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Six Things I Learned in 2020

Karen Caccavo Financial Organizing, Life Lessons, Paperwork Organizing, Working with Clients

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There’s a lot we learned the hard way this past, difficult year.  But just reviewing the tough stuff wouldn’t provide an uplifting start to 2021.  As a financial organizer / daily money manager, part of what I do is bring hope and positivity.  Inspired by a colleague who does this each year, I put together a list of some of the things I

learned in 2020.  I had learned these lessons years ago, but they had assumed even more importance during the pandemic.  I hope you find this helpful.

1.  Financial organizing is about people, not just their papers.

As I have had to curtail my in-person visits with senior clients, for their safety and mine, the social side of what I do became more and more evident.  Some clients have stopped driving, others have been in “lock down,” others have, thankfully, pared down their comings and goings and number of people in their homes.  For clients I continue to visit, I am often one of a very few people they see and interact with each week.  That often means they rely on me more — for conversation, information, reassurance . . . and occasionally for opening a twist-top bottle.

2.  What’s good for the goose …

As I have more time and energy for my own home organizing (more time at home = more time to organize!), I’ve been more deliberate about using some of the tips I share with clients, making both my own home and home-based office more functional.  For example, I’m using my trusty label makers (or simple masking tape) more often–creating labels for items that I want to find in the same “home” each time I reach for them.

3.  Deliberate connecting.

Relying on the informal bumping into people on the networking trail?  Gone.  Remember catching a familiar face or meeting a new one online at the buffet table (!) at a professional event?  Yet, I still have questions for my colleagues, want to hear about their recent triumphs and challenges.  I just have to make a conscious effort to connect — sometimes with people I had never had the pleasure to actually speak to one-on-one — back when connecting was so effortless.

4.  The effort to stay safe during the pandemic is forcing us all to multitask.

The toll that multitasking takes on our brains is well-documented.  But the pandemic has given us no choice but to do so!  Adding extra steps to everyday activities—to remember to take along a clean mask, wipe down a borrowed desk, sanitize hands—adds to our mental load, and a level of anxiety.  To cope, I have set up safety rails for myself and recommend clients do the same—such as keeping multiple masks in easy-to-find places in the house, car, and work bag.  Designating a spot for used masks that need laundering.  Keeping hand sanitizer handy and at the ready.  Experimenting with different styles of masks to find ones that work for us.  Building some inventory of essential household items.

We also acknowledge the psychological toll that the pandemic is taking on us all.  And we’re trying to be more forgiving and flexible with ourselves and others, in addition to making time for de-stressing.

5.  Don’t underestimate the value of breakfast.

Everyone seems feel more scattered and unfocused.  Skipping meals doesn’t help.  I’m not a medical professional or nutritionist but my Mom taught me, and I’ve experienced myself, how low blood sugar or a grumbling stomach can distract from the task at hand.  I’ve gotten into the habit of confirming with senior clients, before we schedule a visit, that they don’t skip breakfast/lunch/coffee.  Some I call before I head out to their home to confirm that they fit in a meal before I arrive.  Financial organizing should be done when we are at our best.  The last thing I want to hear after a few hours of sorting papers is, “I haven’t eaten breakfast today.”

6.  Organizing is not a one-time event.

You need a maintenance plan.  Regular visits from Personal Money Manager™ might be their best maintenance plan.  To delegate this task to me is a commitment in itself—in time, adherence to a schedule, and resources.

What did you learn in 2020 that you can use going forward?  What positive lessons can be gleaned from the difficult year we just left behind?

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