While shelter-in-place orders are starting to lift in Louisiana and across the country, there are several things you can do at home during this transition back into normal life. For some, these projects may seem simple, but maybe not for everyone.
These are just some ideas for anyone looking to stay busy and possibly tackle some things that have been on a long-standing to-do list.
Organize Your Files
Organizing all your paperwork can be quite a task, especially if it has grown into a stack (or many stacks!) over a long period of time. Most people want to start with what is out and visible, but I suggest clearing the file cabinet first to make room for what is stacking up. Usually things are stacking up because there is no room in the files and filing becomes difficult to do.
Take note of how long you should keep different types of paperwork. For example, you should always keep a copy of your current insurance policy, but you can toss manuals and warranties if you no longer have the associated item.
Shred Your Old Taxes
If you are not sure, check with your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to see how long you should keep your taxes. Most CPAs will recommend keeping tax documents between 5-7 years, which means you should be able to shred anything before 2013.
Before shredding your old taxes, keep the 1040 documents (the first two pages of your taxes that you sign and send in). Feel free to shred any supporting documentation, including paystubs and receipts. I suggest having one file labeled “1040s from Old Taxes” to keep these documents.
For your last seven years of taxes, be sure to keep the return and all documents supporting the return (W2s, 1099s, receipts, etc.).
Clean Out the Closets
Now is a great time to purge any unwanted clothes, accessories or even toys from the closets in your home. Have your kids try on outfits they have not worn in a while and donate the items that no longer fit. If your children are suffering from boredom, make a challenge out of some of the toys that have gone untouched. If they are unwilling to play with older toys even when they are dying from boredom, they will not miss them if they get donated.
Practice the Family Fire Drill
If you do not have a fire drill plan in place, now can be the time to create one or practice the one you have made. This may not seem like an organizing task, but it is! Walk through the home to ensure every room has two exits and that none of those exits are blocked by clutter.
Check to make sure you know where all of the fire extinguishers are. Now is a good time to make sure they are not expired, too. If you have a fireproof safe, be sure all of the necessary documents are inside of it.
Declutter Your Phone, Mailbox and Email Inbox
Declutter your phone and mailbox by signing up for the Do Not Call list and the Do Not Mail list. Below are some useful links to help you with this task:
- Opt out of direct marketing lists
- Opt out of prescreened credit card offers and insurance plans
- Join the Do Not Call list
Many people think it is impossible to stop getting spam emails. The truth is, clicking “unsubscribe” from these messages really will remove you from the email list. This is especially true if it is from a company that you purchased from in the past. By purchasing the item, you inadvertently signed up for their emails, too. This is also a task your kids can help you with if they need something to do.
Clean Out the Attic and/or the Garage
If you live in the South, you know that right now is the only bit of spring we will see before the heat of summer is here. If you have been wanting to clean out your attic and/or your garage, this is the time to do it.
Organize Your Digital Photos
Many of us are adding to our digital photo collection every day. Organize your digital pictures by tagging them on your computer and making sure you have a backup of these memories, just in case. Even if you get stuck on how to organize them, start with simply deleting those that are duplicates, blurry, or no longer needed. For instance, you may have snapped a picture of a something that you wanted to text to someone. Once the text is sent, it no longer needs to take up space on your phone or computer.
What are some projects around your house you have been working on lately? Please leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!