function in my own organized space and it’s all good.

     This sounds like a really tall order, right? Who the hell has time for this? Use the ten minute rule we talked about last week. This is the only way I can actually get it all done, and as I’ve said before, once you have a good organizational foundation, it really doesn’t take too long. I give myself an entire month to complete the task so it’s not so overwhelming. Set that timer, blast some Jack Johnson, and make way for a new year of abundance to come your way!

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