Thursday, June 30, 2011

Benefits of Deciding to Downsize Now

Senior Thursday

It is often difficult to make the decision to move after the children have moved out. You may have been in your home for 25 or even 45 years. You're comfortable with the home. You're comfortable with the neighborhood. You have many friends in the area.

So even though the house may be a handful, you don't want to leave.

But making the decision to leave now is better for you than waiting until you are forced out of your home.

First of all, you will have the power to make the decisions. Whether the decision includes where to move or what to bring with, you have the mental and physical capabilities to make those decisions for yourself. You don't have to live with another family member's decision on what may be best for you.

Second, making your own decisions will result in a new home that suits your needs, not your family’s. Your family may want you close to them, or in an assisted living facility.But you would prefer to move close to friends or into an active adult community. This should be your decision since you are the one who will experience it.

Finally, you will have time to enjoy your new home while you are still active. If you wait until you are ill or mentally incompetent, what pleasure will you get from the move? Select something now that will give you the excitement and lifestyle you want

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Keeping Track of Research--Part Two

Writer Wednesday

There is so much research to keep track of for writing, that we had to break this into two parts. It's an important part of writing, because you never know when you will need to access the information.

Here are more tips for keeping track of research.

• If you interview someone for your project, keep a record of all names, dates, phone numbers and topics of conversation. Also note best times for contact if applicable.
• If you come across an article in a magazine, tear it out and save it, noting the publication and date on the page. There is no need to keep the entire magazine for one article.
• Keep a database (electronic or paper) for all sources you borrow. This will help you retrieve it again if you need it, and also to know what has to be returned to its owner.
• Make a notation of the URL for any pages you print from the internet. This usually prints automatically on the page--verify it for accuracy.
• Save favorite web sites in folders and subfolders according to subject. Use the same folder structure you have in your file drawers for easiest retrieval.
• Back up your favorites folders to an online service or an external hard drive.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Keep Like Items Together--Bed and Bath

Tips for Tuesday

This is one of the basics of organizing--Keep like items together. But what does that mean? How can you implement this practice in your home? Here are some tips for your bedroom and bathroom.

• Keep linens for each bed in their own closet or on their own shelf in a closet.
• Keep towels for each bathroom together.
• Sort toiletries according to type--hair care, oral care, first aid, etc.
• Sort items in your medicine cabinet according to type--pain relievers, oral care, vitamins, etc.
• Have a basket for each person's toiletries so they can easily find what they use.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Selling Tips for eBay

Moving On Monday

After you've cleaned out your house and thrown away the trash, you are left with piles of items that are in good condition but you don't want any more. As stated earlier, you can donate them to your favorite charity, or try to sell them.

One way to sell your items is through eBay. And although the money sounds good, there is a lot of effort that needs to be expended to make it worth your while. Here are some tips for making your sales experience profitable and fun.

• Research your items before listing. What is the average sale price for your item's condition? How many others are selling the same thing? What are they asking? What are their shipping fees?
• Take quality photos. Use a good digital camera. Take photos from different angles--front, back, bottom or top if appicable, and close-ups of details.
• Write an accurate description. Be sure to include sizes, whether or not it has been used, and if it's new, whether or not there are tags attached or a box included. Always describe anything that is WRONG with the item. Be honest. If you are clear, people will still bid because they know what they are getting into.
• Write a descriptive heading. Select words that you think will draw viewers.
• Set a reasonable price. If you overprice, no one will bid, and your fees are higher. If you list too low, you risk selling it at that price.
• Accept PayPal. It's the safest, easiest way to get payment.
• Ship items as soon as possible after payment. Customers will be impressed and leave good feedback.
• Remember, the customer is always right (even if they aren't.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Saving Money in the Bathroom

Frugal Friday

Whether it's what you use, or how you use it, you can save money in bathroom.

• Try using less shampoo than you usually do. You will find that you can still get a good lather with less shampoo.
• Don't shampoo your hair every day. It won't dry out or frizz as fast.
• Adopt a new hair style that doesn't need the blow dryer and curling iron every morning--save on electricity.
• Turn shampoo, conditioner and lotion bottles upsidedown after every use. That stubborn liquid that sticks to the bottom will eventually make it to the top.
• Flatten your toilet paper roll before putting it on the holder. This will make it harder to unroll so you'll use fewer sheets.
• Don't throw away that shower curtain liner! It can be laundered on the gentle cycle with vinegar to get rid of the soap scum.
• Before calling a professional to fix a problem, go to your local hardware store. They may be able to tell you how to fix the problem if you describe it.
• Wipe down your sink, mirror and shower doors on a regular basis so you don't have to use expensive, harsh cleaners as often.
• Send in or ask for free samples of shampoo, hand lotion, etc. Many manufacturers offer free samples, especially of new products.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Decide to Downsize

Senior Thursday

As we age, our lives and needs change. Our children move out of the house. They may even move out of state.

Suddenly, that house we needed to raise our family is too large for us. It's too large for occasional visits from the out-of-town grandchildren.

And it's too large to keep up as our health declines.

Now is the time to make the decision to downsize. Yes, your house may be manageable now. But what if a catastrophic illness hits you? Who will take care of the house then? Your children have their own jobs, lives and houses. Can your spouse do all the yard work? Or all the grocery shopping?

Start thinking now about what you really need in a house. This is a difficult decision, as there are many friends in the neighborhood, and you are comfortable with your surroundings.

Just keep in mind what is best for you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Organizing Your Research

Writer Wednesday

While writers write about what they love, they don't always write about what they know. This means they have to do research in order to make their writing believable and accurate. Whether it's the geographical location, the clothing of a different era, or the customs of a foreign country, if the facts aren't right, the reader will be disappointed and discouraged. The writing itself may be wonderful, but too many errors, and you will probably lose that reader for life.

The solution? Lots and lots of research. Research that you need to compile and save for future reference. So then the issue becomes--what to do with all this research.

• Any research you do for a project should be kept with that project. For example, you are writing an historical set in Turn of the Century New York. Everything that you research, from geography to architecture to transportation, should be kept in a file with your chapters and synopsis.
• Separate your notes by subject. Keep costume (men's, women's and children's) notes together. Keep culinary info together. Keep society notes together, etc.
• If you copy any information from a book, copy the title page also so you can identify the source.
• When you borrow a book from the library, write down the call number in addition to the title and author so you can easily find it again if you need it.
• When you handwrite notes, keep a running page for each subject. Make sure you identify the source for each note you take.
• You may be taking notes on a variety of subjects from each source, so they will be spread over a number of pages. Create a master file of your sources, identifying them by number. When you cite the source in your notes, you'll just need to write down the number rather than the title, author, ISBN, etc.

Next week: More on organizing your Research

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Keep Like Items Together--The Kitchen

Tips for Tuesday

This is one of the basics of organizing tips--Keep like items together. But what does that mean? How can you implement this practice in your kitchen or your bath? Here are some tips for your kitchen.

• Keep all baking items togther--pans, cookie sheets, drying racks, etc.
• Keep all baking ingredients together--flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, extracts
• Categorize the food in your pantry--breakfast items, pastas, canned vegetables, fruits, soups
• Keep paper goods together--plates, cups, napkins, tablecloths
• Keep cooking and baking untensils separate from eating utensils.
• Keep dinner plates, bowls, and dessert plates together.
• Keep glasses and mugs together.
• Keep serving pieces together.
• Keep holiday and entertaining pieces apart and away from everyday dishes.
• Keep all plastic containers together with their lids handy.
• Keep wraps (plastic, foil, etc) together with baggies.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Holding a Successful Garage Sale

Moving on Mondays

Garage Sales can be a great way to earn some extra cash. But they can be a lot of work for the little bit of money you make. Here are some tips for making more money at your sale.

• Have some larger pieces as a draw.
• Have yours on the same day as a neighbor's, or hold a neighborhood sale.
• Advertise with signs (but check village ordinances for placement).
• Advertise on the internet.
• Don't have a sale on a holiday weekend when many people are out of town.
• Thursdays are the best days for drawing traffic.
• Don't close before your advertised times.
• There are always early birds. Be ready a half hour before the advertised time.
• Children's clothing and toys sell well.
• Price items low so they move.
• Price items clearly--either as a table price, or individually with stickers.
• Categorize your items into piles--kitchen, bath, toys, clothes, etc.
• Have someone help you. You don't want to lose a sale because you're busy with someone else.
• Sell drinks and snacks.
• Have some 'freebies' to give away with a sale. For example, those piles of little plastic toys can be a freebie with the purchase of a puzzle or game. Or 'Buy four books, get one free.'

Friday, June 17, 2011

Use Less to Save More

Frugal Friday

The best part about being organized is that you will need less in your home. You will need to buy less because you will have learned to live with less.

Here are some ways you can save money by using less in your laundry room:

• Cut dryer softener sheets in half before tossing them in with clothes.
• Use slightly less than the recommended amount of liquid detergent in your washing machine. You will still get the same results.
• Wash one larger load rather then several small ones if the fabrics can be laundered together. This will save water and electricity.
• Dry clothes only half way, then hang them to air dry the rest of the way.
• Clip pairs of socks together so you don't lose any.
• Pay careful attention to washing instructions so you don't ruin your clothes.
• Wash delicates in a pillow case tied at the end.
• Wash clothes that tend to pill inside out to prevent this from happening.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Places to Donate Clothes

Senior Thursday

Last week, we had you sort through your closet and decide which of your work clothes you didn't need in your retirement years. But what do you do with that pile?

You can:
1. Donate them to your favorite charity. There are several that pick up from your front door, or many have donation drop-off sites. These include The Salvation Army, The Cancer Federation, Goodwill, Amvets and Habitat for Humanity.

2. Donate them to a Women's shelter or to a thrift store supporting women's shelters. This would include places such as your local YWCA and Home of the Sparrow.

3. Donate them to a charity that puts women back in the work force such as Dress for Success.

4. Take them to a local consignment shop. Most consignment shops will set up an appointment with you to go through your clothes. They only take certain garments at certain times of the year, and they have to be in excellent condition. If they do not sell your items after a certain period of time, you can take them back or the store will donate them to a local charity.

5. Sell them online. If you have high-end label clothes, they sell well on sites such as eBay and Craig's List. This takes time and costs money. Determine beforehand if the time you spend will be worth it.

6. Distribute them among family members and friends.

7. If they are in poor condition, throw them away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Keeping Track of Research

Writer Wednesday

As a writer , you know the importance of keeping track of your research. You may spend hours looking through books or surfing the internet on a particular subject. Then, when it's time to use that information in your current writing project, you need to get your fingers on it immediately. You don't want to spend another two hours looking for the notes you took or the copies you made. Thus, having organized files for your research is imperative.

Here are some basic tips to start:

1. Create a new folder, binder or file box for each project you are working on. Small projects such as magazine articles will have less notes than a larger project.

2. Save all work related to a project within that file. This would include copies you made from research books, handwritten notes you take from books or workshops, or articles you print from the internet. You should also place in there any project outlines, photos or maps associated with the project. For example, if you are writing a thriller set in Paris, you will have maps of the city streets, landmarks and transportation system.

3. For larger projects, create folders within folders. If you are writing an historical novel set in Victorian England, you will need to research clothing, food, geography, language, entertainment, carriages, etc.. Each of these should have it's own folder or section in a binder so it's easy to locate when you need it. For example, if a character is a student at Eton, you will need to know where the school is, what holidays they had, what they wore, and what they were taught--everything you need to make the book as authentic as possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keeping Motivated When Clearing Clutter

Tuesday Tip

It's sometimes hard to stay motivated once you begin the process. You spend hours on a box of papers, and think to yourself afterward--That's all I did? I hardly made a dent!

In order to stay motivated, you need to turn your attitude around. Instead of seeing what DIDN'T get done, celebrate what you DID get done.

Look at the pile you finished, and the garbage or donations you generated from the work you did. Maybe you only have one paper bag of papers to shred, or one small box of clothes to donate. Either way, that is one more bag or box than you had when you started.

If you feel you work better when someone is directing you, then hire a professional organizer. Or, if you just need someone to talk to, then have a friend over. The time will go more quickly if you turn the experience into something pleasant.

Also, the decisions will be easier as you progress. There will be more hesitation at first, and more emotional ties to your belongings. But once you start letting go of your things, you will find it easier and easier to place them in the donation pile.

Think of it as a cleansing of the old to make room for your new life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting Rid of What You Don't Want

Moving on Mondays

How to Distribute Belongings You No Longer Want

Last week we talked about clearing out your clutter before you move. This will cut down on moving costs. But where should it all go?

That depends. If you want to try and make some money on your items, you can hold a garage sale, sell them on eBay, or take your possessions to a consignment store. You should consider this only if you have items of value in good condition. Selling a few knick-knacks for $1 or $2 at a time won't be worth the effort of a garage sale. Nor is selling on eBay after all the listing fees.

If you don't want to make money on your items, you can either donate them to charities, or list them on Craig's List or Freecycle. If you donate them, take photos of the items and get a receipt for your accountant to list as a tax deduction. Sites like Craig's List and Freecycle offers your items for free to anyone who wants to come and pick them up from you. (Note: You can also sell items on Craig's List and avoid listing fees.)

Books and magazines can be sold or donated. Second-hand book stores will pay you for your books, DVDs and CDs. You can sell these items on eBay, and Amazon. But be aware that after all the fees, you may make only a few cents per sale. Donations can go to places like libraries, assisted living facilities or prisons. Always check before you drop anything off.

Come back next week for eBay selling tips.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Frugality Keeps You Organized

Frugal Friday

As our introductory post for Frugal Friday, we will talk about how frugality ties in with organzing.

Being organized has many benefits. Among them is saving money. This is part of being frugal.

If you know what you have, you won't go out and buy it again. Thus, you save money.

If you put it away where it belongs, you won't buy another one to replace the one you can't find. Thus, you save money.

If you re-use what you have in the home, you don't need to buy something new to serve the same purpose.

The point of being frugal is saving money you don't need to spend. By being organized, you save money you don't need to spend.

Stay tuned for money-saving tips on Frugal Fridays.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Retirement Means a Whole New Wardrobe

Senior Thursday

As we age, our lives and needs change. Retirement is one of the biggest changes in your life. Not only are you home all day, but you are wearing different clothes now. No more business suits, dressy blouses, or ties. Your wardrobe is now jeans, tees and loafers.

So what do you do with all those clothes? You don't need them taking up precious space in your closet.

You'll want to keep a few items for special occasions, but you can safely get rid of the rest.

Go through your closet and decide which are your favorite pieces. Look at the rest. Are they in good condition? Then donate them. If they are stained or ripped, then discard them.

If they are designer clothes, you might consider selling them. It all comes down to how valuable your time is, and how much money you need.

Tune in next week for resources on donating/selling your clothes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Keeping Track of Research

Writer Wednesday

Some writers write about what they know. Some writers delve into the unknown, exploring occupations, cities, countries, and even time periods they have never experienced.

With the latter, these writers will need to do research for their books--sometimes extensive research if the plot is complicated or they have no experience whatsoever in the setting they chose for their book.

Keeping track of all this research is essential, for several reasons.

First, if an editor or agent questions any content in your manuscript, you will have supporting documentation. Second, you may write something one day, then months later when editing, decide you want to look into that subject further. Third, if you decide to do a sequel to the book, you will need to reference this research again.

Keeping accurate records is a must. Look for specific ideas on how to do this,next week.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Conquering the Feeling of Being Overwhelmed

Tuesday Tips

Are you so overwhelmed you don't know where to start? Is there so much clutter that you feel that any pile which disappears would only be replaced by another?

Look around you. If you were to pick one area to start, which would it be? What area would result in the most impact? What area would give you the most peaceful or calm feelings if cleared?

Start work in that area.

Start with one pile on one surface and work until you are done with that pile. Do not go to another pile, even if the decisions become difficult. Work through your emotions, and get to the bottom of the pile.

The result? You will see a surface you haven't seen in a long time.
And that will make you feel good about your progress, and encourage you to continue

Monday, June 6, 2011

Moving Soon? Start decluttering now!

Welcome to our new blogging format. Mondays are for Moving! Our posts on Mondays will cover tips and advice for having a smooth move.

Moving on Mondays
Are you moving soon? Are you moving next year? Are you moving in a few years? Are you looking to downsize?
Whether your move is three months or three weeks away, you should be preparing now. Get rid of all that extra clutter that has accumulated in your garage, basement and closets. If you haven't opened those boxes in a year or more, do you really need what's inside?
Sometimes what you packed away years ago meant a lot to you then. But does it hold the same meaning now?
Make these decisions as you go through each of the boxes. Put aside those items you really want to keep, and donate or throw away the rest.
After all, do you want to pay the movers to move something that really means nothing to you?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Seasons Change, and So Do We

Summer is finally here! So we decided some changes were needed to our blog and newsletter to help you become more organized and clutter-free.

Starting on Monday, our blog will have a daily theme.

Moving on Monday--tips and advice for those moving or relocating
Tips for Tuesday--General organizing tips and product reviews
Writer Wednesday--Tips and advice for writers and authors
Senior Thursday--Guidance for the Baby Boomer generation
Frugal Friday--These organizing tips will help you save money, too!

We are all about helping you out of clutter and into a life of clarity. These posts will guide you on that path.

Would you like a more indepth look at problems homeowners face, and the solutions we provide? Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter. Click Here!

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook. "Like" our page, and we'll give you one hour of free organizing with the purchase of two hours.

We hope you enjoy our new look. And as always, we welcome suggestions and questions.