Life feeling hectic? Get organized with these tips.

Can you believe it's already 2018?

If you're like most people, you've probably hit the ground running with no thought of putting on the brakes. Not so fast! At the start of a new year, it's important to slow down, take stock, and regroup so you can tackle the year ahead with confidence. And what better time to do so than during National Get Organized Month? This January, take the opportunity to start fresh and get organized.

Your future self will thank you!

Cut the clutter:

Create keep, toss, and donate piles (or boxes) for each room in your house, then go through each room (splitting it up over multiple weekends if you're short on time) and allocate your belongings to the appropriate piles. For items that end up in the keep pile, make sure they have a drawer, bin, or box to live in; otherwise, toss or donate!

Think inside the box:

Each item in your home should have a home of its own. But those spaces shouldn't just be heaps of stuff; they should be thoughtfully arranged and easy to access. Use drawer dividers to keep items separate, and opt for clear containers or labeled boxes so you know where to find things. If using open storage, such as bookshelves, arrange things neatly so they're pleasing to look at (e.g., by size or color). And be sure to always put things back where you found them.

Be a minimalist:

Once you've purged your excess junk and organized the rest, how do you keep things from reverting to their original, chaotic state? The key is to avoid adding to your belongings. Adopt this simple principle: When you get something new, get rid of something else to make room for it. And before you buy, ask yourself whether it's a true necessity or just a luxury.

Categorize it:

Just as everything in your home should have a designated spot, so should your digital files. Create separate folders for photos, finances, employment docs, etc., and create sub-categories by date or subject matter.

Back up your files:

Whether it's through cloud storage or an external hard drive, schedule a routine backup for all your devices, so you never have to worry about losing valuable data.

Manage your email:

Create a system to sort and prioritize your email, either manually (easy to do in Gmail or Outlook) or with programs like Sortd or SaneBox that prioritize it for you.

Plan ahead and prioritize:

Take control of your time by identifying areas where you're least productive (try Rescue Time or Checky), then set daily and weekly goals to stay focused on what's most important.

Leverage technology:

If you need help managing your schedule or tackling to-dos, use productivity apps such as, MyLifeOrganized, or Wunderlist.

Learn to say no:

There are only so many hours in a day, and no amount of planning, prioritizing, or technology can change that. Protect your time by learning to say no when you need to.

Another important part of getting organized involves taking time to evaluate your finances, current life situation, and long-term goals. Talk to your financial advisor and insurance company to ensure you have the right plans in place for you and your family. Also, set aside time to reassess your home financing. Whether you have lived in your home for some time or are considering purchasing your first home, let's connect to make sure you have the right financing options for your situation.

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