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Our Favorite Organizing Ideas from Pinterest

We love getting new organizing inspiration from Pinterest. There are so many excellent pins from organizing experts around the world and it’s an easy way to source new storage and organizing solutions for unusual spaces. Here are some of our latest favorite ideas:

Behind the Door Cleaning Product Storage: Get your cleaning products out of valuable cabinet space and onto the back of the laundry door for easy access and organization.

Side of Fridge Pantry Storage: Utilize the rarely used space next to the fridge to create a pull-out pantry. This is perfect for cans, spices, and other thin items.


Organized Pots & Pans Storage: Who wouldn’t want this model of organization for their pots and pans. With a place for every item it’s easy to put things back where they belong.


Ceiling Mounted Garage Storage: Maximize your storage space, by mounting storage bins on the ceiling of your garage. These bins are perfect for holiday decorations and other infrequently used items.

Silverware Trays for Bathroom Drawer Storage Organization: This is a fantastic idea for keeping toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss organized in a family bathroom.

Personal Health Record: What Are They & How Do I Make One?

For anyone that has a chronically ill family member or someone that has experienced an accident that has brought upon many medical issues, you know that the amount of paperwork can quickly become overwhelming. Even the average individual will want to keep track of their records and personal information for insurance purposes  reimbursements, health tracking, and for taxes. With much of the Personal Health Record industry moving digital it can be difficult to know what you need, how you should store the information, and for how long. Here are some basic guidelines and tips to follow.

WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH RECORD FILE:

  • Personal information (phone, address, birthdate)
  • Insurance cards, discount prescription cards
  • Immunization records
  • Dental records
  • Important test results, especially abnormal ones
  • A list of medical conditions and coordinating health regimens or medications
  • A list of medications and foods you are allergic to
  • Prescription history
  • A list of doctors, specialists, and health providers that you have seen in the past (including contact info)
  • Insurance bills and statements

WHERE TO STORE:

  • Online services such as WebMD’s Personal Health Record system can assist you in storing your information digitally, so that you have greater ease in providing healthcare professionals with access to past history, can access the info throughout your lifetime, and to maximize your health benefits. For more information about storing your personal health information online, visit the Medicare.gov page.
  •  If you feel more comfortable keeping the information in hard copy, create a folder designated for your Personal Health Records and another for Medical Insurance. Keep all of the items, except for the last, from the list above in the first folder. The Medical Insurance folder should keep the bills and statements from your insurance company. You can also add in correspondence from claim negotiations or other related documents. When seeing a new doctor, bring the first file with you, so that they can copy the information.

HOW LONG TO STORE:

  • Experts advise that medical records should be kept for 5 years after the end of the treatment. For insurance bills and statements you can toss records after a year, or immediately if you have access to the digital statement online. Remember to always shred your personal health records for security reasons.

We wish you good health and organization!

TWOW

 

Laundry Room Organization

If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated laundry room, you know that it can easily become disorganized. Whether it’s items from other areas of the house living there permanently or it’s half-finished laundry stacking up, the small room can quickly seem out-of-control. We’ve put together some of our favorite ideas for designing and maintaining a flawlessly organized laundry room.

What Belongs There: Although some people use their laundry room for storage of other items, if you are looking to create an organized space, it’s best kept to it’s original function. The following is a list of items every laundry room should have.

  • Washer & Dryer
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Detergent (1 bottle)
  • Stain Remover (1 bottle)
  • Fabric Softener (If desired)
  • Dryer Sheets (1 package)
  • 1-3 hampers (Separated by color)
  • 1 Clean clothes laundry basket

How to Organize the Space: Depending on how large your laundry room is, there may be an opportunity for you to have a dedicated folding table. If so, utilize the space below the table to store your 3 hampers. Use the area above the washer and dryer to add shelves for holding all clothing cleaning products. Keep all other areas minimally decorated and with as little storage as possible. This room should be used as much as possible for laundry and laundry alone.

The Laundry Room Re-Set: If you find that the room often become disorganized, commit to a laundry room reset once per week. At this time, you’ll fold and put away all clean clothes, wash any dirty ones still there, and re-organize the cleaning products and physical items in the space. If you are committed to this process, you’ll find the space stays clean and organized longer.

 

The Challenges of Downsizing Homes: How to decide what to keep, sell, or donate

There often comes a point in ones life where they decide downsizing is a good option. Maybe you are looking to reduce cost of living or maybe you just don’t have use for all of the extra rooms anymore. Either way, the process can sometimes be difficult, as reviewing and deliberating on what to keep and what to get rid of can be emotional. These are belongings you’ve likely had more many years and letting go of them forever is not easy. We’ve helped clients with this process in the past and have found a few general guidelines to be helpful:

1) Give Yourself Time: The process of downsizing, if possible, should be done over the course of several months. Once you decide a move is possible, begin to slowly start reviewing your belongings room by room. Do a little each day or a couple of rooms each weekend until you have made it through the lot. If it helps, use small post-it notes to designate keep, sell, donate or trash.

2) Work with a Friend or Professional: Having a friend or a professional organizer assist in the process can be great. They are able to offer neutral viewpoints on whether to keep certain items, ask questions that will help guide you to make decisions, and organize the process in an efficient manner (if working with a professional).

3) Sell vs. Donate: This is a common question. While selling all of the belongings can result in extra money, it can also be a great deal of work. When deciding if the investment in time is worth it consider the following questions. If your answers to these questions are mostly yes, it may make sense for you to organize an estate sale, a garage sale, or sell the items via Craigslist. If not, donation is likely your best option.

  1. Are the items valuable?
  2. Are the items estate sale quality?
  3. Are the items in good to excellent condition?
  4. Are the items useful today? (i.e. selling a VCR probably isn’t worth the effort, but a recently purchased iPhone might be)
  5. Are the items unique or potentially collectables?

4) Think Rationally, Not Emotionally: When reviewing items in your home, attempt to think about each item in a rational way. In addition to remembering the emotional connection you have with the item, also evaluate it’s frequency of use. While it may be something you liked years ago, if it hasn’t been touched since then, it probably isn’t going to be missed if you let it go.

Good luck in your downsizing!

TWOW

3 Common Excuses for Clutter & How to Stop Making Them

Many of the individuals we work with struggle with maintaining a clutter-free home. They truly want to have an organized home and life, but when it comes to the execution we often hear the same excuses again and again. While we understand that things do come up and that no one is organized all of the time, there are ways to minimize the excuses and get on a consistent organizing plan.

1) “It’s Not Me, It’s My Partner”: Occasionally this excuse is true, but often times both people are contributing to the problem in some way. With this issue, we recommend several strategies. First, work together to devise an organizing and cleaning plan. Both partners must contribute to the design and it should include responsibilities for each person. If need be, create a physical chart with check marks for completion of tasks each week. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, schedule a meeting to discuss what obstacles are getting in the way and how you can work together to achieve the goal. The second part of this plan is to reinforce when effort has been made. If you see your partner picking up the house, thank and compliment them. Expressed appreciation encourages continued effort more than anything else.

2) “I don’t have the time”: Many people are very busy with work and life, but typically the average person has extra free time that they just aren’t utilizing to the fullest. For example, while watching tv at night you can also be folding laundry or putting items back where they belong. The other part of this issue, is the ability to clean as you go. If you are cooking dinner for the family, try to wash a few pots along the way. At the end of dinner, all you’ll have left are a few plates and silverware, making the clean up process quick and easy.

3) “I don’t have enough space to be organized”: This is one we see a lot! The underlying issue is that for people like this, no amount of space will ever be enough. They accumulate to their max capacity and if they had a bigger home, they would do it there too. To rectify these situations we recommend a few tips. First, doing a major purge two times per year will help keep the possessions to an acceptable and livable level. The one in one out strategy is also great for individuals like this. For every new item that comes into the home, one must leave. This will assist you in maintaining the smaller amount of items after your first purge.

Clutter happens to everyone, but recognizing when you’re making unnecessary excuses for it can help keep the problem from happening in the first place.

TWOW

Childproofing Checklist

Babyproofing your home before your child starts crawling and especially once they are on the move is important for the safety of the child. Here is a comprehensive checklist of what needs to happen in each room of the house:

KITCHEN:

  • Add appliance latches to oven, fridge, dishwasher and all other lower appliances
  • Add child-proof door latches to all cupboards and drawers below counter level
  • Install a stove guard and knob handle covers
  • Move knives into locked drawer instead of the counter top
  • Remove table cloths from tables if there are heavy items on top that could be pulled off and hurt the child
  • Install a safety cover on the garbage disposal

AROUND THE HOME:

  • Add electrical plug covers throughout the home
  • Hide all cords or user cord storage boxes. Ensure that if a cord was pulled, nothing heavy could fall on the child
  • Add baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs and to dangerous rooms (garage)
  • Add locks to all doors and windows
  • Install corner and edge bumpers, if desired
  • Secure all large furniture to the walls
  • Secure all guns and other dangerous weapons in a locked safe
  • Remove all toxic plants from the home
  • Install window guards
  • Secure up high or remove window coverings with hanging cords.

BATHROOM:

  • Add a child-proof latch to the medicine cabinet (even if it is located higher up)
  • Check the water temperature to make sure it is not above 120 degrees Fahrenheit or have a plumber install an anti-scald device
  • Add non-slip mats or stickers to the bathtub floor
  • Never leave flat-irons or curling irons on when unattended and ensure the cord is not dangling below the counter

LIVING ROOM:

  • Block the fireplace with a cover or gate

CHILD’S ROOM:

  • Purchase a crib approved by baby safety associations and do not use bumpers
  • Install a fire latter outside the child’s window once they are old enough to use it safely
  • Remove any sharp toys or anything that could wrap around a child’s neck

OUTSIDE:

  • Add a fence or safety cover to the pool

Common Questions (and Answers) for a Professional Organizer

When organizing people’s homes we often answer the same questions again and again. While our answers occasionally change based on the situation, we’ve also come up with general strategies and concepts that seem to ring true for most.

1) Should I keep all of the sizes I fluctuate between? This is a common problem. We find that many individuals with overflowing closets are often holding on to wardrobes in several sizes because of frequent weight changes. What we always tell people is that it’s easier to fluctuate between sizes when you have the next size up available to you. If your jeans were getting a bit tight and you had no larger size available, you might be more conscious of eating healthy and working out to make the current jeans fit again.

2) What do I do with the stuff I’m storing for family/friends? The first question to ask is how long have you been storing the items. Next ask yourself if there was a time limit placed on providing the storage and when the last time the owner mentioned the items. If you’ve had clothing from a relative for several years, chances are they don’t need it anymore and would be fine giving it away. If they truly want the items give them a deadline by which to move them and stand by it. Just remember, this is your home, not a storage unit.

3) How do I maintain the organization? This is the most difficult part of organizing for most people. They love the idea of getting organized, but struggle to maintain it after we’ve left. To assist in keeping your home tidy and organized, commit to a daily routine of putting things back where they belong. Each night, before you go to bed walk around the home and conduct a mini-reset. This will help keep things from getting out of control. Labels are also a great idea to ensure things go back to their rightful homes.

4) What papers do I keep and what can be tossed? In general, if you can find a copy of the document somewhere online, shred, recycle or trash the hard copy. For documents that are currently being used, maintain a inbox/outbox system that is reviewed each week for expired/unnecessary items. To determine what documents need to be stored long-term or for tax purposes, review Suze Orman’s Financial Clutter, What to Keep List.

5)  Am I a Hoarder? It is common for individuals using a professional organizer to feel like perhaps they are a Hoarder. The reality is that the amount of collecting or acquisition that it takes to become a Hoarder is significant and most people do not fit the clinical definition. That being said, there are many people with hoarding tendencies. If any of the following statements are true, you may benefit more from a mental health professional, than an organizer.

  • You acquire belongings to fulfill an emotional need
  • You hold onto excessive amounts of items with little or no value (i.e. newspapers, old magazines, trash, etc.)
  • Your belongings have taken over the space you require to live comfortably in your home
  • You are extremely reluctant to part with any belongings, no matter their frequency of use, value, or usefulness
  • The collecting of items has otherwise impaired your life or health

What are some of the questions you’ve always wanted to ask a professional organizer?

TWOW

5 Ways to Organize on a Budget

Transforming your space from cluttered to organized doesn’t have to cost a lot. Sure there are many incredible, yet expensive products out there to help you achieve that Pinterest-worthy organization, but there are also lots of tricks to get the same look for cheap. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

1) Recycle & Reuse: Instead of purchasing new containers, make use of the products you already have around your home. Some items that can be easily repurposed into new storage solutions include:

  • Shoe Boxes
  • Cups & Mugs
  • Old Tupperware
  • Altoid Tins (for small items like nails and pins)
  • Shower Curtain Hooks (for belt and necklace storage)
  • Baskets
  • Ice Cube Trays or Muffin Tins (for earrings and other jewelry)
  • Used Food Jars
  • Ziplock Bags

2) Freebies: Before buying any new organizing products, post what you are in need of on Facebook or Twitter and see if someone in your network is willing to gift it to you. Freecycle.org is also an excellent resource for finding free home goods.

3) Sell Unused Stuff: When cleaning out homes we often come across many valuable belongings that are simply no longer being used. Make money off of these items by selling them at a garage sale, via Craigslist, Tradesy.com, or even a consignment store. The money made can then be used to purchase the necessary organizing items.

4) Sales, Deals & Discounts: When you decide to spend money on organizing products, take advantage of sales and discounts. Typically August is a good time of year to find deals on storage solutions as many stores are promoting off-to-college sales. In terms of discounts, you can usually get at least 10% at Bed Bath & Beyond and Michael’s for signing up for their email programs. The Ikea as-is section and The Dollar Store can also be a great places to find a deal.

5) Purge First: A common mistake that people make when organizing is to buy a ton of storage products that they think they will need before assessing the post-purge room contents. In order to avoid over-spending, complete your room purge first, then buy only the minimum number of products needed to make the space feel organized.

What are your favorite budget organizing tips?

TWOW 

How to Organize Your Fridge

Do your berries get moldy a few days after purchase? Does your lettuce wilt shortly after you open the bag? For many Americans the battle against food self life is constant. However, did you know that you can extend the life of certain fruits, veggies, and other items simply by storing them in the correct fridge location? We’ve compiled the best fridge organization strategies right here.

General Strategies:

  • An overly packed fridge leads to poor circulation and an increase in temperature. Do not store too much at one time if you like your foods to stay fresh.
  • The ideal temperature for your fridge is 40°F.
  • Use bins, containers and labels to organize the space.
  • Larger items (juice cartons, etc.) go towards the back and smaller items are towards the front.
  • Review fridge contents daily and remove rotten food as soon as possible. This will help keep the other items fresher longer.

What Goes Where: 

  • Crisper: Store fruits here, but keep in mind the preferred separation of certain items. A full list is below in the ‘Specific Foods’ section.
  • Bottom Drawer: This is the warmest place in the fridge, so it is best suited for veggies.
  • Skinny Top Drawer: Store deli meats and cheeses here.
  • Door: Do not store foods that are sensitive to temperature changes (ex. eggs) in the door. Items like condiments and glass jars are best suited for this location.
  • Top Shelf: Dairy, including milk and eggs is best stored here.
  • Bottom Shelf: Raw meat, poultry and fish should be stored here.
  • Freezer: Items that you’ll have long term should be sealed tightly and stored with like-items here.

Food Specifics:

  • Ethylene-Releasing Foods:  Certain foods release a gas that causes other fruits to spoil more quickly. Store these separately and or in a sealed container. Examples include: Melons (except watermelon),  Apples, Figs,  Avocados,  Nectarines,  Pears,  Plums,  Peaches,  Tomatoes,  and Unripe Bananas.
  • Ethylene-Effected Foods: These fruits are especially effected by the gas, so store them as far apart as possible: Ripe Bananas, Cucumbers, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Lettuce (& other leafy greens),  Squash,  Parsley,  Peas, Watermelon, Peppers, Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes, and Cauliflower.
  • Berries: Keep in their original containers and do not wrap tightly.
  • Cheese: Wrap tightly or use sealed bags.
  • Eggs: They are still good for 3-5 weeks after the ‘sell-by’ date. Keep them in their original container for the longest shelf life.
  • Lettuce: Seal in a glass jar for a longer shelf life.
  • For a full list of specific fruit and veggie storage tips check out this post by My Thirty Spot.

Helpful Products:

Good luck!

TWOW

9 Things to Review & Do in 2013

A New Year means that certain items in your life may require attention. We’ve put together a list of the most common tasks to complete or review as soon as possible.

1) Prescriptions: Review prescriptions and toss any that have expired. Make note of the ones that are in need of refill and contact your doctor to process the order before it becomes urgent.

2) Documents: Take a look at your passport, driver’s license and any other documents that expire to determine if they require a renewal in 2013.

3) Annual Appointments: Schedule annual appointments for doctors, dentists, optometrists, and accountants.

4) Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Change the batteries on the detectors and mark on the calendar when the next change will occur.

5) Pantry & Fridge Contents: Review the food in your pantry and fridge for expired goods. Purge anything that’s expired and make note of the items that have upcoming expirations so that you can use them soon.

6) Filters: Change the filters in your HVAC unit and mark on your calendar the next swap out date.

7) Credit Report: Get a free annual copy of your credit report and review the past year’s changes.

8) Policies: Review any policies that may require updates or renewal in the new year, such as insurance and product warranties.

9) Taxes: Take a look at your income tax withholding from last year and determine if your personal situation has changed in a way that affects your number (i.e. marriage, divorce, children, etc.)

Good luck!

TWOW

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