Sunday, September 21, 2014

Paperwork and the Small Business Owner: A Love/Hate Story

Do you have piles of papers sitting around your office?  How about on your counter tops?  Kitchen table?  If you own a small business you probably have more than your fair share of paperwork.

I recently worked with a busy client with not one, but two small businesses.  One business requires her to order parts and send invoices.  The other has employees and requires a whole different set of bookkeeping.  This lady had paperwork for both businesses and her personal bills and she's drowning.

She had two upright filing organizers on the kitchen table (pictured below), a large two-drawer file cabinet filled to the brim, two banker's boxes of records and several piles of paper on her desk.  She had been taking care of her own books, but felt it would be better to find a professional bookkeeper.

I contacted a bookkeeper that I have worked with in the past.  He was able to meet with us and give advice on how he'd like them to be organized.  Once we had direction, we got down to work.  Working through the piles, we put the papers into different categories: action items (bills to pay, invoices to further investigate, items to be entered into Quickbooks), to-file (personal and business) and miscellaneous.

Once we knew where the papers belonged, we used her supplies file, box up and containerize.  Usually I can use supplies that the client already has, but sometimes I will purchase new materials to make the office space feel more professional. 

In less than five hours, we were able to clean up and organize mountains of paperwork and give this business owner piece of mind.  She is now able to hand over manila envelops with all her pertinent records to her bookkeeper.  Her business will be running more smoothly and she is definitely breathing a "sigh of relief." 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5 Minutes to Clean: The Car

Yesterday I was heading out the door, ten minutes before school pick-up.  I peeked into the backseat of our sparkling clean (read disgustingly dirty) Mazda 3.  I try to tidy up every time I leave the car, but sometimes it piles up.

So I took five minutes to make two piles of all of the garbage/treasures in the car.  All of the garbage/recycling/junk I don't want my kids to know I've thrown away goes straight to the trash receptacles.  The other pile goes into the house.  If it's a big pile, I run into the garage to grab a laundry basket.  I pitch everything into the basket and toss it back to the garage to be cleaned up when I return home.
Blue masks from a celebration at church, a Captain Crunch nugget, Kleenex and random
junk from the side of the road.  My boys are collectors.
Everything else in the car fits easily between the booster seats.  I try to keep a few books and a box of tissues in the backseat.

Graphic novels help us survive the Seattle traffic jams.

The last step in the quick clean is to wipe down the dash board, center console and any other plastic part with some handy-dandy wipes kept in the door.

If I have a bonus ten minutes to clean, I'll wipe the windows and vacuum the floor, boosters and seats.  It truly only takes a total of 15 minutes to clean the whole inside of the car, but this is about a super-fast 5 minute sweep.

See?  Super sparkly... if you squint your eyes, you can't see the crushed crackers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Traveling with Kids - What to Pack for a Month Away

It's that wonderful time again, when my kids and I travel to the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."  We will be alternating between my parents' home and my husband's parents' home.  We typically spend a week in one place then switch.  This is to keep people from getting too annoyed with us noisy house guests and make sure we can see all of our wonderful friends and family.

Both homes have a bed for me and a place for the boys to sleep, so I don't need to worry about sleeping bags, bedding, or pillows, but I do need to bring blankies and their special puppies.  We can't forget their loveys!  I also keep some basic toiletries at each home - shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste.

I'm also lucky to have access to the washer and dryer.  I usually do a load of laundry about every two to three days.  This enables me to bring only one suitcase for a month long stay!  Here is a run-down of what I usually pack for my two boys and myself.

Boys' Clothes:
2 pairs of pajamas
5 pairs of pants
5 shirts
1 sweat shirt
1 pair of long pants
1 pair of socks
2 pair of swimsuits and goggles

My Clothes:
1 set of pajamas
2 pairs of shorts
5 shirts
1 pair of jeans
1 set of exercise clothes and shoes
1 set of dress up clothes and shoes
2 casual dresses/skirts
1 swim suit and goggles

My makeup and hair brush

An empty bag - to hold enough for an overnight stay
Any gifts to bring for family members
Laptop and Kindle Fire
Charger for cell phone

All of this will fit in my rolling suitcase that will be checked at the airport.  The boys will each have a backpack carry-on with their blankets, puppies and a sucker for the flight.  This trip I am taking the red-eye and I am hopeful they will nap, so they won't need anything else.  In my purse, I'll have a book, a notebook for notes and my handy-dandy planner.  If the boys nap, I might get some reading done!

Our winter trip requires two rolling suitcases for bulkier clothes, Christmas gifts and winter gear.  But the summer vacation is a snap to pack for.  It's so helpful when transitioning between houses!

What I will not bring from Washington to Minnesota: Pull-Ups, food, sunscreen, booster seats, children's books and toys.  All of these can be borrowed or bought when we arrive.  Our boys are usually spoiled rotten with gifts and attention for our entire visit.  Every trip I pack a few little toys in their bags for the plane ride.  They are rarely used and end up being more work to keep track of.

Reed and my nephew Gavin in the hammock last summer.

We are lucky to have Adam joining us for the last week.  He's a minimalist and I'm sure will fit his two pair of underwear and two shirts in his backpack.  I don't ever worry about his packing ability other than worrying about him not bringing enough.  We cannot wait for our trip.  The boys and I will enjoy every minute of our vacation.  Watch out Minnesota, the Shirey's are on the way!