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, March 29, 2013

Chopping Big Chores down into Bite-Sized Chunks

Chopping Big Chores down into Bite-Sized Chunks @1-2-3GetOrganized.com/blog

If a cleaning, decluttering or organizing chore seems too huge to tackle, break it down into small chunks. Any chore, for that matter - a work project, helping with your child's science project, doing your taxes - whatever! Set a time limit of 10 minutes to an hour - whatever you can handle - and tackle one aspect of your project.

The other day, my husband and I decided to spend one hour cleaning out and organizing the garage to prepare for our move. We broke it down into bite-sized chunks:

- We started by breaking down all the cardboard boxes for recycling. It was amazing how that cleared out a lot of the clutter!

- We organized and containerized loose items according to category - gardening, car, painting, etc.

- We put all boxes that were packed and ready to move along the side and front walls.

- We took everything that still needed to be sorted into our office as a staging ground.

- We sorted other things into trash and giveaway.

- And we consolidated a few boxes.

We "accidentally" spent two hours out there - it seemed a lot less because we were so encouraged by what we were accomplishing. We still have a few things to do out there, but we got too cold!

Apply this same principle to your area of greatest need. Break it up into small tasks and determine how much time you want to spend on it each day. For example, spending 15 minutes a day for the next five days will allow you to make significant headway as you see task after task completed. 

Celebrate and congratulate yourself on the accomplishment of each task! Even if the task is huge, over time you will be able to chip away at it.

For more on cleaning, downsizing, and decluttering, check out our 1-2-3...Get Organized series.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

What to Do with those Dry Cleaner Hangers? - Make a DIY Shoe Rack

"Remove the cardboard bar on the bottom of a wire pant hanger, and reshape the ends with pliers to make hooks for flats and flip-flops. Slip your shoes on the newfangled rack and give yourself a pat on the back."

Isn't that clever? Another great idea from Redbook!

More ideas about shoes:
Get Organized Month - Organize Your Shoes
Three Steps to Organizing Your  Closet

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Statistics: The Health and Mental Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning


Statistics: The Health and Mental Benefits of Spring Cleaning @1-2-3GetOrganized.com/blog

I thought that this bog post was worth repeating from the past. I really enjoyed the following article by Health Net, Inc. about the health and mental health benefits of spring cleaning.  It's quite motivating! I hope you enjoy it

"The month of March brings with it the official start of spring -- a season associated with renewal and romance, and, on a less lyrical level -- with dusting, scrubbing, and otherwise engaging in the roll-up-your-sleeves ritual known as spring cleaning. While heavy-duty housework hardly sounds inviting, Health Net, Inc. wants to spread the word that spring cleaning not only results in a tidy abode, but also brings with it mental health benefits.

Studies have shown that a dirty, disorganized home can harbor health threats in the form of mold, bacteria and clutter-caused injuries, but such an environment also can negatively impact mental health, explains Ian Shaffer, M.D., chief medical officer of MHN, Health Net's behavioral health subsidiary. 'A thorough spring cleaning definitely brings with it a feel-good sense of satisfaction,' he adds, 'and the physical exertion of dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing has been found to reduce stress and anxiety.'

Shaffer points out that, while the physical benefits of exercise are well known, there's mounting evidence that exercise -- even in the form of housework -- brings with it mental health benefits. In fact, one study -- conducted by University College London -- found that as little as 20 minutes of housework per week reduced feelings of psychological distress. It was further found that the risk of mental health problems was reduced by one-fifth among those engaging in just 20 minutes of housework weekly.

'Exercise is known to boost mental health,' says Shaffer, 'and house-cleaning activities are certainly a form of exercise. A bigger activity, like a top-to-bottom spring cleaning, helps you to feel organized and in control, and those feelings definitely result in reduced stress.' 

The chores-calories connection 

Doing housework not only lifts your spirits and lowers your stress level, but -- as an added bonus -- you also burn calories in the process. The American Heart Association categorizes housework as 'moderate exercise,' and says that a person weighing 150 pounds who engages in 30 minutes of household chores can expect to burn the following:

-- Cleaning a bathroom -- 200 calories

-- Doing laundry -- 133 calories

-- Making beds -- 130 calories

-- Washing windows -- 125 calories

-- Vacuuming -- 123 calories

-- Ironing --70 calories

-- Dusting -- 50 calories

Shaffer notes, 'Household chores alone are unlikely to keep you physically fit, but this, along with other daily tasks, provides a portion of the physical exercise we all need. If you combine these activities with a structured exercise program, the results can be very positive.' 

Stay organized after spring cleaning 

With the satisfaction of a successful spring cleaning behind you, Shaffer cautions against returning to one's previously disorganized ways. 'Staying organized,' he says, 'encourages the good kind of stress. In fact, studies have shown that a feeling of control -- a feeling that comes with being organized -- is key to whether stress will serve as a positive force that fuels creativity and optimism or if it will serve as a negative force accompanied by a sense of helplessness and pessimism.

Beyond optimism, being organized brings with it a bounty of other benefits.

Shaffer points to three:

-- Reduced time pressure -- Among the greatest sources of stress is time pressure, i.e., so much to do, so little time. While being organized doesn't add hours to the day, it does enable you to make the most of the 24 hours in each day. Organized individuals don't waste time wondering what work project is due when, or where a needed item -- from an unpaid bill to an uncashed check -- might be hiding. The time saved can be spent on any number of stress-busting activities, such as exercising or preparing a healthy meal.

-- Disorganization makes it hard to see things in their components. Failing to see the parts leads to a few of the whole that can be very overwhelming and at times will lead to immobilization and people failing to act and move forward.

-- No disorganization domino effect -- As a general rule, disorganization creates a ripple effect, impacting not only the offender, but also those around him or her. If you're disorganized, the fallout can extend to family, friends as well as co-workers, and a tension-filled environment can become the order of the day. Conversely, while organization doesn't guarantee harmony and happiness, it unquestionably helps."

More on the benefits of organization:
9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized
Interesting Clutter and Organization Statistics
The "Do It Now" Mindset

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Apps for Organizing Your Home Inventory

Feeling a need to have an inventory of the important things in your home? Kit Eaton does and wrote the following article for the Boston Globe, reviewing apps that help you create that home inventory. Enjoy!

"I am not a hoarder.

In fact, I'm exactly the opposite: I would love to live in a minimalist house, and I have strong opinions about disposing of or recycling old things.

But no matter how I feel about hoarding, my family home is constantly accumulating ‘‘stuff.’’ And we now have so much, it’s nearly time for a big spring clean-out, a process that would be much easier if I had an inventory of all the important things in our home.

Of course, I'm going to use some apps to help.

Nest Egg

Apps for Organizing Your Home Inventory @ 1-2-3GetOrganized.com$2.99 for iOS devices at Apple App Store

My app of choice for building an inventory is Nest Egg. It’s a powerful tool for storing data about your purchases, new and old, including photos and relevant information like warranty expiration dates.

I love this app for its interface, which is logically and attractively designed.

The app’s main page provides one-touch access to a list of all the household items you've cataloged, a category-by-category list of your items and even a location-based list — for example, whether the items are in your study or bedroom. There is also a pie chart that shows you the number of items you've entered in each category and an estimated value total.

Adding items to the app is easy. You simply enter the ‘‘items’’ menu, tap ‘‘+’’ and then enter all relevant data. Each item’s entry is clearly organized, starting with text boxes for name and description, then parameters like manufacturer, serial number, product category and location in your home.

The app can even use your phone’s camera to scan an item’s bar code, by linking to the free scanning app Pic2shop, which you are prompted to download.

Scanning a bar code like this populates some of the data for you, including a photo in some cases and even an estimated price sourced from online store data.

The app is flexible enough that you can enter your own category types; I had to add ‘‘paintings and photos,’’ for example. Nest Egg can also remind you if a product’s warranty is about to expire, and it can even be used to keep track of items you've lent to someone.

One big criticism is that it can be easy to get lost in the app’s submenus. They all look similar, and you frequently need to double-check the title to see where you are.

MyHome Pro: Home Inventory

$3.99 for Android devices at Google Play

A great alternative to Nest Egg is MyHome Pro: Home Inventory. A very limited free ‘‘Lite’’ edition is available, so you can test it first. The paid app is more utilitarian in design than Nest Egg, but it has many of the same features, like the ability to scan bar codes. The app is just as easy to use and has clear sections to let you add items to an inventory or to browse through existing entries.

As a nice touch, it also lets you specify details of your various insurance policies, including policy numbers and deductible amounts. This sort of detail could be invaluable in case of a burglary, breakage or other home disaster — and you wouldn’t have to scramble through your documents to find the information.

In keeping with its functional design, the user interface of My Home Pro is designed more around drop-down menus and entering lots of text than tapping on cute icons or checking out pie charts. But this straightforwardness does at least make it easy to navigate, although it takes some of the fun out of interacting with the app.

MyStuff2 — Home Inventory and Database

$4.99 for iOS devices at Apple App Store

MyStuff2 — Home Inventory and Database is another good inventory app. The app, like MyHome Pro, has a user interface that’s designed around lists.

Its main page is a list of item categories, like ‘‘electronics’’ or ‘‘video games,’’ with a total that shows how many entries are in each one. Tapping on a category takes you to a page that lists the relevant items, and you can sort this list in a number of ways, like alphabetically or, in the ‘‘books’’ category, by author or genre. Entering the information for each item is a similar process to the other apps mentioned here, and you can scan bar codes to speed up the process.

One warning with these apps: They'll take up a lot of your time if you intend to log every possible detail about all the things you own. I'll admit, though, that there’s a certain geeky pleasure that goes along with the process."

More apps to help you get organized:
Tips to Help with Digital Decluttering
5 Best Apps for Getting and Staying Organized
How to Sell Your Old Phones, Equipment and Gadgets

Monday, March 25, 2013

Getting Organized for a Move - Measure, Measure, Measure!

 Get Organized for a Move - Measure,Measure, Measure! @1-2-3GetOrganized.com/blogAs you may remember, my husband and I bought a house a couple of weeks ago. While waiting for closing, we are organizing ourselves so our move goes smoothly. A key to making this happen is to measure, measure, measure.

- We initially measured the rooms so we could determine what would fit in our new house. With those measurements at hand, we have been able to mentally place our furniture in each room. We didn't have to do it this time, but in the past, we have made floor plans on graph paper and scale models of furniture on graph paper. It's a lot easier to move graph-paper furniture than the real stuff! And sometimes you come up with configurations you would never have discovered otherwise.

- We measured windows to see if our current curtains and window treatments will work.

- We measured the garage.   
  • There are 18 inches between the garage door and the wall - just enough room to put in shelves to store some of our seasonal items.
  • There are 4 feet between the door from the garage into the house and the door to the water heater closet. We hope to find a bench to house shoes and to sit on while taking off and putting on shoes.
  • To complete our little mud room area, there are 19 inches from the other side of the door to the house and the garage wall where we hope to put up hooks to hang coats.
  • On the other side of the water heater closet, there are 5 feet, where we hope to put in a workbench for my husband's tools.
- We measured the closet in the laundry room off the kitchen, which we plan to turn into a pantry. By knowing the dimensions of that closet, we were able to choose storage options that fit perfectly!

- We measured under the sinks so we can improve storage there.

By measuring, we can plan ahead and purchase now some of the items we will need - like those shelves for the garage and pantry. When we get the keys to our house, we'll be able to put several things into place to streamline our move. Can't wait!

More on organizing for a move:
Ruthless Closet Purging - Getting Organized for a Move ... Or Not
Organized Home Buying - Know What You Want
Getting Organized for a Move - Clearing Out Your Kids' Stuff

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tackling the #1 Clutter Annoyance

Tackling the #1 Clutter Annoyance @ 1-2-3GetOrganized.comI don't know about you, but I consider mail to be an annoying, consistent clutter issue! Most pieces of mail are ones I don't want, didn't ask for, and require my time to deal with them!

Many of my clients have had stacks and stacks of unsorted mail, resulting in lost bills, late fees, and overwhelm. The solution? Organize your mail immediately upon receiving it.

When you sort your mail, do it near your trash can, paper recycling container, and shredder. Shred anything that has sensitive information (your social security number, credit card applications, etc.).

Look through ads of interest to you and toss the rest into your recycling bin. Take a few seconds to go through ads you want to keep. Circle items you may want to purchase, so you don't waste time having to search through the ad again. Place coupons or ads in the place where you keep them, or put them in your car.

What's left is mail you need to keep - bills, letters, invitations, etc. Read mail and determine if you need to keep it.If it is easily replaced electronically, there is  no need to keep it.

Place bills, letters to answer, etc. in an action or tickler file.

By sorting and organizing your mail each day, you're avoiding a huge decluttering job later!

More on mail:
A Dozen Tips for Staying Clutter-Free in 2013
The Scientific Reason for Clutter
Three Steps to Organizing Your Office


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Organizing a Fun Activities List

Organizing a Fun Activity List @1-2-3GetOrganized.com/blogDo you ever think, "I want to do that sometime!" And then when you have some free time or some family time, you can't think of a thing to do? Here's a solution:

Start a list of activities to do in your area so it can spark your creative juices when you're brain dead. This can include museums. farms, pick-your-own orchards, art galleries, amusement parks, parks, hiking, zoos, etc. Add to the list games and sports you like to play

If you live in a small town like we do now, you may have to create your own fun. My husband is mentoring several boys and has tried these ideas: creating your own board game, geocaching, building models, woodworking, all kinds of sports, volunteering at the animal shelter, connecting with someone who creates video games, and more.

When we had foster children, we created a list of important things they needed to know before they left home. Each week they could choose one item they wanted to do. One week one of the girls chose "things to do with your friends." So I compiled a list of crazy parties we've had, silly dinners, and game ideas.

You can also make up things to do. Once we had  a progressive fast food dinner (give your children a certain amount of money and go to four different places where they can get only one item). We went to a drive-in hamburger place, a gas station/convenience store, a mall eatery, and an ice cream place. Not something I'd suggest often, but it turned a boring evening into a fun one - especially when you don't tell them ahead of time which places you are visiting.

We'd also go on flip-a-coin adventures with our own girls and later with our foster daughters. We'd have the girls flip a coin. If it was heads, we'd go straight, if tails we'd turn. They'd flip the coin a second time if we were supposed to turn. Heads for right and tails for left. We'd put about three blocks between each flip, otherwise, we'd just be going around in circles. It was amazing how many interesting places we discovered. Each trip, we'd usually stop for a treat somewhere along the way. Another boredom buster.

If you keep a list of ideas, you can usually pull together something fun when you need it!

More on organizing fun:
Three Steps to Planning Your Child's Parties
Organizing Spring Break - Planning in Some Refill Time
Organizing Spring Break Fun


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Organizinge Your Garage Sale


Organizing Your Garage Sale @1-2-3GetOrganized.com

It's getting to be garage sale time again! According to a recent Ebay, Inc. survey, the average household has $3000 worth of clutter! Now that the weather is turning nice, you may want to cash in on that clutter with a garage sale or selling on Ebay.

From personal experience, unless you have some furniture or large items, it may not be worth your time to have a garage sale. Take a tax deduction instead, and donate it to your local charity.

If you are up for a garage sale, start collecting clutter! Put an ad in the paper, listing any special items that may draw buyers. Make sure to register your garage sale if your local officials require it. Your local newspaper ad section usually has the info you need to register.

Put up signs on busy intersections near your house. You can find signs already on a stand at your local Home Depot. You just fill in the pertinent details. Make sure you take them down afterward.

If you have large items or lots of stuff, arrange with a local charity to stop by the afternoon of your sale to take your unsold items off your hands.

Make it easy for your potential buyers to see your stuff. If they can see it as they are driving by, they are more likely to stop. Use card tables and other raised surfaces for display rather than placing things on the ground.

Arrange items attractively to entice buyers. My mom even puts jewelry on the hanger with an outfit she's trying to sell, with shoes below.

Group like-priced items together. Have a $1 table, a $3 table, etc. This eliminates having to put stickers/prices on each item. Make a list for yourself of items on each table. Sadly, people will switch stickers or lie about the price. This will give you a reference point should this happen or should things get placed back on the wrong table.

Display jewelry on plastic mesh canvas you get at the craft store. It's easily seen and less likely to be stolen. For pierced earrings, attach the backs through the holes in the mesh. Use twist ties to attach bracelets or necklaces.

Have your garage sale items organized so all you have to do is set it up in the morning. Be prepared for diehard garage salers to arrive early. Be prepared to haggle. Make sure you have plenty of change and plastic bags.

After your sale, make a list of all the items that didn't sell and immediately load it into your car and take it to a charity if you didn't arrange for it to be picked up. Don't let it go back into your house!

More on disposing of clutter:

Where to Donate Business Clothing for Job Interviews
Three  Steps to Decluttering
Three  Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Save Time and Stress by Staying Organized for Snow Days

Saving Time and Stress by Staying Organized for Snow Days @1-2-3GetOrganized.comMarch can pack some of the heaviest snowfalls of the entire season! One thing nice about living in Montana is that snow is such a common occurrence that no one panics over it. When we lived in the DC area, an inch or two would send the entire region into a tizzy, resulting in store-length lines for milk, bread and toilet paper!

Wherever you live, if you have the potential for snow, beat the stress by being prepared! Keep a container of milk and a loaf of bread in your freezer. Make sure you get milk that has a screw-on top (not the pop off type). Before you freeze the milk, pour out a little so it has room to freeze and expand without splitting the container.

Also, keep on hand some "emergency foods" that you constantly replenish each time you shop, including toilet paper. Include some food that does not require cooking, just in case the power goes out. Check your ice melt and make sure your snow shovel is in working order.

The result? When the rest of the area is panicking, you can gloat in your preparedness! Maybe even do some snow-day baking! 

More on preparedness:
Clutter Lessons We Can Learn from Woodpeckers
Get Your House in Order - A Great Wintertime Project
Prepare for the Unexpected - Winterizing Tips

Monday, March 18, 2013

Organizing Your Taxes a Little at a Time Reduces Stress

Organizing Taxes a Little at a Time Reduces Stress @ 1-2-3Get Organized.com     
Whether you do your own taxes or not, you must usually collect data in various categories (medical, charitable contributions, business expenses, etc.)  before that can happen.

To make it less stressful, pull together one category at a time, spread over several days. Before long, you'll have each category neatly organized and itemized, ready for your accountant or when you do your own taxes.

Put on some of your favorite music or watch a movie (if you are able to multitask in this way) to make it more bearable.

By getting each category completed ahead of time, preparing your taxes won't be such an overwhelming task!

More on taxes:
Fall - A Great Time to Organize Your Finances
Managing Paper, Part 1
Get Organized Month - 13 Tips on Saving Money by Being Organized

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ruthless Closet Purging - Organizing for a Move ... Or Not

We have about a month before the closing of our house. In the meantime, we're going through every inch of our home to purge those things we don't use, want or need.

A few nights ago, I went through my closet and dresser. I looked at every item and asked myself if I love it and wear it. For those things I wasn't sure about, I tried them on to see how they looked. I got rid of several things I had only worn once or just a few times. I've lost some weight and some of the things just don't look good any more. Or I just don't like them well enough to wear them.

Ruthless Purging

In one sense, I feel wasteful, but in another sense, I feel efficient. Now everything in my closet and drawers are things I use and like. And I know someone else can get some use out of the items I never wore. And I've reduced the footprint of my clothes.

I also noticed a couple of items that need mending. I'll try to remember to mend them while watching a movie or the news.

And it became obvious that some of the clothes I wear frequently are getting faded. I identified a couple of things I need to buy to replace those faded ones. When I went shopping a couple of days ago, I knew exactly what I needed to buy and was able to take one item off my list in a very short amount of time.

You don't have to move to purge your closet! As you get ready for spring, look over your winter clothes and get rid of those things you didn't wear over the winter. As you take out your spring clothes, try them on and get rid of those you don't like. You'll see what you have, what you need and bless someone else with your discarded items.

More on purging your closet:
Declutter Sentimental Clothing - Turn Them into a Quilt
Efficient and Clothes-Lean
Donating Business Clothing for Job Interviews

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tips for Digital Decluttering

I'm not a digital whiz, but these people are and offer some great advice in the following article:
Digital Declutter
"Take Peggy Stempson, associate pastor at Pierre First United Methodist Church in Pierre, South Dakota, who hangs onto at least 4,000 emails, many of them part of long conversations with friends going back five years or more.

'They spark memories, and connect me with people and help me contact them,' says Stempson, 30. 'It's kind of like a diary.'

All of this digital detritus is not a problem unless it interferes with your life, work or happiness, according to Tim Kasser, a psychology professor at Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois.

'If this acquisition of 'e' stuff ends up leading to a lifestyle that forces you to have less time for your family, or less time to draw or play music or run around in a park, or less time to be involved in your community, then I would say that to me is a problem,' says Kasser. 'I can see how that happens with electronic stuff.'

Thank goodness there are experts to help extend spring cleaning to the digital realm.

Start the de-cluttering process slowly, advises Danielle Claro, editor-at-large at 'Real Simple' magazine.

'If you're intimidated by it, you need someone to hold your hand - either a friend or a teenager,' she says, noting that she'd probably enlist her own teen.

Allison Carter of Atlanta gets paid to help people find their way through the digital morass. She helps clients streamline emails, organize finances, manage documents and photos, and back it all up.

'The digital world, it's about finding things, making your life more efficient, enjoying things, rather than having them only live in the darkness of your hard drive,' says Carter, whose business is called Digital Life Organizing.

Controlling the email torrent is often the most daunting challenge, she says.

'I like my active to-do's and ongoing projects to be in my inbox until I've tackled them,' says Carter, but that's all that should be there.

For important emails, she recommends setting up action reminders, and recommends Google's free online calendar. Others include Zoho Calendar and the Cozi Family Organizer, which also are free.

Gmail users can retrieve unread emails by typing 'is:unread' into the search field, then delete ignored emails in large chunks. That's a favorite Claro tip.

'It was a great, great feeling. It was like doing a juice fast or something,' she says.

Carter likes the app Remember the Milk for managing tasks online. Manage your family's activities via Cozi. Or link everything - email, calendars, reminders and more - with a system that pulls all of your work and home life activities into one online site, such as at IQTELL.

'That's the wave that's coming next,' says Carter. 'You're going to have a place to have it all in one spot.'

And that one spot? Well, it's not on your computer. Rather, it's on a remote public server - what's referred to as 'the cloud.'

Two free, cloud-based sites that may help unclog your inbox and desktop are Springpad and Evernote, says Carter. Users can store notes, recipes, photos, newspaper articles - even snapshots of web pages.

'Bookmarks are outdated,' says Carter.

Keep track of important documents at File This, and receive notifications of bills and automatically pay them - reducing emails, she says.

Shawn Whyte, an information technology consultant in Helena, Montana, recently moved thousands of documents, songs, books and photos from six old computers and personal laptops to a newer one with monster memory (2 TB, or terabytes).

Her favorite tip? If you're a Google gmail user, view and manage your emails through Microsoft Outlook. If you have other email accounts, they all can be viewed via Outlook. It's a time-saver, says Whyte.

'You can sort and move 200 emails at once,' she says. 'I sorted and deleted 5,000 emails in 3 hours.'

Google it, says Whyte, to find out how to configure an Outlook gmail account. An alternative is Mozilla's Thunderbird.

Some photo-saving tips: Get a program, such as Snapfish, Shutterfly, Google's Picasa or others, to edit, store and share your photos, says Carter. Use Linea to organize your images fast. Use the app Lost Photos to dig up images forgotten in long-ago emails.

'Don't get hung up on being perfect or being orderly,' says Carter. 'They don't even have to be in time order to enjoy them. It's fun to have them mixed up: You can see how people change.'

Finally, says Carter, you have to back up your computer to protect all those emails, photos and documents from suddenly disappearing. She likes CrashPlan, Carbonite and Mozy, which are online, cloud-storing, backup services.

'Having things in the cloud is really going to change things in the next generation,' says Carter. 'Older folks, we're not used to it. We're leery of it.'

Your information in the cloud can be encrypted, says Whyte, and only you can see it.

'It's good to be concerned about privacy, but not so much that it hinders you,' she says. 'There are reputable companies out there that are good at this.'

If your busy life has room for only one digital change, let it be protecting your data.

'Keep your data safe and back it up,' says Whyte."

More on digital decluttering:
Labeling Storage with Digital Pictures
5 Best Apps for Getting and Staying Organized
Decluttering Your Mobile Phone is a Good Way to Start the New Year

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Green Spring Cleaning with Vinegar

Did you know that vinegar has been used for 10,000 years? If you recall some of my previous blog posts, you know I'm in love with vinegar! I use it as my primary cleaning agent (half water, half vinegar in a spray bottle). It's a disinfectant, it is nontoxic, and it costs pennies to use! Don't just take it from me, though. Here are suggestions from Vinegar Tips on using vinegar as you do your spring cleaning. Check out their laundry, garden, and other tips, too!

Green Spring Cleaning with Vinegar"White distilled vinegar is a popular household cleanser, effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity. Cleaning with white distilled vinegar is a smart way to avoid using harsh chemicals. You’ll also be glad to know that it is environmentally friendly and very economical.

To shine chrome sink fixtures that have a lime buildup, use a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.

Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.

Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so, then run hot water down the drain.

Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the disposal.

Deodorize and clean the garbage disposal with white distilled vinegar ice cubes. Make them by freezing full-strength white distilled vinegar in an ice cube tray. Run several cubes down the disposal while flushing with cold water.

Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.

Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.

Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar.

Avoid the bad smell when you heat up a newly cleaned oven by using a sponge soaked in diluted white distilled vinegar for the final rinse.

To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.

Remove soap buildup and odors from the dishwasher
by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar inside the empty machine and running it through a whole cycle. Do monthly.

To prevent good glassware from getting etched by minerals
, wash then spray with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Give the glasses a hot water rinse before letting them dry or drying them with a towel.

For cloudy glassware, soak paper towels or a cloth in full-strength white distilled vinegar and wrap around the inside and outside of the glass. Let sit awhile before rinsing clean.

Get rid of lime deposits in a tea kettle by adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the water and letting it sit overnight. If more drastic action is needed, boil full-strength white distilled vinegar in the kettle a few minutes, let cool and rinse with plain water.

Remove mineral deposits from coffee makers with white distilled vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with 1 cup or more of white distilled vinegar and run it through a whole cycle. Run it once or twice more with plain water to rinse clean. (Check the owners’ manual first.)

Remove stains from coffee and teacups by scrubbing them gently with equal parts of salt (or baking soda) and white distilled vinegar. Rinse clean.

For stained and smelly plastic food containers, wipe them with a cloth dampened with white distilled vinegar.

Remove odors from a lunch box by placing inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight.

Remove ugly film in narrow-necked glass jars, flower vases, and bottles by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar sit in them for a few hours. Add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously to loosen stubborn stains. Repeat if necessary.

Easily clean your mini blinds by wearing pair of white cotton gloves.  Dip gloved fingers into a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm tap water, and run your fingers across both sides of each blind.

To clean tarnished brass, copper, and pewter,use a paste with equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and table salt.

Make a metal cleanser by adding enough white distilled vinegar to 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar to make a paste. Rub it on and let it dry on the surface. Wash it off and dry with a soft cloth.

Polish brass and copper with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of ketchup and 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar. Rub it on with a clean cloth until dry and shiny.

Remove dark stains on an aluminum pot by boiling a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup hot water.

Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in.

Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean the wheel of a can opener using white distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush.

Remove the smell of spoiled food from a refrigerator by first rinsing the area with soap and water. Spray surfaces with full-strength white distilled vinegar and wipe them down with a damp cloth or sponge. Fill some containers with baking soda and place inside. Close the door and leave for a few days.

Wipe grease off exhaust fan grids, the inside of your oven, or anywhere grease gathers with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar.

To make cleaning the grill easier, spray a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar on the cooking surface.

To remove a label, decal, or price tag, cover with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave the cloth on overnight and the label should slide off.

Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let them soak overnight.

Get rid of calcium deposits on faucets by soaking a cloth or paper towel in white distilled vinegar and wrapping the area tightly. Let this sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

Remove soap buildup from faucets by scrubbing them with a solution of 1 part salt to 4 parts white distilled vinegar.

Rid a faucet of lime deposits by tying a plastic bag containing 1/2 to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar around it and leaving it there for two or three hours. If mineral deposits don’t wipe off, scrubbing with an old toothbrush should complete the job.

Shine colored porcelain sinks by scouring them with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Rinse away soapy film on countertops with a solution of white distilled vinegar and water.

Clean grout by letting full-strength white distilled vinegar sit on it for a few minutes and scrubbing it with an old toothbrush.

Kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

To remove grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse with water.

Spray shower doors with full-strength white distilled vinegar after you’ve squeegeed the glass, or before you step in and turn on the water. It will help release the hard water deposits so they don’t remain on the glass.

Mix up an inexpensive tile cleaner by adding 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water.

Get rid of stubborn bathtub film by wiping it with white distilled vinegar and then scouring with baking soda.

Soak a sponge or loofah overnight in a strong white distilled vinegar and water solution to remove dirt and slime. Rinse several times with cold water and let air dry (in the sun if possible).

Clean shower door tracks by filling them with white distilled vinegar and letting it sit for a few hours. Pour hot water into the tracks and wash and scrub away the scum with a toothbrush.

To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water.

Deodorize the toilet bowl by allowing 3 cups white distilled vinegar to sit in it for about a half hour before flushing.

To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.

Freshen air in the bathroom by spraying into the air a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup water.

Get a shining finish on a no-wax vinyl or linoleum floor by cleaning it with a solution of one cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water.

Apply full-strength white distilled vinegar directly to tough linoleum stains. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it up. If that doesn’t work, apply white distilled vinegar again and then sprinkle some baking soda over the white distilled vinegar. Scrub the area with a brush or sponge. Rinse clean with water.

For an economical and environmentally friendly floor cleaner, mix a solution of 3 drops dishwashing liquid to 1/3 part white distilled vinegar, 1/3 part alcohol, and 1/3 part water. Spray sparingly and mop for a fast clean-up.

Some carpet stains can be removed with a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the carpet stain and let dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet first).

Bring out the color in carpet by brushing it with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet beforehand).

To reduce soap bubbles in a steam cleaner add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Use the same amount in the rinse water to remove detergent residue and make carpets stay fresh longer.

Wash indoor/outdoor carpet with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar in 1 bucket of warm water. Scrub using a brush or a broom and then hose off.

Clean up pet accidents by first blotting up the area and then adding a white distilled vinegar-and-water solution. Blot until it is almost dry. Then sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day.

Create your own window cleaning solution by combining 1/2 cup non-sudsy ammonia, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.

Remove the wax residue left by commercial window cleaners with a solution of 2 cups water, 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap or detergent.

To remove paint from windows try using undiluted, hot white distilled vinegar. Give the solution time to soften the paint before removing with a razor edge tool.

To remove paint splatters from windows apply full-strength white distilled vinegar with a clean paintbrush.

Get rid of mildew, dust, and stale odors by wiping down walls with undiluted white distilled vinegar on a cloth or a sponge mop.

Clean woodwork and walls with a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup ammonia and 1 gallon warm water. Wipe on with a sponge or damp—not wet—towel.

Clean wood paneling with a solution of 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 cups warm water. Wipe on with a soft cloth.

Remove wallpaper easily by using a paint roller to wet the surface very thoroughly with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water. Or spray on until saturated.

Get decals off walls or doors by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar soak into them for several minutes before trying to peel them off. Repeat if necessary.

Remove white water rings from wood with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain.

Remove fireplace soot and grime with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Use a brush to scrub and a towel to blot up the wetness and dirt.

Clean fireplace glass doors with a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 2 parts water. Spray or wipe on, then wipe clean with a dry cloth.

To kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe them dry.

Remove the smell of a dead mouse or other rodent (after removing all animal remnants) by wiping down the area with either white distilled vinegar or bleach. Then place a fabric softener sheet in the area to remove any lingering odors.

Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.

Before painting old concrete, clean with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Let it air dry.

Clean hardened paint brushes by simmering them in a pot with white distilled vinegar. Soak them first for an hour before bringing the white distilled vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.

Remove mud and stains from plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum sports equipment by applying a paste of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 3 parts baking soda. Wipe off with soapy water and rinse with clear water.

Clean your grill by spritzing white distilled vinegar over wadded up aluminum foil and scrubbing the grill vigorously with it.

To remove film in glass baby bottles, fill with equal parts hot water and white distilled vinegar. Let sit for at least an hour. Scrub with a bottle brush.

To clean and disinfect baby toys add a good-sized splash of white distilled vinegar to soapy water.

Clean vinyl baby books or board books by wiping with white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.

Clean scissors that have become sticky (after cutting tape, for instance) with a cloth dipped in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean and deodorize urine on a mattress with a white distilled vinegar and water solution. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let dry. Brush or vacuum the residue after it is dry to the touch.

Shine pennies by soaking them for a couple of hours or overnight in a glass or bowl of undiluted white distilled vinegar."

More on spring cleaning with household products:
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Dryer Sheets
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Baking Soda
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trunk Storage - Prevent Runaway Groceries

"You'll never lose a carton of eggs to a runaway can of tomatoes again if you keep a laundry basket in the trunk of your car. It's great for stowing groceries while driving, and for unloading once you're home." Thanks, Redbook, for this great idea!

More on car clutter:
Kill Car Clutter
Clutter in Your Car = Danger
Spring Cleaning the Car

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Comes to the Rescue of Winter Depression and Clutter

Here's an excerpt from an article published  in the Saturday Evening Post on March 5, 2013.  An interesting insight into the downward spiral of winter, depression, and clutter. Yay for Spring!!

How Spring Can Get Rid of Winter Depression and Accompanying Clutter"Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve. Others manifest it in the nest: The state of their homes reflects their state of mind. When depression sets in, the clutter can pile up.

Charles Miles can relate. He owns a three-bedroom Colonial-style home in Bogota, New Jersey, but when he’s feeling blue, routine maintenance is hard to keep up. 'There are dishes in the sink. Newspapers on the floor. Instead of putting things away, I leave them where they are. I think, "What’s the point?" I’m just not motivated. It’s the demon I fight all the time.'

Healthcare professionals know all too well the connection between clutter and depression. The abilities you need to keep a home clean and in relative order go by the wayside with depression. People who lose their drive find it hard to handle basic housekeeping and organizational tasks. 'A systematic pattern of home neglect is really a form of self-neglect,' says Dr. Holly Parker, a practicing psychologist and faculty member of Harvard University. 'People with depression often have low energy, almost like taking gas out of the tank of a car. They lose the motivation to do things they used to love to do. If they give up hobbies, they definitely won’t do housework.' ...

Spring is an ideal time to start getting clutter under control. For many, seasons can have a powerful affect on their moods. In the spring, the days are longer, flowers start blooming, people are out and about. Those who struggle during the short, dark days of winter perk up in the spring. 'It’s an uplifting time,' Parker says. 'You can capitalize on that time of year by getting more things done and capitalize on that boost of mood that comes with longer days.'

Solving clutter problems is a two-step process that takes planning. The first part is getting to the root of the problem, and a number of treatments can help such as therapy, medication, and doing regular exercise.

The second part is putting a system in place. ... Enlisting a friend or family member in the organizational process can give the chronically disorganized the cheerleading morale they need to keep going. A home that looks good helps us feel good.

And New Jersey homeowner Charles Miles can relate to that, too. When his outlook brightens, tackling the clutter is job number one. His reward for a home organizational makeover is a sense of accomplishment and renewed self-confidence. 'I feel great,' says Miles. 'I’m like, "Let’s invite the neighbors over for dinner!"’”

More on decluttering and depression:
10 Types of Emotional Clutter
Understanding the ADD Mindset
9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized
Three Steps to Decluttering (print and ebooks)
Decluttering Any Room in 3 Weeks
Three Steps to Decluttering (Kindle)

Friday, March 8, 2013

New Study: Why Mental Clutter Makes It Harder for Seniors to Form New Memories

I found the following article fascinating! Hope you do, too.

Study--For-Seniors--Mental-Clutter-Makes-Forming-New-Memories-Harder"A new study out of Georgia Health Sciences University may help explain why some seniors have difficulty forming new memories. The research, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, may prove useful to caregivers of seniors who are undergoing Alzheimer's care.

Researchers found that older adults may have difficulty filtering out and eliminating old information, which could, in turn, make it harder to pick up new information.

'When you are young, your brain is able to strengthen certain connections and weaken certain connections to make new memories,' said Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Tsien and his colleagues were looking at the NMDA receptor in the brain's hippocampus, which functions as a 'switch' to regulate memory and learning skills. The NMDA receptor uses two subunits known as NR2A and NR2B. The latter is more common in the brains of children, and allows youngsters to 'optimize learning and memory.' However, once children go through puberty, the ratio switches, resulting in higher percentages of NR2A.

The researchers altered the genes of mice so their brains would mimic the ratio of NR2A versus NR2B in adult brains. Much to their surprise, the scientists found their genetically modified rodent subjects were still able to make strong connections between thoughts, as well as form short-term memories, but were less able to make new, long-term memories. They were also less able to weaken some connections in the brain, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

Why would it be beneficial for the brain to weaken connections? Essentially, in order to pick up new information, the brain must be able to get rid of certain thoughts or memories that are no longer important.

The research may help explain why older adults have a harder time learning a new language without getting rid of their old accent, for example. Tsien also suggested the study could provide insight into why older people 'tend to be more stuck in their ways.'

Older adults in assisted living homes can take advantage of classes and activities that stimulate the brain, which could in turn stave off cognitive decline and expand their skill sets. Some seniors may want to join a book club, audit a class at a local college or simply spend time playing games or completing word puzzles to keep their minds healthy."

More on the brain and clutter:
Clutter and the Brain
Yale Study - Why Letting Go Is Literally Painful
Organizing According to Your  Right- or Left-Brain Dominance

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Organized Home Buying - Know What You Want

My husband and I bought a new house last week! It all took less than 36 hours. We had done our homework, though, which streamlined the process. What did we do?

1. We identified our absolute "must haves." We decided we must have at least two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a two-car garage. Since we envision this being our "retirement cottage," we can't see ourselves cleaning snow off our cars when we are 80! By identifying our non-negotiables, we eliminated a large number of properties.

2. We determined a price range. We initially wanted to look into foreclosures to try to get a good deal. It didn't take long, though, to discover that at least in our area, those great deals are non-existent. We looked at one foreclosure property that would require at least $20,000 to update it. We found a new property that was only $10,000 more than the fixer-upper. And we'd have a new house with a one-year warranty! No brainer!

3. We chose a location. Even though we could have gotten more house for our money in a small town a few miles away, we wanted to stay in Bozeman, where our daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter live. They are, after all, the reason we moved to Bozeman!

4. I had looked at online interest rates, so I knew what interest rate we hoped to get. By paying some fees up front, we were able to get a 3.3% interest rate instead of a 3.6 interest rate.

I have been looking at properties since we moved to Bozeman in 2011, but we have not been in a position to buy until recently. Housing prices started going up at the same time we realized we might be able to qualify to purchase a house. So we got to work!

We identified houses we wanted to see and our realtor did the same. After two days of looking, we narrowed it down to the house we preferred.

A few days before, our realtor had told us we needed to be pre-approved for a loan to speed up the process. So we applied online for a loan with our bank. Our in-person loan appointment happened to be the day after we saw "our" house. The loan officer had told us what documents we needed to bring, and we were careful to have everything in order.

Shortly after seeing "our" house, our realtor called and told us that there were two or three others who were interested in the house. She emailed us the real estate forms. We filled out the forms and took them with us to the bank, hoping we would be pre-approved and would be able to take our forms with a pre-approval letter straight to the realtor's office from the bank.

Amazingly, everything went smoothly, and we submitted our contract that afternoon. About an hour and a half later our realtor called to congratulate us!

What a ride! Because we were clear on what we wanted, it streamlined a potentially weeks-long process down to a couple of days! And as an extra bonus, we found out the next day that the same house being sold next door to ours had increased in price by $3000. Our house has already appreciated before we have closed!

We will close April 5, and we're already measuring and pondering! More on that later.

More on buying/selling/moving:
Downsizing - Factors to Consider When Choosing a New Residence
5 Reasons to Declutter Before You List Your Home for Sale

Moving Tips

Short-Term and Long-Term Moving

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Getting Organized for a Move - Clearing Out Your Kids' Stuff

As you may know, we purchased a house last week and we are starting to get organized for our move. The first item on our agenda was clearing out our kids' stuff. That will give us more room in our garage to house our things that are ready to move.

When we moved to Bozeman, we still had some of our girls' things. Our daughter here in Bozeman recently moved into her own home, which has tons of storage space. We just never got around to taking her stuff over to her. And our other daughter who lives overseas has just a few containers of memorabilia here, which will also live at her sister's.

Kids' StuffMuch of their stuff was in cardboard boxes, which we swapped out for plastic totes since they will be housed in a garage or storage building. While we were at it, we consolidated like things together and labeled the plastic containers to make it easier to find things.

It took an afternoon and evening, but we feel good about transferring organized, labeled containers to our kids.

More on moving:
Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence
Moving Tips
Three Steps to Decluttering

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Get Organized - Planning for Your Next Phone Upgrade

Get Organized - How to Plan for a Phone UpgradeWhen it's time for a new phone upgrade, take some great advice from Jill Duffy over at PCMag: 

"Rush into buying a new mobile phone, and you could lose a lot of money or end up with a model that leaves you totally dissatisfied, despite its hype for being the 'next big thing.' 

If you want to become someone who always seems to have the hottest new phone on the first day of its release, you'll need a plan of action. The advice in this article will help you figure out how to choose a new phone and think through some strategies for reselling your old phone.  

Which Comes First: The Phone or the Carrier? Not every phone is available from every carrier, so which should you choose first: the phone model or the network? 'When buying a cell phone, usually the most important thing for people is to choose their carrier first,' says Jamie Lendino, senior mobile analyst at PCMag, 'either because you're staying with the one you have now, or because you're selecting one based on the network coverage area and plan (prepaid, contract, family, etc.) that works best for you.' 

If you decide to switch carriers, get to know your contract details. Sometimes it's in your financial interest to ride out the contract, but it depends on the terms of the agreement and how much time you have left with the plan. You might even decide to overlap two services for a short time while your old contract runs out (provided you aren't too concerned with keeping the same phone number). 

For U.S. coverage, PCMag runs an independent annual test called Fastest Mobile Networks in which we find out which networks have the best service. When looking at the 2012 results of the fastest mobile networks test, be sure to find your city or region, as the availability and strength of different service providers does indeed vary.  

Features, Features, Features The second consideration in choosing a new phone is features. If that hot, new model isn't substantially different from the one you have now, ask yourself if you really want it now or if you're willing to wait for the next release. 

Compatibility with the latest operating system could also be a huge factor, especially if you're a version or two behind, as it affects the available apps and features. 

 Lendino says to also consider how much you will rely on the phone to double as your everyday camera or music player, as that could influence how much you're willing to spend and how soon you want to upgrade. 

Trading In Your Old Phone Another major factor in deciding when to upgrade is the price you'll get for selling back your old phone. If you're organized with your sell-back strategy, you can maximize your return and thus increase your budget for a new phone. 

Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer at Nextworth (a cell phone buy-back company) says there are three main factors to mull over when it comes to selling an old phone: residual value, desirability of the newest phone, and contract end date. 

'The strategy for trading in your old phone actually begins when you buy a new phone,' says Trachsel—at least for most people. The problem with that strategy is that the residual value of a phone drops after a new model is announced. 

Take Apple for example. 'The iPhone 5 was about to come out. The press got invitations, and that's when residual value starts to take a steeper dive,' Trachsel explains. 'The values dropped 20 to 25 percent.' 

When the rumors of a new phone start to sound solid, that's the time to lock in a resale value to maximize your return. NextWorth offers a 21-day quote lock value, says Trachsel, which allows early adopters to secure a better resale price early and still have time to wait for the officially announcement to happen. 

Usually when people has this kind of sell-back strategy, they'll keep an older phone on hand which they can use as a backup in case there's a period of time between when they need to let go of the phone they're selling back and when the new one arrives. In other words, if you have an old flip phone that has little to no resale value now but still functions, you might hang onto it for just this sort of situation.  

Retail vs. In-Store When selling back an old phone without a ton of pre-planning, you might choose to stop into a brick-and-mortar store instead of using a by-mail option. Nextworth, for example, partners with in-store retailers, which gives the customer two huge advantages, according to Trachsel. 

First, you get the immediate gratification of receiving your money on the spot. Second, there's instant feedback about the condition of your phone and its value, which is something that might be disputed over weeks and weeks when you trade by mail. 

On the other hand, when buying a new phone, Lendino says to shop around online. 'Research a little on the Web first. Often you'll find better online deals than you will in retail stores.'" 

More on phones:
Decluttering Your Mobile Phone is a Good Way to Start the Year
Need Some Christmas Cash? - How to Sell your Old Phones, Equipments and Gadgets
5 Best Apps for Getting and Staying Organized