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My dad used to say, “Kristen, you’re so smart, you’re stupid!”

While not the most affirming, take a look at the truth in that statement. Just because you have BRAIN and BOOK smarts, doesn’t mean you have PRACTICAL smarts.

Even the smartest person can become overwhelmed to stupidom by expense reports, monthly bills, finances and just plain mail cluttering up an office or home, if he/she doesn't know what to do with the mess.

This costs money, time, energy and health. Money because you make late payments or can’t get reimbursed without THAT receipt. Time, because it takes you forever to find and organize, five months after the fact. Energy and Health, because that lost receipt or lost client phone number keeps you from sleeping, slipping you into a state of anxiety/depression/frailty.

Yes, I’m aware of the 2016 University of Minnesota study by Kathleen Vohs. It compares and contrasts Clean/Messy environments with Conventional/Creative outcomes. In case you are wondering, the study does give messies a pass. However, that kind of thinking will keep you living in the same disorganized state, on the verge of failure (if not at least feeling like one.)

Below are seven quick thoughts and ideas that may help you move smoothly from creative insanity to relative stability.

  1. OWN IT - So, MESSIES of the world (of which I am one) OWN IT! Own that you are messy and begin to live smarter by taking some small practical steps today.
  2. SNAP & CHAT - When you go to dinner, take a photo of that business receipt before you leave the restaurant. There are apps for your phone that allow you to immediately file the photo and assign it a GL number. Expensify is awesome – free for individuals or $5 per employee. If you are unsure about your bookkeeping, check out this wallposter and article on Small Business Basic Bookkeeping.
  3. RECYCLE NOW – When you pick up the mail, STOP at the recycle/trash/shredder (and don’t let the lack of a shredder keep you from doing this part – you can order one online later tonight for $15. For right now, STOP at the trash can).
    • Pick out all the mail that immediately needs to be tossed.
    • Tear up credit card applications – don’t even look at them – tear your eyeballs out if you have to, but that credit card app will either a)sit on your kitchen counter collecting grease OR b)will be the death of you because as Dave Ramsey says, “Debt is Dumb and Cash is King!”.
    • Have a basket close to your keys for BILLS ONLY. BTW – you can get most bills sent to your email, bypassing this step altogether.
    • Toss sales gimmicks – yes, even the one that says you have certainly won (the chance for) A CAR. These are time-wasters and puts you at risk of potentially leasing or buying a car (and anything else) you can’t afford.
    • Take a photo of birthday cards etc… you receive and text or email a quick thank you to the person who sent it, then yes, throw it away. (Get the gift card out of the envelope first and put it in your wallet.)
  4. TIME FOR SUCCESS: Set a timer, seriously, and make it re-occurring on your phone.  You can do anything for 8 minutes! Set your timer and for eight minutes go through the existing stack of crap that you’ve been staring at, then with three handy tools – a box marked KEEP, one marked THROW AWAY and one marked GIVE AWAY, begin to bring order to the chaos. Tomorrow  do the same, and then the next day. Before long the crap stack is no more, and you will have gotten some small reaffirming "way-to-go's" along the way. 8 minutes…now GO!
  5. HIRE SOMEONE: If you really don’t have time or you can’t keep on top of it, then hire a professional organizer to help you. Don’t be embarrassed, they have seen worse and besides, you will be helping a local entrepreneur like yourself. Get references and be smart about this, especially if they are handling financial paperwork. Some organizers are also accountants who can provide varied levels of service. The National Association of Professional Organizers is a place to start.
  6. CREATE A LEGACY: Another tip that I picked up from a Dave Ramsey podcast is to create a Legacy Box that contains your will, your important financial paperwork and specific instructions about what to do when you die. This is a LOVE GIFT to your family and employees, a gift that keeps on giving.
  7. TAKE THE CHALLENGE: If your problem is HOME – take the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge.  You can apply many of the ideas to a business environment, just apply a little creativity. 

This is in NO WAY an exhaustive list. It’s actually my own to-do list. Sometimes I fall off the wagon and have to knock myself around a bit to get back on, but the time and effort invested bring GREAT REWARDS. If you have your own tips, please leave them in the comment section. 

Hey, I feel smarter already and I hope you do too!  

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