Beating the Organization Crunch
Beating the organization crunch. Plus, start saving for your kid's college now, and how to stop your office from making you fat.
Sue Frost helps people organize
their space in part by helping them
to organize their schedules.
Photograph by Tom Nutter
Beating the Organization Crunch
Having a hard time keeping your stuff and schedules together? A professional organizer could help. Plus, start saving for your kid's college education now. And how to stop your office from making you fat.
More than 90 percent of people surveyed recently by Psychology Today magazine declared an overwhelming sense of time poverty. As a result, many pay their bills late (and incur fees) because they lose them. They also waste nearly an hour a day looking for other lost things.
If you live in a house or work in an office that's in disarray, you may need a professional organizer. People such as Sue Frost of Organize My Life can help you sort through your stuff, your time and your priorities, then organize them.
"If someone asks me to help them organize a room such as their basement, I look for other areas that will be timesaving techniques for them," Frost says. She may, for instance, ask how they start their mornings, then make suggestions (such as lay out clothing for the next day). She helps clients identify their goals, then adjust their schedules to achieve them.
"Most of us are inundated with information, deadlines and responsibilities on a daily basis. It takes discipline and planning to maintain order, reach the goals that we set for ourselves, while carving out a little time to have a life," she says.
Here are a few helpful hints from Frost's favorite 15:
- In the office, pick a time when you have the most energy, then use it for tasks that need max oomph.
- Schedule 15 minutes at the end of the day to plan the next morning, then hit the ground running.
- Keep a to-do list and use it religiously. Move items from your to-do list to your calendar. (Use one calendar for work and social engagements.)
- At home, break large projects into small tasks. Think of organizing your dresser one drawer at a time. Then organize a cabinet. Eventually, the entire room will be organized.
- Look at everything in your closet. If you haven't worn something in a year, pass it on (except outfits for special occasions). Organizing a closet makes mornings easy, which has a big impact on your day.
- For every one thing you buy, get rid of at least two things. Space is finite.
- If you're shopping for new shoes and see something else you must have, go home and think. Odds are you won't go back, saving money and time.
Beating the Tuition Crunch
Delawareans aren't saving enough for college. That's why the treasurer's office has retooled the Delaware College Savings Plan and launched a new website. The site www.CollegeSavingsToolkit.com offers info on how to start saving, a college planner and calculator, and a downloadable savings kit.
According to the site, parents everywhere spend unwisely, are burdened by debt, and have unrealistic expectations about financial aid for their young students. More than half of all parents surveyed spent more on family vacations in 2006 than what they saved for college during that same year.
"Many parents watch spiraling costs of higher education and wonder how they will ever be able to afford it for their children," says State Treasurer Jack Markell. "Parents feel squeezed by these higher costs."
The site contains a plethora of information about the 529 Delaware College Investment plan, which allows anyone to set up an investment account for college expenses. Funds grow free of federal taxes when used to pay for tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies.
The funds can be used at any accredited college or university. Withdrawals can be made tax-free for residents. But if you move out of Delaware, parts of the plan may be affected by the tax laws of your new state. As of August 20, there were 25,268 Delaware College Investment Plan accounts totaling $386.6 million in assets.
To encourage families to start earlier and save more, changes to the plan, managed by Fidelity Investments, include adding investment options such as an index fund and reducing the minimum investment to start. For those who'll contribute monthly to a plan via electronic withdrawals from a savings or checking account, the minimum up-front investment is $15, with monthly contributions beginning at $15. For those who can invest periodically, the minimum is $50 to start.
To learn more about saving for college, visit www.CollegeSavingsToolkit.com, or sign up for classes with the Delaware Money School at www.delawaremoneyschool.com. You can also call (800) 267-5002 or 792-1200. There's also great information on financial issues at the state treasurer's website: http://treasurer.delaware.gov.
Hanging out in the break area, which is often full of high-sugar, high-fat, high-carb snacks such as doughnuts, can sink a good diet.
The Worker's 15
We all know that airborne viruses can tear through our office buildings like wildfire and make us sick. More troubling? Our offices can also make us fat.
The infamous Freshman 15 that plagues many new college students can also happen in the workplace.
"People often gain weight when they start a new job because they are going out more for lunch. They're trying to fit in and be part of a new group," says Kim Westcott, a registered dietician for Beebe Medical Center in Lewes. "They simply want to be social, and part of being social is going out to eat with others."
In additional to going out for lunch regularly, hanging out in the break area can be deadly for a diet. It's not so much grabbing that second or third cup of coffee (which is not great) that hurts. It's the doughnut or a piece of leftover birthday cake that gets you.
Westcott says that we're often too rushed in the mornings to eat a healthy breakfast before work, so we become hungry by mid-morning, thus inclined to eat whatever is available, be it doughnuts, cake or cookies from the vending machine. Too many mornings of that type of breakfast adds up to unwanted pounds. To make matters worse, we're too sedentary at work.
Westcott shares some helpful hints for staving unhealthy weight gain, whether you're settled in your job or a newcomer:
When ordering out or going out to eat, order the healthiest items on the menu. If you are ordering pizza, order a plain cheese pizza with a salad, then eat more salad than pizza.
Make sure there are healthy snacks in the vending machines. Instead of stocking them with cookies and greasy potato chips, load them with low-fat pretzels, baked potato chips and granola bars. Stock beverage vending machines with water and real fruit juice.
Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. That's eight 8-ounce glasses. Keep a filled water bottle by your desk at all times.
As for the office break room or snack area, stock it with granola or cereal bars and keep out a bowl of fresh fruit such as apples, bananas or oranges.
Instead of the elevator, take the stairs.