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Author: Naomi CookCloset Digital Apps General Home Organizing Productivity Recyling Seasonal Time Management

Summertime Organizing: Cool Down the “Write” Way

We are in the midst of a heatwave here in Eastern PA. Today for example is 97°, with a feels like temp of 106°…ouch! Not the most conducive weather for organizing, right?

Well, definitely don’t work in the garage, or the attic…basically avoid anyplace that isn’t close to air conditioning or where heat rises. That still leaves some great spaces throughout your home to work in. However, before you even start, grab some ice-cold water or your favorite cold beverage and sit down to write out some to- do lists.

Nothing fancy, a spiral bound notebook from your child that still had useable pages in it will do; you know that they’ll want something brand new for the next school year anyway! I bought myself a fun notebook from TJ Maxx (see picture), in my favorite color, to make it less of a chore.

Professional Organizing Tips

Prefer an app for your to-do lists? Trello is a fantastic app which lets you create endless topics (lists) and tasks (cards).

Start by writing the name of each room in your home on a separate page. The great thing about these lists is that they can be a summer and beyond project…no need to rush it! Next, start your brain dump, where you can write tasks to be done in each room. Write down what comes to mind and add more as you think of it. The tasks should be specific and therefore hopefully less overwhelming. It’s up to you to choose how many tasks you want to complete at a time!

For example:

Master Bedroom Closet Tops

  1. Make a first pass through the tops
  2. For tops that are not your style or don’t fit anymore, start a bag for donation
  3. For tops that are beyond repair (i.e. ripped and stained) and take to a fabric recycling bin like Planet Aid
  4. For tops that were expensive, start a bag for a consignment store

Do you have other things come to mind, that aren’t specific to a room? Write them down too! Getting too much junk mail? Look to catalogchoice.org and optoutprescreen.com. Getting too many spam calls? Try an phone app like, Should I answer?, with a cute little octopus icon, which turns green for a positive call or red, to know instantly if a call has received negative ratings, and block them on your phone! I know, I know, once a company is blocked by using one number, they will move to another, but every little block counts!

Pen and paper or app, the key to dissolving a cluttered mind is to write things down, so that you have space in your brain for more important things to think about, like what flavor of ice cream to get tonight!

Author: Danielle OBrienDigital Apps General Organizing Photos

Photo Organizing Simplified

picturesEach of my three children has their own photo albums that I have crafted for them over the years. In order to make these personalized keepsakes, I’ve adopted a simple photo organizing process. After taking photos with my smartphone, I always try to find some quiet time to delete the ones I dislike. About once a month, I then upload the “keepers” to my computer, edit them as needed and assign the photos to their appropriate folders, such as “2016 PHOTOS.” At the end of the year, I download my favorite photos onto a flash drive and take them to a photo processing center. Next, I place the hard-copy photos into each child’s temporary photo bin. Once sorted, I choose individual photo albums and begin filling them with memories. My oldest has about eight photo albums now and my youngest has about four. They will eventually take the albums with them to enjoy as adults.

Although this photo organizing system works for me now, I honestly don’t wish to continue making albums for my children as they enter adulthood or for the next generation. With the recent birth of my granddaughter, I have implemented a simpler system. Now, I upload photos from my smartphone to an online photo service, such as Snapfish, and create photo albums from there. It’s much easier to create an online album if my photos are already streamlined and sorted. For example, in my granddaughter’s album, her pictures are assigned to a folder with her name and date. With today’s technology, creating beautiful keepsake albums is faster and easier than ever. It’s even possible to create albums directly from your smart phone with an app from Target.

If you find that you have a large assortment of photo prints, you can sort the photos using acid free photo boxes, or you can use shoe boxes, temporarily. For a recent client, we labeled her shoe boxes as “Travel,” “Nature,” and the names of her children. In her case, she decided to pass the photo boxes on to her children and skip the albums altogether. Other clients prefer to scan the photos, save them virtually and eventually create albums from their computers.

Photo organizing can be overwhelming when you have hundreds of photos stored all over the house. When working with my clients, I’ve found that once they get started, the memories come back, they start smiling, and a sense of peace comes over them. They know that their most treasured memories are safe and can be enjoyed by generations to come.

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Author: Annette ReymanDigital Apps Document Management Electronic Organizing General Organizing Products Productivity Shopping

Afraid of the “Web?” Don’t Be!

Spiderweb

Trying to know everything about the Internet is as impossible as reading every book ever written. Like the spooky spider webs (real and synthetic) that accent our autumn décor, the fingers of the world-wide-web stretch and reach into sometimes unexpected corners of our lives. Schools, grocery stores, medical offices, places of employment and social groups – it is hard to find areas of life that are not touched. Yet, while technology races to manage our world, how well are we managing technology?

No matter where you find yourself in this digital age — ahead of the curve, just keeping up, or lagging behind — step away from the shivers you feel about getting caught in the web. Here are suggestions of some free tools and applications that I, myself, have found useful. They have helped me create order and ease in different areas of my daily life.

When You Shop: If you keep your cell phone with you, use it to store your shopping lists. Simply take a picture of your refrigerator grocery list before leaving the house or have a family member text you a picture of it when you’re at the grocery store. Create your list in an “app” such as Remember The Milk. And toss all those plastic loyalty and club cards. Use an app called Key Ring and they will always be with you when you need them.

Appointment Management: Phone calendars are wonderful for helping keep track of appointments and deadlines. They even offer the ability to set alarms. Go a step further and set up a shared calendar for your family in Google so you can know who needs to be where and when.

Travel Help: Have you ever been traveling and needed to find a gas station, restaurant or restroom? Don’t want to end up in a less than desirable location? Use the Yelp app to find something local and reviewed by others. Want to catch a movie on the fly? Try the Flixster app to find what’s playing now in your current location.

Files at Your Fingertips: Whether used for business or not, this can be more handy than you might think. Try creating a medical file in Evernote or Dropbox with snapshots of test results, medications and procedures. Bring an iPad or tablet to your doctor appointments and pull them up so your doctors can scroll through them easily. Similarly agendas, contact lists, and meeting notes for your association or social club meetings can be saved online. Even if you prefer bringing printed copies, storing them in Google Drive is a great backup plan. If you get into a bind and are caught without the printouts, you can log in to your Google account and access the notes on your phone or tablet without having to stop home.

I challenge you to choose one new techno-solution this month and see if it can help you streamline an aspect of your life. Don’t wriggle helplessly in a web constructed by someone else. Use technology to create your own web of control and order. Replace your fear of the Internet by spinning a web of your own design.

Author: fp-adminClutter Digital Apps Electronic Organizing Paper

Embracing Calendar Apps

“I’m just a paper person!”  Do you ever hear or say that when it comes to keeping a calendar, to-do list, or records? I know I have been saying that for years, always preferring to collect my life and thoughts on paper.

The reality is, if we dare open our mind and heart to try something new, there are numerous apps for our phone that will truly make our life so much easier. Yes it does take a small investment of will and time to learn them, but in the end — I promise it is worth it.

To start my own journey in breaking through my paper comfort zone, I investigated the benefits of using a calendar app on my phone, instead of using a paper calendar. Below is my comparison chart showing reasons it might be worth making the switch. If you already embrace the paperless possibilities in today’s world, this may be the perfect article to pass on to a not-yet-tech-savvy friend!

Chart showing benefits to electronic versus paper.

Now it’s up to you to try a calendar app for yourself and move past the paper person persona! Challenge yourself to try it for a week, starting today, and see how it can revolutionize your life!

Author: Danielle OBrienDigital Apps Document Management General Paper Spiritual and Holistic

Paper Management for the Green Home

Go Green, Go Paperless imageRecently, my workshop for the Holistic Mom’s monthly meeting on “Paper Management for the Green Home” was rescheduled due to a foot of snow. Like many of us, you may be stuck inside during these cold winter days. So why not take advantage of being indoors and organize your home office? Here’s a plan to help you clear your desk while “going green” with less paper.

The first step is to go online and opt out of the unwanted mail coming into your home. Try DMAChoice.org for general junk mail, TrustedID.org for unwanted catalogs and Optoutprescreen.com for pre-approved credit card offers. Create a new email address for coupons and ask to have your monthly statements sent via email.

There are also some wonderful apps for your phone. Catalog Spree allows you to view a variety of different catalogs online. Retail Me Not offers coupons to local stores, and Snip Snap stores your coupons digitally after you take a photo of them on your phone.

Now that you’ve reduced the paper input, it’s time to tackle the existing paper piles.

SORT

  • Sort the important mail from the unwanted mail which can be recycled
  • Store coupons in your glove compartment
  • Place bills in a basket on your desk
  • Assign each family member a file or basket

PROCESS

  • File your new insurance policy, bank statements and receipts immediately
  • Add events to your calendar then use a clipboard for your invitations
  • Shred monthly utility bills after the new one comes in

FILE

  • Set up your files in alphabetical order
  • Assign labels, examples include:
    • Auto- EZ pass, AAA & car purchase receipts
    • Banking- pin numbers, credit card information & credit report
    • Insurance- auto, life & homeowners
    • Medical- test results, EOB’s (Explanation of Benefits) & paid bills

SHRED

  • Anything with your social security number unless you need it for tax purposes
  • Documents with your signature
  • Forms with your birthdate on it
  • Account numbers

Holistic living is a lifestyle which seeks balance knowing that all things are interconnected. What you bring into your home directly affects how you feel. How does your home make you feel? Is your home office stressing you out? Try to tackle your paperwork often, perhaps in short intervals, every other day. If you need help, get help! Remember, your home is your sanctuary.

Author: Vali HeistClutter Digital Apps Electronic Organizing Filing General Goal Setting Home Organizing Project Management Time Management

Happy National Get Organized Month!

clip0001Happy New Year and Happy National Get Organized Month! I always set a few goals for myself and my business each New Year and organizing certainly plays a key role in accomplishing those goals. Over the years clients have asked for my assistance for many different reasons including New Year’s resolutions.

On the other hand, those resolutions are often derailed because “life happens.” Whether you are ready or not, you could lose your job, suffer through an illness, or deal with a divorce. You can’t always be prepared for the ups and downs of life, but being organized can help. Here are my ten organization basics to help you handle the uncertainties of life and achieve those pesky resolutions you are so adamant in keeping. Let’s break it down:

If it takes less than 60 seconds, do it! Whether it’s putting bills away, making a quick phone call, adding a number to your phone, sending a quick email, do it! Take seconds now or hours later.

A home for everything. Finding a home means you know where to put it when it gets misplaced and when you need it — it’s there!

Choose a time management tool. Use a day planner or smartphone to keep track of appointments, tasks lists, self-appointments, and vacation plans.

Keep lists. Use your time management tool for all lists: clothing, household items, food, gifts, etc. Keep sizes and dimensions on the list. Lists save time and money and no more buying things twice (you aren’t the only one).  

Consolidate contact information. Gather mailing addresses, emails, and phone numbers and place them in your time management tool. No more little pieces of paper and sticky notes all over the place.

Convenience is the key. No digging and no searching. Place things where you use them; keep most-used items front and center — no pushing other things aside to get to what you need.

Focus! Small and large task completion requires focus. Break down any large task into smaller, manageable pieces and stay focused: one bite at a time.

Know what to eliminate. Surround yourself with tasks, events, and people who support your goals. Eliminate the rest and learn to say “no” (I have a handout on my website).

Consult the experts. Don’t reinvent the wheel; ask friends for recommendations and referrals; consult the Internet (but don’t believe everything you read); and then trust your judgment.

Maintenance! Things will get out of order (even in my home), so do a little each evening or once a week in order to keep it that way. Have respect for yourself, your time, and your home. Every time you put something away, it’s a gift to yourself.

Whether you are making resolutions are just trying to smooth out life’s bumps in the road, get organized! You’ll be glad you did.

Clutter Quote: “God takes care of the breath of your life; it is your responsibility to take care of the depth of your life.” Unknown