Filter on the Fly

One of the best ways to deal with your stuff is to filter on the fly. By doing a bit of prep work up front, purging papers, donating goods, and keeping up on a clutter free life are made easy.

Donation Station: Set aside a place for a donation box at work or home. Ensure that when you fill a box, you add another so there is always a place for new additions. Commit to not taking things out of the donation box.

Shred Box: Don’t let shredding slow you down. Keep a shred box in a convenient location. Place papers that need to be destroyed in the shred box. You can then shred when it is convenient or take the box to a local shredding company when it is full.

How to filter on the Fly
Pay a bit more attention to your surroundings. We tend to block out what we see everyday so our brains are not overloaded with information. If you try a shirt on and go “Yuck!” walk it over the donation station. See coffee cups no one has used in a year, they are out of here. Instead of stock piling office supplies (all those file holders, caddies, and sorters that seemed like a good idea at the time) donate them. See a knick knack, do you love it? If you (and your housemates) answer “No” then to the box it goes.

Don’t pass over those papers.
It can be so easy to move a stack aside again and again without knowing what it contains. Instead of moving it all, commit to doing something with what is on top or the top inch. Aging papers usually need to be recycled, shredded, or filed. If the thought of filing stops you in your tracks, you need to simplify your filing system. In the mean time, create a file, bag or box and label it “2012 To File.” Even if you never make pretty files out of those papers they are in one place and dated (guiding rules 1 and 2 for papers.)

An email a day feels great.
I recently started cleaning out my in box one email at a time. Starting with the oldest email I had saved.
Do I care about this anymore? Is it relevant anymore?
No- delete it
Yes – continue
Do I need to save this as a record or receipt?
Yes- Print it to PDF and file accordingly. Then delete it.
Do I need to follow up on this?
Yes- Do it right then and there.

I have many emails color coded for “blogs” and “Facebook.” These emails include reference information that I want to share.
What do I do?
Option1: Print to PDF blog reference material with the topic as the document name. File it in my “To Write” folder.
Option 2: Forward the email to myself with a subject like “Health care on W’2s.” This allows me to easily see the topic and reason why I have the email saved.
Option 3: Post it right then and there.

Filtering on the fly takes away the need and burden of the Big Purge. It is an exercise in letting go. You will need to meet “I might need that someday” head on. Ask yourself “what is the worst thing in reality that could happen if I need this someday and do not have it?”

People who take “I might need that someday” to heart end up living the “I cannot find it/forgot I had it/bought a new one” life. So they never actually use all they have and spend more money maintaining the “I might need that someday” lifestyle then they would have if they let go of what they did not need or use and bought things as they needed them.

Above all filtering on the fly should be a light hearted event. Have fun letting go!

Identifying what you can do about Identity Theft – 5 Tips

What is personal information?
Personal information is defined as a person’s name combined with either a Social Security number, a state drivers’ license or state identification card, or a financial account number along with a security code or access code or password.

Where is your stuff?

Keep identity documents like your Social Security card in a secure location that you will remember. If you carry lots and lots of credit and debit cards in your wallet, keep a list at home with the card numbers and each company’s 800 number for lost and stolen cards.

1. Do not carry your Social Security Card in your wallet.
Store it in a secure place.
2. Only give out your Social Security Number when necessary.
Yes, you can say no. When booking flights to Wisconsin, my credit card company called me with a fraud alert. Were the airline charges mine? I appreciated them checking in but when asked for my Social Security number to verify my identity I said “I do not give out my Social Security Number to companies that call me.” The rep said that was very reasonable and asked for alternate information.
3. Email is like a post card
Do not send personal information like Social Security numbers, credit card information, and banking information via email.
4. Send those credit card offers back.
When I get a credit card offer in the mail, I put a line through the address block, write “REMOVE” on it and stuff it back in the self addressed stamped envelope. Yes, it works; I have received letters confirming I have been removed from the mailing list. Let the credit card company pay the postage and be responsible for shredding the application.
5. Don’t click that link!
Folks are getting very good at phishing. Think before you click. If you are wondering “What is this? I did not order/sign up/request this.” It’s a good sign you are looking at a phishy email. Check the ‘From’ address before you click on links from Facebook, Linked In, and Inuit. I have seen phishing impersonators for all these sites.

The Federal Trade Commission has great tips for helping you handle identity theft.
Deter, Detect, Defend

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft – IRS You Tube

IRS You Tube Video