In my last corporate job my supervisor told me once that he "didn't have time to be organized." My reply was that I didn't have time NOT to be organized. Nearly every day I am reminded that being organized makes things easier. Sometimes it's a little thing, like clean socks right where you need them, and sometimes it's a big thing, like taxes (see January 2006 for tax tips). Today, it was a big thing that reminded me that life is easier when your organized.
If you work legally in the United States you should receive a statement once a year from the Social Security Administration. When working with clients on paper management we sometimes find these envelopes unopened, as people just do not know what to do with them. These statements should be opened and filed in a safe place. My statement came and income was missing from one of the years. This is a big thing, because it impacts the level of Social Security benefits I might receive in retirement.
Fixing the error was not a big thing, because I knew exactly where to go to find the past years tax returns and W2 statements. I was able to call the Social Security Administration and provide them with the paperwork they needed immediately. The whole thing (including calling in) took me less than 30 minutes to resolve. If you are not organized, it could take hours just to find the old paperwork.
Trust me, I do not spend hours on end organizing my files or my personal belongings. My systems are simple and cheap. The important thing is that I can find what I need when I need it. This eliminates stress. I hold the same goals when working with my own things or with a client.