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Author: Darla DeMorrowDocument Management Filing Home Office Organizing Paper Tips Uncategorized

17 Ways to Go Paperless without Scanning

Photo by ron dyar on Unsplash

I’ve been reading articles about the promise of a paperless office my entire life, and for the most part, those articles have just created more paper.

For the first time in modern history, we now have the tools to go completely paperless. But before you go invest in a new gadget and hunker down to scan all of your paper, you can probably do a lot to reduce the amount of paper in your life.

Turn Off Paper Statements

  • The first thing is to turn off any statements for accounts, especially if you aren’t opening them. Bank statements are usually the prime offender. Call your bank or go online to shut off those statements. Check to be sure the bank’s retention practices will meet your needs, and that you can access statements online if you need to.
  • Then turn off any billing statements, especially if you have them on auto-payment arrangements and can check your account online.
  • Check with your medical offices to see if they can eliminate or reduce your paperwork there, too. Most medical offices have PHRs (personal health records) and can email you copies of office visits, tests and prescriptions.

Turn On Auto-Pay

  • If you have some but not all of your bills on auto-payments, turn those on, too. Many institutions will allow you to set a minimum payment amount each month. You can always pay more, if you choose, by making additional online payments.
  • If you are concerned that you’ll either miss a payment or somehow be out of the loop on your accounts, write up a simple list of accounts being paid automatically (either by hand or using a spreadsheet), and check these online the same day you get your paycheck. This adds one piece of paper to your life, but might be exactly what you need to keep it all straight. 
  • Set up folders in your email program to file e-statements. Folders allow you to organize emails into groups for long-term storage, out of your inbox. Rules allow you to automate routine statements to be filed without you having to be the one to do it. If you need help with learning to use folders (or tags in gmail) and rules, search the internet for “how to set up folders on {my email} service.”

Get Off Mailing Lists

  • Contact https://dmachoice.thedma.org/ and https://www.catalogchoice.org/ to opt in or out of paper mailings. They won’t stop all of the mail, but it will stop much of it.
  • Be generous, but be selective, too. Stay off the “sucker lists,” which are lists of people who are likely to respond and donate to charitable appeals. Charity fund raising is big business. The more organizations you donate to, the higher the chance that data mining companies will identify you as an easy target, selling your information to even more charities. Honor your nature to be generous by donating to fewer causes that are important to you, and that have good ratings from  https://www.guidestar.org/. Be selective to stay off the lists that generate even more charity mail in your mailbox.
  • Opt out of unsolicited credit card offers. Many of these are generated by companies data-mining your credit reports. Reduce these unsolicited offers by contacting each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian), and requesting that they not allow your data to be accessed for the preapproved offers. The toll-free number for all the national credit reporting agencies is 1 888 5OPTOUT (1 888 567 8688).
  • Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you (“Firm Offers”). The FCRA also provides consumers with the right to opt-out of these offers. If you choose to opt-in or opt-out, you can visit www.optoutprescreen.com to make your request online.” (excerpted from Experian.com)
  • Reduce the amount of credit accounts you have. Stick with one main all-purpose credit card and another one for backup. Reduce the urge to sign up for store credit accounts just to get short term offers. Cancel promotional cards as soon as you fulfill the promotion. The more cards and credit accounts you have, the more mail they will generate. 

Utilize Online Information Sources

  • Recycle most manuals for household items. Chances are you don’t need the manual for small items like toasters and coffee makers. You can access manuals you do need online at https://www.manualslib.com/ and http://www.manualsonline.com/. If you can’t find it there, which is rare, you can usually find a manual for an older product at the manufacturer’s website.
  • Support your school’s, church’s and community’s efforts to go paperless. Learn how to use online forms and payment options like e-checks and Paypal. 

Say No to Paper Offered to You

  • Don’t bring home fliers, brochures and free magazines. These rarely get read, and they rarely have information that you can’t find online.
  • Instead of collecting business cards, scan a card on your phone and enable your settings to send information right into your phone’s Contacts app. ScaBizCards and Evernote both can upload details directly to your contacts app.

Reset your Reading Habits

  • Cancel your newspaper and magazines if you never read them. Continue to get your local news by purchasing a digital subscription, and request a daily email of headlines and topics that interest you.
  • Are you really serious about having less paper in your life? Get an e-reader and learn to use it instead of buying and storing books you’ll need briefly. Sure, you love the feel and smell of actual books, but you can have HUNDREDS of great books and magazines in less space than your unread piles are taking on your cluttered nightstand right now.

If you really want to go paperless, start with these steps to have less paper in your life. You’ll find more space in your home. 

Author: Annette ReymanHome Staging Lists Move Management Organizing Productivity Project Management Time Management Time Management Uncategorized

Creating A Timeline to Manage Your Move

Part of being organized is organizing your time and schedule.

That can look like many things: maintaining a written planner, using and sharing an online calendar, time blocking, scheduling appointments as well as daily tasks, or creating a timeline for big events. And, while creating a timeline is a great way to keep track of any project or event that you are planning, it is a most valuable asset in managing a move. 

Why is a timeline so vital to the relocation process?

Moving is uncomfortable and inconvenient at best, and downright exasperating and stressful at its worst. This is due to the infrequency and unpredictability of the process.

This isn’t an undertaking the average person practices over and over again throughout the year. We don’t move to a new home every week! Therefore, we don’t get the opportunity to hone and streamline each step of the process. And, even if we do sharpen our skills, there are some factors that just cannot be foreseen. Housing deals fall through, moving trucks get delayed, people in our lives have emergencies that need to be handled. Making a timeline cannot change these unexpected delays but it can put us in control of how to manage them and that’s what being organized is all about – being prepared.

Whether you are moving next year or this summer, it is never too late to create a timeline for your move.

Here are three simple steps to get you started:

  1. Make a List. Write down everything you can think of that you will need to get done before moving day. For example: 
    • Interview and hire professionals for assistance: a realtor, organizer, stager, movers, pack/unpack team (do this early – moving seasons get hectic and you won’t have many choices if you wait for the last minute)
    • Declutter and stage the house 
    • Pack  (if you plan on doing this yourself)
    • Give notice to landscapers, schools, clubs, jobs
    • Change address with the Post Office
    • Notify utility companies
    • Plan for travel (don’t forget your pets!)
    • Plan for child and pet care
    • Take a day or two to keep adding tasks to your list as you think of them.
  2. Pull out a Calendar. You may want to have a calendar or planner devoted just to this. If you use a digital calendar, make your moving agenda a separate color so that it stands out. Check it weekly, and daily as your move date gets closer.
    • Begin by filling in all fixed dates. Fill in your timeline with things that are certain. Do you have to close on your new or current house by a specific deadline? Are you starting a new job on a specific date?
    • Add in the rest. Once your fixed dates are filled in, go to your list (see step 1) and add in ALL the items. If you have more time, you can simply assign them to a certain week on your timeline. If you’re on a time-crunch, be more date-specific so that you can insure that nothing slips through the cracks.
    • Details. Add details such as contact names, phone numbers and email addresses to your timeline. Include contacts for schools, movers, realtors, stagers and organizers. Adding these details to your timeline will help by keeping all your essential move details in one convenient location.
  3. Overestimate. If you haven’t moved in a while, estimate the amount of time you will need to pack and double it. This is a time-consuming process.
    • If you are packing yourself make sure you order your supplies at least one week in advance of starting.
    • Allow several weeks for packing.
    • Packing paper is something that you can overestimate with as well. It is frustrating to keep running out for more supplies once you’ve hit your packing groove.

A moving timeline may seem like extra work for your move right now, but the small bit of time taken to set up this management tool will support you throughout the process and keep you in the driver’s seat.



Author: Janet BernsteinClothing Organizing Time Management Tips Travel Uncategorized

Mastering the Art of Road Trip Packing

Next month I’m heading over to the UK for a two-week tour of England where I’ll be staying in a different accommodation almost every night. While super exciting, packing for such a trip can be a nightmare. I don’t need to lug my large suitcase containing everything for my 10 day trip into a hotel where I’m only staying one night. So what to do? Read on to learn how I’ve mastered the art of packing and the dreaded road trip packing!

  • Three to four days before your trip, lay out the outfits you want to take on your bed or other large flat surface. I like to do this several days in advance so that I have time to run out and get something if I discover I’m lacking a certain item.
  • Stick to a color theme. My mother taught me this and it’s great advice. Let’s say I pick navy. Every article of clothing I bring will either be navy or compliments navy. The only shoes I’ll need to take must either be navy or something complimentary. Same with jewelry, purses, jackets and sweaters. I just eliminated the headache of figuring out which accessories I need to match each item. By sticking to a color theme I also probably halved the weight of my suitcase.
  • Do laundry the day before you pack. There’s nothing more frustrating than only being able to pack half your suitcase because items are still in the wash.

Okay, so that deals with your regular packing needs. For a road trip where you’ll be staying in multiple hotels you’ll need one large suitcase and one overnight duffle or carry on size case.

  • Separate your outfits by day. If you need to change outfits in one day, place both outfits together. Don’t forget to place a pair of underwear, socks and shoes on each pile plus a small plastic trash bag for dirty laundry.
  • Now place the outfit (or outfits) into separate packing cubes (check out these)
    https://www.ebags.com/category/travel-accessories/packing-aids or jumbo Ziploc bags.
  • Label the packing cube or Ziploc bag with the applicable day of the week.
  • If, like me, you’re heading to a country with temperamental weather, you may want to label the cube or bag with a temperature indicator. “Perfect for 80 degree day” or “Wear on cool, rainy day.”
  • Pack your individual outfit cubes or Ziploc bags in your suitcase. Place the bags on top with outfits you will wear first.
  • Pack one outfit bag in your carry on size case plus your toiletry bag and any other items you will need every day such as chargers, book, camera etc.
  • Your large suitcase remains in your car so place it in the trunk with easy accessibility. When you return to your car each morning, place last night’s bag in your large suitcase and transfer tomorrow’s outfit into your smaller overnight bag. No more rummaging around in your suitcase looking for stuff. Everything is neatly packed and organized.

Wherever you may be heading, we wish you a fantastic summer!
From all of us at The Organizing Professionals®

Author: Anna SicalidesMove Management Uncategorized

13 ways you can start to downsize for your next adventure

It’s hard to think about how to start the downsizing process. There’s so much wrapped up in our treasures: difficult emotions, unmet dreams, things we haven’t finished, bad decisions etc. Change is hard and a next life transition might not always be our choice. Despite all the emotions, it can be a freeing and rewarding experience to let go of those things that fill up our time and space.

Here are some things to think about when planning to downsize:

  1. Start as early as you can, as early as when downsizing is just an idea. You want to be involved in the process, and it’s easier to think clearly when you don’t have other pressures at the same time.
  2. Schedule an appointment with yourself once or twice a week, every week, the same time and day to go through your belongings. Do not expect to work 8 hours on this, it is exhausting work. Plan for smaller blocks of time on a regular frequency.
  3. Get help! Maybe a friend who is going through the same transition, you can be accountability partners to each other laugh and cry together. It’s good to involve your kids but be aware that doing this with your kids or your spouse (who might be in denial) can be really challenging. Sometimes it’s better to start yourself on the things that you have purview over.
  4. If your moving or selling your house, keep in mind that your house will sell for more money and faster to sell if it is clutter free.

Wondering where to start?

  1. Remove the trash, broken items, things you know you don’t want (we call it cherry picking the easy stuff).
  2. The garage is key because you will use it as a marshaling area for trash, recycling, donations, and giveaway.
  3. Local recycling events are good to use for deadlines. More difficult things to get rid of are chemicals, electronics, medications, shredding, use these events to your advantage.
  4. It’s good to stage those things that belong to others somewhere to make it easier to return. Near the door or in your car trunk. Call them, give them a deadline. You are not the world’s storage unit.
  5. Things your saving for the kids need to be resolved. It’s not your responsibility to be their storage unit. If they want it they will come and pick up what they want, fine, if they don’t want it, let it go.
  6. For some reason, books are always a sensitive area for those who love them. Separately, those who love books, almost always have a lot of them. Some questions to consider:
    • Do I need to keep those books I’ve read, or will never read again?
    • Do I use old cookbooks, or can I pass them down to someone else?
  7. Holiday items, how much do you need a tree? Is that something you can either stop putting up or perhaps pass down.
  8. Things that will not fit into your new life, will you be doing a ton of cooking or entertaining if not, move on your large pots and turkey roasters.
  9. If your spouse is reluctant, start on what you can do without their input (respectfully please) your clothes, your books and other things that you are responsible for.

In the end,  you want to feel good about your decisions and be a part of the process so that you can rest easy into this next chapter.

Author: Ellen TozziClutter Donating Organizing Uncategorized

Let It Go! Let It Go! Let It Go!

When I help clients decide what items to cull, I often sing a ditty to the tune of ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh, the house is getting cluttered
And it makes me want to shudder
And since it’s on overflow
I’ll let it go, let it go, let it go.

Doesn’t sound professional? Well, it helps clients to have fun when making tough decisions about letting go of items that trigger memories. As professional organizers, we help our clients reframe the way they look at their items so they can become clear on what they want to keep and what they want to let go.

Marie Kondo’s books and Tidying Up Netflix series have inspired people to declutter and organize their homes. One of KonMari’s catch phrases is ‘DOES IT SPARK JOY?’ I like that concept because it implies joy ignites energy. Of course, we need to keep items that don’t necessarily spark joy (can you say ‘income tax returns?) so let’s examine some other questions to ask yourself:

DO I USE IT? – DO I LOVE IT? – DO I NEED IT? (those darn taxes again)

Sometimes even these questions aren’t enough to make clear, confident decisions. We may need to delve deeper to examine the ”keep vs. don’t keep” tug of war going on inside us. Here are some other reframing questions to ask yourself:

  • If I didn’t already own it would I buy it?
  • If I moved into a studio apartment, is it a treasure I’d take?
  • Is it the memories that spark joy rather than the item itself? If so, photograph it and then let it go.

For clothing:

  • Does it enhance my figure or the image I’m going for?
  • Do I feel good in it?
  • If I lose weight, will I want to wear a 15 year-old item?

For books: Ask not if you like the book but ….

  • Will I read it or refer to it again?
  • If I want to reread will I download it and read it digitally?
  • Do I have the space for this many books?

For information:

  • If I wanted this information would I Google it or look in my file drawer/pile?
  • Will I remember I saved the information?
  • Will the info expire by the time I reference it again?

If when you’re culling items and feel stuck, feel free to sing my take on ‘Let It Go’ or make up your own words to Frozen’s version. Keep the process fun as you strengthen your decision-making and letting-go muscles!

Author: Tim ZeiglerAuctions Uncategorized

Auctions Today & Yesteryear (Where is Everybody?)

As an auction professional, I regularly have the opportunity to work
with Professional Organizers and Senior Move Managers. These
professionals provide a wonderful service helping client’s de-clutter
their homes for a variety of reasons including preparation for sale,
down-sizing & moving to a smaller living space or simply organizing
their lives.

During the de-cluttering process, there is often a need to sell personal
property and in some cases a great deal of property. Since auctions are
a simple, efficient and often productive approach to selling, we can
often help the same client. This is the wonderful connection between
us.

Developing a Passion

I developed a passion for auctions as a child from my father. He loved
auctions and would take me on his Saturday auction adventures to
pretend he was helping my mother. He loved to buy at auction and
mom did not appreciate clutter, so you can imagine the action at our
home. These auctions often had big crowds of people and enthusiastic
bidding. It was exciting. I would hear energized bidders looking for a
bargain. However, I was attracted to selling at auction as the price just
went one direction. I have not come across another business
negotiation where the price only goes higher. I loved the excitement of
the auction environment as a child and still do today. However, the
environment has changed.

Where is Everybody? Where are the Bidders?

I have heard these questions in recent years as we help clients looking
to sell their property. A great many of these clients were at auctions
forty, fifty or more years ago buying much of their art, furniture,
antiques, decorative items and collections. They would often spend an
entire day at the auction and there would be hundreds of people in
attendance. They would see friends and enjoy the camaraderie. I was
reminded of the feeling when recently watching an old movie “North
by Northwest”.

There is a fascinating auction scene Alfred Hitchcock
used in the story line. It showed bidding and activity at a high end auction over fifty years ago. The auction gallery was filled. People were sitting in every available seat and others were standing. There were no large screens displaying the auction item. There was no bidding by telephone. There was no internet bidding. There were no computers supporting the auction process at all. What a major difference! Large screens, phone bidding and internet platforms have expanded the range and number of bidders dramatically.

However, it does not look like it to auction buyers from many years ago turned into auction sellers as their lives have changed.

The Environment has Changed ….

When asked where is everybody? Where are the bidders? I point out
the number of ways the auctioneer is accepting bids beyond those from
the smaller than they expected bidders attending in person. I look
toward the computers handing the bidding for each of the multiple
internet bidding platforms and explain each computer represents far
more bidders than when you purchased in the crowded auctions many
years ago. I look toward the staff members handling phone bidding and
point out those strong bidders as well. There are also bids left with the
office and on our web-site. I explain there is a larger geographic area
represented and there are bidders watching the auction from not only
our region but from the entire United States and around the world. I
point out they have been able to see each item in a gallery of pictures
for a month before the auction.

…and it is still Exciting!

Once the auctioneer starts taking bids from the bidders in all these
different ways (including from bidders in person like Alfred Hitchcock
portrayed), it begins to make sense. Bidding at auction is even more
exciting as it comes in so many ways from so many places!