GULFPORT – Have you forgotten what your desktop looks like because it’s constantly buried under a pile of paperwork? Does “post tornado modern” describe
the general decor of your office? Getting and staying organized is a major challenge, and one that often isn’t high on the list of priorities. The excuse can be, “Who has
time for getting organized when the day is jam packed with other activities?”
If getting organized has been on your list of things to do, but you haven’t gotten around to it, then here’s a nudge. October 1 through 7 is “Get Organized Week”, an
event promoted by the National Association of Professional Organizer.
Taking the time to get organized can relieve stress as well as greatly improve productivity, says Tammy Bridenbeck, a professional organizer in Gulfport.
“One of the main advantages to getting organized is that you remain in control of your own self,” Bridenbeck said. “When you are disorganized, you are out of control.
You don’t know how to retrieve things, so you lose a lot of time. The second thing besides remaining in control of yourself is that you can be so much more
productive. The third thing is that you don’t have rely on someone else to get your work done. For example, you don’t have to call someone to get a copy of the utility
Bridenbeck provides professional organizing for both homes and businesses. The business assistance includes setting up paper or computer filing systems, help with
custom business forms, streamlining data processing, coordinating projects, clutter control, help with scheduling and space efficiency and planning.
For personal assistance, she helps organize filing systems for paperwork and photographs, helps with event planning and even organizes garage sales. She often finds
garages are the most cluttered and least organized area of a home.
Bridenbeck said the biggest mistake people make is hesitating to throw things away. She says the size of a home, office or warehouse can be doubled by throwing
away unnecessary items such as old paperwork and magazines, outdated computers and other office equipment, and broken or outdated furniture. Anything broken
that isn’t going to be taken and fixed in a reasonable amount of time needs to be discarded.
“We keep so much stuff that is just not necessary,” she said. “Most people believe they always run out of space, but they don’t. You can maximize space like you
wouldn’t believe if you get organized. People have too much stuff they are scared to throw it away. They don’t want it, but don’t want to throw it out.”
Unwanted presents are a prime example. Some people keep them around for years because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of the person who gave it to them.
People also tend to be scared of throwing away paperwork, especially old bank statements, cancelled check and tax records.
“Eighty percent of paperwork that comes in isn’t needed,” says Bridenbeck, who has been working as a professional organizer for two years. “People are afraid so
they keep everything. You don’t have to keep everything. It is very important to stay streamlined on your paperwork.”
People may keep all that paperwork because of vague fears of an IRS audit. But Bridenbeck says most people don’t get audited by the IRS on a large scale, and so
are only going to need a few pieces of paperwork if they are audited. The problem is, if the paperwork is not organized, you might have to shift through a vast amount
of papers just to get the few papers needed for the audit. And since if people are going to be audited it will be within a three-year period, it isn’t necessary to keep tax
papers that are a decade or more old.
Also, since most important paperwork is stored on a computer disk these days, you can discard most of the paperwork knowing that you can get another copy if
necessary. Banks, for example, keep old statement records and copies of cancelled checks on disk. So, if it turns out you need an old bank statement, it can be
provided by the bank.
Systems for scanning in records into computers are relatively inexpensive these days, too. So instead of hassling with paper filing, scanning in records for storage on
the computer or a disk can save time and space. It can also make it easier to retrieve the information.
Besides offices, Bridenbeck finds that warehouses can be a huge depository for useless clutter. People are often surprised when she finishes with how much space
they have available.
Bridenbeck primarily focuses on helping business people get organized. But she says that disorganization in one’s professional life usually means things are pretty
disorganized at home, as well.
“You cannot be disorganized in just one area of your life,” she said. “Disorganization spills over. You can’t be extremely organized at work and go home and be a pig.
If you are disorganized in one area of your life, all areas of your life will suffer. That’s the bottom line.”
Being organized should be considered a continuing, ongoing process, not an one-time event. You don’t just wake up one day and are suddenly organized forever. It
takes daily effort. It is similar to staying physically fit: it takes practice each day.
The common excuse, “I’m just not a very organized person,” doesn’t cut it. Bridenbeck thinks people who say that just haven’t learned how to be organized, and then
practiced. And while getting organized won’t happen overnight and it does take time and effort, the rewards are many.
“Organizing is very healing and cleansing,” Bridenbeck says. “It does something for your general well-being.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Becky Gillette at firstname.lastname@example.org or (228) 872-3457.