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, December 30, 2011

Three Steps to Decluttering is on Kindle!

I'm happy to announce that my book Three Steps to Decluttering is now available on Kindle! 

As always, it is still available in print and as a download on 1-2-3 ... Get Organized. Happy decluttering!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! We are celebrating with both our daughters and son-in-law here. We've learned how to geo-cache, shared meals together, played games, cooked and baked together, laughed, and had great discussions. We look forward to another week of the same. Most of all we are grateful for the Reason for the season! 

Blessings on your Christmas and New Year - Bev

Friday, December 16, 2011

Organizing and Alzheimer's

I've been working with a client who has Alzheimer's. We organized her closet and dresser a couple of days ago. Today we are going to label shelves, drawers, and closet space. 

Why? Because, even though she was present when we organized, and we talked about where we had placed her things, she is already putting things away in random places.

Having the labels as prompts will help her "remember" where to put things. This system can also be used in the kitchen, bathroom and other locations where things are stored. 

It's frustrating for those who cannot remember simple things as well as for those caring for them. Labeling can remove a bit of that frustration for everyone involved.

More on Alheimer's:

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

9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized

Keeping Your Memory Sharp


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Needed: Experienced iPhone Users to Test Out My New iPhone App

I have written an iPhone app called Upscale Express Dinners, recipes for one or two people that are upscale yet quick and inexpensive. Meals have an average cost of less than $5 per person.

It's four weeks of simple recipes with grocery lists and easy instructions. 

You don't need to actually cook the meals, although it would be nice if you cooked a couple. What I really want is for you to get a feel for the app. Is it easy to use and maneuver? How do you like the look? Other likes and/or dislikes?

So, I need some app users to see if this app is pleasant to use. Just look it over for a few days and give me your review.

If you're interested in helping out, please comment below, or you can email me at Bev@1-2-3GetOrganized.com. 

Thanks so much for your help!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Get Creative with Leftovers for a Quick Meal

Instead of letting leftovers grow green fuzz, it's fun to repurpose them into a quick meal. Not only is it efficient, but it's economical, too. And you may be able to disguise leftovers into something new for those who object to leftovers.

Last week I had some leftover bruschetta from our Christmas party, and some leftover rice from a previous meal. So I defrosted some tilapia and cooked it in a non-stick skillet with the bruschetta and heated up the rice in the microwave. With some grapes, it made a complete, very tasty and quick five-minute meal. 

Whenever I cook rice, I always cook extra. Even if I don't use it in the next few days, I'll freeze it and defrost it in the microwave when I need it, saving time. Fried rice is another meal option, too.

Of course, a big pot of soup is a wonderful catch-all. It's a great meal the day before grocery shopping - a nice way to get rid of all those little bits of veggies and leftovers. Spice it boldly with pepper or some red pepper flakes to give it a zing!

We had a ham steak recently, and I put the bone and some leftover ham in split pea soup later in the week and made a butternut and ham bisque another time.

Leftover pasta goes nicely in stir fries. Or mix it with Italian dressing, your choice of veggies, meat, and cheese, and it's a pasta salad for dinner tomorrow night! I'm not too fond of pasta in soups, though, as it gets soggy if it's cooked very long.

When I cook London broil, I cook twice what we need and it morphs into a stir fry or fajitas on another day.

I always feel such a satisfaction when I can turn my leftovers into a tasty second meal, and especially so if it's a quick one. What about you?

More on leftovers:

Cook It Once, Serve It Twice

Piggy-Back Dinners

Three Steps to Planning Dinner 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Clever Bathroom Organizing Ideas from Martha Stewart

I discovered these clever bathroom organizing and space-saving ideas from Martha Stewart. Two of them include how-to instructions. Hope you enjoy them!

"Make space for supplies over the bathroom door so that they'll be accessible when they need to be replenished without cluttering under-the-sink cabinets. Get the How-To

"No room for a bathroom cabinet? Install a hotel-style multitiered rack on the wall next to the tub to hold bath towels and washcloths."

"Maximize usable space in a tiny medicine cabinet by making use of magnets. Get the How-To"

I especially love the magnetic medicine cabinet! What about you?

More on bathroom organizing:

Short on Space for Bathroom Towel Racks?

Magnetic Paint - An Innovative Space Saver!

Finding More Bathroom Storage without Expanding Your Bathroom


Monday, December 5, 2011

Shaving a Few More Minutes and Irritation off Laundry Time

In my humble opinion, one irritation in life is gathering up hangers for doing laundry. I try to hang clothing immediately upon taking them out of the dryer so I want a stash of hangers handy.

Lately, when getting dressed, I have started putting the empty hangers in the laundry hamper with the dirty clothes. Then when I take my hamper to the laundry room, the hangers go with me. No extra step of digging through the closet to find hangers.

As you may remember, I sort my laundry into whites, lights, darks, and towels with four laundry hampers. When one gets full, it's time to do a load of laundry without making a huge mess sorting.

Laundry is a never-ending decluttering chore - why not make it a little more pleasant? 

More on laundry:

Some of My Favorite Organizing Products - Tall Laundry Hampers

Shaving a Few Minutes Off Laundry Time

Shaving a Few Minutes Off Laundry Time, Part 2


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 8 - Give Memories, Not Clutter

Here's the final installment of my Destressing Christmas 2011 series. How appropriate for December 1! I hope this month is joyous,  meaningful, and destressed! 

I'm hosting a Christmas party Friday night, which I love! Cleaning, shopping and getting ready today. :) On to our topic for today:

It seems that our country is drowning in clutter! Our kids have so many toys, their rooms are overflowing. We have to rent storage units to hold our excess stuff.

This Christmas and throughout the year, consider giving memories instead of clutter. Give experiences! I've talked about some of these before, but they are worth repeating. :)

One year my parents were visiting us at Christmas when we lived in the DC area. Their gift from us: tickets for them to take our daughters to the Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center.

For one daughter's 16th birthday, we took her and her boyfriend (now husband) to see Stomp! in lieu of having a party. For our other daughter's birthday one year, we went to the play Little Women (one of her favorite books) followed by high tea, reminiscent of our time living in Kenya.

I have a dear friend who has four boys. Each time one graduates from high school, he gets to pick where in the country the family will go for vacation that year.

For my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, all four of us siblings typed out a tribute to them, framed them in gold frames, and presented them on a family vacation.

This year we celebrated their 60th and my brother created a video incorporating interviews he had done with mom and dad as well as photos throughout their lives. It was just a family affair - the four siblings and our children. We siblings each toasted my parents - what a wonderful memory and special time together!

Speaking of my parents, once when our girls stayed with them, my mom walked them around the neighborhood telling them about our neighbors who lived there when I was growing up. It included a trip to Midway Grocery, a tiny little grocery store where I and my siblings would go to buy candy. They still have fond memories of that experience!

When we lived in Kenya, my gift to the guys on our team was a dozen cookies every month for a year. Even though they were material objects, they didn't stay around long enough to create clutter!

When we visited one of our daughters this year, we decided to choose one five-star restaurant rather than several average places to eat. It made a fun and delicious memory!

Considering what your loved one or friend likes is the key. Here are some other ideas:

- If it is expensive, you may be able to team up with others. If Uncle Jim wants to celebrate his 80th birthday by sky diving or going for a hot-air balloon ride, have family members chip in.

- Share the experience. Accompany your friends or family to the event to make a joint memory.

- Give your time. Bring lunch over to auntie's and spend a couple of hours with her. Or babysit for a young mom who needs some time out of the house. 

- One of our daughters is contemplating a ski day as one of her gifts this year, since we are so close to good skiing and she'll be here for Christmas. 

Your gift experiences don't need to cost a lot. The only limit is your creativity!

More on no-clutter gifts:

A Last-Minute Clutterless Gift Idea - BookSwim

Easy Decadent Fudge Recipe

Destressing Christmas, Part 11 - Meaningful Gifts with No Clutter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some of My Favorite Organizing Products - The Ball Claw

A few years ago, the Ball Claw people asked me to do a review of their, at that time, new product - a new way to store athletic balls. Unfortunately, I never did the review. So now I will make up for it.

The Ball Claw is an ingenious way to store those hard-to-store athletic balls. It comes with just a few screws, grips the ball, and can be used in various places - even in your car trunk! Here are some options:



 They're inexpensive ($11.99), simple to use, and make use of vertical space, rather than taking up floor space or closet space. Both of our girls are athletes - if we had only had the Ball Claw then! If you have athletes in the house, this product may be an answer to your athletic gear clutter!

More on organizing sports gear:

Organizing Your Mud Room

Storage for Your Garage

Friday, November 25, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 7 - Christmas Card Tips

We got a lot of snow last weekend - it looks like a winter wonderland here. Here's a picture of our front yard. Doesn't it look like it could be a Christmas card? 

Speaking of Christmas cards:

Sending out Christmas cards can seem like an overwhelming and costly task. Here are some ways to make it more doable.

- Send out digital Christmas cards or letters to as many people as possible. I know this offends some, but at least your message gets out. I like sending and receiving letters - catching up with our friends. When I receive a Christmas card with only a signature, I know my friends are alive, but that's about all!

You can email your letters or you can use an email service, like iContact.

If you have a blog, you can post your Christmas letter on your blog, too. If you want to get fancy, you could make a video Christmas greeting and put the link on your social networks. 

- If you write a Christmas letter, make it no longer than one side of a page. It's cheaper to print and most people won't read more than that. It forces you to be economical with your words! 

- Use your TV time or traveling time (if you're the passenger!) to address Christmas cards. You're doubling your time while enjoying yourself, too!

- Get the family involved. Your family members can help fold, stuff, seal, and stamp your cards and letters.

- In January, update your snail mail Christmas card list as you sort through your Christmas cards. Then you're set when it comes time to send out your cards next year.

However you do Christmas cards, your friends and family will love to hear from you! 

More on reducing Christmas stress:

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 6 - Planning Your Holiday Meals

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 5 - Mapping Out Your Holiday Calendar

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 4 - Organize Your Cleaning and Decorating

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Hope your day is filled with remembering your blessings. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Planning Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping

Are you gearing up for holiday shopping? If you are a Black Friday shopper, the following links contain Black Friday ads for major retailers, so you can plan your strategy. Kohl's and Target are opening at 12 midnight on Thanksgiving Day, with Walmart opening at 10 pm.

Black Friday Ads

Black Friday 

If however, you would rather shop from your armchair, Cyber Monday may be your preference. 

Of course, the top Cyber Monday retailer is Amazon, whose sales have already started:  

To find more Cyber Monday ads, go to:

Cyber Monday or Dealio.

Happy shopping!

More on shopping:

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

10 Ways to Streamline Your Shopping Time

Organize Your Christmas Shopping with New Gifts HD iPad App


Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting a Jump on Christmas Cookies

Each year I've posted ways I've gotten a jump on Christmas cookies. This year's method is different. We usually have our daughter and son-in-law over for dinner on Friday nights. So last week I started making cookies for dessert. 

I'm doing it for three reasons: 
- for dessert; 
- I'm making double batches and freezing half;
- at least half of the cookies I bake go to our church to help with a lunch they offer every week to students from the local high school down the street.

So gradually, I'll be stocking up on frozen cookie dough. Baking will be a snap!

Here are a couple of the ways I've gotten a jump on Christmas cookies in the past: 

1. My friend Pam and I came up with a great way to get a jump on Christmas cookies. We originally set aside a day in December to make Christmas cookies all day, split them and stock our freezers. But that was pretty exhausting.

2. Then one year, we couldn't find a date in December, and that changed our Christmas cookie baking from then on. We decided to get together in November and just make the dough, freeze it in small batches, and cook as needed. It's so easy to just thaw a small amount, form into cookies, and bake! All the work and mess is over with and you have fresh baked cookies in a jiffy when you need them.

Plus we got to spend the day together!
I miss it. Now that we live in Montana and she lives in Maryland, it doesn't quite work! I need to mention that we did this when our children were in college or on their own. If making memories with your children is part of the equation, you may want to disregard our "mass production" mindset! :)

If you need to find a cookie recipe, my daughter Sara sent me a list (Cookies, Cookies, Cookies) of every possible cookie recipe known to man.

More on cookies:
How Coffee Filters Can Help You Declutter Holiday Baking
Making it a Priority to Create Memories


Friday, November 18, 2011

Don't Fall Prey to these Thieving Tricks - Plan for Your Security

A couple of stories to learn from:
I recently heard a story of someone's house being cleaned out after their car was broken into. Their GPS and garage door opener were stolen. The GPS had "home" listed as a destination. The thieves drove to their home, opened the garage door and loaded their truck with their victims' valuables.
The moral of the story: don't put "home" on your GPS. Put a nearby location (a gas station or other store) so you can find your way home, if you need to.
The second story was of a woman whose purse was stolen. The thief texted her husband using her cell phone and asked for the pin number for their bank account. "Hubby" was listed on her phone. Her husband texted the pin number and the thief used her ATM card and cleaned out their bank account. 
The moral to this story: don't put your relationship to the person on your contact list or make sure to call back if your spouse texts to get a pin number.
Pretty sneaky tricks, huh? But easy to happen if we don't pay attention.
More on safety:

While Spring Cleaning, Update Insurance Photos

Organize Your Smart Phone for Safety

An Emergency Entry on Your Cell Phone


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 6 - Planning Your Holiday Meals

Not sure what our Thanksgiving will look like this year. Our daughter and son-in-law who are here will be visiting his parents. And our other daughter will be celebrating with my parents and family. So I don't know if we'll be cooking or not. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts about holiday meals:

- Determine which special holiday meals you’ll be preparing. Will you be hosting any parties?

- Decide what you will serve for each special meal or party. Make a list for each event. Make sure to have a balance of protein, starch, something green and something red/orange/yellow. Try to avoid a lot of last-minute or time-consuming recipes. (By the way, keep your list in front of you until after your meal. Have you every looked in the fridge after a meal and realize you forgot to serve something!?! I have! LOL!)

- Do you have enough dinnerware, glasses, silverware, linens, and serving pieces?

- Are there some items you could prepare in advance - breads, desserts, cornbread for cornbread stuffing, etc.? Plan when you will cook some of these recipes and write it on your schedule, so you can space them out and avoid last-minute stress.

- If you are having guests, take them up on their offers to bring something!

- For each week during the holidays, plan your menus and make a shopping list. Try to go shopping only once a week to save those time-costly trips back to the grocery store. During such a busy time, try to piggy-back from one meal to another. Cook a roast, and use the leftovers for beef stroganoff, for example. Plan simple regular meals during the holiday season to reduce your stress level.

- Have some easy-to-prepare foods on hand if you have a disaster day: frozen ravioli, ingredients for wraps, and frozen chicken tenderloins, for example.

- Have some ideas in mind for using leftover turkey: chow mein, stir fry, pasta salads, etc. Use leftover ham in soups or pasta salads. Freeze extra turkey or ham in meal-size portions for a time when you are not weary of these meats.

Even though it takes time to plan your holiday meals and your regular meals, you’ll save yourself time and stress by organizing your menus. You won’t be making last-minute trips to the grocery store, you won’t forget ingredients, and you’ll have what you need.

You’ll be able to welcome your guests or have a special meal for your family without stressing! What a refreshing way to celebrate!

What are your favorite holiday recipes?

Leftover ideas:

Dinner in 10 - Chicken with Cranberry/Mandarin Sauce
Getting the Maximum Mileage out of Your Veggies
Cook It Once, Serve It Twice
Three Steps to Planning Dinner 
Hassle Free Dinners

Monday, November 14, 2011

10 Must-Do Tasks After a Move

There are a number of must-do tasks once you have moved. There's so much to do when you move, isn't there?! Here are the essentials:

1. Register your car (need: title, former registration, mileage).

2. Get a new driver's license (need: birth certificate or passport, social security card, driver's license from your previous residence, and proof of residence - a bill with your current address, your lease or purchase papers).

3. Register to vote. This can usually be done when you get a new driver's license.

4. Change your car insurance if you have moved to another state (need: old driver's license number and new driver's license number, car registration). Notify your previous insurance carrier.

5. Change your homeowners/renters insurance. Notify your previous insurance carrier.

6. Register your business, if applicable.

7. Open bank account(s) and safe deposit box (need driver's license, deposit).

8. Restock your pantry and fridge with the basics. 

9. Change your wallet list. This is a list of all your credit cards, bank cards, and other important information that is in your wallet. If your wallet or purse is stolen, you have the pertinent information at your fingertips. Do not put this list on your computer. Keep it in an "important paper" file. 

10. Change automatic deposits/withdrawals from your old bank account to your new bank account before your close your old account.

We still have a couple of these yet to do, but we're making progress!

More on moving:

Short-Term and Long-Term Moving

10 Tips on Preparing for a Long-Distance Move

Storage and Moving Boxes - Think Outside the Box


Friday, November 11, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 5 - Mapping Out Your Holiday Calendar

I'm a bit under the weather today - a nice day to stay inside and sip tea! But Christmas is looming, so here's another one in my series on destressing Christmas:

Have you ever found yourself flitting about from one holiday event to another, just because your were invited, or it seemed like a nice thing to do? Unless you plan out your holiday calendar, you may find yourself tossed about by everyone else’s agendas, priorities and events. By determining what is important to you and your family, you will be able to make sure your family's high-priority events get top-billing on your schedule.

Sit down as a family and talk about what each individual wants to have included in the holiday schedule – decorating, special outside events, baking, making gifts, reading stories, watching movies together, shopping, sending Christmas cards, hosting a party – whatever says celebration to each one.

At the same time, discuss all the holiday events from school, sports teams, church, work, friends and family. Which ones do your family members want to attend? Prioritize them, if necessary.

Take your list and schedule in those activities your family wants to include in their holiday celebration. Evaluate: Are your scheduled events going to allow everyone to get enough sleep and rest? If not, rethink things.

Create margins and boundaries. Know your own limitations as well as those of your family members. Make sure to schedule in some “breather dates” into your calendar so you don’t over-schedule. If someone invites you to do something else, you can honestly say you have something already scheduled – it’s true! Even if it's staying home and watching Christmas movies in your PJs with the fam!

Making a plan and writing it on your calendar reduces stress – it’s on paper for you and the family to see and anticipate. In addition, you are being intentional about how you are spending your holiday season and doing those things that are important and meaningful to you and your family. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

What do you like to include in your Christmas calendar?

More on reducing Christmas stress: 

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 4 - Organize Your Cleaning and Decorating

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 2 - Thinking Through the Needs of Your Family and Friends

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Easy Way to Change Your Address or Eliminate Unwanted Paper Mail


I became aware of Updater after our move, unfortunately. This service changes your address and eliminates unwanted paper mail, even if you haven't moved.

Here's what their website says:

Moving and need to change your address?


Updater simplifies the change of address process and gives you control over who can access and use your postal address. Rather than spending hours notifying your contacts, Updater can do it for you. We'll send secure address change notifications, on your behalf, to the U.S. Postal Service® and any business, school, or other organization that you select.

From start to finish, Updater will guide you through the change of address process to save you time and help you make informed decisions.

You can sign in to your Updater account anytime to check the status of your updates and send additional updates.

Want to eliminate unwanted paper mail? 


If you’re tired of receiving hundreds of unsolicited paper advertisements each year, let Updater help you keep your address private. We’ll prepare your opt-out requests and send them to all the major data-brokers that compile and sell marketing lists.

With Updater, you can also create a customized spam filter for your paper mail. Just tell us which mailers you want to block and we’ll send them “do not mail” requests on your behalf.

Is Updater for you?


If you want to save time, stop unwanted paper mail, protect your identity, or help the environment, then Updater is for you.

It’s your address. Control it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 4 - Organize Your Cleaning and Decorating

Can you believe it's November already? I thought we'd be snowed in here in Montana by now. Unlike the Northeast, though, we've only seen an occasional flake here and there. To help reduce your stress for Christmas, here's another in my reposted series on destressing Christmas:

I love having people in over the holidays! But that means my house must be clean and, of course, I’ll want to decorate. If I wait until the last minute, though, I’m stressed! Here are a few thoughts to help avoid that stress:


- Determine cleaning chores that need to be done for the holidays. Parcel out chores over the weeks remaining before Christmas, starting with the ones that are long-lasting: cleaning the silver or the carpet, decluttering and purging, etc. Save the surface cleaning until closer to your events. Or, if you haven’t cleaned for a while, just get caught up on your cleaning and do it every week.

- If your list of chores seems too overwhelming, work on them in 15-minute segments and do them 2-4 times a day. If they are still too overwhelming, eliminate some! Enlist family/house members to help with the cleaning chores.

- This is not a time for major home repair, sewing projects, painting, or other major projects!

When the time comes for decorating, here are a few hints:
- If you have a lot of decorating to do, prioritize your list and schedule the individual items on your list.

- As you decorate, remove your regular decorating accessories and put them in the boxes from which you took your Christmas decorating items. That way, you won’t have to remember where you put them. I have a friend who couldn’t find her regular decorating items for a couple of months after the holidays one year!

- Take this opportunity to purge any decorating items or holiday items you no longer need or want. A great time to declutter! By doing this, the number of boxes you must get out every year decreases.

- Make holiday decorating a family affair, using items that have sentimental value to family members. Warm up some apple cider and put on some music!

- When you put your Christmas items away, make a list of what you have – decorating items, wrapping supplies, paper products, cards, extra gift items, dishes, etc., so you don’t duplicate them. Also make a list of items you need to purchase for next year and pick them up during the sales, if possible. This is a great time of year to get holiday storage boxes at a reduced price, too.

Do you have some great cleaning or decorating ideas you'd like to pass on?

Related Posts:
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning
Three Steps to Decluttering 
Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Declutter Debris with Your Own Portable Dumpster - The Bagster

A fellow organizer alerted me to the Bagster - basically a portable dumpster. Just buy the bag from a hardware store, fill it with up to 3300 pounds of trash, and arrange for pickup. The bag is around $30 and pickup costs from $50-100 based on where you live. Here's more info from their website:
Buy the Bagster® bag

at your local home improvement retailer, including participating locations of The Home Depot. Store it and use it when you need it. It's compact, always on hand and ready to take on your project waste.

Bagster® is the perfect cleanup solution for many types of projects, including:

  • Renovations/remodeling
  • Organizing a garage or attic
  • Landscaping*
  • Roofing
  • Concrete and stone work
  • And much more
 The Bagster® bag

can take on the waste for a wide variety of projects. It's simple to set up, and strong enough to hold up to 3300 lb of debris or waste. It's a flexible solution, keeping you always in control of your projects. The Bagster® bag is the right size to help you take on renovations, landscaping* or home projects that don't require a full-size dumpster.

Since the Bagster® bag is yours to use whenever you want, for as long as you need, you don't have to wait for a dumpster to be delivered or finish your project within a rental time period. It's easy to use, too:

  • Take out your Bagster® bag whenever you're ready to use it.
  • Place the Bagster® bag on your property for convenient loading as you take on your project.
  • Before filling, place the Bagster® bag according to placement directions included with your Bagster® bag.
  • Before loading, unfold your Bagster® bag and stand inside of it. Starting at the corner, fold the sides down and out. This makes the sides of the Bagster® bag more rigid. Roll the sides up as you fill it.

Finishing your project cleanup

is easy with the Bagster® bag. Schedule your collection online or by phone at 1-877-789-BAGS (2247). And it's gone! It's a cost-effective disposal service from Waste Management.

Here's how scheduling a collection works:

  • Schedule and pay for your collection online or call our toll-free phone number.
  • Our friendly and professional team will collect your Bagster® bag and properly dispose of its contents.
  • Waste Management* will collect your Bagster® bag within three business days of when you schedule collection.

 Isn't this a simple solution to getting rid of large quantities of trash and debris?

More on trash:

Disposing of Paint Responsibly 

Zero Trash in a Year - Could You Do It?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

With the economy being so difficult, we all may need to get very creative in the gift-giving department this year. I hope the following re-post helps. 

My brother loves the crowds and the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. I don’t know many others who do, though! I am stressed if I have to elbow my way through a store or not be able to find what I want because I waited too late. If you are smart, you can make holiday gift-giving less stressful. Here are a few ideas:

- Make a master list of gifts you need to buy or make, along with a budget for the amount you want to spend. Stick to your budget and don't buy impulsively. Don't compete with family and friends - spend what you can afford.

- Set a deadline for finishing your shopping in order to avoid crowds, the last-minute rush, and poor selection. Remember those gifts for teachers, religious teachers, extra-curricular instructors, and stocking stuffers. Buy the same gift for several people on your list, if appropriate. Take advantage of the sales after Christmas to shop for next year's list.

- Plan your shopping trips. What stores might have most of your gifts? What is the most efficient route to the stores on your list? A little planning avoids backtracking, saving time and gas.

- Consider gift certificates that can be sent to the recipients via email or U.S. mail. Or shop online and have your purchases sent directly to the recipients. You don’t have to wrap either of these gifts!

- If you're into making your own Christmas gifts, mass produce a gift and give it to as many people on your list as possible. To reduce stress, choose a gift that doesn't have to be made at the last minute. Create deadlines for each stage of production, if applicable, so you’re finished in plenty of time.

- As you buy or make gifts, wrap them so you don't have a massive pile to do at one time. Use TV time or other mindless time to wrap. How efficient - you're doubling your time!

- Your children will be bombarded with commercial after commercial during the holiday season, and they may want it all! Have a conversation with them about realistic expectations, so they won't be disappointed. Make gift suggestions to relatives who are shopping for your children.

If you want to get away from expensive or excessive gifts, consider alternative ideas:

- Instead of exchanging gifts, experience an event together: a day trip, a service project, a holiday event, etc.

- Take the money you would have spent on gifts for each other and donate it to a cause or your favorite charity or a needy family. My parents live in Oklahoma and the year of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, they asked us to donate to The Salvation Army in their names, as that organization was so instrumental in helping during the aftermath.

- Consider drawing names or doing a "nice" white elephant game with a dollar limit on the gift.

- Give gift certificates of your time or service: babysitting, cleaning, meal preparation, handyman work, running errands, etc.

- Consider a “buy nothing” Christmas. This site gives scores of ideas from people who want to leave no footprint on the earth. Last year we gave home-grown herbs from our garden to some of our family and friends.

- With some friends or family, you may want to call a moratorium on gifts, especially when you get to the point of not needing anything. If it’s the thought that counts, try writing your thoughts down and giving them a note or letter expressing your gratitude for their friendship or love.

The holidays can be a stressful time. With a little planning, you can reduce the stress of holiday shopping and enjoy blessing your friends and family - without straining your budget or your temper! 

What are your creative gift-giving ideas?

More on destressing Christmas:

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 1 - Thinking Through Your Expectations

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 2 - Thinking Through the Needs of Your Family and Friends

Organize Your Life in Three Weeks

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Top 50 Productivity Blogs Award for 2011 - Two Years in a Row!


1-2-3 ... Get Organized has been named one of the Top 50 Productivity Blogs for 2011 by Evan Carmichael's The Entrepreneur Blog. Check out the others on his list! I'm honored!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10 Tips on Preparing for a Long-Distance Move

If you know a move is imminent in your future, start planning now! We started planning last Christmas for our move in October, as we felt the timing would be right to make a change. Here are some steps we used which might be helpful to you.

1. Start decluttering. When I put the Christmas decorations away last Christmas, I began purging. Even though I had gone through Christmas decorations other years, there was more I could get rid of. I had an advantage - I could leave what I didn't want for future houseparents to use. I didn't have to worry about disposing of them.

Each season, I would do the same - purge out those items I no longer wanted or needed. I did the same with other things as I had a chance, too - kitchen linens (tablecloths, placemats, kitchen towels, etc.), books, knick knacks, vases, dishes, towels and other linens, and clothing.

2. Start scanning and shredding. We had a goal of reducing our file cabinets from two four-drawer and two two-drawer cabinets to one four-drawer cabinet. My husband started using our Epson scanner to put many of the files onto our computers instead of leaving them in paper form. 

If you have a bunch of papers you no longer need, but they contain sensitive information, start shredding! Our heavy duty shredder was a gem! Here are some tips on what you need and don't need:

You only need to keep back-up information for income taxes for the last seven years. Beyond that date, just keep the income tax forms.

For investments, once you have received the end-of-year statement, the monthly or quarterly statements may be discarded. 

The same with bank statements - once you have reconciled your bank statement with deposit slips, payments, etc., keep the bank statement and get rid of the rest. 

Once you've received your W-2 from your employer, you can toss your pay stubs.

Since moving is charged by the pound, and paper is heavy, it is wise to get rid of as much paper as possible. We felt like a huge weight has been lifted to get rid of all that paper!

3. Get your important documents together. Just as we talked about in a previous blog post about having your important documents in one place in case of a quick evacuation, you'll want all your important papers with you when you move, whether in your car as you drive or with you on a plane. Here's a list of what you need.

4. As it gets to be time to pack, you'll want to declutter again. Even though I purged things throughout the year, I found more to purge when I went through those boxes again. I would ask myself, "Do I want to pay to move this?"

5. Start packing if you are going to pack yoursef. Place items that will go in the same room in the same box. Label the contents and label the box according to the room in which it will go. Remember that items that go in a certain room now, may fit better in a different room in your new home.

6. Once you have started packing, interview movers. By the time they come, you should have decided what will go and what will stay. We decided to hire Two Men and a Truck. We liked the idea that the same guys that packed our truck would drive it and unpack it. No one else's stuff would be on the truck. And it would arrive at the same time we would, not 7-15 days later.

As it turns out, the two guys who moved us had both been teenagers who had lived in two of our Shelter Care homes. Small world. It was nice to see them doing well after having a difficult start in life. 

Another thing I liked about Two Men and a Truck is that when they give you a quote, it will not change on the other end. I've heard many horror stories of moving companies who quote one price and add costs later. And Two Men and a Truck allow you to charge your move to your credit card, unlike many moving companies who require a cashier's check or cash. 

7. Close out your safe deposit box and retrieve any items loaned to others. Place the items from your safe deposit box in your important paper box, if appropriate.

8. Inform friends, family, businesses, and service providers of address change, email address change, telephone change, etc. Because we were having to change internet providers, we had to change our email addresses. You want to have plenty of time to inform people and transfer your address list.

9. Plan your trip. Determine how far you will travel each day and make hotel reservations or other arrangements for each night. If you need to change them, like we did, you usually have until 3 or 4 pm to do so without being charged.

10. On moving day, walk through the house to make sure the movers got everything. On the day the movers arrive, walk through the truck to make sure they didn't leave anything on the truck. Have snacks for them and tip them if you liked their work. Check for damage and write it on the document you sign off on so you can be reimbursed for loss or repair. 

Moving is a huge job! It's wise to start as soon as you know you're going to move. If you need help, hire a professional organizer who will be able to help you declutter and sort. 

More help on moving:
Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence
Three Steps to Decluttering
Declutter Any Room in 3 Weeks

Monday, October 24, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 2 - Thinking Through the Needs of Your Family and Friends

I'm excited about Christmas this year! In Christmases past, it was a major ordeal to get three households together from three different parts of the world. Now our one daughter is planning to come and join the rest of us here in Montana. I can't wait!

Today we'll look at another way to destress Christmas: thinking through the needs of your family and friends. By using this as a filter, you can reduce some holiday stress. Here are a few ideas:

- Choose with whom you want to spend time over the holidays - friends or family who refresh, encourage, and cheer you. Take the initiative to make that happen.

Do you have friends who might be alone whom you could include in your holiday plans? Have you included a healthy amount of giving to others who might otherwise be neglected? Your heart will overflow with joy as you reach out to others! It doesn't need to be expensive, just something that says you're thinking about them.

If getting together with your relatives is too painful or unhealthy, give yourself permission not to attend. If you, your spouse, or your children might be subjected to verbal, emotional or physical abuse, don't put yourselves in this unsafe place. Even if it hurts others' feelings, you cannot condone unhealthy or painful treatment by attending.

- Consider family problems when planning gatherings. Be proactive in order to minimize Uncle John's drinking problem by having a brunch rather than a dinner. If Cousin Sally's conversation is predominantly negative or a never-ending flow, plan some conversation starters or games to reduce her dominance.

- If it's just too difficult for you to travel during the holidays, don't let others guilt-trip you into traveling anyway. Be honest and stick to your guns for your own benefit and that of your family. Invite your relatives to visit you (if that is better for you) or suggest another time of year for a visit when life is less hectic.

- Consider the needs of your nuclear family. If you have small children who need naps and a consistent bedtime (who doesn’t qualify for that one?!!), don’t overschedule. Make sure the events you plan to attend are age appropriate for your children. Don’t have an unrealistic idea of what they can grasp and endure.

- Study your family. Know what delights each one and what stresses each one, including yourself. Plan accordingly. When our girls were small, one of our daughters would respond to an overplanned schedule by vomiting - a pretty clear message! (Sorry to be graphic.) So I had to be careful not to pack our schedule too tightly.

One of our daughters loved to help my husband get the tree in the stand and put the lights on. The other one did not! So we did not include it as a family event, but chose other things they both liked, like the Christmas Eve service at our church.

By anticipating your needs and those of your family and friends, you can be intentional about your holidays. You’ll be able to weed out those items that don’t fit, plan around potential hazards, and create memorable experiences for those you love.

More on Christmas:

Easy Decadent Fudge Recipe

Toy decluttering

Tackle the Clutter before Christmas

Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some of My Favorite Organizing Products - My Heavy Duty Shredder

We always have good intentions of keeping up with our shredding, don't we? But it gets out of hand and we overheat our shredders (or catch them on fire!!) when we finally get around to shredding.  

One of the best investments we've made is the Royal MC14MX 14 Sheet Microcut Paper Shredder. It is a heavy duty shredder which will shred 14 sheets of paper at a time.

I don't know about you, but we get a lot of paper. Even though we've joined LifeLock, which removes us from credit card ads, etc., we still manage to have a considerable amount of mail and documents to be shredded.

What I like about our shredder:
- it's heavy duty - if it is getting close to overheating, which is rare, it stops
- the shredding basket holds 10 gallons of paper
- it microcuts, which means it shreds into one-fourth the size of normal shreds
- it shreds 14 sheets of paper at the same time
- staples, DVDs, CDs and credit cards can be shredded
- auto stop and start
- it makes the job of shredding shorter and safer.

I can't remember where we bought ours, but I saw it on several online sites at varying prices. And there are similar products at local office supply stores. It's an investment, but in my opinion, well worth it if you do a lot of shredding. 

More on my favorite organizing products:

Some of My Favorite Organizing Products - The Epson 1500 Scanner

Some of My Favorite Organizing Products - Cabinet Expanders

Some of My Favorite Organizing Products - Tall Laundry Hampers