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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Corrected Link for Bags on the Run

Sorry - I messed up the link for Bags on the Run. I have corrected yesterday's blog or you can use the link above.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Five Tips on Being Eco-Friendly and Saving Money at the Same Time

Just thought you’d like to know that I’m writing to you this morning on my new mac! My own personal geek (actually two of them!) came yesterday and transferred everything from my pc to my mac. I’m still learning and trying to figure things out - like what happened to this blog I wrote and thought I saved last night!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! We’re going to spend it with our daughter Sara and some friends.

Five Tips on Being Eco-Friendly and Saving Money at the Same Time

Being green doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, Nick over at Go Green and Save the World, suggests some ways that actually save us money! Here they are:

Turn things off - Sounds so simple, yet rarely done. You can save energy by simply flipping a switch. Try this for 30 days, start turning off appliances, lights, etc. when not in use and develop a new energy saving habit.

Take Shorter Showers - When showering, particularly log showers you are using several gallons of water. Obviously shorter showers use less than log luxurious showers. Even baths in a shallow tub is more efficient because you’re using a fixed amount of water.

Clean your Refrigerator Coils - If your refrigerator has coils on the back, once or twice a year you’ll need to turn your refrigerator off and to clean those coils. Cleaning those coils enables your refrigerator to operate more efficiently.

Put On a Sweater - Finding an optimal temperature is a challenge in itself, but reducing the thermostat a few degrees can reduce use as well as raising your temperature when cooling.

Wash Full Loads of Clothes in Cold Water - Most detergents work well with cold water have have specific detergents designed to work in cold water. Even if you wash with warm water, you’re saving more energy then if you were washing in hot water.

So there you have it, these few tips for environmentally friendly living can be done by anyone that wants to make a positive change for the environment. These small changes can make a big impact on the environment and impact the environment greatly.”

You might also want to check out their environmentally friendly shopping bags, which you can use for personal use or have printed for your business.

Speaking of going green Kare4Dogs commented on a green product for removing pet hair. " I recommend a Fur-Zoff. It is a "green" product as oppposed to the Pledge Fabric Sweeper. It also lasts forever and only costs $9.99. You can get one at http://www.furzoff.net"

What are you doing to be green? If you want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.

Blogs on similar topics:

Earth Day Energy Tips

More Eco-Friendly Recycling

Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can Your Loved Ones Find Your Important Documents?

Good Morning! I'm waiting on my own personal geek this morning. I got so tired of my pc shutting down and creating numerous problems, that I've bought a mac. My children have macs and have raved about how wonderful they are - no viruses, no waiting, excellent customer service, etc.

So our geek will come this morning and transfer everything over from one system to another - well worth the money, in my opinion! I imagine we could do it, but why not let someone do it who knows what he's doing? I'll keep you posted.

Now on to our topic of the day - it's really not that morbid!

Can Your Loved Ones Find Your Important Documents?

I came across a chart put out by PBS under the topic of Caring for Your Parents which listed numerous important documents and items that you should be able to locate as you care for them.

I got to thinking that each of us should have such a list in the event of our untimely death - even if young. I've heard horror stories of a person's sudden death and relatives not being able to find a will, life insurance policies, safe deposit keys, etc.
We talked about this during National Preparedness Month, but it's worth another look.

So here's the list that PBS gave, which I feel is pretty comprehensive:

Health Insurance Policies
Primary Health Insurance
Supplemental Medical Insurance
Medicare Card
Long-term Care Insurance
Disability Insurance
Life Insurance (Agent, Beneficiaries)
Funeral Insurance Policy
Financial Accounts and Valuables
Safety Deposit Box and Keys
Checking and Savings Accounts
Brokerage Accounts
Stocks and Bonds
Appraisals and Inventory Lists
Retirement and Benefit Plans
401k Plans
Profit Sharing/Pension Plans
IRA Accounts
Military Benefits/Records
Social Security Records
Credit Cards
Outstanding Bills/Loans
Annual Income Tax Records
Property Tax Records

PBS's chart included a place to list items under each area as well as where they could be found, if necessary. Use their chart or make your own, but it's a wonderful thing to have in place... just in case.

Thoughts or comments? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

Blogs on similar topics:
Taxes - What Documents To Keep and How Long?
National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #8 - Emergency Documents

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Best Time of Day to Clean the House

Good Morning! I'm getting ready to go to my arthritis aquatics class, but wanted to get this off to you first...

The Best Time of Day to Clean the House: 4 p.m.

Here's the scoop from Real Simple Magazine:

"You're more likely to whistle while you window wash (and not kick over the bucket) if you do it in the late afternoon. That's when hand-eye coordination is at its peak and mood levels are high, says Michael Smolensky, a professor of environmental physiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston and author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health (Owl Books, $11, www.amazon.com).

If anyone in the house has allergies or asthma, avoid insomnia-hour and morning cleaning sprees (nasal-allergy symptoms are most severe between 6 a.m. and noon, asthma attacks more likely between midnight and 6 a.m.), and finish well before that person walks in the door. "It takes about an hour for allergens and dust to settle after you clean," says Martha White, M.D., director of research at the Institute for Asthma and Allergy, in Wheaton, Maryland."

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

Blogs on similar topics:
Capturing Usable Moments
Decluttering in 5 - 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do In Five Minutes or Less
How to Clean the House

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Your Child's School Disorganization May Be Caused by Something Else

Good Morning! It's been an interesting morning already. We discovered that our second car had been sitting with a couple of windows partially open during several inches of snow. We have one of those key remotes that opens the windows automatically if you press the unlock button three times. I remember us using the wrong remote on our other car yesterday, but didn't think anything more about it.

After warming up the car for a long time (it was 5 degrees) and wiggling/jiggling the windows, they finally got warmed up and loosened up enough to close!! Since I had extra time this morning, it is somewhat amusing. If I had not, I think it would have been a different story! Or a very cold ride. :)

Your Child's School Disorganization Might Be Caused by Something Else

If your child begins forgetting things and becoming more disorganized, it might be caused by something other than being disorganized.

When one of our daughters was in third grade, she started forgetting to bring books home, forgetting what her assignments were, etc. It took a while, but we finally discovered that her teacher was going through a divorce and her anger was directed at the kids in her class.

Our daughter is a very gentle person and is of the personality type that if there is disharmony, it is very difficult for her to function. Or if she felt that one of her teachers didn't like her, it was hard for her to learn. (Yes, this is a valid personality type and should be valued. It's easy for those of us who have stronger personality types to tell these gentle souls to just suck it up and get on with life.)

After hearing similar experiences from other moms of children in the class, I eventually started putting two and two together and it started making sense. I met with the teacher, which is when I found out she was getting a divorce. I did point out to her that she was the adult in the situation, and she needed to manage her anger.

The situation got better, but we threw out our family rule of not returning to school for forgotten items. We did set up a new system for helping our daughter write down and remember books and assignments. I was prepared to have my daugter switched to another class, but she didn't want to!?! Figure that one out!

If you have a gentle child who has become more disorganized, there may be another issue: bullying, ridicule, angry teachers, etc. It may take a while for you to figure it out, but it's worth the journey!

What have you done in similar situations? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

Blogs on similar topics:
Getting Organized for School - Learning Style
Organizing for School - Papers
Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jewelry Organizer from I'm an Organizing Junkie

I saw this blog over on I'm an Organizing Junkie, and Laura gave me permission to pass it along to you. I thought it was such a clever idea for organizing your jewelry!

Inexpensive jewelry organizer

"I love fashion necklaces but trying to find the one I wanted in my jewelry case was getting to be more and more difficult. I only had five hooks they all hung on so if I wanted one in the back all the ones in the front had to come off first and then they got all tangled and ugly. It irritated me and I like to avoid irritated at all costs cause when momma’s irritated ain’t nobody happy. I knew it was time to do something about it but I couldn’t find what I had in mind for how I wanted to organize them.

I knew I wanted them to be out in the open so it had to be pretty and I knew I didn’t want it to cost a lot of $$. I decided to make something of my own. I walked around Walmart until inspiration hit and it did when I saw the lovely ribbon memo boards similar to this one below. Mine is 18×21 inches.

Twill French Memo Board - Ivory (17×20″)
I purchased it along with about 30 mini screw hooks and set to work. Word of warning if you are going to try and screw in that many little hooks though…WEAR GLOVES….I’m just saying. Talk about painful!

I’m so excited by how it turned out. It took me no more than an hour to assemble and in total cost about $20.00 to make. I love that I can use the ribbon to hook earrings onto to keep them organized as well if I want.

Another option I had considered was using an old picture frame, taking out the glass and inserting a piece of corkboard covered in a pretty fabric. I think that would have cost me more though and taken longer so I was really happy to come up with this instead.

So long irritation, you're outta here!!"
Great idea, huh? Thanks, Laura! (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The "Why Plan Ahead?" Awards - Too Funny!

Just thought you might enjoy some organizing humor. The following nominees are tributes to the benefits of planning ahead! Thanks to my daughter, Sara, for passing these along. :)

And the winner is:

Friday, February 20, 2009

More Tips for Helping Your ADD Child Stay Organized

Happy Friday! I enjoyed the pleasure of being with the PTA for Brunswick, OH Preschool last night. They asked me to share about organizing their toddlers' rooms, toys, paper, and artwork. Seems like a very active and involved group!

Today I'm getting myself and our house organized to receive our last foster house. Have a great weekend!

More Tips for Helping Your ADD Child Stay Organized

Lauren Davidson, a professional organizer and mom of an add child offers the following tips to organizers dealing with parents of ADD children. Just thought you might like to eavesdrop:

"For individuals with ADD/ADHD, it takes a holistic approach to help them stay focused. Sleep, nutrition, exercise and attitude can go a long way towards reducing stress-related difficulties with distraction.

Some things that are usually helpful:

Build in routines - homework in the same place, at same time every day.
Verbalize the process ("Now we are doing math, after we can take a break")

Break tasks down to make them more manageable. EX. 15 minutes of reading, then take a NON-TV/VIDEO break. Chat, do a few stretches or yoga poses, draw a picture together - just a mental break.

Make sure the environment is conducive to staying focused - quiet or with white noise, no TV, clutter or extra people around. Gross motor play, a nutritious snack and go to the bathroom before settling down to a task.

Let the child fidget with something while they work. Silly putty, a squeeze ball, "hair ball", pen clicker are all good options.

These are just a few tips. ADHD is an impairment of the executive function of the brain, so even in an organized environment the child is liable to be distracted, impulsive and fidgety.

Individuals with ADHD learn visually. It can help the child to have a visual schedule of the day. As he completes a task, he can see the next item (should be fun/rewarding) as a picture, which is more real than a word.

Above all, the parent should arm his/herself with patience and a lot of love, and be ready to sit next to the child to help him stay on track. It will be a lifetime process for the child to learn how to compensate for the challenges and leverage the strengths (of which there are many with ADHD).

www.adda.org is a great resource for more tips.

I guess the real golden nugget is to refer your client to someone who specializes in ADD/ADHD organizing or a pediatric ADD coach.

If the parents make it their Mission to learn everything they can get their hands on regarding ADHD, in order to help their son succeed in a neuro-typical world, they will not regret it.

Raising children with neurological differences (it's not just a learning difference!) can be frustrating and sometimes (frankly) depressing, but it can also be the most rewarding experience of your life. I speak from personal experience :)

Hooray, differences!"

What do you find that works with your ADD child? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead

Good Morning! I'm enjoying a quiet house, as our second house of girls went home last night and our third house doesn't arrive until tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll be gathering together what I need for a speaking engagement with some pre-school moms this evening.

Now for saving some money!

Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead

With the economic woes we're experiencing, I'm motivated to save wherever I can, what about you? With a little planning ahead you can save some serious money, according to Lisa Smith's article in Biz.Yahoo.com on fighting rising food costs. Here are a few of her suggestions:

"1. Eat at Home.

Dining out is an expensive proposition. Just about any nutritious meal that you buy in a formal restaurant can be made at home for a fraction of the price. Even good coffee is cheaper to make if you do it yourself. Fast food is excluded from the category, as high-calorie, low-quality food can be had a bargain price, but the impact on your long-term health overrides the benefit of short-term savings.

2. Shop With a Plan

If you stumble around the grocery store and fill your cart with everything that catches your eye, chances are you will spend a lot more money that you needed to spend. To minimize your cash outlay, prepare a shopping list before you leave home. Plan your meals for the week ahead, and make careful note of what you need to buy in order to prepare those meals. Once the list is made, purchase only the items on the list, and avoid impulse buys.

3. Put on Blinders.

Grocery stores are designed to make you go through a maze to get to the most basic items you need in the hope that you will make a few impulse buys along the way. If you keep to your planned list of needed foods, you won't be tempted when you get forced down the junk food aisle to get at the milk. Because most necessities and basic cooking items are found along the outside perimeter of the store, start there and work your way around the edge of the store, only stepping into the maze to grab any leftover items on your list.

4. Eat Before You Shop.

When you are hungry and you walk into a building full of food, there's a high likelihood that you are going to fill you cart with unnecessary and expensive purchases that appeal to your taste buds. To keep your costs down, eat first and shop on a full stomach.

5. Avoid Prepared Foods.

Our fast-paced society encourages convenience, and the grocery store has capitalized on this trend. Ready-made meals are easy to buy, but come with a premium price tag. Instead of putting that rotisserie chicken and macaroni salad in you cart, buy the ingredients and prepare the meal yourself. The same concept applies to frozen entrées, baked goods and any other food that has been prepared in some way for added convenience.

6. Skip the Bottled Water.

If you don't like the water that comes out of the tap, buy a water filter. The per-gallon cost is significantly less than the cost of bottled water - and without all the plastic bottles to discard, it's a lot easier on the environment."

How do you plan ahead to save money on food? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

If you are bored or overwhelmed with planning dinner, grab some ideas from Three Steps to Planning Dinner or Hassle Free Dinners.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Don't Do Your Taxes ... Yet

According to a February 12, 2009 MarketWatch article by Eva Rosenberg, your investment 1099-Bs may still be in the mail. With all the upheaval in the investment industry, the government has given investment firms a Feburay 17 deadline to mail out correct 1099-B forms.

Even if you've received 1099-Bs already, the article recommends waiting to make sure you don't receive a corrected 1099-B. It's no fun to have to amend your taxes!

I hadn't heard this information and figured if I had not heard it, maybe you hadn't either!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Follow Up to: Ink for 1/3 the Cost? No Way!

Do you remember my blog about buying ink for my Epson printer at 4Inkjets.com for 1/3 the cost? Just thought I'd give you an update.

Yesterday was the first time I had to change ink cartridges since I wrote the blog. And they worked! My daughter had bought some and started using them in her office while we were in Montana.

The cartridges are a little do-it-yourself - you have to insert the ink case into a frame-like thing, which when put together makes the cartridge. It was so easy, though, that even I could figure it out although the instructrions were written in yellow and almost impossible for me to read.

Because we were gone for almost two weeks without using the printer, though, I had to clean the nozzles of my printer because ink had dried up. Thankfully, that happened before I put in new cartridges. Otherwise I would have thought that it was the new ink.

So I still ended up wasting paper (one of my pet peaves!) because I had printed a bunch of stuff before realizing the blank stripes on my printed papers. Ugh. But it's better than my experience with HPs.

So, my initial reaction is that I'm pleased that I'm buying ink for 1/3 the price, and that it seems to work. I'll let you know if anything changes.

Have you tried ink from 4Inkjets.com or similar places? What is your experience?

Blogs on similar topics:
Ink for 1/3 the Cost? No Way!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Helping Your Child Organize Large Homework Projects

The science project ... a paper ... a multi-part project. They can seem overwhelming to your child (or you!), even if the steps are clearly laid out by the teacher. The solution? Break it down into bite-sized pieces and create a timeline.

Once you have determined what the bite-sized pieces are, estimate the time it will take to do each one. Be generous - overestimate the time if you or your child is unsure.

Now, create a timeline. Working backwards, start with the due date and assign the last bite-sized piece of the project closest to the due date. Make sure you leave enough time for last minute things to go wrong. For example, if the last part of the project is to type the paper, assign it to two days before the project is due, even if it can be done in one day. This turns emergencies into non-emergencies: running out of paper or ink, etc.

Continue to work backwards, spacing the work out comfortably and allowing for unexpected events or setbacks. Your older child should be able to do these steps alone or with little supervision as he/she has more practice. Consider rewarding your child at various parts of the project and for finishing ahead of schedule.

Your child should take frequent breaks if working for a long time. Intersperse some fun activities during the breaks - games, a few minutes of a movie, some physical activity to energize the creative juices. Forty-five minutes should be the longest an older child goes without a break, less for a younger child.

We have a new girl in our program and she changed schools when she came. In one class, she is having to read almost 100 pages to catch up to the class. Over the weekend, she and my husband have been taking turns reading the book aloud and discussing the meaning as they go.

Periodically, they take a break and we do something fun. It has turned a large project in her eyes, to a time of interaction, some personal attention, and it's helping her see the value of taking the time to fully understand the material.

By the way, I try to have report folders, poster board and such on hand at all times to prevent late night trips when my procrastinator says at 7 pm, "Oh, I have a project due tomorrow!" Ugh. Not that my high schooler ever did that, but when she did, I could supply her with her needs, go to bed and let her own her procrastination. Can't quite do that with our foster children, but at least I have the supplies!

What are your tips for helping your child manage large homework projects? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.)

Similar blogs:
Getting Organized for School - Organizing Homework
Organizing for School - Papers

Friday, February 13, 2009

In a Winter Rut? Here's How to Climb Out!

I got to meet our new girl yesterday, showed her around the house, learned what she eats and does not eat (vegetables!!), and we're looking forward to having this house of girls join us this afternoon after school. In the meantime, have to attend a seminar on Communicable Disease and amend my menu!

On to our topic of the day:

In a Winter Rut? Here's How to Climb Out!

Are you bored with your life at the moment? Tired of the limitations of winter? You can do something about it, you know.

I learned recently that by doing something new or different, you are creating new neurological pathways in your brain. The result? Your brain stays more flexible, as it is like exercising your brain. Consequently, you have less chance of developing dementia or Alzheimer's. And doing something new lifts your spirits.

Something as simple as going to work a different way. Or one of my favorites is driving down a road just because I've never driven down it before and I want to discover what is there!

My parents are doing a great job of creating new neurological pathways. They read about little towns that seem interesting, and they visit them and explore. My sister has introduced them to organic foods, so they've found a couple of organic stores in their town and are trying out new tastes.

And they are eating foods at non-traditional times. For example, they told me they had navy beans for breakfast one day and a huge salad for breakfast another day! We even get in ruts about what we eat and when, don't we? Since breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day but the most important, I'm all for being creative!

We missed National Backwards Day on January 31st, but why let that stop you? I'm in the mood to serve dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner, and start with dessert first!

Sometimes when it seems there are few interesting entertainment options, we take the girls on a flip-a-coin adventure. One of the girls flips a coin. If it's heads we go right, if it's tails we go left. After three blocks we do it again (one block keeps you too close to home). We've ended up in horse country east of here, in the national park west of here, and all sorts of places in between. If we get thirsty, we stop for a drink.

If we find something interesting, we stop to explore. For example, on one of our trips we drove by the nearby Stan Hywet mansion, built by the Seiberlings, founder of Goodyear. The girls hadn't been, so we stopped and took a tour.

So, if you're in a rut, it doesn't take much to climb out - just do something new!

What do you like to do when you're bored and need a new adventure?

Blogs on similar topics:
Think Positively
To Do List or Not To Do List - That is the Question!
Why Time Off Is Well Spent

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finding More Bathroom Storage without Expanding Your Bathroom

Good Morning! Today we're going to be readying our home for our second house of foster girls. One girl is new to our program, so her regular houseparents will bring her over this afternoon after school so she can meet us and see where she'll be staying for six days. It's a little scary to go someplace new, especially when you've been in our program such a short time.

So we'll be making beds, folding towels, and putting little Valentine's buckets with treats in their rooms to welcome them. I've made my menu/grocery list for the week and my activity list from which they can choose some fun stuff to do.

During the rest of the day, I'll be working on a new project that I can't wait to tell you about!

In the meantime, let's talk about bathroom storage...

Finding More Bathroom Storage without Expanding Your Bathroom

Tired of a cluttery bathroom? Maybe it's time to take a fresh look at the ole bathroom and see what can be done to increase storage space.

In our previous home, we actually had 3 1/2 baths - lots of bathroom space but very little storage. In each of the two master baths, there were expansive mirrors across one wall of the bathroom, behind the sink and toilet. We removed those mirrors, and placed a smaller decorative mirror above the sink. That gave us room to put up a cabinet above the toilet to hold linens and other items.

Don't forget those small, available spaces! Even a tiny 1'x1' cabinet on a scrap of wall space can be valuable storage space. In our third bath, which was smaller than the other two, there was a small space between the door and the bathtub. So we found a one-foot wide, six-foot tall cabinet at IKEA to tuck into that spot. It held an amazing amount of stuff!

Easily wasted space is the cabinet under the sink. It is tall to allow for the sink plumbing, but usually inefficiently used. By placing a rubber-coated shelf (like you use in the kitchen to expand shelf space), you can multiply your usable space.

I also place little plastic baskets (from the dollar store) in my drawers to keep all those little items from rolling all over the place. And those plastic rolling carts with several drawers are great for small spaces. Widths vary - I've seen them from seven inches wide to two feet wide. They are available at Target and similar stores.

A basket on the floor by the corner of the bathtub or on the back of the toilet can hold extra linens or toiletries. And, of course, there are always shower caddies that hang from the shower and back-of-the-door storage. Cute on-the-counter storage (boxes or baskets or acrylic) keep those things you use daily neat if you don't have enough space to store them.

We use a four-towel rod from IKEA in our current bathroom, and an over-the-door multiple towel rack in the bathroom for the girls to save wall space.

So those are some of my ideas. What have you done to expand your bathroom storage?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Taxes - What Documents To Keep and How Long?

I've got the second load of sheets and towels in, as this house of girls goes home today and another house comes on Friday. It has been a busy week - a birthday with all the trimmings, appointments/work, a hair cut, homework, a few tears, good talks, a play, a movie, baking cookies - life with teenagers!

But taxes are a-comin' aren't they?

Taxes - What Documents To Keep and How Long?

Jerrie Dean at eHow offers the following list to clarify what you should keep and how long:

"1. Pay stubs, utility bills, credit card, check statements, mortgage receipts, canceled checks and receipts for minor cash purchases do not need to be saved unless they are needed to verify tax and warranty claims (see #2). Otherwise you can shred them after one year.

2. Tax returns,
W2's and 1099 forms, receipts, canceled checks, statements, self-employment expense records, and brokerage statements that you keep with your tax returns can be shredded after three years, but it is safer to keep them for seven years as if you under report your income by more than 25%, the IRS will go back that far.

3. ATM and debit card receipts and credit card receipts can be shredded after you get your monthly statement (and reconcile them with the statement - my comment).

"4. Quarterly and monthly financial statements and Social Security statements can be shredded after you get your annual statements (and reconcile them with the statement - my comment).

5. Keep your insurance policy, passport, will and power of attorney's until you get a new one.

6. Keep warranties and service contracts and receipts for those items until the guarantee expires or you no longer have the item.

7. Keep your deeds, stocks and bonds until you sell.

8. Home improvdement records, your 401k, IRA or pension records should be kept for three years after you sell or close the account.

9. Your birth, adoption, school diplomas and transcripts, Social Security card, military records, marriage certificates should be kept for ever and in a fireproof safe, too."

Even though taxes aren't fun, this list gives us the confidence to get rid of excess paper yet be prepared for the ultimate Fear Factor: an audit!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How Efficient is Multitasking?

We have heard for years that we should multitask, multiply our time by doing more than one thing at a time. I encourage multitasking, but with care. Here are some interesting stats on multitasking from Key Organization Systems:

"People who multitask are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time, says a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology....Managing two mental tasks at once reduces the brainpower available for either task, according to a study published in the journal NeuroImage."

"A recent study from the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London suggests that your IQ falls 10 points when you're fielding constant emails, text messages, and calls, the same loss you'd experience if you missed an entire night's sleep and more than double the 4-point loss you'd have after smoking marijuana. On average men fared worse than women because, researchers say, men have more difficulty multitasking."

My conclusion: if you multitask, combine a mindless task with one that requires some brain cells. For example, fold clothes or empty the dishwasher while talking on the phone; put away stray items on your desk while on the phone.

How do you multitask successfully?

Blogs on similar topics:
Redeeming Your Travel Time
Capturing Usable Moments
Increasing Your Effectiveness at Work

If you need more help using your time efficiently, let us help with our Time Management books, ebooks, and workbooks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Visual or ADD Organizers - Keeping Your Desk Organized

Good Monday Morning! Hope you had a great weekend. We had a fun one with our girls. Among the several things we did over the weekend, we watched a movie on TNT called Gifted Hands which is about Dr. Ben Carson.

It's an inspiring story about a boy rising out of anger, low self-esteem, and ridicule to become one of the most famous and respected neurosurgeons today. I've heard him speak and his life is truly motivating! It looks like TNT is showing it several times, so if you have a chance, the movie is well worth your time. Now, to today's topic ...

Visual or ADD Organizers - Keeping Your Desk Organized

Rather than filing or piling, it is better for the visual or ADDer to keep things visible. In a recent article in NAPO News (National Association of Professional Organizers), Susan Lasky suggests storing like items in magazine holders on a shelf above the desk.

Lasky recommends that the magazine holders be color-coded and labeled to reflect the contents. Consequently, action files or works in progress will not be forgotten, but will be kept neatly in one place. New additions to the topic can be dropped into the magazine holder.

What are your systems for keeping your important stuff visible yet neat?

Similar posts:
ADHD Organization - Time and Energy
ADHD Organization - Decision-Making
Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized

Friday, February 6, 2009

Getting Organized for Taxes - Are Scanned Receipts OK?

We've spent the last couple of days getting ready for our first house of girls this month who arrive this afternoon after school. In the meantime we'll take a CPR class today, required every year. Now on to our blog:

You may have heard of or own Neat Receipts, a device that scans your receipts onto your computer. I've heard many laud this device because it reduces the paper clutter. However, I recently read an IRS report that states that the IRS requires original receipts if they audit you. Just thought you'd like to know.

The report also suggested that you photocopy receipts printed on the kind of paper that fades over time. Staple the copy and original together, and keep with your records.

I guess this is one area in which decluttering is not in our best interest!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

50 Ways to Plan Something Special for Valentine's Day without Spending a Lot

If you are into Valentine's Day, here are 50 ways to celebrate. Sheryl Kurland at Everlasting Matrimony wrote "50 Cheap Valentine’s Day Gifts For Your Sweetheart (Without Looking Cheap)", and I thought I'd pass it along.

"If you’re like most couples, you’re watching your pennies this year and looking for ways to romance your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank. The following list will help:

1. Create an indoor picnic with available props, i.e., picnic tablecloth, paper goods. Share finger foods and favorite treats along with a glass of wine. Spice up “dessert.” Enjoy your picnic on the living room floor or in bed. Play card games, board games, or make up your own.

2. Decorate a unique-looking jar or box with craft items. Write numerous love notes on small pieces of paper and fill the jar with them. Present the jar to your sweetheart.

3. There are many local and national Valentine’s Day giveaway contests with great prizes. Enter as many as you can and maybe you’ll get lucky.

4. For young couples with kids, get them involved in an all-family fun Valentine’s Day dinner at home. Mom can prepare a dessert for two and light the candles while dad puts the kids to bed.

5. Since Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday, celebrate with a day full of low-cost activities you both enjoy doing (depending upon your location and weather). Do something with your significant other that he/she rarely has time to do, but loves.

6. Take a 2-hour, one-time salsa or tango dancing lesson together. Or, identify some other interest you share and find a place to give you one-time extended lesson on Valentine’s Day.

7. Gals…Make the entire day full of his favorites: the breakfast of his dreams, the dinner of his dreams, TV that is his favorite, his music, etc. Don’t say anything about it, surprise him all day long.

8. Take the person you love to experience something spectacular in nature: a sunset, a sunrise, the calm of the beach, share an evening walk gazing at the moon.

9. Create a framed group of photos that put your relationship in chronological order of events, by months or years (depending on how long you’ve been together).

10. Create a CD with songs that make you think of your sweetheart, and give it to him/her.

11. Choose specialty foods, such as wine, cheese, fresh bread/dessert from a favorite bakery. Enjoy in front of your warm, toasty fireplace.

12. Create an at-home spa day for your mate. Deliver the gift in a basket filled with inexpensive candles, bubble bath, rose petals, facial mask and scrub. Then give your mate time to enjoy it. When he/she is done, heat up towels in the dryer for drying off.

13. Give each other long-lingering back rubs or head-to-toe body massages. Invest in luxurious lotion or oils.

14. Create a favorite drink together. Try all kinds of ingredients. Enjoy taste-testing. Be sure to record the ingredients, so you can make the “your” drink again on Valentine’s Day year after year.

15. Watch an old movie at home together, with popcorn and soft drinks and candy – movie-theater style.

16. Share a scrumptious dessert and latté at a local patisserie or bakery.

17. Pick a few household chores your Valentine usually does and surprise them by doing it before they get a chance, i.e., making the bed. It doesn’t sound romantic, but the thought will most certainly count.

18. Walk around a favorite part of town, stopping at a nice locale for a glass of wine and appetizers.

19. On Valentine’s Day, place three pair of sexy undies on your bed and let your mate pick out which one you should wear. It’s your secret!

20. Write a “Top 10 Reasons Why I Love You” list.

21. Since Valentine’s Day is on Saturday, if you’re a member of a wholesale club (like Sam’s or Costco) have fun eating all the free samples! Then fill in any empty holes left in your stomach by going out to lunch. (That way you won’t spend a lot of money at a restaurant!)

22. What’s a new activity you’ve both wanted to try that’s low cost? Do it. Or, how can you creatively modify it to make it low cost? Do it.

23. Leave a note on your mate’s pillow expressing how special you think he/she is. Place a couple of mints on the pillow, too (or a single rose)…all to be discovered at bedtime.

24. Guys…If you want to cook dinner, remember, she doesn’t care what you make. There are many easy recipes on food web sites that look like you spent hours in the kitchen. Be imaginative and set the table special. Play romantic music softly while you dine. Leave the clean-up until morning!

25. Guys or Gals…When you make that special dinner…Just like when you go to a fancy event and a “dinner menu” is put on each plate describing each food item, do something similar. For example, on your menu, write “Spaghetti & Meatballs, made with passion to be with YOU.” Don’t forget to give your “event” or “restaurant” a name at the top of the menu.

26. Make a simple dinner at home, then go out dancing or to listen to live music at a jazz club.

27. Buy two champagne flutes for use on Valentine’s Day only to annually toast your love. Keep them in a visible location as a year-round reminder of how special you are to each other.

28. Play a sport together that you haven’t played in awhile, or that you rarely get a chance to enjoy. Before you start, determine what the “winner” gets (making it something to do with caring, loving, etc.).

29. Leave a “racy” picture on your mate’s cell phone. Text a romantic message at a time of day when you know things get hectic.

30. Present your Valentine IOU coupons: I will make dinner; I will do the laundry; I will take care of the kids one day a month for the next year; I will clean the kitchen for a week; I will serve you breakfast in bed.

31. Together, go “shopping” at a sex-toy store without spending any money. It’ll give you ideas and get you “in the mood.”

32. The tough economy has lured many upscale restaurants to have high-end early-bird specials. Find out what’s available in your area.

33. Some volunteer fire departments use holiday fauna to create flower and rose bouquets as a fund-raiser. Prices are reasonable; just get there early.

34. If she loves chocolate…Take her on a chocolates tour. Find your hometown chocolate purveyor and ask for a behind-the-scenes tour. Next, go to a restaurant that serves her favorite chocolate dessert. Return home to snuggle with a cup of hot chocolate.

35. Use a bar of soap to draft a love note on your bathroom mirror. Or, if you shower first, write a love note to your sweetheart in the steam on the mirror.

36. Write “I love you because….” notes and insert them into balloons. Blow up the balloons, and spread the balloons throughout your bedroom for your Valentine to pop and capture each message.

37. Many drug stores with photo departments offer a variety of Valentine’s Day specials to make gifts from photographs. Use a good picture of the two of you together.

38. Make homemade chocolate-covered strawberries: 1) Melt a package of chocolate chips in a double boiler and add a small amount of oil; 2) Remove from heat and quickly dip the strawberries into the chocolate; 3) Place on wax paper and refrigerate for several hours until chocolate is firm.

39. Guys…If you want to order flowers for your gal, supermarket florists are generally half the price of the stand-alone or on-line stores, but the trick to for seeing real savings is to order two weeks or more in advance and pay for the flowers up front………..Another trick to save money, get other guys who want to order flowers to join you and place your orders to the same florist all at once. The florist may give you a “bulk” discount. Again, important to plan ahead.

40. Plan a scavenger hunt. Write clues and place them in envelopes, and place the envelopes around town. Make the final clue a doozey of a destination.

41. Get a small radio and take your partner dancing at a romantic hideaway, such as the woods or riverfront or ocean.

42. Use fabric paint to decorate a Valentine’s Day pillowcase for your loved one. Check arts-and-crafts web sites for other easy-to-make gifts.

43. What did you do on your very first date? Repeat it.

44. Create a year-long calendar with photos of just the two of you above (top page) each month. Office supply stores will insert the spiral/binding for you.

45. Have a progressive dinner. If you’re single, appetizers at his place. Entrée at her place. The middle course, dessert, after-dinner cordials…map it out a few days ahead. If you’re married, one course at home, one course at her office, his office, etc. Use your imagination to set locations!

46. Write new “updated” wedding vows, both serious and humorous, and share them with each other over a glass of wine in a candlelit room.

47. In the morning, tuck a love note in his pocket or her pocketbook or other certain-to-be-found spot. Jot down some meaningful words on a piece of paper – “Can’t wait to wrap my arms around you tonight!”; “What’s for ‘dessert’?”; “You make me happy every day!” – and tuck it in a conspicuous location to be easily discovered during the day.

48. Have a 15-minute kissing session and try some new ways and places to kiss. The same old smoocheroo can get boring. Use your imagination…and perhaps a little whipped cream, chocolate syrup, etc.

49. If you don’t have a special sweetheart, focus on bringing a smile or laughter to everyone you come in contact with on Valentine’s Day.

50. What are your mate’s quirks and habits that irk you? Don’t nag about any of them the entire day. Then try to extend the no-nagging effort to every day of the year. Remember, you’re never going to change the other person."

Follow Sheryl on Twitter. Or Sign-up for FREE, weekly, email “Time-Tested Relationship Tips” from couples married 50+ years!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Recycling VHS Tapes

It is so nice to be home! Even though I miss my kids, have mounds of laundry, etc., it was wonderful to sleep in our own bed. I slept for 8 hours, which I never do! On to our organizing blog for today:

Recycling VHS Tapes

Do you have outdated or antiquated VHS tapes you'd like to get rid of but don't know what to do with them? Jeri Dansky suggests some great ideas:

"1. Offer them on Freecycle. You never know what people will want. I've found new homes for some of my clients' video tapes through my local Freecycle.

2. Check with your local Goodwill or Salvation Army - or any local thrift store.

3. See if a local nursing home or hospital wants them.

4. See if a local homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter wants them.

5. See if your local library (or friends of the library organization) wants them.

6. Ship them off to ACT - Alternative Community Training.

7. Ship them to GreenDisk or Tropical Media for recycling.

8. Search for Video Tapes on Earth911."

Have you found successful ways to recycle your VHS tapes?

Similar blog posts: More Eco-Friendly Recycling, Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment, Interview by Get Green Baby

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home Again, Home Again ...

We arrived home today after twelve wonderful days on a mountain top in Montana with our daughters and son-in-law.

We had such a fabulous family time:
- having a Settlers of Catan marathon
- star-gazing in -12 degree weather
- cooking together and enjoying our son-in-law's gourmet feasts
- having wonderful discussions
- celebrating Christmas
- eating at delightful restaurants
- worshipping together
- photographing beautiful scenery, including breath-taking sunrises and sunsets
- putting together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle
- watching sports
- celebrating birthdays
- playing Mexican train
- spotting wildlife - moose, bald eagle, deer
- catching up on hugs
- seeing the movie Mall Cop
- helping our daughters do some work
- watching the Super Bowl
- creating websites, blogs and other random stuff

I'll get back to organizing blogs tomorrow. Talk to you then!