Archive for the ‘prepare’ Category

Home Inventory

March 1, 2017

infographics about home inspection checklist and tips

One of the best ways to prepare for a disaster at home is to have a complete home inventory. Do you have an inventory of the contents of your home? Have you ever thought about taking or making such an inventory and then immediately stopped because the thought of all the work involved paralyzed you? You know that an inventory is the absolute best way to prove what your house contains in case of theft, fire, flood, tornado or any other disaster. I do understand that the creation of an inventory is a ton of work! I had to handwrite my first inventory back in 1979 since my husband’s job required us to submit a complete inventory when we were moving to Thailand. Imagine handwriting something such as that! Wow!! Even now I shudder at the thought. As the years went on and we moved from place to place technology allowed me to put our inventory in a spread sheet and then there was a program created for just such a purpose.

The program I use now is very flexible. It is called HomeZada. It does so much more than just keep track of your household furnishings. When you are ready to do the inventory, it allows you to take a picture of the item, identify what room it is in, put the date purchased and from where – if you know that information and if it is a valuable item (sentimental or expensive) you can even say who should receive it upon your death. Additionally, you can scan the receipt for the item so you have an accurate record of the date of purchase and how much it cost. You can also take a picture of a room and identify the built-in pieces of cabinetry.

I also love the fact that this program allows you to record the maintenance of appliances and keep track of home improvements. No more searching for that information. You don’t need to wonder when the HVAC was last serviced or your home last painted. The information is right there at your fingertips. If you’re planning to sell your home, you can easily retrieve the documents which identify the improvements you’ve made to your home.

Since this program is cloud based you will be able to retrieve all the information from any computer anywhere in the world. So, if disaster should strike and your home was destroyed you would be able to show an insurance adjuster photos of all that your home contained. No guessing involved.

This is real peace of mind. What a relief. Even better the program is easy to use. I recommend tackling a home inventory project the way you would any other large project – a little at a time. You could enter the information one room at a time. Or, if you decided this was simply too much for you to contemplate you can hire a professional organizer to do the original data entry for you. This is a service I offer as do other professional organizers.

 I recommend updating the information once a year, or as you trade out furniture or complete a home improvement project. It is very important to keep your home inventory information current as stale information defeats the purpose.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about the HomeZada home inventory program and how I may be able to with a home inventory project. Check out their website: www.homezada.com

 

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Do You Have Time?

February 25, 2015

Do you wonder how some people seem to have more time in their day? You know, these are the people who accomplish many of their tasks during the day. They plow through their ‘to-do’ lists and still have time to exercise or relax over lunch with a friend.

Other people struggle to get even two items crossed off their ‘to-do’ list. Why is this? We all have the same number of hours in each day to use so why is it that some people accomplish more in the same amount of time?

I think we’re all so busy – our days are jam packed full – that we forget to stop and ask ourselves is this the best use of my time right now. When you ask yourself that question you might be surprised at the answer you give yourself.

Perhaps, instead of spending your time running a quick errand now you can combine that errand later in the day with picking the children up from school. Then, you’ll have time now to work on the project at home that you’d like to complete by the end of the month.

Maybe, you’re hosting the book club at your house later this week. What do you need to do to get ready for this event? Take a few minutes to write down all the small steps to take to make your home ready to welcome your friends. Then, schedule in your calendar to take care of these small steps. You’ll be much more relaxed and ready to talk about the book if you take the time to prepare yourself in advance.

Doing small tasks because you think you should be doing something is not always the best use of time. Take time to think about the things that matter most to you. What is really important to accomplish? Write it down. What are the small tasks that you can do – a little here and there? Write them down. Now get out your calendar and plan your time accordingly.

Before you know it you’ll be one of those people who get all the ‘to-dos’ on their ‘to-do’ list done!

For more tips on managing your time check out my book: Now What? A Simple Organizing Guide

Small changes?

April 16, 2014

Sometimes a small change in the way we do things can have a really HUGE impact. One of my clients had the habit of waiting until April 14th to begin gathering the information needed to prepare his taxes. It would take him all day and most of the night of the 14th to gather everything together, figure out what he had to do, download the forms, etc. You get the idea, I’m sure. Maybe some of you do this very same thing.

Last year, we created a current tax year file. All tax related information went into the file. I encouraged my client to begin preparing his taxes on April 1st which he did. He was finished with his taxes very quickly as he didn’t have to hunt down any information. His taxes were mailed by the end of the first week – without having to lose any sleep! The small change of creating a central place for all tax related information really helped.

Another client was talking to me about doing laundry. For her, laundry is one of those things that just never seems to end – there’s always more to do. To complete the laundry cycle it must be washed, dried, folded, and put away. This client was good about the washed and dried part but emptying the drier, folding and getting the laundry put away was a problem.

In conversation, my client told me that she starts laundry in the evening and remembers to get it out of the washer and into the drier but quite often she forgets about it and then goes to bed. I suggested that she start the laundry in the morning after taking her child to school. This way she’s up and around the house. I also suggested she set a timer to remind herself to take the clothes out of the drier, fold them and put them away. This small change has really worked! Changing the time of day to do the laundry has helped to keep the piles of laundry under control.

What small change can you make in your day which may make a HUGE impact? Write me and let me know.

Make a Change

March 19, 2014

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could snap your fingers or wiggle your nose like either Samantha on Bewitched or Jeanne on I Dream of Jeanne and have something be changed? The problem is nothing changes if nothing changes. Think about that.

It’s tax season. We all have to locate the documents so that we can find the numbers to fill out the forms for our taxes. Some documents may be filed in the cloud, some may be in a pile on the floor, some may be in a file cabinet in multiple files. What if you changed the way you stored ALL tax related documents? You could, for instance, scan all the documents as they arrive in your house and store them together in a file in the cloud labeled ‘TAXES’. You could also print all tax related documents and store them in a file in your file cabinet labeled ‘TAXES’. This way when you were ready to prepare your taxes all you would have to do is take out your taxes file from the cabinet or refer to the file marked ‘taxes’ in the cloud. Simple, right? Sure, it’s simple but you have to buy into the process and change how you file your documents to make it happen. You can do it, if you’re ready to change how you file your documents. Maybe you already have such a file and preparing your taxes is a snap!

How about the mail? What do you do with the mail when you bring it in your home? Does it land on the counter in a pile? Do you look at the contents of the pile everyday and sort through it? Perhaps you wait until the end of the week to look at the mail. If that’s the case, I bet the mail is spilling all over the countertop and getting in the way. Why not change this situation? You can get an inexpensive stadium file. Create a few categories that resonate with you and your family. Some suggestions are: Bills, Filing, Read, Pending. Now as you bring in the mail sort it into these categories. You might put magazines and catalogues in a basket to look over later. Put anything you are not going to even open into either a recycling bin or a shred basket and file the remainder into the stadium file categories. Now you’ve changed the system and the mail has a place to go – instead of making a home all over your counter.

What about laundry? Are there clothes all over the floor in your room? Have you heard the expression ‘the floor is not an option’? When you change your clothes put clothes you can wear again away – either hang them up or fold them neatly and put them where they go. Shoes go in the closet or on a shoe rack. Any clothes that need to go to the dry cleaner can be placed in a pile on the floor of the closet or in a basket. Other clothes that can be washed should go into a laundry hamper ready for you when you tackle the laundry! Tweak the system a little and the bedroom floor will be clear of clothes! The added benefit is that your clothes do not get crumpled laying on the floor.

Speaking of laundry. You know it’s not really done until it comes out of the drier, is folded, and put away. Some people I know think that the laundry is done – finished – when it’s been put in the drier. Sorry, get the laundry out of the drier, complete the process and then you can call it done!

What habit will you change to create change in your home?

The Holidays are Coming!

October 15, 2013

Have you noticed that advertising and talking about the holidays has started already? In the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens there was a short paragraph about grocery shopping for the holidays. It mentioned that you can save money by buying some non-perishable ingredients in bulk now before the holiday rush begins in earnest.

The cover of the November issue of Real Simple magazine talks about holiday entertaining made easy. Real Simple magazine is referring specifically to Thanksgiving but really you can apply the tips to other holiday gatherings.

I was shopping at a mall in Atlanta over the weekend and saw many holiday displays. One store had Christmas bears for sale another was selling Christmas tree ornaments and even had several decorated trees on display already! I was really flabbergasted! Christmas on display before Halloween.

Does all the advanced warning of the holidays’ arrival put you into panic mode or does it make you want to organize yourself early?

There is something to be said for making your list in preparation for the holidays. When you start preparing in advance you allow plenty of time to get things done without stress and you give yourself time to do things at a reasonable pace rather than rushing through. Another benefit to preparing in advance is that you save money. If you’re buying gifts for family and friends you can save money when you take advantage of seasonal sales. When you wait to the last minute you may indulge in impulse buying – just to get it done.

If we’re talking about Halloween make list of the candy you’ll buy, the costume you’ll rent (if you dress up), and the decorations for your front door (if you decorate). Make a note on your calendar to buy your pumpkin and set aside time to carve it. Thinking about these chores or tasks allows you to mentally prepare to actually follow through and accomplish them.

What about your list for Thanksgiving, Channukah or Christmas? Thanksgiving could be really easy if you’re not hosting a dinner! My recommendation is to think about your plan for each of these holidays

. What is your vision for each of the holidays?
* Will you be hosting an event?
* Do you like to attend certain plays or programs (like the holiday lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens)?
* Do you like to decorate your house – inside and out?
* Do you like to give homemade baked goods as gifts?
* Do you want to send out holiday cards?

All these wonderful traditions take time. It’s possible to do them all but take a look at your calendar, factor in your daily routine and then schedule time to dedicate to the traditions that will bring your vision for the holidays to life. Only schedule those things that honestly fit your vision and your schedule. Be sure to allow time to simply relax and enjoy!

Inch it?

June 18, 2013

I was reading the July 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine the other day. I always read the entire magazine – cover to cover – and always take away something valuable. Sometimes it’s a new idea for decorating, sometimes a new way to repurpose a common tool. This week was no exception.

One of my favorite regular features in the magazine is something called ‘Your Words’. This is a piece where readers respond to a question posed by the magazine. This month’s question is: What saying do you most often repeat?  One of the responses was “Inch it!” The responder tells the story about how her mother heard the expression “inch by inch, everything’s a cinch”. She explains that tasks are easier to perform if you tackle them one step at a time.

Does this sound familiar to you? It should! Last week I wrote about breaking tasks down into small steps. I also told you that I’m preparing for an exam that I’m taking in September by reading five books. I’m happy to report that I finished the second book yesterday! I was able to do this because I looked the book over, divided the number of pages by the number of days in which I wanted to complete the reading, then I scheduled reading into my calendar. Essentially, I created a series of reading sessions for myself. I knew that if I said to myself ‘today I’m going to read this entire book’ that it would not happen.

 The book I finished is titled Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding by Fugen Neziroglu, Jerome Bubrick, and Jose A. Yaryura-Tobias. In the chapter titled ” Cleaning up the Clutter” the authors tell the reader ” Generally speaking the larger the project, the higher likelihood of failing. You are much more likely to finish a series of small projects than you are to complete one large project” page 98.

I think these authors would like the expression “Inch it!” Clearing clutter out of your home an inch at a time is much easier than thinking of clearing out an entire room!

I love this expression and plan to start using it with my clients!

 

 

Live Now

December 19, 2012

I was at my local grocery store earlier today. Grocery shopping was just one of the many errands I had to do today. I took some time last night to organize my grocery list. I went through the recipes of the special dishes my family has requested for Christmas Dinner. I wanted to include some of the non-perishable ingredients on my grocery list. This will save me a little time next week and I’ll be able to do a little pre-cooking! I love my neighborhood grocery store. I know many of the people who work there. They are always friendly and helpful! One of these helpful people came to help me unload my grocery cart. As is our custom, we had a little conversation. She said, ‘It looks like you’re getting ready for Christmas’. I replied, ‘Yes, I am. Are you ready or getting ready?’ She looked at me sadly and said ‘No, I’m not. I miss my family. It’s just not the same without my family. So, I’m feeling a little lonely and sad. It’s hard for me to get in the Christmas spirit.’  I told her that I was sorry she felt that way. Many of my family members are far from me so I can truly empathize with my grocery store friend. In fact, one of my sons will not be coming home for Christmas. I’ll be seeing him for New Year’s, that’s some consolation, but I will miss him on Christmas Day.

Many people, particularly at this time of year feel a little sad or lonely – missing family members and perhaps shared family traditions. I don’t have a remedy or solution but I do have a couple of strategies.

One strategy is not unique. It’s a mindset. I try to live in the present, to enjoy and remember what has come before but to really live in the now. There was a time when I was almost exclusively focusing on the future and living in the past. I can recall saying to myself something like: I love the way we used to be able to sit outside, I can’t wait until we move from this apartment and I can sit outside with my coffee again. I would say this alot when we lived in a small apartment in Hong Kong. Looking back I really liked our apartment. The photographs I have of it are lovely. I know now that I didn’t truly appreciate it at the time because I was not living in the present.

My other strategy is to be a volunteer. When you are volunteering on a project, helping other people, you can not help but be happier. First of all, you meet other interesting people – always a benefit, and you work to make something better. Sometimes the work is hard but then when you’ve accomplished a pre-set goal or task you can go home and be proud of your work. You’ll sleep well from the physical effort and knowing you’ve helped in some way. That’s a good, rewarding and happy feeling.

So, if you’re feeling a little blue try doing a some volunteer work this will help you to focus on someone or something other than yourself. Remember to live in the present and appreciate all that you have – no matter what that is. After all, we no longer have the past and the future is yet to come. So, live now.

Are You Prepared?

September 4, 2012

Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? NAPO (the National Association of Professional Organizers) is working to make all homeowners more aware of ways they can prepare for disaster and emergenices in their homes and workplaces.

So, how prepared are you? Do you have an emergency medical kit? Are you curious about the items that make up such a kit?

My kit has: bandaids (a variety of sizes), gauze pads and paper tape, iodine, ant-bacterial hand santizer, latex gloves, tweezers, benadryl (topical ointment and tablets), asperin, an ace bandage and baby wipes

When you put together your kit think about the sorts of injuries that you generally take care of and then think about the items you use when dealing with those injuries.

Do you have a bag or file box that you could grab quickly with important documents/ information?  Are you wondering what documents are ‘important’? They are the ones that you would use to prove your identity (birth certificate & passport), home ownership, insurance – all types, bank and investment account numbers to name a few.    Do you have your important documents scanned onto a jump drive with the originals  in a safe deposit box at the bank. If you do, that jump drive could be in a prepared tote bag in your front hall closet.

Are you wondering if you should go to such extremes to be prepared? Well, you never know when disaster is going to strike and even though it does take time and effort to become prepared, as the saying goes – better safe than sorry.  Isn’t it better to have all the documents you would need to prove who you are, where you live, to give you access to bank accounts or investment accounts, insurance information etc. than to wish you could put your hands on them?

How else should you be prepared?  If there was a sudden fire in your house do you have smoke/carbon monoxide alarms to alert your family? Have you changed those batteries recently? Do you have fire extinguishers? Are they fully operational? You can take your fire extinguisher to a hardware store or the fire station nearest you to check their functionality. What if the fire was so sudden and enormous that everyone had to leave the house does everyone know the safest way out? In school we had regular fire drills so we would know exactly where to go should the alram sound. It’s a good idea to practice that with your family.

Take some time this month to look at ways you can prepare yourself just in case of a natural disaster!

For more information on this topic check out Judith Kolberg’s book: Organize for Disaster: Prepare Your Family and Your Home For Any Natural and Unnatural Disaster