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Author: Rie BroscoGeneral Goal Setting healthy living Home Time Management Tips

Channeling Stress Through Creativity

Some have taken to baking bread or cooking. Others have unleashed the crafter within themselves. Finding a common item and brainstorming the various unconventional ways that the item can be used is fun and challenging.
Between the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic and the political tension, the past several months have been especially stressful. There are many ways that people handle stress. Some make To-Do lists. 
For instance, what does one do with old (clean) socks? You know the ones… the dryer has eaten the mate or the elastic has lost its stretch. Below are some ideas of what you can do with socks. Not only can you enjoy some of these projects, beautify your home and/or enlist the aid of any children you may have lounging around the house feeling bored, these projects are a good way to reuse old socks. Thank you to Megan Willett and Business Insider for the post on 61 Things You Can Do With Your Old Mismatched Socks. Two that I found particularly interesting were the No-Sew Sock Puppy and the No-Sew Sock Face Mask.
No-Sew Sock Puppy. I love sock toys, but hate to sew. Inspired by the website Danielle’s Place, which is filled with no-sew sock animal and plushie tutorials, this is a picture of Fritz, the sock. He is made with a sock, rubber bands and fiberfill stuffing. Add whatever you want to give him character.   No-Sew Sock Face Mask. There are many DIY face mask tutorials on YouTube. The one I found most helpful requires no sewing and no rubber bands. You can make these in under five minutes if you are in a pinch.
We live in trying times. Even though businesses and restaurants are slowly opening, many people feel quite alone and isolated from the world. Find a phone buddy. Make yourself a To-Do list and share it with your phone buddy. Did you check off at least one thing on the list? Fabulous! Share it with your phone buddy. If that person is not available, tell your cat or your dog or look in the mirror and tell yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments. 
When you have taken time to decompress and replenish your spirit, learn about the multiple ways that we can all work for social justice and change in our world. But, most importantly, be gentle with yourself.   Stay well, stay safe and stay home if you are able… and, if you are one of the many who must go to work to or who chooses to volunteer to keep us safe, healthy, fed, informed or otherwise (relatively) sane, thank you.
Author: Rie BroscoEmergencies End of Life Planning Estates Family General Goal Setting healthy living Home Medical Organizing Productivity Safety

What do you think of when you hear the words: COVID-19 or Corona Virus?

A recent RieOrganize! poll on Facebook came up with the following: Stay at home. Boredom. Facebook. Zoom meetings. Gratitude for front line workers. Frustration about having to wear a mask. Death. Telecommuting. Homeschooling. Social isolation.

Until recently, I knew of only a handful of friends who were dealing with COVID-19. Most were friends who live out of town or who were dealing with their friends/family members who were dealing with the virus. Yesterday, I was told that a friend is in the ICU with novel coronavirus. While we were not close friends, we did keep in touch over the 30+ years that I’ve known him and his husband.

What I realized today, however, was how much I did not know about them. For instance, who is my friend’s next of kin? My immediate answer would be, of course, his husband. But his husband died last week of a non-coronavirus-related illness. I don’t know if he has a health care directive or, if he does, who is listed as the alternate proxy because his husband just died – or where this document is located. I know that his husband took care of most of their financial, legal and daily responsibilities. I don’t know who will be responsible for all of that now and, more importantly, nor does anyone else. Everyone is scrambling to try to figure out what to do!

While this is indeed stressful and sad, I have to ask myself and you…

·        How many of us or our friends or family members could find themselves in a similar situation?

·        Have we taken care of our own medical, legal and financial paperwork? If we have, does anyone know where it is located or have easy access to it? 

·        Will you or someone you know find themselves sick or dying alone with no one who knows what you would want to happen medically or, if you should die, with your belongings?

According to our informal Facebook poll, not everything in our world today is discouraging, heartbreaking, disheartening or grim. Looking at some of the memes on Facebook or Instagram can make you smile or laugh out loud.

There is little wrong with cooking or baking too much, using Zoom or Facetime to be connected to friends, relatives and colleagues, binge watching Netflix or taking naps. There is much kindness, laughter and sharing. Neighbors are helping neighbors.

This can be a time of transformation – interpersonally, socially, economically and globally. It can be a time to focus on the people and things that are important in our lives.

And this is where we all come in to transform our world into a better place in which to live. Thinking about medical and financial preparedness is not high on most people’s lists of things they want to do, but, especially during this time, it is essential.

First, we should examine our own paperwork. How prepared are we? Then, we should take a look at our contact lists. Who do we know who may need help?

Few people want to talk about the possibility of being sick or dying. In this age of COVID-19, it is imperative that we do so and that we talk with those whom we love and help them to prepare as well.

This is something that cannot wait. Please take steps to ensure that someone will know what you want to happen if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Stay well, stay safe and stay home… and if you are one of the many who must go to work to keep us safe, healthy, fed, informed or otherwise (relatively) sane, thank you.

Author: Rie BroscoClutter Document Management Organizing Paper

MOUNTAINS OF MAIL AND PAPER

We all have too much paper in our lives. Diane, who is the business manager at RieOrganize! tells the following story:

“I have always had a fairly high tolerance for paper clutter before I reach my limit and, even then, it’s often not a conscious decision to sort through everything – I just start small and then usually keep going. The other day was one of those days. Although I missed being outside on a beautiful day, I opened the windows and just applied myself. The reward? Being able to sit back, that night, and look around at so many cleared off spaces with a sense of calm. AND I reaped the side benefit of finding two things for which I had been searching!”

Mail and other paper is a huge source of clutter for everyone. Every day your mailbox is full of paper, and 90% of it is probably useless to you.

Review the mail you get and look for opportunities to switch to paperless billing or automatic payments. You’ll eliminate the possibility of losing the electric bill in a pile of mail, plus you’ll have one less piece of mail coming to your house in the first place.

It’s important to have a system for processing mail. You know it’s coming every day, so figure out a system where you can sort it right away. Glance through the mail on your way back from the mailbox. Then when you’re in the house, toss junk mail in the recycle bin (or shredder if it includes personal information) and take immediate action on anything else.

Want to stop getting some of that junk mail altogether? Check out this resource from the Federal Trade Commission on ways to opt out of prescreened credit card offers, telemarketing calls, and other direct mail marketing.

WHAT TO KEEP AND WHAT TO TOSS?

Keep:
You should keep your tax records safe and secure, whether they are stored on paper or electronically. The same is true for any financial or health records you store, especially any document bearing Social Security numbers.

Keep:

Keep copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for at least seven years. Remember to keep records about property you own for seven years after the year in which you no longer own the property. This time frame  allows you to file a claim for adjustment in cases of bad debt deduction or a loss from worthless securities. Always check with your tax advisor for further clarification and updates in tax regulations as they change every year.

Toss:
Dispose of old tax records properly. Never toss paper tax returns and supporting documents into the trash. Because of the sensitive nature of this data, the loss or theft of these documents could lead to identity theft and have an economic impact. These documents contain the Social Security numbers of you, your spouse and dependents, old W-2 income and bank account information. Therefore, your federal and state tax records, as well as any financial or health records should be shredded before disposal.

Toss:
Lots of mail looks like it’s official and even says “keep this for your records”, but sometimes you really don’t need to if the same information can be found online. If you bank online, you don’t need to keep the monthly paper statements since you can access them through your online bank account. You should reconcile your account before shredding the statements, but you don’t need to file and store that paper indefinitely. The same can be done for paper bills, but if you took our tip above, you’ve enrolled in autopay and paperless billing and don’t have to worry about paper bills anymore.

Not all of us can be as diligent and apply ourselves as easily as Diane did, so if you need help sorting through your clutter, contact an organizer. For a list of NAPO organizers, click here

Author: Rie BroscoEnd of Life Planning Family

You’re Not Dead Yet

Thinking about and recording emergency medical care choices is not about death. It is all about how you wish to be treated while you are alive.

Tips for setting up Advanced Care InstructionsSomeday, you may be brought to a hospital in critical condition. You may be confused or unable to answer questions that are asked of you. You are not dead and, in actuality (and hopefully), you might not die.

If you are sedated and admitted to the hospital, how will the staff know who to contact and what you like or want?

When I worked as a hospital chaplain, I cared for a young man who was in a coma. The nursing staff realized that he became agitated when the room was quiet. His family brought in music from several of his favorite recording artists. When the music was played, he rested peacefully. How did his family know what to do? He told them in advance.

My point is that hospital or medical care is not just about physical care. It should and does include emotional and spiritual care as well as basic life preferences.

This can even help when the situation is not as critical. For instance, my wife, Naomi, hates to sleep with the blankets tucked tightly around her feet. If something should happen to her, I want to make sure that she is as comfortable as possible. Because I know her wishes, I will be able to relay this to the nursing staff.

While writing an Advance Directive is detailed and usually focuses mainly on end-of-life or death decisions, the following questions may help others care for you when you are critically ill.

What other kinds of non-medical information should the medical staff know about you?

Can you answer the following questions?

  • If I am admitted to the hospital or I am facing a long recuperation, either at home or in a rehabilitation facility, who would I want to be notified and wish to come visit?
  • Is it okay to post information about my illness or injury on social media?
  • Am I more afraid of being in pain or being drugged to the point of not being able to visit with people?
  • Are there any particular foods that would make me happy (assuming that I have the approval of the doctor)?
  • Do I prefer quiet in my room or do I want music? If music, what kind?
  • If I am unable to read, would I like audiobooks or someone to read to me?
  • If I am in a coma or drugged, do I want someone just to sit with me?
  • Do I want my rabbi, priest or other spiritual leader to visit me?
  • Do I want the person who makes decisions to be the Emergency Room doctor or would I rather have someone who knows me and knows what I want to make those decisions?
  • If I have identified a person to speak on my behalf (medical power of attorney or agent), does he or she know what I want to happen if current treatment is not working?

Remember, you may be healthy and active now, but don’t put off making some of these decisions today. Think of it like a health insurance policy. Hopefully you will never have to use it, but if you do, it is great to know it is available! Knowing what you want to happen is only the first step in the process. Writing your wishes down is the second. Telling someone whom you trust is essential.

Author: Rie BroscoEnd of Life Planning

Making New Years resolutions that we can stick with!

A new year is upon us. It is time to start fresh, make New Year’s resolutions that we will stick with!

Many of us focus on making resolutions that will benefit us individually, improve our lives (stick to my diet, exercise more, declutter the house). This year, I suggest that you do something different; something that is not only for yourself but will be appreciated and remembered by others. This year, I urge you to plan for the future by thinking about and documenting your end-of-life wishes and estate plan.

There is an old Chinese proverb that states “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

Estate Planning

None of us know what the future will bring. Now, I wish all who are reading this a long, healthy and active life but as my mother used to say, “You never know if you will be hit by a bus.” Now is the time to plan and put into place systems that will serve you for the rest of your life.

To get you started, here is a checklist of documents you should have that will be important to others if you are unable to speak for yourself because of a medical crisis or death. How many of the items below can you check off?

Will

  • I have a will
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why do I need a will? I’m not rich or have a lot of money; besides, I am still young.

Medical Power of Attorney

  • I have a Medical Power of Attorney.
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • What is a Power of Attorney and why do I need one?

Financial Power of Attorney

  • I have a Financial Power of Attorney.
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why do I need a Financial Power of Attorney? I don’t have much money. Who needs this, anyway?

Advance Directive (also known as a Living Will or Health Care Directive)

  • I have a Living Will (also known as an Advance Directive or Health Care Directive).
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why is a Living Will important? Just do everything to keep me alive; oh, except for these three things. Don’t do them.).

Final Wishes

  • I know what I want to have done when I die (i.e. burial, cremation, organ donation)
  • I know what I want my funeral to look like.
  • I know what I want done with all my stuff (including private letters, diaries and journals).
  • This information is written down in one or more lists.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where the lists are.
  • Why can’t I just tell someone what I want and let them deal with it?

Computer and Cell Phone Access

  • My passwords are written down and located in a secure place or I use an on-line, secure password program.
  • Someone knows where this list is located.
  • This list has been updated within the past year.
  • Why would you need my user names and passwords?

Contacts

  • I have a list of people who I would like to be contacted if I am hospitalized for an extended period but am too sick to make the calls or emails.
  • I have a list of people who I would like to be contacted in the event of my death.
  • This may be different from the other lists.
  • These lists have been updated within the last 5 years.
  • Someone knows where these lists are located.
  • Can’t someone just post the information on Facebook? That’s where I get most of my information anyway. Oops, they need my user name and password to get into my account. Okay, someone can write an obituary and put it in the newspaper.

I challenge you to make this year’s resolutions ones that will benefit others as well as yourself. Remember, making these decisions in advance and communicating them to the appropriate people is a gift of love that is given to those who will have to make the decisions if /when you can’t. It is a kindness that will never be forgotten.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and organized New Year!

Author: Rie BroscoClutter Document Management General Home Office Organizing Paper Procrastination Productivity

Help! My Office is a Mess!

“Help! I can’t stand it anymore! My office is a disaster. Papers are piled everywhere. I don’t know where things are. I don’t know what supplies I have until I run out. My bulletin boards have announcements for events that happened two years ago attached to them. I’m behind on my work, and I hate being in my office. My life is a mess!

“Was this a phone call I received from a potential client?” you may ask. No. This is what I said two weeks ago when I felt like I was drowning in paperwork, and my life was a mess. “But wait,” you exclaim. “You’re a Professional Organizer. You know how to organize stuff. Why can’t you just organize your office?” The answer is that even we, who are experienced and proficient organizing other people’s things, sometimes cannot do it for ourselves.

Every morning I would walk into my office with incredible determination. “This will be the day that I finally and completely organize my office and my life!” But when I walked into my office, something happened. I looked at the piles of paper and the disorganization, and I became paralyzed with dread.

It doesn’t matter whether the area that is disorganized is an office, a kitchen, a bedroom or a play room. Sometimes it just feels as though as much as you really, really want to get organized, you’re just having a hard time doing it. So I asked myself what I would tell a prospective client if they called me with a similar situation.

  1. Just because your (insert name of area here) is disorganized, it doesn’t mean that your entire life is a mess. Remember, you can gain control over the disorganized area.
  2. Set aside a time that you want to do some organizing. Find a timer (a kitchen timer or one on your cell phone works well). Set the timer for five minutes. Yes, I realize that’s not a whole lot of time and that you won’t get a whole lot of organizing done, but it is a manageable period of time to start the process.Untitled
  3. Choose a very small section to work in. Remember, you only have five minutes.
  4. Get rid of the easy stuff first. You know, the stuff that is out of date, moldy, torn, or the thing you just never really liked anyway. Take these items and either recycle or trash them.
  5. By now the timer has probably gone off. If you are on a roll and you don’t mind going further, set the timer for another five minutes. This may seem like an arbitrary amount of time, and it is, but I have found that five minutes of doing almost anything seems easy.

But what do you do if you can’t get yourself to commit to tackling that cluttered area for even five minutes? Take a tip from a professional who has been-there-done-that. Either call a friend who is nonjudgmental and willing to help or call a professional; which is what I did. I figured that if I call a doctor when I’m sick and go to the dentist when I have a toothache, I should call a professional organizer when it feels like my (insert name of area here) needs organizing. What about you? Take just 5 minutes and call for help. Now? Yes! If not now, when?