Life Hack: How to Organize Your Least Favorite Room

You know the room. It might be your office with towering stacks of paper that loom so high they’re giving the Dubai skyline a run for its money. Or maybe it’s your dining room, where the ghosts of sit-down-dinners past sadly meander among a tableful of junk. The worst part of being disorganized isn’t that you can’t find anything when you need it. It’s not even the embarrassment you feel when an unexpected guest drops by. The worst part about living with disorganization is that it makes you feel like crap.

How to Organize Your Least Favorite Room
Do you have a room in your house that looks like this?

You wake up, have your coffee, read the paper. You’re feeling pretty good, looking forward to your day. Then something ominous invades your peripheral vision – it’s that blasted pile of receipts, bills, unopened mail, expense reports, tax documents, and God knows what else. A dark cloud of anxiety and exasperation morphs your good mood into sour dread. You know you need to organize that mess, but where to begin? And how can you organize such a random conglomeration of documents from so many different areas of your life?

1. Use Less Will Power

Have you noticed that will power only becomes an issue when you don’t want to do something? You never have to use will power to eat pizza, sleep in, or watch your favorite movie. You actually want to do those things. But at a certain point – say, if you’ve had a few pizza slices too many – the desire to lose weight and eat healthy may become stronger than the desire to sample Domino’s Friday night special.

Until inspiration strikes, let the piles lay where they may. Forcing yourself to get organized saps all the fun out of the process, makes you feel guilty and tired, and prevents you from making the kind of long-term changes that will keep you organized in the future.

2. Assemble the Proper Tools

Learning how to organize is really just learning how to choose the right people and services to do the organizing for you. Shoeboxed services can certainly remove a lot of the organizational burden you’re facing, no matter how insurmountable it seems to you right now. But it takes two to tango!  Researching various applications, software programs and online services can easily turn into a full time job in itself.

Begin your organizational journey by conducting some online research about going paperless, and ask your always-organized friends what they’ve done to be successful. You may be surprised to hear that they’ve faced many of the same challenges as you. Selecting organizational tools is like creating a support team that will be with you every step of the way.

3. Don’t Work So Hard

Once you’ve chosen a web-based application and have at least two inspiring friends on speed dial, it’s time to dive in. That means you’re actually going to start separating documents into piles, scanning receipts, and morphing your mess into something that others can make sense of. But slow and steady wins the race, my friend. You don’t want to burn out on the first day by organizing like a maniac for 12 hours straight.

Set the timer on your phone for an embarrassingly small amount of time – 5 minutes, 2 minutes, even 30 seconds!  Tackle your piles with gusto for that amount of time, and then walk away. You’ll feel great about accomplishing exactly what you set out to do, and the next day, when you’re really not feeling motivated, you’ll think “Hey, it’s just 30 seconds. I can stand anything for 30 seconds.” Before you know it, a week will have gone by, and you’ll start to see an impressive dent in your mountain of mayhem. You may even find you start to ignore your timer when it goes off because you prefer to keep working.

4. Impulse Shopping for Inner Peace

When you’re learning how to organize, it’s important to create a work space that is inspiring and motivates you to keep going.  If your room of woe is the spare bedroom, you probably already associate the space with feelings of dread, anxiety and guilt. In order to spend the time needed to get organized, and to enjoy yourself in the process, you need to go shopping!

Go to your favorite flea market, thrift store, or art gallery. Find a painting, a poster, scented candles, a flowering plant, or anything else that inspires you and makes you feel good. Don’t choose just any old thing – it should be something completely unique to both you and the house, something that causes a visceral reaction within you. Bring your precious treasure home and place it in the room where it will be in your line of vision while you work. When frustrations arise, stop what you’re doing and gaze at the painting, water the plant, or inhale the candle’s scent. You’ll start to associate your inner feelings of calm inspiration with the room that used to totally freak you out.

The key to learning how to organize your space and your life is to go easy on yourself. Most people feel they could be more organized – you are not alone! And you’re certainly not alone as you begin your quest for an office, a study, or a dining room that is completely paperless and clutter-free. With an endlessly helpful tool like Shoeboxed, you have a built-in support team on your side every single step of the way.

The greatest thing about organizing your home or office is that doing so makes you feel mentally organized.  How could you possibly feel happy and peaceful inside, when you’re staring at a ginormous pile of ancient tax returns? Learning how to organize your space, while having many practical benefits for day to day living, is a great way to create internal balance and harmony within yourself. And let’s be honest – isn’t that what we’re all really looking for when we begin our organizational adventure?

Xero: the Ankylosaurus of Accounting Solutions

Since this week’s featured platform is one of the most user-friendly of the accounting solutions we’ve unearthed, it’s the first one we’re comparing to an herbivore. But the Ankylosaurus is not just any herbivore: it might just be the most indestructible one out there. And without further ado, here’s the next installment in our accounting solutions Dino Series: Xero.

At an impressive length of up to 30 feet and weight over 13,000 pounds, you wouldn’t want to meet an Ankylosaurus in a dark alley (or cave). Add some impressive armor and a large tail club, and you’d think the Ankylosaurus was built to fight– but you’d be wrong. The Ankylosaurus had a reputation for being a rather affable herbivore.

Xero Accounting Solutions

Xero is an online platform that has herds of satisfied customers. Regarded by many as an all-in-one solution, Xero combines real-time bank transactions, invoicing, expense claims and contact management into one easy to use dashboard.  Just as the Ankylosaurus sometimes traveled in packs for increased efficiency, Xero has come to understand the effectiveness of consolidation with their long list of features, add-ons and partners (including Shoeboxed!).  Even if Xero doesn’t provide the exact service you’re looking for, you can rest assured that one of its 50+ add-ons will meet your needs.  If you’re still not satisfied, Xero releases new features every three to six weeks based on customer feedback, so be sure to drop them a line and let them know what you want!

Even though it’s the most congenial of the dinosaurs we’ve featured, the Ankylosaurus was so tough that even the Tyrannosaurus Rex would have a hard time battling a full-grown adult. Xero should be seen the same way among the accounting solutions available: it is so easy to use and versatile that once Xero continues to gain momentum globally, it could be the major contender in the small business accounting space. The competition would have a hard time biting into their loyal customer base. Here is what you can expect from going vegetarian with Xero:

Xero Strengths:

  • Very user-friendly and intuitive
  • Integrates with bank feeds and cross-references receipts for reconciliation
  • Easy to read dashboard with key summaries for your business
  • Offers support for many international currencies
  • Cloud-based for multiple access points (with unlimited users!)
  • Complete sales tax support (quarterly and annual filing reports available)
  • Offers a partner program which allows accountants and/or partner(s) to access and manage accounts via one central page

Xero Weaknesses:

  • Xero is still considered a relatively new option for accounting solutions in the U.S., so your accountant might not be familiar with it
  • Does not handle inventory, purchases and stock
  • Payroll is only available in Australia for now, so users in other countries will need to use add-ons or other packages
  • Monthly fee (SaaS) increases with add-ons
  • Exporting data from Xero can be time consuming

It also happens to be true that the Ankylosaurus had the smallest brain to body ratio, making it not the “brightest” dinosaur that ever lived. That being said, Xero is designed so that users who might know next to nothing about accounting can keep accurate books that will satisfy their picky accountant. (Accountants love Xero too!)

Xero is probably best for business owners who:Xero Accounting Solutions

  • Need an easy-to-use platform with access for their accountants
  • Work in any industry
  • Are planning on building their business (very scalable option)
  • Are looking for access to tons of informational resources and people
  • Travel or do business internationally

While you’re marinating on which of the accounting solutions we’ve featured is best for your business, consider Xero. If you like free trials and products that are easy to use, Xero might be the best of the accounting solutions for you.  Like the Ankylosaurus, Xero isn’t designed to be the largest dinosaur on the block; however, it is large enough to build and support an exceptional product, yet nimble enough to deliver innovative features that fulfill users’ changing needs.

You can’t go wrong with a serving of nutritious vegetables and a powerfully simple accounting platform with a cult following.

Thinking about trying Xero? Already using Xero? Please share your Xero experiences (or any of the other accounting solutions) and let us know what you think in the comments below!

How to Get Organized: Life hacks to organize your life, go paperless, and save time (Part III)

Organizing your life might be a daunting task– and it will likely require more than a blog article of advice. So we’ve decided to dedicate our Friday posts to “how to get organized” by biting off manageable chunks of life’s clutter to help you get organized!

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 How to Get Organized for Efficient Travel

Even if you’re heading out for a relaxing vacation, traveling can be stressful if you aren’t properly prepared.  How to get organized for efficient traveling can be easily conquered if you divide tasks into a systematic plan. From planning your itinerary to how you pack your bags, there are plenty of little ‘life hacks’ waiting to make your life easier on the road!how to get organized for efficient travel

 1: Go Paperless

We live in the technology age, where it’s simple to have an entire “folder” of documents in the palm of your hand. From travel visas to GPS directions, we can plan and organize our entire travel itinerary from our phones/tablets/computers on the go. How to get organized for travel no longer requires a manila folder with printed itineraries and boarding passes. Here are some cool tools that will convert you from a confused tourist to a savvy traveler:

2: Create a Checklist

With all of the apps available these days, it’s easy to create a reusable checklist for every time you travel. Granted, how to get organized for each specific trip might require some particular items or special planning, but overall you run through the same essentials on each trip. One of our favorite apps to use is Evernote. Use the app to create a checklist that you can reuse each trip that will list your travel essentials: special clothes, toiletries, travel documents, electronics, chargers, mediations, etc. For the most part, the basics don’t change, and having a reusable list makes it easier each time you travel to not forget anything critical. It is also easy to check things off the list as you’re running out the door. You can even put your itinerary and any other travel lists in a customizable notepad dedicated to traveling in Evernote.

3: Less is More

Since most business trips don’t include a pack horse or camel, you should avoid being an over-packer since you’ll be the one schlepping your extra belongings around. Knowing how to get organized when packing your suitcase is critical to packing light and efficiently:

  • Pack heavy items on the bottom or towards the wheels of your suitcase so they don’t squish your other belongings.
  • Keep a plastic bag full of your travel-sized items that you only use when traveling. Just grab the whole bag each time you’re packing and make it easy not to forget any critical toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, floss, etc.).
  • Pack clothing that is easy to wear twice and not wrinkle; polyester and silk jersey are great travel fabrics. Plan outfits that can be mixed/matched and also layered. (Life hack: It is more space efficient to roll your clothing instead of folding it.)how to get organized for efficient travel
  • Pick up a Tide To-Go Pen or some Shout wipes to keep your clothes spot free on the go.
  • Don’t pack unnecessaries: Do you work out at home? No? Will you really workout in the hotel gym? Doubtful. Spare yourself the trouble of hauling novelty items.
  • Checking your luggage? Plan on still carrying a small carry-on bag with a few extra clothes and essentials. You never know if your bag will actually make it to your destination or if a cancelled flight will have you spending the night in the luxurious and accommodating airport terminal…

How to get organized for travel isn’t complicated. But if you forget something crucial it can be much more of a headache when you are out of town. Being an efficient traveler also makes your life a little easier while you’re working remotely and when you come back into town. Planning ahead isn’t always easy when life throws you curveballs, but worse case scenario, you pick up a parka if you get caught in an out-of-season snowstorm. Rolling with the punches is what make traveling exciting (and also gives you better stories when you return to the office)!

What are your tips and tricks for “how to get organized for efficient travel?” Tell us in the comments below!