Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Some Words from Peter Walsh, Organizing Guru

Peter Walsh, professional organizer guru, was interviewed in the latest issue of The NAPO News published by the National Association of Professional Organizers. The following are some inspirational exerpts:

"Stuff has power, and the stuff we own has power—power for good or power for ill. It’s up to us to decide how we use the stuff we own. We either advance the kind of life, community, and world we want, or we become so self-absorbed with our stuff that we become like greedy children hoarding cookies."

"One of the problems I constantly see is we are swimming against the tide by living in a society that says more is better. That mindset is exactly why we are in the economic crisis we are in today."

"If we focus on the stuff, we do ourselves … such a disservice. It’s not about the stuff. It’s about the life we live and the lives we create."

"I believe homes are metaphors for our lives. I believe it’s impossible to make your best choices, your most enlightened, spiritually rich, emotionally stable choices in a cluttered and disorganized home. It just can’t happen. Time and time again, I have seen that when you open the space you create the opportunity for amazing things to flow into that space."

"Organization is not something you do, it’s the way you live your life. It is not about
simply cleaning up, it is about making mindful decisions about your life."

I'm motivated, what about you? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

If you're inspired, motivated, and eager to make mindful decisions about your life, The 1-2-3...Get Organized series provides a vehicle for getting there!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Organizing Office Supplies

While organizing an office yesterday, several non-descript boxes housed various sizes and types of envelopes. Taping one of the envelopes to the outside of the box makes the contents easy to find at a glance without opening each box. This system works well with other paper products as well.

We also placed the most-used items in the middle shelves and less-needed items on the lower and higher shelves. Try this technique in closets, your kitchen and garage, too!

Another blog related to this subject: Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind

Fot more help organizing your office, try Three Steps to Organizing Your Office.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - #1 Biggest Organizing Mistake

People are in love with organizing containers. Many of my clients rival The Container Store in the number of containers they own!

Owning organizing containers is not a bad thing. The #1 organizing mistake, however, is buying organizing containers without a clear picture in mind of how you can use them. For example, I was organizing an office yesterday and our initial conversation indicated that we might need to purchase or make something to hold finished projects. As we worked through the office, though, we found a solution with existing furniture.

I always organize first, buy organizing containers last, if needed. Many times, my clients already have storage - we may just need to think outside the box in order to find it.

So, as tempting as it is, refrain from purchasing organizing containers until you know what you need. Yesterday we purchased upright Christmas wrap containers to hold rolls of work-in-progress - but that was AFTER we determined what we needed. We knew exactly what we wanted, and we felt very fortunate to snag the last two at an after-Christmas clearance sale.

What unusual storage solutions have you used? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More blogs on similar topics:
National Association of Professional Organizer's Best Residential Product for 2008
Storage for Your Garage
Products we Recommend - KangaRoom Stackable File Box

As you declutter, consult Three Steps to Decluttering if you are overwhelmed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Your Electronics

Got outdated electronics? You hate to get rid of them because you feel someone can use them? Here are a couple of options for ya.

You can sell them at Gazelle. Gazelle buys cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, laptops, PDAs, GPS devices, gaming consoles, camcorders, satellite radios, external drives, video games, and movies. Simply submit your item and they will make an offer. If it's a deal, they will pay for shipping and even send you a box.

NBC Nightly News recently featured a store in NYC, CEX, that purchases electronic gadgets and resells them in their store. View the story.

If you'd rather donate your items, The National Cristina Foundation takes computers, printers, peripherals, and software. "The National Cristina Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the support of training through donated technology. For more than two decades we have encouraged companies and individuals to donate computers and other technology, which is then matched to charities, schools and public agencies in all 50 states, Canada, and in many countries around the world."

Do you recommend other organizations that help us declutter our electronics? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More blogs on similar subjects:
Recycling Cell Phones to Our Soldiers
Recycling Computer Components
Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment

Monday, January 26, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Create/Update Your Budget

Have your income or expenses changed in the last year? If so, updating your budget may be in order. Or if you don't have a budget, you may want to create one.

The optimum way to create a budget is to look at your spending over the last year. If you do't use a software program or other means of tracking your spending, gathering tax info provides ample opportunity to do so. If you have inadequate records, estimate your spending patterns.

The tricky part is to keep your budget below what you earn!! It really is a reality check to track your spending. Without trying, you can easily find yourself in debt before you know it. And you may sacrifice immediate pleasure for future security.

Include in your budget short-term and long-term savings. Short-term savings is for replacing appliances, unexpected car expenses, etc., so you don't have to go into debt when you have an emergency.

Long-term savings is for a down payment on a house, retirement, college funds and such. If your employer has a matching retirement program, enroll!! Starting early provides exponential multiplication of your investments. Even if you think you can't possibly afford it, do it! If you wait until you can afford it, it may not happen.

Determine the categories to include in your budget and assign an amount for each. Don't forget to include occasional expenses - vacations, gifts, etc. Whittle down amounts until your expenses are less than your take-home pay.

It's a lot of work to create and maintain a budget, but it keeps you living in reality!

How do you manage your budget?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - The Mode Premium All-in-One Recycling Center

Does the clutter of recycling annoy you? It does me!

I just read a press release for a product that eliminates the clutter and gives you a place to keep your recycling until recycling day. It's called the The Mode™ Premium All-In-One Recycling Center and has a price tag of $199-299.

Here's what the website says about this new appliance:

"Sort. Store. And crush your way to a cleaner counter top. The Mode™ Premium All-In-One Recycling Center, featuring our patent-pending compaction system, allows you to hold up to 3 times more than a typical bin. The versatile compaction system crushes aluminum cans and 8 oz to 2 liter plastic bottles and jugs in one easy step that doesn’t require a plug. The paper bin is designed to help you eliminate kitchen clutter by organizing all your recyclable materials in one convenient place. Which means now you can save the planet without sacrificing counter space."

Would you spend the money on such an appliance? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Opt Out of Phone Books

I recently lugged new phone books into the house, thinking "what a waste of money!" It is rare that we look in a phone books these days.

I just became aware of a way to opt out of receiving printed phone books. When you sign up, they will send you an email that you must reply to in order for it to take effect.
Not only does it declutter your house, but saves some trees and the environment!

What are you doing to be green? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More on similar subjects:
Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment
More Eco-Friendly Recycling

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Declutter Your Wallet/Purse

Here's a while-you-wait task: while riding in the car, waiting for an appointment, etc. Declutter your wallet by removing any excess receipts. Toss the ones you no longer need and file or record the ones you need to keep. Remove expired credit cards and shred them. Other people's business cards can be filed or recorded if you don't need them in your wallet. And toss expired coupons or other clutter.

Go through your purse and empty it of trash and unnecessary items. Use smaller bags or organizers to house like items. Then you'll be able to find what you need at a glance!

Other while-you-wait decluttering tasks: the car (when you and other family members get out, ask them to pick up whatever trash they see - whether it's theirs or not!); briefcase; diaper bag; book bag.

What decluttering tasks do you do while you wait? If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More on similar subjects:
Pouchee Purse Organizer
Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Purse/Wallet and Briefcase

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Get Organized Month - Organize Your Refrigerator Freezer

Happy Inauguration Day! What a historic day for our country! I hope you get to watch history being made as we welcome our first black president.

Our daughter, Sara, arrived here from Kazakhstan on Sunday and we're enjoying our visit with her! We haven't seen her in 1 1/2 years. We're going to run some errands and be back by the time the inauguration starts.

If you have taken the day off today, here's a project you can do while watching the festivities: organizing your refrigerator freezer. Every once in a while I like to take stock of what I have, what needs to be tossed, what I need to use up, etc. It doesn't take long, and it helps you stay on top of what's in there.

I like to use clear plastic shoe boxes (without the lids) in my freezer to house like foods: veggies, fruits, breads, meats, etc. I get mine from the dollar store. Since they're clear, I can see at a glance what is housed in each container. And I can just slide them out without having an avalanche at my feet.

When I have leftover veggies or meat that would be appropriate for a soup, I'll put them in the designated container. Leftover fruits I'll use for smoothies or fruit compote. It's like having a free meal when you use those little bits of leftovers that no one wants to eat. How about a pot of soup tonight?

When I have an overabundance of some item I try to freeze it before it goes bad so as not to waste food and money. For example, some weeks our bananas are eaten and other weeks they are not. So if they are going bad, I peel and freeze them, to use for banana bread. They look really ugly when you thaw them, but they make wonderful banana bread.

I keep my coffee on the door of the freezer for easy access. We have A LOT of coffee, so I use one shelf for decaf and the other for regular.

I try to keep items in our refrigerator freezer that we use often and store less-used items in our chest freezer.

Share your tips with us! (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More blogs on similar subjects:
Decluttering in 5 - Check out the Shelf Life of Your Spices
Get Organized Month - Clean out the Freezer

If you need more help on organizing your kitchen, take a gander at Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - A Year of Growth

Before we get into today's topic, just wanted to catch you up on the progress of rethinking my desk. My desk is clear and things are organized and have a home. It took several hours over the weekend, going through every file drawer and every shelf, but it's done and I'm pleased - what a great feeling!

January is a great time to look ahead to the year and consider potential areas of growth for yourself and for your children, if applicable. I would not suggest considering growth areas for your spouse! :)

For example, are you being held back because of a lack of knowledge in a particular area? Do you need to get further training in order to be more effective? Is there an area you are eager to pursue, adding to your personal or professional toolbelt? Are there some life skills you need or want to work on - communication, boundaries, time management, parenting, ball room dancing, technical/computer skills or programs, etc.?

As you pinpoint an area or two, consider how you might pursue growth in this area - a class, a mentor, reading a book, coaching, for example. Figure out how you can fit this into your budget and schedule. Growth is envigorating and inspiring! My personal opinion: growth is necessary for a positive self image. Don't be tempted to short-change yourself.

For myself, I'm going to pursue a business idea that popped into my mind last week. I'm going to run it by several people and brainstorm with them to evaluate the pros and cons. If we can figure out a way to make it work, I'll march ahead! And I'll let you know about it soon.

If you have children, think through areas in which they may need to grow. For example, I'm going to work on manners with our foster daughters this year. Since we have each house of girls in our home once a month, I'll work on one topic each month. When we get a new girl in our program, she usually has no idea about table manners. So instead of embarrassing her, we'll address one aspect of manners each month plus review what we have learned in past months.

So far, I'm thinking of: placing napkins in our laps, how to use utensils properly, not using our fingers, how to cut properly, not chewing with our mouths open, properly passing food, how to set the table, etc. I always tell them that when they are invited to the White House for dinner, they'll not want to embarrass themselves. :)

Our own girls loved eating with their fingers, still do in fact! I think it's a throwback to living in Kenya during their early years, where it is considered appropriate. Evey once in a while when we are together, we'll make sukuma wiki and ugali and dig in with our fingers! Yum! Just for fun one night, you may make it a no-silverware-night! And serve soup!

As you consider areas of growth for your children, look at the needs of each individual child. Make sure to select areas that are age appropriate for each child, not expecting them to function at a higher level than they are capable. Try to make it fun, and reward a job well done.

What areas do you want to pursue this year? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More blogs on related topics:
- Why Throw Shallow New Years' Resolutions at Yourself When You Really Need to Rethink Life?
- Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Determining The Legacy You Want to Leave Your Children

If you need help rethinking life, explore my Rethinking Life coaching package or any of my Time Management books.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jennifer's Review of My Books at the Dirty Shirt

Jennifer at The Dirty Shirt has reviewed Three Steps to Organizing Your Office and Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen. She's got a giveaway, too! Wander around her great site while you're at it!

Get Organized Month 2009 - Rethink Your Desk

Ok, it's -12 degrees! That's real temperature - not wind chill - at 7 am this morning! The high today is going to be 7, but I've been watching the temperature decrease since I've been up. Coffee is in order.

We missed Clean Off Your Desk Day, which was on Monday. Oh, well .... we can just pretend it's today. I haven't had time to tackle this job until today, and I didn't want to be hypocritical. :)

With a new year beginning, it's a great time to rethink how your desk is functioning. When stacks start accumulating on my desk, it's a clear indication that I need to rethink things. Some good questions to ask:

Have my responsibilities changed in the last year?
Are there items that have no home?
Have some areas increased in importance and others decreased?
Is my desk area functional and efficient? If not, why?

As I may have shared before, I HATE to file. Consequently, for my few most active areas, I have used open boxes on shelves. I can just drop papers into the boxes and be done! However, I find that I'm not doing this because I have to stand up and open the cupboard door each time I must file something.

As stupid as this sounds, if you can't do it while sitting at your desk chair, you're more likely to put it off or put it in a stack. Sad, but true.

So, as I have evaluated my desk, I'm going to break down and use some hanging files instead of boxes. I also need the storage space. A box takes up a lot more room than a hanging file.

I've looked at what accumulates on my desk and figured out what I can do to keep that from happening. And I'm going through my file drawers under my desk to remove files that are no longer active. They will go into a file cabinet in another room. I'm also creating new files for new areas, as necessary.

My goal is to take a few minutes at the end of the day and take care of anything that needs attention - filing, items that require action, shredding, etc. Since everything will have a home, my desk shouldn't be the repository of homeless items.

How do you like to keep your desk functional, efficient and neat? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More on similar subjects: A very simple filing system for email and paper, Can Clutter Cause You to Lose Your Job?

If you need more help organizing your office, treat yourself to Three Steps to Organizing Your Office.

P.S. We've made it up to -10 degrees at 8 am!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Fridge to Keep Foods Fresh

It is COLD here this morning. It has gone from 2 degrees when I got up to -1 as I write this at 7 am! Schools are closed, but it wasn't posted until 6:05 by which time we were all up and dressed. Our foster daughter has gone back upstairs to read/sleep, not pleased that she was fully dressed and ready when she could have stayed in bed in her pjs! I agree. :)

Speaking of cold, the next time you buy groceries, reorganize your fridge so things stay fresh. By the way, I usually clean my fridge just before grocery shopping or as I'm putting my groceries away. I throw away the old stuff, clean off shelves and put in the new stuff.

Here's what eHow suggests to keep foods at their peak:

"Step1 - One way to have fresh food is to keep all raw meats and poultry on the lowest level of the refrigerator. This is normally a drawer for meats. It will keep juices from dripping onto your other foods and pose a safety risk.

Step 2 - I know the compartments for eggs and butter are neat, cute and seem to be organized, but if you use this compartment, then your eggs and butter will quickly loose quality because this area is too warm. You can always use this area for medicines or other non food items.

Step 3 - Other areas of the fridge that seems to warm up quickly are the shelves on the door. This happens every time you open the door. You can always use this space for not so temperature sensitive items, such as, salad dressing, ketchup or jelly. It will still give your refrigerator organization while keeping food fresh.

Step 4 - The top shelf of the fridge should be used for the most perishable items, such as milk, eggs, sour cream and yogurt. This area is the closest to the fan."

They also suggest checking the rubber gasket on your fridge door by "closing the door on a dollar bill. If you can slide the dollar out easily, replace the gasket for better insulation."

Remember when we talked about the optimum temp for the refrigerator being 41 degrees or less? I have my fridge thermometer located where I can see it. I've noticed that when I open my fridge, the temp goes down several degrees. A good reason to think ahead before opening the fridge door! I try to get everything I need for my recipe at one time.

I also tried those green bags that are supposed to keep produce fresh. I didn't have any success with them - did I do something wrong? Anybody else have the same experience?

Have you heard some tips for keeping foods fresh in your fridge? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

More on similar subjects:
Demystifying Food Expiration Dates
Fun Food Tips
Saving Money by Being Organized
Clever way of storing salad dressings in the fridge

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge

Part of getting organized is setting up sytems that allow you to maintain your organization. One that nourishes my soul is having everyone clean up what they have messed up and pick up what is theirs before going to bed. It is pretty discouraging to me to get up in the morning and be greeted by a messy living area!

A way to make it a fun event is to have a Family Five Minute Challenge. Designate a container for each family member - a basket, a bucket, a shower caddy - have fun with it! During the day your family members can deposit their stuff in their containers.

If by the time you start your evening routine for bedtime, things are still out of place, set the timer for five minutes. Each family member searches the main living areas and drops misplaced items in his/her container.

Then set the timer again, and they take their containers to their rooms and empty them. You'll need to "inspect what you expect" so the items don't end up in a pile, in the closet, or under the bed. The key is to have a home for everything. But that's another topic.

Even your toddler can participate in the Family Five Minute Challenge with a little training and/or help. Because the attention span is so short at that age, I usually did it with my girls. Of course that means I needed to have my stuff cleaned up beforehand!

When our girls were pre-school ages, we did such clean up activities three times a day. Once before lunch/nap, once before dinner, and once before bedtime. Otherwise, it was too overwhelming for them, and I started twitching with the mess. Yes, I know ... your child is supposed to put a toy away when she takes another out. But that doesn't always happen, does it?

Do the same thing for your kids' rooms: set a timer for younger children or a time limit for older ones to declutter and straighten their rooms. By setting aside time each day, it creates a system for maintenance.

If clutter is out of control at your house, have a Family Five Minute Challenge several times each day to help you and and your family get to a manageable state. Designate containers for giveaways, throwaways, stowaways (toys/clothes that are too young for one child until the next child grows into them - label according to age), and/or tradeaways/sell.

Take before and after pictures, to share the sense of accomplishment. Once you get the clutter under control, do something big to celebrate and to reward everyone's hard work!!

To encourage consistent decluttering, reward the person with the least number of items collected each night. It doesn't have to be big, but positive encouragement goes a long way. So much nicer than if we are growling and grumpy!

If there comes a night when everyone's containers are empty because they have gotten into the habit of putting things away (is that a possibility!?!), celebrate by doing something special the next day.

By taking a few minutes each day, clutter doesn't pile up and become overwhelming. And home is inviting and peaceful and calming.

What do you do to keep clutter at a minimum? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this (link will take you back to my blog.)

More on similar topics: Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind, Schedule Daily Clean Up Times, Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment, More Eco-Friendly Recycling, Cash from your Clutter

If you need help in creating a functional and fun room for your child, consider Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room (book and ebook).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Pet Hair Removal

While we're getting organized this month, let's talk about pet hair. What's the point if we get all organized, but everything is covered with a layer of fur? I've heard of many remedies, but there's a new one out now: Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair.

Here's a review from fellow organizer Tracy Axcell, "I worked with a new client this weekend who receives “test” items before they hit the market. She gave me a new one to try and I love it! It’s the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair. It’s disposable, keeps the hair inside the unit and you toss it when it’s full. I used it on multiple surfaces and it did better than any of the other recommended items I’ve tried
in the past."

The Pledge Fabric Sweeper is now available at Walmart, Target, K-Mart and Walgreens, and Lowes. Look for it in the pet care area or the rug cleaning supply area.

Not having pets, I'll have to rely on you to let me know what you think!

More on similar topics: Keeping cats off furniture.

For more help on cleaning, see our Three Steps to Clever Cleaning.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Magazines

Decluttering magazines is something I'm attempting to do throughout the year. I'm not keeping on top of it, so I need to whittle down the quantity that enter my house.

If you have the same problem, here's how to get started;

1. Go through your magazines and toss those you know you don't need or want any more. To double your time, do this task while watching something on TV or another activity that lends itself to multi-tasking. I take them along when I'm riding in the car for a few minutes or when I know I might be waiting.

2. As you're going through your magazines, ask yourself if you really want to continue the subscriptions you have. If you don't have time to read your magazines, it's wasting your money and cluttering up your house! I've recently let several subscriptions lapse because I just don't have time to keep up with them. I'm also going to cancel a newspaper that we're not reading.

3. For those magazines that are left, tear out the pages to keep or read. Categorize them into like groups: recipes to try, organizing ideas, etc.

4. For those articles or ideas you want to keep on a long term basis, make files for each different category or create a binder for decorating ideas, scrapbooking examples, etc. Use plastic protector sheets and just slide the articles/ideas into the sheets. If you place a piece of paper in the protector sheet, you can store an idea on each side.

5. If there are entire magazines you want to keep, get some magazine boxes and label them accordingly. Give yourself a limit on what you will keep. For example, if you decide to keep one year's worth of a magazine, remove the oldest one when you receive and have read the newest one.

6. Decide if you want to organize your magazines by magazine titles, topics, or by month (if you want to look at ideas, recipes, etc. seasonally).

7. Keep your current magazines in a magazine rack or box. When I have a few moments, I'll pick up a magazine and go through a few pages.

Do you have tips that keep your magazine clutter to a minimum? (If you receive this by email and want to leave a comment, this link will take you to my blog.)

If you have further decluttering needs, please see our 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009: More on Closet Organizing - The Closet Purse Hanger

Shawane Thomas is a woman after my own heart. She had a problem - lots of purses. What? Is that a problem? Not really - just storing them.

She tried various ways of storing them, none to her satisfaction. So she invented the Closet Purse Hanger by playing with a paperclip. The beauty of the Closet Purse Hanger is that it requires no installation - it simply hangs on your closet rod! She patented it and is now on a mission to create peace in our closets.

Closet Purse Hangers can be purchased online and come in a package of 10 for a price of $19.99 plus $3.00 shipping and handling. Shawane has some great before and after pics on her site, including this "after" picture.

I haven't tried the Closet Purse Hangers, but they sure look terrific. If you decide to try them, send us some before and after pictures of your own!

More on closet organizing: Get Oranized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Clothes Closet, Get Organized Month - Organize Your Shoes, Get Organized Month - Decluttering Your Tops/Blouses/Shirts, Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Pants, Get Organized Month - Decluttering Your Suits/Coordinated Outfits and Jackets

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ink for 1/3 the Cost? No Way!

I love my Epson Stylus Photo 1400 printer. One reason: it stops printing when ink runs out. When I've used HP printers, they just keep printing. If I'm not paying attention, I discover pages with spotty printing, wasting paper and my time.

Another feature: it has individual ink cartridges for each color. It irritates me to death to have to change an HP cartridge because one color is gone, when I know there are other colors lurking in there!

The only thing I don't love is buying ink! Last night I was on the verge of replenishing my ink supply at Staples.com (because I had a coupon) when I decided to google other ink possibilities. I am so glad I did!

I found 4Inkjets.com, which offers ink for one-third the price! They offer 100% guaranteed satisfaction and are highly rated by BizRater. You can use your credit card or PayPal. And if your order is over $50, shipping is free.

I googled for a coupon code and found one for 10% off. So instead of paying $280 for 14 ink cartridges, I paid $62 and no shipping!

I had tried Cartridge World, but I had to take my empty cartridges there, wait while they filled them, and sometimes the cartridges didn't work.

I'm hopeful that 4Inkjets will come through. I'll keep you posted.

Anyone else have some ink-buying advice?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Get Oranized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Clothes Closet

I've written several blogs on organizing your clothing, which I'll list below if you're in the market for that topic. However, I came across some clever closet organizing ideas in a CNN article, and thought I'd share a few.

- If you can't decide whether to keep an item or not, turn the hanger around backward or "flag" it. If you wear the item, turn the hanger around correctly or remove the flag. It's easy to see which items you haven't worn, and you can donate them or sell them at a consignment shop.

- "Once you have whittled down your wardrobe, you need to assess the layout of your closet. Measure the space you have, making sure to utilize backs of doors, floor space, and all interior walls. When you go to shop for boxes, bins, and other necessary space-savers, make sure you have your closet measurements in hand.

- Use every square inch of your closet. Hang shoe racks on the back of your closet door. Classic belt hangers with multiple hooks are also a good solution for hanging camisoles, bras, or scarves.

- Invest in the right kind of hanger for the type of clothing you are hanging. Use padded hangers for items made from delicate fabrics, plastic hangers for button-down shirts, and sturdy wood hangers for suit jackets as they help retain the shape of the items. Remove all wire hangers (they don't properly support your clothes) and plastic dry-cleaner bags (they don't allow fabrics to breathe, keeping the chemicals used in dry cleaning in your clothes).

- Sort sweaters, T-shirts, and other folded clothing by color as well. Always remove sweaters from hangers and fold them. Hangers will ruin the shape of sweaters over time. Store sweaters on shelves in manageable-sized stacks using sweater dividers to keep them from turning into leaning towers of Pisa. Even better, store them in sweater boxes with well marked labels.

- Keep items you use frequently at eye level or below and items you rarely use higher up. Labeled boxes are good for storing things like bathing suits or turtlenecks because you can rotate them higher or lower in your closet depending on the season.

- Move any snow boots, rain boots, or other "outdoor" gear to your front hall closet (or mudroom if you are lucky enough to have one); restrict what goes in your clothes closet to dress shoes only.

- It's possible that no matter how much you try to edit and organize, you just have too much stuff to fit in your closet. If that's the case, then you need to resort to a seasonal system by rotating your fall/winter clothes with your spring/summer clothes. Covered clothing racks can be filled with out-of-season clothes and kept in your attic or basement or under your bed. Flat storage boxes can serve a similar purpose."

What closet organizing tricks do you use?

More on organizing your clothing: Get Organized Month - Organize Your Shoes, Get Organized Month - Decluttering Your Tops/Blouses/Shirts, Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Pants, Get Organized Month - Decluttering Your Suits/Coordinated Outfits and Jackets

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Truth about Cell Phones and the National Do Not Call Registry

This information from the Federal Trade Commission was brought to my attention by my son-in-law Steve to correct false emails. Even though the following article was released in April 2005, these emails continue to circulate.

"If you’ve received an e-mail telling you that your cell phone is about to be assaulted by telemarketing calls as a result of a new cell phone number database, rest assured that this is not the case.

Telemarketing to cell phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will continue to be so. In response to recent e-mail campaigns urging consumers to place their cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission issue this advisory to give consumers the facts.

One e-mail making the rounds says:
“JUST A REMINDER...In a few weeks, cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS... To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888/382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS...”

Another version claims:
“The Federal Trade Commission has set up a "do not call" list. It is called a cell phone registry. To be included on the "do not call" list, you must call from the number you wish to register.”

Here’s what you need to know about the National Do Not Call Registry program: FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers are barred from calling consumers on their cell phones without their consent.

The federal government does not maintain a national cell phone registry. Personal cell phone users have always been able to add their numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry — the same Registry consumers use to register their land lines — either online at
www.donotcall.gov or by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the telephone number they wish to register. Registrations become effective within 31 days of signing up and are active for five years. There is no cut-off date or deadline for registrations.

Business-to-business calls are not covered under the Registry.

To learn more about the National Do Not Call Registry and the rules that enforce it, visit the FTC at
www.ftc.gov or the FCC at www.fcc.gov. For more information about a planned “wireless 411” directory, visit http://www.iq411.com/wireless411/index.shtml.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at
www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Media Contact:
Jen SchwartzmanOffice of Public Affairs202-326-2674
Staff Contact:
Rosemary KimballOffice of Public Affairs202-418-0511"

Monday, January 5, 2009

Get Oranized Month 2009 - Update Your Addresses

I don't know about you, but it takes us a while to read all our Christmas cards. On some days, I only have time to put them in our designated Christmas card basket. Other days I have time to read them.

After Christmas every year, we go through our Christmas cards and update our address list. Remember my Palm problems last month and how they assured me that my address list would not be erased when they transferred my data to my new smart phone? Well ...... my phone numbers stayed in tact, but the addresses disappeared. Since I had not been able to sync my Palm to either computer, I had no way to save my list. Ugh!

So my job will be a little harder this year. I do have a hard copy from years gone by, but it is sadly lacking. I think I'll make hard copies more often now!

The easiest way I have found to update our address list is to have my husband read me the addresses from the Christmas cards, and I check them against our list. Then I can just type and he can just read. I'll also add notes about our friends to help us remember what has been happening in their lives.

Have a cup of tea and enjoy visiting with your friends indirectly through their cards. We joke about the ones we receive that just have a signature - at least we know they're alive!

If you have a lot of Christmas cards to go through as we do, know what you can handle. If you break it up into small segments, you won't be as likely to put it off. I can handle anything for a short duration! So we might decide to tackle Christmas cards for 30 minutes and see how we feel - are we done or can we manage more?

Since my phone contains both my phone list and my address list, I'll update both lists at once. If your cell phone does not contain your address list, I'd suggest looking over the phone numbers and removing the ones you no longer use. Occasionally I find a number on my phone and I can't even remember who it is!

Use waiting time - when you are waiting at a doctor's appointment, waiting to pick your child up, or another such time to decluter your phone list. I'm not a very good waiter, and I start twitching if I don't have something to do. :-)

Don't let me overwhelm you with both jobs - pace yourself and put it on your schedule or to do list. Then you can mark it off and congratulate yourself!

More Ideas for Get Organized Month: Get Organized Month - Organize Your Shoes, Get Organized Month - Decluttering Your Underwear Drawer, Get Organized Month - Decluttering Your Sock Drawer

What do you feel is your most urgent organizing task?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy Get Organized Month!

January is Get Organized Month as declared by the National Association of Professional Organizers. I think we all feel like getting organized, getting rid of stuff, making a new start. We'll take some time during January to organize several areas to help us get started!

If you haven't taken down your Christmas decorations yet, let that be your first organizing project. Get rid of anything in your Christmas boxes that you haven't used for the last couple of years and that you don't love.

As you are replacing your Christmas decorations with your regular decor, do the same thing. Get rid of anything that you don't love or is extraneous. Take the moment to look at your decor with a fresh eye:

Is it too much?

Is there something you need to make it complete?

Is anything faded or worn?

Is there something in another part of the house that would brighten up your look?

Is your room functional and efficient?

It's invigorating to pare down your stuff and take a new look at things. Have fun! When you finish, take a moment and come back to report your accomplishments.

More on Get Organized Month: Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Catalogs, Get Organized Month - Declutter Under Your Sink, Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Pantry, Get Organized Month - Clean out the Freezer, Get Organized Month - Declutter the Laundry Area

If you need help organizing your time or space, see my 1-2-3...Get Organized series, books and workbooks for the organizationally overwhelmed.

Speaking Engagements: What to Consider When Contemplating Downsizing

Just wanted to let you know of a couple of local speaking engagements for those of you in the area. I'll be speaking on What to Consider When Contemplating Downsizing at two different locations:

Saturday, January 3 - Borders in Cuyahoga Falls on Howe Avenue, 1 pm., lecture and book signing

Thursday, January 8 - Cuyahoga Falls Library on 2nd Street, 7 pm, lecture with books available for sale

Drop by if the topic is of interest to you!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Link for College Tools Now Working

I discovered that the link for the Step By Step College Planning Guide (blog on December 29, 2008) was not working. I edited my
and it is fixed. Sorry about that!

Why Throw Shallow New Years' Resolutions at Yourself When You Really Need to Rethink Life?

Happy New Year! We had a party with our foster daughters last night and stayed up watching movies. My body woke up at 5:30 this morning as usual, which I'm not appreciating! May be naptime at the Coggins' house later on. :-)

I wish for you a wonderful 2009. I hope it's the best year ever in your life!

Here's my blog for New Year's Day:

January is a wonderful time to take stock, evaluate, and realign yourself. Do your activities reflect your passions and priorities? Do your work and leisure capitalize on your gifts? Are you being intentional about the legacy you want to leave your children and/or future generations?

Or are you bouncing through life like a pinball – rebounding off other people’s goals and ambitions, unclear about your own missions in life?

Rethinking life is something you can do once every few years, once a year, or several times a
year – depending upon how often your life has significant change or needs significant change. I like to get away to a place where I won’t be disturbed. Sometimes I have gone to a friend’s cabin, or to a hotel, or just isolated myself at home. Sometimes I go alone and other times my husband and I go together. We’ll work separately, but then come together to work on those things we are committed to jointly.

If getting away or even carving out a chunk of time isn't a possibility, set aside a few minutes each day.

However you do it, how often you do it – the important things is to do it! We don’t want to echo Yogi Berra, “We’re lost, but we’re making great time!”

During these “rethinking times” I like to look at my passions, my priorities, my gifts and the legacy I want to leave my children and generations to come. I then compare my activities to see if they reflect these things that are most significant in my life. I make long-term and short-term goals in various areas of my life and schedule them into my life.

It is an appropriate time to eliminate activities I am no longer passionate about or that don’t rank high enough on my priority list. It’s a reality check if I discover I’m expecting myself to cram 30 hours into a 24-hour day!

The result? I’m intentionally spending my time doing those things that are most significant to me. I’m not at the mercy of others’ agendas. And I’m living in reality. I only have so much time each day. I want to be intentional about the way I spend it.

An important key to maintaining your priorities: build in time each week to evaluate your schedule, tweak it if necessary and plan for next week. I like to create a master weekly plan that I can refer to each week when planning my week so I don’t inadvertently leave something out.

Life can be busy and hectic, but you can have a sense of peace because you are living out your priorities and leaving an intentional legacy!

What legacy do you want to leave?

More on this subject: Announcing My New Coaching Package - Rethinking Life, Keeping First Things First, To Do List or Not To Do List - That is the Question!, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Determining The Legacy You Want to Leave Your Children, Feeling Overwhelmed? Organize Your Priorities, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Refill Time

Each time management book in the 1-2-3...Get Organized series guides you through a step-by-step process of determining your passions, priorities, gifts, and legacy and aligning your schedule and activities accordingly. If the thought of doing this alone is overwhelming, a coaching package is available as well.