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One last purge

With the holidays fast approaching and new toys sure to enter your home, I encourage my clients to walk through their home (or at least the kids’ playroom and bedrooms) and donate any toys that are no longer used.  Use contractor bags to gather donations.  They are sturdier than regular trash bags and you cannot see through them, so you’re more likely to get the items out the door. If the items are visible, you may get little hands pulling toys back out of the bags claiming that they are their most favorite toys that they can’t live without.   Don’t let the kids sabotage your plans to stay organized!!   I also like to have a few clear bins on hand for storing new holiday toys.  I usually have a few shoe size boxes and a few sweater size boxes from the Container Store on hand to coral all the pieces to a new game, toy or craft.

You can schedule a donation pick up in advance by going to GoodDonor.org or scheduleapickup.com.  If you schedule a donation pick up in advance of doing your walk through, gestimate how large or small your donation will be.  Scheduling a donation pick up in advance will make it more likely that you actually go through your home and collect items to be donated.  You can’t really blow it off once it’s scheduled, it gives you a deadline for your last purge of 2014.  It’s kinda like working out, you may not initially feel that enthusiastic about doing it, but you’ll feel great after it’s done. 🙂

Timeline project

My daughter, who is in 2nd grade, just completed a timeline project.  The project required writing out a plan, finding the right tools (pictures) and putting it all together.  It got me thinking about planning for the holidays.  Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few days and Christmas is about 30 days away. (Eeeak!  Gotta get to my Christmas shopping which I’ll talk about in the next post.)

Whether you are cooking the main course or bringing sides or dessert, making a plan will help make it less stressful.  Each day you should plan what you are purchasing and from where.  At this point hopefully your orders are already in from stores that require pre-ordering.   More specifically, you should plan what you are cooking/baking and for how long on a timeline.  You can’t double book your oven!  Unless you have two ovens, in which case I’m envious!  You should also plan what serving dishes and utensils will be used for each food item. I  like to put a small Post-It note inside the serving platter/bowl with what I am planning to serve in it.  It ensures I have enough serving pieces and the right serving pieces.  An added bonus is that when it all comes down to putting the food out, it’s easier for others to lend a hand.   Also, make sure you have enough food storage containers to store leftovers.  I prefer rectangular shaped ones, as they stack easier in the refrigerator/your kitchen cabinets.

Hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to my favorite meal of the year.  More importantly, I am so very grateful for my husband and our beautiful children, our families and our health.

 

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What’s my password??

There are so many different user names and passwords to create.  You probably have at least one email account, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, among other social media networks, Amazon, and countless other online shopping sites, eBay, PayPal, probably some banking, Wi-Fi, professional and home computer network access and likely many more. How do you create a unique, strong password for each of these accounts that you can easily remember?

For security reasons a “strong” password contains different character types such as uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation. Here’s the problem. There is simply no way you can remember all your unique, strong passwords…or is there?

What happens is that people tend to use the same one or two passwords for all their accounts. They use children’s or pet’s names or birthdates which are hackable. Even with using these predictable passwords, sometimes you’re not sure which one password you chose, right? So you go through the few different passwords you typically use  hoping to get in and that you don’t get locked out of the account. Easy to remember?  Sort of.  But are your accounts secure? No.

What I recommend to clients is to create a mini-password that includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation. For example, “Jb12*”.  Let’s say we are creating (or changing) an Amazon account password.  Determine an uppercase/ lowercase pattern the name of the account, Amazon, for example “aMAZON”, “amazoN”, or “aMazon”. Let’s call this the sub-password.  Then add the mini-password to the sub-password.  So, for example, if you’ve choosen “aMAZON” as the sub-password + mini-password “Jb12*” = “aMAZONJb12*”, a unique, strong password. How is that easy to remember? This is what your Facebook password would be: “fACEBOOKJb12*”.  This is what your Container Store password would be: “cONTAINERJb12*”.  Your mini-password stays the same added to the beginning or end of the sub-password for the account.

You could also use a good old fashioned address book to store your various user names and passwords, but you’ll need to keep it up to date and you’ll need to dedicate a place to keep it where it’s safe and where you’ll always be able to find it. There are also password manager apps but you’ll also need to create a user name and password for that account too!password_1

Schedule time to organize!

Whether you work with a professional organizer or you are motivated to do it on your own, you have to schedule time to get it done.  Just like working out and exercising, it’s not going to get done by itself!  Finishing an organizing project, large or small, is quite rewarding.  You can find what you need when you need it so you aren’t overwhelmed and you’re feeling less stressed.  Having 3 young children and busy schedules is stressful enough! Being organized helps you have the energy to do the things you really want to do and the time to accomplish more.

My clients are often energized and hopeful after an organizing session. I encourage them to schedule one or two hours per month to tackle an organizing project.  The project can be as big as organizing the basement or as small as one drawer in the kitchen.   In order to maintain the enthusiasm and forward momentum, take small steps and work only the amount of time you dedicated–one or two hours.

If you need some help to get jump started on your organizing projects, I’d be happy to help you!  Feel free to call or email to set up a telephone consultation.  Happy organizing!

schedule time to organize

Tame the paper clutter!

The kids bring home lots of school work and notices to parents and then you add the mail and all the junk mail which can lead to a lot of clutter!  In an effort to tame the paper clutter, I go through the mail each day while standing in front of the trash can.  I sort them the mail into these categories.

  1. To do (bills to pay, invitations to respond to)
  2. To file
  3. Unsubscribe!
  4. Trash

Pretty self-explanatory, right?  I have file folders for to do, to file, and unsubscribe. Higher priority ‘to do’ items go to the front of the ‘to do’ file folder and I go through the folder at least every couple of days. I throw away all the junk mail except the catalogs I don’t want to receive any more.  For those catalogs- I tear off the back page that includes the source code and key code and file that one page into my ‘catalogs to unsubscribe’ file folder and toss the catalog. In fact, there aren’t many catalogs I actually want to receive.  If I want to see the new season’s stuff, I go to the store or to the store’s website.

CatalogChoice.org is a free site where you can unsubscribe from a zillion different mailings.  Once there are a bunch in the folder, I logon to my Catalogchoice.org account and unsubscribe and then toss the catalog cover.  It’s been very useful and I felt environmentally responsible to successfully unsubscribe from the ginormous Restoration Hardware catalog.  There are one or two pesky catalogs I can’t get rid of like Oriental Trading company, but overall I highly recommend Catalog Choice to reduce the paper clutter from even entering your house.

catalog choice

Chargers and cords

I have been holding off on updating our devices to the new iOS8 as I hear that one of the drawbacks to the “upgrade” is that your battery life is greatly diminished.  I’ve learned that when apps that use location services are running it drains the battery.  Saw a post on Facebook recently that recommended that you change your Facebook settings to “auto-play, only when connected to Wi-Fi” otherwise videos stream as you are scrolling through your newsfeed and drains your data.  So much to think about when it comes to devices!!

If your phone/iPad, printer cable or other chargers are falling down behind your desk or getting tangled, let me introduce you to CableDrops.  These nifty little adhesive dots adhere to the top or side of your desk, nightside table or just about anywhere and hold the cable in it’s place.  When you need to charge your device or plug in the printer cable you simple slide the cord, while still attached to the cable drop, and connect and when you’re done the cable stays put, it doesn’t fall to the ground!  The mini CableDrops are great for newer Apple devices with the lightening cable. cabledrops 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These handy cable ties, can help manage cords under your desk especially if the length of the cord(s) are longer than you need.  Simply wind up the extra length and attach one of these velcro cables around it to keep it neat.

cable ties