Archive for the ‘recycle’ Category

Do I Already Have It?

April 5, 2017

I read a blog post this morning from Joshua Becker, becoming minimalist, about shopping. He suggested that most of us have more than enough in our homes already. Joshua asks the reader to ask themselves ‘what if I don’t?’.

What will happen if you don’t buy another pair of jeans? Think about how many you already have. How many pairs of jeans are enough? That is another question for another day.

Today my question is: Do I already have it?  Sometimes we overlook things that we already have that can be repurposed to fill a different need.

I was watching the Today Show yesterday morning and a guest gardening expert on the show was talking about spring gardening. As many of you probably know, I’m a gardener. I just love digging in the dirt and creating beautiful gardens so this segment captured my undivided attention. This gardening expert was talking about starting new plants by seed – to save money. Great idea! An even better idea was to take a clear plastic egg container to use as a mini-planter. The small spaces to contain eggs are a perfect size to start each new seed. The lid captures the moisture to keep the little plants watered – it acts as a terrarium. And since it’s clear plastic it will be easy to see the little plants sprout. A new use for something you probably already have. No need to buy small pots in which to start your seeds.

When I had a tree cut down earlier this year I asked the men to save 3 sections of the tree for me. These sections of the tree are now placed strategically on my patio. I’m using one as a table and the other two can be places to sit or as plant stands. A new use for something that I had.

Many times before I go to work with a client they will ask me what should I buy? My response is always, please wait until we work together. I’m not sure yet what you’ll need and we may be able to use something you already have!

If you’re doing some spring cleaning please take a moment to think about these points before you go out to buy organizing supplies.

  1. Take everything out of the cupboard, drawer, closet – whatever space you’re organizing
  2. Sort the items
  3. Remove anything to recycle, donate, or toss
  4. Remove anything that you’re keeping but that doesn’t belong in that space
  5. Now, evaluate the remaining items
  6. Do you need some organizing supplies?
  7. Look around your house
  8. See if you have anything that would work
  9. If you do, great!
  10. If you do not, then make a note of the size container(s) you’ll need and the number before you go shopping.

Feel free to email me any questions you may have regarding an area that you want to organize. I’m happy to offer a few suggestions.

Ask yourself these two questions you begin your projects and you’re thinking of shopping:

  1. What if I don’t? (from Joshua Becker)
  2. Do I already have it? (from Diane Quintana)Thinking woman in glasses looking up at many question marks

     

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Open Your Eyes!

March 9, 2016

Child exploring nature

Have you started your spring cleaning? Whether or not you have started this process I recommend that when you do you take the opportunity to really look at the things you are moving around. I think sometimes we are so used to our surroundings that we don’t really see what’s there. I know that I can walk through a room in my house and not really notice the space.

Before you begin your spring cleaning spend some time in the room you’re tackling. Open your eyes and take a look as if you were seeing the room or area for the first time. Evaluate the space. Do you like what you see? Does it still work for you? If it does not, could you move some furniture around to make the room better fit your current lifestyle? Maybe even move furniture from one room into another.

If you think some of your belongings no longer fit your current lifestyle consider donating them out. Some things may no longer work with your current decorating style. Face it as life goes on we change and the way we decorate or the things we use need to change along with us.

That’s the problem. In general, we are so used to having our things around us that we don’t even really see them. They are simply there.

I suggest that as you do you’re spring cleaning you throw open the curtains – figuratively and literally. Really look at every item in every room that you are tackling. Evaluate each item.

Do you use it?

Do you love it?

Do you believe it to be beautiful?

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions then donate the items out. Someone else will be able to use it.

I know sometimes I’m surprised by what I find in one of the rooms in my house when I open my eyes and really look. Spring is the perfect time of year to be doing this. The light is brighter and the days are longer. Take advantage of this and freshen up your home.

Let me know if you’re surprised by something you’ve found in a room that you didn’t know you had.

Remember – turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time!

Paper Filing

February 17, 2016

Last week I talked about setting up Action Files. These are the files which hold papers with which you will do something. You might file them, read them, respond to them, keep them available for easy reference. Whatever you do with these papers once you take action they leave the Action File holder and go …

That’s just it. Where do they go? Which papers do you keep? Those which you know you are over and done with get rid of right away otherwise they will just add to the pile and you will need to look at them once again. Only to find out that you didn’t need to bother. Will you need to look at them again (reference them)? Are they papers to keep but not to refer to? Will they help you with your taxes? How will you find them, if you need the information?

These are all questions I am asked by my clients.

If you are technologically inclined many papers can be scanned and saved in secure password protected folders in the clouds. These folders will still need to be organized and labeled appropriately so that you don’t waste time searching endless saved files. This will enable you to have access to this information from any computer provided you have the password!

Now, back to the papers.

I often get asked how to organize the files. My advice is to organize them in a way that makes sense to you. Some people like to file alphabetically, some by category, and some like to mix it up. There is no right way to file your papers. The important concept is that you are able to find what you’re looking for when you need it.

Organizing supplies to have on hand:

Manila folders, hanging files, a marker, and plastic tabs and/or a scanner

Label the Hanging file and the manila folder so that you will know exactly where to return the manila folder when you remove it from the file drawer.

Here are some basic categories:

  1. Let’s start with personal papers. I call these Vital Documents. These are papers which serve to prove your identity. You keep them forever. I advise keeping a copy at home in your file cabinet and the original in the bank. For the technologically inclined – scan these documents and keep them together in a folder in the cloud. Label them with something that will prompt you to remember the type documents the folder contains. Keep the original in a safe deposit box at the bank.

Here’s a short list, you may think of others:

Birth Certificate, Passport, Baptismal records, Marriage license, Divorce decree, Citizenship papers, Military records, Social Security numbers

2. Finances:

Keep the year end financial statements for 7 – 10 years in an archival box  (or scanned to the cloud)

    1. Keep the current year in an easy to reference file in your file drawer. You may have more than one file depending on how many accounts you have. Be sure to include any investment accounts, checking and savings, credit card information, any loan information, and retirement accounts. You might file these by category and then alphabetize the folders within the category. Just a thought!

3. Insurance:

    1. Sometimes the insurance is bundled. You may have one policy which covers a multitude of things. Be sure to keep the original policy and then add the updated rider when it comes in each year. Remember to remove and shred the past year’s rider so the file doesn’t contain stale information.

4. House:

  • List any service providers – name and contact informationAlso keep receipts for any expensive furniture or appliances or machinery – like a new HVAC unit.

 

Keep receipts for home improvements and repairs (make a copy of this for your tax file – some may be tax deductible)

  1. Keep an inventory of all your household furnishings and belongings here. (more about this next week)

5. Taxes:

  1. Keep tax returns forever in an archival box. Keep the supporting documents in an archival box for 7 – 10 years.
  2. Keep a folder in an easy to access file drawer labeled with the current year. Put any tax related information into it as it comes into your house. This way when it comes time to doing your taxes you have only to look in the one place.

 

This is just a few categories of files. You will probably have more as you continue sorting through your papers. If, when you were sorting, you created a pending or marinating file please remember to go back and take another look at those papers. As time has passed you may have figured out what your next step with those papers should be.

Let me know how your paper sorting is going and if this was helpful. I hope it was!

 

 

Action Files

February 10, 2016

Last week I started a series talking about the paper. Even though it’s possible to receive notices and statements via email paper is still a problem. Many of my clients complain about paper. Organizing paper, finding the documents they need quickly and efficiently, and eliminating paper piles are on the top of the ‘to-do’ list. While this is a problem for many it comes front and center around this time of the year when taxes are looming on the horizon.

I suggested, last week, that you gather the paper from around the house and bring it to a central location. I also recommended that you set up a card table or clear a surface so that this week we could work on sorting this paper into categories to file, recycle, or shred.

Speaking of shredding, I recommend you have a cross-cut shredder. If you don’t have one or don’t want to get one then take the papers you want to shred to a place that will shred them for you. Office Depot, Office Max, and some Mail Box shops offer shredding by the pound. Put the papers you want to shred into a box or a bag. When the bag is full take it to be shredded. Another option is to look in your newspaper for Free Shredding. Organizations will take turns sponsoring a mobile shred truck in a parking lot from time to time.

Remember to look at every sheet of paper. Sometimes things get stuck in between the sheets. One time a client of mine found her social security card stuck in between some pages that were stapled together.

Now, let’s start by creating action files.

Action files are just what the name indicates – full of papers which require you to take action. I recommend you use a table top file holder for these files. Schedule a time to check these files every few days. This is not a place to store papers long term. Rather a holding spot for papers for which there is an action.

Here are some basic steps to follow:

  1. Warning… this can get tedious and boring. When we’re bored we tend to make mistakes or want to just grab a handful of papers and think “I know what’s in this stack so I’m going to just shred them without checking” That’s when critical papers get misfiled, lost or destroyed.
  2. So, SET A TIMER for some time between 20 and 30 minutes. When the timer rings either take a break and come back in a little while or schedule another work time for tomorrow.
  3. Look at each piece of paper and decide what your next ACTION will be.
  4. Your action may be to Recycle – you know if you’re not going to look at a catalogue or a magazine or an advertisement so recycle these items right away.
  5. Your action may be to Shred if so put those pieces of mail into a shred box or bag
  6. Other typical actions are: READ, FILE, PAY, SCHEDULE
  7. What do you label it when you don’t know what your next step should be? Put it aside for another time – I call that MARINATING or PENDING. The next time you look at these papers you may have figured out what action to take.
  8. You may also want a file for CONTACTS. You could put contacts to input into your data base here. You may also put your children’s class list or other contacts you’d like to have at your fingertips.
  9. If you sort the mail into these action files as it comes into your house you will not have an accumulation of paper piles!

Before you go out and buy a table top file organizer figure out how many files you want to have at your fingertips.

You can find file holders at Target, Office Depot, Staples and The Container Store.

Good luck sorting your papers into these action files. Next week I’ll review what to do with the remainder of your papers!

Now What? Too Many School Papers, Projects and School Supplies?

July 22, 2015

I’ve been talking to you about having too much and learning how to cull collections of your belongings. Well, if you have children you know that there is something else that floods our homes. That is school supplies, papers and projects.

Let’s talk about school projects and papers first. The influx starts when your child begins school. He comes home with lots of art work and projects. Now, in my house, we decorated the refrigerator with these beautiful art creations. When we ran out of room on the refrigerator we started taping these projects to the kitchen cupboards. From there we went to the walls of his bedroom. I think you’re probably getting the idea. Pretty soon my house was really, really full of kid art. I knew that if I didn’t come up with a method of culling this art work there would be no room in my house for anything else. And, I also knew this was just the beginning as he was in pre-school! I didn’t want to think about the amount of papers and projects we would accumulate over 14 years if we already had an abundance in pre-school!!

Between us, my son and I decided that each art project would stay up on the cupboards in the kitchen for all to enjoy for one week. We marked on a calendar the day the project would be recycled or saved. If it was ultra – special and wonderful it would go into the memory box. Admittedly, this took a bit of scheduling and following through on my part but it also gave my son a time frame. He knew that in time each project would come down from the cupboards and that we would decide if it was a keeper. This all took place for me back in the days before digital photography.

I now recommend that my clients with young children take a picture of their child with their art project and have the child tell them something about the project. This allows my clients to keep the art project in such a way that doesn’t add to the collection of items in their home. They display the project in their home for a short period of time and in one small designated spot – like a bulletin board and keep only the very special ones in the memory box. They recycle the bulk of the art work as soon as it comes down from the bulletin board. They always have the photograph along with a description of what the art project relates to in school and the date.

At the end of the school year some of my clients have put this collection of digital photographs in a printed album for their child.

I’m mentioning this now because here in the South the school year is just weeks away from beginning. It’s a good idea to have a plan of what to do when the art work starts coming in. This strategy can be applied to older children also. The projects may not be as numerous but they are sometimes very large. Taking a picture of the project keeps it around. Have your child add a written description to remind him what the project related to – science, english, social studies – and the teacher’s name.

I’d love to know if you’re inundated with school art work, papers, and projects. If you are, is this a strategy you might consider using? Write me back and let me know!