By Lissa Cupp, vice president, e-Commerce & Consumer Marketing, ACCO Brands

Whether it’s that buildup of paper all over your desk and floor or a backlog of e-mail in Outlook, disorganization and clutter are costing you dearly. When you lack organization in the workplace, at home and at school, it produces multiple negative results, like missed deadlines or appointments, for example. Even more importantly, this clutter can actually COST you time and money.

Believe it or not, there are actually many “costs” associated with clutter and the need to deal with it. In addition to heightened stress levels and the general discouragement you get from just looking at the piles of stuff, clutter has a direct impact on your wallet and bank account. Examples of this include:

  • Living spaces so crowded that you need to move into a larger home
  • A garages packed to the gills with everything from boxes of old dishes to baseball cards and collectibles—there’s not even room for your second largest asset: your car, which is left outside to deal with the elements
  • Costs associated with rented storage space for all of your overflow clutter
  • Duplicate purchases of items that you already have but simply can’t find
  • Late fees attached to bills that go unpaid because you’ve misplaced them or never knew they arrived by mail in the first place
  • Missed opportunities to save money or have a night on the town when you can’t locate gift cards or event tickets

Bottom line: The more stuff cluttering your living- and work-spaces, the higher your maintenance and retention costs. So, how do you fix this clutter problem?

First and foremost, always remember that there is no right or wrong way to get organized. Whatever works best for you is the answer. That said, to get you headed in the right direction, we have some tips that will help you start and continue this process.

  • Start with the “big picture” in mind. Figure out your priorities, and it will be easier to organize your things.
  • Use a planning and organizing system. Eliminate scraps of paper by keeping your calendars, schedules and to-do lists in a single binder or a file on your electronic device or computer.
  • Invest time to plan each day, and make it a time when you’re least likely to be distracted.
  • Make appointments with yourself. Schedule your filing time, for instance, on your calendar. Be sure to break down the process into smaller, more manageable segments.
  • Batch the little things. It’s most efficient to do routine chores such as reading mail and filing all at once so you can get on with your day.
  • Keep your primary work area free of clutter so you can concentrate. Move your “in” box away from that area to minimize distractions.
  • Sort your clutter into three categories: Keep, Trash and Donate/Sell. Don’t be afraid to make the hard decisions when purging certain items—pack rats need to prepare themselves for this!

The key is to be sure to keep the “big picture” in mind at all times. After all, organization isn’t a destination—it’s a journey. Make your journey stress-free and financially lucrative by clearing out that clutter today!

[photo by purpleslog]

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