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

 

5 Ways to Make Your New Years Resolution Stick

Over 60% of Americans that make New Years resolutions will keep them through January. After that, the number continues to decline as the months go by. There are many reasons as to why so many resolutions are not maintained, but there are ways in which to improve your chances of achieving the goal.

1) Make it Positive: Resolutions that involve denying yourself something, such as diets, can be difficult. Instead, make the goal something positive, such as attending a fitness class 3 times per week for the year. This type of resolution can help you obtain the ultimate goal of weight-loss, but it will seem less restrictive in the process.

2) Be Specific: The most essential part of developing a goal is to outline in specifics what the goal is and how you will achieve it. For example, if your resolution is to read more, perhaps you could make a goal to complete one book every two weeks, at minimum. Create a calendar and keep yourself accountable to noting when the next reading deadline is and you’ll have greater chances of finishing the goal. 

3) Reinforce Yourself: If you’re working towards a goal, it helps to have reinforcement to encourage you. This can come in many forms, such as positive support from friends or family or perhaps a reward of a shopping spree after a benchmark has been met. When setting your goal timeline, add in benchmarks of when you will receive said reward and you’ll have something to look forward to while you are working.

4) Automate: The best way to achieve a goal is to remove yourself as the active participant. For instance, if your goal is to save more money this year, set up at automatic savings transfer to your savings account each payday. Without even thinking about it, you’ll have more money saved by the end of the year.

5) Be Realistic: Goals that are attainable are easier to work towards. Select resolutions that you have a high likelihood of achieving, such as losing 15lbs instead of 50lbs or attempting to have a more organized calendar instead of having a more organized life. Once you obtain the initial goal you can re-plan for future improvements.

We wish you luck in acheiving your New Years Resolutions and a Happy New Year!

TWOW

Organization & Time Management for Entrepreneurs

The ELEN chapter of ABWA in Alpharetta recently invited me to speak about organizing and time management for entrepreneurs at their monthly luncheon. We had an excellent time networking with the members of this group and wanted to share some of the tips we gave in our presentation. In order to manage the variety of daily obligations that entrepreneurs face, we recommended focusing on four organizational areas:

Routines & Task Management:

The importance of routine in your daily, weekly, and yearly lives cannot be underestimated. We recommend, taking a look at the things your business requires of you on a regular basis and then begin to set up routines that will allow you to accomplish each task in the most efficient way. You should also schedule time to prepare for upcoming days and weeks. Sunday evening is a great time for this on a weekly basis. Below are a couple additional tips for integrating routines into your life.

  • Prioritization: Decide what the top 3 things need to happen each day and commit to getting them done.
  • Requests for info/action from others should happen in the morning
  • Batching: Group tasks into categories when making your to-do list (phone calls, emails, physical tasks, meetings, professional tasks, personal tasks, etc.)

Managing Email, Calls & Interruptions:

Dealing with the daily influx of demands for an entrepreneur can be difficult. In order to achieve the greatest efficiency, we recommend telling others what style of communication you prefer. For example, if you are best on email, tell employees and others that they should reach you in that manner. This way you will not be bombarded with phone calls or in-person drop-bys that drain you of time. A few more tips are below.

  • Email Inbox: Use for items that need current action. File all other emails in well-labeled folders immediately upon receipt. Review and clean out folders weekly.
  • Closed-Door Time: Schedule time each day when you will silence the phone, close the office door, and turn off email, so that you can finish necessary tasks

Paper Management:

This is the most common concern among entrepreneurs. Managing the necessary, and not so necessary, paper that comes into the business can quickly become unmanageable. We’ve outlined our best tips for keeping the paper under control below.

  • Filing: Use well-labeled files (physical or digital) and commit to reviewing the contents once per quarter. Shred, toss, or recycle unnecessary items or things that haven’t been needed in 1+ years. Google ‘Suze Orman what to keep documents’ for a list of must keep financial docs with timelines.
  • Expenses: Keep track of receipts for business with an app like Expensify or a desk scanner like NeatDesk.
  • Go Paperless: Attempt to eliminate all paper from your life by scanning, opting out of paper statements/mail, and not printing. Digital records are easier to search, permanent (if stored safely), and require less space.

Needing Assistance: (Personal Assistance, Professional Assistance, and/or C-Level)

A final issue that we commonly see with entrepreneurs in not knowing when to get help. Whether it’s an assistant, an employee, or even a C-level adviser it is important to bring on assistance if it will help your business grow or efficiently maintain. If you are dealing with one of the below issues, it probably means you could use some help.

1) Your work/life balance is suffering

2) You’re in over your head

3) You’re doing tasks poorly and taking more time than the job should require because it is not your expertise

4) You’re doing tasks that are below your level when you could be focusing on more important things.

 

We hope these tips for entrepreneurs are helpful and would love to hear your favorite organizational ideas for people with their own businesses.

TWOW

14 Ways to Prepare for Fall

Fall has arrived and that means it’s time to start readying our homes for the change in season. In order to prepare you and your home for the cooler weather, we’ve put together a list of simple organizing projects.

1) Warm Season Gear: Organize and store items such as pool toys, beach towels, and outside sporting equipment.

2) Garden: Prune your perennials, add a layer of insulating mulch for plant warmth, and trim trees that could provide a threat to your home during a winter storm.

3) Reorganize the Kitchen: Relocate warm weather items, such as ice cream makers, to higher shelves and shift down things like the crockpot and soup bowls.

4) Pool: Schedule an appointment for your pool to be winterized and mark the close-up date on your calendar.

5) Weather-proofing: Determine if your windows, doors, or pipes needs weather proofing or insulating. Clear out gutters and downspouts.

6) Heater check: Have a professional firm come and inspect your heating system before turning it on. If applicable, have the chimney swept.

7) Closet Changeover: Conduct the Fall closet changeover using the process outlined here. While you’re at it, purge summer items that were not worn this year from the collection.

8) Artwork: Set up a system for displaying, temporarily storing, and keeping children’s school artwork.

9) Prep the Coat Closet: Clear out space and organize the coat closet to accommodate for regular use.

10) Reverse Ceiling Fans: Keep the warm air down by reversing your ceiling fan blades.

11) Clean out the Pantry: Review the contents of you pantry and toss anything that’s expired or not being eaten.

12) Roof: Inspect your roof and repair any broken shingles.

13) Lawn: Have your sprinklers winterized and prep the lawn for the cold weather.

14) Deck: Put down a fresh coat of sealer on your deck and get patio furniture covers, if needed.

 

Good luck with your organizing projects and have a happy Fall season.

TWOW

Get Organized for Halloween

Halloween may not be one of the most important holidays, but for families with children the day can require much preparation. In order to avoid last minute scrambling, we’ve put together a list of things to get organized ahead of time.

1) Costumes: By shopping for costumes earlier in the month of October you’ll not only have a better selection, but you may also get a better price. Costume stores typically offer coupons in early October, so keep a look out in your coupon mailers or check online sites like retailmenot.com for discount codes for online shopping. For optimum organization, you should aim to have all costumes purchased by the second week in October.

2) Decorations: Halloween decorations can help to get your family and neighborhood in the holiday spirit. Plan on decorating your home and yard by the weekend of October 20th. If you’re carving pumpkins, ideal timing is the weekend before (27th) Halloween to ensure they stay fresh. Keep in mind when you are decorating that the weather changes quickly this time of year, so if you have delicate ghosts or spider webs, be sure to bring them in before any rain hits.

3) Candy: Stores like CVS, Costco, and Target have deals on large bags of candy early in the month, so now is the time to stock up on the sweets you’ll need for trick-or-treaters.

4) School Activities: Schools often plan Halloween activities, such as costume parades and trick-or-treating. Find out the dates of these events now and mark your calendars to ensure your child will be prepared. In addition to the activity dates, also add deadlines for costume and accessory (candy pails) purchases.

5) Trick-o-Treating Plans: Plan on setting up your trick-or-treat plans two weeks ahead of time. If you are coordinating with other families, set a meeting time, location, and plans for child supervision and safety. It’s also a good idea to assign each child a ‘buddy’ to stay with for the evening to ensure no one is left alone.

6) Party Plans: If you plan on throwing a Halloween party, you’ll want to send out invitations the first week of October. During the second week, you can start to plan decorations, food, theme, music, and other party needs. The third week is the time to firm up these plans and finishing buying necessary non-perishable items, such as decorations. The last week leading up to the party is the time to decorate your space and complete the grocery shopping. On the day-of, you’ll prepare the food and drinks, set up last minute items, don your costume, and get ready to have a spooky evening with friends.

7) Holiday Food: Although Halloween is best known for candy, some people have traditions that include certain Halloween foods. Ensure you’ll be able to make these for friends and family by making a list of foods and necessary ingredients two weeks before the holiday. When making the list, keep in mind the little items, such as spices for pumpkin seed roasting and drinks such as apple cider.

We hope that by getting a head start on your Halloween plans this year you’ll have more time to enjoy the festivities on the day of.

TWOW

Stop Losing Your Things with 5 Easy Tips

Between our hectic lives and sometimes hectic physical spaces it’s easy to occasionally lose things. Whether it’s your keys, cell phone, or some other important item, the loss of a belonging can cause serious difficulties in our lives. You can keep this problem from happening with a few small tricks.

1) Everything in it’s Place: The old adage is helpful when it comes to losing things. Designate homes for your belongings and commit to returning them to these locations once you are done with them. As a secondary level of organization, attempt to keep like items with like items. This will assist in at least getting you to the general area in which the item should be located.

2) Launch Pad: A launch pad is an area of your home that houses items that you consistently take with out outside, such as your purse, wallet, keys, and cell phone, etc. Ideally, it should be located near the entrance to the home and have enough space to store the items neatly. When entering the home deposit the items and do not move them again until you leave.

3) Mental Notes: Even when we have the good intention of leaving an item a place we think we’ll remember, it sometimes slips from our memory. Science tells us that if you actively chose to make a mental note when leaving the item somewhere you’ll be more likely to remember the location later. So when you are setting something down, take a moment to say to yourself ‘I’m leaving my phone on the kitchen counter’ or something similar.

4) Out & About: Experts state that the top 4 places for losing things are airports/airplanes, restaurants, public restrooms, and hotels. That being true, we need to be especially aware of our possessions when out and about. To keep from leaving things, commit to a routine of checking for your items before leaving the location. For example, before you leave a hotel room, check the closet, drawers, under the bed, in the bathroom, and around the room. Think of the process as the final step before you can check out and you’ll lessen the chances of leaving that phone charger on the wall.

5) Technology: If these tricks don’t help, resort to technological help. KeyRinger, a sound-enabled locator device, can be attached to keys, remotes, and other items. FindmyiPhone is an app that can be downloaded to an iPhone that allows GPS tracking of missing iPhones.

We hope these tricks help, but remember the most important thing to keep in mind when something has become lost is to stay calm. It’s likely you know where it is, so as long as you remain composed you should be able to locate it.

TWOW

Networking: How to Make the Most of It

A recent article by Richard Branson about networking got us thinking about the process of networking and how to best organize your efforts. It can be challenging to consistently put yourself out there and also do the necessary follow up to obtain the best results. For maximum return on time invested, consider using some of our below tips.

  • Scheduling: Finding time for networking opportunities can be tough. First, we recommend determining how much time you are willing to commit per month. Once you have a time allocation, research opportunities that occur during your available time, RSVP, and put the appointment on your calendar. If it helps to get you there, invite a friend to join you.
  • Business & Calling Cards: You should always have a few cards on you in case a networking opportunity arises. Keep a small pile in your purse or wallet and another in your car. Cards should include relevant contact information, but should also be unique enough to be memorable. If you’re unemployed and looking for a calling card, check out Moo.com, which offers unique social media style cards, as seen in the photo.
  • Keeping Track: Remembering who was who and what conversation was important at an event can be difficult. Make it easy on yourself by making a few notes about the person and/or your conversation on the back of each business card that you receive. Once home, transfer the contact information, including the notes to your preferred contact system or phone.
  • Ask for Recommendations and Connections: No matter the person you meet, it can’t hurt to ask if they have any recommendations or connections they can make that will serve your needs. For example, if you’re looking for a particular job and meet someone at an industry networking event that doesn’t have any openings, consider asking them if they know of any other agencies that do or how they found their current position.
  • Scheduling a Follow Up: The key to great networking is to actually follow up with the contact. In order to streamline this process, attempt to set a follow up meeting or call with the contact while with them. If they can, schedule something for the coming week and get it on both calendars. If the other person cannot commit, immediately mark on your calendar to outreach to them within 2 business days.
  • General Contacts: For people you met while networking that aren’t necessarily a right fit for your needs, it is still important to follow up. While they may not be who you are looking to meet, they may be able to connect you with that person. Within 2 business days, send a brief, but friendly email saying you were glad to meet them at the event.

What are your favorite networking tips?

TWOW

Internet Time-Suck: How to Avoid the Temptation

The distractions of the internet are never-ending. Between social media, online articles, email, and instant messaging, one can waste hours of potentially productive time on essentially useless browsing. The graphic provided from Nielson research shows the average ways in which we use the internet. We are all guilty of the internet time-such, but some have more trouble with it than others. In order to curb this potentially detrimental habit, we have a few strategies:

1) Determine Why: There is usually a reason why you are drawn into the distraction of internet surfing. Perhaps its boredom, perhaps attention-deficit, or maybe it’s a stress reliever. However, if you understand the why, you can more easily shift the habit into something productive. For example, if you are distracted by internet surfing due to boredom, consider instead switching to a new work task that will re-engage your interest. If you’re looking for mindless stress-relief, perhaps a quick walk outside the building would provide a healthy release.

2) Internet Breaks: If you absolutely need a internet break, determine how much time you can afford to browse and set a timer to keep you to it. The site http://minutes.at/ offers a free timer service that allows you set hard time limits per site. When your time is up, use an app, such as Pocket, to bookmark any pages that you’d like to come back and read later, so that you aren’t tempted to stay a bit longer.

3) Total Browsing Limits: If you are the kind of person who finds themselves lost online for several hours a day, consider setting a weekly internet time allotment. For example, if it’s not for work or school, you will only allow yourself 2 hours per week of browsing time. Keep track of your total on a notepad or phone timer app.

4) Minimize Opportunity: If you are under deadline or need to concentrate on something at work, turn off access to internet distractions. Close down your browser window, turn off instant messaging, and silence your phone from receiving social media notifications. This strategy also works if you need the internet to complete part of the task. The difference is that you do all of your online research first, copy the information to an offline source and then close down the browser to complete the work.

5) Block Access: If you just can’t trust yourself to follow the above suggestions, there is a more serious option available. Services such as, Leech Block for Firefox and Chrome Nanny for Google Chrome allow you to set preferences of which sites will be unavailable for access during which times per day.

Although internet browsing can be a very enjoyable and appropriate activity, there are certainly times that all of us have stayed a bit too long. Hopefully with these tips, we can maximize efficiency and minimize the time-suck.

Hobby Gear & Supplies: How Much Is Too Much?

Hobbies are a valuable addition to our lives. They give us something fun and recreational to focus on that isn’t work or other responsibilities. The problem is that many hobbies require significant amounts of gear or supplies. We often meet clients that while in love with the hobbies they participate in, are overwhelmed by the amount of ‘stuff’ they have collected to facilitate the hobby. In order to help limit the number of hobby items, we have several recommendations:

1)   Try Before You Buy: Often the instinct is that you cannot try a sport or hobby without first purchasing the necessary gear and supplies. For example, someone who wants to take up cycling may feel the need to get a bike, helmet, appropriate clothing, and anything else they may need before starting out. If the sport isn’t for them, however, this stuff ends up indefinitely taking up space in their garage. Instead of purchasing first, consider renting or borrowing gear to ensure that the hobby is something you’d like to continue long term.

2)   Set Your Limits: Another common hobbyist trend that we see is the personality who seems to enjoy the thrill of the supply acquisition more than the actual hobby. This seems to be particularly true of scrapbookers who often have enormous collections of supplies, with few finished scrapbooks. To keep this from happening, give yourself limits on how much you will buy, how much you will spend, and how often you will shop for hobby supplies. Make the limits firm and stick to them so that you don’t end up with excessive amounts of stuff with little time to use them.

3)   Pay it Forward: For those who fall into the category of large amounts of unused hobby supplies, there are many options for culling it from your home. Play It Again Sports will pay you for your used sports equipment. Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the other charities will accept just about anything you’ve got.  A final option is to post about the available stuff on your social media accounts. There’s a good chance someone in your network will be interested and you can rest assured that the stuff is going to good use.

In the end, the most important thing about your hobby is that you’re enjoying yourself; so have a great time!

TWOW

8 Reasons to Hire a Professional Organizer

We often meet clients that are well-versed in the general principles of organizing. They understand what needs to happen to get them on the right track and yet their homes are still disorganized. When they call us they are initially skeptical about the need for an organizer, but end up extremely happy with the service and results. You may wonder why is there such a discrepancy. We’ve put together the top 8 reasons why hiring a professional organizer is better than attempting to do it by yourself or with a friend.

1. Objectivity: We have no attachment to your belongings and thus can help make difficult decisions about parting with said things a bit easier. We come prepared with lots of thoughtful questions about the frequency of use, necessity, and usefulness to assist in determining whether to keep or cull.

2. Calm & Collected: We organize people’s homes for a living, so we’ve pretty much seen it all. No matter the extent to your organizing needs, we will not become overwhelmed. We can help you achieve this peace of mind as well.

3. Efficiency & Organization: Instead of just making things fit anywhere they can, we strategize about the bigger organizational picture to ensure that your home and life is left with increased efficiency.

4. Completion: When attempting an organizing project by yourself, you can sometimes get distracted and leave things in a more disorganized state than when you started. When you hire us to organize we promise the job will be finished to your satisfaction.

5. Expertise: We are full of recommendations for products, resources, and information that will help you to achieve the organization that you’re looking for. Be it a storage solution or a way of setting up your desk to maximize productivity, we’re happy to impart our wisdom.

6. Fresh Eyes: When you are living in the disorganization for a long time it can become normal and blind you to new ways of doing things. Professional organizers can walk into your home and see patterns of disorganization, as well as potential solutions that you may overlooked.

7. Maintenance Strategies: While physical organizing is the first step, keeping things that way is the hard part. While we organize we impart strategies for how to correct behavioral habits that are contributing to the long-term disorganization, thus leaving you prepared to maintain things on your own.

8. Donations: Before we leave your home, we take the items that you are donating to charity for you. It may seem insignificant, but often times people never get around to donating the items they cull and then they eventually reintegrate themselves into the home. By removing the items immediately we can guarantee this doesn’t happen.

Obviously we’re partial to hiring a professional to help you with your organizing needs, but if you’re still unsure, feel free to give us a call and we can discuss your particular situation.

TWOW

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