Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Smooth Move

Summer is a popular time to move. The children are out of school, so life is less interrupted. But moving can still be a stressful time. Here are some tips to help make your move easier.

1) De-clutter before you move. Why pay the movers to move boxes or items you will never use again or open again in your life? Go through your house and get rid of those things you do not use or love. This includes your trophies from grammar school and all those formal dresses from proms and weddings. You will save time when packing, and save money on packing supplies.

2) Plan ahead. This includes all areas of the move. Ask around for free boxes and packing supplies. Start packing weeks before the move. Begin with those items you rarely use, or any clothing out of season. Create a list of companies and people you need to notify about change of address. Arrange for the movers, babysitters, pet sitters, etc., as needed.

3) Ask the professionals. You have enough to do without having to worry about cable and computer hook-ups, cleaning or last-minute landscaping. Hire someone to do these things for you so you can spend time on more personal matters, or on those tasks you do well.

4) Confirm, confirm, confirm. I can't say this enough. Don't get over-confident that everything will go as planned just because it should. You talked to the movers and have a date set, and know who is packing what. But you should call the week before the move and confirm the number of trucks, the number of staff, who is moving fragile items, etc. You should also call all the utilities to confirm shut-off dates, confirm cleaning services, confirm hotel and flight reservations, if possible, etc. You've set it all up, now confirm it.

Nothing in life is guaranteed. But planning ahead will make it more probable that things will go smoothly.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Here is Part Two of Preparing for a Successful Summer Vacation Trip. Below are tips for packing the family, packing the car and getting settled in when you get back home.

· Clothing (this is another topic for another article!)
· Jacket or sweater for cooler temperatures
· Bathing suits, towels, flip-flops for poolside
· Toiletries—use travel size whenever possible
· Sunscreen!
· Medications—in original pharmacy containers
· Sunglasses, extra pair of prescription glasses
· Alarm clock, watch
· Plastic bags for wet clothing
· Laundry bag
· Recreational gear, such as fishing pole, running shoes
· Deck of cards
· Personal CD players
· Camera and film
· Cellular phone
· Night light
· Ear plugs
· Empty bag or suitcase for souvenirs
· Tote or backpack for day trips
· Rain poncho/umbrella
· Water bottles
· Extra batteries
· Phone numbers of family members or friends watching the house
· Traveler’s checks and money
· Medical insurance cards
· Driver’s license or other photo identification

· Extra water for the car only
· Toolkit for roadside emergencies
· Owner’s manual
· Insurance card, vehicle registration, auto club membership info
· Duct tape
· Jumper cables
· Extra fuses
· Air pressure gauge
· First aid supplies
· Flashlight and batteries
· Fire extinguisher
· Extra keys
· Pillows and blankets
· Travel games
· Plastic bags for refuse
· Pack items you will need during the trip (cooler, games, snacks, etc.) separately from suitcases
· Snacks and drinks in a cooler
· Moist towelettes for washing hands
· Paper towels or napkins
· Roll of toilet paper

· Turn air conditioner back on, or lower
· Unpack your car
· Sort laundry as you unpack your suitcases and start a load
· Pick up your mail from the post office if it isn’t being delivered
· Pick up your pets from the boarder

This may seem like a lot to do and remember, but your goal is to have a safe, fun trip. The better prepared you are, the better the chances of having a great time away!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Get organized for your summer vacation

Now that summer is in full swing, you’re probably ready to hit the road, whether it’s a family reunion weekend, a trip to the beach, or a road trip in the van with the kids. Here are some checklists to help make your vacation a relaxing and memorable time. By planning ahead, you will avoid the stresses associated with missing or forgotten items.

This is the first of a series of blogs on getting ready for vacation. The first step in getting organized for a vacation is taking care of everything at home:

· Notify post office that you will be out of town—complete a Hold Mail form
· Notify newspapers to hold delivery
· Arrange for someone to watch the house, pets and plants
· Notify local police that you will be out of town—many towns offer a vacation watch service
· Put your house in order, change the bed linens and do the laundry—you’ll appreciate returning to a clean house and clean clothes
· Print out driving directions (
· Buy snacks and drinks for the road
· Give itinerary to at least one family member and friend/neighbor
· Place some lights on timers
· Unplug small appliances
· Set air conditioner to higher temp, or turn off
· Make sure freezer door is closed

· Take car in for servicing—check fluid levels
· Have oil changed in car
· Check tire pressure, and condition of tires
· Make sure all lights are working properly
· Clean out unnecessary items from trunk

Check in next week for part 2--Packing

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's Time for Spring Cleaning

It seems the winter is finally starting to ebb away. Flowers are popping up, trees are budding.

Unfortunately, the melting snow also uncovers layers of grime and silt, both outside and inside your home. As you open windows and take the flannel sheets off the bed, other things start bothering you. Like piles of magazines still unread, clothes that need mending, holiday gifts that never got returned.

Now is a good time to take a few minutes each day and conquer some of those tasks. Even if you spend only fifteen minutes a day, you will see an improvement at the end of a month's time.

Here are some areas to address:

  • As you swap out your clothes for the season, get rid of anything that doesn't fit or you didn't wear over the winter.
  • Sort through the children's toys and get rid of one in every five.
  • Look through your kitchen pantry or freezer and toss old food.
  • Open a box in storage and see if the contents is still really important.
  • Go through some photos and toss duplicates or poor images.
  • File some paperwork, purging old papers as you go.
  • Take ten books to your library for their annual sale.
  • Throw away all the holiday catalogs you received in the mail.
  • Erase old messages on your answering machine.
  • Return anything that isn't yours to its proper owner.

Taking on little tasks instead of large jobs can be just as rewarding. Results are more immediate, which motivates you to do even more. You don't have to be completely organized overnight. Just clearing a little clutter at a time will go a long way to a calmer life.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What's Stopping You from Getting Organized?

My last post focused on the benefits of being organized. You can save time, save money, and be less stressed. Wouldn't we all like that?

Most everyone would answer yes. So what's stopping you? Here are some reasons why people don't get organized.

1) Lack of Time--We all seem to be so much busier than before. It seems every time we turn around, there's another place to drive the kids, another party to attend, another car that needs repair. This all takes away from taking care of the house. And getting things in order. And yet, being organized can save time. Try to set aside at least three hours for the first session to get started. Once you begin to see the benefits, you will be motivated to continue. Even if it's only ten-fifteen minutes each day, any little bit helps.

2) Incovenient Storage--Are the bins too heavy to lift? Do you have to pull five boxes off a stack of six to get to the bottom one? Is the closet shelf too high to reach? Analyze why your storage doesn't work for you. Then explore your options. Perhaps several smaller bins would work better than one large one. Or maybe sturdy industrial shelving can hold one or two boxes per shelf, thus eliminating stacking. Look at what's stored on those high closet shelves. Is it something you use often, like shoes or sweaters? If so, why not replace it with holiday or seasonal items?

3) No Designated Storage Space--This doesn't mean lack of storage space. It means that the items you haven't put away don't have a home. You can't put something away if you haven't designated a space for it. Once you know what you have to store, you can determine where things will go. This may not come until much later in the process, but once you have set it up, you'll have places to put things.

4) The Speed of Life--Everything is coming at you faster, thanks to technology. Unfortunately, this also means you are probably drowning in paperwork. If you can't slow things down, perhaps you can eliminate some of the contributors. Do you volunteer for more than one organization? Do you belong to more than one club? Do your children participate in more than one event/sport? Only you can slow things down by pulling back. Start to say 'no' and learn your limits.

5) It's just plain boring--Yes, organizing can be boring. Who wants to sift through stacks of papers when you can be out riding your bike? How about turning that around? If you had sorted those papers when they arrived in your house, you WOULD have time for that bike ride. Look to the end result to motivate yourself. Have a friend over if it would make it more fun. Especially when doing closets. Who knows, you may be able to give away your discards to someone who will use them.

Happy organizing!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Get Organized This Month

January has been named "Get Organized Month" by the National Association of Professional Organizers. It's a time of resolutions and goals, which often include clearing the clutter.

But many never get around to organizing their homes. Whether it's time, money or motivation, some people never get started. And yet, there are numerous benefits to being organized. Here are a few to help motivate you:

1) You will save time--Americans waste almost one hour each day looking for things they own but can't find. How would you like to regain an hour every day? Wouldn't you rather be reading a book or taking a walk for that hour?

2) You will save money--How many times have you looked for something, can't find it, then gone out to the store to buy it again? And lo and behold, a week later, there is the first one you spent all that time looking for because it wasn't put back in it's proper place. Also, you won't incur late fees on bills that get lost in stacks of papers

3) You will find money--I haven't had a client yet who hasn't found cash, checks or gift cards while organizing. And in this economy, that extra money could really come in handy.

4) Your life will be easier--You will manage tasks more quickly and correctly because you have your processes in order. Being efficient can save you lots of time, whether it's driving, standing in line, or putting things away.

5) Your life will be less stressful--Think of the anxiety you feel when you can't find something? Or when a bill comes with a past due amount? Or when you're late to an appointment bcause you had to go back home for something you forgot? How nice it would be to not feel those stresses!

So now that you can see the benefits of being organized, what's stopping you? Where will you start?
If you don't know where to begin, stay tuned for my next blog!

Keep warm!